Have you ever felt like your money disappears faster than you earn it? Living frugally will help you get more for the money you have. What are the best frugal living tips for 2023? From cutting back on your expenses to doing things yourself, there are plenty of ways to get more for less. Use these tips to transition to a more frugal lifestyle.
1. Start Your Own Herb Garden
Fresh herbs can enhance the flavor of almost any meal, but the cost of fresh herbs can add up quickly. Thankfully, if you start your own herb garden, you'll always have herbs to use!
It's easy to grow herbs indoors, even if you don't have a green thumb. You can place your herbs on a windowsill where they'll get plenty of sun. Basil, oregano, and cilantro are all great herbs to grow indoors.
2. Set a Weekly Food Budget
Food can be a big expense, and if you don't track your spending, your food costs could spiral out of control. Figure out how much you're spending on food each week. Use that information to create a weekly food budget that you can stick to.
Having a budget in place can help you be more mindful of what you spend on food. Eating out can make a big hole in a food budget, so you may find yourself enjoying more meals at home.
3. Get Into Meal Planning
If you don't put much thought into what you buy at the grocery store, there's a good chance that a lot of the ingredients you pick up will wind up going to waste. Meal planning is a great way to make sure you use everything you have.
Before you create a meal plan for the week, check your refrigerator and pantry to see what needs to be used. Look for recipes that include those ingredients. Plan out portions to make sure you have plenty of food for the week.
4. Freeze Food to Eat Later
Leftovers usually only keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but if you store food in your freezer, it can last for months or more. Freezing food for later will also give you meals you can quickly heat up when you don't have time to cook.
You can store your food in high-quality freezer bags or glass food storage containers. Label your food with the date it was stored so that you know when it needs to be used.
5. Eat More Meatless Meals
For many shoppers, meat is the biggest expense on their grocery bill. While you don't have to give up meat, you can save money by eating a few meatless meals! From bean tacos to lentil curries, there are plenty of tasty and filling meals that use cheap sources of protein.
To start, try going meatless one day a week. If you find some meatless meals that you love, you might wind up including more meat-free meals in your diet!
6. When You Can, Buy Secondhand
Whether you visit your local thrift shop or buy used items online, you can save a lot of money when you choose to shop secondhand. Clothing, furniture, and even appliances are all great items to buy used.
Not only can you find used items in like-new condition, but some of the things you'll find may actually be new with tags! The next time you're planning on a big purchase, see if you can find the item secondhand first.
7. Use Cashback Sites and Apps
Buying items on sale is a great way to be more frugal, but you can also get a discount on full-priced items when you use cashback sites and apps. These sites give you back money every time you make a purchase. Those savings can really add up, especially if you use these sites regularly.
"Cashback sites work by getting a fee from companies to advertise their products," explains Kacey O'Kelley of ABC15 News. "The money you get back is the portion of the fees they charge these companies."
8. Make Big Purchases at the End of the Season
If you're planning on buying a seasonal item, like a grill or a winter coat, make your purchase at the end of the season. While you may have to wait a year to start using the item, you'll also be able to get it at a deep discount.
With a little planning, you'll be able to get the items that you need at a fraction of the normal price. This is a great strategy for big-ticket items, but it can also work well for small purchases, like a swimsuit.
9. Start Visiting Your Local Library
Not only can you check out books at your local library, but you can also borrow other items, like movies. Some libraries even let you check out board games and video games.
When it comes to free entertainment, it's hard to find a better resource than libraries. If you're not able to visit your library in person, you can even stream movies or check out e-books online!
10. Invest In a Water Filter
Drinking water instead of other beverages can help you save money, but if you're buying bottled water, you're still spending more than you need to. Not everyone can drink from the tap, but if you invest in reusable bottles and a water filter, you'll always have water to drink.
Some water filters can be pricey, but there are also plenty of inexpensive options available. This can be an affordable purchase, and it's a great way to encourage yourself to drink water more frequently.
11. Buy Pantry Staples In Bulk
It doesn't always make sense to buy in bulk, but when it comes to pantry staples, bulk purchases are a great way to cut your grocery bills. Along with these savings, stocking up on essentials will ensure that you have the ingredients you need to prepare a variety of meals.
If possible, you should try to stock up on these items when they're on sale or sign up for a membership at a wholesale club. Some of the best items to buy in bulk include flour, baking soda, and sugar.
