In this article, I discuss frugal living tips that you can start today and save thousands of dollars. Being a millennial who tries to save money is a hassle. But, know that frugal living does not mean you should have a sad life. It’s also not about being stingy: frugal living is about being resourceful. It’s about living within your means.
It doesn’t matter if you make $50,000 a year or $150,000 a year; Unless you spend less than you earn, you’ll never get ahead.
Adopting a frugal living lifestyle lets you save by getting freebies, using secondhand products or coupons. It helps you use your money on things you value most: living debt-free, saving for retirement and investing in yourself. So, to start living frugally, these are some tricks that you can use to save money.
Let’s get started:
Learn To Say “NO” To Unnecessary Expenses
Some habits are good, others no so much. Spending on frivolous items is not a good habit to have. Indeed, unnecessary expenses will drain your budget faster than a speeding bullet. For example, wasting time, buying useless stuff at the mall might make you feel better for a short time. But, it drains the budget.
If you want to start implementing a frugal living lifestyle, consider alternatives instead. If you like to waste time a the mall, consider going for a walk in the park. Or, look at more affordable activities. For example, you can meet friends at an inexpensive restaurant or park and hang out together. Whatever you do, ensure that the activities you’re engaging in are budget-friendly and well planned out. That way, you won’t have to drain your savings when those opportunities come around
Related Read: How To Save $5000 This Year
#14: Take Advantage of Available Loyalty Programs
Many people may think using coupons will somehow make them a cheapskate. But, who cares? Using coupons or store loyalty programs are a great way to save money and build loyalty at the same time.
Many grocery stores offer digital coupons delivered through an app or email that you can use at the store in recent times. Some even reward their patron’s free goods and discounts. For example, I just received a $10 coupon from my local grocery store by email. And yes, I certainly did take advantage of it!
#13: Consider Renting Over Buying
There are times when you have to look your best, but only for a short time. For example, say you’re attending a wedding. In this case, consider renting your tuxedo rather than buying it. Designer clothes are expensive, and if you don’t wear these types of clothes often, why buy them? And, if you’re worried about size, don’t forget, the tuxedo rental companies will tailor the outfit for you before delivery.
You can also rent other things, such as handbags, jewelry, or even camera gear online. Doing so will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year.
Related Read: Budgeting for a Wedding
#12: Start a Wish List
Have you ever received gifts that you either gave away to someone else or returned for something else? A recent study showed that 34% of gifts get returned to the store. Indeed, it’s because friends or relatives have no idea what you like or dislike. For example, a friend may buy you the latest video game. But you don’t like it, or already have it.
For this frugal living tip, consider starting a wishlist. Sites like Amazon offer consumers the opportunity to invite friends and family to see your wishlist, and at their discretion. Then, they can buy you something from your list.
Friends and family may not understand your money-saving goals, so let them know what you like is a creative way to avoid unnecessary spending.
#11: Track Your Expenses
If you want to save money, knowing where you spend your money is critical. With this frugal living tip, consider tracking your last three months’ expenses on a budget spreadsheet. Then, you’ll have a clearer idea of where you can cut.
Tracking your money doesn’t have to get complicated. For example, there are apps available that help you track your income and expenses, such as Wally or Mint.
When starting, it might seem like a hassle to stick to a set strict spending budget. But with time, using a tracking app or a spreadsheet, your spending will likely decrease.
Related read: How to make a budget
#10: Save Your Money In Different Accounts
Saving money in one account makes it easier to spend it. So, for this frugal living tip, consider spreading the money in various savings and checking accounts at different banks. And to supercharge this strategy, set up withdrawal limits. That way, you won’t be tempted to use the funds.
Besides, investing some of your saved money would be a great choice. By investing your money, you’ll save for retirement instead of wasting your money on unnecessary things.
Related read: How to invest in stocks
#9: Organize Your Bills
Everyone has bills to pay. Frugal living means knowing all the bills that need to get paid at the end month. For example, if you’re late paying a bill, you might get hit with a late payment fee or interest.
Organizing your bills by hand is a near-impossible task. To overcome the problem, add a bill payment reminder to your phones’ calendar. Then, your phone can automatically remind you before the due date. Another solution would be to keep at least two months of expenses in your checking account. Then, set up auto-pay on all your bills to automatically get paid from that same account.
#8: Stop Monthly Subscriptions
Do you know all the $20, $30, or $40 monthly subscriptions that hit your credit card each month? For this frugal living tip, audit your credit cards for the monthly subscriptions you don’t use. You can save thousands each year by finding free alternatives.
Some apps, such as Trim and Truebill, help you cancel your automatic subscriptions. As you review your monthly subscriptions, look at how often you’ve used the subscriptions. For example, do you need to pay for multiple streaming services? Or, could one work
#7: Avoid Carrying Too Much Cash & Credit
If you try everything possible but find it hard to curb your spending, consider leaving your cash and credit cards at home. Doing so helps you avoid unnecessary expenses like buying coffee or snacks on your way to work and unnecessary costs during the day.
