We’ve collected 29 of the best frugal living tips that will help you save money on everything from groceries to utilities.
Frugality is being intentional with your money and belongings, similar to minimalist living.
These tips are easy to follow so you can be frugal, enjoy your life, and make a big difference in your monthly budget.
Plus, here’s a video of our top 15 frugal living tips you can start today:
Quick Hits For Frugal Living
Now before we get into the habits of frugal living, I’m sure you want some ideas for quick things and apps you could use now to get started ASAP!
Here are some of the best ideas for increasing your income, saving cash, and more:
- Steady App: Find side hustles that fit your skills and that you can work into your busy schedule
- Empower (formerly Personal Capital): Manage your money on the go easier than ever before
- Capital One Shopping: Let this app help you find more savings and coupons so you can try and spend less on every purchase
- Proofreading: This is our #1 side hustle besides blogging, and you can make $20+ an hour from home easily if you become a proofreader.
- Bookkeeping: If you can use Excel and have some math skills, you could become a bookkeeper and earn $50 per hour!
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
Frugal living can be different from person to person, but it basically means living within your means and not spending money unnecessarily.
We think of words like economically conscious, having the right money mindset, and being a thrifty person who knows how to live well while they save time and money.
3 Basic Rules to Living a Frugal Life
Before we move on to our tried and true frugal living tips, let’s talk about our Savvy basic rules for living a frugal lifestyle successfully:
- Minimize the waste you create. People tend to buy and toss things out when they realize they don’t need it. You should buy things wisely and reuse them whenever possible.
- Maximize the value of every single item you spend money on. Buying something inexpensive can just make your life harder or break/crap out without doing the job. You may spend more replacing cheap items! Frugal means you spend on some things that matter and you don’t spend money on a bad investment.
- Let go of the idea that money = happiness. Money being the center of your happiness can create more problems and may encourage you to spend more money and potentially be more miserable in the end. We do know that money can make things easier in life and some people struggle to make ends meet, but it is also possible to be frugal and still find your life full-filling. There are great things you can do that are inexpensive.
If you live frugally, you’re making smart choices with your money and getting the most out of every penny spent.
On the other hand, if you’re living stingy, well, I hate to say it but you’re actually not being very smart with your money.
You might buy shoes that only cost a few dollars while you’re training for a marathon, and I doubt you’ll make it to marathon day before they’re worn out entirely.
I have running shoes I bought 3 years ago, and they have held up! Even though I spent $70 on them, which seems like a lot, they have lasted me longer than cheaper options and could be around for years still.
What Shopping Problems Should You Look For?
Bustle recommends looking for “lifestyle creeping”– what purchases were a luxury to you before, but now you claim are necessities? You may be buying a “necessity” you could do without!
First and foremost, think about your spending and shopping habits- and get ready to revamp them with the best frugal living tips!
What Benefits Come From Frugal Living?
The benefits of frugal living are vast, so let’s talk about how a new lifestyle can be another great way to better yourself and simplify your life.
Now we aren’t trying to talk you into an extremely tight economical or minimalist living style, where you reuse bath water with your entire family to save on your water bill or something!
Yeah, that’s one way to save extra money, but we have some easier frugal living tips to integrate into your life.
But there are several benefits to being thrifty:
- Improved mental health and more relaxation. If you can live within your means and stop worrying about how your life compares to others, you’ll feel much less stress and less desire to “keep up” with those around you.
- Increased wealth and extra money in the bank. Who isn’t looking to save money these days? Quickly it over time, you’ll spend less money on things that don’t matter, which increases your financial wealth. You may also start spending money on things that do matter, such as memorable family vacations. Wealth isn’t just measured in dollars, after all.
- More satisfying family life with less things to worry about. With monthly savings filling your wallet, you’ll very likely be able to right your finances to finally get out of debt, not need to work as many hours (as you were when trying to pay off debts), and have more time to relax and enjoy your family without feeling stressed that you aren’t at work.
- More freedom for your future. You may find that frugal living is the key to being able to minimize costs to such an extent that you can reach financial freedom. Maybe it simply allows you to have a comfortable disposable income each month.
