Stretching your money can be tricky, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or have a lower income. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many people, but by following a few frugal tips, you may still live comfortably and afford the items you need.
A report by LendingClub revealed that an astounding 63% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck as they struggle to keep up with the pace of inflation. Unfortunately, many Americans have had to resort to their cash reserves or borrow money to make ends meet. These frugal living tips can not only help you survive, but set you up to become financially independent.
What is Frugal Living?
Frugal living means knowing how to manage your money wisely and getting the most out of your income. This includes finding ways to save money on groceries, entertainment, housing, transportation, and more. It also means being aware of your spending and setting a budget that works with your financial goals.
Following frugal living tips doesn’t have to mean deprivation—it simply means making conscious choices about your spending so that you can live comfortably without breaking the bank.
Frugal Tips and Tricks
Living on a budget can often feel like you’re missing out or have to sacrifice too much. However, this isn’t true if you approach it with the right mindset and strategies!
Here are eight frugal tips for living comfortably on a budget:
1. Track Your Spending
One of the best ways to become frugal is by making a budget and sticking to it. Knowing what you have coming in and where your money is going out can help you identify opportunities to save.
Awareness of where you spend your money is one of the most important steps in budgeting. Track all your big and small expenses to determine how much you can divert into a savings account. It is a smart idea to differentiate between fixed costs (such as rent and insurance) from variable expenses (food, clothing, etc.).This will help you identify areas where you can cut back and prioritize your spending.
If your financial records aren’t clear, consider writing down your expenses in a diary. You can use this to track your progress and see how your spending habits are changing over time.
2. Save Money on Groceries
Grocery shopping is one of the most significant expenses that can quickly add up if you’re not careful. To save money on groceries, try buying in bulk and taking advantage of store sales, discounts, and coupon apps. Bulk items are usually cheaper and will save you a few trips to your local grocery store.
You can also look for generic brands, which are usually less expensive than name brands and taste just as good. Make sure to plan your meals ahead of time, so you know what you need, and bring a list when shopping to avoid impulse buys.
Consider availing of an online grocery delivery service if it curbs your impulse buys and saves some gas. Instacart, the grocery delivery service, has a great referral program! When you refer family and friends, they will get $10 off their first order. And as a bonus for your effort, you’ll also receive $10 off your next purchase. Easy peasy! Walmart and Fresh Direct have similar programs.
3. Cut Down on Energy Costs
One of the easiest ways to save money is by simply using less energy. Unplug any electrical appliances that you don’t need. Hang your clothes on the line instead of using the dryer. Turn off the lights when leaving a room, and adjust your air conditioner’s thermostat according to the season.
The Department of Energy states that water heating accounts for about 20% of your home energy use. Lowering your hot water consumption, utilizing energy-saving techniques, and selecting an energy-efficient water heater for your home swimming pool, if you have one, can drastically reduce the amount you spend on monthly bills.
You can also switch to energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, which seem like an investment initially, but they can reduce your carbon footprint and lower your expenses over time. Additionally, you can look for a better energy deal with your provider if you think their rates are too high.
4. Cut Down on Entertainment Costs
Entertainment costs can quickly add up. Instead of going to pricey restaurants or buying expensive tickets, look for local events and activities that are either free or discounted. You can also rent movies or borrow books from your local library for free.
If you’re looking for something more active, consider joining a local sports team or finding a running group to join. It’s a great way to stay in shape and socialize without spending much money.
There are also plenty of free or low-cost activities that you can do with your family and friends. Going to the beach, hiking in the mountain, or even watching a movie marathon at home are all activities that don’t require spending much money.
5. Watch Your Credit Card Spending
Credit cards are a great way to build your credit score and can come in handy for emergencies, but if they’re not properly managed, they can quickly lead you into a downward spiral of credit card debt.
You may think it sounds farfetched, but some individuals are so committed to frugal living that they take drastic measures, such as freezing their credit cards in ice, to prevent themselves from using them.
You may not need this extremely frugal tip; however, one great way to prevent overspending and curb your habits is to remove your saved credit card details online.
Having your credit card information stored online is a great convenience, but it can lead to impulse buys and overspending. Saving your credit card details online can be a major temptation that leads to regretful purchases. To avoid this, don’t save your financial details on websites!
Leave your credit card at home in a hard-to-reach place to slow down the buying process. This way, you’ll be able to think twice before making a purchase.
6. Go Meatless At Least One Day Per Week
Meat can be expensive so if you’re looking for ways to spend less money, go meatless. Eating a vegetarian meal once or twice a week can save you a bundle. You don’t have to go completely vegetarian, just try and reduce your meat consumption.
Kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of protein. You can also make salads and other delicious vegetarian dishes that don’t require spending a lot of money.
Vegetarian meals can be just as delicious and filling as meat-based dishes; they’re good for your health and the environment. So if you’re looking for ways to save money, try going meatless at least one day a week.
7. Practice a Little DIY
DIY projects will help you live frugally and save extra money in the process. You don’t need to be a pro handyman, but learning some basic skills and taking on small projects can save you a ton of money.
For example, start a vegetable garden in your backyard, make your own laundry detergent, or upcycle your furniture. These activities can save you money in the long run and give you great pride when you take on projects. They can also be a way of bonding with your kids and teaching them important skills.
In addition, you can save a lot of money when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. Instead of calling an expensive professional, you may be able to do the job yourself.
If you have a car and have a knack for mechanics, you may want to learn how to change your car’s oil, wash your car at home, and replace your windshield wipers or the battery when there are problems down the road, without depending on a dealer or auto parts store for the manual labor.
8. Buy Used Items
When it comes to saving money, buying used items can be a lifesaver. You can find great deals on used furniture, clothing, and electronics online or at thrift stores.
In addition, you can find used books and textbooks for a fraction of the cost. You can find used tools, kitchenware, and home appliances at thrift stores or yard sales.
You can also look into online marketplaces like Craigslist or eBay for some fantastic deals. Just make sure to do your research and check the condition of the item before you buy it.
I have previously purchased manufactured refurbished items, goods that had been returned and then refurbished to the original standards.
Utilizing the product’s original manufacturer to fix and replace components is undoubtedly advantageous. This guarantees that your device remains purely OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and ensures there are no foreign or third-party parts within your device. These products are significantly cheaper than new ones and often have a warranty.
Stay Within Budget
These frugal tips don’t mean you have to sacrifice your lifestyle or comfort. Living comfortably on a budget is possible with a few simple changes and some self-discipline. Try following some of these tips, and you’ll be sure to save money in the long run!
This article originally appeared on Hello Sensible.