As a generation, most of us are happy to pay for convenience and material items that positively impact our lives and moods, we don’t consider frugal living tips with a big impact. This is an entirely different way of life than that of our grandparents’ generation where the motto was to ‘make do and mend’ and live within their means.
Can we learn from their habits and save money by modern frugal living? Can being frugal make you rich? This frugal living blog will cover 17 tips.
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What Is Frugal Living
‘Frugal’ comes from the Latin word frux and frugi, meaning fruit and economical, respectively. By the 16th century, it was in use with the official definition of ‘sparing or economical as regards to money or food’. We perceive being frugal as being cheap, but in reality, it is about only spending what is necessary and within our means and therefore being able to save money.
Benefits Of Frugal Living
Living frugally can help you achieve financial goals that you may have set yourself, including:
- Buying a house
- Buying other big-ticket items such as a car
- Paying off debt
- Retiring early
- Feeling content with what you have
- Increasing savings and investments
- Able to donate more
- Build an emergency fund
Here are 17 frugal living tips and ideas on how to live a simple life and save money to achieve those goals:
Budgeting is the best place to start when choosing to live a frugal lifestyle. The budget should include every reoccurring expenditure and any other expenses your money goes towards, such as:
- utility bills
- food bills
- mobile phone bills
- hobbies, entertainment, eating out
- savings and pensions
- debt repayments
Be honest with how much you spend to give the most accurate picture of where you are starting. A budget will make it easier for you to identify where you are spending too much money and where you can cut or reduce expenses.
Allow yourself to allocate money on fun stuff too, and remember to regularly update your budget to see if you can make more savings.
#2 Every Penny Counts
If you save a couple of pennies here and there, they will start to add up.
Banking apps such as Revolut and Monzo allow you to automatically save money by rounding up any purchases to the nearest pound and keeping the difference which will then go into a saving pot. For example, if you spend £2.20 on a coffee, 80p from your spending account would go into the virtual coin jar.
Highstreet banks have also taken on the ‘Save the Change’ scheme, which works in a similar manner taking spare change to build your savings.
A no spend challenge can really shine a light on your spending habits and highlight where you are spending money. The challenge can kickstart a healthy habit of being more conscious of spending.
If you can claim cashback, make sure you do it! Some banks offer cashback as well as many specific cashback apps and websites. Cashback allows you to gain a reward for spending, often a percentage of the transaction.
Cashback websites are great if you shop online. Sign up and go to the retailer you want to buy from via the cashback website and then complete your purchase as usual.
The recommended cashback sites are:
Check out the cashback apps that help you save money on your food shop here.
#4 Save Money On Groceries
Budgeting will give you an idea of how much money you spend on food shopping. A meal plan means you will be prepared and not tempted to overspend on items you don’t need.
Here are 10 tips on how to save money on food. Other ideas on how to be frugal when it comes to food are:
- Cook from scratch at home
- Grow your fruit and vegetables
- Stick to your meal plan and shopping list
- Use coupons, check discounts and bulk buy offers
- Freeze leftovers
- If you’re going out, bring a drink and food so that you aren’t tempted to spend when out
#5 Cancel Unused Subscriptions
In 2020, This is Money reported that Britons are wasting £39 a month on subscriptions via unused direct debits and standing orders. This equates to £468 a year – a healthy lump sum for a holiday.
When drawing up your budget, it should highlight any subscriptions coming out of your bank account, potentially even ones you weren’t aware of that started as a free trial.
Although they may not individually be expensive, over a year, subscriptions can add up. Saving on several subscriptions could equate to a holiday.
#6 Spending Priorities
If there is something that you would like to buy, there are a few tricks to make sure it is not an impulse buy. Give yourself time to consider the buy; if it is a high enough priority, you can commit to that may negatively impact your financial goal.
Apply the 30-day rule where you put the money you would spend on the buy into a saving account; if you still want this item by the end of the 30 days, you can go ahead and make the purchase. During this time, do your research and see if you can wait until a deal is available. Sometimes a day or a week is all you need to make your mind up. Over time impulsive buys will decrease.
#7 Home Gym
Lockdown 2020 highlighted that exercising from home can reap results. Working out at home could save you your gym subscription. There are plenty of free exercise videos on Youtube and influencers posting their workout routines on social media.
#8 Energy Audit Your Home
Many utility bills are reoccurring. Apart from changing your provider, there are other ways to drive down your bills positively. A smart meter can track your electricity usage, and regularly check your other utility meters will give you a good idea of working in the right direction. Habits that you can implement that will use your utilities more efficiently:
- turn off lights when leaving a room.
- keeps doors and windows closed when heating or air conditioning is on.
