Are you new to frugal living?
You’ve already taken the first step toward getting your financial life together. Maybe you’re struggling with debt or you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Whatever the reason, frugality can bring a freedom to your life that you may have never imagined.
Ditching debt, building savings, and being prepared for emergencies are all things that your future self will thank you for later. When you aren’t tied down by endless bills and debt payments, you can live your life on your terms.
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You can do anything you want…travel the world, retire early, put your kids through college, buy a snazzy car (with cash), and/or give generously. The possibilities are endless.
Here are nine frugal living tips for beginners!
Create a Budget
When you’re ready to get your finances together, the first thing you need to do is create a budget. People often have a misconception that budgets are always constricting, but budgets can actually give you more freedom.
With a budget, you tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. You regain control over your money and you can start working toward your future goals.
Want to create a budget but not sure where to start? Download my free guide to setting up a budget, which includes a printable worksheet!
Monitor Your Credit
Dave Ramsey discourages people from paying attention to their credit scores and refers to credit as an “I love debt” score. While I see his point, it’s unrealistic to assume that everyone will always pay cash for everything.
Up until last year, my husband and I had never had a car loan. We found ourselves in a bind and ended up taking out our first car loan, which we paid off in a few months. If we didn’t have any credit (or had bad credit), we wouldn’t have been able to get a loan (or we would’ve had a terrible interest rate).
We also plan to take on a mortgage in about a year. Paying cash for a house is awesome if you have that option, but most people don’t have $100,000+ in cash sitting around.
To ensure that we get the best interest rate possible on our future mortgage, we’re keeping an eye on our credit scores and doing what we can to improve them.
Credit Sesame is a free tool that allows you to check your credit score for free. They utilize a “soft pull”, so checking your credit won’t impact your score.
Once you know your credit score, you can take steps to improve it if needed. This will allow you to get a great interest rate on a mortgage or any other loan you take out in the future.
Related Post: Why Your Credit Score Matters + Credit Sesame Review
Meal planning has allowed me to spend less on groceries, waste less food, and get organized. I plan my meals for the week over the weekend, and then I don’t have to think about it at all during the week.
It makes life simpler and more affordable. I also like to prepare my lunches for the week on Sundays so I don’t have to do it during the week when I’m busy and don’t feel like it. This eliminates the temptation to buy fast food, which is better for my health and my wallet.
Use Cash Back Sites
Why pay full price if you don’t have to? Free cash back sites like Ebates and Ibotta allow users to earn cash back on everyday purchases at popular retailers and websites like Target, Walmart, Amazon, and grocery stores.
I use Ebates whenever I shop online and I check out Ibotta before I go to the grocery store so I can snag awesome deals. I love being able to earn a little cash back just for buying things I was going to buy anyway!
Find Free or Cheap Things to Do
Being frugal doesn’t have to be boring! There are tons of cheap or free things to do that don’t cost a thing! Need some ideas? Check out these posts:
Whenever I buy new items, I use Ebates or Ibotta to earn cash back. Another cheap option is to buy secondhand.
Most of my work clothes came from garage sales, I bought my office desk at an estate sale, and I got my filing cabinet for free from the side of the road. It was a little dirty, but after we cleaned it out, it’s in great shape and works just fine!
You can also buy used items from eBay, Craigslist, or thrift stores.
Saving money on little things can be helpful, but sometimes it’s not enough. If you’re buried in debt or barely making ends meet, you may need to reduce your big expenses as well. Typically, our largest expenses are housing and transportation.
Driving a $20,000 car? Sell it and buy an $8,000 car. Living in a big apartment or house with more space than you need? Try downsizing to a smaller home.
Maybe you’ve found that being frugal isn’t enough, and you can’t downsize because you already live in a tiny apartment and drive a cheap car. You’re dealing with an income problem.
To fix this, you need to make more money. You could try asking for a raise, getting a second (or third) job, working overtime, finding a better job, or starting a side hustle. Side hustles are an awesome way to earn extra income and gain new skills at the same time.
Here are a few side hustle ideas:
Start a money making blog
Take surveys online
Start a photography business
Do freelance design or marketing work
Be a mystery shopper
Become a brand ambassador
Walk dogs or pet sit
Try a Spending Ban
A spending ban involves cutting out all unnecessary items from your budget and only buying what you need.
This can be a great way to get a jump start on saving money or paying off debt. It can also help you to identify where you’re overspending and may allow you to break some bad habits.
Related Post: Why I Started a 3 Year Spending Ban
One Last Thought
You’ve taken the first step toward changing your finances, and you should be proud of yourself for making it this far! Follow the tips described above so you can reach your goals and achieve financial freedom.