The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living in 2023
Do you frequently indulge at restaurants, even though you know cooking at home will save money? It’s frustrating, right? You’d like to spend your money wisely, but you just need more information and a clear path to becoming spend-savvy.
Congratulations! You’re in the right place! There are many frugal living blogs, but this one will give you all the frugal living ideas and frugal living tips you’ll need to start your journey.
If you're a beginner at frugal living, you’ll definitely have questions and need practical tips to help you get started. This guide is packed with tips, and will answer your questions to help you reach your financial goals. Let’s dive in!
What is a Frugal Person?
So, is the guy who tips his waitress $2 after a large meal with alcohol and appetizers a frugal person? No. He’s no master of frugal living. He’s a cheapskate.
As a frugal spender, you will realize you don’t need the extra calories as much as you need a retirement egg and emergency savings. You might order water with a small meal. You’ll appreciate good service, and you’ll leave at least a 20% tip.
A frugal person doesn’t cut costs at the expense of others. They prioritize where every penny is spent. They eliminate all unnecessary costs by simplifying their bills and executing well-planned budgets. That process doesn’t have to make you feel deprived.
You can live frugally without sacrificing luxury and pampering!
Does Frugal Mean Rich?
Not necessarily. As a beginner, you may not start out wealthy. The fastest way to become wealthy, even with low income is to maximize your frugal habits. Mindful spending is a valuable tool to help you reach your financial goals faster!
So, is Frugal Living a Good Thing?
Absolutely! The sooner you realize frugality doesn’t mean sacrificing your needs and desires, or acting like a tightwad, the sooner you can enjoy the many benefits like:
Becoming financially independent
Retiring comfortably, maybe even early!
Being able to take amazing vacations with your family
Paying off your loans faster
Establishing an emergency fund in the event your situation changes
Experiencing less financial stress
Now for the nitty gritty…
How Do I Live Frugally?
The secret to frugal living is to start small. Some people believe extreme frugality will help them reach their goals faster, but sacrificing what you need and/or want isn’t sustainable in the long run. Follow the steps below. Master one step at a time.
Simple frugal living is obtainable over time, and with practice, practicality, and patience. Don’t attempt to become a frugal pro too quickly. It takes time to form new habits. Rushing the process may result in falling back into your old ways.
Turn these steps into habits by making minor changes that will add up to major savings! Perfect each step before moving on to the next.
Step 1: Budget
Brace yourself. This frugal living tip will fly in the face of all the financial advice you’ve ever gotten…. It isn’t necessary to put too much time into a budget right now. That’s not exactly what you were expecting, but flexing your new found frugality will free up a lot of money, so your budget will change quite a bit during this process.
Simply start by adding up your monthly bills, and get realistic with how much you plan to spend on gas, groceries, clothing, and entertainment. This is also when you will commit to not taking on more debt.
Step 2: Save Money by Banking Wisely
If you pay fees for checking and/or savings accounts, you’re paying your bank to use YOUR money. Stop. Right now. If there are fees associated with your accounts, transfer your money to a bank that has no fees, and close your money-sucking accounts.
SoFi is the bank of the future. You can save, invest, earn, learn, borrow, see your free credit score, and keep track of your net worth, all in one handy app.
SoFi.com says, “SoFi’s mission is to help people reach financial independence to realize their ambitions.
And financial independence doesn’t just mean being rich—it means getting to a point where your money works for the life you want to live.
Everything we do is geared toward helping our members get their money right. We’re constantly innovating and building ways to give our members what they need to make that happen.”
Step 3: Consolidate Debt
Interest rates are so low, they make frugal living simple. It's wise to take a look at your home and auto loans to see how much refinancing could save you. You will likely save hundreds, and you could pay off bills with the amount you save.
You can even consolidate all your loans into one payment with the Smart Refinance mortgage program through US Bank. You’ll get an extremely low interest rate, and no closing costs. Yes, I really said NO CLOSING COSTS! You could end up with a much lower payment, and a lower term.
Step 4: Maximize FREE MONEY and Pay Yourself
Now that you’re saving hundreds of dollars each month, make sure you are taking full advantage of any 401k match or stock options your employer offers. Frugal living also includes putting your money to work. Enroll and contribute the amount needed to maximize the amount of FREE MONEY your employer is offering.
For example, if your employer offers a 6% 401k match, contribute at least 6%, and increase the percentage every time you get a raise. You’ll appreciate that habit when you enjoy a comfortable retirement.
If your employer doesn’t offer 401k, you can open your own IRA on SoFi and automate contributions each month. Work your way up to $500/month, and you’ll be well on your way to carefree golden years.
Also create your emergency fund, if you haven’t already. Citibank offers a 0.5% on easily-accessible savings accounts.
You’ll begin saving even more in the next steps!
Step 5: Reduce Insurance Costs
Staying loyal to the insurance company your parents told you to sign up with will end up costing you a fortune. If you’re still using your Mom’s insurance guy, you’re probably paying a lot more for insurance now then when you first signed up.
That’s because insurance companies regularly change the demographics of their preferred markets, and your insurance rate will be adjusted accordingly. If you’re in the 20-34 age group, Geico may be targeting your demographic this year, and will offer you the lowest rate.
Next year, they may try to get the business of the Gen X’ers, so they’ll raise your rates. At the same time, Progressive may be adding benefits to woo you. Check their rates online, and see for yourself.
Another good tip is to play around with coverage amounts. Your Mom’s guy may have signed you up for expensive limits. You could save thousands by adjusting coverage amounts and deductibles. Just be careful not to go too low.
