Frugal living means more money in your pocket. Who doesn’t want that?! My husband, Luke, and I are natural savers. No matter what our income looks like, I think we will always want to save money where we can. There’s no point in spending extra money if you don’t need to, right? I’ve learned so much about saving money from my dad, the ultimate tight wad. And he would fully claim that name to be true. He pinches pennies despite his more than comfortable income/savings, but splurges on family vacations, activities, and more. I think that’s an awesome way to live. Cut the corners on costs so you can splurge on the good stuff that makes memories.
Below I’ve compiled a huge list of all the ways Luke and I currently save money. Some might seem obvious, but many of them we’ve been creative about. And obvious or not, they work. Once you implement these money saving ideas into your lifestyle, your wallet will be a bit thicker and your savings a bit happier.
Make a Budget
Prioritize what in your life is a must and what is a want. Cut out as many of the “wants” as possible and prioritize the “musts” from greatest to least importance. For example, monthly tithe is a must for my husband and I so before we do anything with our paychecks, we set aside 10% for church and missions. We do this because first, the Bible tells us to, and second, we know that all money belongs to God in the first place. We always want to give back to Him with grateful and thankful hearts for what He has blessed us with. Once tithe is taken out of our income, we work our way down the list to bills, groceries, rent, etc. What’s left over is either saved, or used for special occasions that month.
Live Below Your Means
We have money in savings but we act as if it doesn’t exist. Our goal is to never pull from that money and always add to it. That means we live frugally, because we don’t have big paychecks to begin with. Even if you have money for a new fancy car, buy a reliable used car instead. Just because you earned a bonus at work doesn’t mean you need to spend it right away on new clothes, electronics, an expensive dinner date, etc. Act as if every single penny counts, and you will notice your desire to spend more becomes much less.
Be Picky Where You Grocery Shop
Just because we live frugally does not mean we have to sacrifice our health. I know that putting good and wholesome foods into my body will make me feel much better and will keep my health in check down the road. It is possible to eat healthy on a budget, I promise. I know there are different grocery stores in different areas so what works for you may not work for me and vise versa. But in my area, we have grocery outlet and it has saved me SO. MUCH. MONEY. over the past year.
I go to Grocery Outlet for healthy snack food (they surprisingly have a great selection for amazing deals), medicine, toiletries, seasonings, and protein powder/protein bars. I’ve been able to buy 12 Kind bars for 3.99 and 24 Aloha bars for 10$, Wild Friends nut butters for 1.99/jar (can be up to $12.69 in other grocers), and Purely Elizabeth granola and oatmeal for 1.99 a bag, which is usually $7.99/bag or higher. YOU GUYS! That is insane. Huge name brand items for a fraction of what they would cost elsewhere. The downside to Grocery Outlet is you can’t get everything on your list at one stop because sometimes the produce on its way out (rotting), and some things they just don’t sell, but it sure saves a ton of money on what I can buy there.
Luke and I also shop at Costco, which we did pay a membership for, but find it to be worth the money. At Costco, we buy things in bulk such as toilet paper, shampoo and conditioner, meat, cereal for Luke, and more. Buying in bulk really helps to save us money over time. We buy produce as well such as spinach, zuchinni, squash, lemons, oranges, cucumbers, and bananas; all for extremely low prices and high quality. I also bought my tires at Costco for a good deal with a promotion they had going on. And lastly, we get our gas there for a great price.
Finally, we shop at Fred Meyer for whatever else is on our list that we didn’t find at Grocery Outlet or Costco. Usually it’s things like smaller amounts of produce such as a couple of bell peppers, pasta sauce, lactose free milk, etc. Fred Meyer proves to be the least inexpensive grocery store out of all the “non discount grocery store” options.
Use Ibotta When Shopping
Ibotta is an awesome cash back app that you can use on your smart phone to earn cash back rewards simply for shopping! It includes many popular stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Thrive Market, and much more. You even earn $1 back for every Uber ride you take! All you have to do is take a picture with the app of your receipt from where you shopped and the rebates are yours! When you download the app, use my referral code icnaysv to earn your first $10!
I can’t even begin to tell you how much money we’ve saved by using Amazon. Every time I go to the store to buy something that’s not a regular grocery purchase, I write down the price and don’t buy it yet until I check Amazon. Almost every single time it’s cheaper on Amazon. Plus, we pay for Amazon prime once a year and because we get free shipping and use Amazon so often, it definitely saves us money in the long run. Things like running shoes, dumbbells, my kettlebell, makeup, vitamins, probiotics, unlocked cell phones, the list goes on.
