10 ways you can start living a more frugal lifestyle right now

10 ways you can start living a more frugal lifestyle right now

Raise your hand if you’d like to incorporate some frugal hacks into your lifestyle but don’t know where to start?

I frequently get asked about money saving hacks from friends, family and more recently readers who desperately want to start living more frugally but don’t know how or where to start scaling back. It can be intimidating right?

Frugal living isn’t all or nothing folks. There’s really no set benchmark about “making it” in the frugal world. Frugality is more a question of wise financial choices and even the smallest of changes to your day-to-day life can reap incredible payoffs money wise. A few small changes that you make today can save you a heap of money in the long run. If you’re not convinced have a look at my post about brown bagging lunches – those figures should hopefully convince you.

Whether your interested in adopting  frugality as a long-term lifestyle or simply making a few changes right now to help you save a couple of bucks or pay off debt there are always things you can do to cut down your spending. We keep our monthly living expenses (outside of our mortgage) around 1000$. To some that may appear extreme and to others excessive – the point is there’s no standard when it comes to frugal living. It’s more a question of identifying what stays and what goes in your budget and creating a plan that you and your family can stick to in order to achieve your goals.

It’s all about having a plan, being consistent and always following through folks.

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How to create a starter plan for frugal living

How to ensure consistency

The hardest part is consistency. It’s no different than a diet really! How many times have you vowed to lose weight, train more or eat better and then fall completely off the bandwagon? Garnering results from any type of lifestyle change involves consistency. You wont feel better if you only eat better for 1 day nor will you become fit if you work out for a day – to see and feel those results you need to keep at it even when it gets tough right?

So how do you do it? Or better yet, how did we manage to be consistent? Well, we created a plan. We sat down and sketched out our financial goals and after realizing how ridiculous our spending was we created something that we felt would be feasible long term. Think about it this way, if I were to tell you that you had to train 3 hours per day for the next week the majority of you would probably be overwhelmed and doubt your abilities to sustain it right? The same applies to a financial diet (and yes in some respects I believe applying frugal changes is a financial diet) – it needs to be realistic and attainable.

So map out your finances and scrutinize where you’re overspending and where you can cut back. Fixed expenses like housing costs, car payments and debt repayment can’t really be changed but living expenses like food, cable, phones and the like absolutely can. Be honest about your spending and really delve deep to see where you can cut back a little.

How to follow through

Once you’ve got a great plan in place it can seem daunting to follow through. I know that when we first created our frugal budget and slashed our spending I was overwhelmed with how we would maintain it long-term. What worked for us was always sticking to the plan regardless of what came up. How many times do you get home from a long day at work and look in the fridge and say “screw it – I’m ordering a pizza?”.  Well, we vowed not to give into that mindset and just made do. And, yes, some nights we ate toast and eggs for dinner – we survived and so will you.

Following through is easy when you give yourself no other choice. Just keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it and keep on keeping on. Sure, you might slip up from time to time (we once got stuck in a hosptial ER for 18 hours – and had to buy food and drink) but don’t make it a habit. More often than not, the habit of constant eating out is not the result of a one-time event but rather an accumulation of constantly turning to prepared foods for meals. If it happens every once and awhile when you truly have no choice then don’t beat yourself up about it. Jump right back on to your financial diet and keep on keeping on.

ways you can start living more frugally today

With that in mind, here are 10 things you can start doing to start scaling back and living more frugally with a little frugal math thrown in. Some of these options might work for you and others might not. The point being – find what works for you and your family and go with it. Every penny saved is a big deal folks!

Don’t buy bottled water. I’m always amazed at how much money is spent on buying bottled water and if we’re being frank how much we’ve spent on bottled water ourselves. Assuming you live in a place where you’ve got safe drinking water you can save a ton by not buying gallons yourself.

When we were buying our water we’d buy a minimum of two 4L gallons per week at about $2.00 each.

Every month we’d then spend roughly 8$ on bottled water which accumulated to 96$ a year or $960 over a ten year period. That is a ton of money folks and doesn’t include those random 500 ml bottles you pick up from vending machines, gas stations and other places when you’re thirsty on the go.

