You might consider me to be a pro at being frugal but I still find it helpful to revisit basic frugality every so often.
Because although I’ve been frugal for a long time it is just so easy to slip back into bad habits isn’t it?
Sometimes life just gets busy and complicated and things happen that mean you aren’t focused on your money as much as you might want to.
You don’t always have the time to concentrate on keeping every plate spinning and you can easily lose sight of why you want to.
Getting back to basics with simple frugal living gives us a chance to take a little time out and focus on those basics.
There are hundreds of different ways to practice frugality, but in my book the basics can be counted on your fingers.
Is it ok to be frugal? Absolutely! Frugal is not cheap nor something that is bad.
Frugal living is about focusing on what is most important to you and spending your money on that.
Some of the richest people on earth are frugal.
If you want to know more check out what rich people do.
How can I be frugal? Being frugal is a way of life that everyone can embrace.
If you are new to basic frugality then why not take advantage of my free email course where I help you build your frugal foundations.
If you want to know the differences between frugal and cheap then check these posts.
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7 Ways To Get Back To Basics With Frugal Living
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1. Make Your Own Food
We all need food and we often use food as a way to reward and treat ourselves.
Pay day means having a meal out.
Friday night is takeout night.
Stressed about work? A chocolate bar is just the ticket.
In fairness I never need an excuse to have chocolate!
Meal planning is one of the most basic frugality tips I would encourage you to adopt.
When you meal plan successfully you eat at home.
You use the food you have in your pantry and don’t end up with a huge unnecessary stockpile.
More importantly meal planning helps you to keep your grocery bill low as you will eat at home more.
If meal planning is not your thing or you always end up resorting to a meal out part way through your meal plan then what you need is the $5 meals plan.
For just $5 a month you get a weekly meal plan and associated shopping list.
The meals are not repeated more than once every 3 months (no more spaghetti every 3rd day) and the best part is you can try before you buy with their 14 day free trial.
For more help on the 7 best strategies to make your meal planning a success why not have a read of this post:
2. Use Every Last Drop
Every time I buy something in a bottle or jar I look at it and wonder just exactly how much am I going to end up wasting.
Some sauces lend themselves to getting every last drop out yet others are more of a challenge.
Mayonnaise is my personal bugbear to the point where I often buy it in wide necked jars, precisely so I can get every last bit out with a spoon.
When you buy products in jars and bottles you are paying for all of its contents.
So why would you willingly leave 10% behind?
I swear manufacturers design their bottles precisely so that last 10% is a struggle to get out.
If you don’t persevere and get it out you are paying 10% more for every bottle and jar you buy.
Basic frugality is about the little things. The basic things. Like using up every last drop.
Because why wouldn’t you when you have paid for it?
Frugal tip – add a little vinegar or water to the bottle and swish around. This will encourage that last 10% out.
Eco tip – Given we want to be recycling all these jars and bottles, we are usually required to wash them out before adding to the recycling bin. Don’t wash that 10% away – use it.
3. Don’t Waste Energy (Or Water)
Unless you live off grid (kudos if you do!) then you will have regular utility bills.
Your utility bills are a flexible part of your budget but they are a permanent feature so it’s easy to get a little lax about them give you pay them every month.
Your energy bill is about how much energy you actually use. If you use more, you pay more.
But reducing these bills can be done with a tiny effort. Energy frugality examples are:
- Switch lights off when you leave the room
- Unplug chargers
- Reduce your thermostat a degree or two
- Use a power strip for your electronics
- Wear an extra layer on cold days
You’ll also want to ensure you are with the cheapest energy supplier.
In the UK, Look After My Bills helps you not only switch to the cheapest supplier.
They keep an eye on your account and automatically switch you to another cheaper supplier when your deal runs out.
If you are in the US then TRIM will negotiate on your behalf to switch and lower bills such as your internet, cable, phone AND medical bills.
TRIM also helps you save money by finding old and unwanted subscriptions.
4. Pay Attention To The Small Things
Have you fallen into the habit of saying “It’s only $x” as you justify buying something that perhaps you wouldn’t usually?
Do you not worry about spending a few extra cents/pennies in order to gain some convenience.
Basic frugality is about keeping every cent and penny you have a prisoner.
Until you must let it go (and be spent on something).
There is a saying in the UK – “Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves”.
This actually encompasses exactly what frugal living is all about.
Frugal living is simply about focusing on the little things.
It’s not about shaving hundreds off your mortgage (because being frugal you wouldn’t ever be paying over the odds).
Never think a few cents here, a few pennies there are not worth your bother. They are.
Because they add up into dollars and pounds.
Frugal tip – if you can get something a dollar cheaper by crossing the road to another store then do it.
Do that once a week and in a year you’ll have saved $52. And that is not to be sniffed at.
5. Stretch Your Comfort Zone
Getting back to basic frugality means getting back out of your comfort zone. Do things a little different.
Maybe you’ve got a little too comfortable with paying someone to wash your car each week.
Maybe you’ve slipped into the habit of buying lunch at work a bit more often than you did before.
Getting back to basics gives you the opportunity to save that money instead.
Wash the car yourself.
Pack your lunch more often.
Frugal living is often about doing things the old fashioned way.
You don’t pay for convenience of someone or something doing a job for you. You do it yourself.
Wash your car, mow your lawn, try a different (cheaper?) recipe.
6. Reset Spending
When you are newly frugal, you are often hyper conscious of every time you spend but over time that focus can dim a little and extra spending can creep in bit by bit.
A trick to get back to simple frugal living is to reset your spending.
How to reset your spending?
Sometimes just making more of an effort to think about when and if you need to spend is enough to get back on track.
Alternatively you can help your self with a no spend challenge.
I like no spend days because they give you a sense of achievement after just one day.
These are especially helpful if you have slipped into bad habits of spending a few times each day.
For more focus on not spending you could also try a no spend challenge for a longer period, say a weekend, a week or even a month. (Not for the faint-hearted!)
7. Know Your Why
Many people turn to frugal living deliberately. Often because you are having difficulty paying all your bills or have debt to clear.
But once you have cleared your debt and have embraced living below your means then to keep practicing frugality you need another reason.
Your reason is your why. Why so you want to be living frugally?
I came to frugal living through the usual route of not enough money to pay my bills and basically feeling poor every month.
Eventually I had spare money each month but it took me years to get to that point.
And then I had to make the decision as what I wanted.
Did I want to continue to frugal living and saving money, or did I want to increase my spending?
I chose frugal living because it meant I could save more money and aim to do more with my money.
Like retiring early, moving to the countryside.
Knowing my why helped me keep focused on being frugal.
When I got a pay rise I saved it. When I saved money on car insurance I saved it.
Because I knew what I was saving for.
You need to know why you are being frugal so you can remember it when you get tempted to spend a little more.
Frugality Fresh Start
Getting back to basics is like resetting the clock. It helps you to take a fresh look at why you are intent on frugal living.
It helps you to reconnect with your why and to strengthen your frugal mindset in order to practice basic frugality at home and at work.
Are you are interested in being more frugal, more deliberate with your money, making your money stretch further?
Then sign up for my free email course where you will learn how to build the strong frugal foundations you need.
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