9 Habits of Frugal People Who Stay Debt Free

Last Updated on 24th October 2020 by Emma

Don’t be thinking frugal folk have it easy. They are debt free and stay that way because they have habits that are deeply ingrained into them.

Habits that you can make you own quite easily.

I know what you’re thinking – I don’t want to stay at home every day, I want to be out having fun. You do realize that frugal folk have fun too, right?

Being frugal is not about depriving yourself, far from it. Being frugal is about making sure you put yourself first. Your health, your wealth and your happiness.

Spending money you don’t have and getting into debt isn’t treating yourself now is it?

Debt is not a treat.

Living debt free most certainly is.

Want to be debt free and ensure you stay that way? Grab these habits and make them your own.

The 9 frugal habits of debt free folk

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more here)

1. Never dismiss free money

Ibotta

Money doesn’t grow on trees so when you get a chance to grab free cash for organizing your spending then frugal folk are right in there and grabbing that money.

They use Ibotta to earn easy cashback on all their spending, online and in-store. Simply check Ibotta before you shop, travel or eat out and get rewarded with cashback. Ibotta helps you save money without any coupon clipping or promo codes.

Sign up to Ibotta here and grab yourself a free $20 welcome bonus just for trying the app.

Got an android phone? Use this link for Ibotta and that $20 bonus.

flowers in white jub and other pastel ornaments against a white background

Loyalty Cards

Many stores offer loyalty cards. They get to know more about your shopping habits and you can get loyalty card special offers, cash back and discounts, depending on the store.

Frugal folk take advantage of these loyalty card offers to reduce their spending and get the store specials.

In the UK a number of grocery stores including Asda Walmart have Christmas savings cards which give you free cash. The more you save, the more free cash you get.

You can bet this here frugal fanatic grabs her free cash from Asda every year, thank you very much!

Cash back credit cards

Using cash to pay for goods is very much in decline with credit and debit cards being the preferred payment choice.

If you are going to use plastic and not cash to buy products, why not grab some free cashback at the same time? It’s what all good frugal folk do.

Side note: There is no point trying to grab free cash back from your credit card if you don’t off the balance in full. Most cards offer cash back in the range of 0.5 – 2% whereas the interest charged can easily hit 20% or more.

Cashback is not free money if you are incurring debt so please make sure you pay off credit cards in full every month.

woman counting coins with a wooden digital clock to signify frugal people debt free

2. Pay number one

Automatic Savings

Frugal people understand that they are responsible for number one – themselves – and it is a deeply ingrained habit that they always put money aside to look after themselves.

They pay themselves first, as soon as they get paid, not after they’ve finished paying the bills and doing a little spending.

They automate their savings using Empower’s AutoSave feature*. Set your savings target and then forget it as Empower will do the heavy lifting for you.

Empower scrutinizes your money going in and out and if there’s not enough in your checking account one week, AutoSave won’t run and will try again the next week.

Find out more about Empower AutoSave and their 30 day free trial here.

*Banking services for new accounts provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.

Automate Savings in the UK

In the UK frugal folk use Monese for the ease of opening an account and it’s multiple savings pots to ensure they have got themselves covered.

Monese gives you the option to have up to 10 savings pots (think of all those different sinking funds and savings goals you can set up in the same place!).

Click here to open your Monese account today and start paying number one

3. Keep Grocery costs low

Food budgets can and do vary enormously from person to person. Some of which is down to where you live but not all of it.

Frugal folk are very deliberate with their grocery choices and how they plan their meals.

Meal plan

Firstly, they always meal plan. Meal planning tells you what meals you are going to eat over the next week and therefore what ingredients you need to buy.

Frugal folk who aren’t confident in varying their meals enough to keep them away from restaurants take advantage of the $5 meal plan service. For just $5 a month you get a meal plan every week, recipe instructions AND the shopping list of ingredients needed.

Use the 14 day free trial to see how the $5 meal plan will work for you.

Start my free trial

Grab free money

When frugal folk have bought their groceries they spend less than 2 minutes snapping a pic of their receipt to earn Fetch rewards.

Fetch Rewards is a free grocery savings app that rewards you just for snapping pictures of your receipts. That’s really it.

You get free rewards on groceries on thousands of products every day, no matter where you get your groceries. Just scan your receipts to receive rewards.

Use code “APREWARDS” to redeem 3K points!

Store cupboard essentials

They also utilize what is in their store cupboards to form the basis of their meal plan as this is food they have already bought so the money has already been spent.

