With the cost of living soaring worldwide, there’s never been a more important time to play smart with your finances. And as heating, fuel, food, rent, and mortgages fly through the roof, taking on a more frugal approach towards spending is one of the best things you can do to stretch your money that little bit further.
Despite what you may have heard, being frugal doesn’t mean being ‘stingy’ or ‘cheap.’ It certainly doesn’t mean skipping meals or freezing through the winter. Instead, it’s simply about applying common sense in a world that is always trying to get you to part with your money.
Here we’ll be going over twenty top tips to help you stay on track monetary-wise each month.
But First Things First: Set a Budget
Did you know that according to studies, 65% of Americans have no idea of how much they spend each month?
Budgeting is the single best thing you can do if you’re looking to save money because it allows you to get a clear picture of what’s going in and out of your accounts each month. So, spend a couple of hours going through your monthly income and outgoings.
Never made a budget before? Here’s a brief step-by-step guide:
- Gather the necessary paperwork (bank statements, bills, details of your savings, etc.)
- Add up your total income
- Calculate your essential spending (i.e., rent, utility bills, groceries)
- Review your disposable income from what is left and be as brutal as possible.
- Draw up a budget
- Stick to it!
Now with that in mind, let’s see if we can’t make that budget go even further with these 20 Thrifty and Frugal Tips.
1. Sell Your Clutter
Clutter: we all hate it, yet we all have it. But, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
From old DVDs you never watch to books you never read to clothes you never wear, your unused clutter could be turned into cash in your pocket. And, thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to sell your unwanted stuff.
2. Create a Capsule Wardrobe That Lasts
The average American spends around $1,700 a year just on clothes. What’s more, many of these clothes never even get worn but end up in the trash.
Though it may seem cheap at first, fast fashion is problematic for your wallet and the environment. The problem is that people buy clothes without thinking about how they go together with other items, and they end up with a colossal wardrobe of things that don’t go well together. The solution? Build a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is a limited selection of interchangeable items that compliment each other with particular attention to things that don’t go out of fashion. They generally consist of around 25-50 items, emphasizing buying quality over quantity. After all, buying a quality jacket might seem more expensive at first, but if it lasts for years, you’ll save money in the long run.
3. Use Your Library!
Yes, libraries still exist, and they remain an incredible if often neglected resource. Not only will you find a wide selection of free to borrow books, but today most libraries also offer DVDs, clubs, audiobooks, and computer and internet access. Furthermore, many have gone digital, meaning ebooks and the like can be downloaded from the comfort of your home. And again, it’s all free.
4. Check Your Subscriptions
There are so many subscription services now that it can be hard to keep track even when paying for them. In particular, streaming services thrive partly because many customers forget that they’ve signed up to them and continue paying for something they don’t even use. It might only mean a few dollars (although, often, it’s a lot more), but it all adds up.
5. Improve Your Home’s Insulation
Improving your home’s insulation can mean a considerable upfront cost. Still, the money you’ll save in the long run will be more than worth it, especially considering the ever-rising costs of energy.
Whether it means installing double or triple glazing or Cavity wall and loft insulation, you’ll do both yourself and the environment a favor by properly insulating your home.
6. Switch Your Cell Phone Provider
There’s a good chance that you’re paying far more on your phone contract than you need to. Thankfully, there are many options, and simply shopping around could save you $100s and still leave you with a decent phone.
7. Take Stock Before You Shop
Americans waste over $200 billion on food annually. Of course, part of that comes from simply cooking too much, but buying duplicates of things already owned is another factor. Of course, doing so is an easy mistake to make but a simple one to rectify. So, check your cupboards before heading to the shop, and you might save yourself a few dollars.
8. Pack Your Lunches
Grabbing food while out is convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. Making your food the night before is not only cheaper, but chances are, it will probably be healthier too.
9. Use Rags Instead of Paper Towels
Paper towels are great for clean-ups and super handy. But the problem is that they’re not cheap and only good for one use. So instead, use old rags made from old t-shirts, towels and that kind of thing.
10. Buy a Budget Recipe Book
We all need to eat, and good nutrition is one thing you can’t skip out on. But unfortunately, when times get tough, people often end up relying on processed food to get them through. However, cooking healthy doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to make the most out of fresh ingredients.
Learning how to cook healthy food on a budget is a must-have skill. Thankfully, there are plenty of free resources on the internet, but buying a decent recipe book that you can always have on hand is a worthy investment here.
11. Use Homemade Cleaners
Chances are, you own a specific cleaner for each cleaning job in your house. Truth be told, though, most do the same thing! What’s more, you can likely do just as good a job with a few easy-to-make and cheap homemade cleaners instead.
12. Walk or Cycle Whenever You Can
You don’t need to be reminded about how much fuel costs are going up. As such, it’s only common sense to cycle and walk when you can instead. Not only will doing so work out cheaper, but they are a great way to get in some extra exercise and stay fit.
13. Hang Your Washing
Drying machines use a ton of energy. So, save money by using a drying rack or clothesline instead. And, if you absolutely have to use one, upgrade to a newer, more energy-efficient model. It might mean a high upfront cost, but you’ll save money in the long run.
14. Travel Off-Season
Traveling during peak times can more than double the cost of your holiday, so going off-season is often a great idea if it’s an option. As a bonus, you’ll avoid all those crowds too!
15. Make Your Own Coffee
From the countless chains to the indy stores, coffee culture has a vice-grip on us all. Having a coffee out with friends has become a staple of the cosmopolitan experience. Of course, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over the occasional coffee with friends, but making your own will save you a lot of money in the long run, so try and do that instead whenever you can
16. Wait for (But Be Wary Of) Sales
So you’ve found something you need or really want and are committed to making a purchase – ask yourself do you need it right now? Or can you wait a little while for it to go on sale or for the price to lower? If, for instance, you know black Friday or the January sales are right around the corner, you might save money by waiting.
While we’re on the subject of sales, however, it’s worth mentioning they can be the bane of any frugal lifestyle. That’s because they can often be very deceptive and often lead to impulse buying. After all, how much of a bargain is it if you never really wanted the thing you bought in the first place?
17. Watch How Much Detergent You Use
Laundry detergent doesn’t come cheap, but many don’t think twice about how much we use on a wash. Many people use twice as much as they need for each wash. Simply measuring the amount of detergent you use and ensuring you only wash full loads can save you a surprising amount of cash.
18. Work Out From Home
Living a frugal lifestyle shouldn’t stop you from keeping fit, and if a gym membership is helping you stay in shape, then it might be something worth hanging on to. That said, there are a ton of free and professionally curated workouts online, from youtube videos to specialist apps. So, trading in your gym membership for a few pieces of equipment is something you should consider if you need the extra cash in the long run.
19. Buy Generic
For some ingredients, it pays to spend extra to buy quality. But often, generic in-store brands are no different than the more expensive varieties – all you are paying for is the name on the tin!
20. Go Meatless
Meat is expensive, yet western culture has become accustomed to it being served with every meal. So going meatless just once a week is an easy way to reduce the pressure on your shopping budget. Plus, you’ll probably learn a few exciting meal ideas in the process.