27 Frugal Living Tips that Rock!

Two white tennis shoes against a red background representing frugality.

The decision to be frugal is the realization that you can be happy with less.

Today we are going to cover a list of 27 frugal living tips based on the most common behaviors of frugal people.

By definition, a frugal person is financially economical. Now that we have defined frugal, let’s look at how frugal people live every day.

Tip 1. Frugal living requires you to live below your means

This is kind of obvious, but frugal people spend less than their income. I wanted to start out with the most important behavior that springs right from the definition. This one is critical because not all of us live below our means, and it is always good to remind ourselves that we should save some money.

Tip 2. Frugal living requires you to put aside an emergency fund

Emergencies happen. Frugal people set aside money in a savings account or a money market account for future problems; and they do not touch that money unless there is an emergency.

Tip 3. Frugal living requires you to cook from scratch

You should always cook at home. I try to create my meals from basic ingredients that I can purchase at the grocery store.

I will admit that I do not cook from scratch all the time due to time constraints (sometimes a prepackaged meal is easier), but I am trying to cut back on the amount of processed foods I buy.

I eat out at most once a month, and when I do, I go to locally owned, cheap restaurants.

Tip 4. Frugal living requires you to stay at home

Frugal people stay home and they enjoy staying home.

I am a total homebody, and so is my girlfriend; we both enjoy being home. I have zero desire to go out on Friday and Saturday night. We save a ton of money because we find things to do around the house. If we want company, we invite our friends.

Even when you are doing something as simple as sitting on the coach, playing games together, or doing some chores, you should learn to simply enjoy the company of the people in your household. Frugal people enjoy being at home and would choose it over going out every night of the week.

Tip 5. Frugal living requires you to redefine fun

Two girls talking while sitting on a swing set.

You can redefine entertainment to be something that is inexpensive. Look for activities that are free. If you are used to doing things that cost a lot of money like going to restaurants, shopping, or movie theaters, prioritize activities that you both enjoy and cost less.

Bottom Line: Try to find hobbies that will be both fun and productive.

Tip 6. Frugal living requires you to have productive hobbies

Frugal people find hobbies that produce, such as crocheting or gardening. If you find gardening fun, then you can do something you enjoy while producing food that will save you money in your grocery budget. If you learn how to sew, you can make your own clothes, and that will save you a ton of money.

Be warned: becoming good at sewing clothes is very difficult.

Tip 7. Frugal living requires you to take lessons from YouTube

You can learn anything on YouTube. I remember years ago, my sister told me that she learned how to do her makeup on YouTube. She told me there are tutorials for just about every topic. And that is true. Take anything you want to learn and type the keywords into YouTube and learn for free. You can learn how to play the piano. You can learn how to ride a bike. Anything you want to do, anything you want to learn, you can find on YouTube. It is incredible. I love the internet.

Tip 8. Frugal living requires you to save your pennies

I mean this literally. Have you met people who take their change and throw it in the trash? When you see that type of behavior you probably are screaming internally, THAT IS GOOD MONEY. Save your pennies and put them in a mason jar or a piggy bank. You can cash them in later. Go to the bank and use the coin machines. Frugal people save every penny. I will admit that I sometimes pick up pennies off the street. What? It is money.

Tip 9. Frugal living requires you to shop around

Frugal people comparison shop. They get multiple bids from contractors before they renovate their house.

I often find something I want on Amazon and put it in my shopping cart and leave it sit there for a couple of weeks to make sure I really want that item.

If you are frugal, you are thoughtful about what you buy. You don't think, oh I want that, and buy it. You take the time to think about the purchase to make sure it's something you need. This practice also gives me time to compare other prices. You do not want to buy something at what could be the highest price. When you make a purchase, especially large items, make sure you get the best possible deal, the lowest price, the best quality, etc. To do that, you have to shop around and look at different vendors, and make sure you are getting the best deal.

Tip 10. Frugal living requires you to fix stuff

A frugal person repairing a chair that broke.

If something breaks, you do your best to repair the item. If you can repair an item (for example, if your lawnmower breaks or your camera falls and the lens shatters), you choose to extend the life of the product rather than purchasing a brand-new one. This is especially important for cars. If you repair your car and invest in good maintenance, you will save money. It is usually way cheaper to make repairs than new purchases. For some reason, people are too trigger happy when replacing broken property.

11. Frugal living requires you to drive your car until the wheels fall off

Frugal people drive their cars forever. They will continue to repair their vehicles, pay for maintenance, oil changes, etc. until the engine is dead. You drive your vehicles until the price to repair it is greater than the value of the car. Only then do you get a new car.

12. Frugal living requires you to live in small houses

I am surprised how many people talk about how they need to buy a bigger house because they want their children to have their own bedroom. You and your kids do not require that extra space (I survived as a kid).

I shared a bedroom with my brother growing up. I think it was a gift that helped me learn how to compromise with people. I am more tolerant of others because I had to share a bedroom. My kids will share a bedroom. I think sharing space is a good learning experience. I have no desire to live in a larger house because I do not want more to clean (particularly more bathrooms to keep in good condition).

Bottom line: frugal people live in smaller houses even if they can afford bigger houses. They use that extra money to travel or for experiences.

Tip 13. Frugal living requires you to buy second hand or used

Frugal people always purchase used cars. The first car I bought right out of college was new, and that was a huge mistake. Frugal people buy used clothes. They buy used furniture.

