How to live frugally when you’ve never done so before?
Frugal living is not a destination to arrive at as quickly as possible and then you are done.
And that’s a good thing.
It’s much more a continual journey, an experience that you are constantly discovering new things, new ways to be thrifty.
While you are newly frugal be reassured that you do not need to try and play catch up with other frugal folk.
The frugal lifestyle is one that many of us end up living without ever particularly planning it.
You might have had frugal parents who showed you how to stretch your money.
But many of us start out being frugal because we have to.
Because we don’t have enough money to live on, because we can’t pay our bills and we’ve got to do something to make ends meet.
That something, frugal living, can be difficult to embrace if you are doing so because you have to not because you want to.
If you are new to being frugal then I completely understand that reading posts like my 200+ best frugal living tips will make you want to run a mile.
Who can suddenly learn how to live frugally by following more than 200 tips?
Not you and certainly not me when I was newly frugal.
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The How To Live Frugally Journey
I’ve been frugal for a long time but it didn’t come naturally to me. I fought against it as perhaps you might do.
When you HAVE to do something I think it’s natural to fight against it.
More so when you look around and you see other people seemingly having so much more money than you.
I say seemingly because often it’s just a mirage, it’s not real, those people have got debt coming out of their ears.
The difference between you and them is that you are ready to do something about it.
And you’ve come to the right place because I am going to help you start your frugal journey and learn to absolutely love living within your means.
As a frugal newbie I know you want some easy, clear steps you can take that will help you start saving money straight away without having your mind blown by things like 25 different ways to use duct tape.
Rest assured I don’t have a post on that!
The Fabulously Frugal Club
But firstly – welcome to the fabulously frugal club! Learning how to live frugally will totally help you to cut your bills, start saving money and help you enjoy life.
Being frugal is absolutely not a one size fits all thing. You get to choose what frugal means to you.
Everyone does it differently which is what is so great about learning how to live frugally.
But where to start when you’re new to frugal life and what it may contain?
I don’t want to overwhelm you, when you are so new.
I want you to see that not only is being thrifty enjoyable but you can also save money easily.
There are hundreds of frugal living ideas but to get you started lets focus on these 16 tips.
I don’t want you to do them all immediately. Always start small and build upon each success you have.
How To Live Frugally And Happy – 16 Tips To get Started
1. Financial Goals
Let’s start at the beginning, your why, the reason you are newly frugal and determined to do things differently.
Financial goals are about what you want to achieve with your money next month, next year, in 10 years time.
When you have goals you know WHY you don’t want to spend too much money.
You know WHY you’ve decided to give up eating at restaurants.
Without your why, your goals, you have the potential to feel deprived.
And that ain’t fun.
No-one will keep doing things if it makes them feel deprived.
Start with goals that you feel are achievable in the next 3, 6 and 12 months time.
If your goal is to pay off $2,000 of debt in 6 months, set it and then review your progress every month to make sure you are on target to do so.
2. Cook At Home More
Eating out costs a fortune. And it’s such an easy place to save money when you are newly frugal.
But if you are used to eating out and not used to organizing your grocery shopping and food stores then it can feel like an uphill task.
Meal planning before you go to the grocery store is the cornerstone of every frugalista’s life.
If you don’t meal plan and list out your ingredients then you buy what you think you might eat and run a big risk of wasting food.
Even worse you might end up buying takeaways rather than cooking at home as you don’t know what to make for that night’s dinner.
However if this feels a little overwhelming to get right and keep doing every week then the $5 meal plan could be your savior.
For just $5 a month you not only get a weekly meal plan, you get a grocery list of all the ingredients you will need to make those meals.
That’s less than $1.25 a week to ensure you don’t waste food and have easy, yummy meals to make every night.
Given we can waste up to 30% of all the food you buy, $5 a month for recipes and a grocery list emailed to you every week will definitely save you a ton of money over the next few months.
And you can start with a 14 day FREE trial, that way you can get a feel for how it will work for you, without spending any money.
Stupidity Alert – Sometimes I can be a bit slow. I loved the idea of the $5 meal plan but thought I couldn’t take advantage of it because I am in the UK.
Doh! It’s sent by email – of course I can use it. I wasted months with that thought, aargh!
3. Always Consider Buying Used
We all know how much a brand new car costs over and above one that is a year or two old.
But did you know the same applies to everything else you might buy?
Once you’ve bought something brand new and used it a few times, it’s no longer new.
So why not buy used in the first place?
Living frugally and not buying new each time, you can save thousands of pounds when you buy second hand cars, tools and other items.
