Being frugal and saving money comes down to a lot of little things. Sure it’s important to make wise decisions on the big stuff: house, car, vacation, etc. But don’t underestimate the power of frugal habits.
Eating out after work may not seem like a big deal. It can’t matter that much, can it? Well, if you’re in the habit of eating out often it can have a huge effect on your finances. I’ve seen people add up their spending and realize that they spent over $1,000 at restaurants in one month. That habit is cost $12,000 per year! Not so insignificant, right?
So what are the habits of frugal people? Great question! Let’s look at some habits that you may want to start incorporating into your life.
9 Habits of Frugal People
1. They Review Their Priorities & Financial Goals
I find that how I spend my money is a good indicator of my priorities and goals. Frugal people have a reason for being frugal. They often review how they are spending their money to make sure that they’re spending is in line with what they want to accomplish.
For the first 9 years of our marriage, Austin and I have either had no allowance at all, or up to $20 per month. (We call our personal fun money our allowance.) If we wanted to, we could have changed things around in our budget to allow for higher allowances. However, we had other priorities for our money!
We always have some kind of financial goal that we’re working in. Once we accomplish it, we reevaluate our goals and priorities to make sure we’re spending our money on purpose!
Our priorities could be really fun: setting aside money for travel, taking our extended family out to eat, or buying a new tv. Money can can do awesome things when you set goals and prioritize your spending.
2. They Know Where They’re At
Frugal people check in often and know where they’re at in terms of the goals, budgets, and spending. A budget does you no good if you set it and then don’t look at it again until the next month.
You’re much more likely to accomplish a goal when you’re regularly checking on your progress.
Here’s what “knowing where we’re at” looks like for us:
- I check our bank accounts and credit card account weekly. I can easily notice if there’s a charge I don’t remember and make sure it’s supposed to be there. With all of the monthly memberships around these days, I want to know what I’m paying for!
- I check in with our financial goals at least once a month. While we were paying off debt, I kept track of how much we had paid off and how much we still owed. Checking in with these regularly meant that I knew exactly what we had accomplished and how far we still had to go, which kept me motivated.
- I track our spending daily. This year, I wanted to do a better job of sticking to our budget. I made it a daily goal to record any expenses from that day. That way, I always know where I’m at with our budget and how much money we have left to spend on groceries, household items, etc.
3. They Know Their Numbers
Frugal people know how much things cost.
This comes in two forms:
- Knowing your budget numbers. Do you know how much your mortgage is? Or what your average electric bill is? How much do you spend each week or month on groceries? Most frugal people know these things because they are very aware of where their money is going.
- Knowing a good deal when you see one. What is the average price of eggs in your area? How much does an oil change usually cost? If you know the numbers, you’ll be able to know when you see a good deal. If eggs usually cost $1.50 and you see them on sale for $0.84, what a great deal! Time to stock up and eat a lot of eggs.
4. They Plan Meals
Wasted food is wasted money. If you go to the grocery store and buy whatever is “calling you” in the moment, you’re likely to end up at home with an odd assortment of foods that don’t make a meal. You’ll get takeout more often and the food you do buy will go bad.
Since groceries are one of the biggest expenses we have each month, and it’s a category of our budget that we have control over (unlike our mortgage), I do my best to make sure that we eat at home and don’t waste food, which means that I plan our meals!
Every week, I plan what meals I’ll make and write down my grocery list so that I can buy the foods I need to make those meals. We waste very little food because everything that goes in the shopping cart is there for a reason.
Click here to get the meal planning printable I use each week.
If you don’t want to do all of your own meal planning, there are plenty of affordable options out that there will give you some assistance and still save you money:
- $5 Meal Plan. Get meals planned for you! $5 Meal Plan will send you a new meal plan each week! Included is your entire grocery list so that you can easily print it out and shop. Or use grocery pickup and avoid the store entirely! If you want, you can customize each week’s meal plan to your diet or tastes. There is also a meal plan builder where you drag and drop recipes from their huge selection and then it compiles the grocery list for you. If meal planning seems overwhelming for you, $5 Meal Plan is a really great and affordable option! Try the 14-day free trial here. You can also read my full review of $5 Meal Plan here.
