I have lived a frugal life since I was a little girl (since I was born, really). I grew up poor which taught me the true value of money. When you grow up without much even a quarter means something magnificent in terms or rewards. When I was little five cent candy existed (Laffy Taffy came in a thick square chunk and Jolly Ranchers were sticks). I don’t think you can buy candy for five cents at the gas station anymore and quarters are the new nickels. Habits of frugal people encompass their lives and are their way of normal.
When you are frugal there is a set of unwritten rules that guideline your life.
New isn’t always best. When I can get something used, I do! New cars lose their value almost simultaneously with the time you sign the papers. Buying used means you can save thousands of dollars. Used clothes are perfect for growing kids who need new wardrobes practically every season (it’s so unfair! I want a new wardrobe every season). The bells and whistles are unnecessary. Sure, we always want the latest and the greatest with the best features, but all the extras come at a big expense.
Scaling down your purchase can save thousands of dollars. When we bought our van in 2006 we were intentional with our finances and did not buy one with GPS (yes, this was a big thing back then), blue tooth (which had really just started to be a thing), or a back-up camera. We bought each of those things as after market additions as the years passed and paid a fraction of the price for what we would have paid when they were brand new.
Doing it yourself saves money. If you have time to do things yourself, you will save money. This requires that you have time though. Things you can do yourself to save money include changing your oil, yard work, cleaning, manicures, pedicures, and more. If you are handy you can even build furniture. My husband has build several pieces of furniture in our house which has saved thousands of dollars. It is possible to have Pottery Barn taste on a budget when you build it yourself. Ana White is my go-to girl when it comes to finding woodworking projects to do around the house.
Children do not need the latest and the greatest toys and gadgets (nor do you). In a world of marketing to children it is easy to get caught up in the “wants” and the “gimmes.” It seems like schools ask for a fair share of money as well. Instead of handing money to kids you can make a list of chores for them to complete before they receive the coveted money. If an item is truly important, they will work for it. Having a chore chart for kids is another way to make sure kids are buying what is truly important to them.
Coupons are great and help save money on grocery trips, eating out, clothing, and more. You can get coupons for free. It is always a good idea to check Redplum, SmartSource, and Coupons.com before heading out on a grocery store trip. The little coupons can drop the price of your total purchase by a significant amount and it makes clipping coupons worth your time.
Frugal people research and plan ahead. This is true for everything ranging from dinners to vacations. Having a meal plan will help you eat out less. Planning vacations in advance can assure that you get the best price available. I like the meal plans included in 20 Meals from Costco for $150 and 10 Freezer Friendly Organic Meals for $102. The best deals on hotels and travels often happen by booking early.
Your community offers many free activities and events. Books, DVD’s, and more can be checked out for free from the library. Holiday events including parades and tree lightings are seasonal activities. Some communities offer movie nights, yard sales, cooking demos, and more. Getting out and seeing what there is to do for nothing out of pocket in your community is a great way to save money and to make new friends!
Saving money in an emergency fund is a must. Something is ALWAYS going to happen. The car may need a major replacement, the heater may stop working, or the child may need a cast for a broken bone. Instead of floating the money on credit cards, frugal people know they must have money in the bank for all those unfun things that happen.
Being frugal does not mean you are a total tightwad who doesn’t like to have fun. Our family is frugal because we like to vacation and to save money for our future. I hand over a stack of coupons at the grocery store and then come home and upload my receipts to my favorite cash back apps because I like saving money and making our budget work.
Do you lead a frugal lifestyle and have a tip to add? If you are starting to rethink how you spend/save your money, which tip from above is your favorite?
If you love saving money, and who doesn’t, check out these deals and freebies that will save you even more! Be sure to subscribe to Coupons Are Great so you don’t miss out on great deals, fun freebies, crafts, and more.