Today I have 8 tips on being frugal with money so that you can live your best life. You will be pleased to know that this isn’t going to be a huge post today because I want to focus on the frugal living tips that matter the most and can make the biggest difference in your life.
Before I start let’s think about what being frugal really means.
What does frugal really mean?
If I had to picture the word ‘frugal’ in my mind I have to admit that I see a miserly old Scrooge-like man counting pennies by the light of a candle.
But frugal doesn’t mean that at all, at least to me anyway.
The dictionary defines the meaning of frugal as ‘sparing or economical as regards money or food’.
What frugal doesn’t mean is going without or depriving yourself.
You don’t have to lead a miserable life to live it frugally.
Here’s an example.
As a frugal person, you might opt for a do-it-yourself holiday where you find the best price flight, affordable accommodation and you shop around for discounts.
A time-poor person might opt for a done-for-you package holiday and pay double the price.
Both will very probably have an amazing and memorable holiday.
So you see, as a frugal person, you are not missing out on enjoying your life, merely getting the best life that you can for your money.
Personally, I tend to enjoy holidays that little bit more if I know I got the most bang for my buck.
A couple of years ago we went on a skiing holiday to the French Alps. Instead of flying to the resort, we drove. Instead of a hotel, we rented a small self-catering apartment and took most of our food with us. All-in-all we saved at least 50% on the holiday and I think we had just as much fun. The mountains can be enjoyed in the same way however much you pay!
How to be frugal with money – 10 tips that matter
Are you scared to find out how much money you actually have?
Well, I’m willing to bet that when you write everything down things won’t seem so bad after all.
Having a view of where you are, and how much you need to save to get you to your goal of paying off debt, or affording a family holiday, is crucial to your financial success.
Just knowing that yes, you can spare £60 for a meal out once a month somehow makes you enjoy it all the more.
I love to use the YNAB system for budgeting. It has got me out of trouble, it has allowed me to save money and enjoy my money.
Of course, you don’t have to shell out for a subscription to make your budget, a spreadsheet will do just as well. If you prefer pen and paper, here are some great budget planners.
Whichever way you make your budget it doesn’t matter, as long as it is done and you keep it up to date.
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2. Live in a house you can afford
Very probably your biggest outgoing is your mortgage or rent. Make sure you are paying what you should be for your accommodation.
Are your mortgage payments too high? Is your rent more than you can afford? Do you really need ALL the space in your house? Could you downsize?
Maybe you need to rethink your mortgage. Can you get a cheaper deal?
Could you get a rent out a room?
Now that online working is more of a thing, maybe you could move to a cheaper area and work from home?
3. Cut down on the food bill
Make a weekly meal plan, and a shopping list and stick to it. Buy as many whole, unprepared and nutritious foods as you can.
If you go out to work take in your lunch.
Stop eating out more than you need and limit yourself to fewer meals out. Think of eating out as a treat for all the savings you make at other times by home cooking.
4. Rethink transport
Are you thinking of replacing your car soon? Make sure it is second-hand.
Do you really need your expensive car? Why not swap it for something cheaper?
Could you walk or cycle more?
Maybe you don’t need a car at all?
5. Rethink your holiday plans
Do it yourself holidays are generally cheaper than all-in-one package deals.
Consider a cheaper kind of holiday, maybe self-catering instead of a hotel.
Perhaps holiday in your own country rather than abroad.
6. Check your utility bills
Shop around for cheaper tariffs, and be more aware of what you use.
- Insulate your home so you need less heating
- Dry your clothes outside
- Turn down the temperature on your washing machine
- Switch off lights
- Turn down the central heating
- Have shorter showers
- Use less water in the garden (get a water butt)
7. Spend less on your house
Clean your house for less by using fewer cleaning chemicals. Make your own washing powder, use cloths instead of throwaway towels and sponges.
Ditch your cleaner and clean your house yourself.
8. Let your budget do the talking
After a few months of running your budget, you might well discover areas of your spending that could be reigned in.
For example, maybe you are finding you are spending too much money on fuel, maybe you could do a car share or buy a season ticket for public transport instead? Perhaps you could work from home more often, or even take a job closer to home?
Now you have a budget you have the motivation to make this happen.
Tips on being frugal with money – final thoughts
I hope this post has started to make you think. There are a lot of questions I know! If you are worried about your money you absolutely must know where you are and making a budget is the way to go.
More questions? Here are five must-read personal finance books. One of those books was written by the same guy that made the YNAB budgeting app I talked about earlier.
If you have made a budget and that makes you more worried still, please don’t hesitate to some professional advice and support, it will make you feel much better.