We all know that frugal people are great at saving money, so if we want to save money then I guess we should plan on copying their habits.
Why reinvent the wheel if frugal people have already done it?
Anything that makes saving money easier has got to be worth doing, right? And that is what habits do, they make your life easier by putting things on autopilot.
Habits are a way of being more organized and they can save you time.
And they can also save you from yourself because deeply ingrained habits means you won’t be forgetting to do things, you’ll do them on autopilot.
I am a great believer in habits.
It’s not because I want to be super organized, it’s more that I want to ensure I do not forget to do something. Especially something that will save me money.
I have been frugal for many years and all of these habits are now just normal actions to me.
It took me a while to embrace frugality completely. Especially when I was being frugal because I HAD to be.
Let’s be honest, it’s much easier to do something because you want to rather than because you have to.
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The Best 11 Habits Of Frugal People
1. Meal Planning
Your food budget can vary wildly depending on what you buy, what meals you want and whether you eat out or at home.
Frugal people start with a carefully considered meal plan.
A plan that incorporates healthy, cheap and easy meals as well as knowing their social calendar and their grocery budget.
Part of my meal planning has always been to do a rough costing of the ingredients. That way you don’t end up with expensive meals that increase your food budget.
When we were a family of 4 I aimed for the protein to be no more than £1 for all of us. This meant many proteins like steak, salmon, shellfish and lamb were off the menu.
But needs must.
Food is more expensive now and I only have the 2 of us to feed.
But there are still proteins that I will never pay full price unless it is a special occasion. (Special as in birthday or Christmas).
I just cannot bring my frugal self to pay the price required.
Another one of my frugal strategies is to always stretch expensive ingredients (mainly protein) further than you might otherwise do.
For instance, 500g of ground beef (mince) is stretched to form at least 3 meals for Mr2p and I.
It used to make 4 meals each but we often miss out on the carb element of a meal (pasta, potato, rice) and have more protein and vegetables instead.
I also have a price cap for certain products, above which I won’t buy it.
Jack Daniels is a special (twice a year) treat for Mr2p but I’ll never buy it if it costs more than £15. The usual price is £25 so I wait patiently until it goes on offer.
And I’ll never pay more than £1 for a large bar of chocolate (even it if is my most favorite thing in the world!)
Meal planning, taking account of the cost of ingredients, the time you have to make it and who is in to eat it, is something that can take a little time to get used to.
But it pays dividends in the form of cash savings, if you can make it work for you.
If meal planning seems too complicated or scary right now, you can still adopt this super frugal habit by taking advantage of the $5 meal plan.
For just $5 a month you get meal plans and shopping lists emailed to you every week. Different diets catered for and you can use this even if not US based (it took me months to work out this basic tip!)
2. Cook from scratch
Meals that use raw and natural ingredients rather than convenience foods are not only healthier than their processed counterpart, they are usually cheaper.
Of course you can make expensive meals but frugal people have a core of cheap, frugal meals that use some of the cheaper, natural ingredients to make delicious homely meals.
Meals made from scratch don’t even need to take long to cook.
I rarely spend more than 30 minutes preparing a meal and sometimes that includes the cooking time as well.
Our favorite frugal meals include:
- Spaghetti bolognese (with added lentils and vegetables to stretch the meat)
- Sausage casserole (2 sausages per person)
- Chili (heavy on the beans and light on the meat)
- Chicken fried rice (heavy on the chicken and with extra veggies)
- Chicken thigh casserole and dumplings (I have one thigh)
- Bacon, potato and onion pie (1 or 2 rashers per person)
For more cheap recipe ideas check out these posts:
3. Use It All Up
Do you get frustrated when you still have lotion left in a tube but can’t easily access it? Me too.
With a nod to old fashioned living and never throwing anything away.
The trick that frugal people have learned is to use everything up even if it means doing a little DIY on your tubes and bottles.
I swear manufacturers create difficult to access tubes to make us spend more money.
Next time you get to the end of something do as frugal people do and open it up, tip it upside down, shake it about or add drop of water to get it all out.
It can add up to another week’s worth of product that you would otherwise be throwing away.
TIP – Add a little vinegar or water to sauce bottles to get the last of your sauces out. Cut open tubes to use up the toothpaste and lotion left in there.
To make my life easier I invested in one of these toothpaste squeezers, so much faster and easier!
4. Repair Before Replacing
Frugal people do not rush out to buy something new every time a gadget, tool or something else breaks. They try to be self sufficient by repairing what they can.
YouTube is great for finding tutorials on fixing things.
The more you can repair something the less you have to spend out on it’s replacement.
And of course it means you are not consigning this item to landfill and are helping the environment as a result.
5. Re-purpose Old Things
When something reaches the end of it’s life it doesn’t need to be discarded and sent to landfill.
It can have a second chance being re-purposed into something else.
Old tires can become planters as can old boots. Large bags and sacks can become potato grow bags.
