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Frugal Living: Do Less to Have More

Updated on April 23, 2011
By doing less, you'll have more money.
By doing less, you'll have more money. | Source

A common misperception of frugal living is you have to spend hours upon hours doing tedious tasks like washing plastic bags, clipping coupons, or making your own soap. While these are all valid things you can do to save money (and in the case of clipping coupons, you can even find ways get paid to use coupons!). However, you can have more money by doing less because really, at the heart of frugal living is living a simpler life. That’s right. You can actually get more money without doing any extra work!

Don’t Go Shopping

The simplest way to save money is to just buy nothing, so if you don’t go shopping, it’s hard to buy anything.  Now, of course I don’t think that you should never shop at all; people do need food, clothes, etc.  However, a lot of people view shopping as a hobby, something to do when they’re bored or depressed, but if you buy something just to buy it, and not because it’s something you actually need, you’re hurting yourself more in the end because you’re hurting your finances.  Staying home will save you both time and money.

Don’t Buy Books

I absolutely love books, but buying them can get expensive.  To buy all the books I wanted would cost a small fortune, but I’ve found alternatives to paying retail that gives me access to the books I want.  The number one way to save money on books would be to check them out from the library.  You could also trade with friends.  Try swapping books online on sites like Paperback Swap.  You have to pay shipping, but that’s a bargain to have access to over 5 million books!  Another option, if you do want to buy books, is to shop thrift stores or garage sales.  While the selection might be limited, you can find some great books at great prices.

Don’t Eat Out (or Eat Out Less Frequently)

This used to by my husband and my downfall.  We spent hundreds of dollars eating out each month, but once we significantly cut back (now we only go out once or twice a month instead of four or five times a week), we have more money to put towards more important things.

Making meals from scratch is obviously the best way to save money in terms of food, but if that’s too much work for you (and let’s face it, even the most domestic of us have nights where we just don’t feel like cooking), consider freezer cooking (making up several meals in advance and putting them in the freezer), or even just prepared food from the store.  A tv dinner or a frozen pizza costs more than making it from scratch, but it still costs significantly less than going out to eat.

Don’t Buy Snacks While Out

While out running errands, it’s tempting to stop and buy a drink or snacks, but those items can add up quickly.  To have more money, don’t buy drinks and snacks while out.  Bring a bottle of water or a pop from home.  Bring some snacks from home for in the car.  Coffee can be one of the biggest expenses.  Many people buy coffee every day, spending $3-$4 each day.  This quickly adds up, and you’re better off investing in a good coffee maker and nice coffee.  A coffee pot with a timer or a Keurig coffee pot that let’s you make single serving cups in a large variety of flavors.  Similarly, if you love fountain pop (like my husband), but you’re spending a few hundred dollars a year buying it, consider buying a SodaStream.  This allows you to make fountain-style pop at home for a fraction of the price.  Initially, you’ll spend more money to by the machines, but within a few weeks, you’ll quickly see the savings.This will help you avoid the temptation of restaurants, vending machines, and stores while you’re out, and save you money!

Don’t Go to the Movies

A date night or family night at the movies can cost you a small fortune.  It’s must cheaper to rent movies.  Redbox and Blockbuster Express are your cheapest options for renting movies if you’re just an occasional movie watcher.  You can usually even find free codes online for them, so as long as you return the movies the next day, they’re free.  If you watch lots of movies, a Netflix subscription might be a good deal.  A month is still cheaper than a night at the theater.  Even better, check them out from the library.  Most libraries have a large collection of movies.

Don’t Go on Big Vacations

Confession:  I’ve never been on a “real” vacation in my life.  Growing up, we always lived far from out family, and vacation time was limited, so vacations always involved going to visit grandparents or aunts and uncles, none of whom lived in very interesting places.  As an adult, I still haven’t gone on a vacation.  At first it was because we couldn’t afford one, but now it’s because it’s not a good way to spend our money at this point in our lives.  Sure, I’ve done day trips to things like amusement parks, but I’ll leave the $5,000+ trips to Hawaii or the Bahamas or Mexico to my friends, and I’ll stick with the $300 two-day trip to Cedar Point my husband and I have planned.  This saves me thousands of dollars, and I still have a lot of fun without the debt.


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    • cheerfulnuts profile image

      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      These are really amazing tips! I am very frugal too. When I was younger, money was tight. I have thought of different ways to save, and I am amazed to see that I have been doing most of your tips here! However, I am guilty about eating out and going to vacation. Food is a big problem at home. Everyone is too tired to cook, and most of us can't even cook haha. So we would always go out to eat. And about vacation, since we don't go shopping, we always go on a vacation during holidays to make up for it. It just makes our lives more meaningful.

    • profile image

      Josh and Lindsey 6 years ago from Indiana


      My library does this, too, and we can check out the movies for a week at a time.

    • profile image

      Suzanne with Laughing Wallet 6 years ago

      I'm not sure if everyone's public library does this, but the library in my city has a collection of movies they rent, just like books and other media. The rental period is usually just one day, but that's the same as Redbox, and it's free!

    • JaimeDawn76 profile image

      Jaime Dawn Thompson 6 years ago from Oregon

      Smart Thinking, Great Hub :)