7 Ways to Be Frugal
Frugality is often associated with sacrifice, but it doesn’t have to mean giving something up. Being frugal simply means being wise and intentional with your spending. If you’re trying to be economical in your spending, there are many little things you can do that will make a big difference in your budget. Below are seven ways to be frugal.
#1: Avoid Stress Spending
Many consumers use “retail therapy” to improve their mood and relieve stress. There are real psychological benefits of retail therapy, primarily that it gives the illusion of control. However, it can be easy to overindulge in retail therapy to the point where it becomes an addiction. If you have a regular habit of shopping to relieve stress, look for other ways to get the same psychological benefits without spending money. But if you’re not at risk of overindulging, just be sure to budget ahead of time for stress spending so your shopping trips don’t negatively impact your financial situation.
#2: Take Advantage of the Library
If you live in a city or county with a good library system, take advantage of it. Many libraries offer books, movies, music, games, e-books, audiobooks, digital content, magazines, activities, events, meeting space, study rooms, printing services, summer programs, educational classes, and more, all for free! Visit your local library or its website to see what services you can use for free instead of paying for them.
#3: Eat at Home
Food is usually one of the highest living expenses after shelter. One of the most efficient ways to save money on food costs is to meal plan and meal prep. Meal planning involves making a menu for the week, then grocery shopping accordingly. Meal prepping involves cooking or preparing all your meals for the week at one time. Make several meals at once, or make a large quantity of one meal, then refrigerate or freeze several portions to be reheated throughout the week. Meal prepping saves a lot of time throughout the week and reduces the temptation to eat out.
Another way to save money is to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away. Use up what you have in your pantry and keep it rotating. This means using up the oldest food first to prevent it from going to waste.
Finally, consider making your coffee at home. Coffee is very inexpensive to make, but it costs 27 times more in a coffee shop! According to Business Insider, making coffee at home works out to about $55 per year, while getting it at a coffee shop costs about $1,500 per year (figures adjusted for inflation). Save yourself the money and make coffee at home.
#4: Reevaluate Your Subscriptions
If you’re trying to be frugal, take a good look at what you’re paying for each month. Subscriptions are good for businesses because the companies are guaranteed money every month. But this can be bad for you as a consumer if you’re not careful. It’s easy to fall into the trap of signing up for a free trial, then end up unknowingly paying a monthly fee for a service you don’t end up using. Take a look at your monthly charges and cancel any subscriptions you don’t need. Gym memberships, magazines, streaming services, product subscriptions, and more can eat away at your budget if you’re not making use of what you’re paying for. Reevaluate your subscriptions and only pay for services you actively use.
#5: Get Out of Debt
Your income can really take a hit from debt payments and interest payments. The key to being frugal is to avoid paying for anything that is not absolutely necessary. Credit card interest is very expensive and usually unnecessary. Prioritize paying off credit cards and avoid getting further into debt. Your cash flow will increase significantly when a large portion of your income no longer goes toward paying off loans and credit cards. Find out how 101 Financial can help you get out of debt.
#6: Start a Garden
Growing your own vegetables is a great way to be frugal. Fresh produce can be very expensive, and the cost usually discourages healthy eating. By starting a garden, you can grow enough vegetables to use year-round, especially if you are familiar with freezing and canning techniques. Growing a vegetable garden is also a form of food storage and emergency preparedness. If you lose your job or the supply chain is disrupted, you still have access to fresh food. Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have any land, it’s still possible to grow a garden using window boxes, a porch, or even growing indoor plants.
#7: Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
Coupons and loyalty programs are the frugal shopper’s #1 trick. Many businesses offer punch cards, rewards points, frequent shopper discounts, free products, and more. Take advantage of these loyalty programs wherever you frequently shop. Similarly, sign up for promotional email campaigns using an email address separate from your primary inbox to avoid clutter. This way, you can check for exclusive email deals before you go shopping. However, exercise caution with the loyalty programs so you’re not encouraged to spend more than you normally would in order to get a reward benefit.
Frugal living might be challenging, but the bottom line is it saves money and reduces waste. There are countless ways to be frugal, and even one change can make a difference. As you make more efforts toward frugal living, you’ll see the benefits compound in both your wallet and your lifestyle.
Find out how 101 Financial’s Workplace Wellness program teaches consumers how to be frugal with their spending.