Life is expensive, especially when you factor in all of the bills you need to pay every month. But while it’s important to ensure that your financial obligations are met, that doesn’t mean that you should be spending more than necessary on certain items. Sure, cutting back on spending requires a conscious effort on your part, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. In fact, you can live frugally without necessarily sacrificing all the things you love.
Here are a few frugal living tips to consider that will leave you with plenty of extra money to do with as you please.
Your utility bills can be one of the biggest expenses on your list, so anything you can do to cut down on energy usage can help you save money every month. There are plenty of ways to reduce energy usage, but one of the most effective is to use a programmable thermostat.
While you want to make sure that you are comfortable when you’re in your home, there’s no sense in keeping the place extra cool or toasty if nobody’s there. During the day when you and your family members are at work or school, set your thermostat to dial back on the temperature a few degrees.
You can then set it to readjust to a more comfortable temperature before you get home so that your home is ready for you. If you do this every day for 8 hours at a time, you can save as much as 15% to 20% on your electric bill every year!
Do you really need all those channels that you might watch once in a blue moon, or perhaps not at all? Rather than paying for all those extra channels, you might want to review your current cable package and make some money-saving adjustments. Choose packages that may have fewer channel options but cost a fraction of the price.
Just about every cable company offers packages that include the basics, including news and entertainment channels. You may even find yourself watching less television – which is always a good thing – and doing something more productive and beneficial for your mind and body as a result.
3. Shop With a List
Do you make impulse purchases? How many times have you gone shopping for a few items and ended up buying several? Whether you’re heading to the grocery store or a department store, shopping with a list can be a great way to save money. Following a strategic list will keep you focused on what you need and also streamline your shopping trip.
4. Go out for Appys at Happy Hour instead of a Full Meal
If you want to live a more frugal lifestyle, eating out less often can make a huge difference in what you’ve got leftover in your wallet. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy dining out once in a while. That said, how you dine can help you save a few bucks.
Instead of going out for a full dinner, consider ordering a smaller (and cheaper) appetizer platter, and dine out during happy hour when drinks are half price. You may even want to share a meal with your dinner date to cut back on expenses. Or, consider going out for lunch instead of dinner, as this mid-day meal tends to be less expensive.
5. Pack your own Lunch
If you add up how much you spend on lunches each day, you might be unpleasantly surprised. It’s easy to spend at least $50 or more every week on lunches, which you can easily save by brown-bagging it. Prepare your lunch the night before and make your own coffee in the morning to bring with you on your commute to work. This tip alone can help you save upwards of $200 every month – imagine what you can do with that extra cash!
When you see a staple on sale at the supermarket or department store, stock up. Non-perishable items that you are going to buy anyway, like toilet paper, can be bought in bulk when they’ve been discounted. Getting a deal on expensive items like these can help you save a pretty penny.
7. Use Credit Cards with Points
If you’re going to use a credit card to buy things, you might as well use one that allows you to collect points with every purchase. Some cards allow you to gather points to be put towards free groceries, travel discounts, and other types of savings.
Of course, it’s important to control your spending when using a credit card, which is why it’s typically recommended to shop with cash instead. But if you’re able to keep expenditures down when shopping with a credit card, consider using one that will actually give you something for free in return.
8. Ditch the Gym Membership
Staying fit is important for your overall health, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars every year in a gym membership to maintain your fitness levels. There is plenty you can do to stay in shape without spending time in the gym.
Go jogging, use the stairs in your house, buy a few low-cost dumbbells to be used at home, or get yourself an at-home workout DVD from the library. You’d be amazed at how much you can do outside of the gym to stay fit, all without spending a dime.
9. Make your own Housecleaning Products
Cleaning solutions can be pretty expensive, but they also tend to be laced with a ton of harmful chemicals. Not only can you save a great deal of money by using homemade cleaning products, you might also be doing your health a favor too.
Some common ingredients to be used to make household cleaning concoctions include white vinegar and baking soda, which do just as good a job at cleaning your home without the chemicals – or the cost – of store-bought products.
10. Buy Used
There’s nothing wrong with shopping at thrift stores or second-hand shops for your next piece of furniture or appliance. They’ll be considered “used” the second you bring them home anyway. If you can get a table or microwave at a fraction of the cost of buying new, you can easily save a few hundred bucks without even trying.
11. Grow your own Veggies
The price of produce is pretty high these days, but you’ve still got to get your fill of fruits and veggies. Rather than buying them, consider growing them yourself. You can even do this year-round by starting a small vegetable and herb patch inside your home or in a DIY greenhouse if the space permits. Not only can you save money, you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that you’re eating 100% organic, pesticide-free food.
12. Learn to be Handy
Owning a home is expensive, but it can be even more costly if you have to hire people to come in and fix things that you might be able to do yourself. Even if you’re not a natural handyperson, you can still learn to do some minor repairs and projects. Take the time to get familiar with some common household repairs that may need attention, such as fixing paint chips or unclogging sink drains. Doing so can save you the cost and inconvenience of having a professional come to your home for small projects.
The Bottom Line
Living frugally doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the enjoyment of life. On the contrary; there are plenty of frugal living tips to adopt that will still allow you to take advantage of all the things that make you happy. By scaling back on certain things, you can save a great deal of money and live well within your means.