12. Bake Your Own Bread
Making food from scratch isn't always a frugal choice, but baking your own bread makes a lot of financial sense. Once you learn the basics, bread is easy to prepare. Fresh bread will taste better, keep for longer, and cost you less money.
Using freshly baked bread for sandwiches is a great way to make cheap and delicious lunches at home. You can even freeze some of the bread you make. As long as it's stored properly, bread freezes very well.
13. Make Household Cleaning Products at Home
Household cleaning products are expensive, and they're not always as effective as they should be. Instead of splurging on cleaning products that don't work, try making products at home.
You can easily make an all-purpose cleaner by combining white vinegar and water. If you'd like, you can even give it a fresh scent by adding a few drops of essential oils! For heavy-duty scrubbing, try combining lemon juice and borax powder.
14. Use Gift Cards to Buy Gas
People frequently sell gift cards they can't use online. These gift cards are sold at a discount, which means stocking up on the right kinds of gift cards will let you buy essentials for less. Gas gift cards are a great purchase that can help you save at the pump.
For many households, gas is a big expense, and the money you save on fuel can go a long way. Look for gift cards for the gas stations you usually use. Buying gift cards for gas can also help you stick to your monthly budget when gas prices rise.
15. Start Hanging Your Clothes to Dry
Putting your clothes in the dryer can get them dry quickly, but it can also be damaging to your clothing. If you want your clothes to last, your best bet is to hang items to dry.
Hanging your clothes will protect delicate fabrics from damage, and it will also help you save money on your energy bill. When you run your dryer less frequently, you'll be using less electricity.
16. Find Free Tools That Will Help You Budget
Setting and sticking with a budget is key to living frugally, but for many, making a realistic budget can be difficult. Instead of trying to come up with a workable budget on your own, take advantage of free tools that will help you budget.
Smartphone apps like Mint and Goodbudget have helped many households that have struggled with budgeting. If you prefer to do things on the computer, you can also try using free desktop software like GnuCash.
17. Shave Sweaters That Are Starting to Pill
You don't have to toss out your favorite sweaters if you've noticed that they're starting to pill. Instead, you can extend the lifespan of your clothing by using a fabric shaver.
Fabric shavers are inexpensive and can make old sweaters look new again. It works especially on sweaters made from natural materials, like wool.
18. Re-Sell Your Old Clothes and Handbags
Styles change over time, and you may not want to wear the same clothes forever, even if they're in good condition. A frugal way to switch up your wardrobe is to re-sell clothing and handbags you no longer use.
While eBay is still a great place to sell old items, there are also other resale sites that are focused on clothes and accessories, like Poshmark and Depop. Instead of spending money to update your wardrobe, you can sell things you already own to fund future purchases.
19. Take Advantage of Trial Subscriptions
Streaming service subscriptions provide access to large entertainment libraries, but they can also eat into your budget, especially if you have multiple subscriptions. While you can save money by limiting yourself to one subscription at a time, you can save even more by taking advantage of trial subscriptions.
The majority of streaming services offer free trials so that you can see what the service has to offer. If you switch from one trial to the next, you'll be able to enjoy a wide range of content for free. Just make sure you cancel your subscription before your card is charged.
20. Use Groupon to Get a Discount On Your Next Haircut
Cutting your hair at home is frugal, but not everyone has the skills to give themselves a haircut. If you're not comfortable trimming your own locks, Groupon can also help you get a haircut for less.
On Groupon, you can pre-purchase haircuts at a deeply discounted price. You can also purchase other services, including coloring and waxing services. You may even be able to visit a top-rated salon without breaking the bank.
21. Do Freelance Jobs for Extra Cash
If you're struggling to fit all your expenses into your budget, and you can't figure out where to cut spending, you may want to look for ways to earn extra cash. Not everyone has the time for a second job, but you can pick up extra cash by taking on the occasional freelance job.
There are all kinds of freelance jobs that skilled professionals can pick up. Whether you're a writer, a programmer, or a graphic designer, taking on the occasional freelance job can give you the money you need to get by. Sites like Upwork make it easy to find freelance positions that you're qualified for.
22. Sell Gift Cards You're Not Using
Have you ever gotten a gift card for a store you never shop at? Instead of letting that gift go to waste, you should sell gift cards you're not interested in using. You can receive a portion of the value of the gift card in cash.
