Frugal Living: How to Save Money Better Than Ever Before

Frugal Living: How to Save Money Better Than Ever Before

Adopting a frugal lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to get your finances under control, increase savings, eliminate debt, and achieve financial freedom. With some effort and commitment to changing old spending habits, frugality gives you the power to reach your financial goals faster and find satisfaction in saving money. The basics of frugality involve spending less and saving more by making intentional choices that align with your values. It is not about depriving yourself of anything worthwhile or enjoyable. Rather, frugal living is learning what matters most to you and directing finances towards those things first.

When done right, living frugally leads to reduced stress, more leisure time, the ability to be more generous, and a sense of confidence and security knowing you can weather unexpected expenses. If you’re looking to improve your finances, read on to learn the fundamentals of successful frugal living.

Understanding Frugality

Frugality simply means being efficient and wise with money so you can allocate resources towards what’s most important. For example, packing lunches to avoid restaurant spending or buying quality items that last instead of cheap disposable stuff.

It’s not about being miserly or self-depriving. A frugal person who loves travel could save on everyday items to afford their dream trips. With the right system, you can still enjoy life’s special pleasures on a budget.

Example: Jen loves getting $5 coffees on her way to work every morning. But this $100 monthly spending could instead allow her to put more towards a tropical vacation once a year. By brewing coffee at home and only getting takeout once a week, Jen can align her spending with what she values most.

Setting SMART Financial Goals

Having clear financial goals is essential for frugal success. Setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound (SMART) goals based on your priorities provides motivation and helps guide daily spending decisions.

Common goals are eliminating credit card or student loan debts, saving for a down payment, or building an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months’ expenses in case of crisis. Know exactly what you are saving for to stay encouraged and committed.

Example: Marco currently has $8,000 in credit card debt at a 19% interest rate. His goal is to pay this down in 18 months before interest rates rise. To accomplish this, Marco sets a SMART goal: “Make an additional $500 monthly payment to eliminate credit card debt by August 2024”.

Budgeting Basics

Once you define financial goals, the next step is budgeting – tracking income and expenses, identifying waste, and allocating money towards priorities first before spending on wants. Popular budgeting methods include:

  • 50/30/20 budget: This splits spending towards needs (50%), wants (30%), and savings/debt repayment (20%). The percentages can be adjusted based on individual scenarios.
  • Zero-based budget: This accounts for every dollar earned each month and assigns jobs to every dollar, leaving nothing unbudgeted. Any leftovers get put towards debt or savings.
  • Envelope system: Cash for the month is divided into envelopes allocated to specific categories like food, entertainment, etc. Once an envelope is empty, no more spending in that category until next month.

Example: Sarah and Dan earn $5,000 per month and spend mindlessly. By creating a budget, they realize $3,000 is going towards housing, utilities, insurance and other fixed costs. The remaining $2,000 can now be consciously assigned based on their values – more towards travel and less on shopping and takeout.

Saving Strategies

Budgeting reveals opportunities for practical saving on expenses that typically see mindless overspending without aligned to priorities.

Strategies include:

  •  Downsizing housing, vehicles, or storage to save on rent/mortgage, loans, insurance and taxes
  •  Renegotiating/bundling home and auto insurance, internet and cell phone plans
  •  Carpooling, biking and public transport over owning multiple cars
  •  Being energy efficient with utilities
  •  Cooking at home and limiting restaurant dining

Example: The Alvarez family live in a large 5-bedroom house and spend $3000 monthly on mortgage and bills even though the kids are now adults. By downsizing to a 2-bedroom apartment, they save $2000 per month to allow Mrs. Alvarez to retire early. Though the apartment is small, they now have more family time together.

Smart Shopping Habits

Being a savvy shopper allows you to get everyday essentials and occasional treats for less without sacrificing health or enjoyment. Useful habits include:

  •  Meal planning and buying ingredients in bulk at wholesale clubs
  •  Using apps like Flipp to price match items across stores
  •  Choosing generics over name brands
  •  Stocking up on discounted non-perishables
  •  Limiting impulse buys and avoiding sales that encourage overspending

Example: Jen goes grocery shopping with a list based on planned meals and compares prices using Flipp. She buys certain generic items and staples in bulk on discount through wholesalers which lasts for months. Though the upfront spending seems high, this allows Jen to save more each month for travel.

DIY and Minimalism

Embracing a “do-it-yourself” mindset allows you to save money by enabling you to use existing items in innovative ways or create solutions personalized to your needs. DIY is about being resourceful.

Minimalism helps by focusing more on experiences than material possessions. Ask yourself:

  •  What can I repair, repurpose or upcycle instead of buying new?
  •  What can I borrow before buying specialized tools?
  •  What clutter can I donate or sell to make space for what I really want?

Example: Marco enjoys doing basic home and car repairs himself which gives him satisfaction and saves thousands in professional labor costs. He borrows infrequently needed tools from his dad’s garage. Marco also embraced minimalism by donating unused electronics and clothing, then putting those savings towards his dream camping trailer.

Utilizing Technology

Apps, cashback services, coupon sites and social networks make frugal living easier than ever before.

Useful tech tools include:

  •  Budgeting apps like You Need a Budget (YNAB) or Mint
  •  Sites like Join Honey or Rakuten for automatic couponing and cashback
  •  Scanning apps for in-store deals and price matching like Flipp
  •  Subreddits like r/Frugal for advice and inspiration

Example: Jen links her credit card to Rakuten and scans every grocery receipt into Fetch Rewards. She easily earns $30+ each month in automatic cash back applied towards travel savings. Using apps makes frugality simple and rewarding.

Increasing Income

The more money you earn, the more you can save towards goals. Income boosting options include:

  •  Seeking promotions and raises at a current job by adding value
  •  Exploring side hustles matched to your skills and passions
  •  Building expertise and credentials to access higher paying roles
  •  Selling unused items taking up space
  •  Renting out unused rooms, parking spots or storage space

Example: Marco teaches himself web development online using free tutorials. He starts building websites on the side for extra cash, then leverages this experience to get a better paying coding job. Between the promotion and web income, Marco adds $1500 monthly to eliminate debt faster.

Case Study: Sarah’s Frugal Story

Sarah was struggling with $8,000 in credit card debt caused by excessive shopping and takeout meals despite a decent income. She felt stuck in a cycle of overspending. By getting focused on what mattered most, setting firm spending limits aligned to her values, and adapting some of the frugal tips covered, Sarah paid off all non-mortgage debt in 14 months while also saving for an emergency fund.

Though the process took discipline, she feels empowered by the skills gained through her financial overhaul journey. Sarah now enjoys making intentional spending choices that bring her more joy and fulfillment than mindless consumption ever did. Staying focused on her bigger “why” helps her maintain newly adopted frugal habits.

Key Takeaways

  •  Know your “why” – link financial goals to your personal values
  •  Budget consciously and direct funds towards key priorities first
  •  Reduce fixed living costs wherever possible
  •  Focus on needs over wants, value over price tags
  •  Save on essentials through smart shopping habits
  •  Boost income to increase ability to save and invest


Living frugally goes far beyond saving money. It represents living intentionally directed towards things you care about most. It means taking back control of your finances, reducing reliance on unstable incomes, and securing the freedom to make choices that align with your personal values.

The journey requires self-awareness, patience, commitment and skill – all of which pays dividends even beyond the financial benefits realized from spending wisely. By continually evaluating needs vs wants, focusing on long-term goals, and making minor tactical tweaks daily, you put yourself firmly on the road towards frugal success.