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No matter your financial status quo, it’s important to understand that you can quickly turn your life around for the better.
Often, all it takes is a single step in the right direction to get things done in the proper manner.
Taking a step, in other words, means that you have to embrace more economical methods and apply them in your daily life. Doing so will make it easier to effortlessly spend less and make some fantastic savings.
Adopting a frugal lifestyle means that you have to be smart with your finances and to make the right choices. If you do it right, you can save up to $1,000 off your monthly budget. It seems impossible, but it’s not until you try it out.
Thrive financially by living within (or below) your means and making the necessary adjustments to your somewhat expensive lifestyle. Saving money can be achieved in so many ways and it’s up to you to determine which tips you can easily incorporate into your financial life.
Whether you want to lower your debt or pay off some pending household expenses, you’ll find some pretty smart frugal tips on this post. There’s no better time to live frugally and keep your spending at a minimum.
1. Follow a Set Budget
A budget is a tool that assists you to determine what to spend your money on before you even receive your paycheck. A budget can help you save more than $500 in a single month.
Once you know what to spend your monthly income on, you can start to record your expenses into a strict budget. Either write them down using pen and paper or even better, download favorite apps like EveryDollar, YNAB, and Mint to keep your expenses in check.
Your budget should give you an outline of how each of your expenses adds up to your income.
On top of your monthly expenses, ensure you factor in certain costs that may unexpectedly occur at some point. A perfect example is car maintenance. Just be sure not to factor in more than your income can handle.
Be intentional with your spending; that will help you to set aside money that can go towards bills, savings, or even debt.
2. Scan Your Purchases Using Ibotta
Have you ever heard of Ibotta? It’s essentially a mobile rebate program that gives you cash back for any and every purchase you make at the store. With Ibotta, shoppers can perform reasonably straightforward tasks, purchase the product, and provide a proof of purchase.
Savings that glean through the app are in line with other saving strategies used by shoppers, such as rewards programs, redeeming coupons, matching coupons and stacking them, etc.
There’s nothing complicated about using Ibotta. The steps to maneuvering through this shopping app are pretty simple, and so are the instructions. All you need is a compatible smartphone and a Venmo or PayPal account.
Most of the tasks that you need to complete to earn extra cash take more or less the same amount of time it takes to clip and file paper coupons.
When you purchase any qualifying products, submit a corresponding photo of your purchase receipt, and scan the product barcodes. Be sure to redeem your offers before expiry to get paid.
3. Make Payments the Old-Fashioned Way
It’s more difficult to part with a handful of cash compared to making a simple swipe when cashing out. Also, if you pay for stuff with money, you don’t have to worry about going way over the amount you set aside. In any case, you won’t have any money elsewhere to settle any more debt.
If ever you default on making your credit card payments, your credit score automatically diminishes. As a result, you may get an unexpected increase rate on your insurance bill. Poor credit card scores also have the potential to generate loads of other financial problems.
To be on the safe side, pay off your credit card debt as soon as you can.
To keep your spending in check, make sure to use cash instead of credit cards in your budgeting system. Mark Cuban once said that ‘using a credit card essentially means that you don’t want to be rich’ – and there’s a lot of truth to that.
The first step to building wealth is basically to practice some discipline and leave your credit card at home.
4. Save Money When Dining Out
We could use some balance in our lives. On the one hand, we know very well that it’s more affordable to do some grocery shopping and make food in our kitchens. On the other, we find restaurant food so delicious and the ambiance so convenient.
Even though you’re trying to be frugal, you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite burger joints and sushi places. There are lots of ways you can fit them into your monthly budget. One way is to take advantage of happy hour. Restaurants often offer food on the house for early birds.
Also, take the decisive step of signing up for email alerts and coupons from your list of favorite restaurants. You can get a whopping $10 off for any meal you order.
Alternatively, you stand to save approximately 10-20% when you buy an unwanted gift card from sites such as Raise and Cardpool. Finally, share a meal since food portions nowadays are way too much for one person to finish alone.
5. Quit Renewing Unused Gym Memberships
Cancel your gym membership. You don’t need it, do you? Standard plans can go for as much as $80 each month per head. If you have kids, you’ll have to chuck ‘a little’ extra for childcare services each time you want to go to the gym.
When you signed up for your gym membership, you probably never knew about all the cost up front. There’s usually a monthly membership fee, an administrative fee, and an initiation fee. Certain clubs will require you to pay up front for 2 – 3 months upon signup.
Make a worthwhile investment of some aerobic equipment and a set of weights. Granted they may be expensive, but you can buy second-hand stuff on ebay.com or even Craigslist.com. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether to work out or not. The best part is that it won’t cost you a single cent.
