First things first, being frugal doesn’t have to mean being a cheapskate. Plenty of well-off people are also quite frugal, not because they’re broke, but because they value their resources, their time and their money.
You won’t find extreme frugality here, just your garden variety of frugal living hacks, which can have a big impact across your lifestyle.
The aim of this post is to arm you with some easy tips that you can take into your everyday life. These tips will help you to live a life less wasteful and more from a place of intention. No more living week to week, which equals more financial freedom.
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Frugal Living Hacks
Break Up with the Joneses
The first in these frugal living hacks is a big one and that is to stop trying to keep with the Joneses. The fastest way to overspend and find yourself drowning in debt is by attempting to always have as much as others, especially those who earn more than you do.
Comparing yourself to other people is a really unhealthy way to live your life. It’s impossible to always have the latest and greatest and let’s be honest, you can’t take that shit with you when you die.
Do you really believe anyone gets to the end of their life and thinks, “well that one stressful ride, but at least I filled my life with meaningless crap. Totes worth it!” Nope, no one ever does and for good reason. Actually being happy and content far outweighs ‘stuff.’
If you really feel as though you need to fill your life with things to be a worthwhile or successful human being, I recommend investing your energy into learning to increase your inner self worth. In other words, learning how to find your true value from within, rather than from the outside world.
Switch Off From Advertising
It’s almost not even your fault for trying to keep up with the Joneses. Companies spend billions of dollars each year ensuring that people feel unhappy with their lot in life, but if they just buy the new wonder product, all will be restored.
When you stop looking at advertising your brain will stop harassing you to buy more stuff. It’s almost like the lollies that are placed right at the checkout so that the kids pester Mum or Dad to buy them on the way through.
Advertising is EVERYWHERE, particularly in the cities. It’s on billboards, it’s on the side of buses that drive past in traffic, it’s on your phone when you look down… everywhere your head turns, there’s another ad for something.
Another tip here is to unsubscribe from emails and put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on your letterbox, which both serve to get more advertising into your house.
You can actually train your brain to tap out and stop paying attention to the advertising with some practice. It helps if you have a healthy respect for your own financial freedom and consciously choose to not be hoodwinked by the material manipulation.
Pair Down the Appliances
Instead of reaching straight for the air conditioning remote as soon as the temperature is a little warm, try cooling down the old fashioned way first. Open up the windows, close the blinds on the sunny side of the house to keep it cooler and turn a fan on.
Instead of throwing the wet washing straight into the dryer, hang it out to dry. If it’s a rainy day, hang the clothes on one or two clothes airers in the house. Most things will usually dry within a day, depending on your climate.
For the next in the frugal living hacks, the aim is to learn to do as many things as you can yourself, instead of having to pay for the pleasure.
I’m not suggesting you service your car if you don’t know the first thing about mechanics (some things are better left to the pros). But there are plenty of skills you can learn yourself at home, especially with the help of YouTube tutorials these days.
Some things you can DIY to save money:
- Paint your own nails
- Dye your hair at home
- Shave the guys heads yourself with a set of clippers
- Service your own car if you know how
- Basic plumbing and handyman work
- Basic sewing and mending
Host a Swap Party
If you’ve got some clothes, toys and bric-a-brac to get rid of, host a swap party with your friends to literally swap you’re old items with new pre-loved items.
The idea is that everyone brings items that they no longer need or want and the items will be displayed for others to choose from. Get everyone to bring a snack to share as well.
How to host a swap party:
- Set a date and send out invites detailing the categories and number of items for people to bring along.
- Designate a section of the house to host the swap party and lay out rugs & tables for items to be displayed on (lounge room, patio, living room, garage etc.).
- As everyone arrives, get them to lay out all of their items in the designated section.
- Once everyone is ready to go, get each person to pull a number out of a hat. That is the order everyone will go in for choosing items.
- Starting with the person who pulled out #1, each person will take it in turns to wander around and choose one item they’d like to take home and keep.
- Keep going around in order until everyone has had equal opportunity to pick an item that they like. Go back to #1 and keep cycling through until everyone has had enough.
- Once everyone is feeling satisfied and the swapping is complete, all leftover items can be donated to a charity or an op shop.
- Now it’s time to go and enjoy the food, relax and chat.
Go Zero/ Low Waste
By cutting a large portion of disposables out of your life, you’ll save so much money in the long run.
