7 Secret Thrifty Living Tips All Frugal Folk Know

Do you ever wonder why frugal folk always seem to be so happy with their life? I’ll let you into a little secret, it’s because they love thrifty living and how it has transformed their lives.

Because they love being frugal and thrifty, they don’t run out of money before their next paycheck, they are debt free and have everything they need.

Too many people are broke, they’re using their credit cards to put food on the table and losing sleep over their ever increasing debt.

Whereas frugal people have learned how to live simply and cheaply, credit cards are for earning rewards and they sleep like a baby.

Why wouldn’t they look happy and perhaps a little smug?

And here’s the most wonderful thing, you can too when you adopt a thrifty lifestyle.

What is a thrifty lifestyle?

A thrifty lifestyle is one where you are mindful of your spending habits and careful with your money. You make sensible, wise choices about managing your money, always looking to get best value on your spending.
Be thrifty and love life

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What are the benefits of being frugal and thrifty?

Some people may tell you that those who love living thrifty and frugal are boring and have no fun, spending money is where the fun is.

There are many myths about thrifty living, myths like:

  • You can never go out
  • It’s a boring lifestyle
  • You have no fun
  • You have to be tight and a miser

All completely false. One of the great things about being frugal and thrifty is that you are always in control of the choices you make.

Want to stay in, or want to go out, your choice. You can be rich and bored, or poor and bored. Thrifty living is not a reason to be bored.

Let me get off my soapbox and tell you about the amazing benefits of being thrifty.

being thrifty reduces stress

Let’s talk financial stress. 64% of participants in the 2020 APA Survey said that money was a significant source of stress in their life.

Living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about whether you’ll have enough money to last is seriously stressful. Wondering whether you can pay a bill that lands on your doormat causes you stress. Unexpected bills wreak havoc with your anxiety levels.

Thrifty living takes all that stress away. You KNOW you have enough money to last till payday. Heck, you can last 3 paydays and not start stressing.

Financial emergency? No problem with the thrifty lifestyle, you have it covered.

It takes a bit of getting used to though. Just because you have reduced your outgoings and built up some financial stability doesn’t mean you stop worrying immediately.

It took me a long time to let go of money stresses. Because they had been present in my life for so long.

get out of debt & save money

We live in a world where we want things and we want them NOW! No patiently waiting to save up when you can throw it on the credit card or take out a loan.

But credit cards and loans cost you money, in interest and repayments. So you have less money each month to spend, so you end up taking out even more debt.

Getting out of debt and remaining there is something many people aspire to do but don’t know how to get there. Being wise and careful with your money is how.

Once you’ve got out of debt the next step is building up a bank of savings. Something you might not have thought would ever be possible. It is!

Once you start saving it is amazing how quickly your balance shoots up. You get good at it, and the better you get at saving, the more you do it.

Make your dreams a reality

Paying off your mortgage might seem unobtainable, being debt free might feel like a pipe dream. But all dreams are possible when you are thrifty.

You can become debt free (we did), you can pay off your mortgage early (we did), and you can achieve other dreams.

Being thrifty you can dream BIG. You don’t need to stop at clearing your debts, you can go further if you want.

We went from paying off debt, to paying off our mortgage, to retiring early, all through being frugal with our money.

What do you dream of? What are your big life goals? Write them down, talk about them, make a plan.

better Relationships

Money is one of the biggest causes of relationship breakdowns. And having enough is not the issue, it’s lack of money, debt and all the stress that it brings that affects your relationship.

Think how your relationship will improve when you no longer argue about money, you don’t fight over one of your spending too much on the credit card.

A thrifty lifestyle can bring you closer together, joint goals to work for, savings and your future together to plan for. Things you thought you couldn’t think about or plan for are now your regular weekend chats.

better sleep

Worrying about money destroys your ability to get a good night’s rest. Compare that to someone who has no money worries, they have nothing keeping them awake at night.

