Frugal living is about being conscious of and smart with the money you spend on necessities, utilities, or other living costs. It is about saving money and creating a nest egg for yourself, without taking on a mountain of debt. Whether you are just starting on your own or are looking for new ways to save money, here are some tips for adopting a frugal lifestyle.
Home heating and cooling costs are expensive and you are likely to spend a lot more money per year when your home is full of drafty spots. These are the areas around door jambs and windows where hot air can seep in during the summer, and cold air can leak in during the winter. Install new windows and doors for long-term savings or purchase weather strips that adhere to the seams to keep heat and cool air from entering your home.
Think about all of the times you've had to throw away food that spoiled before it ever got eaten. Be a smart shopper and only purchase ingredients you know you will use. That means planning meals so that you can use up the entire ingredient, or refrain from making a dish that requires a specialty component. Also, be careful only to cook enough food for the meal, or that you know will get gobbled up come leftovers day.
The standard drill for many people is to open bills and then pay them right away without carefully examining all of the charges. Take a close look at each bill you receive to make sure you are not being charged for services you don't use, or are getting overcharged for your services. If you find a billing mistake, call the company who issued the bill quickly to get it resolved.
Late charges add up quickly and are not in line with frugal living. Take charge of your accounts and make sure you never incur a late fee or NSF fee from your bank or account companies again. Organize your finances so that you know when you get paid and when your bills are due; most businesses will allow you to change the due date so you can pay your bills according to your paydays.
While they can put a short-term bandage on an emergency, payday loans are grossly expensive, and you should avoid them at all costs. A single payday loan can yield an interest rate that is 300% or higher and can cost thousands of dollars to pay off. Tuck some money away into savings or ensure that your credit score is high enough to get approved for a low-interest bank loan to pay for emergencies.
When shopping for everything from shoes to clothes, and even home appliances, always look for items that are of high quality, although they are more expensive upfront. Things made from high-quality materials will last much longer than mass-produced low-quality items. A good pair of leather shoes, for instance, can last for a few years, versus those made from synthetic materials that may only last for a few months.
Instead of getting rid of old clothes, housewares, jewelry, yard equipment, and other household items, find a way to upcycle them and give them a completely new life. Old clothes can become tote bags and quilts; broken yard equipment can be painted and turned into decorations, broken jewelry can be deconstructed and used to make new jewelry, etc. Brainstorm creative ways to reuse the items you already own.
Storage containers are expensive! Next time you purchase sour cream, pasta sauces, jams, margarine, or any other food staple that comes in a jar or plastic container, save these containers to organize your stuff. These containers can be spray-painted to match the look of your home and are perfect for storing craft supplies, nails and screws, paperclips, makeup brushes, and other small items.
Pioneers and villagers have been making their homemade cleaning agents and soaps for years, and you will save a ton of money each year if you do the same. Cleaning supplies sold in stores are full of harsh chemicals and scents. Do some research online and look for cleaning supply recipes that you can make at home. If you prefer scented cleaners, find a bottle of essential oil and add in a few drops.
Beauty products like night creams and moisturizers can set you back hundreds of dollars per jar and often fall short of their promised results. Instead of forking out the big bucks to have younger and firmer skin, try whipping up natural beauty aids of your own with ingredients you already have at home. Complete a simple Google search and find recipes for beauty enhancers that use ingredients like honey, milk, mayonnaise, olive oil, and more. You can achieve glowing skin on a dime.
Take advantage of American consumerism by purchasing like new and name brand clothes and accessories at your local thrift store. Thrift stores have come a long way in the last couple of decades, thanks to people's increasing need to update their wardrobes all the time. You can find an assortment of different pieces that are still on trend and in style without paying high retail prices.
Many people dream of living in a huge home packed with elegant furnishings, but do you need all of that space? Large houses cost substantially more when it comes to property taxes, insurance, energy, and upkeep. Figure out the minimum square footage that is comfortable for the size of your family, and save yourself a ton of money in the process. Tiny homes and ramblers are becoming hot real estate once again.
When was the last time you visited your local library and took advantage of all the free resources it has to offer? At the library, you can relax and literature, borrow books, use the internet for free, and even print documents. By utilizing your local library more, you can save on costly internet services, electricity, and printer ink, as well as become more educated at the same time.
The average cost of a cocktail at the bar is about $5, which adds up quickly when you get caught up socializing with friends. Avoid the bar altogether and invite friends and family over for a cocktail party at your house. You can purchase liquor and mixers for a fraction of the price at the store and can avoid all of the weird interactions with people you don't know at the bar.
Fees from bank transactions, money transfers, phone payments, and other services start to add up when you use them several times a month. It is always best to try to avoid paying extra fees in the first place, but if you find yourself in a situation where you are going to get hit with one, ask the representative with the company to waive or reduce the fee. It never hurts to ask, and many customer service representatives have the discretion to reduce or waive the cost if you ask. Point out that you are a loyal customer and give them a gentle reminder that you can take your business elsewhere.
Become a tourist in your town and explore all of the fun free things there are to do during the summer and holiday months. You can learn new things about your community, mingle with the locals, make some new friends, and save hundreds of dollars by not traveling.
Growing your food is not only healthier than purchasing it from the grocery store but, when done correctly, it also can yield crops that you can continue to use all year long. Plant a garden and can your bounty. You can also go berry picking, fishing, and hunting, and preserve your food to feast on through the year. Invest in plenty of canning jars, freezer bags, and a large deep freezer.
Consider restaurants a place to go when you want to celebrate life's special moments, not as a place to get your everyday meals. Feeding a family of four can cost $40 or more per restaurant visit, and this money is better spent at the grocery store buying ingredients for delicious at home meals. Prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them, so you have easy go-to options for busy weeknight meals.
For less than $200 you can find a top-of-the-line machine that makes gourmet coffee beverages, cold-brew coffee, espresso drinks, and more. Make the initial investment, and you can save hundreds of dollars per year by not going to your local coffee shop in the morning. Stock up on syrups, gourmet coffee, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and other ingredients needed to make your favorite coffee drinks at home.
Most cities base the price for garbage service on the size of the can you put out at the curb each week, whereas recycling is usually free. Invest in a large recycling vessel and get your family into the habit of recycling trash instead of just throwing it in the garbage can. You can also create a compost pile with food scraps and make homemade fertilizer for your gardens. Using a smaller garbage can will almost instantly cut your garbage bill in half.
Frugality will help you save money and use it to pay down debt, create a healthy emergency fund, and put away money for fun-filled vacations and the other things you want to do in life. Use these tips to reduce your spending and enjoy a more relaxing, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
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