A few Norwex microfibre cleaning cloths will last you years and cut out Chux wipes and chemical sprays. Using containers and beeswax wraps will eliminate ziplock bags and cling wrap. A good insulated water bottle will mean no more plastic water bottles. Switch to reusable batteries to save having to buy so many.
Clothing can be a huge expense in the budget, but it doesn’t have to be.
The main reason we feel like we’ve got nothing to wear is because our wardrobes are often bursting with the wrong items. There are things that don’t fit properly, damaged items and pieces that just don’t fit who we are anymore.
The first thing I’d suggest is to do a big wardrobe declutter. Then, have a go at creating a capsule wardrobe as your base, with a few extra items that will work in addition to the basics. This will reduce overwhelm and clutter all in one hit.
When it comes to buying clothes, head to the thrift stores and see what you can find. Have a clothes swapping party and get in the habit of passing around pre-loved clothing amongst your friends (including kids clothes). Shop at the end of season to pick up bargains in-store.
Another clothing tip is to try on a bunch of your clothes and come up with some outfits that you love. Take photos of each outfit and create an ‘Outfit’ folder on your phone. So, next time you don’t know what to wear, you’ll have a range of outfit choices ready to go.
Prescription glasses can be really expensive, especially if you want a nice pair, rather than the basic ‘Buy One, Get One Half Price’ deals.
Once you’ve got your prescription from the optometrist, you can actually shop for glasses online for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay in-store. Zenni is a reputable online glasses company, which I’ve used multiple times myself.
The only downfall is that you can’t try the glasses on before buying them, although they do have a ‘try on’ function where you can upload a photo and get an idea.
I’m pretty particular with my everyday glasses, but for prescription sunnies, I’m much more open to picking a style I like and then ordering online.
Take a House Sitting Holiday
There’s no denying it, holidays are expensive. Even camping is not always the cheap affair that it used to be. Get yourself onto some house sitting websites and do a house sit as a way to explore a completely new location for free.
House sitting is often in exchange for looking after pets and keeping the property occupied while the owner is away. I’ve stayed in a few locations I wouldn’t have otherwise stayed in if it wasn’t for house sitting, not to mention looked after some gorgeous pets!
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a house sitter, which is one of the less talked about frugal living hacks.
Use the Library
Books are expensive and if you’re an avid reader, you’ll be going through them. I know a new book is lovely, but how often will you read it after that first time?
Head to the library and borrow whatever you like for free. They’ve got magazines, DVDs, books, audio and more. If you’re looking for a particular book, you can put it on hold with the library and they’ll call you once it’s in.
I also frequent my local op shops and always scour the book section for particular authors or genres that I’m looking for. $2 per book is cheaper than $30.
Another great thing about libraries is the printers. Since I only ever need to print something on the odd occasion, it’s not worth me owning a printer and having to pay for the ink cartridges. It’s much cheaper to head to the library and print out a few pages at 20c each, then be on my way.
Following on with the loaning theme for the frugal living hacks, think about which purchases can be avoided by simply borrowing instead.
Have you got a party coming up and need a few eskys and some extra chairs? Instead of going out and buying more stuff, ask around your friends and neighbours and see what you can borrow.
Need a hedge trimmer to tidy up the front garden? Maybe your Dad has one that you can borrow, rather than buying one.
Frugal Money Hacks
Create a Budget
Focussing on financial freedom, next in line for these frugal living hacks is to create a budget. I know… budgets sound hard and boring and strict. But I’m just going to say it – that’s what the credit card guys want you to think!
You should absolutely know where all of your hard-earned cash is going and not be left in the dark about your own money. You should be actively pushing your money around and organising it. This is called having financial intelligence.
|Basic Budgeting Tips
|1. Write down a list of all of your bills & expenses.
|2. Work out how much you need to put aside each pay cycle to cover all bills (work out how much each bill costs per year, then divide by 12 for monthly, 26 for fortnightly or 52 for weekly).
|3. Set up a separate account & title it ‘Bills.’
|4. As soon as you get paid, transfer the amount that needs to be set aside for bills each pay cycle into that ‘Bills’ account.
|5. Set up as many bills as you can to be paid via Direct Debit from the ‘Bills’ account.
|6. Whenever a bill comes in, the money should already be there in the ‘Bills’ account, ready to be paid (although it’ll take a while to build up).
|7. Set up additional bank accounts (“buckets”) for other thing that you need to set money aside for and work out how much you need to allocate to each bucket. Example – gifts, schooling, car maintenance, dental, emergency.
|8. As soon as you get paid, divvy out the exact amounts required for each bucket.
|9. The money that you’re left with covers your day-to-day spendings (food, fuel etc.).
|10. Set up an additional ‘Savings’ account and add what you can afford to that each pay cycle (even if it’s just $5), plus add in any lump sums.