Debt increases your money worries, relationship problems can impact on your ability to sleep well, being stressed affects your sleep.

Get rid of stress and debt and improve your relationships through a thrifty lifestyle and you’ll enjoy a good nights sleep too.

older man and woman siting on floor cross legged holding bundles of money bills to signify thrifty living ideas
Living thrifty and frugal makes for fun and zero stress

Is there a difference between thrifty and frugal?

Many people use frugal and thrifty to describe the same people and often these people are thrifty and frugal. But to me, not all frugal people are thrifty whereas I think all thrifty people are frugal.

I define a frugal person is someone who lives simply and economically on purpose. They want to get the best value, cost and quality, of an item. Frugal people are very conscious about their spending but being frugal wouldn’t stop them from spending.

What is a thrifty person then? A thrifty person tends to live more by the saying:

“Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without”

They are perhaps more hands on with how they save money so they will repair, reuse, refurbish and re-purpose, wherever possible, instead of replacing or buying new.

They often see it as a challenge to not spend money, to make their own, to try and do it themselves just to see if they can.

The difference is so subtle that in all honesty I do not think anyone will argue you with you whichever word you choose.

I have been frugal for a long time but I’m not great at the thrifty element. I try to live simply and low cost and I pride myself on finding a bargain for everything I eventually buy.

I absolutely follow the use it up, wear it out maxim, but I’m rubbish at repairs and I have no creatively when it comes to re-purposing. So I’m a proud frugalista but still have my L plates for my thriftiness.

Related post: 20 Frugal Living Tips For Seniors

Does being thrifty mean being Cheap or Tight?

For me being tight = being cheap.

Someone who is tight is someone who is always looking to buy the lowest cost item. It doesn’t matter the quality of the item, whether it will last or do the job, it just needs to be the cheapest alternative.

Being cheap means all of the above and you will happily look to save money even at the expense of others. Being cheap you would:

  • Deliberately avoid your turn at buying the drinks on a night out
  • Not leave a good service tip in a restaurant to save a few pennies
  • Taking a handful of condiment sachets from a fast food restaurant to use at home

Whereas being thrifty = being frugal but more hands on.

You want to save money but never at the cost of someone else. Your thriftiness is like a game where you want to see how creative you can be.

How much you can do yourself without getting a professional in or buying a new item. Being thrifty is absolutely not being tight, it’s about making the best use of what you already have, to see if you can.

young woman lounging on a sofa reading a book with a cup of coffee in her hand
Thrifty living is where it is at!

7 best thrifty tips and tricks

1. Do It Yourself

Make do and mend

Mend what you have, keep them going for as long as possible. By mending you are not only not spending money on a replacement, you are also doing your bit for the environment by keeping your existing item out of landfill.

Borrow and lend

Tools can cost a lot of money, yet you use them so rarely. Borrowing from your neighbors and family makes much more sense. Return the favor by lending the tools you do have when someone needs them.

Between all your neighbors you’ve probably got a tool for every job and if you’re not sure how to use a tool your neighbors can show you how.

Increase your skills

You might not know how to fix or do something but with a little research, reading and learning you soon will. Being thrifty and frugal is all about trying to be self sufficient rather than immediately looking to pay someone.

My husband did all our DIY when we had our first home, learning skills he never had before, certainly not taught in the military.

When it came time to leave the military those new skills helped him decide on his new career path – carpentry, which he would never have considered if he hadn’t been willing to get stuck into the DIY.

YouTube

YouTube is absolutely brilliant for learning new skills (and free!). You can watch someone fix something, pause, rewind and double check you’ve heard them right. Watching videos helps you pick up new skills so much quicker and easier than the traditional method of reading a DIY manual.

woman in apron whisking eggs on red checked tablecloth to signify a thrifty lifestyle
Being thrifty and frugal you will want to be cooking meals at home

2. cut your food bill

Your grocery budget is one of the most flexible parts of your budget. You can spend a lot or very little, your choice. There are so many thrifty tips and tricks to save money on your grocery shopping, here are some of the bigger ones to get your started.