They bulk buy when the price is low on long life store cupboard essentials like pasta, rice, noodles, flour, spices.

Love left overs

Left overs are not something to throw in the trash, far from it. Left overs are another meal waiting to be eaten. Frugal folk will often have last night’s left overs for today’s lunch.

Indeed they will deliberately create left overs by batch cooking and freezing the extra portions made. This saves on cooking time and energy used by your oven and hob.

Chop your grocery spending right back when you join the FREE grocery budget challenge

4. Ignore Bonuses

Every year people earn bonuses and extra money, through work, through taking on additional hours.

Many people treat bonus money as a freebie, to be spent on treating themselves, after all they deserve it, right?

Not so frugal folk. They are in the habit of saving bonuses and extra money that they receive.

They too feel they deserve to have a treat and what better treat than to put a little extra away for their future self?

The future self that wants to retire before they are 80, the future self who wants to be free of work commitments on their terms, not an employer’s.

Woman Stuffing US Currency Coins Piggy Bank Cash Savings

5. save then spend

To keep yourself debt free you will want to consider every expenditure, to determine whether what you are about to buy is truly necessary or have you just got caught up in the moment?

Frugal folk have built a habit around delayed spending. It’s not that they don’t spend at all, they most certainly do.

But they shy away from impulse spending and like to be more considered in how and when they spend.

Many use the 30 day rule as a way of delaying their spending. If 30 days seems an awful long time (and I do hear you on that) then aim for at least a week.

Find something you like on Saturday? Resolve not to buy until at least the following Saturday.

Chances are, you may well no longer have the same desire to buy that item.

Bingo! Money saved!

Buy Used

Frugal folk know their spending power is tenfold if they choose to buy used. They apply this logic to goods ranging from cars, to garden tools, to electronic devices to clothes.

They don’t buy cheap but they will buy used, cheap goods don’t last:

Buy cheap, buy twice

Quality goods last and you can pick them up from the likes of Ebay, Craigslist, thrift and charity stores for a fraction of their new price.

woman looking puzzled at computer screen

6. Do their Homework

Before buying or investing in anything, frugal folk naturally want to know they are making the right choice for their money.

So they are in the habit of investing their time in researching before buying.

Whether it’s a new car, a new savings account or new investments they will research thoroughly to ensure they make the right choice for their needs.

7. Ignore others

I don’t mean literally ignoring other people, frugal folk aren’t rude! But they follow their own path, they do not get sucked into what others are doing and buying.

That old saying – “keeping up with the Joneses“, totally does not apply to frugal folk. The Joneses are not debt free, they are spending all they earn and some.

The Joneses are not people you want to make a habit of copying. Make it a habit to copy frugal folk.

Stick to your path, the one that keeps you debt free and ignore others, they won’t mind.

8. Talk money

A frugal habit you definitely want to adopt if you want to remain debt free is to always talk and be open with your spouse. And others who want to know how you’ve managed it.

Talking to your spouse and having them onboard with joint money decisions makes the two of your a force to be reckoned with.

Money secrets lead to all sorts of money problems including debt.

Have no money secrets with your spouse and see how much stronger the two of you are both in your relationship and in your finances.

Becoming and staying debt free will give you a wealth of knowledge that you can share with others.

To help them understand how they too can become debt free and stay that way.

smiling young girl sitting back on couch using her laptop and holdoing a coffee mug

9. Love Life

There is no point in achieving debt freedom if you do not enjoy your life. Don’t be forever hankering after tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes, remember?

  • Enjoy the act of becoming debt free.
  • Enjoy staying debt free.
  • And enjoy the life that being debt free means you can have.

frugal people Habits to copy

Habits are a great way to do the same thing on a regular basis without thinking about it too much. Many habits become automatic, such that you hardly think about them.

Copy these 9 habits of frugal people and keep yourself debt free.

  1. Use Ibotta to grab yourself some free money
  2. Use Empower’s AutoSave feature to save money without thinking about it
  3. Use $5 meal plans to keep your grocery costs low and grab some extra cash via Fetch Rewards
  4. Don’t treat bonuses as free money, ignore and add to savings
  5. Don’t impulse buy, wait a while first
  6. Research thoroughly so you know you are buying right
  7. Ignore the Joneses and follow your own path
  8. Involve your spouse in all money matters and share your knowledge with others
  9. Love the life you have.

For more help on your frugal journey join the frugal foundations framework

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About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

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