Sell Your Stuff
Turn your clutter into cash, to be used in the next step in this list of frugal living hacks.
Have a wander through the house, garage and shed to see what’s lying around that can go. Take photos and get those items up for sale on eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.
Cut up the Credit Cards
Yep, there, I said it. Cut up all of your credit cards and store cards that work as credit. Pay the suckers out and never, ever use them again.
A much wiser financial plan is to always have an ‘Emergency’ account for unpredictable things that pop up that you are continuously adding to.
Remember in the last hack we sold all of the things from around the house? Well, now you’re going to use that money to pay down any credit cards you’ve got. The next things in line would be personal loans, then you should use that money to add to (or start building) an ‘Emergency’ account.
“If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.”
There’s a saying in my house and that’s, “if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.” It’s pretty self-explanatory. If you want to make a purchase, but don’t have the money, save up and wait until you do. This is another great way to curb impulse buying.
I know a lot of people say to use a credit card for the points and rewards.
While everyone always sets out on their credit card journey with good intentions, so many end up falling into the trap of not paying them out on time. It’s so easily done when unexpected things pop up or your hours get reduced at work etc.
I just don’t think it’s worth selling your soul to the credit card cartel for a few rewards. But hey, maybe I’m just old-fashioned.
Do a Spendings Audit
Sit down and go through all of your outgoings and be real about which things can be cut from the budget.
Is Foxtel not being used anymore in favour of Netflix? Cancel it. Do you have a larger plan than you need for your phone or internet? Find a cheaper one. Is their too much take-away and eating out going on? Time to take control and prepare more food at home.
Go through your bills and ring each company one-by-one and see if you can negotiate a better price.
The One Month Challenge
One of my favourite frugal living hacks, which I use sporadically myself, is to set the challenge of only purchasing the bare essentials for one whole month. That means no take-out, no coffees, no extra groceries etc.
Eat through what you’ve already got in the cupboard, fridge and freezer. Only buy ingredients that are necessary to fill in the blanks.
The idea of the One Month Challenge is to allow you to throw the excess money at your debt and pay it down. If you don’t have debt, use the extra money to build up your emergency fund or pay for something else that’s on your list.
Basically, having a Low Spend Month is a great way to fast track savings, reduce debt and propel yourself forward to where you want to be.
Quality Over Quantity
Next in the list of frugal living hacks is to buy quality over quantity. Being frugal isn’t about being a tight-ass, it’s about being smart with your money and resources.
Have you heard the saying, “the poor man pays twice?” It basically demonstrates that a good quality item, which is well constructed, will always outlast the cheap, crappy item. With cheap stuff, you’ll find yourself having to replace the item multiple times, so in the end, did it really save you any money?
In this throw-away society, which is dominated by a market of items that are designed to break, the saying could not be any more apt.
“The poor man always pays twice.”
If I have my eye on something, but don’t have the money to buy the better quality item brand new, I’ll look to the second-hand market for that brand, rather than just head out and buy the cheaper version. I know that in the long run, it will be a much better investment.
Let’s use the example of Pincinox Pegs
Have you heard of Pincinox? They are a company that make the most superior stainless steel clothes pegs I’ve ever come across.
Each peg is made with one complete piece of industrial grade stainless steel, meaning they will never break or rust. They work out to be $2 per peg, instead of about that amount for a whole pack of crappy, plastic pegs that will break before long.
So, sure, the poor man can go buy the plastic pegs, but he’ll go through so many pegs in his life that they will end up costing far more than the initial outlay for the superior pegs, which will last a lifetime.
|? READ: Pincinox Pegs [Review] >
We have touched on pre-loved items a bit already when it comes to buying quality over quantity. But it doesn’t just apply to big ticket items, shopping the second-hand market is just as handy with smaller purchases as well.
Between thrift shops, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and garage sales, there are so many opportunities to find what you’re looking for without having to buy new.
- Sporting equipment
- Camping gear
- Household goods
Google Coupon Codes
This is one of the frugal living hacks many people don’t think of. Before you make a purchase online, always do a quick google search and see if there are any coupon codes for that store.
More often than not, you’ll find that you can get a 10% off or Free Shipping code, which you can copy and paste into the ‘Voucher’ section at the checkout.