Eat at home

Eating out costs far more than eating a similar meal at home. You can save hundreds every month if you have been eating more than once a week. There are plenty of simple meals that don’t require hours of prep time. Thrifty living is all about keeping eating out as a treat, not a regular occurrence.

Learn to cook

I’m not the best cook in the world, I have too many old issues with food and diets to ever really enjoy cooking, but you bet I know how to produce a meal that everyone will eat, that didn’t cost a fortune.

My husband likes to cook and he now does all the cooking (yes!), he likens cooking to a chemistry experiment, add the ingredients and see what happens. 99% of the time the meal is a total success (I don’t comment on the 1%!)

Cooking from scratch simple, easy meals is the place to start. Use fewer ingredients, I prefer meals made with 5 ingredients or less as the fewer there are, the less chance I have of making a mistake.

Pinterest is great for finding cheap and easy meals, try not to fall down a rabbit hole though, you can easily lose an hour or more checking out different recipes.

Meal plan

Choose meals that you know your family like and rotate them on a weekly basis. Keep them simple and stick to quick 30 minute meals for ease.

Meal planning is all about planning your meals in advance then buying the ingredients for them – and nothing more. That way you save money.

Start your meal plan by looking at the week ahead and who’s going to be home for dinner each night. Then check your food cupboards to see what you already have.

Try to plan meals that use some of these ingredients as it will keep your food bill down. Make a list of everything else you need to buy then shop that list.

If you would prefer a done for your meal planning service then there are some really cheap and helpful services available.

$5 meal plans – for $5 a month you get a weekly meal plan of 5 meals every week, all budget friendly and you can choose the type of meals.

Eat at Home Cooks – for $1.61 a week on the annual plan you get a full meal plan, I’m talking 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. There are 4 different menu options to choose from.

MyFreezeasy – If you like to batch prep meals, try Myfreezeasy. You get the recipes, shopping list and instructions to batch prep all the meals you need for your freezer, ready to be pulled out and cooked whenever you want. The annual plan saves you the most money at just over $8 a month.

Using a meal planning service is the perfect solution if you are not ready to do it yourself just yet. And for a few dollars a month they can save you money if you know you invariably end up buying dinner on your way home every week.

Build a stockpile

Your food cupboards are where you can save even more money. If you buy the same brand of pasta each week, why not buy it when it’s at a low price and buy more of it?

Many products have a usual price and a sales or super low price. This thrifty living tip is all about getting the same food at a lower price. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Some foods rarely go on sale because they are at their lowest price already. Generic brands tend to have less price drops.

Big sellers tend not to either, these are things that we all buy very regularly like milk, butter and canned tomatoes.

But everything else is fair game. Creating a food stockpile helps you save money on the things you usually buy and always have them on hand so you don’t have to run out to the store midweek for a top up shop.

Related posts:

40 Essential Foods to Create Your Emergency Stockpile

How To Prepare For Food Shortage and Build Your Stockpile

How To Build A Stockpile Quickly

Buy generic

Don’t buy premium brands just because you always have or you think they must be better because they cost more. They don’t!

Generic and value brands cost much less than premium and taste just fine in their own right.

Premium brands cost more partly because the manufacturer needs to recoup all the advertising money they have spent trying to tell us their product is best! Go generic on as much as you can, you’ll save so much money.

Remember that the generic brand may taste different to the premium brand. But different does not equal bad, it just means different.

For many more ways to cut back on your grocery spending check these posts out:

70+ Best Ways To Save Money On Groceries

My 5 Minute Grocery Store Hack That Will Save You Money

How Much Should I Spend on Groceries Each Month?

overhead shot of a pair of bright red sneakers with white laces with a money note poking out from underneath them
Thrift and frugality is all about focusing on what and how you buy

3. buy used

One of the best frugal living tips that I learned from my Mother was to buy used not new. We all know how new cars can lose up to 30% of their value in just one year, and the same goes for everything else you buy brand new.

Furniture

Is where you can save a lot of money and have a lot of choice. Ebay, FaceBook Marketplace, PreLoved, Craigslist are all great places to search for new to you furniture.

Auction houses and furniture thrift stores are also cheap places to pick up a variety of items. Some may be lightly worn, others could be in need of some TLC but the price will reflect this.

Kids clothes

Children grow up so fast that it makes sense to not buy them brand new clothes all the time. If they’ve got older siblings then hand me downs are the traditional route for new clothes.

But thrift stores, EBay, FaceBook Marketplace, car boots and yard sales are really great places to pick up almost new kids clothes.

When DD1 was expecting her first child we budgeted £400 for everything, cot, cloth nappies, clothes, bedding etc. We bought so much stuff she didn’t need to buy anything else for 6 months and only spent £250.

Work clothes

I had a thing about not spending unnecessary money on things for work, preferring to keep as much of my money for us instead. But as a manager I needed to be suited and booted, jeans and t-shirts not acceptable.

I bought all my work clothes from charity shops and thrift stores, I wore smart work wear every day for 15 years and not one single item was bought new. How much could you save if you didn’t buy new clothes for work and bought used instead?

Vehicles

Cars, vans and trucks are now built to do many more miles than those built 40 years ago. As they age they might need more repairs than a newer car but they have no finance attached to them.

Which is cheaper a new car costing $400 in finance every month for 5 years or an old car with no finance needing $1000 of repairs every year?

Money for a new to you car is one of the essential sinking fund categories I suggest you set up. Save the money and earn a little interest instead of taking out finance and paying interest on top.

pink piggy bank with this is my year to save on desktop with other financial items to signify thrifty living and a thrifty lifestyle
Saving money is an important part of thrifty living

4. Save money first

Saving money first before spending is one of the founding elements of living thrifty and frugal, because you never know what is just around the corner.

Pay yourself first

There is more than one version of you. The you now, earning and spending, and the you in later years, who wants to retire yet still have some money.

Paying yourself first is all about putting money aside for the future you. So you can stop working, you can pay off your mortgage, you can live on more than basic social security.

Don’t auto renew

Many companies make money off of you by encouraging you to auto renew your bills, your insurances. Don’t do this, you can save money when you check to see that you are getting the best price.

Especially true of vehicle and house insurances, these companies often give their best prices to new customers. Be a new customer and grab that saving.

It pays to shop around when it comes to home and auto insurance but you don’t need to make multiple calls or plug your details into a dozen websites. Gabi is an online advisor who compares all your insurance options to find you the right policy, in under two minutes.

They compare multiple quotes from 20+ top insurance companies, saving you $720 on average. Click here to get your quote in two minutes and see how much Gabi can save you.

Utility bills

You pay these monthly but they are not set in stone. Firstly you might be able to switch to a cheaper rate or a different company, check whether this is possible.

Secondly, you pay for what you use. Use less and you’ll pay less, look for ways to cut your utility bills, electricity is a big one, as is gas. These posts have the tips to help you:

How To Save Electricity Doing Absolutely Nothing

How To Keep Your House Warm In Winter And Save Money

Financial goals

Thinking through and writing down goals for what you want to achieve helps you achieve them. Whether they are life goals, weight goals or financial goals, knowing what you want and making a plan to achieve it means you will.

Money goals are particularly important, without them you can end up cruising through the years, spending your money on stuff instead of on what you really want.

With goals it helps to dream big, to stretch your target. The bigger the goal the more you will aim to achieve it. Goals like saving up for a house down payment, paying off your mortgage, buying a new to you car for cash all require commitment.

