Frugal living has surged in popularity over the past decade as more people seek to save money, get out of debt, and live sustainably. At its core, frugality is about intentional spending, not deprivation. It’s cutting costs on non-essentials so you can afford goals and necessities.
Embracing frugality leads to financial freedom and more money to give, travel, or invest. It also reduces waste for environmental benefits. By getting creative, you can take frugality to the extreme without sacrificing health or happiness.
This article shares 25 intense but doable money-saving hacks to maximize frugality. Try these tips to trim your spending and become an expert penny pincher dramatically.
Shop Grocery Store Discounts
Check store apps and websites weekly for digital coupons and flash sales on meat, produce, and packaged goods. Look for yellow manager markdown stickers on perishables. Enroll in loyalty programs for extra savings.
Jane checks the digital coupons from her grocery store every Friday. She stocks up on discounted gift cards to use later. Last month, she saved $87.
Use Cashback Apps and Browser Extensions
Add cashback browser extensions like Rakuten to get percentages back on online purchases. Use site-specific apps like Ibotta before buying household items.
Mike installed the Ibotta app and now receives $5 to $15 back when buying milk, eggs, and other staples he was buying anyway.
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Audit recurring expenses to find unused gym memberships, streaming services, credit cards, magazines, and more to cut. These monthly costs add up.
Lily realized she hadn’t used her yoga studio membership in over a year. She canceled it for an annual savings of $360.
Negotiate Your Bills
Call internet, cell phone, cable, insurance, and utility companies. Politely ask for better rates, threatening to cancel or find another provider. This works surprisingly well.
James called his cable company, asking to end service due to costs. They offered him a $20 monthly discount for the next year to keep his business.
Find the Cheapest Gas
Use apps like GasBuddy to compare prices at stations near you. Fill up your tank early morning or late evening for lower fuel prices.
Andrea fills up on Monday mornings on her way to work using the GasBuddy app. She estimates saving $8 to $10 per fill-up.
Buy Generic Brands
Opt for store brand over name for non-perishable food, medicine, and household items. The quality is usually comparable at a steep discount.
Chris buys large containers of generic oatmeal instead of single-serve packets. It costs around $2 per month instead of $8.
Use a Family Phone Plan
If you have family members open to joining, create a family cell phone plan to reduce individual costs. Everyone shares data and minutes.
Devon started a family plan with her parents and two siblings. Their monthly bill is $48 each instead of $80.
Shop thrift stores, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace for clothing, furniture, books, tools, and outdoor gear. Books are often in excellent condition.
Amanda furnishes her home almost exclusively from Facebook Marketplace and antique stores. She estimates 90% savings on quality pieces.
Use Coupons and Cashback
Never pay retail prices online. Use sites like RetailMeNot, search for codes, and use Rakuten for percentage cashback from purchases.
Mark installed the Rakuten browser extension. He now receives 2-10% cashback on all his online orders, earning over $200 annually in refunds.
Cut the Cord On the Cable
Eliminate cable packages and subscriptions. Switch to free, over-the-air local channels or streaming services, or borrow a friend’s login.
The Smiths got an antenna for $30 and now stream Netflix they share with family. They are saving over $100 per month on TV.
Cook More Meals at Home
Restaurant bills add up astronomically. Cook economical meals at home and only eat out for special occasions. Make coffee and snacks at home, too.
Jessie started cooking a week’s worth of lunches every Sunday. She brown-bags it to work instead of buying lunch out. Saves $50 weekly.
Learn Basic Home and Auto Repairs
YouTube has tutorials on just about any needed repair. Learn oil changes, drywall patching, faucet fixing, etc. – don’t hire it out.
Javier learned to change brake pads by watching YouTube clips. It cost him $40 instead of $150 at the mechanic.
Become an Extreme Couponer
Learn all the coupon policies nearby. Match sales with coupons and rebates for huge savings. Follow deal sites.
Heather combines Sunday newspaper coupons with grocery app rebates. She often pays just 50% of the original price.
Adjust Thermostat Settings
Bump your thermostat up a little in summer and down in winter to save on AC and heat costs. Use a programmable thermostat.
The Johnsons changed their programmable thermostat to turn off when they leave for work and set it to 78 degrees in summer—saving 35% on their bill.
