12 Frugal Living Tips To Save Money

By Nate O'Brien on August 20, 2020
If you’re familiar with my videos, you’ll know I don’t buy into “saving money at all costs.” So, why would I be giving you frugal living tips? Even though I don’t advocate excessive thriftiness, I can’t ignore the importance of living frugally altogether. If you want to stop living ​paycheck to paycheck and build a […]
finance

If you’re familiar with my videos, you’ll know I don’t buy into “saving money at all costs.” So, why would I be giving you frugal living tips?

Even though I don’t advocate excessive thriftiness, I can’t ignore the importance of living frugally altogether. If you want to stop living ​paycheck to paycheck and build a solid financial foundation, there are only two ways to do that: by bringing in more income or spending less money.

Although earning more is a better long-term strategy, we also need to watch our spending habits to prevent lifestyle creep. Besides, there’s an enormous difference between being cheap vs frugal — my tips focus on low-effort ways you can save money without damaging your quality of life.

Negotiating

Few ways of saving more are less disruptive to your lifestyle than negotiation. You don’t have to change your spending habits, you just have to reduce the prices of the items you’re buying.

You might wonder how you can start — not everyone is confident enough to walk into a shop and haggle with the owner.

Negotiation is an art rather than a science; there are lots of approaches you can take and you’ll learn the most through trial and error. Regardless, I can point you toward a book I found useful: ​“Getting to Yes” ​by Roger Fisher.

As an emeritus of the Harvard Negotiation Project, the author is more qualified than me to give you some pointers.

It’s also worth mentioning that, just because you ​can negotiate, it doesn’t mean you always should. Don’t be that person who travels to Vietnam and insists on negotiating the price of sunglasses down from $8 to $6. That's not frugal living, it’s just silly.

Instead, focus on big-ticket items, like cars and houses. As a rule of thumb, I’d say anything over $200 is worth negotiating.

Get to know your car better

I’m convinced that some people think cars are just a magical box that transports them from A to B. Sorry to disappoint you, but they’re pieces of engineering you can understand and tamper with. This is brilliant news, because it means you can save money on repairs!

Yes, it’s daunting to mess around with your car when you don’t know the last thing about mechanics. But is it really as painful as wasting hundreds of dollars?

These days, it’s easier than ever to figure out what’s wrong with your car. Back in high school, I had a problem with the check engine light in my truck, so I bought an OBD2 scanner on Amazon. All I had to do was plug it into the vehicle and it told me what the problem was, saving me a load of money.

Besides, there’s not always a mechanic or rescue service on hand to come and save you. It’s
not just about frugality — learning this stuff could save your life one day!

Go to the local library

Nobody goes to their local library anymore. Sure, part of the reason is that we’re too busy scrolling through social media to pick up a book — but even the readers amongst us seem to have forgotten that libraries exist.

I visit the library all the time. Why fork out money on a book you could read for free instead?

Even if you’re not much of a bookworm, you can probably still find useful services in your library. These might include:

  • Laptop
  • eBook
  • Audible Subscriptions
  • TV Shows
  • Academic journal subscriptions.

All libraries offer different services, so check yours out and see for yourself

Simple Clothing

I like to keep my style simple. In fact, I wear practically the same outfit every day. Why? It allows me to get dressed each morning without having to put any thought into my clothing.

So, what’s the link between frugal living and a minimalist wardrobe? When your clothes all have distinct styles and colors, it feels like you always need to buy something new. Once you keep your style simple, it quickly becomes apparent that you need very little.

This doesn’t mean you have to be super extreme and wear the same outfit for the rest of your life. Famously, Steve Jobs wore a black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers every single day.

This doesn’t mean you have to be super extreme and wear the same outfit for the rest of your life. Famously, Steve Jobs wore a black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers every single day.

Remember, there’s a difference between being cheap vs frugal. You don’t have to wear budget clothes — investing in staple pieces can be a ​smart purchase​. Just be mindful of what you wear and try to be consistent.

steve jobs
Ben Stanfield​: Steve Jobs at WWDC: Mr. Jobs delivers his keynote address at Apple’s
Worldwide Developer’s Conference on June 11, 2007
​ (​CC BY-SA 2.0​)

Avoid bottled water

Do I even need to explain this one? Bottled water might not seem like a gigantic expense — it costs a few dollars at most — but that can add up. Especially if you travel regularly or go to lots of events.