Think about them, discuss then with a partner or friend, write them down and then plan how you are going to achieve them. These posts can help your planning:

10 of the Best 52 Week Money Challenges For You

How To Save 10K in A Year, And Some!

calculator laying on top of a spread of dollar bills
A thrifty lifestyle can still involve money

5. make more money

Thrifty and frugal folk are not interested in working all hours, just the opposite really. They don’t live to work, they work to live. But if there are ways to make more money easily, without sacrificing their quality of life, then they will do it.

Making extra money from home or while you are going about your daily life is the perfect way to pick up extra cash.

If you want a work from home job here is a list of FREE resources to help you decide which is the best way to earn extra money for you.

Become a proofreader – sign up for this FREE 76 minute workshop to find out more

Become a Virtual Assistant – grab your copy of this FREE ebook detailing 150+ services you can offer as a VA

Freelance writer – download this FREE list of 200+ writing niches to identify what you can get paid to write about

Selling on Amazon – sign up for this FREE email course on everything you need to know about selling on Amazon

Become a transcriptionist – sign up for this FREE 7 lesson mini course on how to become a transcriptionist

Surveys

There are many survey companies out there looking for new participants. You’ll never get rich doing online surveys but can easily make $50 every month. I have always done surveys in the evenings or when I’m at a loose end.

Here are a few survey companies that have a decent reputation:

You can also turn your favorite hobby into a money making hobby. For many more ways to make money check out this post:

How To Make 300 Dollars Fast: 30 Proven Ways

woman's hands holding a fan of dollar bills over a brown wooden desk
Thrifty living blends well with making more money on your terms

6. Don’t pay full price

Why pay full price when you can get the exact same thing for a lower price? That’s what all frugal people try to do, get the best price for the item they intend to buy, and there are plenty of ways to do this.

Discounts

You can find discount vouchers on the internet, in your local papers, on a store’s website or even on a shopping app. And if you can’t find a voucher code then there is no harm in asking straight out for a discount.

Paying by cash is a good leverage when seeking a discount. The retailer will save 1-3% of the sales price which is usually paid to the credit card company when you use cards.

Cash back

Paying by credit card can give you the opportunity to earn cash back through your credit card company. But you can also earn cash back by buying what you want via shopping apps. You still buy from your chosen store, just go via the app first.

My favorite shopping apps are:

Use the 30 day rule

What’s the 30 day money rule got to do with never paying full price? Well the 30 day rule is a technique to help you plan your spending and ensure you don’t spend unnecessarily.

At it’s core the 30 day rule is basically a guideline where you wait 30 days before buying anything substantial that you have identified as wanting to buy.

It doesn’t work for groceries but people usually suggest using the rule for bigger ticket items, perhaps those costing $100 or more.

By waiting 30 days you may well decide not to buy the intended item at all – that’s better than not paying full price, it’s paying no price!

Wait for the sales

Who doesn’t love a little bit of sales shopping? At least we did until the pandemic hit, not so keen now, we don’t want to be in crowds do we? But sales are on-line as well as in store.

If you know exactly what you want, and you are not going to be buying it used, then stalk your local store, keep checking the price. When the price drops in the sale, grab that bargain.

Not all things go on sale or if they do it’s by only a small amount, say 10-15%, but that’s still a great saving. After all if you were prepared to buy it at full price, how great is it to be able to buy it for 15% off?

basket of vegetables with cherries and strawberries strewn around it

7. Love your thrifty lifestyle

When you love what you have and don’t always want what others have you are creating your own happy place. Thrifty living is about keeping your wants and needs small so you can enjoy your life and not be caught up in the debt and overspending cycle.

Thrifty living quotes

“Don’t buy things you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like”

Dave Ramsey


“I make myself rich by making my wants few”

Henry David Thoreau

gratitude

By being grateful for what you do have you focus on those positives rather than the negative of what you don’t have. I try to take 5 or 10 minutes every day to do a guided gratitude meditation.

I find it easier for someone to help me with directing my gratitude rather than doing it alone.
I user the Insight app for this. You could also write in a gratitude journal or take 5 minutes to identify 5 things you are grateful for.

