Frugal Living: The Ultimate Guide To Save Money In 2022
You’ve heard all about it.
Frugal living is a stepping stone to financial independence.
You’ve cut off expenses and followed the tips from frugal living blogs.
But you haven’t been able to stick with it.
Frugal living is like dieting.
It should be sustainable in the long term. Otherwise, you’ll end up eating the entire box of Oreos in one sitting.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to start frugal living in four steps.
The best part?
You’ll adapt these frugal living ideas to create a lifestyle that you love and helps you reach your financial goals.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is a Frugal Lifestyle?
First, we’ll go over what a frugal lifestyle is not.
Being frugal is not being cheap.
While many people use them as synonyms, there is a big difference between them.
J. Money, author of Budgets Are Sexy, says,
“… cheap is appropriately used in instances where people hold out on doing things for others because they don’t want to spend money. In this case, cheap can be interchangeably used with the word selfish.” (J. Money)
As long as you’re not skipping on tipping your waitress in the name of frugality, you’re not being cheap.
Being frugal means thinking about how you spend your money. It’s considering what is important to you and what isn’t.
Frugal people share traits such as:
- Purpose: they know what their savings are for, which fuels them to keep their frugal lifestyle.
- Priorities: they spend their money on things that are important to them.
- Consciousness: they know where their money goes and make the most of what they have.
- Creativity: they find ways to save money by learning new skills and DYI-ing whenever they can.
Is It Worth It Being Frugal?
The short answer? Yes.
Here are a few benefits of frugal living:
- Reaching your financial goals faster.
- Paying off your mortgage.
- Learning to appreciate what you have.
- Gaining resiliency to face financial crises.
- Becoming more generous.
How Do You Live a Frugal Lifestyle?
Going frugal is a process.
The key to success is making tweaks in your lifestyle and seeing how that goes.
Experimenting is your new best friend.
Let’s go over the four steps that’ll help you switch from splurging to frugality.
1. Build Strong Foundations
First, get clear on why you want to live a frugal lifestyle.
You’re aiming to change your behavior. To change your behavior, you need a compelling goal.
That’s why it’s critical to understand why it’s important to you.
Write down how becoming frugal would improve your life.
Are you saving up to quit your job and travel around the world? Or maybe you’re a working mom who wants to stay home?
Whatever it is, write it down.
Having a visual statement of your why will remind you why you are changing your lifestyle.
The next step is to create a bucket list with things you’d love to do but haven’t done because you need more money.
Whether it’s traveling to the Maldives, renovating your kitchen, or saving up for early retirement — write it down.
2. Establish The Pillars of Frugality
In this step, you’ll determine where you can cut expenses without ruining your life.
Let me explain.
Say you love eating Oreos, and my first tip is to cut out non-essential foods. You decide to stop buying Oreos because you don’t need them to survive.
That’s a one-way ticket to failure.
At some point, you’ll go back to buy Oreos, thinking it’s okay to have Oreos once in a while (which totally is).
Then guilt creeps up.
You’ll feel like frugal living is not for you.
And you’ll quit.
You need to find what suits you better and allows you to save money.
Here’s how to prioritize your expenses:
- Brainstorm a list of all your expenses.
- Order the expenses by importance.
- Write an estimate of how much you spend on each category.
This list will show you where your money is going.
From this list, you’ll create a budget that fits your lifestyle.
A good budget is simple and easy to use.
Here’s how you can create one:
- Look at how much money you spend every month. Is it lower than your income, or does it exceed it?
- What are your fixed costs, such as housing and food?
- Dedicate a percentage of your income to paying your debt, saving, or investing.
- Are there any obvious categories where you can spend less? Can you repurpose that money for saving?
- Try using budgeting techniques such as The Balanced Money Formula or the Zero-Based Budget.
This strategy keeps you away from debt and helps you adjust your budget to your needs.
Aim to stay within your budget and review your expenses every month until you understand what’s essential and what’s not.
Keeping track of your expenses makes it easier for you. Download an expense-tracking app to help you stay on top of your expenses.
3. Best Frugal Living Tips
In this step, you’ll pick one or two tips to start experimenting with.
Remember, it’s better to go small and steady than all in and overwhelmed.
It might seem like you’re going too small but trust the process. It’ll help you create lasting habits and adjust to your new lifestyle.
Frugality in Finances
- Get a part-time job or side hustle to earn more money.
- Make a debt payment plan and get rid of it as soon as possible.
- Set up a monthly automatic transfer to your savings and investment accounts.
- Save up for an emergency fund.
- When you want to buy something, write it down along with the date. After a month, look at your list and see if you still want or need the object. This is called a 30-day list.
- Wait for the sales and discounts to buy an expensive item, like a TV.
- Keep track of product prices to learn how much they cost — this helps you know when something is on sale for real.
- Try renegotiating your water and electricity bills to lower what you pay.
- Double-check your bills and bank statements for possible errors
- Switch bank accounts if you’re paying too much in fees.
Frugality in Health
- Invest in equipment to exercise at home and save on the gym membership.
- Take care of your health, eat good food, and move your body; it’s cheaper than medical bills.
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol drinking.
- Drink more water. It’s better for your body and cheaper than sugary drinks.
- Reduce junk food and anything that’s premade.
Frugality at Home
- Plan your meals weekly to avoid buying more than you need.
- Check out coupons and grocery flyers for discounts on your grocery list.
- Cook food in bulk to reduce eating out and the time you invest in cooking.
- Invest in a slow cooker. It’s your best ally to create cheap recipes in bulk.
- Being on a budget doesn’t mean eating bland. Hit up Google or Pinterest and look for tasty, cheap recipes.
- Eat less meat; reducing the number of meals with meat will save you some money.
- Shop seasonal foods. It’s cheaper, and the fruits and vegetables are tastier.
- Try the shop brand; you probably won’t even tell the difference.
- Grow your own food, it’s cheap, easy, and you get a new frugal hobby.
- If you have food close to expiring, freeze it to keep it fresh for a longer time.
- Invest in a high-quality coffee machine and drink coffee at home rather than buying a to-go cup.
- Try making your own dressings, spice mixes, and cleaning solutions instead of buying premade.
- Know what you own to avoid clutter and double-buying things you already have.
- Sell anything you haven’t used in 3 years if it’s unlikely you’ll use it again.
- Only buy things you need.
- Buy used furniture and clothes. You’ll save money and put things to good use.
- Use reusable items instead of disposable ones; think razors, straws, paper plates, and napkins.
- Swap traditional lightbulbs to LED. You’ll save on your electricity bill and on buying lightbulbs.
- Use a thermostat to help you ensure that your house is warm and that you save on your electricity bill.
- Insulate your walls to ensure that the heat stays in and keep your electricity bill in check.
- Consider buying songs or movies instead of paying for a monthly subscription.
- Look into wardrobe capsules to create many outfits with a few clothes.
- Save up some money and buy quality clothes instead of buying cheap things that you’ll have to replace sooner.
- Buy at the end of the season to take advantage of sales prices.
- Shave your wool clothes, refresh their look, and avoid buying a new sweater.
- Learn to sew/repair your clothes instead of throwing them away.
- Try sun-drying your clothes instead of using the dryer to save on electricity.
- Borrow or rent clothes that you’ll only wear once. Consider renting your wedding dress instead of buying one if you’re getting married.
- Keep a tidy home. Make sure that the things you own make sense in your life.
- Learn how to fix broken things instead of replacing them.
- Get rid of your home landline.
- Buy your internet modem rather than leasing it.
- Prepay your cellphone to avoid extra charges and keep your cellphone use in check.
- Start using kitchen rags instead of paper towels.
- Try a bidet; you’ll save up on toilet paper and have a cleaner booty, too.
- Unplug whenever you’re going out and won’t need your appliances.
- Wash your clothes in cold water because the energy needed is lower.
- The ultimate tip for saving money is downsizing your home. Move to a house that fits your needs more than your desires.
Frugality in Transport
- Buy a reliable, cost-effective car that fits your budget.
- Have only one car per family to reduce expenses.
- Shop around for insurance. Find the best coverage at the lowest price.
- Walk or bike when you can; this saves you money on gas and gets you some exercise.
- Do all your errands in one day to save money on gas and time in your week.
- Wash your car; there’s no need to take it to the car wash.
- Roll the windows to reduce gas costs.
- Take a look at how much interest you’re paying and refinance it if it’s too high.
- Keep up with your oil changes to ensure it doesn’t break down, and you have to waste money on fixing it.
Frugality in the Family
- Spare on baby items by buying only what you and your baby need, not everything people tell you to buy.
- Try cloth diapers to save a ton of money and help the environment.
- Start a frugal hobby as a family, such as hiking, biking, or gardening.