There’s a painless solution: buy a filtered bottle. Even most airports now have water fountains to help visitors ditch the plastic — and even if they don’t, a place like Starbucks will normally fill your bottle up for free if you’re in a country where tap water is drinkable.

If the cost doesn’t convince you, how about your health or the environment?

Up to ​93% of bottled water contains microplastics, and unfiltered tap water is full of ​nasty chemicals ​like lead and arsenic. And nobody wants to contribute to the growing problem of plastics in the ocean.

Hang your clothing up

We all love a timesaving hack, so chucking your clothes into the dryer after you’ve washed them seems like a smart move.

It’s okay to do this from time to time, especially if you’re in a rush. But do it constantly throughout the year and you’ll ramp up your electricity usage, leading to big bills. Just hang your clothes up on the line or a rack — it takes ten minutes.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly going to make you a millionaire. Yet it’s an effortless way to help the environment. It might keep your clothes in better condition, too — that means fewer expenses on clothes in the long run!

Grocery Pickup

Everyone knows that going to the grocery store on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. You’ll go in for bread and milk but come out with chips, popcorn, cookies, and a big bottle of soda.

Thankfully, modern technology has granted us an escape from this terrible fate. You can arrange a grocery pickup or use a service like ​Amazon Fresh to ensure you only order what you need.

You’ll also save time, which is even more important.

Don’t get overly optimistic and order nothing but green vegetables if that’s not your usual diet though. It will just give you an excuse to go for a snack haul at your local shop later, which defeats the purpose of the exercise.

Use Craigslist

Isn’t it crazy that whenever we need something, most of us will buy it brand new? News flash: you can probably find something in perfect condition for a fraction of the price on a site like Craigslist.

This is also the perfect opportunity to practice your newly developed negotiation skills!

I’ve found secondhand sites to be goldmines for outdoor items in particular. You might even be able to relist whatever you bought for almost the same price at a later date. Oh, and it’s also better for the environment to avoid buying new.

Craigslist isn’t the only site of its kind. There are various similar websites, including ​OfferUp and ​LetGo​.

Unsubscribe from emails

When your inbox is clogged up with “special offers” and “sales” emails, it’s not exactly conducive to the frugal living mindset.

Unsubscribe from all the companies who email you — now! I don’t care if they’re your favorite brand.

Who wants to have an inbox full of firms plugging their goods, anyway? Focus your attention on whatever matters to you, whether it’s newsletters or clients. A clean inbox will pave the way for digital minimalism.

Get a Crock-pot

Bear with me here. I used to laugh when my mom suggested I purchase a crock-pot, so I know what you’re thinking, but it’s been a lifesaver for me.

Everyone loves a healthy, home-cooked meal, but that’s not always a viable option when you have exams, meetings, or other work to contest with. I used to resort to UberEats and waste a load of money.

Until — you guessed it — I bought my crock-pot. All you need to do is toss in a few ingredients in the morning, and you’ll have a gourmet meal ready by the evening. You barely even need to know how to cook.

For more tips on getting the most bang for your buck when feeding yourself, watch my video on living off $30 a week.

Smart Couponing

It’s important to distinguish between couponing and smart couponing.

Couponing alone doesn’t always help you save money — you could end up spending more than you would have otherwise. Buying a new phone at a 30% discount isn’t a good offer if you didn’t need a new phone to begin with.

Having said that, coupons can be useful. Just be mindful of what you need.

Use a Bicycle

Did you know that the average person spends ​$9,576 a year on their vehicle in the United States? That’s insane.

One way you can cut down on these costs is by repairing your own vehicle when possible. Another is ditching the car completely and opting for a bike instead.

Even if you need a car for commuting, using a bike when possible will help you save on petrol and minimize wear and tear.

For anyone who is too lazy for a manual bike (or energy-efficient, depending on your perspective), you could buy an electric bike. They might be relatively expensive, but the cost doesn’t even come close to that $10,000 most people blow on their cars.

bicycle

Bottom Line

Before you eagerly set out to cut your expenses in every way, shape, and form possible, allow me to usher a word of caution.

Yes, saving money is a smart idea — but don’t take it too far. It’s tempting to slash costs left, right, and center, especially if you have a history of poor financial management, but don’t be excessive.

Especially when it comes to being cheap with the people in your life.

Besides, frugal living is only a small part of the puzzle. Once you’ve mastered these basic frugal living topics, I’d advise you to learn about ​investing in stocks and wealth accumulation.

finance

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