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How to be frugal

Person in red sweater browsing through clothes on a clothing rack.

With the cost of living on the rise, and wages stagnating, it can be tough to make ends meet when you’re working for a living.

And even if you are lucky to make ends meet, adopting a more frugal lifestyle can be a great way to give yourself more freedom in life. By cutting costs, you get the freedom of having to work less or the freedom from fear of losing your job.

But how can you cut costs and become more frugal? Ways to save money without feeling like your life is devoid of all joys and pleasures? In this post, we’ll look at some key factors to help you adopt a more frugal lifestyle.

Budget everything

The first step in being frugal is becoming aware of your current expenses. Awareness is key, and budgeting is a great way to become aware of where money is going. It can be a little tedious, however, budgeting is a great way to learn to live frugally.

There are plenty of apps available online that can help make this process more manageable. Using a budgeting app can also be a great way to become aware of where the money is actually going.

When we think about money, most often our first thoughts focus on managing our incomes; what jobs do we have? How much money do we make? Can we make more? But once all possible income has been accounted for, it is time to look at expenses. The most important expenses to look at are the big, monthly ones, such as food or housing.

1. Downsize your home

The easiest way to cut your living costs is to reduce your housing expense. Consider living with less space. Downsizing to a smaller home will not only reduce your housing expense but also the cost of utilities and maintenance.

If you’re already living in a smaller home, consider whether there are other ways to reduce your housing expense. Sharing your household with others can reduce the cost for everyone. If you have a spare room, you can rent it out.

Sharing a household with others can also cut other household costs. Buying and cooking in bulk can drastically reduce costs and daily labor.

2. Move to a lower cost area

If you love your home and all things in it, but want to still have the ability to live frugally, moving to a more affordable area could be the answer. Housing prices vary considerably across the country. Higher-cost areas are generally found in large cities, while lower-cost communities can be located just outside these metropolises.

If you want your own space but don’t need much in terms of restaurants and nightlife options, head out into suburbia where housing prices are considerably lower than in urban areas.

3. Reduce food costs

The monthly food budget is a very considerable part of monthly expenses for most people. And unfortunately, it’s often where the most money is spent frivolously.

How can you cut food costs without feeling like you’re sacrificing too much? There are a number of strategies for this. The most important is to learn to cook healthy, and tasty, meals using low cost-per-calorie staples. Look here for more tips on how to eat healthy on a budget.

4. Find cheap ways of entertainment

We all need to relax sometimes. When not having enough recreation, it can be easy to reach for shopping or restaurant food for entertainment. Finding cheap ways of entertaining yourself can really help reducing monthly costs.

Some frugal ways of entertainment:

  1. Reading a book: This is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment around. You can find books for free at libraries or buy them second-hand from markets like Amazon, eBay, and Half Price Books. You can use library apps, such as Libby, to find ebooks completely for free.
  2. Gardening: Gardening is one of the cheapest ways to produce your own healthy food, and it can also be a form of entertainment if you get creative with landscaping.
  3. Foraging: Wild fruits, berries, and nuts are all free to harvest!
  4. Taking photos: Taking photographs is a great way to explore your local area while also capturing memories. It’s not expensive either because you can use the camera on your phone for this if need be.
  5. Doing puzzles: Puzzles aren’t as popular these days but they’re still worth giving a try thanks to their low cost.
  6. Playing board games or cards: These have always been classic ways of entertaining oneself without any fuss whatsoever; no expensive supplies required here. Card decks should last years and can be bought cheaply.
  7. Dinner parties: Calling up some friends for a potluck dinner is a great way to spend some good, and frugal, time with others!

Go here for more tips on how to entertain yourself (without screens!).

5. Get rid of any unnecessary subscriptions

It can be easy to get sucked in to signing up for subscription services that we don’t really need or want. Look through your re-occurring subscriptions and try to cut as much as you can. If you really need it, you can always sign up again.

6. Buy things second hand

You can often find great deals on clothing through thrift stores or consignment shops. But don’t just limit yourself to buying clothes second-hand. There are also things like books, furniture, even cars that you could buy second-hand!

If you have a wealthy neighborhood nearby, these are the best places to find high-quality, second-hand clothing.

When not to be frugal

While being frugal is great, taking it too far can have negative consequences. Everything in moderation — including moderation. There are certain times where it is not good to be too frugal.


Taking care of your health is important. Spending money on healthy food, gym membership, or nutritional supplements can greatly improve your health. Good health makes life so much more enjoyable. It is also a great way to save money long-term as healthcare costs can be a huge money drain.


No one likes hanging out with someone who is always penny-pinching. Being generous has a tendency of paying back. So do not be overly money-conscious with your friends and loved ones. Buy that extra round of drinks sometimes. If you have good friends, it should even itself out long-term.


Hopefully, being frugal will reduce some of your costs. Now, use that money to buy yourself more freedom. If you invest the money, it will (hopefully!) grow with time. If you invest large enough money, you can use the generated interest as a partial, passive income to allow yourself to work less or part-time.


These are some ways to be more frugal. Frugality is a good way to save money and live more simply. Looking at drastically reducing your main costs, as well as adopting some frugal habits is a great way to give yourself more freedom. But don’t go overboard on frugality — everything in moderation (including moderation).

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