Yet, sometimes some emergencies may take place while at work. And frugal living doesn’t mean not living at all. You can have a little money at the office or a credit card with a low limit.
This method may feel like a hassle at first, as it requires time to get used to. But, after you start leaving the bulk of your money in the bank, now, it should help prevent you from spending extra money on things you don’t need to spend on.
#6: Create A Strict Grocery Budget
Cracking down your grocery shopping budget is a fantastic way to live frugally. A recent report shows that Americans throw away as much as 40% of the food that they buy. That’s a $2,200 annual waste consisting of 300lbs of food.
But, you may have challenges in cutting your grocery budget. If you find yourself having trouble sticking to your grocery list, consider weekly meal planning, and create a shopping list around it. Also, look for cheap, no-name alternative items to buy. The local farmers’ markets are also excellent places to get fresh vegetables and fruits with less money.
Eating out, on the other hand, will almost always be more expensive than cooking at home. Try to cook your food at home instead of going to eat out unless on a special occasion.
Related Read: Grocery Shopping On a Budget
#5: Avoid Going Out To Expensive Restaurants and Bars With Friends
Going out with friends for dinners and drinks is one way that can quickly lead to excessive spending. Instead, considering hosting your friends at home. Indeed, a small dinner party is one frugal way to help save from overspending.
If you do happen to go out with friends, be aware of your budget. By knowing how much you can spend, it will help you avoid buying expensive items. For example, instead of costly drinks, consider a glass of water or a soda instead.
Moreover, this strategy will help you socialize with your friends and still not feel guilty or left out of social activities. If you have the urge to go out for drinks in the evening, consider buying one or two bottles of cheap wine and call your friends over instead.
#4: Curb Your Tech Addiction
Flashy new cell phones in varying colors come out each year. And new bigger, brighter televisions in all flavors seem to get released on an almost monthly basis. Our parents kept televisions for 20 years. And, LCD TV’s are good for 16 years of average use. But, many Americans change or upgrade their TV’s every 2-3 years! What a waste!
For this frugal living tip, consider buying secondhand technology. Yes, you can still buy a secondhand iPhone. It will do the same that a new phone does, only a little slower. And even one-year-old TVs can get bought for up to 50% of their retail price. That’s a fantastic win. The same goes for computers. Even 2 or 3-year-old computers still have lots of life leftover. As a result, you can keep them for at least another 2 or 3 years and save as much as 75%.
#3: Book Travel During The Off-season
If you’re a travel addict like I am, the best way to save money is to travel in the offseason, but only when the weather is still favorable and at lower prices. Not only does it cost less, but there are often fewer people. For example, if you want to visit Europe, consider a trip in the spring or late fall.
Also, consider renting an apartment or condo from Airbnb or other sites and cooking your meals there. This way, you can avoid all the expensive restaurants at your destination. And your health will thank you for it!
#2: Buy Secondhand Items
Do you like luxury cars, furniture and designer clothes? I know I do! But you can buy all of this more cheaply by opting for secondhand items. You can find the majority of these items from consignment shops.
However, you might need to buy a car. Remember, within two years, the vehicle will depreciate significantly. For example, say you want a new Range Rover because it’s a pretty fantastic SUV. Instead of buying new, opt for a similar low-mileage secondhand model, around half the price. And, when looking for the best deal on any used car, be sure to look for a certified pre-owned vehicle.
#1: Give Yourself An Allowance
Frugal living is about minimizing expenses and saving money. And giving myself an allowance is by far, my top tip. Let me explain. When I started learning about keeping a budget, first, I put myself on an allowance. Yes, I opened a checking account at a different bank, and each month, for nearly two years, I’d “give myself a check” at the beginning of each month. That money would get used for all the “fun things” I wanted to do that month. If there was no money left, it didn’t mean that I didn’t eat. Instead, it meant I wasn’t “eating out.”
Sticking to a strict allowance is a fantastic way to ensure you will not spend more than you budgeted.
To get started with this frugal living tip, you might find it easier to set a specific amount of money to spend within one week. The money you plan for each week should include all the fun things, the “wants” from your budget.
The Skinny on Living Frugal
I hope that you’ve found these frugal living tips helpful. Like any plan, it’s best to start slow. Start with the steps you could put into practice today. Then, add in an extra step. Whatever you do, set yourself up for success. Which of these suggestions on our list are you likely to try? Let me know on my social channels.
Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on The Financially Independent Millennial and was republished with permission. Rick is an author, investor, mentor, and finance writer. His work has appeared in several high-ranking media placements, including Good Morning America, Washington Post, Yahoo Finance, MSN, NBC, FOX, CBS, and ABC News. Rick’s passion is personal finance, and works tirelessly to deliver content in an easy-to-understand manner.