8 Key Frugal Tips

By Jamie Cattanach · May 20, 2024 · 10 minute read

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8 Key Frugal Tips

Living frugally means spending less than you earn; it can involve elements of simplicity and eco-friendliness.

You already know the advice about not signing up for every streaming platform under the sun and not having a fancy coffee every day. Fortunately, living a frugal life doesn’t have to feel like you must sacrifice your favorite things. By adopting some basic money-saving moves, you can stash cash without much effort.

Read on to learn eight easy tips that will help you streamline your spending and perhaps enjoy more peace of mind.

Key Points

•   Living frugally involves spending less than you earn, incorporating simplicity and eco-friendliness.

•   Reforming fixed expenses can lead to significant savings without drastic lifestyle changes.

•   Enhancing grocery shopping strategies, like choosing discount stores and using coupons, can reduce food costs.

•   DIY maintenance and repairs on household items can save money over time.

•   Enjoying free entertainment options and traveling frugally can enrich life without high costs.

8 Essential Frugal Living Tips

Here are eight tips on how to be more frugal and save money — without giving up all the fun and the little rewards in your life.

1. Reform Fixed Expenses

Regardless of what specific items might appear on a budget, they all come in two general varieties: fixed expenses vs. variable expenses.

Fixed expenses are, as the name suggests, those bills that are fixed and consistent each month, such as rent, insurance payments, and student loans. Variable expenses, on the other hand, are those whose amounts aren’t fixed… but that doesn’t mean all variable expenses are optional (or “discretionary”). For example, your electric bill probably varies from month to month, but you still know you’re going to have to pay it.

Let’s hone in on those fixed expenses first, though — because cutting down on regular, consistent costs can lead to regular, consistent savings. There are a variety of ways to do this, some more radical than others.

For example, moving to a less expensive neighborhood or splitting bills with a roommate might cut your rent in half; deciding to forgo a car can eliminate not only the car payment and insurance cost, but also variable expenses like parking, maintenance, and gas. These kinds of global lifestyle changes can take a lot of effort to set up at the start. However, the payoff is months or years of significant savings without too much ongoing effort.

However, there are plenty of ways to cut fixed expenses without making such seismic shifts to daily life. For instance, switching to a less expensive cell phone carrier can lower the monthly burden, as can ditching a gym membership in favor of hiking or cutting back on streaming service subscriptions. (Even those low per-month amounts can really add up when there are three or four of them!)

Recommended: Building a Line Item Budget

2. Gear Up Your Grocery Game

Groceries count as a variable expense, but they’re certainly not optional. That said, there’s an incredible margin for savings when it comes to stocking up on food each month.

So how to go about saving money on food and other grocery store items?

•   One easy way to start is to choose discount grocers and chains that are known for their low prices. Aldi, Lidl, Trader Joe’s and WinCo, for example, all have well-founded reputations for their frugal choices, particularly when compared to upscale grocery chains like Whole Foods. Shopping at a cheaper store can take some of the footwork out of saving; you may be able to spend less on the exact same grocery list. But it’s also possible to take the project even further.

•   Coupon clipping might not be the most glamorous activity, but those deals can create substantial savings, particularly for practiced couponers. These days, apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 make it easy to score savings on the items you’re already shopping for.

•   Additionally, aiming to make cheaper meals can stretch each grocery store dollar even further. Relying on inexpensive staples like rice, which can be dressed up and filled out in many different ways, can help keep both bellies and wallets full.

3. Decide to Do It Yourself

Buying things is one thing. But maintaining them is a whole ‘nother can of worms — and it can be a downright expensive one. For instance, going in for an oil change vs. doing it yourself can be a pricey undertaking. And calling in a plumber when the sink or toilet is clogged can be expensive compared with going into DIY mode.

All of which is to say: honing some handiness skills could easily help save money over the course of a lifetime. And thanks to the fact that we live in the digital age, it’s relatively easy to become a Jack or Jill of all trades. YouTube is full of free video tutorials that can walk you through everything from fixing a dishwasher that won’t drain to rotating your own tires.

Other high-cost services to consider DIYing: mani/pedis, facials, pet grooming, landscaping, moving, and more. Basically, anytime you could spend money on hiring a professional, think seriously about whether you actually need the help.

Recommended: Pros and Cons of Online and Mobile Banking

4. Enjoy Free Entertainment

While some events are worthy splurges — like a once-in-a-lifetime concert — it’s also important to consider all the free forms of entertainment at our fingertips. For example, your local library may offer streaming movies along with books and audiobooks (or try services connected to libraries, like Kanopy and Hoopla), and many museums offer cost-free admissions on specific days of the week or month.

Even the national parks offer free admission from time to time. Free national park entrance days vary slightly from year to year, but generally include the first day of National Park Week in late April and National Public Lands Day, which falls on the in late September, along with Veterans Day and the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

5. Take Frugalism With You Wherever You Go

Speaking of national parks: Travel is another big ticket item as far as discretionary expenses are concerned. Seeing the world can be enriching — and it doesn’t have to strip away all your riches, either.

Finding ways to be a frugal traveler, such as choosing budget-friendly destinations and scoring the cheapest flights possible, can mean saving money without sacrificing this major life experience. You might even try a home swap or being a house-sitter in a foreign country to make your journey as affordable as possible.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.

Reuse and Recycle

The idea of reusing and recycling can go in many directions. It can mean buying a reusable water bottle and filling at home and at filling stations around town vs. buying pricey bottled water and contributing to the global single-use plastic problem.

It can mean offloading your gently used items (laptop, clothing, kitchenware) and making a little bit of spending money. It can mean also buying items from your local thrift shop or picking them up for free if you have a town swap spot.

Not only is this planet-friendly, but it can help your wallet, too.

7. Split the Cost

One good way to be frugal is to share the expenses of daily life. For instance, you might get a roommate or move in with a friend to take your rent down a notch. You and a friend might shop at warehouse clubs and split the mega sizes of food and enjoy the lower costs.

8. Use Credit Sparingly

It’s no secret that credit card debt is high-interest debt, and you likely don’t want to be wasting money on major interest charges. Follow your budget, and try to pay in cash or with your debit card whenever possible. Work hard to pay off your complete credit card bill every month so you don’t have snowballing interest.

💡 Quick Tip: Want to save more, spend smarter? Let your bank manage the basics. It’s surprisingly easy, and secure, when you open an online bank account.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

Benefits of a Frugal Lifestyle

Need more encouragement and incentive to live frugally? Consider these upsides.


When you live frugally, you often minimize waste. You plan your meals and don’t toss as many leftovers and unused ingredients as you would otherwise. You might walk rather than take an Uber. You might reuse shopping totes vs. paying for a bag every time you go shopping.

Save Money

Living frugally is all about saving cash. You can bring down such major costs as rent, food, utilities, and transportation when living this way.

You can also learn how to rein in your discretionary spending. Instead of spending a couple of hundred dollars on an arena rock-concert ticket, perhaps there’s great live local music at a town park or a local bar.

Pay Down Debt

When you live frugally, it can give you the means to pay down debt, especially the high-interest kind. That means more money is freed up to spend as you like and/or apply towards big-picture personal and financial goals.

Live on a Small Budget

Living frugally means you have a budget that is working and helping to keep your finances on track. You likely know your spending limits well, have a handle on your debt, and a clear plan to hit your longer-term goals. You don’t have loads of expenses and credit lines to wrangle. This can enhance your peace of mind.

Is Frugal Living Sustainable Over the Long Term?

Frugal living can be sustainable over the long term. Learning how to stick to a modest budget can help you live more minimally and avoid lifestyle creep (when your expenses rise along with your salary over time). By not always upgrading to a bigger house, fancier car, or more lavish summer vacation, you can enjoy the balance and security of frugal living.

What Does Frugal Mean for Your Money?

Here’s another angle on how being frugal can impact your money:

•   Adopting frugal habits and creating a savings plan can be ways to improve your financial health. Cutting back on day-to-day living expenses can mean more money set aside for retirement as well as major life milestones, like owning a home or having a baby.

•   One of the most important first steps toward frugality is getting organized, financially speaking. Having a budget and tracking your finances are valuable moves. How often to monitor your bank accounts is a personal decision, but a couple of times a week can help you see how your money is coming in and going out.

•   Living frugally can also mean more money goes towards realizing your long-term financial goals and building wealth. Whether that means saving for a child’s college education or for retirement, by cutting back on spending now, you can help ensure a better future.

The Takeaway

Living frugally can be a way to trim your expenses, stay out of debt, and put more money towards your personal goals and long-term financial aspirations. It also can be a lifestyle that simplifies your daily habits and respects the planet. With frugality, you may find that some of your money stress decreases, too.

It’s wise to find a banking partner who can help you manage your money well if you choose to live in this cost-effective and simple style.

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What does frugal actually mean?

Frugal means simple and inexpensive. So if you are living frugally, you are probably sticking to a budget, saving for future goals, and not indulging in too many luxuries.

What’s the best example of frugal living?

An example of frugal living could be someone who has roommates to share costs with, plans meals to minimize food expenses, grows some of their own produce, and walks or bikes when possible vs. using a car.

Why is frugal living more popular these days?

Frugal living is more popular these days for a few reasons. One is the importance of living in an eco-friendly way; others may be that with inflation still a factor and high interest rates, people are looking for ways to reduce their expenses and live more simply.

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