In this post, you’ll find frugal living ideas that I use every day to have a simple, meaningful life. Those are easy to implement and literally everyone can try them.
1. Reduce eating in restaurants
Preparing meals by yourself can be really irritating. I don’t like cooking at all. Nevertheless, I avoid eating out.
The price difference between meals done at home and those bought in a restaurant can be huge! Especially, when you are used to eating out and you do this often.
Here are some tricks how to stick to eating meals at home:
– Find someone to cook for you. This may sound silly, but really – ask a person you’re living with what do they enjoy doing. If it is cooking, then you won! It might sound funny, but I’ve been very successful with this strategy. Even when I lived alone, I found some friends who would invite me to a dinner. I would buy some groceries for them, or help them out in any other way. You save money, time and you can meet with your friends at the same time.
Nowadays I barely cook, because I not only do hate it but additionally I really suck at it. What we have done was simple: we asked ourselves what we enjoy doing on a scale 1-10. 10- love it, 5- can live with that, 1- I’m sick when I think of that. This way my girlfriend cooks and I iron clothes.
Distribute the duties wisely and you can really feel the difference.
– Cook for 2 days. This will save your precious time. You can also prepare some more food and freeze it, so you have some “emergency food” for later.
2. Forget about your Starbucks coffee
It may seem like a little $4 pleasure, but it adds up extremely fast. If you allow yourself to do this every day, you will end up spending $20 a week, $80 a month, $960 a year…
You can buy some thermal cups and prepare a coffee yourself at home, or at work.
What if you do not drink coffee at all?
I’m not a coffee lover either, I drink maybe 2-5 cups of coffee a year, but my girlfriend drinks a lot of it.
There are a couple of ways for convincing others to give up on buying coffee at coffee shops. For example, you can buy a coffee machine or you can wake up early and make a coffee for your loved ones (I do it from time to time and it does not only save us some money, but her smile is so rewarding!).
3. Don’t go shopping without a list
People tend to buy things they don’t actually need. I can remember myself going to a shop and thinking “I want that, this is also cool, let’s take this one too”. This was disastrous. Some times I ended up buying beer, chips and some sweets. Doesn’t sound like a proper meal, does it?
You need a list. You have to think about what groceries you need today, tomorrow and for a couple of next days in advance. Planning your food expenses leads to better money management and helps to live a frugal life.
It has always been tricky for me because I hate shopping. When I think that I have to go home after work to check what I need to buy, then ask my girlfriend what she needs, then go to the shop, find all those things and waste around 15 minutes staying in a queue with other frustrated people, I simply give up.
However, we have recently found a great mobile app, that makes things much easier! It’s called “Bring!“.
How does it work?
1) You log yourself in and add your family members to your shopping list.
2) All the members of your shopping list can choose what they’d like to have. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home and you see that something is missing, or if you’re at work and you think you’d love to eat a banana once you’re back home. Wherever you are, you can update the list.
3) You can send 3 type of messages:
– “I’m going shopping” – so the others can place the last minute orders.
– “List updated” – when you updated the list and want the other to know about it
– “Shopping done” – so the others do not have to go shopping anymore and so you don’t end up having twice as much groceries.
It is really simple and it’s free! We love it because we managed to reduce the number of times we go shopping. When I need something, I simply put it on the list and when I’m close to the shop I check out if it has been purchased. If yes, I don’t have to buy it, if no, I go shopping and my girlfriend does not have to do this anymore. That’s a huge win, especially when you know that the other person is working at the moment and can potentially not be able to answer the phone.
4. Stop impulse buying
This one can really ruin your finances in seconds! I have recently developed a golden rule that helps me avoid impulse buying and makes my money management so much easier:
If I don’t need it to survive, I will not buy it yet. I’ll give myself a couple of days to re-think.
I believe this is a really simple rule that you can easily implement. You’ve seen an awesome grill that would be perfect for your garden? Or maybe this dress is simply astonishing and you need to have it right now? NO! The only thing you really need right now is to wait! Just give yourself a couple of days.
After 3-5 days you might end up thinking: “I would’ve ruined my budget with that, thank God I haven’t bought it and have saved the money”. It may as well be the opposite, you might just go and buy it. It is not the most important thing if you buy the product or not, but it is crucial to make a cautious decision and have enough time to consider all the pros and cons.
I use that rule in various areas of my life and it works really well.
5. Consider selling your car
I know that it is not always an option, but for sure it is worth considering. The amount of time and money spent on buying and maintaining a car can be huge! I have written a separate article about it.
Even if you need a car, you should maybe ask yourself a question “How much cars do we really need?”. I know some people who have 5 cars and more! Do they need it? I don’t think so.
Even if you decide not to sell your car, do not forget that you can always find some ways to reduce the maintenance costs. You can:
– change your driving style to be more cost efficient and more eco-friendly,
– buy a cheaper or more economical car,
– renegotiate your insurance costs,
– pick up some work colleagues and drive them home (you can charge them something, so your petrol costs sink),
– don’t drive your car when you can walk.
6. Stop buying bottled water
If you live in a place where you can have a safe, clear tap water you should definitely think about not buying bottled water anymore.
The costs seem to be small, but if you consider the yearly saving this is actually quite a lot. The other thing is that you have to transport it from the shop to your home (and it weighs a lot). I used to do this and it was really irritating.
Please, do not forget, that plastic bottles are still one of the biggest pollution-related problems. Every time you don’t buy a bottled water you actually make a tiny little step into helping our world to be the less polluted place. This step matters!
I stopped buying bottled water a couple of years ago and I’m very happy with this decision, as I save more money and don’t have to carry those bottles. I drink tap water at home and at work. If I want to have some water with me, I just carry it in a water bidon. I only buy bottled water it if I have to.
Which frugal living ideas have you implemented to save money and live a simpler life? What works for you and what doesn’t?