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Frugal living is on the rise. After all, the cost of living rises every year but wages are struggling to keep up. Something has to give.
But there are far more reasons to be frugal than simple necessity. Adopting a frugal lifestyle might actually be the smart choice for you and the ones you love.
You could save money, worry less and live better, all at the same time. Intrigued? Read on to find out how.
Why would I choose to be frugal?
The main, obvious benefit to a frugal lifestyle is the fact that you’ll have more money to spend on the things that matter.
An awful lot of the time, people don’t think about how they’re spending their money. That leads to unhealthy spending habits and undue stress.
By being more intentional with your spending and only spending your hard-earned money on the things that actually matter, your life simplifies in a huge way. A massive amount of people who adopt a frugal lifestyle end up sticking to it, just because the benefits are so big.
If you’re in debt, frugal living is also a great way to help get yourself out of it, fast.
Honestly, when you weigh it up, living in frugal ways is just the smart choice. Which is probably why more and more people are choosing the lifestyle.
Whatever your reason, here are the 17 best ways to be frugal in 2019
Create a budget
The single best thing you can do when you’re planning on adopting more frugal ways is to make a budget.
There’s a reason it’s number one on our list, after all.
Making a budget can seem intimidating, but it’s actually incredibly simple.
It’s just a list of the things that you spend every single month. That’s really as there is to it.
It’s as simple as grabbing a piece of paper and a pen, or if you prefer you can use an online budget calculator, like this one.
Remember to add literally everything you spend, including the smaller, less obvious things like car servicing and pet care costs.
It’s also smart to add a category to your budget for ‘fun’ or ‘play’ money. After all, you can’t live the life of a monk. There’s no point in budgeting if you’re not going to enjoy life, after all.
Increase your debt repayments
Nothing eats into your fund long time like debt. After all, when you take on debt, you’re paying out twice.
After all, you’re paying the capital down, and the interest too.
Even if you only increase the payments by a small amount, it will make a huge difference in the long run.
Staring down a lot of debt can be intimidating, but you have to begin somewhere. So do what you can, when you can. And as you become more frugal and start to find ways to save even more money, remember that you can pay back what you owe even faster.
Your bank balance, and your sanity, will thank you in the long run.
Take on a part-time job
Part of being frugal is being smart with money. The other side is being smart for earning money.
After all, if you’re going through the effort of being frugal and earning yourself a little nest egg, that’s going to be so much simpler if you can earn more in the long run.
In the world of the gig economy, earning a little side scratch is real simple.
Have a car? You can deliver pizzas or sign up for something like Deliveroo.
Have a nice car? Get on Uber or Lyft and start making money in your free time.
There’s sure to be local businesses crying out for staff, whether that’s bars in the evening or stores on the weekends.
Hell, if you’re enterprising, you could even advertise yourself locally. A lot of people are looking for people to work as cleaners, property maintenance, childcare and more.
Start a side gig online
In this, the wonderful age of the internet, you can earn money absolutely anywhere as long as you’ve got a computer and an internet connection.
Starting a side gig in your free time is the single best way for you to make a little bit of extra cash.
There are multiple other benefits, too. Not only are you earning more cash, but you’re also building a skill that could potentially turn into a second complete stream of income, and you’re building a portfolio of work that’s going to look great on your resume.
If you’ve not worked online before, the best thing you can do is start a simple service business.
Ask yourself. ‘What are my talents? What am I already good at, or do I already do in my job that people will pay for?’
There’s a wealth of websites out there (like Fiverr) where people earn cash part-time or full time, so the possibilities are near endless.
If you want more help starting your own side gig, check our handy guide here.
Teach your family to live frugally
One of the best things you can give your family is knowledge.
And the lessons they learn with frugal living will last a lifetime.
Playing cards is a fun family activity that everyone can get involved in, and brings everyone together.
The local park or beach costs nothing, except maybe petrol costs to get there, and allows your kids to wear themselves out.
Even a decent set of bikes will pay for themselves one hundred times over in family memories. Far more than you’d make than with the last video game system.
For yourself, there is no better hobby than reading. You can get books for free from your local library and learn about absolutely anything.
You could even teach yourself business skills and start your own business in your free time.
Grow yourself an emergency fund
One of the major reasons people get into debt is unexpected emergencies forcing them to borrow money.
Did you know that one quarter of British adults live paycheck to paycheck, having literally zero savings?
That means one major issue and they’re in dire straits. If the car breaks down, or the roof starts leaking, what then? It’s either the bank of Mum and Dad, or credit cards. Either way, it’s not an ideal situation.
The best, and honestly only real way to avoid this is to have the money you can rely on. Put it into a separate account that you can’t easily access, to prevent the urge to dip into it for minor things.
Another great tip is to take a percentage of your paycheck the day you get paid and put it into the fund before you take any other money out. That way it’s already out of your hands and there’s no way you’ll accidentally forget to put it in this month.
Be frugal in the holidays
Remember. Frugal doesn’t mean cheap.
You know when your holidays and birthdays come in the year, so start saving early.
Have a budget going in, and don’t go over it. If you find the perfect gift, but it’s just too expensive, why not talk to friends and family and see if they’re interested in going in on a joint gift.
You can also look for deals at particular times of the year. For example, Christmas gifts and decorations get super cheap after the holiday is over, as shops start dumping stock for bargain prices. My grandparents always used this time to stock up on crackers and decorations. For next year.
Of course, they had the loft space to store them, but still.
Pre-planning is what we’re saying. Mindful spending.
De-clutter your house
A great part of living a frugal life and becoming more mindful is how it affects you in ways you might not have expected.