29 Frugal Living Habits That’ll Change Your Life
1. Plan Long-Term Purchases That Will LAST
Frugal people are always looking for a long-term solution, not just getting something quick and cheap to save money in the moment.
A thrifty shopper won’t be afraid to spend a little bit more money on something they know will last them longer.
Like buying a more expensive cell phone because it will stay useful for several years when a less expensive option will be obsolete soon enough.
Things like appliances, vehicles, and houses are long-haul investments that you want to get the most value out of- but don’t forget about little stuff from silverware to clothes.
When you do need to buy things, be sure to do your research so you save more with every purchase- for example, do you know the best time to buy appliances?
2. Clip Some Coupons & Avoid Paying Full Price
Buy smarter by only buying when savings are highest! And don’t forget to look for coupons and deals to never pay full price on items that cost more.
Use Capital One Shopping to automatically find savings and make it easier to live frugally.
3. Start A Budget ASAP To Stop Overspending Habits
Knowing how much you spend every month can be truly eye-opening. People get close to spending almost as much as they make and get into a lot of financial hardship because of it.
So a very essential step to becoming frugal is to track your spending and make a budget. You need to limit your spending, not necessarily going bare-bones, but enough that you can put extra money towards savings or retirement.
This is all about living comfortably now, but also settings aside money for your future to live on.
Use Empower (formerly Personal Capital) to track your spending and make sure you start building your savings.
4. Reduce Monthly Bills Where You Can
This may seem like a no-brainer to you, but many people don’t know to start spending less at home.
Some people think bills are impossible to shrink, but we’re here to tell you it can be easy to save on monthly bills!
There are programs like Trim and Truebill that are paid services that will negotiate your bills and even cut out subscriptions you don’t need anymore so you spend less on bills.
You can also try it by hand, we have plenty of the best frugal tips that may also reduce your monthly bills naturally.
I say start with the nonessentials like cable- do you need a lot of channels you don’t even watch? Think about alternatives to cable that can save you so much money!
5. Seek Better Value From All Purchases
Whether it’s a new pair of sneakers or a meal from the grocery store, people who live frugal life seek the most value even when they want to save money.
Frugal living is all about getting the most out of your money- a.k.a. more bang for your buck!
Instead of looking for cheaper options, think about quality as well as price with whatever you buy.
You want your purchases to continue working and provide good usage years down the road, like a great laptop or cell phone.
If you buy the $50 sneakers instead of buying the $20 pair, it’s because they will last you 3 years and are high quality.
Cheap sneakers may only last you 1 year, so you’ll spend $60 over 3 years on cheap pairs rather than just $50 on a high-quality pair.
6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle All Your Things
Now, this is more than just a catch-phrase so people can save the planet- it’s also a way to help you be frugal and spend less on stuff.
What other use can you get out of old stuff? You can upcycle those items and give them new life.
You have stuff that you could donate, and that’s great! But don’t forget to make that spent money work harder for you and go the extra mile.
That old shirt that’s too big? Make it into a pillowcase, a reusable grocery bag, a dog toy, or any number of endless possibilities.
7. Keep Receipts & Actually Make Returns Happen
Whenever you buy items you’ll use, like utensils, clothes, shoes, or whatever else, make sure you keep the receipt.
You don’t need the receipt forever, but it’s important for the next step: return things you don’t need!
You may buy a shirt and realize it’s too small or too big, or you may realize you already own 3 potato mashers and no one needs that many- but you can’t get that money back without a receipt.
We also find that many people regret an impulse buy the next day but don’t return the stuff because they can’t find the receipt or they tossed it.
I suggest using one of these little accordion guys– keep it in your car, and as soon as you sit down, put it in there, so you can always find it later.
8. Start a Money-Making Side Hustle
Living frugally means understanding the importance of saving money but also understanding that you can only save so much before you cut into your happiness.
Saving a ton of money is possible with apps like Honey and Capital One Shopping, but making more income can make a bigger impact on your life.
Create a life you love by finding ways to increase your income, and one of the most powerful tools you can use to find side hustles is Steady.
Figure out the skills, experience, and passions you already have and find a way to make money with them.
Here are a few options for side income that we’ve done over the year:
- Starting a profitable side hustle
- Create an online business
- Joining the gig economy (like food delivery!)
