Looking to make the most of your money? Frugal living isn’t about deprivation, it’s an opportunity to be smarter with what you have. Whether you’re looking for ways to stretch a single income or simply want greater bang for your buck, try these 20 simple frugal living tips!
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What is frugal living?
Frugal living is the art of mastering your finances in a way that allows you to maximize financial security and still enjoy life. It’s about cutting expenses where it makes sense, living on less than you earn, and always making sure that you are using your money wisely. Frugal living emphasizes crafty ways to save money without sacrificing comfort and quality.
Frugal living isn’t necessarily about depriving yourself either, it is about being intentional with your money and ensuring that your finances are working as hard as they can to provide you with plenty of room to live comfortably. It’s especially great if you’re someone who gets easily tempted by impulse purchases. Choosing to live frugally means putting some effort into researching the best spur-of-the-moment deals and tracking your spending habits over time to ensure that you are budgeting efficiently.
Frugal living has many benefits, from gaining greater clarity about where your money is going each month, reducing stress triggered by debt, or creating more room in your financial plans so that future dreams can become reality!
20 Simple Frugal living tips:
Being frugal doesn’t mean having to give up the things you enjoy! With a few savvy tricks and techniques, even those with just one income can get ahead. From utilizing coupons to taking advantage of loyalty programs, discover 20 simple ways that will help maximize your budget and stretch every pound further. Live smarter, not harder!
1. Create a budget
Creating a realistic budget is one of the best ways to get in control of your expenses. This is especially true if you only have one household income. What budgeting does is put you back in control of your finances. It shows you how to manage your money and how to make better financial choices.
If your financial situation has changed recently, making a budget will help you stay out of debt and even help you out of it if needed!
Creating a budget is pretty simple. However, if your finances are already in dire straits, it could feel hard emotionally. If this is the case, you must face the facts and take steps to put things back on track.
If you have never created a budget before check out my simple step by step guide.
2. Track your spending
No budget is going to be beneficial if you haven’t tracked your expenses. After all, how can you understand your spending habits, if you don’t know what they are? Even the smallest of expenses can add up considerably, blowing your budget at the same time!
There are several options for tracking your spending, however one of the simplest it to just write down everything you spend on paper. By tracking all your expenses you are accounting for every penny spent. By doing this you can identify areas in your spending habits that you may want or need to change.
3. Stop impulse buying
Impulse buying is a temptress that can send your budget into ruin. Enticing us with the promise of instant gratification, it’s all too easy to give in and succumb to our worst fiscal behaviours. Although a little indulgence every once in a while is nice, it’s important to resist these urges that can leave you overwhelmed with buyer’s remorse.
Next time you feel the urge to impulse buy, delay the purchase for a few days and then reconsider if you still want or need it, 9 out of 10 times you probably won’t.
4. Change supermarkets
Does your usual supermarket sell everything you could ever need and more? If so, why not change to a more value-based supermarket such as Aldi or Lidl? This way you won’t be persuaded to buy all sorts of random things you don’t need.
5. Down branding
Most items we buy are also available as supermarket-own brands for a lot cheaper. Many of which, would be hard to tell the difference!
Supermarkets also usually have value budget lines, again giving you the choice to further reduce your food costs. Value items may not be as good as the quality of branded goods, however, even swapping out a few items can save you a few quid. This may take a bit of trial and error but you will soon get to know the items you are happy to swap and those you aren’t.
6. Buy in bulk
Well only when it makes sense! Things like cleaning products, pantry essentials and dry goods are all good to buy in bulk if the cost is worth it. Beware though buying in bulk may not always be the cheapest option. I’ve seen so many items sold cheaper as singles than the three for two offers I’ve seen advertised!
7. Stick to a shopping list
Making a shopping list is a great way to prevent impulse buying at the supermarket. I usually stick a list on the fridge and add to it as needed. This will not only stop you from buying unnecessary items but it will also save you time. Having and sticking to a list will greatly reduce the amount of time shopping, I’m usually in and out in no time!
8. Buy frozen or tinned instead of fresh
Frozen and tinned food is so much cheaper than fresh but can still have a similar nutritional value. Buying frozen will also reduce wastage as you will only use what you need.
