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How to Live Frugally | Tips for Simple, Frugal Living

Updated on May 12, 2013
The ocean's enormity always helps me put my problems in perspective.
The ocean's enormity always helps me put my problems in perspective. | Source

What is Simple Living?

"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life" - Henry David Thoreau in Walden.

This quotation sums up my beliefs about simple living. Life shouldn't be about unnecessary, self-inflected hardships and martyrdom, but it also shouldn't be so cluttered that possessions come to take the place of real meaning and life. This hub is about the difficult ways you can truly simplify your life, and save some money, along the way. Some of the tips are very difficult to put into practice - you don't need to jump in and do everything all at once.

If this sight is a little too familiar, it's time to get rid of a few things@
If this sight is a little too familiar, it's time to get rid of a few things@ | Source

Downsize your Posessions

If you can't remember the last time you used something, get rid of it. You can donate it, sell it, or throw it in the trash - just get it out of your house!

Unless you love donating or have large objects, I suggest trying to sell your items first. You would be surprised what sells online! If you can catch eBay during a 'free listing' event, you should go ahead and list (almost) everything you want to get rid of. From old board games, which can sell for a surprisingly large amount, to fast food restaurant kid's meal toys (yes, people buy them), you can turn your unwanted items into cash.

If you have large, unneeded items, try putting them on Craigslist. Just make sure to protect yourself by following general Craigstlist safety guidelines. Over the years, I've sold several pieces of furniture, a fridge, a washer, and a dryer on Craigslist, but I did have to sort through spam and scams to make the transactions successful .

If you have an object you don't think is worth cash, try listing it on a freecycle website. Freecycling is a great way to pass your objects along to someone who needs them, and it can be a fantastic way to pick up needed items free of charge. If you're considering freecycling, learn about freecycling etiquette and best practices before going hog wild.

My kitchen - why clutter a small space with appliances you don't need?
My kitchen - why clutter a small space with appliances you don't need? | Source

Banish Unneeded Kitchen Gadgets

If you want to dramatically simplify your life, and increase your kitchen counter space, get rid of your microwave and toaster. You don't need them - they are just fancy ways to do the same job as your stove or oven. In fact, my list of necessary kitchen appliances is:

  • An oven/stove
  • A fridge

Additionally, I really love my French press coffee maker and my immersion blender, but neither are crucial to life. You can actually make delicious coffee on the stove with a percolator, and an immersion blender is simply a convenience.

Not only do microwaves and toasters take up a lot of space in a small kitchen, but they also make poor food choices very easy. Buying that single serving slice of pie that's ready in only three minutes is pretty tempting, waiting an hour for the same slice of pie gives you the chance to eat some real food and reconsider.

The Cost of Cable TV

Most basic cable costs at least $70 a month. Pay that for 12 months a year and you're shelling out $420 just for basic cable access!

Kill your TV

If you can't go totally cold turkey on your TV, at least cancel your cable. Ditching your cable saves you a lot of money throughout the year, and the extra time you gain is priceless. Americans always complain about having too little time, yet Americans currently watch an average of 34 hours of television a week! That's basically a full time job's worth to time. Some people worry about negative affects of not having a TV on their social life or on their children's lives. I grew up with little to no television access, and I believe it has made me a more creative person. I also think not having TV is the only reason I can juggle my life! If I felt obligated to keep up with my shows, I literally don't know how I'd get everything else done. For a more, check out my in-depth look at growing up without TV and how to live television free.

Not having a car doesn't' mean you're stranded. Plenty of transportation alternatives exist.
Not having a car doesn't' mean you're stranded. Plenty of transportation alternatives exist. | Source

Live without a Car

How much easier would your life be without a car payment, repairs bills, frequent oil changes, and can insurance plans? Living without a car simply isn't possible for many people, but it is possible for a lot of folks who just don't realize it. I do not own a car and haven't in almost two years. That doesn't mean I don't have access to a car - I share a car with my sister.

If you don't have any kind family members living close by, see if your city has a car sharing program. Car shares are groups that provide short-term rentals. Sometimes, you can rent a car for a matter of minutes to get to specific store. Instead of returning the car to a rental lot, you can just park it in a neighborhood. The fleet of cars is managed through a company and you check cars in and out on the company's website.

If you live in a metropolitan area, consider biking, walking, or taking the bus as often as possible. You can save a lot of money and maybe even get a little healthier, too! Once again, if this seems impossible, check out my tips on how to live car-free.

Home makeover shows are popular on TV, but you don't need to hire a $100 an hour expert to fix your organization problem. A simple guide and some determination can do the trick!

