Ah to live frugally. Who here doesn’t want to simplify their life AND have more money? I know I do. First up, let’s get into the definition of what to be frugal actually means. The official definition goes as follows…
“Sparing or economical with regard to money. Prudently saving or sparing, not wasteful.”
Ok – so basically it means not spending a lot of money and living below your means.
I’ve gathered some of the best tips for living more frugally.
Personally, I have found that the frugal living ideas below have really helped me to simplify my life.
I appreciate things in a different way, and above all, I save more money. And it has, in fact, made my life a little happier and easier along the way.
Note: I am not perfect. I splurge at times, but I try to continuously get into the frugal- and the right money mindset in order to live the life I want for myself.
Enough about me. Let’s get started.
1. HAVE A PLAN & BUDGET
Plan for the things you want in your life, write them down and emphasize WHY you need that specific thing in your life. And what value it will add to your life.
Will it bring you immediate or longterm joy?
This is a valid question. Immediate and temporary joy is not enough for frugal people.
They have a longterm plan and there is always a bigger picture.
Let’s say you need a new computer because your last one broke down – (well, that sucks) – PLAN for this necessary and emergency purchase.
Take a look at your bank account and see what is possible, and start budgeting, planning and saving money. This is why you have an emergency fund – because you are so frugal, right?
In all seriousness, we need to plan for unwanted things to happen. Computers will break down, medical bills need to be paid and so on. There is an unquestionable difference between an emergency purchase and splurging.
You know this. I am just stating the obvious 🙂 So, now you definitely know.
In conclusion, budget your butt off.
2. NO EXCUSES ALLOWED
We need to get out of the “I have to buy this NOW, otherwise my life will END” mindset.
It’s so so so important not to act out of greed, impulse, and self-pity. Don’t browse online stores or shop when you are feeling like you need to reward yourself, or when you feel down.
Having a bad day does not justify you buying unnecessary pricey items.
Sure, it will most likely bring you short-term joy. But in two weeks it won’t mean a thing.
Again, your WHY comes in handy here as well.
Why do you feel the urge to shop? Get to the bottom of it. Ask yourself why until you get to the core and the real reason you want whatever it is you are considering buying.
- I just have to have this new expensive purse from Michael Kors.
- Because look how pretty?
- It’s Black Friday and it’s half off. I can’t miss this sale.
- I’ve saved up for months and the time to buy is NOW.
- Because I saw this woman in ELLE Magazine wearing it and now I really want it too.
- To show it off at work and for my friends.
- I need to prove that I also can afford pretty and expensive things.
- Because I feel broke and insecure.
There you have it.
The core reason is so powerful.
Once you get there, you’ll understand why you really don’t need to prove your worth by buying expensive things.
If you manage to get into the frugal mindset you will understand why this is a bad thing. And I assume that you probably get it already, no?
3. SET GOALS
Ah, planning and goal setting. Who doesn’t love planning and goal setting? If you want to have a frugal lifestyle you’ll not only need to plan out meals the coming week, you will need to sit down and really take the time to reflect on your life.
Where will you be in 10 years? 5 years? 3 years? 6 months?
And so on.
Be broad at first, but once you get to your next 1-year goal, try and be as specific as possible and plan down to the hour.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How much money do I want to attract in my life?
- What do I want most in life?
- How much will I make in a year?
- What will my financial world look like?
- How can I make more money?
Asking questions can be so powerful. It is something I learned from Natalie Bacon. By asking the right questions, your brain will get to work and come up with the answers for you (if you do it enough)
Try and stay away from negative questions like:
- Why don’t I make as much money as XYZ?
- How come I feel so unworthy compared to XYZ?
- Why am I so broke?
- How come I don’t have all the things XYZ has?
- Will I ever achieve anything?
The thing you want is temporary and the joy is short-term and your dreams and goals are long-term.
Get to the bottom of why you want to have and save money.
Examples of some these reasons may be:
- I need to get out of debt.
- My student loans are holding me back from living the life I dream of.
- I need to pay off all my credit cards.
- Save for a down payment on a house.
- Save money for retirement.
Find your reason, plan and set goals for how to get there. Have a clear goal in mind – it will make it easier for you to take action (or rather take no action). Get your brain to work and ask how that can be possible for you and I promise you will be surprised with the answers you get.
Communication is key, folks.
Have an open dialogue with your spouse, partner, family, roommate about your finances and work together.
Honesty surely is the best policy when it comes to money.
We need to stop thinking that money is tabu. I don’t know why we tend to think that. It couldn’t be more wrong. It’s super crucial that we stop thinking of money as something that we need to keep on the low and stop seeing it as a “shhh” issue.
How are we going to get anywhere in life if we don’t put the conversation about money on the table?
Examples of topics that are good to be open about:
- Any debt you may have (student, credit cards etc.)
- Retirement funds. PLAN for this together – if this regards to your spouse and marriage you will probably want to grow old together 🙂
- Consider having joint accounts.
- Be familiar with each others saving and spending habits.
- Be honest about any other assets you have (savings, investments, cars or houses you own)
- Set mutual goals and budget your way TO them.
Sit down and budget with your spouse. Incorporate this as a habit.
Do it every Sunday before dinner for 30 minutes. That is seriously all it will take and by having a set time every week you can get it out of the way quickly and it becomes more natural. It doesn’t have to be awkward at all.