On sites like Gyft, CardCash, and Raise, you can sell gift cards you're not interested in using. The process is easy, and in most cases, you'll have money for your card within a few days. Turn unused gift cards from a piece of plastic into a source of extra money.
23. Use a Cashback Credit Card to Pay for Purchases
Using credit cards isn't always a frugal option. If you're not careful with your credit card, you could wind up spending a fortune on interest. However, if you're able to get a card that gives you cash back on your purchases, and if you pay off your card in full at the end of each month, your card could save you hundreds or more every year.
In addition to cashback rewards, some cards offer additional bonuses, such as frequent flyer miles or free hotel stays. If you're comfortable having a credit card, look for a card with bonuses that will help you save.
24. Set Spending Caps
It's easy to overspend, especially when you pay for items with a card. If you find yourself going over your budget, and you can't seem to break this habit, look for ways to set and enforce a spending cap.
Some people opt to use cash for discretionary spending rather than a card. When the cash is gone, you'll have to wait until next month to spend more. Pre-paid debit cards are another easy way to set a spending cap that you can stick to.
25. Find More Ways to Recycle
There's a good chance that you're throwing out a lot of items that you could use. Before you toss an item in the trash can or the recycling bin, ask yourself if the item could be useful in some way.
Glass jelly jars can be cleaned out and used as drinking glasses. After you finish a box of cereal, save the cereal bag and use it like a wax container. Dryer sheets, egg cartons, and plastic bottles are all items that you can reuse around the house.
26. Switch to a Cheaper Cell Phone Plan
Your cell phone bill is a recurring expense, and if you have a plan with a major carrier, there's a good chance that you're spending more than you need to. Mint Mobile, Tello, and Visible Unlimited all have plans with rates that are far cheaper than average.
It's hard to get by without a cell phone, but there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount you're spending on your phone bill. Once you switch to a cheaper cell phone carrier provider, you'll be able to save money every month!
27. Skip the Gym and Workout at Home
Exercise can be frugal! Staying active can reduce your risk of developing serious health issues, helping you avoid costly medical bills. However, if you have a gym membership, your commitment to fitness might not be saving you much money at all.
Instead of hitting the gym, start working out at home. You don't need a lot of equipment to get a great workout, and there are plenty of free workout videos you can follow along with at home. In addition to the financial benefits of working out at home, many people find that it's easier to stick with an exercise regimen when they don't have to make trips to the gym.
28. Hit Pause Before You Make a Purchase
Impulse purchases can get in the way of frugal living. You don't have to avoid all unnecessary spending in order to live frugally, but you should think things over before you treat yourself.
If you see an item that you want to purchase, don't buy it immediately, even if you can afford it. Instead, give yourself a week or more to think the purchase over. This will allow you to avoid buying items on impulse and stick with purchasing things that you really want.
29. Make Sure You Unplug Small Appliances
Unplugging small appliances when they're not in use can help you save in a number of ways. Not only can you save money on your electric bill by leaving your appliances unplugged, but it could also keep your items in good condition for longer.
When your appliances are plugged into power outlets, you run the risk of damaging these items during a power surge. This can decrease the lifespan of your appliances. Unplugging appliances can save you money in the short-term and in the long-run, which is why it's a great frugal living tip.
30. Don't Run Your Dishwasher Until It's Full
Dishwashers are convenient, and they can actually help you save money on your water bill. With that said, you won't be seeing any sort of savings if you run your dishwasher when it's only half full.
Hold off on running your dishwasher until you have a full load. That way, you'll be able to cut back on the amount of water you use to keep your dishes clean.
31. Avoid Your Oven During the Summer
Keeping your home cool during the summer can be expensive. If you're using your oven to prepare meals, you're introducing more heat into your home, which means your air conditioner will have to work even harder. Skip using the oven and try preparing meals in other ways, like on the stove top or with a slow cooker.
In the winter, the opposite holds true. Using your oven to cook can help you heat up your home. When you're thinking about the meals you want to take, you should think about the weather outside.
32. Cut Back On Disposable Products
How many disposable products are you using in the average month? If you're buying these items over and over, you're spending money you don't have to. Instead of using disposable products, switch to items you can use again and again.
Switch from paper towels to dish towels that can be washed and reused. Stop using disposable razors and start using a razor with replaceable blades. From cloth napkins to washcloths, there are all kinds of alternatives to disposable items.