Stay away from your local coffee shop. This was probably my absolute worst bad habit. Way back when I was in University and then later working I’d always swing by a local coffee shop to get a coffee to start my day. At the time I didn’t assume it was a terribly costly habit because at less than $2 per day it wasn’t necessarily something that you felt “financially” because more often than not I’d round up some spare change to pay for it. Problem was, those 2$ added up super quickly.

I’d buy roughly 1 coffee (sometimes 2) every work or school day which at around 2$ a pop would cost me $10 per week. Over the period of a month that added to $40 or $480 yearly. Thankfully, I never really got into the fancy coffee trend but for those of you buying fancy coffees at Starbucks or any equivalent you could be potentially spending $25-30 dollars a week on coffee that you could technically bring yourself.

Brown Bag your lunch, dinner and snacks I wrote a pretty detailed post about brown bagging a couple of weeks back. Have a read if you’re interested in some suggestions and tips to brown bag on the regular and cut out the cost of eating out which I calculated could cost you nearly 100 000$ over an entire career if you never bring your lunch!

Cut your cable We don’t truly need cable and this luxury is absolutely a want and not a need. Having said that, the costs of cable television can and are astronomical and as a result an easy way to save a bunch of money every month is to end your relationship with your cable company. We fare pretty well with our Netflix subscription and internet T.V which is more than enough to satisfy our television watching needs. We tend to actually have more to watch now that we have fewer options! If you really can’t bring yourself to do away with your cable you can save a couple of bucks by downgrading your package in the summer months when you’re less likely to watch. Then, when winter rolls around and you’re more inclined to be tuned into the tube you can upgrade back to your normal package if you still feel you need it.

The average cost of cable in North America hovers somewhere around $100 per month. Over a year you’re basically giving your cable company $1200 of your hard earned cash. Netflix on the other hand costs me approximately $10 a month which is an astronomical savings of  $1080 yearly!

Air dry your clothes Running the dryer costs money and whenever possible we air dry our clothes. Sure, the savings are not astronomical (every little bit helps right) but by reducing our dryer use we know we’re helping out a tiny bit environmentally.

We’ve got a clothes line on our property (installed by my handy husband) where we dry nearly all our laundry during the hot summer months. In the winter, we have an indoor line drawn across our garage where we hang items that we know will dry correctly indoors. We try to really limit how often we run our dryer because running it on the regular can cost you a good amount of money on your electric bill.

For a few numbers, Simpledollar reports that “the average dryer uses 3.3 kilowatt hours of energy and estimates an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. A small load of clothes takes about 45 minutes in the dryer, so the cost of that load is $0.36.” If you do roughly 4 loads of laundry per week you’re spending approximately $70 a year drying your clothes which could totally dry for free with fresh air!

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Buy used If you’ve been reading here for even a small amount of time you know that we try and buy everything we can used.  The amount of money you can save by buying used at thrift shops, goodwill, garage sales and online can save you a fortune! If you don’t believe me head on over and read this post: Why Buying Used Isn’t Gross where I show you a detailed account of how I saved 93% of the retail cost of pricey outdoor toys by buying my kiddos gear used.

Buy or rent less house than you can afford When we were shopping for our first home we went through a pre-approval process with our bank to determine how much mortgage we could afford. Once we had a fixed number we deducted 30% from our pre-approval and set that as our absolute maximum we were comfortable spending. Sure, we probably could have bought a larger more expensive home but we didn’t feel the extra investment of money, time and energy was worth it for us. The larger the space the more time, money  and energy it takes to maintain it right? We currently live in a small home that we absolutely love and most importantly can afford to live in comfortably. So, if you’re shopping for a home or living in one and looking to move always be mindful of the fact that you should be looking to buy less house than your bank account can afford.

If you’re in the rental market don’t be shy to negotiate. Depending on where you live and the cost of living a tiny apartment can set you back a large sum of money. Don’t be shy to be upfront about what you can afford and why you don’t want to bust your budget – you’ be surprised how many landlords are willing to drop their rental prices to score financially savvy and responsible tenants!

Walk/Bike anywhere you can This is a no-brainer. If you live in an area that is conducive to walking take advantage and get moving. Not only are you saving money on fuel but you are also getting some really good for you exercise. Walking is free, it’s great for the environment and if you do it often enough (think driving 2 minutes away to pick up milk) you’ll save a good chunk of change on gas.

