With high inflation and economic uncertainty, we have likely entered recession territory. Trimming expenses and saving money are critical to withstand challenging times. Implementing frugal living strategies allows you to take control of your finances. Here are ten tips to live frugally in 2023.
Make a Budget and Track Spending
Analyze the past few months’ expenses to make a realistic budget. Inventory all sources of income and necessary spending on needs like housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation. Identify discretionary expenses that can be reduced or eliminated, like dining out, entertainment subscriptions, and impulse purchases. Stick to needs when spending to maximize savings.
For example, Nora found she was spending $500 a month on takeout by tracking her expenses. She trimmed it down to $100 by cooking more meals at home.
Meal Plan and Cook at Home
Careful meal planning saves money and reduces food waste. When choosing recipes, inventory what’s already in your pantry and fridge. Repurpose leftovers into new dishes later in the week. Cook in bulk on weekends to stock up on weekday meals. Eating at home saves significantly over takeout and dining out.
Meal prepping a few easy Sunday recipes helps Ryan eat affordably all week. He estimates it saves him over $200 monthly compared to his old takeout habit.
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Audit all subscriptions for things you can temporarily pause or cancel entirely. Gym memberships, cable packages, streaming services, and magazine subscriptions often go underutilized. Cutting just a few subscriptions can save hundreds annually.
Realizing she hadn’t read the last three issues, Lucy decided to cancel her $15 per month wine magazine subscription.
Lower Housing Costs
Housing is typically the most significant expense. Downsizing to a smaller living space in the same area can dramatically reduce costs. Consider getting a roommate to split the rent and utilities. Renegotiate your rent with your landlord. Also, adjust the thermostat to save on energy bills and unplug appliances when not in use.
Jack cut his rent payment by $200/month by moving into a 2-bedroom apartment with a roommate versus paying for a 1-bedroom solo.
Use Cash-Back Apps and Loyalty Programs
Apps like Rakuten provide bonus cashback on purchases made through their links. Grocery store loyalty programs give additional discounts to frequent shoppers. Credit card rewards can also provide statement credits or cashback.
Jenna shops weekly sales and uses her grocery rewards card to get 25% off her usual bill. She also earns over $400 annually through Rakuten rebates.
Buy Generic Instead of Brand Names
Opt for cheaper generic or store-brand versions of grocery staples instead of expensive name brands. Generics offer the same quality at significant savings. Store brands for basics like canned goods, spices, over-the-counter medicines, and baking items provide 50% savings.
Brandi now buys generic flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, and condiments. She saves around $20 each time she restocks her baking pantry.
Shop Thrift Stores, Garage Sales, and Resale Markets
Gently used clothing, shoes, accessories, home goods, toys, and furniture can be purchased secondhand at a fraction of retail prices, especially for kids. Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, and consignment sales are other places to score significant discounts. Resell unwanted items to recoup some costs.
Checking thrift stores first allows Wendy to fill her kids’ wardrobes for pennies on the dollar. She resells items online once they’ve outgrown them.
Use the Public Library for Entertainment
The library offers so much free entertainment. Borrow books, movies, music, magazines, and games to eliminate expensive cable packages, streaming services, and content purchases. Attend free classes, events, and activities at your local branch.
Accessing media for free through the library saves Emily $150 a month that she used to spend on ebooks, streaming services, and cable.
Do Home and Car Repairs Yourself
Find DIY tutorials online to tackle minor repairs and maintenance instead of paying a professional. Invest in some essential tools and gain skills like small engine mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, and more. The savings on labor can be tremendous.
After watching some YouTube DIY videos, Kali changed her brake pads, saving $150 in labor costs.
Travel Off-Peak Seasons
Booking trips during off-peak seasons significantly save flights, hotels, activities, and attractions. Also, avoid the most touristy but expensive destinations. The savings for traveling off-season can be 40% or more.
Planning trips in the fall/spring instead of peak summer enabled the Smith family to save hundreds on annual vacations.
Case Study: Frugal Living Success During Recession
In early 2023, Rosa’s company announced layoffs due to worsening economic conditions. Concerned about the recession, she immediately got serious about cutting costs. Rosa started packing lunches and cooking dinners at home. She switched to generic groceries and bought secondhand clothes and furniture.
Rosa canceled her gym membership and unused streaming services. She fixed leaky faucets and appliances using YouTube instead of calling a handyman. Rosa took advantage of her local library’s extensive free media selection. She planned off-peak vacations and earned cashback through apps.
Within six months, Rosa had trimmed over $600 in monthly expenses through her recession frugality. Despite a lower income, she stayed on top of bills and even grew her emergency fund.
Being frugal requires some effort but pays off during tough times. Start implementing money-saving strategies like cooking at home, renegotiating bills, using libraries over paid entertainment, traveling off-peak, and learning DIY repairs. Small daily changes make a substantial financial difference annually.