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Frugal Living for Beginners

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Frugal Living for Beginners

So you want to be more frugal, eh? Awesome! You are in the right place, my friend.

We’ll go through how to get started living more frugally, including what to expect from yourself, where to start, and how you can still have plenty of fun.

Frugal living is not a prison sentence. It’s a way of living that allows you to spend and save wisely, which still includes all kinds of fun!

I did a Facebook live video about frugal living for beginners, which you can watch the replay of below:

Frugal Living for Beginners

Start Small

Changing how you spend your money essentially means changing how you live, which means changing your habits. Changing habits that are so ingrained in you that you act without thinking is hard work.

This is absolutely not to discourage you. It’s just to remind you to give yourself some grace. You probably won’t make big drastic changes overnight, or if you do it will be hard to stick with those changes long-term.

It’s ok to start small and it’s ok to not do things perfectly. If you hit a bump in the road, do not give up. Give yourself a little grace, admit that you fell back into some not-so-frugal habits, and be ready to do better moving forward.

You may be able to cut your grocery bill in half for one week, but find yourself spending way more than normal the next week. You went too big! Try making smaller changes like switching out your name brand products for store brands or buying a big bag of chips to divide up yourself instead of paying more for the snack sized bags.

Look at Where Your Money is Going 

If you can’t seem to understand where your money went and why there’s nothing left but there are still four days until payday, it’s time to understand where your money is going.

Pull out your credit card statement (or look at it online) and make notes of where you spent money in the last month. Categorize your spending into areas like gas, grocery store, takeout, etc. Don’t ignore small amounts: $8 here and there can easily add up to over $100 over the course of a month.

Where are your weak points? If you’re buying a snack and a drink every time you stop for gas, that’s going to add up. If you’re getting takeout for lunch 3 days per week, that’s probably about $100 per month! Are you going out for drinks every Friday?

Try to pinpoint the biggest money leaks and start to become mindful of each time you spend money.

If you don’t have a budget yet, make one! It does not have to be complicated or restrictive. Learn the easiest way to create your first budget here. 

You can see what our monthly budget looks like: How we live on $2500 per month.

Cut Out the Unnecessary

Alright, you know it’s ok to start with small changes and you have a better idea of where your money is going. Let’s get to doing some saving!

What are the monthly expenses that are unnecessary and can be cut out completely? We’ll get to cutting back in a minute, but there are probably a few things you could fairly easily do without. You may simply be in the habit of renewing various memberships when you really could give them up.

Think about:

  • Cable: You can watch almost everything with Hulu, PS Vue, or other streaming services.
  • Sam’s Club or Costco Membership: Are you truly saving enough money to make it worth it or are you just in the habit of going there for certain items?
  • Zoo, Museum, or Pool Memberships: Do you go enough times to more than pay for the price of the membership? Could you cut back to just one?
  • Gas Station Treats: These are just unnecessary!
  • Monthly Subscriptions: Boxes that get delivered, an app that charges monthly, or any other monthly charge. Make sure you know exactly what monthly extra you’re being charged for and get rid of what you can.
  • Magazines: Do not renew the subscription.

Eat at Home

This has the potential to save you hundreds, if not thousands. Eat at home.

Now if you’re used to eating out most nights of the week, it’s going to be hard to start cooking from scratch daily. Too big of a change. Start small remember?

Plan to go grocery shopping and buy food to make two dinners. Do not look on Pinterest and choose two brand new recipes that will take too much time and brain power. Make it easy on yourself with two quick meals, like wraps and quesadillas.

If you often hit the vending machine for an afternoon snack, buy food for the week and bring your own snacks. Even if you buy the same thing you would normally get from the vending machine, like a soda and a granola bar, you’ll be saving money by bringing it from home.

Try planning some easy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the week. Gradually try to eat more and more meals at home instead of going out.

Frugal Fun

Being frugal isn’t hard when you’re having fun! It helps to have a list of frugal fun ideas so that you don’t resort to more expensive options when you’re bored.

Let’s get some frugal fun ideas flowing:

  • Invite People Over: It is SO much less expensive to have people over than to go out! Invite a friend over for coffee, host a movie night, or have a dinner party. You can provide a homemade dinner and drinks or have everyone bring a little something. Being frugal does not mean you can’t be social.
  • Look for Free Activities: Do a Google search of the name of your city or county and the words “free activities”. You might be surprised at how many options are out there for adults, kids, and families.
  • Use What You Have: You probably have plenty of fun stuff that doesn’t get much use.
    • Board Games
    • A Pool
    • Camping Gear
    • Yard Games
    • Sports Equipment
    • Bikes and Roller Blades
    • Video Games
    • A Boat
    • Memberships to the zoo, museum, pool, gym…
  • Bring Food & Drinks: A lot of times a free or inexpensive activity becomes expensive when we get hungry or thirsty. If you’re having a beach day or going to a free outdoor concert, bring your own snacks so that you’re not buying extras while you’re out.

Reduce

A great way to work on frugal living is to find ways to use less.

If you pay for data on your phone, make it your goal to use less. You can adjust the settings on your phone so that it won’t stream music or shows unless you’re connected to wifi. You can also adjust settings so that it will not download anything unless you’re connected to wifi.

Reduce how much AC or heat you run in your house by changing the temperature on your thermostat.

Use less laundry detergent, body wash, dish soap, etc. each time. You really won’t notice a difference and your products will last so much longer.

Making changes to how you spend really means making changes to how you live. That’s tough, but will be so rewarding!

By making small changes and paying more attention to where your money is going, you’ll be able to live more frugally, which means you can live on less and save more!

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