When I created my work uniform I sourced everything ‘new’ from charity shops and still do to this day.
4. Pack A Lunch
Taking a packed lunch to work is one of the best frugal living ideas as it can save you a significant amount of money over a year.
More so if you buy hot food/eat out at lunch time rather than buying a more basic sandwich lunch.
I take a home made salad every day, which along with some fruit, will keep me going until the evening.
I use these meal prep containers as they are so versatile.
I also use an insulated lunchbox like this one so I can keep my lunch by my side (no chance of co-workers stealing my yummy lunch!)
You might want to make sandwiches or even take leftovers from last nights dinner and reheat in the office microwave.
If you usually buy lunch out then consider this little sum:
Lunch $8 x 5 days = $40 x 50 weeks = $2,000
Think what you could do with an extra $2,000 every year.
5. Have Fun Money
Everyone needs a little fun money in their lives. Even if it’s only $20.
Fun money is your money to do with what you will, no guilt tripping.
Without fun money you are much more likely to resent your new lifestyle and blow it.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to be frugal is to cut all spending to the bone.
And then give up because it’s too hard.
That’s why you need fun money.
6. Stop Using Your Dryer
Tumble driers are expensive to buy and can significantly increase your electricity bill.
Save your pennies and take 10 minutes to hang your clothes outside on a rotary dryer.
I ditched my dryer for good about 5 years ago and have never regretted it.
Now I wash according to the weather forecast and take advantage of mother nature’s fresh air.
On a fresh day I can get 3 large loads of washing completely dry on my outdoor clothes line.
If your local weather is not reliable or it rains too often then use an indoor drying rack rather than letting your washing pile grow too big.
I can get a whole load of washing on my drying rack if I want to but I tend to hang the bigger items on hangers in the doorway as they dry faster that way.
You can buy this indoor drying rack here.
It takes me 10 minutes to hang a load of washing, inside or out. And I love the fact they are less creased than when I used my dryer.
Hanging clothes in your doorway might take a little getting used to but they are helping you to live frugally and saving you money – gotta love them!
If line drying or indoor drying isn’t feasible for your right now then you can still quit buying the dryer sheets.
Wool dryer balls are a cheaper and better option as they don’t contain all the chemicals that dryer sheets do.
You can buy the dryer balls here.
7. Understand Your Spending
Knowledge is power.
Knowing where you spend your money means you can make informed decisions about whether to continue to do so or not.
Stop asking ‘why am I poor?’ and look back at your bank and credit card statements.
Look for patterns and repeated buys.
How many times do you eat out?
How often are you buying coffee to go?
How much do you spend on clothes every month?
Resolve to cut back on those areas that are obvious big spenders.
My big spender was grocery shopping. I was shopping multiple times a week and it sure added up.
By cutting back to once a week I cut our grocery budget by 20% overnight.
8. Ditch Disposable Items
Every penny and dollar counts. If you can save a dollar a week then you would, wouldn’t you?
Paper towels don’t cost a huge amount but using a roll every week soon mounts up those dollars.
I now use microfiber cloths which are reusable and last for years.
Not only are they easy money saving swaps, they leave no smears and wipe very dry.
I prefer the multi colored cloths as I like to designate different colors to different jobs (sorry, I am that person).
I don’t think that Mr2p (the husband) is so keen on the bright pink kitchen cloth though!
You can buy these cheap, fun and colorful cloths here.
9. Create Your New Frugal Budget
Budgets can get a bit of a bad press and many of us have a love:hate relationship with them.
We hate doing them but we love the results when we follow them.
Learn to love and understand your budget as it can help you save money in so many ways.
Your budget in a nutshell is the sum of your income minus your outgoings.
When you are in debt and living beyond your means your outgoings are more than your income.
Think carefully about how much money you really have and budget for everything accordingly.
Look at your bank and credit card statements for the last month to see everything that usually goes out of your accounts.
These posts will help you create the best frugal budget for you:
10. A Family Affair
Getting your spouse and family on board will fast track you from newly frugal to frugalista.
When you are all working together to save money you are a force to be reckoned with.
If family are not on board with learning how to live frugally then it is down to you to show them how they can be.
Role model the positive benefits of saving money.
Show them how you save money, encourage them gently to see how they can help.
These posts will help:
11. Cut Unnecessary Expenses
When you’ve created your budget you will find that there are things you have been paying out for that in reality you don’t need or even want.
It’s scary how often people I know find regular subscriptions being taken out they thought they had cancelled long ago.
