Hey bulls! It’s been a long time. I’ve been away for the better part of a year but I promise it’s for good reason, and that I will soon share more details on some very exciting projects that I have been working on.
Until then, let’s talk money saving tips. EVERYONE wants to be able to save more money, but nobody wants to make the sacrifices necessary to scale back on their spending. Although it shouldn’t, frugal living has a negative connotation. Some people think that tightening the purse strings a bit may make them look cheap. But this is not the case.
With the holidays around the corner, our bank accounts are about to get wiped. From shopping for Christmas gifts, to holiday parties with food and alcohol contributions galore… we all inevitably spend more than we should toward the end of the year.
We have all experienced times in our lives when we need to live a bit more frugally, and I am no exception. I made this list of frugal living tips to not only help my readers save some dough but to also keep myself accountable as I navigate my way through a financially challenging time in my life. So, wondering how to save money? These 17 ways are actually pretty easy to incorporate. Implement some or all and you’ll be on your way to saving more money!
Eat and Drink Frugally
Plan your meals ahead of time… and DON’T go to the grocery store hungry. We have all gone shopping for food on an empty stomach. And you know what happens when we do that. We load up our grocery cart with impulse purchases because, “MMM, that jumbo rotisserie chicken is smelling mad good right now, let me grab two… even though I have dinner plans this evening.”
Every week before you hit the grocery store, take some time to map out your meals. If you make a plan and actually follow it, you’re less inclined to get lazy and spend money on things like takeout pizza and lunch from the deli across from your office.
Brew your own coffee, you lazy bum. Got to have your Starbucks fix? Well guess what? You can buy ground Starbucks coffee at the grocery store for the price of like, 3 tall mocha lattes. That bag of ground coffee will go a long way. If you drink multiple cups, set your coffee maker or Keurig the night before. All you’ll have to do is hit “BREW” and go about your morning.
Speaking of Keurig, stop buying those plastic pods. Get a stainless steel reusable K cup and fill that bad boy with the aforementioned ground coffee. No longer will you need to buy box upon box of pre-filled plastic k-cups. Plus, you will be doing the environment a favor.
Limit your alcohol intake. Love a cold beer or glass of wine with your dinner? Nothing wrong with that, until you’re indulging each night and need to restock your liquor cabinet each week. It’s amazing how much money can be saved by simply drinking less. Think about it: a 6-pack of beer is somewhere around $6-12 each, and a bottle of semi-decent wine will run you somewhere around $10-15 a pop. If you want to save some cash, try limiting your alcohol intake to weekends only. Or, just when you’re out socializing. Your bank account (and gut) will thank you.
Take date night down a notch. Date night doesn’t always have to be expensive steak dinners. Date night can be whatever you make it, whether it’s a romantic home-cooked meal, a picnic in the park, or a simple movie night. Remember, you’re together because you enjoy each other. I am willing to bet you will still enjoy each other just as much at a 3-star restaurant as you do at a 5-star restaurant. If not, you may have a problem!
Bring your own movie snacks. Going to the movies costs SO MUCH these days, amiright? When did it go from $6 a ticket to $15?! It’s robbery I tell ya! And concessions? My God, $8 for a bottle of water and $12 for a large popcorn? You’re joking right? Try bringing your wife and kids to the movies and tell me it was an affordable experience. You’d be lying out of your a**! Instead of splurging at concessions, pop your own popcorn at home, stop at target for some $1 candies and stuff them into your wife’s over-sized purse. The kids may whine as they pass the popcorn stand but they’ll get over it.
Life At Home
Reduce the amount of wasted food… and you won’t have to replace expired goods as frequently. My wife and I are crazy guilty of forgetting about what is in the refrigerator until it goes bad and has to be thrown away. This goes hand-in-hand with planning your meals. With strategy, you will both buy and waste less food.
When you are shopping, take the time to look at the expiration dates, as store employees will often pull the items that are about to expire toward the front, and push the newer stuff toward the back. There is no shame in digging, you’re buying it! Taking the time to measure and understand portion sizes will also help you waste less food. Only prepare what you need, and when you run out… you can always make more. No need to prep like you’re feeding a small village! You should also utilize your freezer as much as possible, storing leftovers to have on busier nights. My family uses a food saver which is great for on-the-go weeknight meals.
