Easy Frugal Living Ideas – 12 Things NOT to Do!

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Easy frugal living ideas so you can save money like crazy! 12 thrifty tips and tricks…even if you hate being frugal!

how to be frugal

I used to be the exact opposite of frugal. I made every mistake in the book!

But during the past 7 years, my husband and I have undergone a complete financial makeover. From thousands in student loan and car loan debt and zero savings, to being completely debt free (including our mortgage!) with an 8-month emergency fund.

It wasn’t easy. We didn’t win the lottery. It was lots of small frugal changes over several years, and we’re really starting to see the payoff. Quite literally.

Good financial health just boils down to tons of little decisions. Day after day, frugal people find small ways to save money on things they buy. They realize they don’t have to purchase all the things they once thought they ‘needed.’

Saving a dollar here and there doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference. But when you gain momentum and find opportunities to spend less and save more, I guarantee you will see how much it really adds up.

💡 Once you start being frugal, it starts to feel like your money is making babies in your bank account. 

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What is a frugal lifestyle?

Living a frugal lifestyle means being really intentional with your money. Frugal people find ways to spend less, stretch their income, and prioritize the things that are most important to them.

You can be thrifty without being cheap! Frugal living is about establishing financial priorities, and adapting your spending to reach those goals.

Most importantly, living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t have to involve deprivation. It’s more about spending smarter, so you can afford to live the life you really want.

Let’s check out some ways to live more frugally. Whether you want to be able to live on one income, pay off debt fast, or stop being so flat BROKE, here are 12 things NOT to do!

12 Frugal Living Ideas with a Big Impact

1. Don’t pay for services you can do yourself

This is a big one. Here are some examples of what people pay others to do, when they could be saving loads of money by doing it on their own:

  • Mow lawn
  • Shovel snow
  • Clean their house
  • Paint their nails
  • Car wash
  • Uber
  • Cook their food

If you have a physical ailment that prevents you from doing those things, that’s one thing. But if not, please consider doing them yourself.

I dare say you may even be proud of yourself for working hard, and get the joy that comes from feeling accomplished. Plus obviously, you’ll save tons of money!

2. Never Pay full price

I can think of almost zero things that I pay full price for. I’m not kidding when I say that there are ways to save on everything.

You may have to adjust your expectations slightly, but you can truly save on everything from clothes to food to travel to utilities!

If you have no idea how, try searching “how to save money on [item/service]” on Google. Or, if you are buying something online, search “[store name] promo code.” Or “[store/restaurant name] coupon” for a printable version to use in person.

3. Don’t Exclude coupons

I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t be bothered to use coupons. Or that they’re confusing, or not worth it.

If you can read, you can use a coupon. Just make sure to read what it says. It might have a certain size or product requirement, or maybe you have to buy 2 of something to use it.

I use coupon matchup sites to plan my deals. My favorites for the stores I shop in are Kroger Krazy and Bargains to Bounty.

They make it so easy by spelling out exactly what the sale items are, and which coupons to pair with the sale to get the best deals. Such a couponing time saver!

There are tons of coupons for everything from restaurants, clothing stores, craft stores, groceries, toiletries, cleaning products, and more.

It can take practice to get comfortable using them. But maybe once you’re enjoying the extra money in your bank account, you’ll be hooked.

4. Never Shop without a plan

It’s never good to go into a store without a plan…

…then you wander up and down the aisles putting random items into your cart. Things you don’t need or have any great use for!

It’s always good to have in mind exactly what you’re looking for.

Don’t look for things to buy. If you’re grocery shopping, write a list beforehand. Hopefully with a list of meals in mind to make with those ingredients.

If you need a couple items of clothing (and I mean actually need), think about what those items are.

Socks to wear during exercise, black dress pants, and a red scarf, for example.

If you are specific like that, you won’t waste your precious time and energy (and money!) meandering around the store aimlessly.

5. Don’t overspend on entertainment

Frugal people don’t go to expensive concerts, professional sports games, the theater, or buy lots of books or video games.

The problem with buying these things is that it creates a cycle of buying them more and more. You’re not going to buy one video game, and then never buy one again.

You could have some friends over to watch a football game, enjoy some drinks and snacks, and enjoy an inexpensive afternoon in the comfort of your home.

And you won’t have to pay for parking!

The library is filled with movies and books you can borrow anytime for free.

how to save money

6. Stop wondering where your money goes

Thrifty people always have a plan for their money.

They have a budget, track their spending, and keep their goals in mind. A frugal person never wonders where their paycheck went, or are confused when they don’t have enough money to pay the bills.

A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. -Dave Ramsey

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7. Don’t Pay interest

From credit cards to student loans to car loans, interest only makes the lenders richer.

A creditor isn’t doing you a favor by giving you a loan. They’re in the business of making money.