Breaking a sweat at home is one of the best decisions you can make in regards to frugal living.
6. Quit Window Shopping
Window shopping is known to trigger one’s buying impulses. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a miser or an extreme shopaholic but at one point in your life, you’ve most likely given in to your impulses and splurged on something that’s way out of your financial reach.
This is even more likely if you have a shopping app on your phone. When you’re on the internet, anything and everything is a click away. That’s a risk not only for your wallet but also your overall wellbeing.
With Shoptagr, you won’t have to sign up to any shopping site that comes your way. You’ll also get to compare the prices of various products from different online retail stores – all in one place.
7. Save Money Shopping Online with Ebates
Speaking of online shopping, Ebates enables you to get your cash back for every purchase you make online.
Whenever typical shoppers buy stuff online, they like spending a couple of extra minutes searching for promo or coupon codes. If you don’t find the system anywhere online, just visit Ebates.com.
Ebates is hands-down the best online money-saving app. It’s also straightforward to use. You don’t need to fill out forms or pay to create a free account. Once you’re in, click through to your favorite online store then make your purchase as you usually would.
For every purchase you make, you get a 5% cash back for merely clicking through their site. Install the Ebates browser extension to ensure you never miss out on an opportunity to save money and get your money back.
For many of the participating sites, you can find coupons that can be combined with cashback for more significant savings.
8. Develop a Meal Plan Based on Seasonal Foods and Sale Ads
Making a meal plan every week can save you a ton of cash. This is mainly because you’re deliberately opting to prepare food at home to avoid eating out.
An even better way to keep your money in your wallet is to have a meal plan based on the vegetables or fruits that are in season. Also, go for what’s in season at your local grocery season.
Before settling down to determine what meals you’ll have, check out what’s already available in your freezer, go through your coupons, and look through the weekly ad(s).
With proper planning, you can quickly and significantly lower the amount you spend on groceries every week. Eating any food as the days go by often results in extra costs without your realization.
On that note, if you spend anything above $500 on food, evaluate your meal planning methods. Doing so will help you have a clear plan of your week aside from saving you some serious cash.
9. Have a Coffee Habit? Save Money on That Too
If you love grabbing a cup of coffee on the run, you can attest to the fact that it’s quite an expensive habit.
While a few dollars every day on quality coffee may not seem like much, it can quickly add up to a jaw-dropping figure by the end of the year.
To save money on coffee, consider preparing it yourself in your kitchen. Buy a grinder and coffee maker that’s sure to make coffee to suit your taste with the right recipe online.
Another great tip you can try out is to limit yourself to outside coffee at least once a week. If you need to meet up with friends or hold a casual business meeting, that would be the best time to treat your taste buds to coffee made by someone else.
However, be careful not to get too much into it. You may be tempted to increase the frequency at which you take coffee outside.
Remember that you’ve shifted to a more frugal lifestyle. Everything – including drinking coffee – should be done the frugal way.
10. Cut the Cord on Cable
Cable bills tend to go higher by $5 – $20 without your realization. Those slight increments can burden your budget if you don’t take any step to keep it under control.
One way to do it is to cut back on HBO and all other premium channels. With some providers, you can save up to $20 from your monthly bill.
Other extras to cut back on aside from premium channels are cable boxes. Extra cable boxes can cost anywhere between $3 – $12 each month. Perhaps all that equipment in your living room (or bedroom) wasn’t really necessary.
Learn to pay closer attention to the fees you pay every month. If your provider’s customer service works on a 24-hour basis, hit them up and inquire about every cost listed on your bill. Some of them are bound to be unavoidable.
Even so, it’s still possible to sidestep others by making a few tweaks to your plan.
11. Make an All-Year-Round Holiday Budget
You should never be taken by surprise whenever birthdays, Christmas or any holidays are right around the corner.
Considering they occur on the same dates every year, you can plan for them well before they come knocking.
From your income, set aside some money for major holidays. When that big day comes, you won’t need to deposit any funds into your credit card.
Staying on top of your finances can be achieved by creating a spending budget for holidays throughout the year.
For each budget, determine how much you’re willing to spend. If it’s your birthday, for example, make a comprehensive list of all the relevant expenses. This is inclusive of wrapping paper, traveling expenses (if necessary) gifts, decorations, etc.
From your monthly expenses, divide the money over all the various holidays you’ve listed down. This will help in finding the perfect gift or venue ideas within your set price range. Just be sure not to go overboard in your plans.