How it works is this. As you become more mindful and aware of one thing, you’ll become more mindful about everything else.
You might even start to realize just how much junk you have in your house.
It’s entirely natural for your house to slowly but surely fill up with stuff that you don’t use any more. We bet you have a cupboard (or three) that are full up with things that you just don’t use. You might not even go in those cupboards any more, because you know they’re full of things you don’t need.
This has a few huge benefits. First off, a less cluttered house actually makes you more focused and productive, which is a huge benefit in your day to day life. You might even find yourself getting stuff done super fast and get to the end of the day feeling great about how much you’ve achieved.
Second, there’s probably a big chunk of stuff you could sell, and those figures add up over time, especially if they’re basically coming from nowhere.
Third, once you realize how little you actually use on a day to day basis, you might even reconsider how much space you need. Which leads us nicely to…
Reducing home costs
Often times, people live in houses that are far bigger than their needs.
My childhood best friend is a great example. He and his parents had a beautiful property on a lot of land, but they really only used the living room and kitchen. There were entire rooms in the house, decked out with exquisite furniture, that they never even went into
Think about how much room you really need, especially if your housing situation has changed (children moving out, etc.) then take a look at the local house prices for a slightly smaller property.
The difference might surprise you.
Remember, too, that a difference in rent or mortgage payments isn’t all you’ll save. There are incidental costs, too. Taxes, bills and the like all tend to be smaller for a smaller property. The saving can be considerable.
Prepare a meal plan, and stick to it
How much food do you end up throwing out at the end of the week? Be honest.
If you’re anything like the normal family, you actually throw out almost £1500 yearly in wasted food.
That’s not to mention your freezer, which has things in there that haven’t seen the light of day in months.
The best way around this is to make a meal plan. We throw things out because they don’t end up getting used, and they don’t get used because they’re not bought with a use in mind.
Draw up a regular meal plan that your family will love, budget in snacks, then go out and buy it all.
At the end of the week, make a note of what you had to buy extra, and what you ended up throwing out, then work from there. You might be surprised how much of a difference this can make.
Install a thermostat
According to Nest, independent studies verified that homes with an installed thermostat save at least 10% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.
Depending on how much heat your family uses, that means the thermostat could pay for itself in a year or two, and after that, it’s all savings.
Plus, thermostats are incredibly handy. Once they’re set, you never have to worry about them ever again. That saves you time and mental space for more important things.
Little things add up. Let’s take a coffee break…
No, really, let’s take a coffee break and see what it costs us.
Everyone knows that chain coffee joints are overpriced, but as the individual cost is small, it’s really easy to justify it to yourself as a little treat.
Thing is, when that cost is multiplied over weeks, months, years, it soon starts to add up.
Let’s do the math. Say you spend £5 a day on coffee and sundries (because muffins are hard to resist.) Over a week, that’s £25.
That’s £100 a month. £1200 a year.
That’s crazy money.
So find ways to bring it down. Start drinking coffee at home, and if you really can’t get on with instant, invest in a coffee machine. Even a decent one won’t cost as much as your coffee habit, and in the long run, you’ll make major savings, whilst still getting your caffeine hit.
Save on laundry costs
There are two huge ways to do this.
The first is to turn down the heat on your washing machine. Not only does this save you money, but it can also help preserve your clothes as cold water doesn’t attack the fabric as much, preserving the color and preventing shrinkage.
The second is to dry your clothes on a line or drying stand when possible. This saves you huge amounts of money as dryers are expensive things to run, plus your clothes will smell gorgeous.
Be smart with credit
As we explained earlier, you should be avoiding debt like the plague.
But if you’re smart, you can make real savings from credit cards.
A lot of cards have money-saving cashback offers on them, ranging from 2 to 5% on purchases. Over the year, that adds up.
Plus, there are ways to earn other bonuses like flight miles, free gifts and more.
Just remember to pay it off at the end of the month. No one wants to be eating a hefty interest payment.
Drink fresh and clean
What’s the best, healthiest, most refreshing drink available to all of us?
Water, of course.
Whilst we all love a cola now and again, think of the costs. First off, those things are expensive. Not individually, sure, but even one a day soon adds up, especially if you’re multiplying that across more than one person.
Second is the long term health benefits. Dental costs, health and fitness downsides. When you think about it, is it actually worth doing all this to yourself for that flavor?
Drinking more water is basically free, and has a huge number of health benefits too. If your water isn’t great, you can always pick up a water filter for a reasonable price.
(If you do pick up a water filter, check online for how long they actually last. A lot of manufacturers will tell you to change them much earlier than they need to be.)
Work out for free
Gyms are big business. But a lot of people don’t realize that they make a lot of their money from members who pay but don’t go.
21% of people with gym memberships say that they’ve been three times in the last 12 months, and 11% say that they literally haven’t been in a year.
So ask yourself seriously, do you have memberships you aren’t using? Are you getting your money’s worth?
Even if you are an avid fitness junkie, that means you’ve got the willpower and stamina to do it yourself.
The web is packed with video tutorials for things like Yoga and Pilates, and there’s so much you can do with a simple set of dumbbells, or even just your bodyweight.
Remember why you’re doing this
Living frugally might not seem glamorous at first, but as the weeks roll by and you start to settle in and appreciate your new, simpler, easier life, you’ll soon love it.
But, like everything, living frugally is much better when you have a goal. There’s no point living if you don’t treat yourself now and then.
So if you’re doing well-saving money, treat yourself or the family to a day out, or a night at the theatre. Little treats don’t have to be expensive, but they work wonders as a way to reinforce what you’re doing and why you’re doing this.
You should be in it for the long run, after all.
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