Getting serious about saving may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Just like any worthwhile endeavor, starting small is key. Establishing new budgeting practices can take as little as five minutes. Use these five frugal living tips to whip your budget into shape and start saving today.
Five Frugal Living Tips
1. Clean up your feed
The theory behind this first frugal living tip is simple: the less you see, the less you’ll spend. Our social media feeds are overrun with accounts that are specifically designed to get us to spend our money. From influencers posting sponsored content to clothing brands advertising their newest items, our feeds are full of opportunities to make irresponsible purchases.
Clean out your feed by unfollowing brands, boutiques, and influencers. These people quite literally make their living off of you. If you don’t know the person behind the account personally, there is no real reason to follow them. If you do choose to follow people who you do not know, make sure they are people of positive influence whose content encourages you to live a life of joy and contentment (and frugality!).
Clearing your feed of accounts that tempt you to spend is one of the easiest, quickest ways to establish better budgeting practices. So grab your smartphone and get ready to hit “unfollow.”
2. Take inventory before heading to the store
We rarely think to take inventory of our kitchen cabinets before grocery shopping, but to know what you need, you have to know what you already have.
Next time you’re creating your grocery list, take a minute (truly– this won’t take more than a minute) to rummage through your cabinets and fridge to make note of what you have. You’ll be shocked by how much you already have to work with.
For example, we always have copious amounts of rice, pasta, and quinoa in our pantry. Most meals only require one to two cups of any of these, meaning they stick around for a long time.
Knowing how much I already have on hand prevents me from making unnecessary repeat purchases, saving me money every time I shop.
In addition to saving money, you’ll also cut back on food waste. We all know the feeling of picking up yogurt at the store, only to come home and find you already had an unopened tub hiding in the back of the fridge.
One can only eat so much yogurt, and inevitably your new tub goes bad by the time you can finish the first. Throwing away an entire tub of yogurt is like throwing $2.69 in cash right in the trash.
Now imagine doing that with multiple items every week, ranging from $0.50 (the going rate for a Fuji apple) to $2.89 (a gallon of milk at Kroger).
You can avoid wasting money and creating food waste by simply checking your cabinets before heading out to do your grocery shopping. Your budget will thank you.
3. Check unit pricing
Frugal living tip number 3 is something that was ingrained in me by my mother at a young age. I can still remember standing at her side in the cereal aisle, waiting impatiently as she checked the unit weight of each and every box of Cheerios.
“You have to check each one, “ she would say, “because what they don’t tell you is every box is a different weight! Why would I pay $2.79 for 8.9 ounces of Cheerios when I could pay the same price for 9.2?”
Though it seemed trivial at the time, my mother was absolutely right. They really don’t tell you that, and it does make a massive difference over time. Instead of grabbing the first box of pasta, cereal, or rice you see, take 30 seconds to compare a couple of boxes and choose the one with the lowest unit price.
Amazon makes this especially easy by listing the unit price right under the item description.
When it comes to non-perishable items like toothpaste and paper towels, consider buying bulk. The unit price will always be substantially lower and you’ll save yourself a trip to the store by stocking up.
4. Check your budget every morning
We all have a morning routine designed to set us up for success. Tasks like going to the gym, meditating, and having our morning coffee usually make the checklist. But what about checking our budgets?
Being in the dark on your own spending is one of the easiest ways to fail at managing your finances. With over ⅓ of all adults using plastic cards exclusively throughout the week, we rarely come into direct contact with physical cash.
We aren’t fully aware of how much we have or how much we’re giving away. Making a habit of checking your budget every morning will make you a more aware, and in turn, more intentional spender.
Budget apps make this a breeze. With an app like Mint or EveryDollar, you have everything you need to know about your finances at your fingertips. New to the budgeting app world? Here’s why we think you should start a budget right away.
5. Take advantage of loyalty cards
If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned to be skeptical of any card offered to you by checkout clerks. Rewards cards, customer loyalty cards, punch cards; they all send a slew of questions rushing through my brain: How much does it cost so sign up? Is this a credit card? Will you use my contact information to send me spam mail?
However, in reality, customer loyalty programs can save you hundreds over the course of a year (read: customer loyalty programs should always be free and should not require much more than your name, phone number, and email address).
Customer loyalty programs offer cardholders rewards and discounts specifically designed for regular customers. With the Kroger Plus Card, you’ll save on all kinds of household staples, from produce to pasta. During our most recent grocery trip, we saved $26 dollars simply by being Kroger Plus cardholders.
Loyalty cards aren’t only reserved for grocery stores. Major retailers like Starbucks, Panera, and Madewell offer special discounts to their rewards program members, at no cost to the shopper. (Remember: do not let rewards incentivize you to spend! Instead, take advantage of the rewards when it comes time to buy something you truly need.)
Smaller establishments like local coffee shops often have punch cards that give you a free coffee after a certain number of purchases. With the average price of a latte at $4.16, we can use all the help we can get.
Saving money doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. These five frugal living tips will set you up to spend smarter and save more, putting you on the path to financial freedom.
By the way, sometimes we kill ourselves saving and forget that it’s only one side of the coin. Earning some extra income could make a huge impact. Check out our post featuring 27 ways to make extra money on the side.