Do you consciously try to live simply?

See results

Simple Living = Joyful Living

Experiments can't tell us if it is causal or just a correlation, but there is a link between clutter and depression. People who are depressed usually have lots of stuff, and much of it is typically 'stored' on the floor. People with cluttered homes can feel out of control and unable take positive changes in their own lives. Being cluttered can also take a toll on your physical well-being, not just your mental well-being. If you can't go for a run if you can't even find your sneakers!

I realize that my tips are pretty extreme and that you may need to take a more gradual approach to a simpler lifestyle. If you are interested in creating a more simple life, but not ready to ditch your car, please check out fellow hubber billybuc's Ten Tips for Frugal Living.

If you have too much stuff in your house and too many bills to keep track of, trying a few of these living simply steps to reduce your physical and emotional clutter. You just may find yourself with more money and free time, as well as a little less stress.


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    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      5 years ago from New Delhi , India

      Wonderful aspect of a simple living ! Natashalh, the tips suggested by you not only save money but also provide an ample time to enjoy our life appreciatively. Really an useful hub and a reminder to the crazy people amassing things without need.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii


    • Monis Mas profile image


      6 years ago

      Very cool, and even more clever :-)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! Though my yesterday's bike to work in the rain wasn't so cleared up before I had to come home!

    • iguidenetwork profile image


      6 years ago from Austin, TX

      Hurrah for this hub! I like your ideas, especially about not owning a car and instead walking and/or biking your way to the commercial area if it's near to where you live. It also gives you health benefits! Up and useful. :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Someone gave me a microwave the other day. I haven't even brought it inside because I don't know where to put it and I've lived so long without one I don't even miss it! Having a microwave would take most of my counter space and I don't feel ready for that.

      There's picture for this hub was taken in Hawaii - you may recognize the beautiful water! That sailboat was off the coast of Electric Beach on Oahu.

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 

      6 years ago from Hawai'i

      Thank you for the timely reminder about downsizing and simplifying. My husband and I are 'empty nesting' and loving it. I don't know how I lived without uncluttered kitchen counters before! Voted up, useful, interesting. Tweeting and sharing on Pinterest. Aloha, Stephanie

    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 

      6 years ago from Bangladesh

      Although I knew some of them, the hub is great. Sometimes, we need reminder of things even we know it. Your hub gave me that reminder.

      Thanks :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii


      I've had numerous people try to give me microwaves and/or televisions. They don't understand I don't own them by choice!

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      It is fun when I have visitors to my apartment and they ask me where is my TV. It is very strange for them not to see a TV and forces them to directly socialize with me.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it =)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Absolutely wonderful Hub. Sorry I missed it when it first came out. I hope you had a good week. Take care. Theresa

    • Anil and Honey profile image


      6 years ago from Kerala

      Life is beautiful or not, that is depends upon a person, any way this is a good hub. I can enjoy your sweet touchings

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing, dwachira. You're right - times are tough for a lot of people, and finding the way to cut just a few dollars may make the difference between making it or not.

      The Tao Te Ching is one I haven't actually read. I've read The Analects and the I Ching, but not that one. Thanks for the tip on how to find a good read!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      6 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      A great qoute from Walden.

      Be sure to check out Chapter 9 of the Tao Te Ching;

      "Amass a store of gold and jade and no one can protect it

      Retire when the work is done

      This is the way of heaven"

      Excellent thoughts. We should all live with less stuff.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi Natashalh,

      These are great tips, in these days of tight budget and squeezed pockets we all need such tips. Living without a car may sound difficult but it is possible. The option about sharing a car can save a lot especially if a car is shared among family members. Lately, we rented the family car to sustain my wife further studies and we only use it if need be. With proper information, we can save a lot from disposing what we don't want. Voted up, useful and shared.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      That made me smile. My birthday is a week from today and I was feeling a little less like a 'young person,' so thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed and thanks for voting, too.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Natashalh. A crackingly good hub. It is so nice to resad something so concise from such a young person. Tip Top.

      Following. Voted up.


    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! I was just explaining to someone yesterday that I have no tv. They thought it was strange. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the votes.

    • ram_m profile image


      6 years ago from India

      This is a wonderful hub. You have tried to simplify life, which is the essence of contentment. The suggestion I like the best is Kill the TV :) I'm voting it up

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, jenbeach21. I'm glad you liked it and I appreciate the share.

