Frugality gets a bad rap as being the realm of penny pinchers and budget-conscious boards. But the truth is, frugal people aren’t lacking style or fun – they’ve just mastered the art of spending wisely and avoiding waste. Adopting a more frugal lifestyle is about being intentional with your money so you can fund the things that matter most.
This article will reveal ten everyday purchases you’ll rarely catch a savvy, frugal person spending money on. And contrary to popular belief, abstaining from these “non-essentials” doesn’t equate to a deprivation lifestyle. The frugal pathway leads to more mindfulness and freedom to use your money how you see fit.
Intrigued? Read on to discover the top 10 things frugal people keep their wallets closed for, along with the money-saving tactics they leverage instead. You may be surprised at how painless being frugal can be with the right strategies.
1. Brand Name Items
Frugal shoppers know generic and store-brand items offer similar quality to national brands for a fraction of the price. From pantry staples like cereal and spices to over-the-counter medications to cleaning and home supplies, savvy shoppers stick to less expensive alternatives.
For example, a name-brand bottle of ibuprofen may cost $15, while the store-brand version is just $8. Over a year, opting for generics can save over $100 on medications alone.
2. Extended Warranties
Extended warranties and protection plans sound appealing, but they are rarely worthwhile. Frugal people put faith in a product’s included manufacturer warranty. They avoid paying extra for extended coverage that probably won’t be needed.
That money is better off going into a “rainy day” savings fund in case repairs ever are required down the road. Self-insuring beats paying inflated costs for peace of mind you likely won’t need.
3. Fancy Coffee Drinks
Those $5 lattes and cappuccinos from the local cafe taste good, but they wreak havoc on your budget! Frugal people know brewing their coffee at home and carrying a reusable travel mug saves thousands annually.
An affordable drip coffee maker and essential beans keep costs low. And you can still enjoy the occasional “fancy” coffee shop run as a treat without breaking the bank.
4. Brand New Vehicles
New cars depreciate rapidly, losing up to 40% of their value in the first three years. Savvy, frugal people opt for lightly used vehicles with low miles to avoid taking the big depreciation hit.
If you maintain a used car properly, it should provide years of reliable service at a fraction of the cost. Plus, owning your vehicle outright beats monthly payments any day.
5. Lavish Vacations
Of course, frugal travelers still go on amazing trips and enjoy themselves. The difference is they save up beforehand instead of funding vacations with debt. And they spend wisely while away by:
- – Finding budget accommodations like Airbnb over 5-star hotels
- Taking public transit versus rental cars
- Eating some meals in instead of dining out for every meal
- Visiting free attractions like beaches, parks, and museums
Planning and researching deals makes lavish vacations attainable on a frugal budget.
6. Frequently Dining Out
Eating out gets very expensive very quickly. Frugal people limit restaurants to special occasions rather than multiple times per week. Eating at home and bringing a packed lunch saves hundreds each month.
An occasional Friday family pizza night or celebratory dinner out is still affordable. It’s a regular convenience grab-and-go that sabotages budgets. Brown bagging it a few days a week makes dining out guilt-free.
7. Paying Full Price
Savvy, frugal people rarely pay total retail prices, especially on non-essential purchases. Their shopping habits include:
- Using coupons, promo codes, RetailMeNot
- Waiting for sales and buying seasonal items out-of-season
- Shopping thrift stores, yard sales, Facebook Marketplace
- Joining sites like eBay to find the best deals
A little planning and deal hunting prevents overspending on impulse purchases full-price.
8. Unused Gym Memberships
It’s easy to kick off a new year by excitedly joining a gym, only to have that motivation fade by February. Frugal people cancel or pause memberships rather than paying every month for access they don’t use.
There are plenty of budget-friendly ways to exercise, like outdoor activities, free workouts online, jogging, and bodyweight exercises—no need to pay for unused equipment access.
9. Overstuffed Closets
Owning an excessive amount of clothes, shoes, and accessories means wasted money and wasted space. Frugal people build a versatile, minimalist wardrobe of classic staples that can be endlessly mixed and matched.
Quality pieces bought at a discount and proper laundry care made clothes last year. Avoiding fast fashion impulse buys saves big.
Impulse shopping leads to quick clutter accumulation. Frugal people live by the mantra “Use it or lose it” and declutter frequently. They think through purchases and don’t buy on a whim just because something is cute, trendy, or on sale. Not bringing more unnecessary items into the home saves money and keeps their space serene.
Frugality isn’t about looking cheap or scrimping on necessities. It’s about avoiding waste and putting your hard-earned money toward purchases that matter most. That leaves more funding available for passions like travel, hobbies, retirement, and causes you care about.
Case Study: John and Jane’s Story
John and Jane Smith were in a debt spiral of endless upgrades, impulse purchases, and comfort spending. Their dual income afforded them a high standard of living filled with upscale homes, lavish vacations, and fancy cars.
But underneath the surface, they felt unfulfilled and increasingly financially strapped. Although their income was well into the six figures, they lived paycheck to paycheck and relied heavily on credit cards to fund their lifestyle.
After another fight over their precarious finances, John and Jane knew something had to give. They committed to adopting a more frugal lifestyle and attended a financial boot camp to help get started.
- First, they downsized to a modest home that was still comfortable but cut their mortgage in half. The smaller home size forced them to declutter and stick to a “one in, one out” policy for new items.
- Jane began taking her lunch to work instead of eating out 2-3 times weekly. She also committed to cooking more economical meals like casseroles, soups, grains, and beans to keep grocery costs down. Their restaurant bills plummeted from $800 a month to $200, freeing up $600.
- They paused all their unused subscriptions and memberships, which saved $200 per month. John canceled the extended warranty on his car, which saved $40 per month. He also committed to buying only used vehicles in the future after watching how rapidly new cars depreciate.
- For leisure, hiking local trails replaced their lavish vacations that typically ended on a credit card. Limiting clothing purchases helped them build versatile capsule wardrobes. Jane mastered the art of DIY home spruce-ups, like painting furniture versus expensive redecorating.
Within seven months of their lifestyle overhaul, John and Jane paid off one credit card. They used their burgeoning savings to start an emergency fund and 401K contributions. A year from their decision date, they are now debt-free, besides their mortgage.
Frugality means becoming an intentional, informed spender. It’s about assessing purchases by their value and staying focused on what matters most. With frugal habits, you can regain control of your finances and direct funds toward your true priorities.
The frugal pathway leads to less financial stress and more joy, fulfillment, and freedom in spending. It removes excess to make room for what’s essential. Frugality isn’t about looking cheap; it’s about valuing quality over quantity and freeing up resources for what matters most. That’s the heart of intentional, empowered spending.