Stick to a meal plan & grocery budget Meal planning is key for sticking to a grocery budget and not letting “extras” slip into your cart. I used to be a horrible shopper just roaming around aimlessly throwing anything and everything I thought we might need into the cart. My bank account would literally cry when I’d leave with at least a $250 bill and then end up eating fast food all week because I never felt like I had “enough” food to make proper meals. I now like to budget approximately $25 per person and for our family of 4 (3 adults and 1 toddler) costs usually run around $100 per month. If you’re curious how we do it have a read of this post: How I feed my family on less than 100$ per month.

Eat 2 meatless meals per week To continue the discussion about grocery shopping above – slipping 2 or more meatless meals into your meal plan can save you a ton of cash. Beans, lentils, chick peas and tofu are awesome and cost effective ways to save a little money on your grocery bill and still prepare incredibly delicious and healthy meals.

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Talk to me about your budget wins and fails. What is one area you’d like to scale back?

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38 Comments

  1. July 24, 2017 / 8:11 am

    Awesome ideas! I definitely need to pay more attention to the little things I buy day to day and start to eliminate unnecessary spending! Great thoughts.

    Juliette | Namastay Traveling
    https://namastaytraveling.com

  2. July 24, 2017 / 8:31 am

    What a great collection of tips! I’m happy to say that I practice a lot of these. It’s definitely true that cutting away these small costs can make such an immense difference on your monthly spendings.

  3. July 24, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Great reminders here – especially to use a clothes line. It’s summer and I should not being using the dryer! I used to be really good at this and somehow I’m not anymore. Going to start drying the laundry outside today 🙂

  4. July 24, 2017 / 9:14 am

    I feel like I am a frugal person but there is always room for improvement! My husband and I are also trying to buy a house in the DC area and it is proving almost impossible to do so without spending more than you want. We will keep looking though!

  5. July 24, 2017 / 10:52 am

    Great post – that idea of meatless days is so true. When it’s on sale, I buy a large pack of chicken breasts and then split them laterally to get more for my money.

  6. July 24, 2017 / 11:14 am

    Great tips! I’ve implemented a couple of them like meal planning. But I really need to lower my grocery bill. We spend around 320 a month for 2 adults and a toddler. I will be checking out your other article on that. I just know I can lower that and still eat well and have enough!

    Thanks!

    Ronnie

  7. July 24, 2017 / 11:34 am

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I’m working to save money to bring my family up from Peru, so every penny I can save is important!

  8. July 24, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    Great tips about saving $ money. Being intentional and aware of these on a daily
    basis will definitely help cut back on costs

  9. July 24, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    what a seriously great list! I just did a similar 10 ways to save money post and these are some very different and great tips! i love the idea of cutting cable.. i need to do it just worried we will miss our fave hbo shows. also buying thrift is something I really need to start doing! Thank you so much for sharing. I truly enjoy your blog!

  10. July 24, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    I do these as saving money is very important to me. I never want to feel like a “middle man” with my paycheck; just depositing it and sending it to everyone else. I started with things that were not necessary; for example, I cut cable 3 years ago and I’ve never missed it!

  11. July 25, 2017 / 5:04 am

    I buy a bottle of water every month so I can reuse it and fill with tap water for everyday for a month and then chuck into recycling. One of my friends has a plastic water thingie so she’ll get me one of those when she next visits me and I can stop buying bottles. And we’ve never had a tumble dryer, air drying on a hanger is the only way I know

  12. July 25, 2017 / 5:40 am

    Where’s the ‘like’ button?! Great post 🙂

  13. mindyvoet
    July 25, 2017 / 9:23 am

    These are great tips! I am following the buy a less house than you need and also buying secondhand and used.

  14. July 25, 2017 / 9:31 am

    These are all great tips! We try to cut back on our cable, phones,etc, by combining to get a great deal or just eliminating our house phone, as most of us use cell phones, today. I use to do couponing, but some how, got out of it! (that’s where my consistency didn’t work out.) I agree on the bottled water and coffee shops…I always make coffee at home or drink it at work.

