Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to give up all the pleasures in life or live like a pauper. In fact, you can be frugal and happy at the same time. These nine habits of frugal people help them get the most out of their money.
More than anything, the frugal person in our story had a plan. That plan was simple: Figure out how much money I’m making, figure out how much I’m spending, and cut my spending back to what I’m bringing in. The key to frugality is to understand what you have, and what you need. The best way to do that is to keep track of your spending. So, remember: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You can’t manage what you don’t control.
If the amount of debt you have is causing you sleepless nights, it may be time to consider adopting some of the frugal habits of people who manage to live well without going broke. The good thing is, you won’t have to give up everything you enjoy in order to do that. Frugal living doesn’t have to mean living like a hermit.
Being frugal and saving money depends on many small things. Of course, it’s important to make wise decisions about the big things: House, car, vacation, etc. But don’t underestimate the power of frugal habits. Dinner after work may not seem like a big deal. It doesn’t really matter, does it? If you make a habit of eating out often, it can have a significant impact on your finances. I’ve seen people count their expenses and realize they’ve spent over $1,000 in restaurants in one month. This habit is worth $12,000 a year! Not so trivial, is it? So what are the habits of thrifty people? Good question! Let’s look at some of the habits you can implement in your life.
1. They review their financial priorities and objectives
I think the way I spend my money is a good indicator of my priorities and goals. Thrifty people have a reason to be thrifty. They often analyze how they spend their money to make sure their spending is in line with what they want to achieve. For the first 9 years of our marriage, Austin and I received no benefits or up to $20 a month. (We call our personal entertainment money our pocket money). If we wanted to, we could change something in our budget to allow for higher benefits. However, we had other priorities for our money! We still have some financial goal to meet. Once we accomplish this, we re-evaluate our goals and priorities to make sure we are spending our money as intended! Our priorities can be very fun: Save money for a trip, take the whole family out for dinner or buy a new TV. Money can do amazing things when you set goals and prioritize your spending.
2. They know where they are
Thrifty people tend to be self-monitoring and know where they stand in terms of goals, budget and spending. A budget is useless if you set it up and don’t look at it until the next month. You are much more likely to reach your goal if you check your progress regularly.
This is what it looks like for us to understand where we are:
- I check our bank and credit card accounts weekly. I can easily see if there is a charge I don’t remember and be sure it must be there. With all those monthly membership fees these days, I want to know what I’m paying for!
- I evaluate the achievement of our financial targets at least once a month. As we paid off our debts, I kept track of how much we had already paid and how much we still owed. By contacting them regularly, I knew exactly what we had achieved and how far we still had to go, which kept me motivated.
- I keep track of our expenses every day. This year I wanted to try harder to stay within our budget. I set myself the goal of recording all the expenses of the day. That way I always know how much our budget is and how much money we have left for groceries, household items, etc.
3. They know their numbers
Thrifty people know how much things cost.
There are two forms:
- Know your budget figures. Do you know what your mortgage is worth? Or what is your average electricity bill? How much do you spend on groceries per week or per month? Most frugal people know these things because they know exactly where their money is going.
- You recognize a good deal when you see one. What is the average price of eggs in your area? How much does an oil change usually cost? If you know the numbers, you’ll know when you’re getting a good deal. If eggs normally cost $1.50 and you see them on sale for $0.84, that’s a great deal! It’s time to stock up and eat lots of eggs.
4. You plan to feed yourself
Wasted product is wasted money. If you go to the grocery store and buy what you like, you will probably end up at home with a strange assortment of foods that you can’t make a meal out of. You are more likely to catch something and have the food you bought spoiled. Since groceries are one of our biggest monthly expenses and a category of our budget that we can control (as opposed to our mortgage), I do my best to make sure we eat at home and don’t waste food, which means I plan our meals! Each week, I plan the meals I will make and make a shopping list to buy the products I need to make those meals. We spend very little at the grocery store because everything that goes in the basket has a reason. You can get a printout of the meal plan I use each week by filling out your information below! If you don’t want to do the meal planning yourself, there are plenty of options to help you and save money:
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- $5 Power Plan. Plan your meals! $5 Meal Plan sends you a new meal plan every week! Attached is a complete shopping list that you can easily print and purchase. Or use the shopping service and avoid going to the store! If you want, you can create a meal plan for each week based on your diet or preferences. There is also a meal planner where you can drag and drop recipes from a wide selection and it will create a shopping list for you. If meal planning seems like a daunting task, the $5 meal plan is a great and affordable option! Try the 14-day free trial here. You can also read my full review of the $5 meal plan here.
- Dinnerley. At half the price of other meal delivery services, Dinnerly is a great way to cook at home without having to plan and run errands. Choose three meals each week from six options that sound delicious. They send you all the food you need to cook diligently. Dishes should be simple and quick….. And very tasty! Click here to try Dinnerly. Or you can click here to read my full (honest) review of Dinnerly.
5. You have fun at home
Of course there are ways to be frugal, but there’s nothing more frugal than staying home. If you’re creative, you can find a million options for fun activities to do at home! You don’t have to sit on the couch and watch soap operas if you don’t feel like it. Get to work decorating the cakes. Drawing, sewing or reading. Make a movie with your phone. Learn to dance on YouTube. Organize a table or video game tournament. Use what you have: Bicycles, games, craft materials, sports equipment, etc.
