Frugal people have mastered the art of saving money. Their thriftiness and resourcefulness allow them to keep their finances in check and maximize their savings. Let’s explore some of the most brilliant, effective money-saving habits practiced by the famously frugal.
1. Careful Meal Planning
One of the best ways to reduce food costs is through meticulous meal planning. Make a weekly meal plan, inventory ingredients on hand, and create a detailed grocery list. Stick closely to your list when shopping to avoid impulse purchases.
Planning helps you eat leftovers, make the most of what you have, and cook at home more often. This habit can save $50-100 a month or more.
For example, Sunday meal prep helps Susan plan weekday breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, saving her $75 weekly on groceries.
2. Buying Generic Brands
Most generic or store-brand items are equal in quality to name brands but cost significantly less. Purchasing generics for basics like canned goods, over-the-counter medicines, batteries, and other staples provides significant savings.
Transitioning to mostly generic brands could reduce grocery spending by 25-50%.
John has saved 30% on his grocery bill by switching to generic cleaning supplies, condiments, snacks, and paper products.
3. Living Below Their Means
Frugal individuals avoid overspending to “keep up” with others. They live below their means, spend less than they earn, refrain from lavish purchases, and keep fixed costs low. There’s no shame in having a modest home or older car if it enables you to live within your budget.
Living within your financial means is a surefire way to save money long-term.
4. DIYing When Possible
Take on minor home repairs, essential auto maintenance, small improvement projects, and crafting/mending yourself rather than hiring others. The DIY mentality allows you to save a bundle compared to paying for costly labor and product markups.
Learn to change your oil, sew on a button, fix a leaky tap, or paint a room. DIY skills pay off!
Katie has saved nearly $5,000 in contractor fees by painting her home interior and installing new flooring with her husband.
5. Using Cash-back Apps and Sites
Cash-back websites and apps help you earn money back on online purchases with minimal effort. For example, Rakuten offers cash back for thousands of retailers.
Download cash-back tools, use the browser extension when online shopping, and watch a few dollars accumulate with each purchase. Over time, it adds up substantially.
Jacob uses Rakuten and has earned over $300 cash back on his everyday online shopping in just eight months. Easy bonus savings!
6. Buying Second-Hand
Shop at thrift stores, consignment shops, estate sales, and garage sales to get quality items at a fraction of retail price. Gently used clothes, furniture, books, electronics, kitchenware, and more can be purchased second-hand.
It is typically buying used rather than new offers 50-90% savings. It takes more time but pays off hugely.
7. Negotiating Better Rates
Don’t hesitate to negotiate with service providers to ask for better rates. You can often get monthly bills lowered or promotional offers if you call to ask politely. Apply this to cable, internet, phone bills, gym memberships, insurance premiums, and more. Even a slight reduction in your rates leads to good yearly savings.
Marcus saves $15 per month after negotiating a lower cable and internet bundle. Over a year, that’s $180 saved from a quick call.
8. Limiting Subscriptions
Comb through all your digital and physical subscriptions and cut any that you rarely use or don’t value enough to justify the cost. Be ruthless. For services you use frequently, look for ways to downgrade to more basic, budget-friendly plans when feasible.
Pruning unused subscriptions can save you a couple hundred dollars annually. Every little bit helps!
Lily realized she could downgrade her streaming plan and cancel her monthly clothes box to save $28 per month and still get plenty of use.
9. Traveling and Dining Out Less
Limit dining at restaurants and vacations to occasional special treat occasions rather than regular luxuries. Cooking tasty meals at home and finding free local entertainment saves a bundle. Look for discounts, pack snacks, and stay with family to keep costs down for necessary trips.
Travel and dining out should be done selectively to align with financial goals. Even reducing these luxuries by 25% creates substantial extra savings.
10. Conserving Energy
Flip off lights, unplug devices not in use, upgrade old appliances, and replace inefficient bulbs with LEDs. Install a programmable thermostat, insulate/seal air leaks, and use fans to regulate temperature.
Being energy efficient lowers utility bills and significantly reduces electricity costs over time as rates increase. These habit changes provide compounded long-term savings.
11. Maintaining Possessions
Take good care of your belongings by cleaning, storing, and maintaining them properly. Make minor repairs as soon as issues arise to prevent costly damage. The better you care for items, the longer they will last.
Regular maintenance and care make it less necessary to replace possessions prematurely. This prevents wasting money on new things when old ones still have life left.
12. Seeking Out Multipurpose Items
When purchasing, seek out products that serve multiple uses and maximize their value. For example, choose furniture and appliances with storage, hidden compartments, and other functions. Or look for a single tool that can replace several.
Owning multipurpose items essentially gives you more bang for your buck. You end up buying fewer things overall without sacrificing function.
13. Researching Before Major Purchases
Put in ample research before any significant purchase. Read reviews, compare prices across brands and sellers, and learn insider-saving tips. Being an informed buyer allows you to spot good values and avoid overpaying for hype or mediocrity.
Doing your homework results in the best bang for your buck and prevents later buyer’s remorse. Don’t rush the research phase.
14. Buying in Bulk
For household items and non-perishable goods used frequently, buy jumbo bulk sizes. This reduces the per-unit cost drastically compared to buying smaller amounts. Split bulk packages with roommates or family to make them more manageable if needed.
Bulk buying household basics, frozen foods, snacks, cleaning supplies, etc., saves significantly in the long run. Just make sure not to overbuy.
Jenny stocks up a few times a year on bulk packages of granola bars, shampoo, almond milk, and other everyday items. Buying in bulk cuts her costs by around 40%.
15. Using Cash
Pay with cash for minor everyday expenses like coffee, snacks, public transit, fast food, etc. The physical act of handing cash over makes you more mindful about what you’re spending. Cash provides tangible feedback that curbs impulse buys.
Using cash instead of cards for small purchases is an easy trick to keep daily frivolous spending in check. The dollars leave your hand faster!
How Frugal Habits Changed Mia’s Life
Let’s look at a case study to see how transformative frugal habits can be—Meet Mia, 27, who struggled with saving money. Despite earning a reasonable salary, she accumulated credit card debt and couldn’t build an emergency fund due to frivolous overspending.
Things turned around when Mia started implementing smarter, frugal habits:
- She meal planned diligently and started cooking at home four nights a week rather than ordering takeout. Mia saved $200 per month this way.
- Buying generic products and second-hand clothing reduced Mia’s expenses by $75 monthly.
- She called to negotiate lower rates on her cable bill, car insurance, and gym membership, saving her $30 monthly.
- Limiting dining out, canceling unused subscriptions, and avoiding impulse purchases saved Mia an additional $150 monthly.
Within a year of adopting more frugal habits, Mia was able to pay off $6,000 in credit card debt and start building her emergency fund. She finally gained control of her finances through thoughtful spending.
Mia’s story demonstrates that while requiring some sacrifice, frugal habits enable you to align spending with your values and reach financial goals through compound savings.
Implementing even a few smarter spending habits practiced by frugal people can help you bank more savings immediately and in the long term. Consistent frugality adds up in a big way.