I am all about Frugal Living. I live frugally. I blog about frugality. Frugal, I am thee.
I hope some of these frugal living tips help you be frugal- whether you choose to live frugally or you live a life of frugality out of necessity.
Living a frugal life is not only about not spending too much money, saving for retirement, stocking up an emergency fund, or avoiding credit card debt. When you live a life of simplicity, you can spend time and money on what's important to you. The best frugal living tips are the ones that work the best for you- the ones that will help you start living frugally and make your life easier.
Of course, if I can help you spend less money while you also work to make extra money, then you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of financial success. Being successful financially can give you options in life, and then you can also help others by giving and using your power (after all, money is power) to help others.
29 Top Frugal Living Tips
- Budget. Budget. Budget. Creating a budget that works and then STICKING TO IT is the best and biggest frugal tip anyone can give you. Creating a budget gives a structure to your spending, which allows you to spend on what you want and not spend on what you don't want to spend on. That is the definition of living a frugal life.
- When you find a great deal, buy in bulk. If meat is on sale, have your butcher cut it up into smaller pieces and then wrap them separately. Label everything clearly! Buying large amounts of meat is usually cheaper than buying individually cut pieces.
- Reduce your shopping trips so that you spend less time in stores. The more time you spend in a store, the more likely you are to spend money. Make a shopping list of the main things you need to have a guide to help you stay on task. (Want to save more on groceries? Here are 12 ways you can save)
- Buy what's on sale, and then plan your meals around that. The number one way to save money at the grocery store? Plan your meals around what you buy, not the other way around.
- Eat at Home. We experiment at home! We don't go to bakeries; we figure out something fun with the kids from home. You can make so many meals and treats at home with a little planning and creativity.
- Stock Your Freezer. Keep your freezer stocked with meals, so you don't need to get take out when you are stressed or overwhelmed. When you cook, then double the recipes so that you have food ready to eat. Soups freeze well and are great for this type of thing. This is particularly important before a major holiday (Pesach, anyone?) or if you are having a baby. Have freezer meals ready to go so you can save money on take-out.
- Keep Old Fruit. Keep frozen fruit and vegetables in your freezer so that you can make quick smoothies and vegetable dishes in a pinch. You can take the slightly browning fruit (from those bananas you bought on sale and that no one eats even though your kids told you that bananas are their absolute favorite food) and freeze them for really cheap snacks and smoothies.
- Avoid cleaning help. We clean one floor together as a family every Sunday, and we often turn it into activities.
- Get the kids involved. Train your children from very young ages to do chores and household cleaning, according to their ability. Have a list of things that need to get done nightly, weekly, and monthly. Make it a fun family activity you can do every night.
- Wear Hand-me-downs. My kids and I wear really lovely hand-me-downs. You can trade with other families or shop at thrift stores to get nice clothes for you and your kids.
- Decide what you need. I decide before each season how much of each clothing item my kids need and only buy that amount (if some of it is from hand-me-downs, even better). Sales were causing me to overbuy until I set it up this way.
- Choose the right place to live. We live in an area where families are happy with little making it easy to live below our means and our kids to have fewer expectations. Choosing where you live is a key part of being content with your frugal life.
- Turn down the heating and put on a thick sweater. The house doesn't need to be warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and bare feet in the middle of winter.
- Automate everything: bills, savings, fun money, etc. Use the extra mental bandwidth to implement money-saving systems. When you automate, you don't have to second tons of time thinking about money: living a frugal lifestyle does not mean that you are always concerned about money.
- Use the library! Library card is like the biggest one; I don't buy books anymore. If you decide to invest in a Kindle or other e-reader, you can also get tons of free e-books online. I love using my library's Libby App to get free books downloaded to my kindle- no matter the time of day. Libraries also offer many other services- some have games you can borrow, discounted passes to museums, and many other free or cheaper things. Get a library card!
- Wait 24 Hours. Everything in the Amazon cart has to sit for 24 hrs. Anywhere you shop online- keep your stuff in the cart for 24 hours before purchasing to reduce impulse spending. An extra perk of this trick is that companies will often send you a coupon code for items you left in your cart to entice you to buy.
- Shop no-name brands. Avoid big name brands and look for value in products. Buy generic brands as a rule and only buy brand-name when you have a coupon, or you are sure of its value.
- Get freebies! Books, samples, baby gear- get all the freebies you can. These freebies will help you spend less money on items you are not totally sure you want to buy yet. Especially with baby gear- this can save you a lot of money! You can check out all the free things nurses are eligible for here.
- Shop garage sales for old toys. Especially huge outdoor toys or toys made of plastic like a plastic slide, a toy kitchen, riding toys, etc. These are easy to clean and hold up well, even if a few families use them. Garage sale shopping is a great way to get expensive toys for very cheap.
- Get rid of the house phone. Since everyone has a cell phone, you don't need a house phone. If you do need a phone for the house, get a cheap prepaid cellphone for emergencies.
- Go Vegan. Cut down on meat, chicken, and fish in your diet. These are usually more expensive, and you can save money by buying healthy beans and grains instead.
- Buy a large freezer. Your freezer will pay for itself in 6 months or less, I promise you. If you have to, keep it in your patio, garage, anywhere you can get electricity and somewhat protect it from the elements.
- Be creative with what you find. For example, if you have a chest freezer, take the door off and an upright freezer, remove the door and turn it on its side. Drill some holes in the bottom, and fill it up with dirt. Now you have a raised garden bed that won't kill your back. Of course, that only works if you find an old freezer, but you can go dumpster diving or drive around and see what is being given away for free.