9. Put Savings First- Save For Your Future
Have you heard of the saying “always pay yourself first”? This means that you should put money into your savings/investment accounts before spending your money on other things.
A good habit is to automate your savings. Not only do you want your savings right in your budget every month, but setting them on autopilot makes it easy and effortless.
We use Mint and Empower to manage our money electronically and automate our savings.
10. Pay Off Debts & Avoid Interest
This may be the most important and best frugal living tip for people to change their lives and improve their finances.
Make it a point to tackle any and all debts you’ve got against you BEFORE you get heavy into saving and investing.
The sooner credit card debt or student loan debt are off your shoulders, the sooner you’ll have more cash available to put into savings!
If you’re currently struggling to get out from under your debts because your income just doesn’t stretch far enough, take a look at this list of side hustle ideas.
11. Keep Yourself Out Of Debt
Now that you’ve paid down debt, it’s time to keep more from happening!
It’s fine to keep using credit cards, but you need to budget and make sure you have a balance you can easily pay off month to month.
Credit card debt can happen quickly and make it harder to save for your retirement or for a rainy day.
There are plenty of ideas to avoid more credit card debt, and we say to focus on all of the best frugal living tips to naturally start saving plus always make a plan for your money to avoid overspending.
12. Reconsider Your House Purchase
Homeownership is a big deal and a big cost! You need to think of the best option for you.
Banks will often approve you for a mortgage much higher than you can comfortably handle. A home is the largest purchase in your life and it’s not a liquid asset (meaning you can’t sell quickly).
Purchase a small modest house as your first home that you can easily afford or consider renting a home if it’ll better fit your budget.
A good rule of thumb for knowing how much your mortgage should only cost is 25%-30% of your monthly take-home, which may sway your frugal decision!
13. Make Use Of Everything Until It’s Donzo
If you want to save money fast, simply don’t spend much money as often or at all.
Thrifty people have this quirk of using everything to the very last drop. The more you can use something, the more money you save by not buying it again soon.
If you truly want to start living frugally, get into the routine of using everything until it’s not usable and needs replacing. This includes vehicles, clothing, tools, disposables, machines, appliances, and more.
We save whatever plastic silverware we get from takeout for camping and wash what ones we have so we don’t just toss them after one use.
14. Think About Shopping Using Ultimatums
When you’re going to buy something, think of it in terms like this- can you live without it? Do you really need it right now or have a plan for it?
Going out with friends and being social is one thing- you don’t want to give up on a good time, but buying a new swimsuit for summer or a cute top may not really matter in the grand scheme of your life right now.
Look at what you’re buying, maybe talk a picture, and walk away. You can check it out again a day or two later- but if you forget to, well, then it may not have been so important, right?
15. Be Your Own Handyman
Learning how to repair your own items can save you thousands of dollars every year. You may have some easy-to-fix house problems you could fix yourself!
Maintaining your vehicle is a great example of this.
Learning how to replace your own brakes and complete your own oil changes can save you hundreds of dollars by itself. Add in some drywall repairs, driveway sealing, roof patching, electrical work, and plumbing and you are now a money-saving savage.
The saying “knowledge is power” is so true. Most basic handyman/repair skills can be learned by a simple search on YouTube, Google, or Pinterest.
16. Entertain Yourself More At Home
Going out for entertainment is not a bad thing, but doing so in moderation is better for your wallet.
Learn how to stay entertained at your house and spend less cash while still enjoying yourselves.
Buying a device like an Amazon Fire Stick is a great way to stay entertained at home!
Some great at-home entertainment ideas include a campfire, dinner with friends, game night, DIY projects, and movie nights.
Even better why not make some extra money in your spare time? We took our free time and started a money-making blog for fun that turned into profit!
17. Buy Smart Appliances & Other Items
There are so many gadgets out there that use less energy and make life easier.
We have a few examples to share, but my favorite one is smart bulbs. You can use your phone or Alexa to control when they turn on and off, plus they save you money by using less power.
I love being able to crawl into bed and tell Alexa to turn off all the lights!
Not only are there smart bulbs, but you can get better washers, dryers, thermostats, and more.