33. Reduce Food Waste
Preparing meals at home can save you money, but if you're tossing out a lot of the food that you buy, you aren't saving as much as you could be. Take steps to reduce food waste and use more of the food you have. Invest in high-quality food storage containers that can keep your food fresh for longer.
Think carefully about where you're storing the items you keep in your refrigerator. For example, storing fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer can help your produce last for a few more days. Be creative when you cook, and look for ways to incorporate unused ingredients into the meals you usually prepare.
34. Shop from Your Own Pantry
Before you go to the grocery store, try shopping from your own pantry. There's a good chance that you can throw together a meal -- or two -- from the ingredients you already have. Not only is shopping from your pantry a way to avoid wasting food, but it can stretch the time between grocery shopping trips.
Even if it feels like you have nothing to eat, it's likely that you have the ingredients to prepare all kinds of meals. You can even use tools like SuperCook that let you search for recipes that use ingredients you already have at home.
35. Use Up Toiletries Before You Toss Them Out
Don't toss out a bottle of hand soap or a tube of toothpaste when you can't squeeze any more product out. Instead, make sure you completely use up all of your toiletry items before you throw it away. If you cut plastic containers open, you'll be able to access more of the product.
Many products are packaged in a way that leads to product waste. While you don't have control over product packaging, you can make sure you use up the products that you buy. With this tip, you'll be able to buy fewer toiletry items and get more uses out of all of the items that you have.
36. Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
If you're looking for a way to reduce your water consumption, why not install a low-flow showerhead? You can buy these showerheads at a reasonable price, and they're easy to install. Not only can your new showerhead help you to reduce your water bill, but since you'll be using less hot water, you'll also be cutting back on your heating costs.
Every time you turn on your shower, you're using water and energy. While showers are something that you can't skip, installing a low-flow showerhead will help you save money on the showers you take.
37. Take Advantage of Natural Light
Keeping your blinds closed in the summer can save you money, but if you're not worried about heating up your home, you should make sure you let in plenty of natural light during the day. Not only can sunlight elevate your mood and help you sleep at night, but it can keep you from turning on artificial lights in your home.
There's a good chance that you're reaching for a light switch when you could get the light you need from the sun. To save money in the winter, when there's less light during the day, you may also want to switch to using low energy light bulbs.
38. Stop Cleaning Things That Aren't Dirty
Don't toss items in the wash just because you've worn them. If your clothing isn't dirty, washing it is a waste of money. Before you throw items in the hamper, you should give them a closer look and see if they actually need to be cleaned.
Most of the time, you'll find that you can wear your things several times before they need to be washed. If you want to freshen up an item, you can use a homemade fabric refresher spray! Just combine 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda to create a spray that will remove odors from your favorite clothes.
39. Negotiate Your Utility Bills
Lots of people are frustrated by their high utility bills, but what many people don't realize is that many companies are open to negotiation. Instead of paying a high bill that's eating into your budget, contact the company and see if you can get lower rates. There's a good chance that the company will be open to negotiating with you.
"Most consumers don't realize they can negotiate," says Ann Thompson at NBC News. "Or if they do, they don't want to spend the time and don't want the confrontation."
If you want to save, but would prefer not to haggle on your utilities, sites like Billshark will handle the negotiations for you. The more you negotiate, the more you'll be able to save. These kinds of negotiations are a fantastic way to stretch a budget.
40. Switch to Light-Sensing Porch Lights
Do you sometimes forget to switch off your porch lights? If you keep leaving your porch lights on, you don't necessarily have to keep them off all the time. Instead, you can switch to light-sensing bulbs!
These bulbs are designed to switch on when it's dark outside and switch off as soon as the sun rises. They're affordably priced and easy to install, which means you'll be able to swap out your current bulbs without any issues. Once your bulbs are installed, you won't have to worry about turning your porch lights on or off.
41. Rent a Pressure Washer Once a Year
A pressure washer is a big purchase that not everyone can justify. While you don't have to buy your own pressure washer, you should consider renting one every year. Pressure washing your driveway can prevent mold and weeds and keep your driveway from cracking, extending its lifespan.
In addition to pressure washing your driveway, you can also use the pressure washer to deep clean the exterior of your house! The pressure washer can clear away grime that could potentially damage your home, and it can also improve your home's curb appeal. While you should try to borrow a pressure washer if you can, a rental is a worthwhile expense.
