What do you think of when you hear the term “frugal living”?
Do you conjure up images of families struggling to make ends meet or think back to historical events like The Great Recession?
For most of us, that term automatically brings up a negative connotation, but I’m going to tell you today why it shouldn’t.
Frugal living doesn’t have to mean hardship. That’s why it’s important to reclaim the narrative and start approaching this topic in a new way.
First, what does frugal living mean in 2021 anyway?
What does frugal living mean?
Frugal living isn’t the same as ‘being cheap,’ although people often conflate these things together.
Being cheap implies that you’re just looking to penny-pinch and save money wherever you can – even at the cost of convenience and quality.
On the other hand, what frugal living means is that you’re thinking ahead and looking for ways to save money in a more thoughtful way.
For example, buying fewer pieces of higher quality clothes and shoes that you’ll be able to wear for several years, instead of having a closet full of cheaply made components.
Ultimately, frugal living is about being intentional with your money and your financial goals. And the great thing is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all lifestyle, which means anyone can do it.
All it takes is shifting your mindset.
Frugal living tips to save more money in 2021
Now that you know what it means to live frugally, here’s a few tips and suggestions on how you can get started on your frugal living journey.
Make a budget and a plan
One of the biggest tenets of frugal living is having a ‘why’ behind what you’re doing.
Some people want to save up for a particular goal, like a vacation or early retirement. Some wish to curb unnecessary spending and recalibrate their priorities.
Regardless of why people do it, they all share one thing: a strong sense of purpose.
Before you start living frugally, make a point to think about your short and long-term goals.
Knowing why you want to switch up your spending habits can help you stay consistent. And having a clear goal to work toward will help you when you feel like slipping back into old habits.
Along with a goal, it’s crucial to build a budget.
Write down all of your necessary expenses, and set aside a clearly defined amount of “fun money” that you can use for things like entertainment and eating out.
In addition, make a point to set aside an amount you’ll put aside for saving or investing.
Cook at home
Here’s a considerable expense not a lot of us think about: eating out. Even a small family of 3 eating out once a week can add up to $100 or more a month.
While it may be less convenient to get takeout, cooking at home can be a simple way to save hundreds of dollars a year. Make it into a challenge to try new recipes and get your family involved.
An easy way to make eating at home less of a hassle is to plan your meals in advance and meal prep when you can.
Bringing a list of exactly what you need to the grocery store is a great way to cut down on impulse purchases.
Cut down on unnecessary expenses
Have three different subscriptions to 3 various streaming services? Maybe it’s time to cut that down to just 1.
We live in the age of the subscription model, and unfortunately, all of those little expenses can add up each month.
From meal boxes to makeup kits to music and TV streaming, it’s easy to spend $50-$100 or more each month just on these subscription services. And while it’s not necessary to give up every single one, most of the time, you can give up a few that you don’t really need.
Take stock of what you use, and only keep those services to cut down on unnecessary expenses.
Get creative when it comes to fun
Like we mentioned before, getting creative in the kitchen and making meal prep into family time can be a great way to have fun and save money at the same time.
Similarly, there are a lot of ways you can have fun affordably (or even for free). Take advantage of your local parks and check online for free festivals or events in your area.
If you don’t want to miss out on things like concerts or movies, try getting lawn seats to your favorite outdoor arena, or look for drive-in movies that charge per carload.
It’s hard to escape fast-fashion and mass-produced home items in 2021. That being said, it’s also easier than ever to try your hand at thrifting.
Almost every town has at least one thrift shop where you can find clothing, shoes, and homegoods. And while you don’t have to start buying everything secondhand, even just choosing to buy secondhand over new a few times a month can help save a lot of money over time.
Plus, you never know what you’ll find, which is always a treat and fun challenge in and of itself.
The bottom line
You don’t have to give up everything you love to live frugally.
In reality, frugal living is about practicing restraint now so that you can do more of what you love later.
While it may be challenging at first, frugal living can ultimately help give you more control over your finances, your mindset, and your life.
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