18. Eat Out Less- Become A Good Chef
We honestly don’t eat out much at all. We cook and eat at home and save thousands each year by not doing so.
Eating out is EXPENSIVE! You may drink water and avoid dessert to save a few bucks, but meal costs add up.
Learn how to cook for yourself and any meal you make could be cheaper- and maybe even better tasing!
There are a plethora of cheap recipe ideas and monthly meal planners to get you started. Your grocery store has so much to offer with premade meals and even just fresh produce and fun sauces.
Start with some basic meals and work your way up- no shame in starting simple. Plus, you can get easy and cheap meal plans from others- try out $5 Meal Plan to see if they make your meals easier.
19. Bring Food On The Go
Whenever you go out with your friends, do you typically go to a restaurant or bar?
Well, like we said, eating out can be so fun and delicious, but also a money pit!
You can bring your own coffee or own lunch when you’re out on the town or hanging out.
You should make plans to go out and do it potluck style- bring your food with you so you spend less while you’re out.
We recently tried ax-throwing- may I say, wow!- but the cool thing is you can bring food with you to share with friends.
A group near us bought a pizza, but we wound up doing an easy charcuterie board on the go plus some homemade finger sandwiches.
So, you can take a hike, go walking at the park, or make it a beach day- but you can make it cheaper and more frugal by bringing your food with you.
20. Grow Your Own Food
Now we understand not everyone has a green thumb, but it can be worth it to try and grow your own produce.
You can grow your own salad greens, spices, and veggies that you’d otherwise buy at the store at a much higher price.
You can buy cheap starter kits, buy plants that have already sprouted, or even use your food scraps to grow new produce.
Some plants like parsley, chives, and simple spices can grow inside well, whereas veggies like carrots and potatoes need a bit more space and sunshine to grow.
21. Visit The Market
If you’re not about the gardening life, we get it. You have local farms and farmers’ markets you can visit to get produce much cheaper than the grocery store.
I went to the local city market last summer and got 12 ears of corn for only $3, whereas our grocery store had 5 ears for $4- what a bargain I can get behind!
You can often skip a grocery store trip if you get fresh produce from a farmer during the spring and summer and freeze it until you need it.
If you haven’t yet, also think about buying a deep freezer. It’s an investment, but it’s one that’ll last you a long time and save your food from being wasted.
22. Don’t Waste Food
On that note, you should find ways to use up everything in your fridge and pantry as much as possible- waste not, want not, am I right?
You may be throwing out food because you didn’t meal plan or get to it quick enough, and you have to toss it because it gets gross.
That’s just tossing out your hard-earned cash!
Before you think about grocery shopping, use up what you have at home or buy a few things to work with what you have in the pantry.
23. Buy Supplies In Bulk
It may be an upfront investment, but in the long run, buying food and things in bulk can save you money.
You can use shopping apps to price compare, but oftentimes, per unit, you’ll be saving on everything you buy, plus taking fewer trips to the store.
You do have to consider storage ideas for all the food and house stuff you buy, but having a stacked supply for the kids is never a bad thing in our house!
I especially recommend buying meat in bulk- the meat counter can cut the big pieces of meat into whatever cuts you need, and you can freeze and use them as needed.
Plus, we buy things like rice and bread in bulk because we can store rice airtight and freeze bread to keep it all fresh.
24. Set Aside An Emergency Fund
Now you may have a great savings account started, but is it enough to cover some problems you may run into?
One of the most important aspects of personal finance is having your emergency fund set up. This is money reserved and specifically put away for unforeseen expenses such as car repairs, deaths, and surgeries.
The last thing you want to deal with during a crisis is where the money is coming from. Take the stress off an already stressful situation and have your “crunch-time” fund set up.
This will also prevent you from going into debt when something comes up and you don’t have the money to pay for it.
Normally $1,000 set to the side is more than enough for an emergency fund, but everyone’s situation is different.
25. Get A Smart Credit Card
If you are responsible with your money, then using a credit card with great rewards is a no-brainer.
But you’ve got to be wise about your credit cards and pick the one or ones that give you perks when you buy stuff.
The right credit cards can give you travel points, cash back, gift cards, and so much more.
