The word frugal sometimes has a negative connotation. It can even sometimes be confused with the word “cheap.” Being cheap implies buying something solely based on price, forgoing any thought about quality. In contrast, frugal living is a way of being resourceful and adding value to your life.
When you choose a frugal lifestyle you become more intentional with your spending. You figure out what matters most to you and spend your money on those things. But at the same time you find ways to save money elsewhere. You may have to make some sacrifices but it’s not at all about depriving yourself. Frugal living is more about making clear choices about what is important to you.
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Benefits Of Frugal Living
Those on the outside looking in may only see negative aspects of living frugally – Not going out to eat as much or not buying the new car they have been coveting. But there are so many benefits to frugal living that I think outweigh the negative thinking.
Living frugally will allow you to save more money in the long run. The money that you save can help you to pay off debt, have a down payment for a house, or plan for a much needed vacation.
If you have a goal of Financial Independence then having a frugal lifestyle will help you to get there faster. The extra money that you have can be invested and grow due to compound interest. It will also help to increase your net worth.
Simple Steps To Live A Frugal Lifestyle
I am not going to give you tips on extreme frugality because that is not how we live. There are a lot of little things that we do that allow us to save money over time.
Cooking Meals At Home
We cook a majority of our meals at home. We do this because we like to cook and honestly, I think that we are pretty darn good at it. Cooking at home can save you a lot of money versus going out to eat at restaurants. When you go out to eat, you not only pay more for your meal but there is also the added cost of beverages and tips. It really starts to add up.
If you are someone who doesn’t really cook much at home, you should give it a try. And if you need a little guidance there are so many resources to find good recipes. One cookbook that we have been using a lot lately and that we highly recommend is “100 Days of Real Food on a Budget.” This cookbook is perfect for someone who wants to try simple recipes using whole food ingredients that you most likely already have at home. It is easy to follow, the recipes are quick, and everything that we have made from this book is great!
A great cooking tool that a lot of people have at home nowadays is the Instant Pot. We don’t use it daily but it is a very easy way to make meals at home especially if you are cooking for a family. The Instant Pot can make a typical slow cooked meal take a lot less time and effort. A great way to use the Instant Pot is to make stock with it, which can then be used for a lot of different recipes. We keep a zip lock bag in our freezer full of vegetable scraps and bones and make stock with it whenever it gets full.
I mentioned above how dining at restaurants can get expensive with the added cost of beverages. One thing that we do quite often is to forgo the full sit down meal and instead just go out for happy hour. Which lets face it, is sometimes just plain easier with little kids who don’t like to sit still for very long. Going to happy hour still allows us to go out with the bonus of food and drinks being cheaper.
Or better yet, make your own happy hour! Just last night we grabbed a couple of beers and snacks for the kids then walked over to the beach to watch the sunset. It was stress free and a pretty cheap start to our night.
While we are on the topic of adult beverages, another idea is to find cheaper alternatives. I may or may not be “researching” to find the best affordable wines. You will have to check back later to see. But don’t expect a “cheap beer” post because I just can’t go there. If you happen to know of any inexpensive beer that actually tastes good, let me know in the comments below and I’ll..er.. test it out for you, our readers.
Complete Your Own Home/Car Maintenance
This is where I get to brag about my extremely handy husband, Jason. Just in the past few months he has stained 3 decks, power washed the house, installed our new dishwasher, reinforced our gutters, installed a water softener, and cut the grass. On top of all of that he has changed the oil in all of our cars, replaced the timing belt on my car, replaced the battery in his car, and replaced some parts under the hood of our truck which I won’t even pretend to understand.
The point is, if you can fix it, clean it, or install it yourself, then you should. Doing these things on your own will not only save you money over time but it allows you to learn new things, be resourceful, and be more self sufficient.
Related Post: Easy Eco-Friendly Swaps To Reduce Waste And Save Money
Find Alternative Leisure Activities
There are so many free or low cost activities that you can do. One thing that we love to do is hike. Being outdoors and on a trail is so peaceful and relaxing. It is great for both your body and mind. Other ideas are checking out farmers markets, going to free events in your town, fishing, gardening, or finding a local park to explore.
We also love to check out Minor League Baseball games whenever we get the chance. The cost of going to a professional sporting event can add up. Going to a minor league game is not only cost effective but a great family activity.
Skip The Gym Membership
So Jason and I have never had a gym membership. We have always been very active through sports or just on our own. The average cost of a gym membership in the U.S. is around $50/month. That is $600/year and $3000 over 5 years.
Instead of paying for that gym membership you can find alternative ways to keep active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Body weight exercises at home
- Invest in home exercise equipment such as weights, a kettlebell, a pullup bar (this is the one that we use), etc
- YouTube – There are so many workouts that you can do on YouTube including yoga, Pilates, core workouts, cardio, etc.
- Fitness Apps
You can also research your local area for free or low cost fitness groups to join if you need more motivation or the social aspect of a “gym.”
Being frugal isn’t about being cheap. Frugal living just means living a more simple lifestyle.
It is about being intentional with your spending and deciding what your priorities are. Saving money in one area of your life allows you to then be able to use that money towards something that is meaningful to you.
Living frugally has allowed us to be free of all debt, increase our savings, and to be able to invest more. Most importantly though, it has allowed us to be worry free about money.
Frugal Living forces you to find value in things. It gives you increased appreciation for the things that you already have in your life. Living frugally is about living smarter so that you can afford to live the life that you want.