Living frugally is a lifestyle to some people, and a necessity for others. Whatever your reasons for living frugally, certain decisions can have a really big impact on your life if you execute them the right way. Whether that’s repairing a car yourself or managing to save 10% of your paycheck a month, a win is a win.
Today, however, we’re here to look at frugal living tips with a big impact. Let’s review some of the best methods to make the finances in your life a little easier to manage and keep control of.
Kill Off All Debt
If you want to live frugally, being in debt is about the opposite of that. The average American carries about $92,000 in debt, give or take a few hundred or thousand dollars. This is unacceptable if you’re trying to live frugally, of course. Debt can sometimes be like a ball and chain: it can tie you to a lifestyle, job, area, or sometimes even relationships. It’s a huge killer to live freely.
If you want to live frugally, try to get rid of all debt as much as you can. This doesn’t just mean paying it off as soon as possible: it means exploring things like refinancing, lower interest rates, consolidating your debts and loans to save money, and even trying to get portions forgiven if possible, depending on the lender’s stance.
Don’t Use Credit Cards if You Can’t Help It
Yes: it does say can’t, not can. The reason why so many finance gurus advise getting rid of credit cards entirely is very simple: people don’t know how to use credit cards, and much of the time, they’re also misled about managing and taking care of their own money.
Credit cards can be great for paying off small loans without interest on big purchases. Credit cards are great for consumer protection, they’re amazing when it comes to helping extend your monthly household budget, and they’re great for traveling and tons of other activities.
But because people have poor self-control at times, and because impulse buying is so easy to trigger and so easy to waste money on, sometimes not having a credit card or not using one can be easier than having to manage yourself using one. Credit card debt has some of the most exorbitant interest rates: you’ll be spending a lot on nothing but lining an exec’s pockets.
If you’re bad about impulse spending, a credit card can be more of a curse than a blessing. Otherwise, feel free to use all of the promotions and offers with your credit card company to get better deals.
Look For Cheaper Housing
Though this is definitely easier said than done, it’s also one of the tips that can make you save the most money. For most people, housing (usually renting) is about 25-30% of their monthly household budget. Most people rent, but if you own a home, your mortgage, upkeep costs, maintenance, home insurance, and other costs are bound to be expensive. This is one of the frugal living tips with a big impact: one that can seriously change your monthly finances.
Looking for cheaper housing is hard, especially with rent going up all the time, but they haven’t quite made it impossible (yet). You could potentially save hundreds of dollars by moving into a different apartment or home, a lot of the time in the same area, but not always.
The easiest way to make the decision on how to do this is review what you’re getting for moving, and then stack it up to your current location and the cost of moving. If moving costs you $1000, and you’re only saving $50-$100 a month, you’ll only see a real benefit after a whole year after moving.
If what you’re saving is more substantial, then it won’t take long to feel the effects. Try not to compromise on too much quality of your life if possible. Make sure to also review the kinds of amenities and other benefits that the new location or complex will give you. That’s as important — or more so, sometimes — than the cost itself.
Look For Cheaper Insurance/Buy a Cheap or Used Vehicle
If you’re young, driver’s insurance costs a fortune. The reason for this is because younger drivers are statistically more likely to have an accident or make a mistake on the road. Most car insurance companies drop their rates drastically once you’re at least 25 years old, so if you’ve been insured for a few years and you’ve gotten older, you should consider reviewing your policy or signing with another company.
When it comes to transportation itself, public transit is obviously cheapest, but not always the most convenient or ideal for your place in life. If you have to own a vehicle, get the cheapest one you can that’s still decent and used: but don’t buy new.
Instead, spend a few hours of research, use a Blue Book, or talk to a knowledgeable friend that you know about cars. There are a lot of older models that were made in the 90’s and 2000’s that can still run fine. Sometimes, they don’t even require a lot of maintenance if they were taken care of properly.
Even buying newer used cars is still cheaper and better than buying brand-new, so keep that in mind as well as a frugal living tip with a big impact.
Use Food Banks or Other Free Services/Public Services
One of our last frugal living tips with a big impact is to use public services, food banks, and other free or cheap services to make things move along a little easier. When you come to a food bank, for example, they don’t ask to see a paycheck. They don’t ask if you really need the food or not: they just give it to you.
The same thing with a library: you can check out plenty of books, usually for free or almost free. They don’t ask your income or how much you make. You can use a library if you make $30k a year or $300k a year, though one person is obviously much better off than the other.
The reason why it’s so important to use these services is they can help with everything from food to childcare to transportation, housing, education, healthcare, and just about everything else under the sun. This last tip is much more country-specific than any other: it all depends on where you are when it comes to what programs or services are offered in your community, city, state, or country.
If you’re committed to living frugally, then use these frugal living tips with a big impact to try to save money and change your life. Living frugally is a lifestyle, but even if it’s not a choice, by trying your hardest you should be able to make it as easy on yourself as possible. Happy frugality and happy savings!