- Dinnerly. At half the price of other meal-kit delivery services, Dinnerly is a great way to cook at home without planning and shopping. Each week you choose three meals that sound good to you out of six options. They send you all of the groceries you need so that you can get cooking. The meals are meant to be simple and quick… and they’re delicious! Click here to try Dinnerly. Or you can click here to read my full (honest) review of Dinnerly.
5. They Have Fun at Home
While there are definitely ways to be frugal and go do stuff, there’s nothing quite as frugal as being at home. There are millions of possibilities of fun things to do at home if you get a little creative! You don’t have to sit on the couch and watch shows if you don’t want to.
Take up cake decorating. Paint, sew, or read. Make a movie with your phone. Learn dances from YouTube. Have a board game or video game tournament. Use what you have: bikes, games, craft supplies, sports equipment, etc.
6. They Invite People Over
In case you thought hanging out at home would be lonely and you’re more of a social butterfly, let me remind you that it’s frugal to invite people over!
Going out to a restaurant with friends = $40+ for Austin and I.
Inviting friends over for dinner = I can feed everyone a nice meal for $20 total.
Going out for coffee with a friend = $5-10 for just me.
Inviting a friend over for coffee = About $1.
Play board games together. Walk to a local park and throw a frisbee. Or just hang out and chat! You can still be social while being frugal.
7. They Plan Ahead
This one is big, so pay attention. Planning ahead saves us untold thousands! I’m not even exaggerating.
Think about food.
Almost every time we leave the house, we bring food with us. I fill our water bottles and grab some fruit or nuts. This one minute of planning ahead means that we don’t stop at a gas stations or go through a drive-thru for a drink or snack.
We pack snacks even if we are just going out shopping for a bit. We pack a small cooler if we’re going to the beach, even if we’re not planning to be there at meal times.
How many times have you planned to pack a lunch for work or for your kids’ school day, and then you have a crazy morning and end up buying lunch instead. We try to plan ahead and pack any lunches needed the night before. You never know what a morning will bring, and it always works better to be prepared.
Think about stuff.
If you plan ahead and know what you are going to need sometime in the near future, you can get the best deal!
Do you know you’re going to need new dressy sandals next summer? You’ve got time to look for the best sale, check the thrift store a few times, or look online. Some of the best deals can be found when you’re shopping off-season because a lot of things end up on clearance. You’ll get the best deal when you’re not in a rush.
8. They Buy Used
Buying used where you can is a great frugal habit to get in. Obviously this doesn’t work for everything (I’m not buying used underwear y’all) but we try to buy used where we can.
Used cars are a perfect example. The second you drive a brand new car off the lot, it drops in value by the thousands. If you tried to sell it the very next day, you would never get what you paid for it. A used car is a much better deal!
Things to look for used:
- Clothes (I like to use Swap.com for online used clothes shopping.)
As long as something can be cleaned well, I don’t mind buying used.
9. They Use Less
Waste not, want not, right? I try to use less of any product that we have and most of the time it still works just as well!
Our clothes are still perfectly clean if I use a bit less laundry detergent. I don’t need a ton of body wash to get clean in the shower.
One of my favorite tricks for using less is to use pump bottles. With shampoo, dish soap, or any regular bottle where you tip it over, it’s really easy to dump out far more than you actually need. When we use products with a pump bottle, there is much more control over how much comes out.
I look for bottles that come with a pump and save a few extra pumps from older bottles so that I can use them in products that don’t come with a pump. You can also buy pump bottles off Amazon and transfer your products into them. This little difference makes products like shampoo, body wash, dish soap, etc. last much longer.
It all adds up! Most frugal people have developed many of these habits and it’s saving them big money!
It may be overwhelming to read all at once, but if you can work at one or two frugal habits at a time, you’ll see a difference in your finances. Once you have a few new habits down, you can start incorporating a few more into you everyday life.
Don’t Miss These Posts About Frugal Living:
- Frugal Habits We’ve Built Into Every Day
- 9 Ways to Stick to a Budget
- How to Have Fun While You’re Paying Off Debt
- How to Make Birthdays Special When You’re Broke
- Emergency Fund 101: Everything You Need to Know