12. Keep an Emergency Fund for a Rainy Day
It’s always good to expect the unexpected. From an economic viewpoint, having an emergency fund can prevent taking hefty loans to cater to rare and unexpected occurrences such as an abrupt medical procedure, car repair, or even a job layoff.
Keeping an emergency fund is common financial sense at its best. You’ve wanted to have your own emergency fund, but don’t know where to keep it. You could perhaps tuck it safely under your mattress, but there are better, more professional options.
Start by opening a high-yield savings account. Among other benefits, they tend to offer higher APY (Annual Percentage Yield) on all deposits. This means that your money will earn more interest over time.
Other notable places to store your emergency fund include:
- Money market accounts
- Certificate of Deposits
- Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
If you’re undecided about where to store your funds, allocate a portion to each of these options. In that way, you’ll have more than one opportunity whenever emergencies strike.
13. Always Buy Generic Stuff at the Grocery Store
It’s a given that we need food to survive and you’ll go out of your way to get only the best foods to stock up your fridge and freezer. One of the easiest ways to save on food is to buy cost-effective alternatives.
Have you found yourself scanning through the generic goods at the store and you wonder what sets apart one from the other?
To put your mind to rest, generic products are primarily composed of the same chemicals and ingredients as their popular counterparts.
In other words, they’re the same thing but with different manufacturers. For all your everyday items, there’s bound to be a generic alternative.
If there’s not, the product you’re looking for probably hasn’t hit the market yet, or it’s been taken off the market for legal reasons.
A major difference between generic items and brand products isn’t the ingredients used, but the marketing budgets.
Buying generic items could either be a hit or a miss and avoiding them altogether could lead to a rather costly mistake.
14. Use Coupons from Legitimate Grocery Store Apps
For time-crunched and frugal shoppers, shaving off grocery bills is a never-ending challenge. There’s never enough time to clip newspaper coupons, track sales, or compare store circulars.
Fortunately, with the right apps, you can save money without putting much thought into it. Before making a stop at your preferred grocery store, check if it has any apps for you to download.
Most shoppers are not aware of the several savings and coupons to be redeemed upon checkout. However, don’t get carried away and buy something that you don’t need just because there’s a coupon for it.
The following are a couple of free notable grocery rebate apps you can use to save money each time you go grocery shopping:
All that’s required from you is to download any (or all) of the listed apps and purchase any of the goods listed on them. Take a photo of your receipt, upload it and wait for your cash reward; as simple as that.
15. Focus on Your Needs, Forget About Your Wants
The trick to reaching your financial goals, investing and saving money is to ensure you’re balancing both your short-term wants and long-term needs. In that way, you get to lead a frugal and contented life.
Wants and needs are two different entities that every frugalist should be able to distinguish clearly. A ‘need’ is mostly something you can’t do without while a ‘want’ is something you’d like to have, but it’s not worth putting into your budget.
If you’ve made a few wrong financial mistakes in the past by spending more on a ‘want’ than a ‘need’, it’s time you reevaluated your options. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend on a few wants here and there.
Along the way, treat yourself the frugal way to some nice foods, clothes or anything else you feel you want in your life.
After all, we’re supposed to be living and not surviving, right? Just be sure not to go overboard and spend more than what you can afford.
16. Do it Yourself
Finally, learn to do it yourself – literally. It’s an essential part of any frugal lifestyle. Every service call that you steer clear of – pest control specialists, plumbers, mechanics, etc. – could save you thousands of dollars every month.
That’s one compelling reason to pull up your sleeves, strap on your tool belt, and put your little DIY skills to the ultimate test. If you’ve never considered yourself a handy person, don’t sweat it (no pun intended).
Start small by investing and buying whatever tools you’re sure you’re going to use in your fixing endeavors.
Start with smaller projects as you delve into larger ones, having known what you’re supposed to do. Every mastered skill is a bonus for your DIY confidence.
When something breaks, for example, you can rely on your skills (and not someone else’s) to put it back in one piece.
Take note that DIYing isn’t exclusively about maintaining and fixing stuff. It’s also about making do with items that are already at your disposal. In other words, save money by putting your creativity into good use.
It’s Never Too Late To Start
If you’re a beginner frugalist, you might easily get overwhelmed with so many do’s, don’ts and everything else in between. Don’t go on feeling as though you have to practice all the above points at the same time.
Start by taking baby steps and keep your focus on one field at a time. Develop frugal habits that you can stick with, then work your way towards adding something else on top of it. Start at the very beginning – make a budget.
Try as much as you can to cut any unnecessary expenses in your budget one at a time. If possible, keep track of your progress as you do so.
Don’t fail to take note of every small gain or improvement you make. Every step forward in your frugal journey is a step towards attaining financial freedom.