Frugality is when someone is careful about spending money, or is economic in the use of resources. In today’s world where the price of goods and services is constantly on the rise, it does pay to live frugally. The good news is that you do not necessarily have to live like a pauper just so that you can save a few dollars here and there.
If you’re wise with how you spend your money, if you know how to budget and if you know where to save or where to splurge, you can manage your finances accordingly.
Here, we will take a look at the top ten frugal living ideas which you can follow suit. But before that, why do some people choose to live frugally? For others, it’s simply a matter of necessity.
Let’s take a fresh college graduate as an example. A young woman who just secured her first job would probably have to live with one, two or more roommates so that she can have people to split rent with. With all the start-up expenses that she has for settling in her job and probably a new city, she would have to scrimp on a lot of other things as well. This is one example of necessity driving the need to live frugally.
Other instances when someone is required to live frugally are when saving for a big purchase like a house, a car or a vacation. Tough times like going through a job loss, a medical emergency, death in the family or financial problems also bring about the need to live frugally.
No matter what the reason is, living frugally means cutting back on the luxuries and saving money for the absolute necessities. Read on to find out what you can do to live a frugal life.
Top 10 Frugal Living Ideas
Everyone would love to save a few dollars or significantly cut back their monthly budget – but not a lot of people are willing to go to great lengths just to live frugally. If you think that you can manage to make a few changes with your lifestyle, here are the top ten ways by which you can live a more frugal life:
1. Grow your own food
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still cut back on your grocery bills by growing your own food. Start with planting a few herbs in your kitchen. Go online and look for step-by-step instructions or videos on how you can grow herbs in a pot or a windowsill.
If you don’t have space, you can even grow a vertical garden against a wall or up in your building’s rooftop – lack of space should not be an excuse. If you do have the space in your backyard or front lawn, you can grow a garden full-on.
The initial costs of buying tools and gardening supplies would more than make up for the money that you will end up saving. It can also be a bit labor intensive but once your fruits or veggies thrive in season, the rewards are well worth it.
Aside from growing your own food, you can also make food items from scratch like bread if the ingredients cost lesser to buy than the store bought stuff. The same thing holds true for fruit preserves, pasta and similar items. You can even brew your own beer or make your own wine if you like.
2. Ditch pricey cable subscriptions
When you visit social networking sites during the initial episodes of the most popular cable TV shows, you will see how most people love consuming premium TV content. These do come at a price, however. What if you are living frugally but you would still like to see the latest episodes of Game of Thrones or other popular HBO shows? You can actually ditch those pricey cable subscriptions and simply consume the content online.
If you already have Internet connection, you can simply subscribe to lower-priced streaming services like Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon or Hulu. Even if you need to purchase a gadget that connects your TV to the Internet, the costs will still be significantly lower.
3. Take full advantage of the features of your local public library
If you think that libraries only house tomes of physical books, think again. Public libraries these days are a lot more versatile because you can gain access to DVD selections, borrow e-books, or use the Internet for free.
If you’re a movie buff, just imagine how much you are spending on a monthly basis for DVD rentals. If you will borrow them from a public library instead, you can save a lot of money.
Those who work from home can also use the library facilities for free so that you can focus on what you need to do without the distractions of your bed, your TV or the kids.
4. Downsize your home, or get a roommate
For elderly couples whose kids have all moved out, it makes no sense to maintain a huge home with several bedrooms. Downsize your house according to your living needs and save thousands of dollars in the process. Even growing families are downsizing these days for economic purposes. If you just started with your job, get one or two roommates so that you can have people to split rent and other household maintenance expenses with.
5. Move to a cheaper part of the city
Which part of the city do you currently live? If you live in a pricey apartment which is just across the street from where you work, it might make more economic sense to move to a cheaper part of the city. As long as the commute is not that long which would also cost you in the long run, living in the suburbs usually requires a lower living expense because of the cheaper prices of goods and services.
However, make a few calculations first so that you can really determine if moving to a cheaper part of the city will really save you money in the long run.
6. Group your errands and save on gas money
If you live in a state where you cannot go from point A to point B without a car, you would be spending a lot of money on gas and car-related expenses. To save money on gas, what you can do is group your errands. Assign one day of the week as your errands day and plan your route sot that you won’t have to waste gas and driving time.
If you want to enjoy even more savings and benefit the environment at the same time, you can simply bike or walk to where you are going.
7. Eat out less often
What better way is there to live frugally than to eat out less often? Of course, you should not deprive yourself of the luxury of trying out a new restaurant when you receive your paycheck, but these activities do take a toll on your budget.
Make room for your budget to eat out once or twice a month, then make your meals at home. Not only is this cheaper, but eating home cooked food is better for your health as well because you can use fresh ingredients and cut back on the oil, sugar and fat.
8. Make your own household cleaners
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends anywhere from $700 to $1,500 per year on household cleaning supplies. Those who have a bigger household income tend to spend more on buying household cleaning supplies. If you want to live frugally, you can actually eliminate this expense and simply make your own household cleaners.
Using kitchen staples like vinegar, lemon or cheap supermarket items like Borax, you can make your own detergent, glass cleaner, window cleaner, laundry detergent, toilet cleaner, etc. Using natural instead of chemical-based ingredients is safer for your family as well. If you want the house to have that clean scent, all you have to do is pour a drop or two of essential oils on the household cleaning formula that you just mixed.
9. Go generic
When buying over-the-counter medication, make-up or other toiletries, it does pay to go generic. The ingredients of most products are pretty much the same. What makes the prices of branded products jacked up is the money that they spend on advertising to popularize their brand name.
If you need a facial cleanser formulated for acne, for example, you can choose the drugstore brands over the more expensive ones from popular beauty product lines. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
10. Restore or build your own furniture
Finally, you can restore or build your own furniture. Again, there are videos and how-to guides online that you can use to build your own headboard. You can put together one for $50, which will save you a lot of money as compared to the ones available from furniture stores that go for a few hundred dollars each.
You can also apply do-it-yourself solutions for re-upholstering or repairing the furniture that you already have at home – or simply buy second hand items if you need to refurnish your house or apartment.
With these tips, you can live a pretty frugal life without having to give your lifestyle a total overhaul.