Get a reusable water bottle. If you drink a lot of water, which you should because, um, health… you should totally get a reusable bottle. Not only will you (again!) be helping the environment, but you’ll be spending way less on water bottles every day. Bottles like Sigg will also keep your water colder for much longer. The bottles cost about $30, but you could spend that much on plastic in a week so you’ll break even fast.
Set a gift-giving budget and stick to it. It’s really easy to get guilted into spending more than you can afford around birthdays and holidays. Maybe you’re used to spending $50-100 bucks on each family member over Christmas. Well, that may not be realistic (or smart) if you are stuck in a financial rut. Set a smaller budget for gift spending and don’t go over your limit. Your family will (or should) understand.
How about… Shop LESS. Honestly, how much stuff do we really need in life? Is it really necessary to have 10 pairs of jeans? Are you really unable to manage with say, 4-5 and wash them after a couple of wears? Do you really, ACTUALLY need that pair of shoes that looks identical to the two or three pairs you already own? Did your 6-month old iPhone 8 Plus REALLY break, or do you really just want that upgrade? You get the idea.
I’ve spent a lot of time living and traveling in third world countries, and it was truly eye-opening to see just how little others manage to live with. To many, shopping for anything but the necessities isn’t even an option, let alone a thought. Think about what you have and work with it!
Shop the clearance rack. This is one of the best ways you can save more money when shopping. Scope out stores that offer awesome sales and clearance deals toward the end of each season. Stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx often have amazing finds at ridiculously low prices! If you take the time to browse, you may find designer items reduced to such low prices that it will feel like you are stealing.
The season may be changing but that’s OK… save those purchases for next year. Your shopping style will eventually come full circle and you won’t even have to get anything new the following year because you’ll be all set.
Always look for coupons before shopping… but don’t shop just because you have a coupon. When you are online shopping, you can often do a quick search online to find a coupon to apply at checkout for some quick savings. Not always, but often. Before hitting “submit order” make sure you aren’t missing out on any major discounts. Also, if you know you have some shopping in your future, time it. Say you are in the market for a new television and you are aching to make the purchase so you can catch up on your favorite show. BUT, Black Friday is right around the corner and you know that the TV you have been eyeing will probably be on the cheap if you can just hold out. Well dude, hold out! You will live.
On the other hand, don’t go shopping just because you have a coupon. Stores will often send out “urgent” emails announcing huge store-wide sales that you MUST take advantage of before time runs out. But that doesn’t mean you have to schedule in a shopping trip. I know, it’s tempting. But don’t shop just to shop. There will always be more sales.
Travel Frugally to Save More Money
Get a credit card that offers miles/points. Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere. It IS possible to see the world but stay on a budget. There are many credit cards that offer travel miles in exchange for the money you spend. Travel card credits often have no foreign transaction fees, sign up bonuses (like a TON of bonus miles just for opening the card) and more. Check out this article by Katie at Life She Lives about How To Travel For Free With Credit Card Reward Points for more tips.
Rent an AirBnB rather than staying in a hotel. This is a huge way to save money when you are traveling. Not only do apartments tend to be cheaper than hotels, but you’re also given the option to cook at home rather than eating out all the time. Sure, one of the more enjoyable parts of traveling has to do with tasting the local cuisine, but not all meals have to be out. Find a local grocery store and get some staples like coffee, eggs, sandwich fixings and snacks. Have breakfast and/or lunch at home and dine out in the evenings. Also considering purchasing your own alcohol at a local liquor store rather than buying by the glass at restaurants, as often, a cost of a drink or two is the same as a whole bottle at the store. Your travel spend will drop dramatically.
Research free and/or cheap activities in the area you are traveling. There are always free activities, so take advantage of them! You may also look into city passes that grant you admission into multiple attractions. I recently visited Paris and found that there is a museum pass that lets you into over 50 museums and attractions in and around the city. Way better than buying tickets to each place, no?
If staying at a hotel, always ask if there are any upgrades available. This may not fall into the “frugal” living category, but it is a great way to get more for less. You can often sweet talk your way into a free room upgrade if there are any available. So, it’s kind of like saving… right?
Living more frugally, whether temporarily or long-term, will not be the end of life as you know it. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and if you don’t have the cash flow, well, you don’t have the cash flow! It’s as simple as that.
There are loads of ways you can adjust your spending habits to stay afloat until you’re able to get your financial situation figured out. These are just some of the many easy ways you can make small financial adjustments that will go a long way. I hope these money saving tips help you live a more frugal life!