- Do free fun things with your friends and kids. Good thing I have tons of ideas on how to have fun on a budget. I wrote about 45 free things to do with kids indoors and 9 fun things to do with kids at home. If you don't have kids, you can still do free stuff at home instead of going out (and spending money!). You can have a board game night or even have a romantic date night at home.
- Use money-saving apps. Spend some time to sign up for Rakuten (Ebates), Ibotta, and use the cashback apps to save money on things you are already buying.
- Shop clearance! When you go shopping, go to the clearance aisle first. When you shop online, look in the clearance tab first. Never pay full price is a good rule to help you live a frugal life.
- Hang your clothes to dry. Using a drying rack to hang your clothes will not only save you money on your electric bill but will also make your clothes last longer, and you will need new clothing less often.
- Play safe with credit cards. Credit cards can be a useful tool, and some credit cards offer excellent cashback opportunities that you can use to get perks, gift cards, or even use the cash back to pay your bills. (REMINDER: only use a credit card if you can afford to pay it off in full. Do not go into credit card debt to get some perks).
- Try to get free electronics. I know this a long shot but if you don't care about the newest and the best, try to find someone who either cares about the latest upgrade or tries to find someone who constantly gets free upgrades. You can then get or buy their phone or tablet for cheap. For example, my sister-in-law's phone broke, and the sound does not work well. She was able to get a new one for free, and I took her old one. For the price of a pair of headphones, I have a perfectly good smartphone. Be creative in how you can do things like this.
8 Best Frugal Living Tips for Nurses
I wanted to share some of the best frugal living tips I could put together. Since being a nurse brings its only challenges that only nurses can relate too I asked some nurses for help in finding some of the best frugal living tips for nurses that they could think of. I got some fantastic responses!
Some of these frugal living tips will be exactly what you need. Some will be so out of touch you will want to throw your device across the room. The point of these tips is not to assume that everyone will gain from them or that everyone will even save money by using them. The point is to help you realize the different ways you can start living your best frugal life.
- Make extra money by taking travel nursing positions. You can find these through agencies and recruiters who find assignments throughout the country. The assignments typically last 13 weeks, and the pay is significantly higher in most cases. This is particularly true in a pandemic, where hospitals were offering RNs $5k to $10k per week to fill positions when COVID-19 initially started. If you have a specific financial goal in mind, such as saving for a house down payment or investing a lot of money for retirement, travel nursing can be a great way to go.
- Buy scrubs wholesale or second-hand. You go through many scrubs, so it's a great idea to try to buy them in bulk at a wholesaler. If you can't lay out the money or can't find what you want, then shop at your local thrift store; you would be surprised at what you can find. Instead of buying new for work, buy used. It's good for your pocket and the environment!
- Use your employer 401k or 403b to invest. This allows you to build investments without you ever having access to the money, making it impossible for you to spend it on something else inadvertently. As a nurse, you will find that many of your places of employment will offer these types of accounts (hopefully with a great match). Take advantage of that and use that money to create a life you love.
- Meal prep to save money after those long hours. Working long hours that nurses do can have a serious impact on what you eat because, after a long day, all you want is convenience, which often means take out! Avoid the extra spend by meal prepping in advance; this is not only healthier for you but will save you money. You can invest in some good lunch-packing materials (like this Mini Croc-Pot Food Warmer or a Bento Box), so you can have a delicious, warm meal while you are working super hard.
- Seek tuition reimbursement programs for Professional Development. Many employers and nursing associations offer scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs. The catch is that you typically need to pay for the course upfront first and then show proof of completion at the end. However, it is a great way to get your company to pay for you to move up the ladder.
- Get a Nurse Roommate. Listen, working together and living together may be too much for some, but if you can make it work, you will live the frugal lifestyle! By sharing and splitting rent costs, you can save a ton of money. You can also carpool together, which really saves you money. If you can't (or won't do the roommate thing), then you can still…
- Carpool. Find out who is on your shift and if they live close to you (or on the way). Carpooling can save you money on gas and tolls and is great for the environment as well!
- Offer your unused nursing books for sale. Consider selling your used nursing and medical books online and get some of your money back. You will create some extra room in your house and raise a few bucks for your emergency fund.
What Does Frugal Living Mean?
Living a frugal life means making do for what doesn't matter. It means not filling your life with things that don't matter. It means stripping down to the things that matter. It means not devoting time and money to things that don't matter.
There is an inherent value in doing with less regardless of the amount of money you have. Even if you have a lot, there is value in doing with less, eschewing materialism, reducing your waste as much as possible, and leaving the smallest physical footprint in this world as possible.
There is something good about living a frugal life. Frugal living can be rewarding in many ways. There is something about doing with less, about trying to have less materialism in your life.
Simple Frugal Living
We also need to understand that saving money is a necessity in the world we live in. When you spend all your money on things that you don't need or spend your money because you are in the habit of spending, you are giving up any financial freedom you may be able to have in your future. Good money habits included cutting down on spending and making more money. It would help if you found places in your budget to cut down to save more money and be prepared. Be creative where you save and work to find more places to save money without compromising your happiness.
There was a time in my life when I was unemployed, and we (my husband and I) had very very little money. It was a dark, depressing time. I was extremely hesitant to use credit cards or dip into savings because I had no idea if I would ever get another job or be able to pay it back. I had watched too many people sink deep into credit card debt, and I didn't want that happening to me.
I was on a tiny, strict budget, and I really stuck to it. I sometimes look back and wonder how we managed to make it work, and I honestly don't know. We had so little. Being frugal-not-by-choice is a terrible situation to be in.
From that moment onwards, I decided that I would actively embrace frugal living whether I had to or not. I would make frugal living as a value that I espouse.
That is why I do what I do and why I write what I write. I hope some of these simple, frugal living ideas resonate with you and make your life a little better. Let me know!