    • jenbeach21 profile image


      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I really enjoyed this hub. I frequently go though phases where I sell as much as I can get away with on craigslit and ebay. Shared and voted up!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I agree - getting rid of sentimental things is difficult! I'm not as good at it as I would like. If you can bring yourself to part with a few things, the rewards are many (as you pointed out). Thanks for stopping by!

    • sweetie1 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      Beautiful hub. Even though I can not say that I clear everything I don't need but I do get rid of lots of things. There are many things which got emotional values which are very difficult to get rid of. But over all I really liked your ideas which not only make a small house look big but also save a lot of money too.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, rajan jolly! I feel like my life is so stressed and hectic, as it is. I can't even think about how it would be if I had more stuff and more bills to pay! Thanks for stopping by.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      One of the most difficult things to do is decluttering one's life of physical possessions that come to possess us. Love these wonderful ideas to simplify life; agree they are difficult to implement but, living would be so calm and stress free getting rid of the unessentials.

      I love the sparse look of your kitchen.

      Voting up, useful.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I've not heard that before, but it's an excellent saying! Honestly, there are times when I kind of wish I could watch an episode of a particular show, but it's not actually important to my life. And I have so much more time without one! Thanks for stoping by.

    • Ethan Green profile image

      Ethan Green 

      6 years ago from England

      what a great hub! I couldn't agree more with the TV idea. And as someone once told me, if it ain't useful or beautiful, you don't need it:-)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      They charge you whether or not you use a tv? Wow - remind me not to move to Germamy!

      I totally agree - there are circumstances that make these suggestions impossible for individuals. Believe it or not, these actually are my happy medium! Today I own several things, like a computer and a cell phone, that I didn't have for a while after college. Sometimes I kind of wish I would ditch those, too, but it would be really difficult with grad school to no longer have a computer/Internet.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 

      7 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Moving overseas was a huge incentive to downsize and sell a lot of my stuff (and shift photos/paperwork/books.etc. to electronic forms) - international shipping is insanely high! Although I still have some more to get rid of!

      I do live without TV (although the German government charges *everyone*, whether they have a TV or not), but without a car in the household is a bit difficult (100km commute to work for my SO is a tad difficult). The kitchen gadgets I keep are those that either help reduce hand pain (fibro), or ones that I love to bits -- like my fantastic manual espresso machine. I find a happy medium is best!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Interesting that you find living without a car an easier suggestion than no TV! Thanks for weighing in.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      I am afraid TV is the only thing which is hard "to kill". All others-are good advices. :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, GoodLady. Cars are a tricky one, but I think most other things I totally within reach of anyone who's serious about it!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Nice Hub. We left the busy life a few years ago and we are very happy with a simpler one. Your suggestions are invaluable and 'doable' for anyone thinking about really changing. I can't live without a car though since we live several miles from the road and villages!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, Mama Kim. I'm a big Thoreau fan!

      Suzie HQ - getting rid of things, especially if there's not really anything wrong with them, can be a struggle, I agree.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      7 years ago

      Fantastic Hub! I'm right on board with this. Excellent opener with the walden quote ^_^ voting up!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Nicely said Natashalh,

      All very wise and will save you money. Everyone is downsizing, living more simply and cutting out the non essentials.

      I am a great fan of recycling items for other uses and something we all need to do more of. Something that has been my downfall is that I hate throwing things away. Slowly getting there! Good job here!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I know what you mean, Judi Bee! Luckily for me, I've really been forced to downsize a few times.

      Hahahaha. Yes, KarenCreftor, crafting supplies are my main weakness, as well!

      Thanks for sharing, donnah75. And good luck moving to a more no-car-friendly location!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      That sounds like a great plan! You can always tell yourself you might need someone one day, but if you haven't used it in a long time, do you really need it? Good luck on your endeavors!

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh I wish I could get rid of my car! We did downsize from two cars to one this past summer. Unfortuneately I drive 45 minutes to work, so a car is a necessity. My goal though it to make some changes in order to live in a place that I can live car free. That will be a great day :) Great article. Voted up and shared.

    • KarenCreftor profile image

      Karen Creftor 

      7 years ago from Kent, UK

      I love this! It really resonates with how I try to live :D

      I don't own a car (never learnt to drive in fact hehe), don't really do consumarism and prefer music and reading to tv....I do still manage somehow to have a lot of craft materials though!

