Maybe when you think of a frugal lifestyle, the show Extreme Couponing comes to your mind. Or a homesteading family with homegrown vegetables in their pantry and livestock out on their land. Maybe you think you can’t be frugal because it takes too much time or you have no idea where to start. The truth is YOU can be frugal, and you don’t have to be extreme to save money! Even if your current lifestyle doesn’t reflect any of those crazy coupon shows or the Little House on the Prairie. All you need is
The desire to save money
And the will to see it through
I am almost always thinking about how to save money. I write a blog about living a frugal lifestyle after all! 🙂 I don’t consider myself an extremist, but I spend a little extra time planning my shopping trips and price matching to get the very best deal. More often than not my husband and I sacrifice our comfort in order to maximize our savings. But that doesn’t mean that we miss out on enjoying life. We still get to enjoy ourselves without spending a ton of money.
So if my husband and I go out to get ice-cream it’s usually because I have a promotion for a buy 1, get one free sundae. Even though we are saving money, it’s still delicious ice-cream! Plain and simple, we enjoy getting a good deal. Yup, we’re those people that talk about it all the way home into the next week.
Being frugal allows us to enjoy a lifestyle we otherwise couldn’t afford if we didn’t implement the tips I mention below. I think a lot of people have the misconception that frugal means going without, but I have found that thinking to be completely, utterly false. In fact since I started implementing these tips I have more than I ever had before. The reason for this may be because we have more disposable income and we choose to save the difference or invest it towards something that we really need. Leading a frugal lifestyle can be easy! All it takes is creativity and the list I have created for you below.
The Ultimate Resource Guide for a beginner Frugal-ista
Stop paying for Costco and BJ’s. Or Sam’s Club.
Put away the warehouse club cards. Because my husband and I always shopped at BJ’s we missed out on great sales from other stores. We couldn’t justify buying a ton (and I mean a ton) of groceries at BJ’s to stop at another grocery store just for milk. Now my husband and I save more money purchasing food at Aldi than we ever did at BJ’s. We have walked out of Aldi with a receipt totaling no more than $60 on a few of those shopping trips. And we feed my niece, nephew, and mom with that food too!
We do have to go get certain items at other stores because Aldi doesn’t carry everything we need, but we use coupons to plan our shopping trips when those items go on sale. In order to really save money at warehouse clubs you have to make back what you spent on the membership fee and then some. Unless you are a big family I don’t see how shopping at warehouse clubs can save you money.
Learn how to plan a monthly budget with Haley from the Business of Blonde. Psst, it’s super easy to do!
Cut back on luxury items
Before you even start tackling credit card payments, really take a good hard look at what you’re spending your money on. Getting your nails done weekly is a luxury. Ordering a cup of coffee on your way to work is a luxury. So is taking a much awaited vacation. Sure, we all need things in our life that offer an escape from normal life and sometimes a Starbucks latte can do just that for us. But all of these things cost money. Make a list of what you can go without, but don’t get rid of the luxuries that make you happy altogether. When you do step out to enjoy a simple treat you will find yourself enjoying the outing more than before. Even if it is a boring ol’ trip to Starbucks.
Stop treating your credit cards as disposable income.
I can’t stress this one enough. If credit cards are used properly they should be a tool that help you maintain a great credit score, and possibly earn you some rewards points, too. If you have an unexpected financial disaster, such as getting your car towed, your savings account (not your credit card) should be your first line of defense. You shouldn’t use credits cards if you can’t pay it off in full the next time you have to make a payment.
Join Chantal from Busy Blogging Mom and read about her 50 Little Ways to Frugally. She lists so many ways you can save money that you probably haven’t even thought of. She also writes about how to make money blogging. How’s that for a busy mama?
Make your own lunch and purchase reusable snack bags
A few months ago I was intrigued to find reusable snack bags at TJMaxx. Danny always brings some snacks to work, and we go through plastic bags like crazy. I love the reusable bags by BlueAvocado to store nuts, dried fruits, and crackers for my husband. If you do a search for reusable plastic bags in Amazon you can find a lot to choose from! The ones I have are super easy to clean, too. I wash them with regular soap and water and leave them drying around a cup upside down.
We save so much money by packing Danny’s lunch from home. And he’s a truck driver! So it is possible to pack lunch every single day and benefit from it. My husband is always on the move so even though it might be more convenient to stop through a drive thru, it certainly is not a healthy habit to pick up. Most of the time I pack him nuts and dried fruit, rice with turkey, or fruit. I even bought him a portable lunch box that heats his food when the weather starts to get cold.
Bring your own bags to the grocery store. They charge you for the plastic ones.
My husband used to work at a popular grocery store chain in our area stocking shelves at night. He found out that the company actually charges their customers for the plastic bags they use during checkout. It was about 3 cents per transaction, but I never realized this even though I was a frequent customer. They have since stopped doing this and actually offer a 5 cent rebate if you bring a reusable shopping bag. If you’re not sure check your store’s policy or ask a manager if they charge customers for using their plastic bags. You can find reusable bags at any store for about a dollar. It’s a small investment for never having to pay for bags again.