Also consider dropping your uninsured motorist protection. If you have good medical insurance, it will cover injuries. Carrying full coverage on your vehicle will ensure your car is covered in the event of an accident, even without uninsured motorist protection.
Thoroughly read what your insurance provider covers, carefully consider your options and different scenarios, and then decide.
Step 6: Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions
It’s now time for you to unsubscribe from redundant entertainment apps, and cut the cord on cable and internet bills. Hulu is cheap, and a highly recommended frugal living tip found in many frugal living blogs.
To see if you can get free internet, check out https://thismamablogs.com/free-internet/.
It’s also time to cancel your gym membership. Frugal living will get you in shape! Who needs to be stuck in a building when humans require time in nature to thrive? Start running or walking on local trails. Strength training is overrated. Do some yard work. If you don’t have a yard, offer your services to seniors.
You’ll get all the exercise you need, and you’ll be doing good deeds that make you feel even better.
Step 7: Take Advantage of Rewards Programs
If you know you can pay your credit card off every month, use a rewards card. You can set up automatic payments for all your bills on the card to maximize the rewards. The Capital One Walmart Card is an excellent card.
5% cash back at Walmart.com (including pickup & delivery)
2% cash back at grocery stores, gas stations, and travel purchases
1% everywhere else.
Ramp up your cash back by making Walmart Pickup purchases through the Ibotta app.
By implementing all these frugal living tips, all that cash will add up quickly. As an added bonus, you can use the money you’ve earned to make Christmas purchases at the end of every year! Who needs a Christmas savings account when you’re enrolled in awesome rewards programs?
Just don’t make the mistake of closing all your other credit cards. This will negatively impact your credit score. Creditors like to see older accounts with zero balances on your credit report. Put a freeze on them, and forget you have them.
Step 8: Fine Tune Your Frugal Lifestyle
The following tips and tricks will increase your ability to save.
Save money with frugal living ideas to lower utility bills.
Insulate your hot water heater, your attic, and wall voids.
Change your air filters, and clean the ducts regularly.
Use surge protectors to charge electronics, and simply flip the switch to cut power on energy-draining cords.
Also, flip the little switch on your ceiling fans to spin them clockwise during winter to circulate warm air, and counter-clockwise during hot months to circulate cool air.
In the summer, check your weather app each morning to note the time when the temperature will rise to be hotter outside than in your home or workplace. Then open your windows. At the predetermined time, close the windows and window coverings to trap cool air inside.
In the winter, keep the window treatments open, and let the sunshine help warm your home.
Go ahead and PAMPER YOURSELF!
You can still apply frugal living ideas while going “all out” on yourself. Get your haircuts, mani-pedis, waxing, nails, lashes, and all other beauty services done at your local cosmetology school. You’ll help someone perfect their craft while saving money, WITHOUT SACRIFICING, OR LIVING LIKE A PAUPER.
Do you have a coffee addiction? No need to give up Starbucks!!!
Yes, you just read that right! A frugal living financial coach will tell you to give up your mocha choca lattes, or make them at home. Instead, use the small moments of your spare time to earn Starbucks gift cards with Swagbucks, and get your coffee for free.
There’s a gas station in your town that almost always has the cheapest fuel with a discount card. Find It.
Use it. It’s usually a fuel center in your grocery store parking lot. It may not serve hot dogs or have a huge selection of random items, but you need to STOP SHOPPING AT CONVENIENCE STORES. You pay extra for that convenience, and convenience is expensive.
Get an outrageously low interest rate on your next car.
Browse TrueCar before showing up at dealerships. Select two or three cars with low mileage that are at least two years old. Anything newer than that will depreciate thousands of dollars as soon as you drive it off the lot.
Your local credit union is your mecca for frugal living and will probably offer you the best interest rate, so get pre-approved before you test-drive vehicles and make offers. The dealership might even offer you a lower rate than your credit union once you show them the pre-approval letter!
Familiarize yourself with sales at the shops you frequent.
Stop paying full price. The best deals come to those who wait. Is Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Black Friday coming up?
Sales for hobby and gift purchases usually occur in cycles. Learn the rhythm of those cycles. If you need electronics or appliances, shop for last season’s goods and clearance items to maximize the amount of money that stays in your wallet.
Penny- pinch your consumer staples.
Buy your toiletries in bulk every six months with Amazon’s Subscribe and Save to save 15% on everyday purchases.
Keep in mind that men’s shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream is cheaper than women’s brands, and they usually work better.
Generic toothpaste and mouthwash are just as good at whitening your teeth as brand names.
Make your own foaming hand soap by mixing dish soap and water in a foaming dispenser.
Buy multi-purpose cleaning supplies. You don’t need a different spray for each little task.
Make your own occasion cards on your computer. They’ll mean more to your friends and family, and they’re nearly free.
Stop buying dryer sheets and scent beads. Instead, go ahead and splurge on good laundry detergent instead to keep your clothes smelling good.
Research, read, learn, and apply. There are so many amazing frugal living blogs. Google things like, “frugal living tips from the great depression,” “frugal living tips for seniors,” and “frugal living on one income.”
Your Final Frugal Living Thoughts
Now that you’ve learned all about frugal living, it’s time to fully dedicate yourself to the process. Don’t brush this advice off, and no excuses!! Take the bull by horns, and download the SoFi app today.
By the time you’ve mastered all the steps I’ve outlined, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your financial goals and dreams. The tips you’ve learned here will add up to huge savings over the course of your life.
Lastly, always honor where you are now. Appreciation for your current situation, and gratitude for your blessings are underrated emotions that are so very powerful.
This is your journey, and being grateful for each new step makes your progress comfortable and more enjoyable.
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