Living your best life should be your number one priority. However, this is a difficult objective to achieve, when you keep finding yourself in financial jams or difficulties. This is where the concept of frugal living comes in. By adopting a frugal lifestyle, you can still engage with things that bring you joy, while saving money to secure your financial future. Consider the following tips for frugal living.
What is Frugal Living?
Frugal living refers to the act of spending money in an extremely planned and conscious manner. This means that you allocate your finances to be spent on higher priority needs and requirements. That being said, frugal living does not mean that you lead a stripped-down version of your life. If you adopt a frugal lifestyle, you wouldn’t necessarily have to give up on all of your worldly desires and luxuries. On the contrary, you can still invest in the things you love, but only in the way that adds value to your life. Hence, you spend money on the things that spark joy, while simultaneously reducing expenditure on living practices that fail to yield a similar effect.
Participating in the frugal lifestyle is quite different than living cheaply. This is because you do not entirely give up on the things you want, to only buy the cheapest items on the shelf. Instead, you conduct a personal analysis to identify the things that matter to you most, add most value to your life and allocate your budget to favour that choice. For instance, if your desire to go on a vacation, outside the country, is much greater than eating takeaway food on a daily basis, then you can cut the cost by cooking at home for a year and use the savings to plan the vacation. In frugal living, you prioritise by choosing between luxuries which matter to you.
With that said, the decision to adopt the frugal lifestyle would not be an easy transition. If you decide to embrace this way of living, you may have to go through a series of trial and error to truly discover the measures that work for you. If you immediately throw yourself in reducing the costs of every item, in the long run, you may not feel comfortable with the frugal lifestyle. Conversely, if you fail to prioritise and reduce cost in appropriate areas, the savings may not meet your expectations, which in turn, would lead you into abandoning the frugal living method. You need to make informed choices to make it work for you.
Keeping this in mind, it is essential for you to go through a phase of experimentation, where you switch to cheaper alternatives of brands and cut costs in different areas of your budget. Once you find a system that you are comfortable with, you can implement it to you daily ways of living. It is important that you spend your time perfecting the system patiently, as you may have to try several different strategies before you find the right one!
Advantages of frugal living
The frugal living strategy allows you to achieve your financial goals at a much quicker pace. By transitioning to a frugal lifestyle, you can put your money towards the things that you find more desirable. With this method, you can further make a return from your savings.
A frugal lifestyle can be extremely beneficial if you are struggling with debt. By switching to this method, you learn the art of saving and managing money, so that you systematically pay off your loans and debts. Going through this experience would not only teach you ways to manage your finances, but it would also add the element of discipline in your spending, as well as your way of living.
On the other hand, frugal living strategies can also provide you with the initial amount required to make an investment. If you control your spending in certain areas, you can save enough money that can be placed on a small-scale business, real estate opportunity or investing in dividends stocks. This would increase your overall income, and secure your financial future. Moreover, if you are thinking about investing in your education and enhancing your skills then you can choose this strategy to save enough, so you can pay for that course or masterclass, without using credit card or other types of debt.
Additionally, if you wish to start your own business, but lack the capital required to take the first step, switching to a frugal way of living can work in your favour. This spending routine would allow you to preserve an amount, every month, which could then build-up over time and can be invested to turn your business idea into a reality. By implementing this mode of life, you would not have to rely on loans to start up your business venture.
Transitioning to the frugal way of living can also be beneficial for your mental health. Whether you are living with debt, or are just looking for ways to save some extra cash, this form of saving can allow you to feel stress-free. By applying this method, you would know that you are taking action to proficiently manage your finances. As a result, you would experience reduced anxiety.
In addition to improving your mental wellbeing, being frugal further allows you to inspect, analyse and evaluate your spending practises. When you partake in this way of living, you get the opportunity to be conscious of your shopaholic tendencies. For instance, you may hold the habit of impulsively purchasing items on sale, which do not offer any value to you. However, as these items are advertised with a discount, you may find yourself feeling compelled into making a purchase. As a result, when start spending deliberately and consciously, you can gain insight into these customs and subsequently, take the steps required to change them.