- Dress your kids in second-hand clothes. Visit your thrift shop to find high-quality pieces at a better price.
- Instead of going out, have fun on a family game night.
- Teach your kids about money. It helps them understand how you manage your finances.
Frugality in Relationships
- Light up some candles, cook something tasty, and wear fancy clothes to have a memorable at-home date night.
- Swap a night out with a dinner party at home. You can tell your friends to bring some food and have a potluck night.
- DIY your gifts or pay for them with gift cards that you’ve gotten in the past.
Frugality in Entertainment
- Read as much as you want for free by checking your local library.
- Less TV, more exercise and reading to save up on electricity, and saying goodbye to cable.
- Find free entertainment like museums or public concerts in your city.
- Enjoy the fresh air by making a picnic in the park, going for a hike, or relaxing on a bench in a public square.
- Take on a frugal hobby such as yoga or gardening.
- When you go out, try to have appetizers or dessert at home.
Frugality in Travel
- Take the free roads and avoid tolls.
- Flights are much cheaper if you buy them months before your trip, so book with time.
- Use comparison flight apps to find the best deals.
- Book directly with the airline to avoid paying extra for cancellations, delays, etc.
- Companies can track the flights you’ve searched before, and inflate their prices, so use incognito mode or VPN.
- Travel to cheap destinations; they’re many places to visit on a low budget.
- Avoid souvenirs to spare some money and luggage weight.
- Travel offseason; prices are much lower, and the destinations are less crowded.
- Take advantage of free walking tours; get to know the city you’re visiting without wasting money.
- Choose how to treat yourself by selecting one experience you don’t want to miss out on.
- Travel with your carry-on only to avoid luggage fees.
- Check your bank’s international rates and change banks if they’re too high.
- Carry snacks everywhere you go to avoid eating in restaurants, especially at the airport.
- Get a place with a kitchen and cook as much as possible to save money.
- Shop at the local market to experience the local culture, find the best prices, and eat fresh food.
- Look at the prices on the menus to make sure they’re within your budget.
- Join travel loyalty programs to save a lot of money with discounts and coupons.
- Pay for your flight and live in the country for free by volunteering.
- Explore the city like a local and save money on taxis by using public transport.
- Save money for your trip beforehand, and stay within your budget.
Frugality in Retirement
- Drop unnecessary insurance. Take a look at your insurance plans and only keep what you need.
- Take a look at off-peak deals in restaurants, hotels, flights, and attractions.
- Grab all the senior discounts by asking around in shops if they have something for you.
- Have a fund for healthcare costs.
- Pay yourself to help you stick to a budget and avoid reckless spending.
- If possible, don’t stop working. Try a side-hustle, sell something, or turn your hobby into profit.
- Invest in age-proofing your home to avoid injuries and hospital costs.
- Consider paying someone to help around the house. It’s a small investment to take care of yourself.
Frugal Living Tips From the Great Depression
- Rent your spare room using platforms such as Airbnb to make some extra money.
- Exchange your products/services for someone else’s.
- Cut waste by cutting around food, using overripe bananas for baking, and using every drop of your products.
- Forage for food; pick mushrooms, go to pick-your-own-food farms, or take fruit from the trees,
- Learn to be content with what you have, appreciate the things you already have.
- Repurpose and recycle by turning old clothes into cleaning rags or using magazines for DYI projects.
4. Tidy Up and Maintain Your Frugal Lifestyle
Each month, take a look at your efforts. Evaluate what’s worked, what needs tweaking, and what doesn’t fit.
On your revision day, answer the following questions:
- What are the frugal changes that I made?
- How did I adjust to the changes?
- How has it impacted my life?
- Is there anything that’s not working?
- What can I change back or modify?
Celebrate your wins, write down your action plan, and stop doing what doesn’t work.
Finally, come back to this list and try out a new tip.
Becoming frugal is all about experimenting, adjusting, and learning.
It’s okay if something doesn’t work for you or if you find a different way to do it.
Frugality Is a Way of Living
Frugal living is about finding balance, taking control of your life, and making decisions that turn you into who you want to be.
You can eat an Oreo now and then, but that’s not the rule anymore. You change, you become aware of your spending, and you’re on your way to reaching your goals.
A happy, frugal life is possible for you.
Practice the tips we gave you for a couple of weeks. When they feel natural in your routine, come back and try something new.
In the long run, you’ll become an expert at simple frugal living.