No Gym Membership or a Cheap Gym Membership
For years I never paid for a gym membership because I always did my own workouts or did YouTube workouts which always worked great for me. When I married Luke, that changed because we didn’t have a big set of weights he could use to workout and he wasn’t all about the running or plyometric workout life like I am 😉 So we did our research and found the cheapest gym membership we could find. We are currently members at a gym that charges us $10/month and has all the equipment we could ever want (and more). Free personal training, free massages, and free workout classes are just some of the perks. If you must pay for a gym membership, go budget. Do your research. And if you find that you aren’t going often enough to get your money’s worth, cancel immediately.
Live in a Home Below Your Means
For Luke and I, our current home is an apartment. And we are paying extremely low rent because we have 480 square feet to share, no dishwasher, no laundry in the apartment, and no special amenities like a balcony, pool, or a/c in the bedroom. We could afford a more expensive apartment, but instead we are choosing to save hundreds each month by living in an apartment below our means, in not the richest part of town, and without special amenities such as a dishwasher. With the money we are saving, we can slowly work our way to owning our own house one day.
Don’t Pay For Cable
We have the T.V. Luke has owned since high school and we share a Netflix account with Luke’s family. That’s all we have for TV and it works great for us.
Avoid Using a Car and Paying for Parking When Possible
Because we live 1 mile from the city, everywhere you go you have to pay for parking and it really adds up. Luke and I bought bikes last year so we can bike places and lock our bikes up instead of having to drive and pay for parking. It’s a fun activity we can do together, we get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and it saves us money. Win-win-win!
Treat Eating Out Like A Luxury
Luke and I aim to eat out together once a month. It’s a special date for us, and it’s something we look forward to because we don’t do it often. Eating out costs so much more than cooking a meal at home, so to us, it’s a luxury that we get to occasionally enjoy together.
I’ve been meal planning since the first week we got home from our honeymoon. It has saved me so much time, money, and effort. Every weekend, I pick a time to sit down and spend 1-2 hours planning out my meals for each night in the upcoming week. Then I write out my grocery list with everything I need for the meals, and whatever else we need that week. That way, when I get to the grocery store, I know exactly what I need so I’m not tempted to buy the entire store. I also have all the dinner meals planned out for the week so we aren’t tempted to eat out for dinner or order a pizza. To download and print my free meal planning menu and grocery list, click here.
Use Airbnb Instead of Staying in Hotels
When Luke and I travel, we always opt to stay in Airbnb’s instead of a hotel and it saves us literally hundreds. For our honeymoon, we stayed 7 nights in a beautiful condo, right on the beach, with a full kitchen and water view, for $567, all fees included. I’ve stayed in an Airbnb 3 times since then in Vegas, Nevada, Leavenworth, Washington, and Seaside, Oregon and have had good experiences with all of them. The great thing about Airbnb is you can search for exactly what you want in the price range you want it. So you can go ultra budget, or semi-budget, while still paying much less than a hotel. You can use my code www.airbnb.com/c/meredithl55 to get $40 off your next stay with Airbnb!
Sell on Poshmark
I started selling on Poshmark 3 months ago and I’ve sold 13 items since; making $168 total. All of the items I sold were used clothing or shoes that I no longer get use out of. It’s basically free money and the app is EXTREMELY easy to sell on. All you have to do is upload a picture of your clothing, accessory, or shoes, fill in the blanks describing your item, and press sell. Once your item has been purchased, a shipping label will be emailed to you, free of charge. Simply pack up your order, paste the label on top, and drop it in a USPS mail box or take it to the post office. That’s it! SO. EASY.
Only Buy Secondhand Clothing or Shop Major Sales
Groopdealz- Groopdealz has become my favorite online discount shopping site. From home decor, to adult and kids clothing, to jewelry, to shoes, to makeup, Groopdealz has it all and for great discounted prices. Click the link for up to 70% off daily boutique deals at Groopdealz!
Poshmark -I love Poshmark because I’m able to buy high quality, name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost. I’m all about quality because it will last longer than a shirt only cost me $5 but will shrink to nothing and pill to pieces. I bought a brand new pair of wedges for $5, 2 pairs of shorts (Lauren Conrad and Old Navy) for $6 each, and a mint condition Bridesmaid dress for a wedding for $75 that originally would’ve cost me $150. Always check Poshmark first before buying at department stores. Want to start buying/selling on Poshmark? Install the free app here and sign up using the code UUPXK to get $5 off your first order.
