25 Frugal Changes You Can Make Today
Frugal living does not have to involve drastic changes; a few simple everyday changes can go a long way. Here are 25 changes you can make today and start living a frugal life without taking frugality too far. (See also: The Line Between Frugal and Crazy)
1. Reduce/Eliminate Daily Luxuries
Cut down on your daily Starbucks coffee and brown bag your lunch. Small daily luxuries can add up quickly and end up costing you a fortune. We are not talking about the occasional treats, but regular daily expenditures you can easily cut down without a dramatic impact on your life. Instead of buying coffee every morning, make it at home and save $1,500 on coffee.
Get a few colleagues together and start a carpool. Not only do you and your carpool buddies save on gas and other vehicle maintenance expenses, it is also better for the environment.
3. Prevent Repair Costs
Sometimes frugality can go too far and end up costing you more than saving you. One area you cannot and should not be frugal in is maintenance. Ensure you do your oil changes and tire rotations on a regular basis to prevent costly car breakdown. Regular maintenance around your house, regular check ups at the doctor and the dentist will prevent steep expenditures from creeping up on you.
4. Share Toys
Buying toys can be expensive and rarely are they used to their full potential. Share your kids’ toys with your family and friends. This will enable your children to play with a variety of toys without you having to buy each item. Create a system that will allow multiple households to share in the fun and costs together.
5. Shop on a Full Stomach
When shopping on an empty stomach you tend to buy items you don’t need or want for your diet. However, hunger makes you vulnerable and you end up purchasing what you crave at that moment. Usually these tend to be the more costly ready-to-eat snacks and meals, that are also high on calories, sugars, and sodium.
6. Share Baby Clothes
If you have a child start swapping clothes instead of buying brand new items. Parents understand that babies grow out of clothes at lightening speed. So before you go splurging on those Baby Jordans ask around and you will be surprised to find how many parents have brand new baby clothes that they can donate. As well, be generous and share your little ones’ items with your friends and family members. A little can go a long way.
7. Purchase Generic
Brand shopping can be obsessive and quickly get out of hand. First it’s one purse and then a pair of shoes and before you know it the designer is making all the things you love. I hear you, you can’t help but love beautiful creations. However, know that there will never be an end to new and hottest brands and they are always overpriced.
8. Buy in Bulk
Sometimes buying in bulk can be a great cost saving technique. This is especially true for cleaning and daily use items such as paper towels, detergent, or bleach. Wait until they are on sale and buy enough to last you until the next sale rolls around. Make sure to buy things that can be stored for a long time without any defects.
9. Turn off the Lights
Turn off your lights and fix water leaks. With some effort reducing water and energy bills can be accomplished rather easily. Depending on your location you might also have options between several service providers. Use websites that can help you find the best rates such as energyshop.com. You can easily save 10% or more on these costs. A few hours of research can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over a year.
10. Purchase Used Items
Although there are some items that you would not purchase used, there are many things one is better off buying used than new. Garage sales can often be a great money saver. One big-ticket item is a car; I am not a fan of purchasing a new car (depreciating asset). A few other items one can purchase used are home appliances, furniture and gardening tools. A few hours on craigslist, ebay or autotrader can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
11. Cut Food Costs
Cut out junk food and plan meals in advance. After housing and transportation, food is the next biggest expense for most families. Although you cannot eliminate food (at least I can’t), there are strategies you can use to reduce the cost associated with it. By planning your meals ahead of time you can avoid wasteful shopping, and reducing junk food will not only help your wallet but also your health.
12. Reduce Reoccurring Costs
Cut down on your cable, internet, phone, magazine subscriptions, and other reoccuring costs. As an entrepreneur I love subscription based services — they bring in consistent reoccurring income. As a consumer I don’t think there is a bigger evil than subscriptions. Go over your monthly subscriptions and start cutting where you can. Small incremental amounts can end up taking a large chunk of your income. Are you still a cable subscriber? With services such as Netflix and redbox, there is no need for hefty cable subscriptions. Although those are also subscription based, the cost is a fraction of your cable bill. Review your internet and phone bills and start shopping for better plans.
13. Save Your Spare Change
Set up a piggy bank and start saving your spare change. You would not believe how much you can accumalte by saving small amounts of change throughout the year. This is extremely effective; in fact some banks have started offering products based on this concept.
14. Shop Online
Online shopping has become extremely popular over the last few years, and often it's the online retailers that can offer big discounts. Not only is it convenient shopping from your home, you can easily compare prices and look for coupon codes.
15. Drive Steady
Start driving at a steady pace and avoid excessive speeding. With gas prices going through the roof saving money on gas can add up very quickly.
16. Start Bargaining
Start bargaining! Although you may not be able to bargain at Walmart, you can do it at your local farmers markets, with your phone and cable provider, and many other purchases. Just ask!
17. Eat Steak at Home
You may not succeed on your first attempt to make a great steak, however with practice comes perfection. Save yourself a few hundred dollars by making your steak at home, the way you want it.
18. Pre-Drink at Home
If you are planning on a Saturday night out and hitting the bar, consider pre-drinking at home. I find getting a buzz at the bar can quickly become a buzz kill. Ensure you have a designated driver.
19. Use Coupons
Get cutting! In case you have not heard this before, coupons can save you money! Start using coupons for your everyday purchases; these small amounts can start adding up quickly. These days you don't even have to look for coupon booklets anymore — there are many variety of places to find coupons.
20. Watch the Game at Home
I am a big sports fan and love watching a good game at the bar. However this can get very expensive very quickly. Invite a few friends over and ask them to bring their own alcohol — you provide the snacks and entertainment. You can have just as good of an experience at home, if not better.
21. Fix It Yourself
If you broke it you can fix it. Fixing your broken items yourself can be a cost effective. With the Google and YouTube you can virtually find videos on anything you may need. Of course, be careful and make sure you have the right tools and skills for the job.
22. Romance on a Budget
Being frugal does not mean you cannot romance your partner. Instead of an expensive dinner out, create a romantic ambience at home with some candles, romantic music and home-cooked meal. Instead of expensive Hallmark cards, you can write your own short poem or just an I love you letter.
23. Be Debt Focused
I know this is not a debt reduction article. However paying off debt can never hurt. Often the goal of frugal living is to become financially independent. What better way to achieve that than by extinguishing debt.
24. Do Your Own Taxes
Taxes often intimidated people. However with all the tax filling softwares available, doing your own taxes is very straightforward. Unless you have a complicated situation, there often is no need to pay hefty fees for someone else to file your taxes.
25. Learn More about Frugal Living
Often frugal living seems complicated and/or boring. But the first step to living a frugal life is to learn more about frugality. Read books, articles, and blogs about saving money — like you're doing right now!
Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.