Being frugal is to be thrifty, prudent, economical, or careful in spending your money. One of the reasons why a lot of people find themselves living on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis is that they don’t know how to be frugal.
Even if they start earning more than they used to, they still feel short changed when it comes to their budget because their lifestyle shifts accordingly. The best way to spend your hard earned bucks wisely is to live below your means and make sure that you are saving money every time you earn an income.
Top 10 Frugal Ways to Spend 100 Dollars
Let’s say that you have exactly $100 to spend. How can you spend it in such a way that you will be frugal, and get every cent of your money’s worth? Here are several suggestions:
1. Challenge yourself to complete your shopping list using $100.
At websites like WiseBread.com, you can read about stories of how a mom spends only $100 for groceries to feed five people for a week. This amount already includes some toiletries, supplies for the kitchen and even food to feed a couple of pet cats. Naturally, the amount depends on the number of people that you have within the family and the ages of the kids that you have to feed. But you can definitely challenge yourself to stick close to the budget.
The first thing that you need to do is make a list of the items that you need to buy. Do an inventory of your pantry to check which supplies can still be used. Plan your dishes around the ingredients that you already have. After making a list, scope out the grocery stores in your area. Some stores have more expensive items than others. If you’re shopping for a week’s worth of food, it definitely pays to exert the extra effort in doing your research.
When using online discount vouchers or coupons clipped from magazines, use them wisely so your effort will not be wasted. It does not make sense to use a $10 coupon on an item that you would not usually buy in the first place. Instead of saving that amount, you would have wasted it especially if you find out that you hate the product. Hold onto those discount coupons until the items that you really usually buy go on sale, so that you can enjoy real discounts. One more thing, if you find non-perishable items on sale which you always buy, stock up on them once they go on sale.
2. Plan your meals with a $100 budget.
How can you plan your meals with a $100 budget? For breakfast, these can be served: milk, cereal, fruit, pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast with peanut butter. For lunch, you can serve sandwiches or what’s left over from dinner. For dinner, you can cook spaghetti with meatballs, roast chicken, potatoes, vegetables, tuna noodle casserole, stuffed green peppers and easy-to-prepare dishes with cheap ingredients.
If you have a breadmaker, you can save money by making your own bread. You can also balance out the dishes by serving seasonal fruits and veggies, which can be bought from farmer’s markets fresh and really cheap. Think of planning your meals with a $100 budget as a challenge to prepare something quick, easy and healthy for your entire family.
3. Spend your money on cheaper forms of entertainment.
When going on a night out with friends, how much do you usually spend on drinks, food, transportation, entrance to clubs, etc.? If you have $100, think of cheaper forms of entertainment. If you’re single and you usually go out on weekends with friends, try pooling your money together and buy cheap cuts of meat as well as drinks for an outdoor barbecue.
For an even cheaper night out, gather together board games and playing cards then hold a game night at one of your homes. All you have to buy for this are drinks and some munchies. For the whole family, there are many ways that you can spend some quality time together without having to spend more than $100. Hold a movie night or a board games night at home. Scope out a park and have a picnic so you’d only need to buy food. The more fun and involved the activities are, the better your bonding time as a family would be.
4. Double your $100 by finding ways to save money on energy.
How about doubling that $100 that you already have? You might have to wait for several weeks for the savings to kick in, but you will definitely feel it in the long haul. This can be done by implementing ways to save money on energy. Simply turning the thermostat setting by one degree will help you save $10 per month.
Use heat-generating appliances during the cooler hours of the day to save on power. If you haven’t already done so, replace your regular lights with energy-saving ones. By thinking of ways to save money not just on your electricity but also your water consumption, your savings will add up to more than $100 by the end of the year.
5. Explore your city or a neighboring area with a $100 budget.
If you live in New York City or if you are staying with a friend here, you can challenge yourself to explore the place with only a $100 budget. Manhattan might have a very high cost of living, but you will actually have plenty of fun thinking of ways to do the usual tourist-y stuff without having to spend so much. For instance, you can check out the theater scene for less than $20. You can have a pre-show dinner of pizza slices for less than $6, then grab a drink at an ale house for less than $8 including tip.
At the Lower East Side, you can have a walking tour for free by listening to a podcast, or joining an actual free tour led by live guides – these are offered from April through November. Afterwards, you can ride the city ferry for a view of the Statue of Liberty. From there, you can explore Times Square, the Guggenheim, and other museums with a minimal entrance fee. With the rest of your budget, you can explore the coffeehouse scene and simply roam the streets of the city.
You can do the same thing at your own neighborhood, or a neighboring city that you haven’t been to. The key is to ditch the fancy restaurants and eat where the locals dine because the food is bound to be cheap and delicious. For the establishments which have entrance fees, do your research and schedule your trip to when the entrance is minimal or free. With $100 in your pocket, you can have the ultimate local traveling experience.
6. Invest in a good quality item that will last you for practically a lifetime.
If you have $100 to spare, buying something cheap that will last you for only a few weeks is just a waste of money. Let’s say that you are planning to buy a formal jacket that you can wear at the office. Sure, that $20 jacket from an RTW store might be cheaper than an $80 jacket from a designer label – but how many times can you wear the cheaper jacket?
After about six months, you’d have to replace it again so that will require you to spend another $20 or more. With an $80 jacket that’s durable and has a timeless design, you can wear it over and over again so the investment is well worth it.
7. Purchase as many items as you can in a thrift shop.
On the other hand, if you are looking forward to spending your $100 on a lot of cheap but perfectly usable clothes, you can just as easily hit the thrift shops or consignment shops. Most of these establishments are full of clothing items which are barely used, but are tagged with a much lower price. Aside from clothes, you can also buy second hand furniture pieces, mismatched china, and similar items that you can use at home.
8. Check out the matinee shows.
If there’s a movie that you’d really like to catch, do not watch the late night shows. Ticket prices for these are almost double and you would have to deal with a larger crowd. By catching an earlier show, you can save money on ticket – and use your savings to buy popcorn, get a drink afterwards or even treat a friend to a freebie ticket.
9. Pay off a debt.
What better way is there to spend your $100 than by paying off a debt? If you have a $1,000 bill on your current month’s credit card statement, $100 may not seem much but it will go a long way towards reducing your debt. You can also apply it on student loans, insurance fees, and other financial obligations that you have.
10. Invest your money!
Finally, sites like Nasdaq.com offers tips on how you can start investing with just $100 on hand. You can open a brokerage account, buy your stock, add shares, and start planning ahead so that you can make your money grow.
That $100 bill that you have may not sound like a lot. But if you will blow it all in just one night, you might find yourself struggling to earn it back in the future. By thinking of ways for you to spend your $100 frugally, you can enjoy the simple pleasures in life without having to burn a hole in your pocket.