I love living a frugal lifestyle. I wouldn't say that I am cheap, but I certainly am a very frugal person. I enjoy saving money and love finding new ways to re-purpose things and live more green.
Why live frugal? Spending less than you earn allows you to use the difference to pay off debt, take more vacations with your family, or even invest. The less you spend the less you need to earn which means you don't have to work as much and can inevitably retire earlier. Plus, it's really a great feeling knowing that you have extra money to spend where you want or need while still enjoying your life and the things you have in it.
Below you will find 20 tips to help you stretch your dollar and get to living a more frugal lifestyle.
- Look for used before buying new. If you need something ask around first before heading to the store. Some things just can't be bought used but certainly there is lots you can buy to save money. Try sites like craigslist and freecycle.org to find used items you may be looking for. You'd be surprised how many of your friends or family may have just what you're looking for either free or considerably less than you would pay new. Consider your options.
- Eat out less, Eat in more. This is seriously a no-brainer. Did you know the average family spends thousands each year eating out? Restaurants are expensive and so is fast food. Plus, cooking at home is much better for your health since you know your ingredients. Plan out your menus, shop with coupons, and eat in more often to save money.
- Take your lunch to work. Like the tip above, taking your own lunch with you to work will easily save you $20 or more a week which is over $1,000 a year!
- Drink coffee at home. It's time to break up with that cute barista. Don't drink coffee on the go at gas stations, starbucks, or local cafe's. Make your own coffee at home! Invest in a good coffee maker, get a great brand of coffee (like dunkin donuts or starbucks) and make your own cup at home in the morning. You can save hundreds a year just by doing this.
- Cut out cable. Try using other cheaper alternatives to cable tv. Netflix and Hulu offer month to month subscriptions to get movies and tv shows streamed right on your computer, or on dvd, right to your door for as little as $7 a month. Networks like Fox, CBS, NBC, and others often put the newest episodes (plus older episodes too) on their website in as little as a day after it airs on tv.
- Matinee & Dollar movies. Get the Movie theater experience without the movie theater prices. Head to your local dollar theater when you want to catch a movie. If you want to bypass the teenagers hit up the matinee which is much cheaper.
- Buy in bulk. If there are items in your house that you use regularly, buy them in huge quantities. Diapers, Trash bags, soap, etc all bought in larger quantities are cheaper than buying the smaller packages. Get a membership at your local Costco, BJ's or Sam's Club if you can – it's well worth it.
- Get samples from doctors. Most doctors are happy to fill a bag for you with a bunch of samples of the medication you need. Plus lots of doctors offices have excess samples of things like Breathe Right Strips, Calcium Supplements, Ear Wax Removal, and other over the counter type medications. I worked for a doctors office and we would frequently give patients multiple samples of tylenol, aleve, and the before mentioned medications for FREE!
- Find Free Fun & Entertainment. Not everything has to cost money to have fun! Find ways to have a good time for little to nothing out of your pocket. The average person spends well over $1500 a year on entertainment (IE: Bars, movies, going out, etc) – this doesn't include eating out! Enjoy time outdoors at the park, enjoy the beach if you live near it, picnic, bike ride – just find ways to spend less but still have a good time.
- Drink more water. We drink so many calories through sodas, coffee, alcohol, etc. These drinks cost a lot in the long run both with money and our health. Drink water, save money, get healthy. Don't buy bottled water either – if you must have filtered water buy a filter, it's much cheaper in the long run.
- Stop using credit cards. If you know how to use a credit card that's great, but lot's of people do not. Credit Cards make buying way too easy, and you always end up buying something you do not need. The average American with at least 1 credit card has more than $8,500 in credit card debt – don't make the same mistake.
- DIY instead of buying. Many times we buy things when really, we could make them ourselves for much cheaper! It can be fun if you do it as a family and will save you lots of money in the long run. Here on my blog I have discussed many DIY projects for things you can make at home instead of buying!
- Bike. You don't always have to drive and use gas when going out to work, school or even to the store. Utilize your bike and get exercise plus save money on gas in your car.
- Take public transportation. Like the tip above, public transportation is often very cheap and a great way to save money on the rising costs of gas (with no end in sight!). Use the bus, the subway, the train, or the trolley every once in awhile.
- Cook & prepare ahead. Make one day a week (or even every 2 weeks) time to cook food in big batches and freeze in dinner-sized portions ahead of time. Prepare vegetables for stews, pastas, etc and freeze them in air tight containers or ziploc bags. You can even make your own TV dinners to just pop in the microwave. You will save money over time.
- Use the library. Instead of buying books, check them out at the library. Library cards are free in your county. Libraries have lots of free entertainment including dvds and movies you can check out, magazines, free internet & computers and endless books to enjoy! Plus, lots of libraries offer free classes, workshops, kids story time and more. Check the libraries bulletin boards or ask a librarian for events at your library.
- Line dry clothes. When it's sunny and warm outside, line dry instead of using the dryer. Dryers are notoriously an expensive appliance that uses a lot of energy. Save some money this summer hanging your clothes and towels out to dry instead.
- Get rid of excess clutter and stuff. It costs less to store & maintain less stuff. De clutter your life and sell your stuff! Try craigslist, ebay, a yard sale, or even a swap meet.
- Shop with a list. Studies show that when you shop with a list, you spend less than if you don’t. Take a list with you when buying groceries and stick to it!
- Borrow from friends. If you need tools to do a job around the house, instead of going out and buying them, check with your friends or neighbors to see if they can let you borrow it. The same is true for things like movies, games, books, etc.
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