Follow Heather’s advice from Simply Save, and learn what items go on sale throughout the year. Start stocking up chips and soda this upcoming July!
Cancel your cable
The only thing I remember about cable are the channels I actually wanted to watch were the ones I had to pay extra for. I haven’t had cable or a television in my home for years, and I don’t miss it. I have more time to go for walks outside because I’m not tempted to stay indoors and watch TV. If I ever have an urge to watch something entertaining, I play a movie on my laptop or I turn to Youtube. We used to have Netflix and Hulu, but we have since cancelled that too. I would go back to paying for a subscription to Hulu in the future, though.
Thinking about redoing your home? Follow Kiley Story’s 12 Ways to Save Money on Home Renovation for DIY demo and how to find deep discounts for your new and improved home.
Use cloth pads instead of disposable ones.
I never thought I would end up using cloth pads. I remember learning about sanitary belts in high school, and thinking to myself that’s so weird. I recommend you try buying only one before settling on cloth pads. It might take you some time to get used to, but I wholeheartedly prefer cloth pads over disposables now. I never have problems with leaking anymore. They are more expensive than buying disposable pads, but the good thing is you can use them for years to come. I made an investment of $30 for a set earlier this year, and I don’t have to pay for pads ever again! They do a great job at absorbing liquid and masking smells. If you would like to read more about using cloth pads click here.
Read 11 Expenses to stop spending money on from Cow Country Housewife. She has excellent tips for saving money on hair cuts and laundry detergent (Hint:Do it yourself!)
Reevaluate your spending habits
What’s your spending style like when something great happens at work? Do you go out to celebrate when something special happens, or would you rather treat yourself to ice cream when you’re having a bad day? There is a lot of emotion involved in spending, and there’s always a reason behind every purchase.
Consider how you spend money. Are you a natural born saver or could you use a little bit of help in that department? I’m a big believer that you should treat yourself occasionally, but it’s taken a lot of discipline to nail that into my brain. One of the more recent times I almost got myself into trouble was when I was at the Apple Store. I thought I needed a new phone, but I really just wanted an upgrade. Minutes before I went through with the purchase I reconsidered it. I thought about all the better ways I could spend that money if I just stepped away now. Whew! Close call.
Automate your payments
Automating your bill payments may seem like a hard one, especially if it seems like you never have any money in the bank account. It used to be a challenge for my husband to remember to pay his credit card payments on time. Even though we had the money sitting in the bank account he didn’t remember when to pay it. I first suggested he write down on our family calendar when he has to make each payment. That didn’t work so I finally suggested he set his payments up to be automatic. This has turned out to work great for us because now we don’t have to pay any late fees.
If you choose not to automate your payments ask your bank or service provider if they can send you an email reminder before you have to make the payment. I have a chase credit card account set to remind me 10 days ahead of the day payment is due so I never miss it.
Look at each stores’ weekly ads
I shop at a few select stores I think have the best prices, but I’m always checking the weekly ads in my town because I know there might be good deals I’m missing somewhere else. It’s also important to know how much the same item sells for in different stores. Apples might be cheaper at another store, and toothpaste could be a steal at your local dollar store. Also take into consideration how much gas you are spending to get to each store. No savings is worth spending extra on gas!
Check your bills
If a bill seems wrong it is entirely worth it to call up and ask. Don’t just trust that companies will always get it right. The billing department is made up of humans so it’s not guaranteed that every bill be mistake free. Even if you ask for refunds you need to make sure the store is giving you the correct amount back. When I canceled my newspaper subscription I didn’t receive my full refund amount. I called to let them know what had happened, and they agreed to send me a new check. All it takes is a few minutes of your time and patience. Lots of it.
I’ve noticed everyone has very strong opinions when it comes to using coupons. It’s either I don’t have time to waste on coupons or I love coupons. Even my cat coupons.
Personally, I use coupons because they save me money. I coupon all the time. I’m addicted to coupons. I can honestly say using coupons is what started my frugal journey. I don’t have a problem with the amount of time it takes me to plan my shopping trips. My Sunday mornings, after I buy the paper, are spent looking at the circulars and matching coupons with products on sale. Read my post on how to plan your shopping trip with coupons.
DIY beauty products
I used baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair for six months straight this year. I did switch to regular shampoo and conditioner recently because I was getting a little bored with the same ol’ routine. I will be going back to using my DIY hair wash though because I noticed my hair grew incredibly fast and strong while I was exclusively using baking soda and vinegar. I also make DIY household cleaners and face masks too.
Last but not least…
Take care of your body
Being active and eating a nutrient rich diet are not only beneficial for your physical and mental health, but your pocket too. Trips to the doctor are expensive enough, but God forbid you develop an illness that could have been prevented had you taken care of yourself. It’s possible to eat fruits, vegetables, and lean meats on a budget. Plenty of people do it. We do it. You can start planning healthy meals and learning how to shop smart now! Just search how to eat healthy on a budget in Google and you will have tons of valuable information at your fingertips. If you think eating healthy is expensive now, just wait until your health starts taking a detour.
So are you well on your way to becoming a beginner frugal-ista? Let me know in the comments below.