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We all want to live the dream life. We want to be debt-free, maybe be able to travel, have our dream home, and a myriad of other things that all require money. But many of us feel like we’ll never be able to have that life. It’s just too far out of reach. There is a way though! You can reach your money goals and you can do so faster with these 15 simple tips to start living a more frugal life and saving money!
Stop buying name brand
Buying name brand food items is almost always a waste of money. They are more expensive and usually aren’t any better than the store brand. Now, I will say, there are a few things that I definitely will pay more for better quality (cheese is one and toilet paper is another). But overall, choose the cheapest brand to save yourself some money.
When it comes to clothes or other items, name brand isn’t always best. Buy what you can afford – the name on the tag doesn’t matter all that much. Do keep an eye open for quality, knowing that name brands are not always the highest quality! Also, look for sales and discounts on items you need or want to save even more money or bring higher cost items down to a price range you can afford.
Re-purpose old items
Before throwing something out, think about ways it could be repurposed. Plastic grocery bags can be reused as trash bin liners. Old clothes can be made into a quilt. Glass jars & containers can be used to store food. And broken furniture can be made into something entirely new (if you’re crafty like that or know someone who is!) Just make sure you think through all the possibilities before deciding to trash something. And if you’re on the hunt for something new, take a look around your home first to see if there’s something you already own that could be used for your purpose!
Have a no-spend month
Pick a month out of the year and make a plan with your family not to spend any money during the entire month (except for bare essentials). You’ll have to decide what is allowed and what’s not, but my suggestion is to spend money only on food and shelter. That means groceries and bills are fine, anything else is extra. You may need to add in transportation depending on your situation. But I would encourage you to search for free options first. Try walking or riding a bike if you’re not going too far. Or if you need to travel farther, check to see if anyone else is headed that way and catch a ride!
Find free activities
A lot of us blow our budget by spending way too much money on things to entertain us. Going to the movies practically requires you to take out a loan these days! And I don’t know about you, but even a free trip to Target usually ends up with me spending money I didn’t plan. Instead, look for activities you can do by yourself or with your family that don’t cost a dime. A trip to the playground is completely free and fun for the kids. Libraries usually have free activities for kids throughout the week. And you can often find free events around your town by doing a simple search online! Don’t be fooled into thinking that fun has to cost you money!
Save your spare change
Every time you make a purchase, round up to the nearest dollar and put the change in a jar to save. Or if you use a credit or debit card, enter the transaction as a whole dollar amount and save your change that way. There are apps available that will take your spare change and automatically put it into a savings account or investment or pay towards debt for you. I use Qoins, which rounds all my transactions up to the nearest dollar and sends an extra payment to my student loans once a month. I’ve been able to pay over $100 extra towards my debt so far, saving me nearly $200 in interest!
Use a budget
Obviously, the best way to be frugal with your money is to make a plan and stick to it. Using a budget will allow you to decide what your financial priorities are ahead of time and plan for that. Then, when you’re tempted to spend throughout the month, you’ll have your plan to look at and decide if it’s worth getting off track for. (Sometimes it really is – and that’s ok!)
Use a grocery delivery service
One way we get duped into spending far more than we ever intended is by all the clever little marketing tools that stores use – particularly grocery stores. Have you ever noticed that things like eggs, milk, and butter are always in the back of the store and the front section is filled with cookies, sweets, and all kinds of junk food? There’s a reason for that! Stores know that you need those milk, eggs, and butter and they are going to make you walk by every single enticing display they can put together on your way to get those essentials. This makes it far more likely that you’ll buy something you weren’t planning on and spend more money. End caps and check-out lines are designed with the same purpose in mind. So skip all that temptation and just order online and have your groceries delivered. Your wallet (and your health) will thank you!
Create a meal plan
Along the same lines, creating a meal plan can help you make sure you only buy what you need and that everything you buy will get used. There have been many times I’ve bought fresh produce just to have it sit in the fridge and go bad before I used it. Sitting down each week and creating a meal plan will eliminate that problem! If you’re not great at meal planning or the idea of planning meals for your whole family makes you want to bang your head against a wall, try using a meal planning service like Emeals and have everything done for you!
Grow your own food
If you’ve got a bit of a green thumb and you enjoy spending time outdoors, growing your own food might be a great option for you! You can grow as much or as little as you want and only choose fruits or veggies that you know your family likes. Seeds are far cheaper than fresh produce, plus you get the benefit of having fresh fruits and vegetables just outside your door without all the harsh chemicals!
Walk or ride a bike everywhere
A major expense in most households are vehicles and their maintenance. Aside from the cost of just purchasing a vehicle, many people spend hundreds each month paying for gas, oil, and other maintenance. Then on top of that, you have to pay for insurance and sticker renewals and eventually something is going to break. Save a ton of money by choosing to walk or ride a bike whenever possible. Not only will it save you money, but you’ll get more exercise too!
Make your own cleaning supplies
You can make your own cleaning supplies with just a few simple ingredients and save yourself tons of money throughout the year! All you need are some glass spray bottles, some castile soap, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda. Different combinations of these four ingredients will make just about any surface in your home clean and you can get them a lot cheaper than some of the other cleaning products out there! (Plus they don’t have a ton of chemicals).
Swap disposables for reusables
Another way to be more thrifty and frugal is by investing in some reusable products to replace many of the things you throw away regularly. Switch disposable diapers for cloth, paper towels and napkins for cloth linens or unpaper towels, toilet paper for family cloth, plastic containers for reusable glass, plastic shopping bags for reusable ones, dryer sheets for wool dryer balls, and so many more options! Check out my post on the best reusable products for your home to get more ideas!
Shop second hand
Whenever possible buy things second-hand. You’d be surprised at the amount of nearly new items you can find in thrift shops. Some have never even been used! You can buy almost anything second-hand, from clothes to furniture. Now you can even do your thrift shopping online at places like thredup.com or order a second-hand clothing subscription box for your kids from Kids on 45th.
Line dry your clothes
Speaking of clothes, skip the dryer altogether and just hang dry them! You don’t have to have a dedicated clothesline to do this. Just hang your clothes up on a hanger wherever you can find the room (make sure you give them room to breathe to keep from developing mildew). Hanging them by an open window may help them dry faster. Either way, you’re using less gas or electricity plus your clothes will last longer without the added wear and tear the heat from the dryer creates.
Ditch cable and satellite
If you’re trying to cut costs, this should be the very first luxury to go! Cable and satellite are basically a thing of the past anyway and are quickly being replaced by streaming services like Netflix and Hulu which are substantially cheaper and have their own dedicated shows you can’t get anywhere else!
Living a frugal life doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself and it doesn’t have to be forever. Remember, your goal is to find freedom from financial burdens so that you can live the life you truly want. That may mean making some sacrifices now (ok, it most definitely means you’ll have to make some sacrifices) so that you can live how you want later. Short term discomfort is just the price you pay. But it is temporary. Keep making frugal choices and being a good steward of the resources you have and you will achieve your dreams sooner than you think!