20 Frugal Living Rules That Will Change Your Life
Not everyone knows how to stay on top of their financial circumstances. Many people are constantly complaining that they don’t have enough money. They are caught in the rat race of the 9 to 5 but can’t seem to get out of it. You get paid every two weeks but the money’s gone as soon as it hits your account. You’re not alone in feeling this way. Learning how to live frugal is a key to success.
I work tireless daily to increase my financial education, by reading books, articles, (listening to) podcasts, you name it. Recently, I’ve been reading the Truth About Money.
Sometimes you just need to take a step back and make adjustments to your spending habits. Take a look at these 20 frugal tips that have the ability to change your life and put you in a better financial place.
20) Buy Used Items and Save (a ton)
This is really one of my favorite tips. Being a new homeowner, coming from a studio apartment, I had barely any tools or furniture. It was difficult to get any work done in the home without the right tools. In fact, I spent $60 on shears and branch cutters. Which is a lot when you have 1,000 other items you need to buy.
Then something in my head told me to start trolling Facebook Marketplace. Now I’m addicted. I decorated my home for Halloween, inside and out for about $40. A brand new leaf blower/leaf vacuum for $20 (and I have a ton of trees). I can’t forget the lady who was giving away a free work table that I wanted for my garage. She also then gave me, a bunch of 2x4s, wood benches for the garage, an outdoor light that I live by (it’s basically a light on a stick), a beautiful vintage lamp, an end table, and a brand new shop vac for $10. Long story, long, go used, because why not?
Even clothing, except undergarments, can be found at great deals at thrift stores or on the Poshmark Website/App which is like an online thrift store. If you use INVITE CODE: KRYSSEIJO on Poshmark, you will get $5 just for signing up. I’ve gone to a local thrift store and came out with 6 work shirts for $25.
To take it further, buying used is better for the environment.
There are some other wonderful websites and apps that can help you find used items to buy. They include OfferUp, Letgo, Craigslist, VarageSale, and Oodle. These websites and apps have categories that will help narrow your search for whatever you may be looking for.
19) Cut Monthly Expenses
Your monthly expenses can come from all different kinds of sources. The three monthly expenses that I will be teaching you on how to lower is cable, car insurance, and your gym membership.
Lowering your cable bill can aid in your benefit of saving money. The average American spends roughly 100 dollars a month on cable expenses. This can really add up over a year’s time.
The first step is to audit your viewing habits. Discover what you really watch and for how long. There are certain channels that you may not even tune into or let alone know exists. If this is the case then call your provider and ask for a smaller package on your channels.
Secondly, drop your DVR. This amenity can help you catch up on your shows but if you aren’t using it then it is just adding to the cost. Why pay for something you don’t need?
My number one cable tip, the one I use, is to not have cable at all. I only have Wi-Fi and I spend $40 a month. Then the trick is to share subscription packages with other people. Hulu has a package that includes no commercial and Live TV + unlimited screens for $55/month. You can potentially split that cost (and the login) with three other families.
To lower your car insurance, you need to do some investigating. There are many different car insurance companies out there and sometimes you just need to shop around and find at least three different quotes.
If you have an older car then you can request to reduce your coverage. If you find your car is less than 10 times the premium, the coverage may not be worth the price.
Another way to reduce car insurance bill is to buy another form of insurance from the same company. The company may give you a discount because you have two insurance plans from them.
I had Geico for many many years. But my premium had gone through the roof. I was paying $220/month for one car. I had no tickets or points but I had just been involved in a fender bender. After Geico many times and dealt with it for two years but eventually, I started quote shopping. I stumbled upon Amica and have saved about 30%.
Gym membership expenses can add up. Luckily staying fit is considered important for many Americans, so there are options to choose from. Just like your car insurance you should shop around for the best gym that fits your needs.
For me, I choose a gym primarily for its proximity to work, so that I can workout during my lunches. I pay $23 a month but insurance reimburses $20 a month as long as I go twelve times. The first thing you can do is see if your health insurance has a fitness program that reimburses you. You also should evaluate your membership level, can you go down a level and save? Planet Fitness has a $10 gym membership, which is a great price. Definitely shop around.
So inquire about deals the gym has going on and what other packages they may be offering.
18) Cook at Home – Meal Prep
If you eat out a lot, you will probably quickly notice that the majority of your money is going towards food. Depending on how often and where you eat out, food could be your biggest expense.
That is why it is important to cook at home. If you don’t know how to cook then learn. It is really important to start cooking and save money in the process. The extra food that you make should not be wasted but saved for a later date. This will help you in not wasting money on unnecessary food.
