Frugal living is a concept, a way of life, that’s really appealing to many of us right now. It feels right to live in a way that helps to save money and cut waste.
But it can be hard to stick to living frugally, despite our best intentions. A little like crash dieters, we cut certain things out of our lives only to find that we then binge on them a short time later. Striking a balance between living beyond our means and cutting back too far is tricky. But it can be done.
Here are my best tips to help you to live frugally for life.
Frugal living tip Number 1: start with some clear goals
One of the most common reasons why people fail when it comes to living frugally is a lack of a clear plan. Why exactly do you want to live in this way?
Are you trying to build up your savings, or clear some debts? Is there something specific you are saving up for, or a change in your life you need to take into account?
What ever they are, create some goals and then develop a strategy to achieve them. By creating a clear, step-by-step approach to achieving your financial goals you’ll stay motivated as you move towards a more frugal lifestyle.
Frugal living tip Number 2: Be intentional in your spending
This is actually a shift in mindset that is valuable in all walks of life. So much of our lives is spent moving quickly from one thing to another that we are often unaware of what we’re actually doing. This is the case at work, and in our personal lives – but also in our financial lives too.
So, what do we mean when we talk about being more ‘intentional’ in our spending? Well, much of it simply comes down to knowing what you’re spending and why. Instead of just having the same blanket approach to all of your outgoings, try and prioritise a little.
What are actually the most important things you should be spending your money on? And what, in reality, are you currently spending it on? Prioritising your spending and just being a little more mindful of what is actually important in life is a crucial step towards being more frugal.
Frugal living tip Number 3: Order your food online
Most of us are now used to shopping online. But groceries are one area where many of us still rely on bricks and mortar stores. For whatever reason, most of us still prefer to pack the bags for life in the car and head to the supermarket. And yet the fact is, it’s not always the most economic way of doing things.
For those of us who want to live a little more frugally, shopping for your groceries online is a good alternative. For one, it removes the temptation to buy things that you don’t really need. Online grocery shopping is typically far more focused – you can even save your shopping list so that you can get your regulars. But it is also a great way get new offers, as well as compare prices between similar items.
Frugal living tip Number 4: Make sure you are building up an ‘emergency fund’
We all know that having a back up fund is a good idea. But how many of us actually have one? According to one piece of research nearly 80 per cent of workers are living pay check to pay check. That means that at the end of the month there’s nothing left over.
We’ve written before about some good strategies for breaking this cycle, and you can find out more here some of the best way to take control of your finances.
But focusing on building up an emergency fund makes sense in another way too. It gives you a viable alternative to other, more expensive forms of borrowing.
Say you’ve been able to put some money away in an emergency fund. It means that, should the worst happen and you’re hit with an unexpected bill, you don’t need to reach for the credit card or take out a loan.
Instead, you’ll be able to dip into a fund that (if you’ve been investing it wisely) may even have grown over the period you’ve been putting it away.
Frugal living tip Number 5: Learn to cut food waste
Cutting out food waste is an excellent way to both save money and reduce your impact on the environment. And it is easy to get started.
Our tip is simply to understand more about what you can do with the food you have left over.
So for example, you might have a roast chicken for dinner. How many of us then use what’s left to make stock? Or when a recipe says use an egg yolk, do you just throw away the whites? There are so many recipes for making extra dishes out of the by products of food – so use them.
You can also do more to cut other people’s food waste too. By signing up and using an app like Karma or Too Good To Go, you’ll be notified of local restaurants that are giving away the food and even meals they don’t need.
Frugal living tip Number 6: Sell your things
How much of your ‘stuff’ do you actually use? The chances are you have plenty of possessions that someone else would value far more than you do. Today it is easier than ever to sell your things quickly – whether on eBay or on a more locally-focused online marketplace like Gumtree.
And living with less is having a moment, thanks to people like Marie Kondo and The Minimalists. They all have their own ways of doing it of course. But whatever strategy you follow to hone down what you need in life, see it as a way to realise the true value of your things.
When they are stacked in a cupboard or cluttering up your garage, these objects are of no value to you at all. But when you sell them to someone else, you can then use the money you release to get something that really adds value to your life.