Frugal Living Tips for Food and Groceries
Food and groceries are one of the essential needs that you should not sacrifice on. Eating healthy food should be at the top of your priority list. However, if you engage in the regular practice of eating out, you would need to make a transition for your frugal lifestyle to work. Having said that, food and grocery items can consume most of your monthly budget. Particularly, if you enjoy eating healthy, organic food, you may find it difficult to cut down the cost in this department. However, with the frugal lifestyle, you do not have to cut cost by investing in highly processed, yet economically priced food items. Instead, you can consider the ensuing tips which can help you eat healthy food, at low prices.
- The first thing you need to do is set an amount for your monthly groceries. This budget can be created based on your list of priority items. However, it is recommended to place food and groceries somewhere at the top
- You can create monthly meal plans for yourself to ensure that you avoid buying extra and unnecessary items from the grocery store. Additionally, if you already have a meal plan set, you wouldn’t feel tempted to order food from your favourite restaurant or takeaway. This way, you can save money by preventing unnecessary purchases
- If you have created the meal plans, you would have an idea of the grocery items that you regularly require for your food. Hence, you can purchase those products in bulk quantity, so you can benefit from the discount. Although, be sure to check the expiration date on the items before making a purchase
- To cut the cost on grocery shopping, you can use the coupons to purchase items that you genuinely need. If you have coupons for an item that you have no use for, do not use it – to avoid compulsive buying. Coupons can be found in newspapers, magazines, or you can just download and print them from online sources
- You may not always have the appetite to finish your all food, despite cooking a calculated amount. In such cases, you can pop your food in the fridge so that it doesn’t go to waste. You can then reheat and consume it as your next meal or a snack
- If you have a habit of buying water bottles, you can easily reduce expenditure by purchasing a water filter jug. A water filtration jug can directly clean out tap water, making it safe for consumption
- You can also compare the rates at different grocery stores and choose a cheaper alternative.
- Fruit and vegetables vendors in town markets can sometimes offer fresh produce at a much cheaper rate than supermarket, making a trip worth exploring
- If you have the time and space, you can grow your own produce to cut the cost on fresh fruits and vegetables
Prudent Ways to Save on Household Cleaning
Purchasing cleaning equipment can be an addiction. This is because when you buy items that imply the organisation of your home, you get blinded by the illusion of getting your life sorted. However, these cleaning supplies sit in your storage until they expire. While cleaning supplies do not cost a lot, the total cost can be added up over time. Hence, adopting the frugal lifestyle would require you to cut back on excessively purchasing cleaning items. That being said, you can still keep your home neat, clean and organised by applying the following tips.
- Instead of purchasing different cleaning supplies for various surfaces, you can create your own all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer by mixing a solution of half-part water and half-part white distilled vinegar. This cleaner can be used on countertops, walls, stainless steel surfaces, windows, chrome fixtures, and plastic surfaces
- Use a lint-free cloth or excess towels, instead of paper-based products to clean. The cloths can be washed and re-used. By taking this initiative, you can save money and play your part in saving the planet
- To further reduce your spending on disposable paper-based products, you can invest in a bidet. While the initial cost may be high, you can save a lot of money, in the long run, by not purchasing toilet paper
- You can save money by creating organizers yourself. Recycle old cardboard or shoeboxes to create equipment to keep your closet neat and clutter-free. This will help you stay organised on a budget
- In order to reduce the cost of your laundry, switch to a more generic brand of detergent. Additionally, you can choose to do your laundry every two weeks to save electricity and water. If you have the option of using a clothing line to dry your clothes, can opt for that choice (instead of using the dryer) to conserve electricity
- Vacuum cleaners are an expensive purchase and they can increase your electricity bill. You can switch to a manual vacuum, or clean your house using a broomstick or a carpet-cleaning brush
- You can also recycle your trash bags to save money. Instead of throwing the plastic lining away with the garbage, you can just empty out its contents and reuse the plastic bag
- You can also cut costs on buying a mop cleaner. You may recycle an old T-shirt, attach it to a wiper/wooden stick and use it to clean your floors
- If your living space needs a paint job, you can consider purchasing the same colour in bulk, instead of buying different cans that can potentially go to waste. Additionally, rather than hiring professional painters, paint your living space over the weekend or two
Economise your Clothing
Clothing is something that can last for years. However, despite clothes having the ability to be durable, they can eat up a lot of your budget. If you truly want to understand the amount of money you spend on clothes, try this little experiment. Go to your closet, take out every article of clothing you own, and pile it up on the bed. You would be able to see the huge pile of clothing items that you have in possession. Now ask yourself which ones you haven’t worn in months.
