To some, living a frugal lifestyle might be sessions of extreme couponing. For others, never paying full price for anything could be a commitment. But what does it mean to live a frugal lifestyle? Are there general rules to follow, or is there an assortment of ideas you cherry-pick from? The first step is to understand what living frugally really means.
Does It Add Value?
Ask fifty people what living frugal means, and you’ll likely get fifty different answers. But the general idea of living frugally is creating a lifestyle in which the main focus is to save money where and when you can and only to spend when it adds value to your life. And I know it sounds good on paper, but how do you apply it to your everyday life? I’m glad you asked because we’ve got some great advice for incorporating frugality into your daily money choices that will hopefully see you living more conservatively sooner rather than later.
Used vs. New
The first tip is as common sense as it gets. Buy used. That’s really all there is to it. No matter what it is, if you can buy it used, do so. Cars, homes, baby gear, etc. These costly items can easily be found for a fraction of their sticker shock prices today. Imagine getting your dream car for a fraction of the original purchase price. Let’s say you’ve wanted a Cadilac CTS sedan for a while now. Did you know that a well-maintained 2003 model looks just as nice as its 2019 younger brother, and you can easily pay cash for it? Buy everything you can use because the minute you walk away with it, you’ve lost up to a third of its value from the moment you claim it.
How much would you save if you only had to pay for one car instead of two? Cutting down to a one-car household is essential to living frugally. It will mean some maneuvering and planning for significant events. However, even for big families, it can be done. And you’ll save a bundle on repairs, gas, regular maintenance, and all other car-related expenses. That extra money can be allocated for other ‘valuable items‘ your family may need or want.
The idea of needs before wants slides into many households that live on a budget. If you’re near the poverty line, there isn’t any wiggle room to do anything except put needs first. But getting those big ticket items like rent, utilities, and transportation out of the way makes spending on a want or two really, really nice. It also makes saving all that excess money that much nicer.
This one is a bit extreme, even for my tastes, but I certainly can’t argue with the logic. Depending on where you live, you can snip the air conditioning and heater. Move slowly in the summer and put on layers in the winter. Doing so can save you untold money on your monthly electric bill. And even though it can be uncomfortable, to put it mildly, stashing all that extra cash is an excellent motivator to try it.
New to You
Clothes are some of the most expensive perishables people spend money on. However, if you put aside what you think everyone else is buying and purchase your clothes second-hand, you’ll save serious cash on your wardrobe. You could fill a nice walk-in closet for a fraction of what you’d spend at a department store and still really enjoy what you wear! Another good point in this column of pros is that you’re giving into the community you live in, which is essential to helping your local economy thrive.
Meal prep and planning smart, simple meals that can be easily frozen and fixed quickly is crucial to saving money on groceries. Also, buying in bulk can help curb the need to eat out or try something last minute that you might not enjoy and throw away. Choosing low-cost grocery stores like Aldi’s or Save-a-Lot can also go a long way in curbing your food bill, which frees up more money for other areas of interest.
Taking on a mortgage is a big deal. It’s a significant commitment that can feel like a major failure if you pay for years only to lose your home. There are innovative ways, however, to take this step without breaking the bank. One way is to sublet part of your home. For instance, you could buy a duplex and rent out half while living in the other. The rental income would go toward making your mortgage, all while cutting your bill in half or even less, depending on what you charged for rent. Or, if you could easily pay the entire mortgage payment, the rent could go toward your other living expenses. This would allow you to save money toward that dream home you want and pay cash upfront when you’re finally ready to purchase.
Saving money is easy if you don’t have a lot of expenses. But what if you do? Most financial advisers will tell you to try to save at least five to ten percent of your pre-taxed income every month. Squeezing even that much of your paycheck can feel painful if you’ve maxed out a bunch of credit cards and are in debt up to your eyeballs. But there is a way to make it happen. Former financial adviser and owner of Wealth of Geeks, Michael Dinich, says his best advice is that “everyone should have an emergency fund in place before they pay another penny toward their debt.”
Another easy way to save on everything from food to toiletries and even kitchen gadgets is to get comfortable with coupons. That doesn’t mean you have to become a couponer who spends hours a day finding ways to maximize your savings. However, saving even ten dollars on items for your home or groceries is a great start in learning to live less expensively.
I heard a great piece of advice on frugal living: “Avoid lifestyle creep.” This all-too-common occurrence is when your income and spending increase alongside it. Instead of letting that money fly out the door, create an automatic transfer to your savings or investment account before your paycheck hits your account. This will keep you at your normal expenditure level and help you curb that urge to overspend.
It’s common to think of frugality as a killjoy. Especially in America, we’ve been conditioned to live on pipe dreams and instant gratification. This almost always means debt. That perpetual debt sticks around and follows our children and grandchildren as they, too, sign their lives away for stuff. But what if we could reverse that thinking? What if we could pay down our debt, all while teaching the next generation to live debt-free? And what if we could do that all while helping our children see that there are ways to have fun without spending a ton of money? Your life won’t end because you never go to Disney World. You won’t die if you never see a Superbowl game from the 50-yard line. What would the world be like if we could all learn the immense gratification of paying for something with cash because we worked hard and stashed our cash like squirrels on their nuts? How much could we accomplish if we stopped believing that we had to carry debt to live and have any delight in life?
17 Sneaky Money-Saving Hacks You Can’t Afford to Miss
Making minor adjustments to your spending behavior can lead to substantial savings in the long run. However, it’s crucial to identify which habits genuinely contribute to these savings and which do not. One user inquired about the most effective money-saving practice, prompting the compilation of a list featuring the top 17 choices. These habits have proven to be instrumental in helping individuals accumulate significant savings over time.
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Let’s talk about money. Everyone loves keeping more cash in their pockets, don’t they? Well, there are these sneaky little things called tax breaks that a LOT of us are overlooking. Gasp! Yup, they’re there, waving at you from behind the paperwork. So let’s shed some light on 18 tax breaks that might be your new BFFs.