Get a Refund
Have you ever gotten home from making a purchase and thought, “Ohhh, I wish I didn’t buy that now?” Or you buy a new shirt for your son and he just plain doesn’t like it.
The things is, so many people just got, “Oh well,” and never end up returning the item. What a waste of money!
If you end up with buyers remorse, the item doesn’t fit or you just don’t need it. Take it back to the shop and get your money back. Most stores offer a 30-day refund policy, so as long as you’ve got the receipt, you’re good to go. It helps to still have the tags on the item as well. I always tell the kids to try it on before cutting the tags.
Frugal Food Hacks
Meal planning always sounds so much more involved than what it has to be. Basically, before you head to the shops to do your weekly groceries, have a look at the ingredients you’ve already got in the fridge, freezer and cupboard. Write down a list of meals you can cook using those ingredients.
Incorporating the meals you can already make without buying anything else, come up with a menu of meals for the week and stick it on the fridge.
Then you can add the additional ingredients to your shopping list to fill in the blanks.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Some people are leftover snobs, but not me. I love leftovers!
Pretty much every meal I make will last at least another night, if not more. Just being me and two kids means that meals do stretch a lot further than they would for a bigger family.
For larger households, you can make double batches when you cook and either freeze up the leftovers or put them in the fridge for lunch or dinner the next day. You will save yourself so much time and energy on cooking in the long run.
Keep a Running Shopping List
A very important part of the frugal living hacks is to arm yourself with a shopping list.
Instead of just winging it when you do the shopping, always keep a running grocery list on the fridge. Whenever you notice something has run out or is getting low between shops, add it to the list.
Then, the day that you’re heading out to actually do the groceries, have a look through the fridge, freezer and pantry to check your usual staples. Don’t forget to check the toilet paper and toiletries.
If you haven’t already done your meal plan, do that and add whatever ingredients you need onto your list.
By keeping a running shopping list, you will rarely ever forget things. When we duck into the shops every other day for one or two items, we always end up spending more than we need – the stores are good at making sure of it!
Try doing your groceries only once per fortnight (or once a month if you’re game), to reduce the number of times you’re spending.
Avoid Snack Packs
You know those little ‘fun size’ or ‘snack size’ pre-packaged foods? They are expensive if you take the time to break it down to cost per 100g.
A far cheaper option is to buy a larger pack and put a small amount into a container, jar or food wrap as a snack.
Great examples here are chips, biscuits and dairy products.
Whenever you see your regular brands or products on sale, stock up while it’s going cheap.
Over time, you’ll find that instead of just buying each item every time you go shopping because you need it, you’ll be focussing on the things that are on special.
Knowing that you’ve got plenty of what you need on hand at home means that you can wait until something is on special before needing to buy it.
Buy Home Brand
I get it, there are some things that just don’t taste the same in the home generic brand. Those are the items that you should stock up on when they’re on special.
For all of the things that do taste the same or do the same job, go for the cheaper, generic brand. It’s amazing how much it’ll save you at the checkout.
Get Fly Buys & Everyday Rewards
Every time you shop at Coles groceries stores, petrol stations, Kmart and Liquorland, swipe your Fly Buys to earn free points. When you’ve got enough points for $10 off your next shop, it’ll show up on the screen when you’re at the checkout.
The same goes for Woolworths, Big W and BWS, which are linked to your Everyday Rewards card.
Make Your Own Coffee
Did you know that the average coffee drinker who shouts themselves a cup a day is spending over $1,600 per year on coffee?
I get it, buying a nice cuppa each day is a treat for yourself. But, if you kept the cafe coffees as an actual ‘sometimes’ treat, you’ll appreciate them all the more. Keep them for when you catch up with a friend or want to do something for yourself out of the ordinary.
There are plenty of coffee machines and sachets available to make nice coffees yourself at home and work that pan out to be a lot cheaper.
Pack Your Own Lunch
Much like the coffees, the daily lunch-buyer, who spends an average of $7 per day on lunch at work, is out of pocket a whopping $1,680 per year. That’s not including 4 weeks annual leave or buying out on weekends.
So, for someone who buy one coffee per day, plus lunch at work every day, you’re looking at $3,280 per year!
Remember how we had the conversation about cooking once and eating twice? Here’s where that gets handy. You can literally have a nice home cooked meal for lunch at least a few days per week, by taking some yummy leftovers to work (provided you can heat them up).
And don’t forget about the old ham and salad rolls with a tub of yoghurt or some fruit.