5 Tried and True Frugal Tips to Live By

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the past year, it’s to be a lot more intentional about how we spend our money.

The world has experienced economic downturns before, but living through a global pandemic leaves all of us wondering what’s next.

For many, it was the catalyst for making major financial changes that were well overdue. Whether that was getting on a budget, paying off debt, or saving up for a rainy day. 

These uncertain times has taught us all the necessity of being frugal and being more conscious of our money habits.

Being frugal shouldn’t only be something that we do when the fate of our economy is uncertain. Instead, frugality should be a lifestyle that we adopt going forward.

It’s important to be clear on what being frugal is and what it isn’t. 

Being frugal simply means that you are intentional about how you spend your money. It does not mean that you’re cheap or even tightfisted. You can certainly still spend money while still being frugal.

With that said, here are 5 tried and true frugal tips to live by.

1. Plan For Your Money Before Your Receive It

This is probably the first cardinal rule of being frugal. You have to plan out your money before you receive it. 

Remember, being frugal means that you are intentional about how you spend your money. The best way to be intentional is to have a plan for it.

This is where creating a budget comes into play. 

There are many styles of budgeting that you can choose from. You can use the 50/20/30 approach or my preferred approach, the zero-based budget method. No matter which approach you choose, they all will still accomplish the same goal.

To help make budgeting easier, I recommend using a few financial tools like budget spreadsheets and apps. Budget printable templates are also good for those who prefer old fashioned pen and paper.

Use your budget to identify unnecessary expenses that you can eliminate to save money.

2. Always Look for Free Alternatives

The best way to save money is to not spend it at all. 

Make it a habit to look for free or lower cost alternatives for your everyday items and activities.

For instance, instead of purchasing a new book, check it out at your local library. Or, instead of paying for entertainment, find free concerts and events in your community.

There are always less costly alternatives to the things that you enjoy. You may find that they are even more enjoyable and just as good as the things that you normally pay for.

3. Negotiate

Negotiating can sound intimidating, but it is your friend when it comes to living frugally. 

Now, don’t confuse negotiation with haggling. A proper negotiation is when both parties can still benefit from the deal.

You want to make it a habit to negotiate when you are purchasing high ticket items like vehicles, appliances, or furniture.

The best way to negotiate is to have leverage. 

Leverage, in this instance, is cash. When you are able to pay for your items in cash, you have a much greater chance of being able to negotiate a lower price.

Cash is king for a reason.

4. Take Advantage of Opportunities to Save money

Being frugal means that you don’t spend money unnecessarily. That means that you should take advantage of all opportunities to save money on everyday purchases and expenses.

Here are a few ways that you can save money:

  1. Shop Sales. When you’re shopping for groceries, clothes, or other items, be sure to look for sales. A great way to get coupons is by using coupon apps like RetailMeNot, Rakuten, or Ibotta.
  2. Regulate Your Utilities. Utilities are typically a huge financial expense for most families. Installing motion sensing lights and a smart thermostat are just two things that you can do to help you save money over time.
  3. Invest in Reusable Goods. Reusable goods, like glass Tupperware, not only help eliminate waste, but help you save money. You can save a significant amount of money when you can reuse items in your home instead of constantly having to buy more of them.

5. Do Regular Maintenance

Doing regular maintenance on your property is one way to avoid huge financial expenses like repairs.

Make it a point to do regular maintenance on your vehicle(s) and appliances. Remember to:

  • Change the oil in your car
  • Rotate your tires & fill them with air
  • Clean out the lint from your dryer
  • Clean out your gutters
  • Change your air filters in your car and home

These are just a few of the regular maintenance items that you should complete to ensure that you don’t have issues later on.

Maintenance isn’t just limited to mechanical items. You should also make it a point to do regular maintenance on yourself. 

This means going to your annual exams, exercising, and making self care a priority. Failure to take care of yourself can leave you in poor health, which can cost you more than just money.

In Closing

Now is the best time to start adopting a frugal lifestyle. These are just some of the frugal tips that you can incorporate into your life to be more intentional about your money.

What are some frugal tips that you’ve tried?

Fo Alexander is the founder of Mama & Money -- a blog that teaches moms how to make and manage money so that they can be financially free. She is also the host of the Girl Talk with Fo podcast. Fo is a wife, mother, and a certified personal finance educator instructor with a passion for helping women thrive financially.

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