42. Buy Things for Life
Buying the cheapest items can feel frugal, but it's not always the best use of your money. If you buy cheaply-made items that you'll have to replace in a year or two, you'll wind up spending much more than you would have if you'd invested in a high-quality item.
This doesn't mean that you have to buy expensive items. Instead, you should should take the time to think about what you're getting for your money before you make a purchase. Make a point of purchasing items made from natural, long-lasting materials, like wood, linen, and wool.
43. Find More Ways to Have Fun For Free
When people look for ways to cut back on spending, entertainment is usually one of the first things to go. While it's smart to skip spending money on things you don't need, it's important that you have ways to have fun and entertain yourself. If you're not doing anything fun, your stress levels could skyrocket, which could take a toll on your physical and mental health.
Instead of resigning yourself to a life of drudgery, you should look for more ways to have fun for free! Whether you have a board game night with friends and family or pick up a frugal hobby, like knitting, there are ways to have fun that don't require you to spend money.
44. Drive Less, Plan More
Not everyone can afford to be a one-car household, but nearly everyone can find ways to cut back on driving. Instead of using your car to make multiple trips throughout the week, plan out your trips so that you can run multiple errands at once.
A little bit of planning can save you a lot of money on gas, and it can also give you more free time! Time is one of the most valuable resources that we have, which is why you should always look for ways to save time.
45. Repurpose Worn Jeans
Denim is a durable material, but jeans usually don't last forever. If your favorite pair of jeans has a rip or a tear, you shouldn't throw it away. Instead, you should look for ways to repurpose your old denim.
Even if you're not particularly crafty, you can easily turn an old pair of jeans into a pair of cutoff shorts. If you're comfortable sewing, you could also convert your jeans into a tote bag. You can even use multiple pairs of jeans to make a denim rug!
46. Pack a Lunch
While it's easy to avoid dining out when you're at home, it's a lot harder when you're at work. Lots of people wind up grabbing takeout from a nearby restaurant or ordering in. This can be an expensive habit, and in many cases, it can also be an unhealthy one.
It can be hard to get into the habit of packing a lunch, but if you invest in glass food storage containers and an insulated lunch bag, you'll be able to take delicious meals to work each way. This can be a great way to use up the leftovers in your fridge. Try packing your lunch the night before so that it's ready to go in the morning.
47. Make Coffee at Home
It's okay to splurge on a fancy coffee drink every once in a while, but if you're treating yourself to coffee on a regular basis, you should try to make coffee at home instead. Even if you're not a barista, you can prepare all kinds of delicious caffeinated beverages at home as long as you have the right essentials.
There are high-quality coffee makers that can give you the coffee shop experience at home, but a cheaper option is a French press. French presses are inexpensive and are even portable, which means you'll be able to make yourself coffee at work!
48. Don't Call the Plumber Unless It's an Emergency
It's best to call for a professional if you're dealing with a major plumbing problem, but if you're dealing with something minor, like a clog, you're better off saving your money and handling things on your own. For example, you can clear out a clogged drain without damaging your pipes by using a drain snake!
In addition to fixing minor plumbing problems yourself, you should take a few preventative measures. Avoid pouring items that can cause clogs, like coffee grounds, fats, and oils, down your drain. Be careful about what you flush down your toilet, and make sure you always have a plunger on hand!
49. Switch from Bodywash to Bar Soap
Instead of using bodywash to get clean in the shower, try using bar soap. Not only is bar soap cheaper than bodywash, but it lasts a lot longer. It's easy to use too much bodywash, but when you use bar soap, you can make sure that you only use what you need to.
In addition to replacing your bodywash with bar soap, you can use bar soap in place of other items, like handsoap. You can even buy bar soap in bulk so that you always have a bar of soap on hand.
50. Focus On Changing One Habit at a Time
While these frugal living tips are all great ways to save, you shouldn't try to implement every suggestion at once. Changing your habits can be tough, and you'll find it easier to stick with changes if you focus on one thing at a time.
For best results, start by making small changes. Over time, you can work your way up to bigger changes. Every change you make will add up, and eventually, you'll be able to live a lifestyle that's truly frugal.
You can also read:
- 10 Simple Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving
- Five Free Apps To Help You Save Money on Gas
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee