Frugal Living Tips: Your Ultimate Guide To Living Frugally

Frugal living tips: ultimate guide. 10 frugal living tips and 15+ resources to get you started on your journey to living a frugal life.
I never thought I would be the kind of person who searches for frugal living tips. For a long time I considered being called frugal, cheap or tightwad an insult.

Once I got deeper in to my personal finance journey I realized most of the people who were trying to insult me by calling me cheap or frugal were BROKE!

Not only were they broke but they wanted to try to persuade me to spend beyond my means so that I would be just as broke and miserable as they were. Once I realized that, I embraced frugality.

For me, frugality is a lifestyle. It does not mean that you are cheap, nor does it mean that you don’t enjoy nice things.

It is about living a balanced life…avoiding extreme spending and extreme saving. In a nutshell, frugal living is the art of living within your means.

While living within your means may sound easy enough, the truth is we live in a world of excess, easy credit and easy access making it way too easy to OVER spend.

Living a frugal lifestyle now is a good way to ensure you never have to stress about money in the future.

10 Frugal Living Tips

Unless you are the most self-disciplined person in the world you need to develop rules and systems that will guide your spending decisions.

Without rules and systems in place it is too easy to succumb to the temptation of impulse spending.

I am going to share with you the 10 frugal living rules that I try to implement in my life to help me avoid impulse spending.

1. Establish Financial Goals

The first step in learning how to be frugal is to clearly define your financial goals and desires. Once you understand exactly what you are working for it will be easier to maintain your commitment to live frugally (even while everyone else is spending money like there is no tomorrow).

When you think about your financial goals think about what your ideal life would look like if you could just snap your fingers and make a change.

Would you have more time for your family? Would you be able to donate more time and money to charity? Would you go on more vacations? Would you quit your job to pursue your passions?

Paint a clear picture of how your ideal life would look and then start thinking about what it would take financially to make your fantasy life a reality.

2. Live On A Monthly Written Budget

This is another important step to sustaining a frugal lifestyle. You need a monthly written budget so that you are clear about how much money you have to spend each month.

Remember, being frugal is about spending less than you earn. You can’t spend less than you earn if you aren’t clear on how much you earn and how much you are spending each month.

I wrote previously about how to start a budget so I won’t go into the process but just know it is a critical part of living a frugal lifestyle.

Now watch 2 year old Mila explain budgeting in this super short video (it’s hilarious).

3. Shop With Cash

If you are like me then shopping with cash is probably going to be a hard sale for you. To be 100% honest I haven’t been able to go all cash yet either (I still use my debit card for things like gas and shopping online).

I have however gone 100% cash for grocery shopping…and it’s made all of the difference in the world!

For frugal living tip #3 I am going to encourage you to commit to grocery shopping with cash.

Purchasing groceries with cash has forced me to be a smarter shopper. When I used my debit card it was much harder to stay on budget at the grocery store. Apparently I had no real concept of how much I was spending so most of the time I over spent.

After switching to cash I began to search for deals and even use the occasional coupon because I know once the cash is gone…it’s gone (and I LOVE to eat)!

Going cash for groceries also forced me to research other ways to save money on groceries (I’m clearly trying to get as many groceries as my money can buy).

In my research I found the Grocery Budget Makeover course which teaches a multi-tiered (shopping, meal planning and couponing) approach to reducing your monthly grocery bill.

If you need help learning how to reduce your grocery bill I highly recommend the course. It is only open 3 times a year but if it is not currently open you can sign up for the waiting list any time.

4. Take Your Lunch To Work

I am sure that you already know this tip so if you are not taking your lunch to work it is not due to a lack of knowledge about the cost cutting benefits of packing a lunch.

If you are not taking your lunch to work yet it is more likely due to a lack of preparation on your part. So instead of giving you a lecture here, I am going to simply remind you that the key to being consistent with taking your lunch to work is to prep in advance.

Now, here are some delicious meal ideas and tips to help you prep in advance:

5. Practice Reflective Shopping

Reflective shopping (could also be called conscious shopping) is when you think about every purchase you make.

Your goal is to break the habit of mindless spending. Before you spend your hard earned money on something ask yourself, “do I really NEED this”.  Sometimes I even ask myself, “is this item worth the amount they are charging”.

If the answer to either of those questions is “no” then don’t buy the item. This is a surefire way to decrease buyer’s remorse or guilt about over spending.

6. Teach Your Family How To Live Frugally

Have you ever tried being the only person in your household to implement a lifestyle change? If so then I don’t have to tell you how much it sucks!

If you haven’t tried it, just imagine you decide to start a healthy eating regime while the rest of your family is eating cake, cookies, donuts and pizza all in your face! How long do you think your new healthy diet is going to last?

If you want to make a lasting change in your household then you have to get the whole family on the frugal living train.

This means frequent and careful communication about your goals and how a frugal lifestyle is going to benefit the entire family long-term.

Find or create fun and exciting games to make cutting costs seem more fun and even cool.

Work with your spouse to resolve financial differences in order to present a united front for the kiddos (and extended family).

Have monthly budget meetings with the entire family to review long-term financial goals, your family’s financial strengths and weaknesses as well as progress made.  Remember to celebrate as you accomplish your goals (keep it fun for the family so that they remain committed to your vision).

Quickly find peaceful solutions when you and your spouse disagree on financial matters. Do not let money differences ruin your relationship or family dynamics.

Approach financial differences with your spouse with love. Refrain from trying to manipulate your spouse with harsh words, temper tantrums, the silent treatment or any tactics other than open and honest dialog. Your family will benefit greatly.

7. Plan Your Shopping Trips In Advance

My grandmother used to always tell me, “don’t go grocery shopping hungry”.  She warned, “if you do you will buy everything in sight”.

If you have ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach then you know that my grandmother’s words of wisdom are true!

I didn’t really listen too much to Grammie’s words though…I paid more attention to what she did versus what she said.

The one thing she did that always stuck out in my mind was shopping from a grocery list. I can’t recall a single time when we made our weekly trip to the market without a list. I distinctly remember peeking at the list and running around the store looking for items to help make the shopping trip faster.

Grammie wrote her lists based partially on what needed to be replenished at home and partially on what items were on sale at the time.

Our grocery trips were always planned in advanced. I now use the same approach to grocery shopping and shopping for all other necessities as well.

8. Create Weekly Meal Plans

Frugal living tip #4 (take your lunch to work) touched on this concept a little. This tip is just as much about setting yourself up for success as it is about saving money.

If you have a meal plan for the week then you will be less likely to resort to fast food at the last minute.

The Grocery Budget Makeover course teaches how to plan meals ahead of time

9. Plan Gifts In Advance

I love giving gifts. Before I started planning for gift giving in advance, gifts would break my budget 9 out of 10 times.

It took a while for me to develop a gift giving plan that works for me but I finally figured it out. Now I can continue to pursue a frugal lifestyle without feeling like a failure for overspending on gifts.

Now I plan gifts in advance. I set aside $100/mth which is automatically transferred to a savings account so whenever I need to purchase a gift I now have an account to draw from.

My Capital One 360 account is perfect for this because it allows me to set up multiple savings accounts for all of my budgeting needs.

If I do not have any money in my special gifts account then guess what…somebody is not getting a gift!

Since gifts are a priority for me I do keep a line item in my budget for them but I also make sure I spend my gifts money wisely so I don’t have to worry about not being able to afford a nice gift.

10. Tell Others About Your Frugal Life

For my final frugal living tip I want to encourage you to tell other people about your choice to live a frugal life.

No it is not anybody’s business what you do with your money but telling people about your lifestyle choice benefits both you and them.

It benefits you because once you tell people you are trying to be more frugal (to accomplish your financial goals) you will not have to worry about them trying to pressure you to go out to eat at restaurants and tempting you to make impulse purchases.

It benefits them because maybe you will be the first person to introduce them to an alternative to mindless spending and hyper-consumption.  Perhaps they want to build a better financial future and you can help them get started by sharing your lifestyle.

Frugal Living Resources

Books

Blogs

Podcasts

What tips would you give to someone pursuing a frugal lifestyle? Are there any good books, blogs or podcasts you would recommend that weren’t mentioned here? Please share in the comment section.

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