This is a huge and recurring problem when it comes to relationships and marriages. I don’t have all the facts, but I am not reluctant to think that it is the core issue of fighting, hot discussions and even the d-word (divorce).
Don’t be afraid to argue a little.
We need to have those important and tough conversations to get to the good place. 🙂
5. STOP CARING SO MUCH
As humans, we naturally care about what other people think or what they think they know about us. This is especially true when it comes to material things in life.
Stop caring what other people think about you and the things you do or don’t own.
We (and I say “we” because I am including myself, guys) also need to stop comparing ourselves to other people and their lifestyles.
To live a completely frugal life, you need to not care about designer brands, shiny objects and whatever your colleagues/friends/neighbors own that you THINK you also need to own. But you don’t.
Because you have a bigger and long-term goal in mind and need to stick with it to move forward. You’ll obviously need clothes, there is no getting around that. But stick to the basics and have 7 different outfits that you rotate. You don’t need 30 different outfits. Right?
Live a little lighter.
Vintage shops and thrift stores are your friends in this case. You can seriously find gems. There might even be a designer item lingering in the back of the store in between two hangers. Win!
Tip: Invite your friends over for a “clothing swap” session – or go to an organized swap.
Bonus – you will get rid of clothes that you never even wear anyways (hello, minimalism!).
If you’re used to caring about what others have and what you don’t have and find yourself drooling over designer clothes and shoes – this takes practice and it is a skill you can get better at.
Start by shifting your mindset and think longterm. Question the expensive pair of shoes or whatever purchase you are considering – and ask the following question:
“What value does this add to my life? Will this bring me longterm joy?”
More often than not, you’ll find that the answer is no.
6. STATE YOUR TEMPTATION
What is your temptation and what do you like to indulge in? We all have ‘em. Reflect a little and find out what your temptations are.
It may be one (or more) of the following:
- Experiences (spa, massages or facials)
- Eating out
- Junk food
- Going out
What is it that you like to pamper yourself with? For me, it’s definitely clothes, skin care, and travel. And chocolate – who am I kidding.
Find out what your indulges are and design a plan for you to steer away from these things. Or at least, keep the spending to a minimum.
If you want to learn how you can make your own face serum, I’ve written a post about it.
Splurge on things that truly give you joy but don’t go overboard. Pamper yourself once every two weeks. It won’t feel like indulgement or pampering if you do it all day every day.
Keep it exclusive. Make it count and make it special.
7. COUPON QUEEN
Be the coupon queen you were meant to be. No, all kidding aside. Take advantage of sales, coupons and Black Fridays.
However, make sure you are indulging in things that are actually worth something to you in the long-term.
Let’s try and stay clear of hoarding, people.
8. STAY IN, DRINK LESS, EAT MORE
Have a look through your pantry before you run to the grocery store. I am sure that there is something in there that you can use as a base for your meal.
Try to cook all your meals at home. This is such a money-saver.
We spend SO much money when we eat out without even realizing it (a little tip there, another glass of wine here etc). Cook at home and stack up. Bring packed lunches to work, for your kids, when you do errands etc.
Make sure to bring snacks as well. It really doesn’t have to be complicated at all. And more often than not – bringing your own meals and snacks tends to be the healthier option.
Tip: Invite your friends over for drinks instead of going out. Or if you want – stop drinking at all.
9. THINK LIKE A MINIMALIST
When trying to live frugally, thinking and acting like a minimalist can be really useful. I believe frugal living and minimalism go hand in hand with each other. There’s a definitely a red thread between the two.
Minimalism in bullet form…
- Spend less and have more. (what a paradox!)
- Don’t buy unnecessary material items.
- Own fewer material possessions.
- Have more money and higher savings as you are living below your means.
- Make decisions consciously.
- Have a goal and a bigger picture in mind.
- By having fewer things you free space in both your home and mind.
If you want more insight as to what minimalism is and how you can easily start living the minimalist lifestyle, I’ve written a post about it.
Prioritize your future hence prioritize and reflect every financial decision you make, because there is no going around it – those financial decisions will affect your life in the long run. People who live frugally, in other words, have their priorities in order.
Examples of such priorities:
- Financial security
- Emergency fund
- And other necessities.
Think about what you are spending money on. What should you prioritize? Make a list and stick to it.
Prioritize your pleasures and indulges. I’m sure you can watch that movie you were planning on going to at home on Netflix. As well as indulges, frugal people prioritize their financial health above everything else (except important things like family and friends).
With financial health comes ordinary health, or so I believe.
Learn to think twice before every purchase. 🙂
LET’S SUM UP!
- Set goals
Being frugal shouldn’t make you feel like your missing out or that your life is less fun. Don’t fear the FOMO. It just means you think twice before purchasing things you don’t necessarily need in the long run to achieve your goals. Plus, frugal living equals more money.
Spending less = more money. Yay!
Safety and an emergency fund come with it, which is a really useful and a comforting bonus.
Always be in control and aware of where ALL of your money is going. That is to be truly frugal.
Can’t get enough of money-saving-tips? I’ve written an article on my favorite money-saving hacks.
I hope you’ve gained a few tips from this article. Let me know what you do in YOUR life to live a little more frugally in the comments below.