My dining room table is beautiful, and I found it for $50 at a local Goodwill store; I think it is amazing that I found such a fantastic wood table for so cheap.

Bottom line: Frugal people shop secondhand.

Tip 14. Frugal living requires you to brown bag lunch

Every single day you go to work, you bring your own lunch, and (if you have a family) you pack lunch for your kids in school. I am shocked by how many people go out to eat for lunch every single day. That money adds up. Frugal people pack.

Tip 15. Frugal living requires you to plan and make goals

Frugal people like to plan out their future. We think five years in advance; I used spread sheets for my plans. Frugal people like to set goals, and they stick to them because they help you to save money by keeping you on track as you try to make dreams a reality. You should calculate in advance how much money you will spend on Christmas. Long term budgeting is a critical part of financial health.

Tip 16. Frugal living requires you to budget

You should make a budget, so you know how much money you can spend in different areas of your life. This becomes particularly useful when you are trying to decide how much you should spend on discretionary recreational activities.

For example: I budget what I am willing to spend over the summer because I tend to spend a lot more in that season than I would normally. Once I have depleted my allotment (drained my budget), I stop spending money on recreational activities.

Tip 17. Frugal living requires you to go camping

A frugal family camping with a fire in a forest.

I go camping every summer because (if you go to a good location) it is incredibly fun and cheap. I generally spend $20 a night for a campsite. Before I leave, I put down the seats in my SUV and squeeze in a mattress (I don’t even bring a tent). My set-up is super comfortable and it is inexpensive. You can travel and do a lot of things if you can learn how to camp. If your car is too small, pick up a second-hand tent. Regardless, camping is just a fraction of the cost than it is to pay for hotel rooms or to rent AirBnBs. And, you can go just about anywhere. Even Disney world has a campground.

Tip 18. Frugal living requires you to do not smoke or drink

Cigarettes and alcohol are expensive. I will occasionally have some wine or beer but I avoid getting drunk. I have bottles of wine I purchased two or three years ago that I have not opened. I usually only drink when I have company over.

A lack of habits and/or dependencies will save you a lot of money. IF you do not drink, you do not have to purchase alcohol; if you do not smoke or chew, you do not have to purchase tobacco.

Tip 19. Frugal living requires you to eat a plant-based diet

Meat is expensive, and if you buy fresh vegetables, beans, rice, and other nutrient dense plants you will be healthier and reduce costs. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat meat, but I only purchase meat that is on sale.

Bonus Tip: If you cut back on processed foods, you will save even more at the grocery store.

Tip 20. Frugal living requires you to cancel subscriptions

Subscription services like newspapers, magazines, Netflix, HBO, Spotify, Hulu, Amazon Prime etc. are costly. If you rarely use them, cancel. Sometimes people sign up for subscriptions that promise a free 30 days, and then they forget to cancel. Or, they are too lazy to take action and cancel.

For example: it took my three months to end my wall street journal subscription.

You end up receiving all this junk (that you pay for every month and might not even be using) that clutters your house. The only subscription I have is Netflix, because I don't use cable.

Tip 21. Frugal living requires you to not use cable

Cut cable and use a service like Netflix instead. Cable costs way too much money; it also wastes your time with commercials. I am convinced that cable is one of the worst money sinks.

Tip 22. Frugal living requires you to cut your own hair

I learned how to cut my hair on YouTube. That skill saves me a significant amount of money ($20) every month. If you do not trust YouTube tutorials, you can go to hair cutting school or take a class.

If you do not want to cut your own hair you can find students who are learning to cut hair who will charge nothing for the practice!

Tip 23. Frugal living requires you to hang dry your clothes

I dry my clothes in the wind during the latter spring, summer, and early fall seasons. If you live in a warm climate, you can do it over the winter. Hang drying your clothes will save you money on your electric bill.

Tip 24. Frugal living requires you to not use paper towels and paper napkins

I use hand towels in the kitchen instead of paper towels; I have been doing that for years. It saves me money because I don't have to buy paper towels or napkins every month. Those who are frugal and have children use cloth diapers.

Tip 25. Frugal living requires you to drink water

A mason jar filled with water and ready for someone to drink.

I do not have any sugary drinks in my house (although I do add sugar to my coffee). Avoiding soda, juice, pre-made coffee, and sweet tea you will save a good bit of money.

Juice is not healthy for multiple reasons. First, it contains a lot of concentrated sugar. Second, you lose the nutrients you can absorb by eating whole fruits.

There are other reasons to limit yourself to drinking water: It is easier to over-consume sugar by drinking it than by eating it. Furthermore, there are health/beauty benefits associated with drinking lots of water.

Tip 26. Frugal living requires you to exercise for free

You can bike, walk, or run without paying a dime. Exercise can be very inexpensive. You do not need to pay for a gym membership to exercise. I am a bit of a gym rat, so I do pay this bill, but I wanted to remind you that you can exercise for free.

Tip 27. Frugal living requires you to find frugal friends

Consider that the lifestyle choices of friends who go shopping all the time, and are not frugal at all, will impact you. The people you spend time with influence your habits and behaviors; they could guilt you into spending more than you feel comfortable spending. Find fellow friends who like to shop second hand, or who also are living a frugal lifestyle. You make friends for mutual support. Frugal people will help you live frugally. I recommend trying to find like-minded friends if you want to be frugal.

And those are our 27 frugal living tips!