Live a frugal life, live below your means, save more money, spend less money, save money on household expenses… we hear and read about these things all the time.
If you’re just getting started with budgets and thriftiness, it can be hard to know where to begin. Or maybe you’re a frugalista already and could just use a little reminder of little things that make a big impact on our budgets.
No matter which scenario best describes you, here are 5 things you can do right now to live a frugal life (and cut unnecessary spending):
1. Don’t Pay for Things You Can Get for Free.
We wrote previously about Top 13 Free Things to Stop Paying For Now and How to Save Money by Getting Almost Everything for Free. You’ll want to read these 2 articles for tips on free things you could be getting now. Samples and freebies are plentiful and ready to be requested and used.
If people offer you hand-me-downs, always say yes. This way they’ll get in the habit of asking you first. Hand-me-downs are great for baby supplies, kids’ clothes, small kitchen appliances, etc. You never know what someone else can’t wait to get rid of that may be on your shopping list. Free entertainment is all around you, just monitor your newspaper for community activities. Finally, don’t rent movies or buy books when you can borrow them from the library for free.
2. Get Magazine Subscriptions Instead of Buying at the Store OR Get Free Magazines.
To some people this is a no-brainer, but I didn’t fully subscribe to the idea (get it- subscribe?!?) until a few years ago. I bought every issue of Parenting Magazine at the store, spending $47.88 for 1 year. Then I subscribed for 1 year and it cost me only $12. I could have spend $35.88 less for the same magazines, gotten them before they hit the stores, and delivered to my door!
I only buy subscriptions when I can’t get the magazines I want for free. Watch for our freebies to get listings of the latest free magazine subscriptions.
3. Make a Menu Plan and Stick to it.
Menu planning is SO important. If you don’t believe me, visit OrgJunkie on a Menu Plan Monday and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll buy only the foods you need to make meals, which means less food will be wasted (no rotten unused produce in the refrigerator).
Since you’ll only be buying what you really need, your grocery bill will go down dramatically. If the menu doesn’t say “McDonald’s”, chances are you won’t go there.
If you’re just getting started with menu planning, visit us each Sunday to print out a ready-made Take & Make Menu Plan just for you. It has a week’s worth of meals listed with recipes and a printable grocery shopping list.
4. Don’t Pay Retail Prices Unless You Have to.
This goes for books, movies, clothing, household goods, and many more things. Learn to keep a list of things you want, then be watchful for them at garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, eBay, Amazon, consignment shops, etc. Check out used book stores, trading in old books if you can.
Buying kids’ clothes 2nd hand makes sense when you realize that they grow so fast that it will be worn only for a short time. To find out how we pay next to nothing for clothing, read How to Save 90% on Kids Clothes. This goes especially well with our guide on Buying Cheap Kids Clothes: Store Sales and Clearance Schedule.
5. Go for a Walk Instead of Driving.
Remember the old saying, “Getting there is half the fun”? It’s true, especially when gas prices fluctuate greatly and you want to spend gas money on other necessities instead. If you can find alternatives to driving, take them: walking, carpooling, bicycling, public transportation. You’ll help the environment and your checkbook at the same time. For when you can’t avoid driving, follow our 13 Tips to Save Money on Fuel.
There you go – 5 quick tips you can use to spruce up your frugality right now! What are your favorite frugal tips? Let us know in the comments. Check out Thrifty Thursdays at Amanda’s Cookin and Frugal Friday at Life as Mom for more frugal tips.
Originally published May 4, 2008.