- only run the dishwasher, washing machine and driers when full.
- wash your laundry using colder water settings.
- turn off plug sockets when not in use.
- turn the heating down 1-2 degrees.
- wear more layers before putting the heating on.
- air-dry dishes and clothes out of the washing machine.
- fit LED bulbs.
- use smaller appliances.
#9 Downsize Your Home
As drastic as it sounds, this will have a significant impact on your savings. A larger space will cost more in rent/mortgage, utilities and maintenance; downsizing to a smaller footprint will save you money. You could even go all the way and live in a van for a really frugal lifestyle.
#10 Refinance Your Mortgage
If your current mortgage has a higher interest rate than the current market, then refinancing could reduce your monthly costs.
#11 Special Occasion Wear
Another frugal living tip with a big impact is renting a dress for special occasions rather than buying a new one every time only to wear it once. Fashion rentals also promote sustainable fashion and reduce landfill.
#12 Learn How To DIY And Upcycle
You may feel overwhelmed with the idea of DIYing yourself, but with time this is a skill you can learn. Worst case, you DIY and have to pay for someone to redo or rectify your work, but if you are successful, you will have saved yourself those tradesmen fees, a best-case scenario. This could save you thousands of pounds and enable you to maintain your assets to a high standard giving them a new lease of life.
With these skills, you can purchase second-hand furniture and upcycle to create your own pieces inspired by your favourite designer brand.
Similarly, if something breaks, try to fix it yourself first. A quick Google may come up with a simple solution. My grandmas’ kitchen appliances look like they’ve come straight out of a 1990s movie, and they’re still going strong! Keeping good care of them and tinkering when they break has extended their lifespan considerably, and it is a lesson we should take on board to reduce our tendency to throw away old and broken items.
Learning how to DIY doesn’t just mean being hands-on with workshop tools. DIY self-care can also cut out some spending, by learning how to mani-pedi and do haircuts, you could be freeing up some extra cash.
#13 How Do You Live A Frugal But Great Life – Free Experiences
As you develop your frugal lifestyle, you will experience many fun activities that you can do for free, especially if you are a frugal family and want to save some money whilst keeping the children entertained. Some frugal ideas include:
- visiting other family members
- library visits
- joining a local club, e.g. football
- free audiobooks
- free local events
- arts and crafts with materials you already have
- board games and puzzles
- free museum days
- garden camping
- learning a new skill
- movie night
- birthday freebies
#14 Cheaper Transport
Becoming a one-car household can benefit a household, especially frugal living on one income. The individual that works can finance the car if they need or even look at carpooling with colleagues. Not only is this one of the best frugal tips, but it is also environmentally friendly. Household schedules can be organised to make owning a single car more convenient.
There are also other more frugal ways of getting from A to B. Walking is excellent exercise and will help you save money on fuel, whilst biking allows you to reach your destination quicker.
Taking public transport can also cut down the costs as you won’t have to pay for the insurance, maintenance and fuel that would incur with car ownership.
Now with contactless payments using cards, it is effortless to spend money without any thought. Paying with cash creates a visual representation of how much you are spending, making you more aware of how much you have paid and how much remains from your budget if it is in the form of physical cash.
#16 Get Crafty
Christmas and birthday quickly become expensive, but it is the thought and effort that counts in reality. A unique and well thought out gift means a lot more. Ideas for gifting include:
- creating a hamper
- hosting a dinner
- growing plants
#17 Squeeze Out Every Drop
Make products last longer by using less and using everything in the container. Nifty tools such as this tube squeezer help you to get out every last drop and reduce waste.
Can Being Frugal Make You Rich?
These are just a few tips on how to live frugally with a big impact; remember, small monthly savings can add up to considerable yearly sums. Although frugality alone won’t make you rich, it will cut out any wasteful spending and build your wealth by increasing your savings and ability to invest. This blog can also be used as tips for living with very little money.
How Can A Large Family Be Frugal?
You may ask how can a large family be frugal, apply these ideas to every individual in your family, and you will be able to reduce your overall spending as a household.
How Frugal Is Too Frugal?
Some ideas are more extreme frugal ways to save money and require extensive commitment, whilst others are easier to implement and may be more realistic for your lifestyle. Make a few and simple changes to start with, and then challenge yourself to introduce more. You should still enjoy yourself; if not, then perhaps you are limiting yourself too much with your expenditure. You may have to unlearn some spending habits first; frugal living is all about learning how to prioritise the money you spend.
For more inspiration on easy ways to save money we have written a post with 35 ideas!
Do you have any tips on how to live frugally? Have you picked up any frugal habits from your parents or grandparents? Let us know below in the comments section!