Check through everything that has gone out of your account for the past 30 days and see what could be cut.
- gym memberships
- magazine subscriptions
- duplicate life insurance policies (a friend found she had been paying 2 life policies she didn’t need for a whole year, just when she had no money!)
When you’ve got debt or a need to save a lot of money there are other things you might need to consider cutting from your budget in order to make those savings:
- Expensive cell phone plans
- Shopping at upmarket grocery stores
- Branded medications
- Brand name clothing
And then of course you need to look at how you are going to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
Because these little, unnecessary things can really add up and blow your budget.
Related post: Cut Your Budget With Tips From The Experts
12. Pay Your Future Self First
Right now I bet you work hard and are trying to make ends meet.
Hence the reason to embrace living frugally.
What about when you are 60, 70 or 80, do you still want to be working hard and trying to pay off debt?
We both know the answer is no.
But in order to make that a reality, where you can afford to finish work and be debt free, you need to be saving for that time.
Your future self is you at age 60,70 and 80. You need you to be thinking about the future you.
If you continue to spend all of your money now, and some, then how are you going to survive in your later years?
After debt, the first line of your budget should be saving for your future.
When money is really tight it might only be $20 or $50, but save you must.
Get that money habit deeply ingrained and when you have more money, save more money.
You will thank yourself later.
Related post: Best 11 Habits Of Frugal People That You Need To Know
13. Use The 30 Day Rule
The 30 day rule is a simple way to reduce your impulse spending.
It isn’t about deprivation or stopping you from spending any money.
It’s about giving some thought to what you intend to spend money on.
By applying the 30 day rule you identify something you want to buy but press pause for 30 days.
When you are new to frugal it’s a great way to give yourself breathing space to consider whether you can afford it.
And if spending that money fits within your budget and your financial goals.
If after 30 days you truly still want that item then absolutely go for it.
14. Turn Down The Thermostat
Turning down your thermostat by just 1 degree can add up to a nice saving over the year.
If you also have fans or air con then keeping them a little higher or off will continue the savings.
There are so many things you can do to keep yourself warm in the winter without turning up the heat. Things like:
- Wear an extra layer
- Add a blanket to your bed
- Keep doors closed
- Don’t sit still for too long – get moving
- Use draught excluders
- Have a blanket for cosy sofa nights
For more info on cutting your electricity bills read these posts:
15A. Renegotiate Your Bills – Cable
If you have cable then would save a lot of money if you got rid of it completely.
Now I am not going to tell you that you must get rid because we still have cable.
It’s our main form of entertainment so for the price we get a good deal (it’s higher than I would like due to Mr2p needing the sport channels, sigh).
We don’t have movies or premium kids channels, but we do have it.
But if we had to drastically cut our expenses we would get rid and it would save us $100 a month.
If getting rid of cable is a step too far for your right now then review your usage and renegotiate your package.
You could easily save $15 a month with one phone call.
15B. Renegotiate Your Bills – Utilities
Utility companies rely on us not questioning our utility bills.
In some states and countries you have a choice of utility company to use.
This makes for a great way to save money as these companies always offer new customer discounts.
Even if you can’t change company, you can certainly contact your existing company and ask for a discount.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Look After My Bills is a fantastic new service in the UK that will automatically switch you to a new provider as your existing one becomes more expensive.
Not only is LAMB free to join, they keep checking the market and switch you again as your existing deal ends, so you know you will always be on the best deal.
How fab is that?!
16. Learn To Say No To Yourself
Only you spends your money.
So if you are overspending then it sits firmly at your door.
When you are used to spending (too much) it can be very hard to stop spending money and start saving.
The best way to achieve savings and reduced spending is to learn to say no to yourself and to others.
Never feel bad about saying no, if it’s what needs to happen to help you balance your budget and save for your future then say no and be proud to do so.
Other ways to help you say no is to set money challenges for yourself.
These posts will help you get started:
How To Live Frugally And Happy
Any one of these 16 frugal tips will help you save money. Do two of them and you’ll save more.
When you are new to being frugal it pays to embrace your new lifestyle with positivity.
Related post: 15 Money Affirmations That Will Inspire Your Life
Don’t think that you are giving up anything by reducing your spending and saving money.
No, you are prioritizing what is best for you right now and making an active, positive choice.
As a newly frugal member of the fabulously frugal club you are starting on a glorious journey towards a richer, more satisfying life.
One where you have no debt and have savings.
That’s got to be worth being frugal for, right?
Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!
Last Updated on 3rd March 2021 by Emma