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Frugal Living for Beginners

Updated on July 7, 2009

Oh how I wish I had lived frugally for my whole life. I think back to those paychecks in high school and how much I spent on clothes and food and regret it. If only I had saved some of that money I could be so much better off today. You know, compound interest and all. But frugal living is a journey, a process, and a learning experience. Everyone has to start somewhere. Eventually I started living frugally. After I was married and had my first child I was forced to just to stay out of debt. My journey still continues today, eleven years later. Here are some tips if you are just getting started on your frugal journey.

  • Pay attention to where your money goes. You won't know where to cut back if you don't know where it is going to start with. By tracking your spending, it won't take you long to figure out the areas you need to work on. Then get started!
  • Pay attention to your utilities. Many people consider these monthly bills set in stone. That is the wrong way to look at it. For us, our third largest expenditure each month after the mortgage and food, is utilities.  And in the winter, utilities are second.  Utility bills can be lowered very easily. In many places you can call around and try to find better rates for things like cable, phone, gas, internet, and even electric. Start calling companies in your area, or at the very least look around online. Once you get a feel for what other companies are charging, call your company and negotiate a lower rate. If they won't do it, then switch. In the long run you could save hundreds of dollars a year. And don't think that turning off the lights when you leave the room doesn't matter, because it really does add up. The same with your thermostat. In the winter turn it down and in the summer turn it up. It won't take you long to notice a difference in your bill.
  • Take stock of what you have. It is hard to stop spending money when it is such an ingrained habit for all of us. And literally you have to spend money to survive, so it is essential. BUT most people (me included) can work on spending less money. Go through your house and figure out what you have. If you have 5 toothbrushes, don't buy anymore for awhile. If you have food on hand to last the week, even though it is your normal shopping day, opt to stay home and eat what you already have. Wear the clothing that you already own. Use what you have and don't buy anything new for while. If something runs out, see how long you can go without replacing it.  This should help break the spending habit. It will also help you get ahead a little and kick start your savings.
  • Remember that small leaks sink a big ship. Little bits of money add up. They add up to lots of spending, or lots of savings. Rather than spend small amounts of money here and there, opt to save it instead. It will result in a nice savings account in a very short time.  Or you can use the savings to pay down debt and make your monthly budget a little easier to handle. 

As you start your journey on the path of frugal living, remember you are not alone. There are many people living a frugal life and it is becoming more and more popular now that we are in a recession. If you are struggling to get ahead, now is the time to make some changes. Small changes add up to big savings so take the first step and start your frugal living journey today. Everyone has to start at some point, so wherever you are at, now is as good a time as any.


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    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      These are such good common sense tips. Using what we already own is not only a good way to save money, but will help save our environment!

    • Brupie profile image

      Brupie 6 years ago

      Learning to cook is one of the best ways of cutting down on spending. Besides reducing the exorbitant costs of eating our, learning to cook can save a lot in the grocery store. The price differences between raw ingredients and packaged manufactured foods are huge.

    • ModernMom profile image

      ModernMom 6 years ago from United States

      I love this hub! My whole motto in life is live big and spend little! Thanks for the tips from a fellow frugal person!


    • profile image

      hate2bAkiljoy 7 years ago

      I am making it a hobby to cut back. I use to wash everother day, but now I go to the laundy mat to save on utilities. My bill has dropped $100 already and it only took me 45mins to wash 5 loads.

    • emdi profile image

      emdi 8 years ago

      Nice hub

    • currieemily75 profile image

      currieemily75 8 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Another great hub Jennifer. I never thought about how much money is wasted when things are plugged in constantly and not used. Thanks for the good info.

    • jstevenson profile image

      jstevenson 8 years ago

      I consider myself frugal; however I always try to earn more vs. only trying to cut my spending. This has worked well for me.

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 8 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK

      Thank you for your thoughts on frugal living. I am having to develop the frugal living habit very rapidly as I'm about to lose my job due to health problems and discrimination. Staying out of debt is so important. I ran up huge debts getting resources for my class which is ironic now that I'm about to lose that job!

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

      It is a sure fact that we as a society need to get on with a more frugal life style. Starting as individuals is the best place to begin and it can only help the strength of society as a whole. Good ideas here. Thanks for sharing.

    • mayhmong profile image

      mayhmong 8 years ago from North Carolina

      I'm thinking of moving out for the first time and getting myself an apartment. Now I gotta stick to these helpful tips of yours and save, save, save!

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 8 years ago

      Jennifer I really enjoyed your article and made me think how terrible I am about thinking ahead and finances. Surely I hope I didn't put in the back of my head some man would rescue me :-) maybe I really did. I am buying a piggy bank tomorrow, oops, the money still comes from him. But I will put away for a rainy day. I needed to hear what you said today and grateful I did'

      Thank you, your fan


    • ghaining profile image

      ghaining 8 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I think its wise to save your money, but if you believe in scarcity then you will continue to receive scarcity. Focus on earning more money and believing in your abundance and prosperity instead of scarcity.

    • Glare profile image

      Glare 8 years ago from Washington DC area

      I guess I have no choice to live this kind of life for now, at least I've got this guide. Thanks for putting it up :)


    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Try to restrict yourself to one grocery shop per week. Even if family drop by unexpectedly and you need to cook a larger meal than planned, search in your stock cupboard and freezer for the rest of your week. Use your imagination.

    • skgrao profile image

      S K G Rao. 8 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

      Yes we have to watch where our money goes but do we at a age when you see things you can buy to let go and starve your feelings.I did spend a lot but I don't regret my kids take care of me now and say,Dad you did that and this for us so we are going to take care now.That's how it works in our family.A relative of mine is earning a lot but never spending on his needs,when I told his brother that he said let him save his son will enjoy.I don't know if I am wrong but you are right Jennifer.

      Can I copy your writings to my blog "My Life & Wife".e-mail me your permission:

    • profile image

      susanafe 8 years ago

      Great hub!  Staying out of debt is a good point. By being debt-free, I feel like I'm not as affected by the changes in the economy.  I also agree with turning off light bulbs!  In fact I use as low a wattage as possible, especially in hallways.  Makes a big difference!