Also, meal prep can help you by purchasing bigger quantities of food and cooking them to be eaten at a later date. I have taken notice that I will eat out just because I don’t feel like cooking. But if you already have your meal cooked then all you have to do is heat it up.
What keeps me meal prepping, is the savings and also staying healthy. I try to cook only three times during the work week. Frozen pizzas should always be in your fridge as a back up. DiGiorno’s are most often $5 each, way cheaper than pizza delivery and a quick meal on a lazy evening.
17) Regularly Set Goals
Just like in other areas of your life, you should set goals to keep you motivated. Your goals should be as specific as possible so you can see what may and may not be working.
To save money you should set the goal of trying to save a specific amount within a month. Remind yourself often of your goal so you will feel inspired on why you are trying to save money. If you allow yourself to see your goal a few times there will be consistency in accomplishing your goal.
16) Stay on Top of your Bank Statements
Many banks allow you to check your statements online or even on your phone. I know with Chase, I am able to use the app and scroll to see where my money is going. Also every month they send me a statement of what I have been spending the majority of my money on.
While you are scrolling through your statements, look for subscription charges that you aren’t using. These subscriptions could have been purchased a long time ago or something recent that you regret. If you see something that you don’t use then simply cancel your subscription.
Also while looking at your bank statement look for incorrect charges. The banks are not always right when it comes to your spending. So make sure that what is being charged is correct. I remember one time I got charged twice for something at a gas station and I simply called my bank and they helped me out.
Also be on the lookout for fees. I know many banks have fees if you happen to overcharge your account and you end up paying a hefty fee for the convenience. These charges can add up and soon enough you are spending more than anticipated. Often times, if you call up the bank, explain the situation and ensure them that you will fix it the same day (or fix it before you call), they will reverse the fee.
The biggest thing with keeping on top of your bank account is accountability. Seeing that money leave so quick, or that credit card balance keep going up can be a great wake up call.
15) Be Specific with your Spending
Your monthly budget should end with $0. What I mean is, every dollar should have a home and your budget shouldn’t end with a little something-something as spending money. I budget out my eating out money, my groceries, gas, EVERYTHING.
Leaving money free floating is a recipe for disaster.
14) Have a Financial Plan
Your plan is going to help you. A plan is the steps necessary to reach your goal. So if you have a plan then you know what needs to be done. Write it out so you can see your steps on paper.
I have “goal bills” and I know what my annual salary needs to be in order to reach those goals. Having my plan laid out helps me set goals.
13) Plan Ahead
Fail to plan, plan to fail. This quote applies to almost every aspect of life. It is very important that you plan. Planning is taking the time to think about what is going to happen so you are ready.
Not every time will you foresee what will happen but if you have an idea then you can adjust to the best of your ability. Try to plan your finances for the future so you can start to save money and get ahead if possible.
The more financially prepared you are, the better. For starters, let’s think about the money you spend regularly but maybe not monthly, like oil changes. Add those into your budget too.
12) Saying NO Needs to Come Easy to You
You need to set boundaries. You need to be able to say “No” when the time calls for it. For example, if someone invites you to eat out and you planned to cook, then cook. Do not feel obligated to always do as requested from you.
There is power in the word “No” and you need to learn to harness that power. It can feel odd at first but you know what’s in your best interest. So assess the situation and do not feel scared to say no.
11) Research What You Buy
Before you buy anything there needs to be research on what you are considering. We live in a world of options, so make sure you make the best decision and this means research.
If you get an insight into what you are buying you can plan ahead for what may come. For example, if you buy a car and do your research on the car then you could find out that it might not be a smart investment due to complications that may occur.
Research could help you in the long run.
I like looking at cars and their prices. A Ford decreases in value very quickly while Nissans don’t. When you look at the reliability of the car, there isn’t a ton of difference. If you can get 2 years out both cars, the better financial move is to go with the Ford that’s 60% cheaper.
10) Find a Hobby That Makes You Money
This fall, I decided to buy a fixer-upper car to buy and fix. I’m not a mechanic but my Grandpa is and I wanted to try my hand at it. A hobby, like working on cars, can make you money.
Craft hobbies can also make you money. Find something you love to do that you can flip for some pocket change.
Another example of making money from your hobby is refurbishing furniture and reselling it. Your hobbies can be used to your benefit if you find the right market.
9) Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need
This is an obvious statement; however, this can become overlooked if you have bad spending habits. Many times people enter in a spending frenzy and decide to purchase things they do not need.
The essentials include food and shelter. If you have a place to live and food in your belly, you will survive. So actually this is all you need to buy. But we know that this is not the case.
When making a decision on buying something, ask yourself these three important questions. 1) Does this benefit me or my family? 2) Is this item essential for me from a legal standpoint? 3) Could I be spending money elsewhere that would benefit me?
Clothing is the number one danger when it comes to overspending or buying something you don’t need.
8) Add More Money to your Budget
We all have the goal to increase how much money we have. That’s why I like to use two main websites to earn money by doing simple tasks or your day to day shopping.
Ebates is similar to a credit card in that it gives you cash back when you spend money. Except it has nothing to do with your credit, or social, or anything complex like that. All you do is sign up and instead of going to Macys.com, you go first to Ebates.com, then click Macy’s and BAM. 10% back on your purchase. It’s as simple as that. You can get paid through PayPal or a physical check to your house.
Another way to add money to your budget is by just searching the web. Yes, I said it! By just searching the web you can earn money through Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is a search engine very similar to Google but it rewards its users. After a certain amount of time of browsing and searching, Swagbucks gives you SB points. Once you have a certain amount of SB points you can redeem them for either gift cards or earn money through PayPal.
You can also earn SB points by filling out surveys and referring friends.
7) Live Beneath Your Means
Living beneath your means is really a lifestyle and a mental state. I don’t have a cell in my body that wants to live lavish. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to travel, go out, try new foods, etc but I don’t have to do it while driving a $100,000 car.
Not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, But that isn’t frugal living. In fact, I read The Millionaire Next Door and it goes over self-made millionaire habits and how they live. 99% of it is frugal.
6) Don’t Become a Slave to the Money
Money comes and goes. You can’t take it with you when you die, but you can’t live without it. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it part of the equation.
It is very important to find that balance between earning money and not living for money. Earning enough to live well is definitely a focus of mine but I don’t work 80 hours a week and neglect my family to make more money.
5) Reward Yourself
In order to keep sanity, you must treat yourself every so often. If you don’t you will become miserable. Learn when the time is right to reward yourself. This may be when you save a certain amount or when you have denied your wants for a certain amount of time. Or even just a plan to splurge on yourself.
Maybe a dinner out once a month, or you know that Cyber Monday is your day for clothes shopping every year. By rewarding yourself, you ’re given something to look forward to.
4) Budget, Budget, Budget
Before you budget, you must know what budgeting means. Budgeting is the process of creating a plan on how to spend your money. If you do not understand this concept then you will never master it. But only you can be the Master of your budget. You set the goal and you are the one who either accomplishes it or not.
You must stay on top of your budget and ingrain it to memory. Otherwise, you will slip up and soon enough you will not be accomplishing your goals. So remind yourself of why you are budgeting and get on track to living frugally.
3) Don’t assume you can’t do something and pay someone to do it. You probably can do it yourself for free.
Many things can be fixed on your own. Use the internet to your advantage. If you do not know how to fix something then Youtube it or Google it. YouTube is my best friend honestly.
Paying someone is almost always a win as far as how much time you have to put into something. What a professional can do in 5 hours might take you two months of time here and there to do.
Most times, the cost savings is worth it because these things aren’t emergencies.
Ask yourself, does this have to get done right now? If it can wait, I would try to save on labor and other overhead costs by doing it yourself.
2) Know the value of your time
I’m totally going to contradict myself here…
You need to figure out what you are worth. When you set out to do something, give yourself an hourly wage, does the time you’re going to spend doing it make sense?
For example, If I install a dry well myself, it will take at least 10 hours of my own time but will save me $1,000 for each drum I install. Even if it takes me three weekends of doing three hours here and there, it’s well worth it.
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
Learn to talk. Negotiating is not normal in our capitalistic society. Everyone is used to set prices and that is it. We believe that the price is justified
Go abroad to a developing country and tell me the prices street vendors set are reasonable. If you do not haggle with them, you are crazy. It may seem weird at first but you will get used to it.
Now not everything can be negotiated down but it is worth a try. Have some fun!
I’m not sure why, but it’s important to me that all people succeed. I’m the type of person that runs to my entire family as soon as I find a new way to spend less but still live well. In fact, I do my Mom’s Christmas shopping for her since I know I can get the best deals.
I want you all to know that these tips aren’t me guessing. They’re the tips I use every day to have a better life while keeping more in my pocket (which leads to doing more).