Living the frugal life doesn’t mean that you cannot wear clothing that you feel comfortable in. Consider the following tips to economise your clothing:
- Instead of buying clothes from high-end clothing stores, shop at an economy store for vintage, yet trendy items, (e.g. Primark)
- You can up-cycle your old outfits to reflect the modern, cheek style by DIY-ing your old articles of clothing. Watch videos on YouTube to upcycle your clothes on a budget
- To save money on clothes, keep an eye out for sales. However, when you do attend a sale, make sure that you only buy items that you really (really!) need
- For every new clothing item that you buy, sell an older clothing item online (use eBay) to earn some of the amount you paid for or sell it to organisations who buy clothes per kg – just Google it!
- If you have to attend a wedding or an event that requires formal wear, rent dresses or suits, rather than paying full price for an item that you are likely to wear only once or twice in your life
- When you are purchasing clothes, always use cash as a method of payment. Avoid credit card transactions as you may buy more than you need and end up in debt
- It is also recommended to buy versatile items that you can pair with other items of clothing.
- If you have friends with similar clothing size, host a clothing exchange session. This would give you access to new styles of clothing without having to pay for it
- Rather than paying for expensive brands, you can switch to buying cheaper alternatives with a similar level of quality
Introduce Low-Budget travel to your Life
Travelling can be extremely costly. Whether you are commuting to work, or planning a vacation abroad, the total fare can leave a huge dent on your wallet. As a result, it is extremely important to familiarise yourself with the low-budget travelling tips – requirement to lead a frugal life. Consider the following advice into consideration in order to reduce your travel costs:
- Switch to walking or bicycling to closer locations. Walking and cycling are extremely advantageous, as it can save you money, keep your body healthy and protect the environment
- Use public transport as you commute to work
- If you have the option of carpooling, you can save a lot of money by dividing the travelling costs amongst other passengers
- If you are choosing to drive, invest in a car that is energy efficient or ‘green car’. This will save you money on the fuel costs
- Use apps that inform you about the cheapest fuel station within your vicinity. This will help you cut down on the cost of fuel
- Driving at an increased speed can burn the fuel quicker. Always follow the speed limit- it will save your life and your money!