The borrower is slave to the lender. With maybe the exception of mortgage interest, frugal people don’t pay interest.

If you pay interest, everything costs more. It’s BEYOND paying full price.

If you have a loan, look at your statement and see how much interest you’re actually paying every month. Even a mortgage, which many consider to be ‘good debt,’ will cost you hundreds of dollars a month in interest.

If you take the full length of time (ie. 30 years) to pay off your mortgage, you’ll end up paying 3x as much for your house.

8. Never Pay fees

Banks love to charge fees. Check your account and make sure they aren’t charging you to have an account with them.

There are just too many options out there for free checking accounts to ever pay a fee to your bank.

Also, watch out for those ATM fees. You shouldn’t have to pay to access your money.

If you pay your credit card, utilities, rent/mortgage, or cell phone bill(s) late, they’re most likely going to charge you a late fee. Sometimes it’s upwards of $35!

Try using a bill tracker to make sure you pay your bills on time.

Or use this simple spreadsheet to track your bills, spending, and easily budget your income.

You can sign up to have the bills deducted automatically from your bank account on their due dates. Then you never have to worry about it.

If you realize you won’t have the money to pay a bill by the due date, call the company you owe and tell them. Many will give you an extension if you just communicate with them.

9. Don’t Live above your means

Frugal people never spend more than they make.

In fact, they typically spend far less than they make!

If you REALLY want to achieve financial freedom, plan to live on half of your income, and save or invest the rest.

The key is to keep your expenses low. It’s very freeing to not have to send all your paycheck out to pay bills.

10. Don’t Eat out too often

I am always surprised how much it costs to eat at a restaurant.

It’s easily $30+ for a dinner out for just two people.

If you do that 3x a week, that’s $360 a month! Imagine if you used that money toward debt repayment, instead of spending it on food. 

If you don’t like to cook, work on coming up a list of quick and easy meals that you can keep in your repertoire.

Keep a couple frozen pizzas on hand for when you really don’t feel like cooking. It doesn’t get easier than that!

frugal living tips

11. Never Let food go bad

When people are conscious of how they’re spending their money, they realize how much cash goes in the trash when they throw food away.

It’s good to buy lots of fresh produce and meat compared to processed foods. But if you don’t eat it quickly, it spoils and you have to toss it.

To solve this, it just takes a bit of planning.

You could do your main grocery shopping once a week, but stop back by a store for more fresh produce halfway through the week, instead of buying it all at once.

If that’s not an option for you, buy some frozen fruit and veggies. They last months and months, are often cheaper than fresh, and usually have at least as much nutritional value.

My favorite way to keep food from going bad is to use my vacuum sealer to preserve it.


12. Don’t bother Keeping up with the Joneses

Our modern day society is big on one-upping each other.

When you see your “friends” showing off their expensive vacations, newly remodeled homes, fancy cars, or professionally photographed children, it’s human nature to want that too.

And it can get really darn expensive. That’s why the Joneses are broke.

Put your blinders on. Focus on your own goals, and concentrate on what is really most meaningful in your life.

I guarantee it is more significant than impressing other people.

We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like. -Dave Ramsey

Ready to try living on a budget?

As you can see, even small little tweaks to your spending can really add up over time.

Following these frugal living tips and tricks will make a big difference in your budget.

Whether you’re trying to save money for a vacation, house down payment, or car, try being a little more thrifty with your spending.

Or use the extra room in your budget to pay down some of your debt. The money you’ll save on interest means you get to keep more of your income.

Get creative with other ways you can live frugally. Where do you think you overspend?

What you lack in resources can always be made up for with cleverness and will.

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  1. I so hate it when I end up letting food go bad. Sometimes life happens or a recipe ends up not working out well…but I still hate it. I agree with the rest of the things as well. That one is just a huge pet peeve of mine. I always feel like I have to hand in my “frugal card” when I toss a bunch of stuff from the fridge. 😉

    1. I totally agree, Julie! It really feels like throwing cash in the trash when food goes bad. It happens to all of us from time to time!

  2. I’ve had a hard time with #11 letting food go bad since the kids all moved out or went to live at school. It was hard learning to shop and cook for just 2—or only 1 if my husband is traveling—after cooking for five or six people plus their friends for years. I was used to filling a grocery cart every week and cooking for an army.

    It has taken almost 2 years, but I finally have the hang of buying and cooking smaller meals for less people. Sometimes I still forget how little we eat and buy extra produce that doesn’t get used. I like the suggestion to buy frozen. Maybe I need to get a small freezer. 🙂

    Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Hi Lisa! Adjusting to cooking for 2 is challenging, especially when you’re used to making dinner for all those people. I swear by my little chest freezer. It’s nice to stock up when there are good sales. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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