The frugal life is sometimes pursued out of necessity and sometimes out of choice, in order to save for a rainy day or to achieve a life goal like retirement or starting your own business. Whatever your reason for being frugal, there are as many ways to save a buck as there are to spend one. It can even be fun to see how much you can pinch a penny.
Surprisingly, many millionaires actually live very frugally and choose to save money wherever they can. This may even be a big part of why they are millionaires; because they don’t spend all the money they get like most people do. Frugal living requires being comfortable with yourself and your surroundings rather than always wanting to “better” yourself with new clothes, a better car, or a bigger house.
The foundation of a frugal lifestyle is to find the least expensive way to do something that costs money – if indeed you need to do it at all. Some people are selectively frugal, picking and choosing only some areas to save money while spending liberally on the things they really care about. Others try to be frugal in every area to get the most benefit out of their limited dollars.
Frugal Living Basics
Household Budgeting Can Prevent Overspending
One of the best ways to be frugal is to make a household budget and plan how to spend, save and give your income. There are budgeting apps and computer programs you can use, or a simple Excel spreadsheet may do the trick. Even if you have to hand write your budget on the back of a used envelope, it’s worth making a budget so that you don’t end up dealing with regret from overspending later.
Establish a Debt-Free Life
Living debt-free is challenging and requires discipline and the ability to say “no” to yourself, your spouse, and even your kids if you have them. If you can live on less money than you make, you will be able to maintain a debt-free life. While it can be difficult, many people find it worthwhile to be debt-free and not make payments or pay interest on purchases made months or even years ago. If you are not debt-free, you can work toward paying off your debts so that you can enjoy a debt-free lifestyle.
Is It a Want or a Need?
A major frugal lifestyle principle involves asking yourself whether a potential expense is a want or a need. People determine wants and needs differently, and it’s important to figure out where you draw the line for yourself and your household. While there is nothing wrong with buying the things you want if you have enough money, you want to make sure your needs are being met before you worry too much about your wants.
Bargain Shopping Is a Great Way to Save Money
Finding bargains can save you a significant amount of money on the things you need to buy. There are many ways to bargain shop, including couponing, shopping online, and following seasonal patterns of discounting in stores. You can also find bargains on items at yard sales, thrift shops, or online sites like eBay. If you want to follow frugal principles it would be wise to realize, however, that buying items you won’t use does not make them bargains no matter how discounted they are.
One way to live frugally is to find ways to get things you need or want for free. Many companies give away free samples and products to consumers who ask for them, and using coupons can also result in free products when combined with sales. For those who need help combining coupons with sales, websites like The Krazy Coupon Lady and others can do much of the legwork for you.
Pay It Forward By Helping Others
While it may not seem frugal to give away some of what you have, many who live frugally are committed to helping others either directly by giving money or items, or by helping others learn how to live more frugally in a variety of ways. Helping others can be a way to pay it forward when someone has helped you and can help to spread the word about frugal living so more people can become debt-free.
Stay Frugal When Saving and Investing
When frugal living principles are followed long enough, you will have the ability to save and invest for various priorities like your kids’ college education, a vacation, or for your own retirement. It’s possible to be frugal even while saving and investing; pay attention to fees that are often charged by banks and financial advisors and avoid them when possible.