T-shirts can become rags and leftover tiles can become coasters.
For ideas on gifts using recycled items check out this post: 26 Easy Recycled Gift Ideas Your Family Will Love.
6. Buy Secondhand
When frugal folk are in the market for a new (to them) item they do not start with brand new.
They research their needs, identify the best tool or product and then try to find it secondhand.
They value quality and know that quality stands the test of time.
Cars are never bought brand new, they will buy them around 18 months – 3 years old to ensure the worst depreciation has already happened.
Quality clothes last for years so these too will be sourced from charity shops and thrift stores.
The majority of my work wardrobe was sourced from charity shops – why pay more to go to work?
7. Research And Check
If a new item is needed, and it can’t or won’t be bought second hand, then a key element of the frugal mindset is to research carefully to ensure they are getting the best price possible.
They not only research the best supplier, they will also check to see whether they can find a coupon or discount to bring the price down.
They will also look to go via a cashback site to get money back as well.
In the US frugal folk will go via Ebates and Ibotta.
Swagbucks goes one step further. Not only is it a cashback site working on both sides of the Atlantic, it also has offers to earn extra money via daily tasks, watching videos and completing quizzes.
Cashback is free money, it would be silly not to take advantage wouldn’t it?
8. Look After Every Penny
If you don’t look after your money who will? It might only be a penny, a cent or a dollar but that is money you earned.
Frugal people make it a key habit that they look after every penny they have.
You don’t go around throwing away coins from your purse do you?
Frugal people have a deeply ingrained habit of ensuring they look after their money by being habitual about the things above.
They are willing to look at creative ways to save money to ensure their money works hard for them.
They always consider if there are money saving swaps that can save them a few pennies. My Grandma always used to say:
“Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”.
Frugal people will also seek out the best money making opportunities to fit their lifestyle.
For example being able to take on flexible work at home jobs so they can stay at home with their children is a smart money move frugal folk will make.
Related post: How To Make 300 Dollars Fast: 30 Proven Ways
9. Say No
By saying no to what everyone else presumes you must have, they give themselves the ability to save money.
To live modestly yet be financially secure. You don’t have to have what everyone else has.
Have what you need, not what someone else thinks you should have.
That way you say no to buying endlessly and you say yes to choosing how you spend your money.
10. Think Long Term
I worry when people say they will never be able to afford to retire.
I know when you are in your 20s and 30s that retirement seems a very long way away (it is). But you will get older and you will need to retire at some point.
You cannot continue being a bricklayer or on your feet for 8 hours a day when you are in your 70s.
Frugal people understand long term. They understand the need to pay your future self first.
Putting away a small portion of every paycheck for your retirement and later years is long term planning.
But frugal folk go wider and further than that.
They know their money only goes so far and they can’t just buy a new car out of their paycheck if they need one.
Believe me when I say I did not have any of these in my early days of being frugal. Heck no!
If you are embracing frugality because you need to stretch your pennies then it takes time to embrace these frugal strategies and get to the point where you can start thinking long term.
But you will get to the point of thinking and planning long term.
You will have emergency savings, retirement accounts and money in the bank.
11. Prudent About Money Decisions
Money decisions aren’t just about what you spend or don’t. They are much wider than that.
One of the reasons frugal people have spare money is because they always consider the bigger picture in how they live their lives.
When money is not a limitless pot you have to make careful decisions about what you spend your money on.
This includes decisions about where you live (location), how big a house you live in, how far you intend to commute, where you send your children to school.
These are life decisions but they are also money decisions.
Buy too big a house, in an expensive location and you suddenly have a mortgage that means you cannot afford to pay towards retirement or vacations.
I’m not saying you cannot live in a nice house, or in a nice area, of course you can!
But recognize that every decision you make is one where you could choose an alternative.
You could live in a smaller house, you could choose to commute by public transport if you choose the right location to live in.
We chose to have cheaper vacations like camping and staying in the UK rather than spending £5,000 for 2 weeks in the sun.
Those decisions freed up some of our hard earned cash which we could put towards retirement, emergency savings and long term savings.
If we had chosen to increase our mortgage, increase the size of our house like others around us, we would still have a mortgage and be worrying about our future.
Thinking and planning long term is the best gift you can give your future self.
The Best Habits Of Frugal People
I would encourage you to try and make all of these habits your own.
They will serve you well.
If you are still at the point of trying to work out the differences of frugal vs cheap then these habits will help you become clearer.
It took me too long to work out that these frugal strategies really would help me, I wish I had been open to some of them a bit sooner.
But I can be stubborn like that.
Don’t be me, be you, and embrace these habits of frugal people as quickly as you can.
For more reading on what frugal people do and don’t do have a read of these posts:
If you are at the start of your frugal journey why not subscribe to my Frugal Foundations Framework?
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Last Updated on 2nd May 2021 by Emma