  15. July 25, 2017 / 10:28 am

    Yay! I’m so glad to see you promoting these ideals! So many people are living outside their means, or have too much stuff; it’s good to share ways to get out of those habits. I’m glad to say I do all of these! Yay me!

  16. July 25, 2017 / 11:19 am

    We used to buy a pack of 24 bottles of water, which wasn’t very expensive ($3) but we would go through it so fast and that is also really bad for the environment. We bough a brita water dispenser that we keep in the fridge for filtered water and it has been really great.

    When shopping for our house I had all of our bills figured out and I knew exactly what we could afford for a mortgage every month. The bank tried to preapprove us for a loan that was for more than $100,000 OVER what we were asking for. Sure, we could have afforded the payment provided we had no other bills and never needed to eat ever again. Always go in knowing what you can and can’t afford.

  17. July 25, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    I’m so happy I found your blog! =)

  18. July 27, 2017 / 8:01 am

    Hi! Great tips, not sure if I can go meatless though, but I love it!

  19. July 27, 2017 / 9:38 am

    These are some really great tips. I love the “buy used” tips. Although my last two vehicles have been luxury cars, I purchased them certified pre-owned. It comes with all the same features and warranties, but the cost is like half. People are always so surprised when I tell them that I paid less for my used luxury car than they paid for their new Ford.

  20. July 27, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    I’m definitely going to have to check out that post about brown bagging because eating out while I’m at work is the BIGGEST waste of my money!

  21. July 27, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    Some awesome ideas on this post 🙂 I think everyone should pay more attention to the little things we buy each day.
    Thanks for sharing

  22. July 27, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    this is such a good post! I’m so glad that I’m a frugal person, I wish I could drill it into my husband!!

  23. July 31, 2017 / 7:56 am

    I have decided, after reading your post, to brown bag it a bit more often. I love left overs and it would save me money so it is a win win. Thanks:-)

    • July 31, 2017 / 7:57 am

      Yay! Glad you found this post helpful! Thanks for reading and stopping by!

  24. July 31, 2017 / 10:16 am

    It seems we are post twins! I posted something similar on my blog today. I am as frugal as frugal gets. What works for me is buying good quality items that will last me for a very long time. I save money that way in the long run. Some items I buy in bulk but some on an as needed basis. It’s a bit tough to be frugal, the way capitalism and consumerism works. Love the article. You can always check mine out here. https://www.onepotliving.com/minimalism-how-i-found-joy-living-with-less/

  25. July 31, 2017 / 11:05 am

    Great tips! Meal prepping, though it requires a lot of planning, is a way for me to stay focused and save money because I know that I have the meals already prepared. Having snacks at work with my meal already there also helps me resist the urge to go out and buy lunch because THAT adds up weekly.

  26. July 31, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    Such a great collection of tips! Thanks so much for sharing!

  27. Rachel G
    July 31, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    These are definitely good tips! We’re now living on a smaller income than we were previously used to, and every bit does help! We don’t have a dryer or an oven and that certainly saves on the electricity bill. I’ve learned how to make just about everything on the stovetop, haha!

  28. July 31, 2017 / 7:32 pm

    I just started looking into ways to be more frugal so this totally helps! I love the ideas 🙂

  29. August 1, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Who doesn’t want to save money? Thanks for tips.

  30. August 1, 2017 / 11:34 am

    Oh dear lord, staying away from Coffee Shops is the probably the greatest tip you have given! It all starts to add up, the little muffins and the small hot chocolates and the small wraps! Most of my income goes in our local coffee shop!

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

  31. August 1, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    I try to brown bag my lunch everyday to save money. Some days I just don’t plan well enough & I end up buying lunch.

  32. Sarah
    August 8, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    I love your frugal post! One little complaint, it is hard to read with all of the “buttons” down the left side. Could you move them to the top of the article to make it easier to read?

    • August 9, 2017 / 6:53 am

      Hey Sarah!! I’m looking into it ASAP!

  33. Sara
    November 7, 2017 / 4:13 am

    I would love to dry clothes on the line in the garage during winter, but I don’t think it stays warm enough. Any suggestions?

    • November 7, 2017 / 7:24 am

      Do you have a baseboard heater in there? We have to heat our garage to prevent the piping from freezing so it stays a little warm.

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