9. Be comfortable with the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’
If a product has a ‘use by’ date shown on it then you really must consume it by this date, as after this it may not be safe to eat or freeze, even if it smells and looks okay. If however, a product shows a ‘best before’ date this usually means the food will be at its best if eaten before this date, but not that it will be unsafe to eat afterwards.
10. Use supermarket loyalty cards
Many supermarkets now have loyalty cards. These cards usually work by building up points in exchange for money off coupons or discounted items. The savings may be small but they do add up.
11. Try out meal planning and batch cooking
Meal planning and batch cooking is a way of purposely planning out all your meals and then cooking or prepping them beforehand. This way you can save money by shopping just for the items you need. This method not only saves you money it also saves you time!
For tips on how to create healthy meal plans check out the Eating Well website.
Energy bills can be expensive and take up a large chunk of our budget. However, are you on the best and cheapest tariff for your needs? Many of us sign up for a particular energy provider and stay with them for years.
However, according to The Money Advice Service, switching energy suppliers can save the average household £300 a year. It’s easy to switch, just choose a price comparison website and go from there. If you aren’t sure which site to use then the Ofgem website can guide you in the right direction. This is a government website that has approved several price comparison websites that comply with a code of practice.
13. TV and phone subscriptions
How many of us have expensive phone and TV subscriptions that we don’t use or need? One of my biggest outgoings used to be my mobile phone, however when the contract came to an end, instead of upgrading to a brand new phone, I changed to a sim-only contract instead. After all the phone I did have was still in great condition and worked perfectly well.
You can compare the costs of SIM-only deals using this SIM only comparison tool. Check that you’re out of contract with your existing provider before switching to a SIM-only deal, as if you leave early there may be charges to pay.
TV subscriptions can also be expensive. Why not scale down to a basic package and see how much you actually miss? If you feel like you do need more options why not subscribe to something like Amazon Prime. This way you’ll get access to 15,000 movies and TV shows, over 2 million songs on Prime music as well as unlimited free delivery on Amazon.com.
14. Housing costs
If circumstances have changed significantly, then you may need to consider downsizing or moving to a cheaper area. This may seem like a daunting decision but it may be the only way to take back control of your finances and get things back on track.
If you have a mortgage, it’s likely to be your biggest expense so make sure you aren’t paying more than you need to. This free mortgage comparison service allows you to compare mortgage deals from the whole of the market and find out how much they could save you.
15. Charity shops
You can buy almost anything in a charity shop these days. Clothes, furniture and even electronics can be found at very discounted prices. If you are lucky, you may even find some great luxury items at knockdown prices!
16. Buy/sell websites
Second-hand doesn’t always mean the second rate. If you are looking to buy something particular, why not check out the internet? There are so many resale websites out there offering discounted items and good quality second-hand goods. You are sure to find what you need at a much-reduced cost. One of my favourite websites for buying second-hand goods is Ebay.
17. Sell unwanted goods
On the flip side, if you are needing to get hold of money quickly, then why not sell your unwanted goods? A good de-clutter is not only great for the mind, its also a great way of earning some extra cash.
18. DIY Gifts
Instead of buying expensive gifts, why not look at making your own instead? Homemade gifts are usually enjoyed more and are much more appreciated.
- Homemade hampers
- Mason jar gifts.
- Homemade soap, candles and other spa items.
- Knitted items
- Personalised gifts
19. Transportation options
Transport costs can be huge, especially if needing to rely on a car or a train. Is it possible to walk to work or even take a bike? If so transportation costs will be greatly reduced.
If you need to use a car, use a price comparison website each year to get the best value care insurance. If it’s time for an MOT, then shop around for the best deals, many garages often have half-price offers.
If you need to rely on public transport, look into the cost of buying a weekly or monthly pass. However, depending on how often you travel, this may not be the cheapest option.
20. Vacations/days out
Instead of booking expensive annual holidays, why not explore closer to home?
The same goes for days out. In most areas, there will be countless places to visit that are free or cost very little. Why not join English heritage or the National Trust. For around £6 a month you can have free unlimited access to hundreds of stately homes, castles and gardens as well as other cultural and wildlife locations in and around the UK.
Implementing even a few of these tips can save you hundreds of dollars each year. living frugally does not mean going without, it simply means finding creative ways to get the most out of what you have. What are your favourite frugal living tips?
If you feel like your finances are slipping out of control don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many organisations in the UK can help and give great advice such as Citizens Advice, Money Saving Expert, and Step change.