- Avoid driving in rush hours, this will save your fuel that you will burn getting stuck in traffic
- When you are living the frugal lifestyle, make sure that you wash your own car to save those extra ££s
- If you are planning to buy a plane ticket, use the incognito mode on your browser. The prices of airfares can increase if your browser stores cookies from previous browsing sessions of you searching for airfares
- Consider investing in a quality VPN service if you are a frequent traveller. VPN will change your location while searching for airline tickets and hotels. When you look at prices from a different location, the cost is sometimes lower
- Oftentimes, it is relatively cheaper to pay for the ticket in a foreign currency. Therefore, if you have the option of paying in a different currency, without any added fee, you should take advantage of it
- Booking an air ticket with a budget or smaller airline (i.e. not a flag carrier) can save you more money
- Consider booking separate tickets for a connecting flight, instead of booking a flight with a layover
- Consider flying in and out of nearby regional or second largest airport to save money. For example, flying from London Gatwick is considerably cheaper than flying from London Heathrow due to reduced airport taxes
- If you are planning a vacation, look at off season months which are generally the cheapest option. The flight prices are often at their lowest straight after school holidays
Entertainment for the Frugal Lifestyle
Living a frugal life should not stop you from having a good time. You are entitled to have fun and enjoy the great experiences that life has to offer. However, you would have to find activities that entertain you on a budget. When you are living the frugal life, you may not be able to attend concerts or live shows, but you can find other activities that are just as fun. Take the following tips into account to entertain yourself on a budget:
- For a weekend activity, go to a local park for a mid-day picnic. Take some homemade sandwiches, board games and friends to enjoy the day
- If you are fortunate enough to live near a beach, spend your weekend by the seaside. However, be sure to bring your own snacks to avoid unnecessary purchases as prices at public attractions are generally higher
- Your friends are all you need to have a good time. When you are leading the frugal life – host a games night! Host a ‘one dish party’ to ensure that the burden of cooking and serving food doesn’t land entirely on you
- Rather than going to a theatre to watch a movie at home or even host a movie night!
- Check your local newspaper to find community events to attend. Community events commonly do not have a ticket fee
- If you are dying to see a sports event, volunteer to work at the arena. This way, you can get in for free, and watch the game live
- Essentially, you can also host sports events with your friends. Go to a local park, or use your backyard (or your friends) for these events.
- Visit museums, they are generally free to enter and you will spend quality time learning about something new. For instance, you can go to the British Museum for free
- If you miss the endorphin rush of jamming to a live concert, consider visiting a city that has a good music scene. Several cities host live shows that are free of cost. This way, you can discover new music and experience the talent of upcoming artists
- You can also cancel your streaming service or cable service to cut down the entertainment costs. Instead, you can watch your favourite series on free online platforms. You can also use YouTube as a free source of entertainment
- You may also design a treasure hunt for you and your friends, as a fun weekend activity
Home décor – Design on a Budget!
Your home should make you feel welcomed and comfortable. A lot of your moods are influenced by the environment that we find yourself in. Therefore, living in a cluttered, unwelcoming, or a blank canvas of a home, can make you feel uncomfortable, grumpy and unhappy. As a result, living a frugal life should not stop you from decorating your home in a way that exudes your personality. Consider the following tips to design your home on a budget:
- Shop for furniture and decoration pieces at a thrift store. Thrift stores can provide you with a range of knick-knacks that can add value to your design
- Visit garage sales to find old furniture that you can upcycle and uplift to accommodate to your design
- You can also create your own furniture by following YouTube video tutorials
- From a design perspective, make simple changes to make the room attractive. For instance, rather than using wallpaper, paint one wall a bold colour to make it the central feature of the room
- Buy second-hand fairy lights to add a little drama to the room
- You can also use your old clothes to stuff pillowcases and make cushions
- Paint-over old furniture pieces to give them a new, contemporary look
- To revive your old dresser, decoupage it using wrapping paper and hodgepodge
- If you want to see some change in your house layout, periodically move the furniture around
- If you need to change your flooring, search online for different, cheaper alternatives that offer durability, as well as a modish look
- If your appliances are looking out-of-date, invest in spray paint and lay down a fresh coat to give them a brand-new look
- Give your room a centre feature by hanging a piece of fabric with an interesting print. For instance, use hand a bed sheet with a mandala on the wall
- If you have an artistic side, hang your own paintings or photographs on the wall and create a personal gallery as your centrepiece.
Trying out the frugal way of living would not require you to leave behind a lifestyle of luxuries, fun and entertainment. On the contrary, you can still live your passions by following the preceding tips and making a few and simple changes in your routine. You can find alternative options for the things you love and make sure that you live a life that brings you joy. The transition may not always be easy, but if you stay firm and disciplined, you can easily embark on the journey to living a frugal life – and actually enjoy it!