Frugality has developed a reputation for being about penny-pinching and depriving oneself of life’s pleasures. However, true frugality is not about sacrifice or austerity. Instead, it’s a lifestyle of being strategic with money – spending smartly on things that matter so you can save for goals that enrich your life.
Implementing frugal practices takes more deliberate effort initially, but the payoffs make it worthwhile. With time, it becomes second nature. You have more savings, less clutter, and more intentional spending.
This article will explore 17 everyday things frugal people don’t do. Avoiding these tendencies and behaviors is central to living frugally. We’ll also share examples and a case study of someone who successfully adopted these frugal principles.
1. Pay the total price when they can get a deal
Frugal people keep an eye out for bargains and specials. They look for promo codes before any online purchase. They ask about discounts for combined services. They check the clearance rack first. Being price-conscious means you don’t pay full retail if you can get a deal.
Example: Jen continuously checks RetailMeNot.com for promo codes before buying anything online. She often saves 15-20% off her purchases.
2. Buy something just because it’s cheap
Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean good value. Frugal people focus their purchases on items they need or value. They don’t buy stuff just because it has a low price tag.
Example: Dan passed on the $3 t-shirt because he had plenty already. It felt wasteful since he didn’t need it.
3. Ignore the opportunity cost
Every purchase has an opportunity cost – what you might have spent the money on otherwise. Frugal people consider this before buying discretionary items.
Example: Liz turned down the cruise with friends because that $2,000 could go towards her kitchen remodel instead.
4. Buy expensive brands for status
Frugal folks don’t care about brand names or showing off luxury labels. They buy items for quality, comfort, and functionality. Brand cachet means nothing to them.
Example: Maggie buys generic medication that works like the brand name version. No one sees the label but her.
5. Upgrade their phone whenever a new model is released
Frugal people use gadgets until they no longer function adequately. Frequent upgrades seem wasteful. A new phone every 2-3 years is typical.
Example: Joe used his iPhone 6 until the battery stopped charging. He replaced it with a budget Android model.
6. Eat out frequently
Cooking at home allows frugal folks to eat well at a fraction of dining out. Restaurant meals are saved for special treats. Brown-bagging lunch is standard.
Example: The Smith family decided to limit eating out to once a month. They schedule a special dinner as their treat.
7. Throw away leftovers
Letting food go to waste is anathema to frugality. Leftovers always get repurposed into new meals. No pieces should end up in the trash.
Example: Jenna incorporates leftovers into weekly meal prep. Last night’s chicken becomes today’s salad or sandwich filling.
8. Buy books, magazines, or movies instead of utilizing the library
Libraries are goldmines of free entertainment for frugal people. They offer unlimited books, videos, online learning, and more. Purchases are limited to must-have favorites.
Example: Marco reads 5-6 library books a month. He only buys books that profoundly impact him.
9. Buy items they already have just because those items are on sale
Coming across socks on sale doesn’t mean frugal people will stock up if they already have plenty. Sales aren’t savings if you don’t need the item.
Example: Sierra didn’t buy the extra iPad on sale since her family already had one they were happy with.
10. Do all their grocery shopping at high-end stores
Organic produce or high-end cheeses are bought selectively, not exclusively. Frugal folks get staples and commodities from budget-friendly stores.
Example: Chris shops at Whole Foods for meats and Trader Joe’s for packaged goods. Non-perishables come from Costco.
11. Go clothes shopping frequently
Frugal folks shop smart, not often. They avoid impulse purchases and trendy pieces unlikely to last. Quality staples built out a wardrobe over the years, not seasons.
Example: James has a minimalist, neutral wardrobe he can mix and match. Each piece gets worn frequently.
12. Always hire others instead of attempting DIY
Doing basic repairs and home projects yourself is the frugal choice when reasonable. But if DIY isn’t viable, hiring a pro protects your investment.
Example: Sandra can handle minor plumbing issues herself but will call a plumber for anything complex involving the home’s pipes.
13. Fail to negotiate prices or fees when possible
Politely asking about fee waivers, discounts, or price matching often works. Frugal people don’t let timidity or embarrassment stop them from saving money.
Example: Owning his car outright, Jose asked his insurer about a loyalty discount. He saved 15% off his premium.
14. Ignore insurance options and warranties
Insurance and warranties provide value when claims are likely. Frugal people get what makes financial sense for their situation. But they don’t assume more coverage is automatically better.
Example: Extended warranties on electronics don’t offer enough value for Mark. He declines them and self-insures instead.
15. Pay bank account fees instead of finding fee-free accounts
Monthly payments to hold your money make no sense. Frugal people find free checking and savings accounts, often with community banks or credit unions.
Example: Lynn left her big bank and switched to a credit union. She gets free checking, savings, and even small loans for no monthly fee.
16. Remain loyal to expensive brands out of habit
If a lower-cost option provides similar quality, frugal folks switch brands. Familiar labels don’t justify overspending. Value matters more than habit or comfort.
Example: Viola has started buying store-brand over-the-counter medicines rather than name brands. She gets the same results for less money.
17. Buy on impulse without research
It’s easy to get excited and buy something immediately instead of first comparing options. But frugal people patiently research to find the best deal before purchasing anything non-essential.
Example: Looking to buy a kayak, Jim takes a few weeks to research different models and prices before deciding.
Case Study: Jane Adopts Frugal Living Habits
Jane was living paycheck-to-paycheck until she adopted a more frugal lifestyle. Buying nice clothes, eating out often, and frequently upgrading her phone prevented her from saving money.
Jane could double her savings rate within a year through her new frugal behaviors. Here are some of the changes she made:
- Started packing a lunch for work instead of going out 2-3 times a week. This saved her about $100 a month.
- Began utilizing the library for books, DVDs, and free online learning. She cut her personal media spending by 80%.
- Learned essential home and car repairs via YouTube. She now handles minor fixes herself instead of hiring help immediately.
- Cut her grocery bill by 30% by buying generics, shopping sales, and using coupons.
- Called her insurance company and got a loyalty discount by bundling her renters and auto policies.
- Stopped buying new clothes for a year, only picking up essentials from thrift stores when needed.
The extra savings allowed Jane to wipe out her credit card debt in 10 months. A year later, she has built a $5,000 emergency fund and continues her frugal habits as a lifestyle she now values.
The case study shows how transformative frugality can be. Jane changed her financial trajectory in just one year by altering some key behaviors. Her quality of life did not suffer. She has less stress and more security, thanks to the power of frugality.
The frugal tips this article covers may require more planning and effort initially. But they enable you to save substantially while meeting your needs and enjoying life. The key is being selective about what is worth spending more on. By cutting back on non-essentials, you free up money for goals that matter to you.
Frugality also reduces wastefulness and clutter. With less impulse shopping and junk buying, you can live a more minimalist lifestyle focused on value, not volume. When in doubt, wait a day or two before buying discretionary items. Chances are the urge will pass, and you’ll be saved from an impulse buy.
With some creativity and commitment, saving more and wasting less is within your reach. Try adopting some of the frugal principles discussed here. You may find yourself keeping more money while still living a rich life.