      Wonderful hub~ shared and voted up and awesome

      ~Kaz x

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      7 years ago from UK

      Yes, I've got way too much "stuff" in my life and want to get rid of it. Sadly, there's so much that just the thought of sorting it all out defeats my good intentions!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      7 years ago

      I enjoyed this read. I am right with you on this, it is amazing how really little you need. I am doing a clean out, and giving away stuff that has not been used in the last 18 months. Up, useful and interesting.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      You're right, Jellygator. Many people we look down on as 'primative' have far more free time!

      Thank you, Vinaya. I like the way you put it - simple living and high thinking. It really sums things up!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      Simple living and high thinking was an idea I was taught since my childhood. Thanks for this awe inspiring hub.

    • jellygator profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I bet the series Meg mentions would be fascinating. When I took anthropology in college, one of my professors talked about how the Inuits spent about 6 hours a week working, and went on to explain that many of the hunter/gatherer tribes lived similarly. He then said that here in the U.S., having so many "time-saving" inventions has created an expectation of getting more done, and more, and more, until it becomes an ongoing grind. I totally agree.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      That show sounds interesting. I'm kind of surprised I didn't hear about it in anthropology class because it sounds exactly like the kind of thing my professor loved to share.

      I agree that people latch on to the very things that complicate their lives and make them unhappy. It's an easy trap to fall into!

      Thanks for stopping by and voting. I'm glad you took the time to leave an interesting comment, too.

    • Meg Moon profile image

      Meg Moon 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Excellent hub- I totally agree with your comments but I think people find it so hard to break away from material desires nowadays thinking that the things that will make them happy are the things that are making them miserable. It's a very Buddhist approach to life. In the UK we used to have an excellent documentary series called Tribe about a anthropologist who went and immersed himself with different tribes for a month. The thing that really struck you about these tribes was how little they had but how happy they were and how much time they spent with their families and communities. In the west we like to see ourselves as being superior and more advanced but perhaps we have got it wrong. Great hub voted up!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Ahahaha. I was reading an article about people who hoard and about how they don't see a stack of stuff - they see each item as an individual memory. I know some people like that. I work with them and am even related to some of them! I know I am predisposed to keeping stuff that just needs to go away, so sometimes I have to really be firm with myself. It's difficult, but worth it. Thanks for sharing!

    • jellygator profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I'm sharing this one. I am right there with you. I HATE all the clutter! Of course, I went and married a guy who is nostalgic and wants to keep everything, but he's worth it. Even he is starting to get more willing to simplify these days, but we still have two microwaves. Sigh.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Nice! And no kidding - it's nice not to hear all the ads! I stayed with my grandmother for a while last month and I just kept hearing the ads on TV and wishing time would just fast forward or something. And then I tried to watch a movie and there were so many commercials a two hour movie was on for like four hours! It was a great reminder of why I don't watch TV.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 

      7 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I'm right there with you on every point--even down to the French press and immersion blender! Another benefit to going without the TV this time of year is that you don't have to listen to all of those downer political ads.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      It was a long time coming, but it's finally here! Something called school started and takes a lot of my time! Thanks for stopping by. =)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Obviously I agree. :) Thank you for the mention and link; greatly appreciated my young, wise friend.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Sometimes it's amazing what a guy can live with! (and without)

      Thanks for sharing - I really appreciate it.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Ah, paying for the Internet! I did that in New Zealand where I also didn't have a phone. I can't say that I miss sometimes literally feeding coins into a parking-meter-like box to tell people back home I was still alive.

      You're right, it can be difficult to live without a lot of these things, but once you've grown used to not having them, it can be surprising that you ever wanted them.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      I really liked reading this a lot..And since we sold our second home life is been far less cluttered. I only have one cluttered room..with all my favorite pasttimes..paints, reading stuff, computer. HoweverI am now inspired to do a little releasing here. I remember when I was dating before getting married to my second husband. I went to a young man's house and he had a hide a bed, table and chairs and clock radio. Four dishes, etc...And in his closet..two pair of levis, pants and barely enough to fill a small closet. He did have skiing and camping equipment. If he moved he could easily put all his possessions in one carload. So thanks for the great hub.up and share.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 

      7 years ago from California

      This is a fantastic article! And sharing the picture of the sailboat had me sold on reading it. ;) Although it can be challenging to get used to, it's amazing how much more enjoyable life can be when you are not wasting your time paying bills and getting stuck short on cash.

      I spent a year as a volunteer teacher on an island in the Pacific. For 10 months I had no car, phone, or TV. Internet was about $5/hour as well, so I didn't use that much. Although it was challenging at times. The ability to just enjoy life made it far worth it. Definitely something I will consider doing again in the future!

      Thanks for writing something that gets people thinking! Keep it up ;)


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