6. They invite people to their homes
If you think you would be lonely at home and would like to have more social contacts, let me remind you that inviting people is economical! Going to a restaurant with friends = $40+ for Austin and me. Inviting friends over for dinner = I can buy everyone a nice dinner for a total of $20. Going for coffee with a friend = $5-10 just for me. Invite a friend for coffee = About $1 Play board games together. Go for a walk in the park and throw a Frisbee. Or just chatting! You can be sociable and still be frugal.
7. You plan ahead
This is very important, so be careful. Planning ahead can save us thousands of dollars! I’m not even exaggerating.
Think about food.
Almost every time we leave the house, we bring food with us. I fill our water bottles and have some fruit or nuts. This meticulous planning means that we don’t stop at gas stations or cafes for a drink or a bite to eat. We bring snacks, even if we’re just going to run some errands. We take a small cooler with us when we go to the beach, even if we don’t plan to stay there for dinner. How many times have you planned to bring packed lunches for work or school for your kids, but had a hectic morning and had to buy lunch instead? We try to plan ahead and prepare all necessary lunches the day before. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and it’s always better to be prepared.
Think about things.
If you plan ahead and know what you will need in the near future, you can get the best deal possible! Did you know you’ll need new sandals next summer? You have time to search for the best deal, make multiple trips to the thrift store, or search online. Some of the best deals can be found in the off season, as many things sell out then. You will get the best deal if you take your time.
8. You buy second hand
Buying second hand whenever possible is a good habit for thrifty people. Of course this doesn’t work for everything (I don’t buy second hand underwear), but we try to buy as much second hand as possible. Used cars are a perfect example. As soon as you take a new car off the market, the value drops by thousands. If you try to sell it the next day, you’ll never get what you paid for it. A used car is a much better deal!
What to look for in used cars
If something can be cleaned well, I don’t mind buying it second hand.
9. You use less than
Don’t waste it. Don’t want it, right? I try to use less of every product we have and usually it still works great! Our laundry stays perfectly clean when I use a little less detergent. I don’t need a large amount of shower gel to wash myself in the shower. One of my favorite tips for using less product is to use pump bottles. With shampoo, dish soap or any other regular bottle that you spill, it’s very easy to pour out way more than you actually need. When we use products with a pump bottle, we have much more control over the amount of product that comes out. I’m looking for pump bottles and I keep a few extra pumps from old bottles for products that don’t come with a pump. You can also buy pump bottles on Amazon and pour your products into them. Thanks to this small difference, products such as shampoo, shower gel, detergent, etc. last much longer. It all adds up! Most frugal people have developed several of these habits, and it helps them save a lot of money! You may find it difficult to go through everything at once, but if you can work on one or two frugal habits at a time, you will see a difference in your finances. Once you have developed a few new habits, you can begin to incorporate others into your daily life.
Don’t miss these posts about Lean Living:
⇒ What frugal habits do you have? What habits would you like to work on?
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Did you know that the average American spends $1,200 a year on takeout food alone? That’s $1,200 that could — and should — have been saved, and invested. (Although, if you’re anything like me, you could probably use some pointers on where to begin saving your money!) To help, the team at Stash has put together a list of nine frugal habits to help you live a more frugal lifestyle.. Read more about how much can you live on a month and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do frugal people do?
Saving money is a good thing. No one would argue that. But when you’re frugal, it’s not just about saving money—it’s about spending money in a way that reduces your stress, your debt, and worry. It’s about spending money in a way that enhances your life without costing you an arm and a leg or compromising your future. (Source) The world of personal finance is filled with contradictory advice. On one side, there is the school that says “You can’t get rich quick.” And on the other side, there is the school that says “You can be a millionaire!” The reality is that you can get rich if you’re willing to work hard, but it will take time and effort. The key is to start saving and investing now. In short, to get rich you need to live below your means. Here’s what that means and how you can do it yourself.
How can you tell if someone is frugal?
Although the frugality movement has become more mainstream, many people don’t know how to spot a true frugalista in the wild. Frugality isn’t just about clipping coupons, wearing thrift store clothing or driving an older car. Nor is it about giving up your favorite luxuries or always buying the least expensive option. The markers of a true frugalista are much more subtle. Frugal people often: Love a good yard sale. Try to score big at the flea market. Clip coupons for everyday purchases. Shop at thrift stores. Swap store brands for name brands. Shop online for convenience. Buy Lifestyle blogs these days usually cater to people who care about what they eat, where they shop, and where they vacation. But what about people who care about how they spend their money in every aspect of their lives? These are the frugal people. Frugal people tend to have a few habits that make them stand out. Check out these 9 tips that give frugal people away.
How do you stay frugal?
It’s easy to feel like your frugality idea of the week is the only one worth following. But to save the most money, you should really try to adopt as many frugal habits as you can. With that in mind, we rounded up nine of the most popular frugal strategies and asked experts to weigh in on each one. Some of the people we associate with being frugal are those who have to be. People who are frugal because they need to be tend to have a ‘frugal mindset’. In fact, a study by Mindlab International found that people who were frugal in their spending had a higher level of well-being than those who weren’t as frugal. Frugality is a habit. And habits are what make us who we are. Fast-food chains and credit card companies make money by selling us temptations and making us feel like we’re missing out on something. It’s a powerful marketing tool that makes us convince ourselves that we NEED that new car, new
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