Stop Wasting Food
Meal plan based on what you have. Stick to a grocery list. Freeze excess food. Use leftovers for lunch. Compost food scraps if possible.
The Brown’s meal plan weekly and freeze extra servings of soups, chili, etc. They reduced wasted food spending by over $800 per year.
Avoid Convenience Foods
Don’t buy bottled water, premade snacks, frozen meals, premixed drinks, Keurig pods, etc. Make everything from scratch.
Shelly stopped buying granola bars and now makes large batches for around $.50 each instead of $1 store-bought.
Rent and Borrow Items
Don’t buy textbooks, furniture, electronics, formal clothes, and tools you rarely use. See if you can rent, share, or borrow them when needed.
Derek rented his textbooks last semester from Chegg, spending $150 instead of $400 buying them.
Buy Bulk Dry Goods
Buy larger bags of rice, oats, beans, pasta, flour, nuts, and dried fruit instead of individual boxes—portion into jars for savings.
Buying large bags in bulk bins instead of boxes cuts Katie’s costs for pasta, rice, and oats in half.
Bring Water Bottles and Travel Mugs
Stay hydrated on the cheap by bringing water from home instead of buying drinks out. Bring a reusable mug for your coffee, too.
Sharice fills her home water bottle instead of buying drinks while out. She estimates annual savings of $365.
Turn off all lights when not in use. Unplug appliances and chargers not in use. Take shorter showers. Use fans instead of AC when possible.
The Martins installed an intelligent power strip that completely cuts power to six devices when not in use, reducing energy waste.
Shop Second Hand First
Check used markets first for clothes, furniture, strollers, outdoor gear, appliances, and electronics. You can get quality items at significant discounts.
Meredith furnishes her son’s nursery with lovely used items from Facebook Marketplace and consignment sales for under $500.
Use Rewards Credit Cards
Use credit cards with 2% or more cashback or travel rewards on all purchases. But pay off in full each month.
Tyler charges everything on a 2% cashback card. He gets back over $600 a year from his daily spending.
Track Spending and Net Worth
Use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to watch where every dollar goes each month. Calculate net worth regularly to chart financial progress.
Loren started tracking net worth and spending trends in a spreadsheet. She can see the tangible benefits of frugality.
Start an Emergency Fund
Even extreme savers can have unexpected expenses. Save 3-6 months’ worth of fees to handle surprise costs without going into debt.
The Jacobs have $15k set aside to cover unexpected medical bills, car repairs, or job loss without needing loans.
Develop a Minimalist Mindset
Avoid buying on impulse. Ask yourself if a purchase is filling a real need or wants. Focus on quality over quantity. Embrace simplicity.
Leo adopted a minimalist mindset, only buying used items out of genuine need. He saved over $5k in the first year.
Frugality in Action: Jane’s Story
Jane was tired of constantly feeling financially strapped. She decided to embrace extreme frugality to turn things around. Here’s how these tips transformed Jane’s finances in under a year:
- Using grocery and gas station apps saves Jane $40+ each week, or $2,000 per year.
- She switched to a minimalist capsule wardrobe, only buying used and in-season clothes. Clothing costs dropped from $200 to $50 monthly.
- Cooking at home more and bringing a packed lunch to work saves $300 monthly or $3,600 annually.
- Renegotiating bills, canceling unused subscriptions, and switching to a family phone plan saves $1,500 yearly.
- Installing Rakuten and using coupons online saves her 20% on average, around $40 on each $200 order.
- Buying second-hand and resisting impulse purchases lets Jane save half her old spending.
- Tracking spending revealed wasted money on convenience items like coffee, bottled drinks, and takeout meals. Her monthly spending is now just $1,500 instead of $2,300.
With these frugal hacks, Jane saved over $10,000 in one year. She kept half her income by changing daily habits. She plans to invest her savings so they’ll grow. Frugality gave Jane control of her money and built long-term wealth.
Frugality requires small daily changes that compound into significant savings over time. Try these intense but worthwhile tips to trim your spending dramatically. Becoming more frugal takes commitment but leads to financial freedom. You’ll have extra money to pay off debt, invest, travel, or donate. Living frugally also reduces waste to benefit the environment. Determine your savings priorities and embrace a minimalist, intentional mindset to make frugality a natural habit.