ThredUp– ThredUp is similar to Poshmark in that they are both for buying gently used or new clothing secondhand. ThredUp is slightly different from Poshmark because instead of buying directly from the seller, you buy from the company that the seller has already sold their gently used or new clothing to. I like both for different reasons. On Poshmark, I can bargain the price down from the individual seller. On ThredUp, I can pay for shipping once for multiple items because I’m ordering from one company, whereas Poshmark I pay for shipping from each individual seller. Want to try out ThredUp? Use my code here to receive $10 off your next order!
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve used Groupon to save me money, I’d be a very rich woman. Oh wait, I already am because of how much I’ve saved using Groupon. Okay bad joke. But seriously! If you haven’t tried Groupon yet now is the time. I use Groupon for everything from oil changes (paid $20 for an originally $60 dollar oil change at Jiffy Lube), tickets to concerts for half price, restaurants on date night (up to 55% off various restaurants in your area), half price tickets to a water park when I was on vacation in Las Vegas, discounted beats headphones, discounted spray tan for my wedding, discounted mani pedi package for my wedding; we could seriously be here all day. Check out Groupon and you will start saving big time on things you need to purchase but would rather not pay full price. Use my code here to save $10 on your next purchase with Groupon!
Shopkick takes a little extra effort but can earn big rewards for just whipping out your phone and scanning a few items on your next shopping trip. I’ve been using Shopkick for 3 years now and don’t see any reason to stop now. I’ve earned numerous free movie tickets (because I think movie tickets are a total waste of money so why not earn them for free 🙂 ), but you can set your points to earn you what you want. You can choose from items such as Starbucks, AMC, T.J. MAXX,and Nordstrom gift cards, perfume, electronics, sports equipment, and much more just for earning kicks. When I earn 2,500 kicks, I receive a $10.00 AMC gift card which covers the price of my movie ticket. I’ve never changed my reward because I love movies but hate splurging on them. I find that using Shopkick has been a great way to reward myself with a movie ticket once in awhile. To use Shopkick and start earning kicks now, download the app here.
Never Buy the Newest Smart Phone Available
I have forever been a member of the 2 generations old iPhone. Right now I’m sporting the iPhone 5s and have been for 3 years now. It’s still working just fine so I haven’t needed to replace it yet. Luke and I never buy the newest phones or electronics, and since we’ve never felt that need or urgency to do so, it saves us from impulse buys.
A Credit Card is Not Your Enemy
*AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE MEANS TO PAY IT OFF* Credit Cards are great for earning cash back and building up your credit, but pleeeease don’t make the mistake of getting a credit card if you’re tempted to buy more than you can afford and don’t budget out your expenses. Luke and I have a credit card that gives us back 1% on every single purchase we make, and each month 5% cash back rewards rotate from different items. For example, this month we get 5% cash back on restaurants. We use our credit card for EVERYTHING: car insurance, rent, utilities, health insurance, groceries, the list goes on. We do this because we are getting money back each time we use the credit card, and we know we have the means to pay it off each month. By the end of the year, we will have hundreds in cash back all because we used the card.
Put Money Into a Savings Account
My dad is extremely smart with finances, so any time I have a question about something finance related, he’s the man I go to. He advised Luke and I this year to start a savings account for retirement. It’s NEVER too early to start saving for the future. So quarterly, Luke and I aim to add a bit of money that we’ve saved into our retirement fund. We also have invested money in stocks, which will multiply in value over time. If I could choose to have money sitting in the bank collecting dust, or invest the money so it can gain value over time, I’m going to choose the latter.
Cut Corners on Bills
It can be difficult to cut corners on bills, but it’s possible. The two ways we have done this recently that come to mind are with utilities and car insurance. For utilities, our bill should be through the roof because it’s hotter than hades where we live in the summer time and we could be cranking the a/c like mad men. But we don’t. We have one a/c unit in the window of our living room that we keep on energy saving mode. We then use fans to funnel the air from the living room, down the hall, to the bedroom. Sounds crazy, I know. But it saves us a ton of money on our utility bill and it’s worked just fine through the hottest parts of the summer (I’m talking 100s.)
With the car insurance, we keep our information updated and stay in contact with our insurance company for a reason. Just this last month, we were able to lower our car insurance for something we had qualified for. I had previously received an email saying check your policy to make sure you don’t quality for a lower premium. I could’ve brushed the email off, but I took the time to check and it saved us money. It was so simple and definitely worth it.
Accept That This is Where You Are
Once you get to the point of acceptance, you will no longer find yourself constantly stressing over money. If you’re always trying to live above your means, you will slowly drown into the despair of debt. However, if you accept that you are in a place where budgeting is a necessity, you will become more content with what you’re able to afford and won’t have to struggle to stay out of debt. Once you become content with where you are financially, you can start enjoying life.