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tips live frugal save money

Saving money each month means more money in your pocket. Who doesn’t want that?! My husband, Luke, and I are naturals when it comes to saving money. 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. 

Below I’ve compiled a huge list of all the ways we currently save money on a tight budget. Frugal living doesn’t have to be difficult. 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/Savings Plan

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, in our budget, tithe is a must, followed by bills. So we budget out the amount needed for tithe and all of our bills, then work our way down the list to groceries, etc. What’s left over is either saved, or used for special occasions that month. Making a budget and learning to lower expenses is essential to save money.

Live Below Your Means

We have money in savings but we act as if it doesn’t exist. Our goal is to be money savers, not money spenders, by never pulling from that money and always adding 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 live frugally becomes much greater. Living below your means is essential if you want to save money.

Be Picky Where You Grocery Shop

Just because we live frugally does not mean we have to sacrifice our healthy eating habits. 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. Find a grocery store in your area, such as ALDI or Grocery Outlet, that will contribute to your frugal living lifestyle by helping you save money.

Use Ebates and Ibotta When Shopping For Instant Cash Back

Ibotta is an awesome cash back app that you can use on your smart phone to earn cash back rewards and save money simply by shopping! It includes many popular stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Thrive Market, and much more. I’ve earned $30 dollars from Ibotta in the past week. Let me tell you how. Ibotta is running a promotion where when you refer a friend, you get five dollars.  For the first two friends that you refer, you get a $10 bonus. For the next five friends that you refer, you get five dollars for each friend plus a $25 bonus. For the next 10 friends that you refer, you get another five dollars for each friend plus a $50 bonus. After that, for every 10 friends you refer you’ll continue to receive a $100 bonus. When you download the app, use my referral code icnaysv to earn your first $10 just for signing up, and start inviting your friends using your own link through the app to start earning huge bonuses!

Ebates is an incredible cash back program that pays you to shop! No, I’m not kidding. And yes, I thought it was a scam too when I first signed up. But I promise, it’s not! Simply sign up for Ebates and activate the cash back option whenever you shop, and you can earn up to 10% cash back at places such as Overstock.com, Old Navy, Groupon, Expedia, Macy’s, Walmart, Athlete, and SO MUCH MORE. It’s too good of a deal to pass up.

Use Amazon

I can’t even begin to tell you how much money we save each month 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 helps us save money in the long run. Things like running shoes, dumbbells, my kettlebell, makeup, vitamins, probiotics, unlocked cell phones, the list goes on. Amazon is our superhero sidekick to save money and lower expenses. Get 30 days of Amazon Prime here for free!

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

In our culture, it can feel like we always have to prove our worth with our homes, cars, and belongings.

Can I be honest with you?

If you fall trap to that mindset, say goodbye to any type of savings you might hope for. You have to start living below your means in all aspects, not just your home. 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 money each month by living in an apartment below our means. With the money we are saving and the lower expenses on rent, we can slowly work our way to owning our own house one day. Having a goal in mind can help motivate you to save money and manage money well. 

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. By avoiding the cable bill, we have been able to save money each month and lower our overall expenses.

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 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 choose to lower expenses by buying 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. By planning out our meals and eating in each night, we have been able to save money big time. We also ALWAYS use Groupon when eating out. We always find great deals on restaurants with Groupon so our meals are always heavily discounted which results in greater savings for us by the end of the month.

Meal Plan Each Week

I’ve been meal planning since the first week we got home from our honeymoon. It has helped us to live frugally by saving 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 lower expenses and save money by staying 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. CLICK HERE to get $40 off your next stay with Airbnb!

Sell on Poshmark

Poshmark: I use Poshmark to buy and sell secondhand clothing that is in very good or brand new condition. I’ve made close to $300 in the past 3 months by selling used clothing, shoes, purses, and even a bridesmaid dress I won’t ever use again. All you have to do is snap a photo, fill out a quick description, and upload it to the app. It’s the easiest money I’ve ever made. 

Only Buy Secondhand Clothing or Shop Major Sales

 I’m a HUGE fan of Goodwill, Value Village, Poshmark, ThredUp, Plato’s Closet; basically any secondhand clothing store is my jam. I very rarely purchase clothing that isn’t on sale or secondhand. Another great discount resource is Groopdealz. Groupdealz has become my favorite online discount shopping site that helps me save money. From home decor, to adult and kids clothing, to jewelry, to shoes, to makeup, Groopdealz has it all and for great discounted prices. Get up to 70% off daily boutique deals at Groopdealz!

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Buy on 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 my code UUPXK to get $5 off your first order.

Babysit or Nanny with Care.com For A Part Time Income

I first joined Care.com in August 2013 and within 1 week I got my first full time summer nanny job for 2 kids at a home 1 mile from where I lived. The pay was much higher than minimum wage and all I had to do was play with kids and an adorable Bernese Mountain dog all day. I continued to use Care.com each summer since and have now nannied for 6 families with children ranging from 6 months old to 11 years old. It has been the best experience; I truly can’t recommend nannying or babysitting enough if you love kids and want to make easy money. Care.com is fantastic for connecting you with hundreds of families who are in search of a full-time nanny, part-time nanny, or an occasional babysitter. You can even be a educational tutor or a dog walker through Care.com. Sign up here for free and get connected with the perfect family for you.

Use Groupon

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve used Groupon to save money each month, 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. Groupon has lowered expenses in multiple ways for us. 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 link here to save $10 on your next purchase with Groupon! 

Use Shopkick

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 for living frugally 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 club. 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. This all has to do with sticking to a tight budget. If what you have isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it! In other words, there is no need to upgrade EVERY time a new pretty shiny phone comes out. 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 money each money from not indulging in 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, how to budget properly, and how to lower expenses where needed. 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 and a key frugal living shortcut. 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 helps us save 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. 

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