Prioritize yourself and you goals

You, your family and your goals are important. Put them first. If it means not doing something with colleagues one day then so be it. If it means not eating out twice a week then that’s okay.

Don’t be sorry you are saying no, be happy, you are putting your priorities first which is as it should be. You will thank yourself later, I guarantee.

Be deliberate

So what can you do to gain the maximum enjoyment in your thrifty lifestyle? For me it’s the overarching factor of being deliberate with your life. Don’t slide through your life without noticing what is happening.

Being deliberate is about carefully thinking about things, not rushing your decision making.

When you make deliberate choices about your life and how you live it, you are making conscious, focused and well thought out choices. Be focused on every day, every moment and enjoy them.

Your thrifty lifestyle is waiting

I believe that you should be able to make life decisions based on what is best for you and your family. Not based on earning a certain income or even being chained to a job forever.

Simple thrifty living helps you break free from those chains.

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

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Last Updated on 5th October 2021 by Emma

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.

12 thoughts on “7 Secret Thrifty Living Tips All Frugal Folk Know”

    • Don’t – hence me not being a fabulously frugal person – ha! Got rid of the slider as apparently it can slow site down. I like it but decided it ought to go. I can press delete easily, just adding code or anything else is the problem!

      Reply
    • Hi Vivien – you fabulously frugal person! I’m not perfect and it would seem I’ve ended up spoiling DD2 by default – totally not intentional but more likely through laziness – hate to fight the fight all the time! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  1. Love this, I turned frugal due to circumstances but it has totally changed my life. The game changer for me was proper meal planning. I now love cooking and am eating better than ever, and have expanded my repertoire and quality of food whilst spending much less. You are so right, planning ahead deffo reduces stress, reliance on takeouts and the bonus is someone else knows what we’re having and can start dinner if I’m late home, just by checking the kitchen calendar! Long live frugality, love it

    Reply
    • Hi CJ! I love the idea of having your meal plan on a kitchen calendar so others can get involved – I’m going to grab that idea, thank you for sharing. I’m so glad being frugal has helped changed your life for the better, same here. Sounds like we are both fully paid up members of the frugality movement – yay!

      Reply
    • Hi Suzanne! You’re absolutely right, practising and honing your skills keeps your brain active and your body and mind healthy. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  2. I disagree with free fun with children. My parents saved
    for their extended family and kept enabling them while
    we never had any single family trip as a family. No summer camps and boring home days sucked too. Material things do matter when you come in your frugal mom’s old fashioned shoes to school and kids laugh at you because you are ‘poor’. I see zero positivity in it. I am a mother and I think family holidays do matter.

    Reply
    • Hi Nilufar! It sounds like your parents had their saving money habits perhaps a little out of kilter to the needs of the immediate family? I totally agree with you that family holidays matter. They don’t have to be super expensive but family time is so important.
      Balancing saving, being frugal and your kids ‘street cred’ is a difficult one and I know as a Mum myself that this was an area that saw me spending more money than I sometimes wanted precisely because I didn’t want my kids having that experience. Being a parent is so difficult isn’t it?
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  3. Frugal living saved me as a single mom with one paycheck . I raised two kids and sent them to collage. I’m now debt free, own my car and modest size house (paid off early) ,and had money in savings when I was forced to retire early due to medical issues. I still live frugally and my food pantry kept me worry free during the covid pandemic. Grandkids love to stay with me and we still play “old school ” board games and puzzles/cards. They also prefer my old fashion “from scratch” cooking . Frugal living is just smart.

    Reply
    • Hi Texas Nana! You are living proof of all that frugal living can deliver for you if you follow the lifestyle. Like you I was so glad I had a small stockpile in my pantry when covid hit, although I do now keep a bigger stockpile of toilet paper as I started to worry a little in the first 2 weeks! Board games and puzzles are so much fun when you sit down to them, no screens, just old fashioned fun and good conversation.

      Reply

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