We personally treasure our travel so we use the Capital One Venture travel rewards credit card to earn miles and save up for free vacations, plus we’ve found other ways to travel cheap!
If you are using credit cards it’s always important to keep track of your credit score. So many people over-use their credit cards and accrue debt that drops their scores.
26. Travel Cheap
Again, we don’t want you cutting out fun from your life to save money. Being frugal isn’t about living a shadow of a life and putting off any joy!
We have money saving tips so you can travel cheap and enjoy yourself, including finding cheap places to stay and how to get there for less.
Your budget will affect how often or how far you can travel, but there are many fun staycations you can try too to save money and enjoy time as a family.
27. Buy A Reliable Used Car
Buying a used car should be your only option when it comes to frugal living.
Cars are a depreciating asset so “investing” in a new one- or even worse financing a vehicle- can kill your financial future.
Use a website like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds to research, compare, and find the worth of vehicles you’re thinking about. We also use Consumer Reports when purchasing a car.
After completing your research, go on a site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and start a search for what’s available to you right now.
Buying a reliable car is important in steering clear of large expensive repairs. Brands like Honda and Toyota are rated top-notch when it comes to reliability.
28. Never Gamble Your Money Away
Did you know the average American spends $300 a year playing the lotto? What a waste of money! You have better odds of getting struck by lightning twice in the same day.
Although casinos and playing the lotto can be very enjoyable for the rush of winning it big, it’s not a good thing to get used to doing.
Save your money and put it elsewhere that’s more important in your life. Better yet invest that money.
29. Declutter Your Home
Less around the house is less to clean and less to deal with.
If you don’t need it anymore, don’t like it, don’t fit it, never use it, etc., send it straight to the donation pile and wish it good riddance!
Better yet, have a garage sale and earn a few extra bucks, that you can put towards paying off those debts or building up your savings.
We sell our used books, old clothes, even kids’ toys, using websites like Delcuttr to make money and get more space to ourselves.
While you’re on your decluttering mission, make sure your home is super well organized so you can eliminate the risk of buying duplicates because you forgot you had something or, worse, couldn’t find it!
Frugal Living Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Live a Frugal Lifestyle?
You can start living a frugal life by making more intentional life decisions, being more active in how you buy things.
Become selective about your spending habits and make sure that your purchases align with your budget goals.
And of course, look up great frugal living tips to get you going!
How Can I Become Very Frugal?
The amount of money you spend should balance out with how long it lasts.
You can become very frugal by becoming informed of your spending choices and learning to use a budget.
Understand the difference between spending less money and money-making, and make sure that you get good, lasting use out of everything you purchase.
Is Frugal Being Cheap?
No, most people would say they are two different things.
Cheap is seen as stingy, like it’s spending as little as possible at every turn, even if the item may break or not last long.
Frugal living tips will tell you that spending your money isn’t bad if you buy something that’ll last.
Plus, being frugal doesn’t mean you’re likely to skip out on fun things like dinner with friends or parties!
Those things every now and again won’t break the bank and are important in life, and people that live frugally get that.
Is Being Thrifty Bad?
Being frugal usually is not a bad thing unless you’re allowing it to control all of your spending decisions and you start going into “super cheap” territory.
Saving money is essential, but you’re allowed to buy things you want or that bring you joy!
Don’t worry about splurging on a nice cup of coffee from time to time, just make your own coffee more often and don’t get a coffee every day of the year.
And don’t feel bad about being truly frugal and checking out the goods at thrift stores for hidden treasures.
Final Thoughts: Frugal Living
When you save money, you may find yourself hitting a brick wall at times, and we aim to help you surpass them with these frugal living tips.
There are many ways to save money living frugally, without becoming cheap and lowering your quality of life.
That’s why it’s important to live a frugal life focusing on the quality you receive from your purchases.
If you have already worked on cutting back your expenses and living on less, it’s a good idea to shift your focus onto making more money!
There are plenty of side hustle ideas, legitimate online jobs, and unique ways to make extra money in your life.
Focus on the skills and passions you already have and learn how to monetize them to create some extra breathing room financially in your life.
Join the free Steady app to find more money-making opportunities and use Chime to start growing your savings today.