I used to be the exact opposite of frugal. I made every mistake in the book. But during the past 5 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 debt free with an 8-month emergency fund.
It wasn’t easy. We didn’t win the lottery. It was lots of small 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.
It starts to feel like your money is making babies in your bank account. Just saying.
Related: Read the How I Saved series, where I document how I save money each week. We apply that savings to our mortgage, and plan to pay it off in the next few years.
In case you want to see that for yourself, here’s a list of things that frugal people DON’T do. Try eliminating these habits, and prepare for your own financial makeover.
UPDATE: Since this post has been so popular, I’ve continued to think about things that frugal people don’t do. I came up with 12 more things! You can read it here.
Check out the Resources Page for tons of money saving resources!
This post may contain affiliate links. You can view my full disclosure policy here.
Frugal people don’t:
1. Pay for services they can do for themselves
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
- 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. 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.
Related: Are you flat broke? Here’s where to start.
3. 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. Oh my goodness! 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, Meijer Madness, 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 coupons for 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. 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 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. Spend (much) money on entertainment
Frugal people don’t go to expensive concerts, professional sports games, go to the movies often, 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!
6. Wonder where their 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.
If you don’t know where to start when managing your money, please read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. He will teach you how being frugal will eventually make you wealthy.
A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. -Dave Ramsey
7. 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 (i.e. 30 years) to pay off your mortgage, you’ll end up paying 3x as much for your house.
8. 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 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!
You could make a simple spreadsheet to track your bills, including a column that lists each of your due dates. Or just have a checklist on your phone or on a piece of paper that you refer to throughout the month to make sure you’re paying everything on time. Or 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. Live above their means
Frugal people never spend more than they make. In fact, they typically spend far less than they make. Many live on half their 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.
Related: Here’s how I’m saving money on everything I possibly can, so we can pay our mortgage off 12 years early.
10. Eat out often
I really am always surprised how much it costs to eat out. Before you know it, it can be $30+ for one dinner out for 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. Food comes and… ahem, goes, so quickly.
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.
11. 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, and are often cheaper than fresh. They’re frozen at the peak of freshness, so they have at least as much nutritional value as fresh.
My favorite way to keep food from going bad is to use my Foodsaver to preserve it. Read how to save tons of money with a Foodsaver here.
Need help in the meal planning department? Check out 5 super easy meal planning strategies for beginners.
Or learn how to create your very own meal planning kit! Grab your free meal planning printable kit below, complete with over 100 dinner ideas and 50 side dish ideas, meal planning tips, shopping lists, and more!
5 very simple ways to save money on groceries.
12. Keep up with the Joneses
Our modern day society is big on one-upping each other. I feel like social media is partly to blame for that. 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
If you’re finding yourself broke at the moment, try these 5 tips.
What you lack in resources can always be made up for with cleverness and will.
Before you go! Don’t forget to check out the other 12 things frugal people don’t do post!
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Remember to check out the Resources Page for tons of other money saving resources!
What are your frugal tips and tricks? Or do you find it difficult to maintain frugal habits?
Linking up with The Thrifty Couple for Thrifty Thursday.