Imagine yourself sitting in a comfy chair 6 months from now, totally relaxed and not a care in the world. You feel calm, happy and the silence is beautiful.
You start to reflect on how a simple decision to embrace a frugal living lifestyle has changed your life.
You’ve never felt so in control.
You giggle quietly at the thoughts of being seen as a cheapskate. You thought it was impossible and a complete waste of time. How could anyone save money, cut costs, reduce bills, and eliminate debt so easily?
It sounded impossible.
You were convinced that your money was accounted for with no wiggle room for change.
You were wrong.
You began to live frugally in ways you never thought possible. In ways that never made you feel deprived.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Like this is just a pipe dream.
But it isn’t.
Maybe you’re having similar thoughts, many do, but you know what?
It’s easier than you think. Anyone can do it. It can be done discreetly, easily, and without feeling deprived.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to live a frugal lifestyle. I will teach you how to free-up money, save money, and make wise decisions in ways that may surprise you.
Hundreds, even thousands saved each month.
And no, the last sentence isn’t a typing error!
Let’s get started.
What Is Frugal Living? (Are You Just Being A Cheap-Skate)
Frugal Living is being sensible with your money. It’s not being a cheapskate, it’s about being resourceful and living within your means.
Those who live a frugal lifestyle spend their money wisely. They seek the best deals on almost everything — utilities, shopping, finance, broadband, travel, and so on.
If you are frugal, you’re resourceful — It’s that simple.
Below is an example of being frugal in simple terms:
Bob has been paying £150 each month for his energy. He decides to compare prices and discovers a new offer which costs £110 per month. A nice little saving.
Below is an example of being wasteful and NOT frugal:
Lisa pays £30 each month for a gym membership that she rarely uses. She’s been paying this for the past 2 years and won’t cancel — this is being wasteful.
Benefits of Living Frugally (Is It Worth Being Frugal?)
Having extra money and not wasting it on things you don’t need stands out, but the main benefit is a sense of freedom.
You’ll be in control.
You’ll know exactly what’s in the bank, what comes out, and exactly what’s left at the end of the month.
Your money will be working for you, not against you.
The money you free-up can be directed elsewhere, such as a savings pot for emergencies or towards another debt.
Another benefit is that you’ll be helping the environment. You won’t be making as many impulse purchases which in turn means less waste, less plastic, and less impact on the planet’s resources.
One more benefit is that you’ll be doing your health a good turn. Money isn’t everything, but not having any can lead to an increase in stress.
Simply being organised and in control of your money could lower stress levels.
Yes, it’s not going to completely get rid of stress, but not having to worry about debt, retirement, and having savings can surely help.
How Do You Live Frugal In 2021? (Read Carefully)
Start by making a note of the following:
- Direct debit payment dates (plus all other payment dates)
- Contract ending dates for subscriptions
- Total monthly Income (For both if living with a partner)
Write these down and keep them safe.
Make A Budget (The Key to Success)
You need to make a budget. This determines where your money goes and what’s left at the end of each month. Budgeting also shows where you need to cut costs.
You’ll need to list everything. Utility bills, rent, groceries, newspapers, overdraft fees, kids pocket money, coffee, and so on. It all needs to be included.
Don’t skip anything.
“You can use a pen and paper, but my recommendation is to use a budgeting app or a spreadsheet template. YNAB is a good free budgeting app, but there are many others freely available”.
List your outgoings and work out how much you pay each month. If you have weekly payments, then times that by 52 and divide by 12 to get your monthly figure.
You then list your total income. Include everything — state benefits, pensions, dividends, gifts, and of course your salary.
Once completed, minus the outgoings from the incomings (budgeting apps do this automatically). This will give you a clear breakdown of your money and provide you with your disposable income
You now know what you spend each month and exactly how much is left. This is an important first step, but it’s also just the start.
We’re now going to take this further and save you even more money.
Frugal Living Tips with A Big Impact (Save Hundreds, Maybe Thousands Each Month)
You know what’s coming in and out financially, the next step is to reduce these costs and free-up more money.
I call these the big-hitters because they have the potential to save you a small fortune each month.
The more you do, the more you save. Do as many as possible and if some can’t be done due to contract issues, then put them on a ‘to-do list’ and set a reminder for when you can.
Step 1. Energy Bills Nuked (You’re Probably Overpaying)
Most people are needlessly overpaying for energy and a few simple steps could save you hundreds each year.
Comparison sites are the way forward.
Simply enter your details, and the sites will let you know how much you can save by switching to another provider.
It’s estimated that Uk residents are overpaying for energy by over 4 billion pounds! This is insane because it’s so easy to switch to a better deal.
On average, you can save around £20 per month and also receive a cashback bonus if you use comparison sites.
You can also enquire to see if you are entitled to any of the following:
- Warm Home Discount
- Free Wall & Loft Insulation
- Solar Panel energy
In addition to this, practice energy-saving tips like the following:
- Turning your thermostat down a notch
- Wash clothes at a lower temperature
- Use ECO feature on the boiler
- Use the washing line
- Turn appliances off properly
Step 2. Refinance Loans For Big Savings
If you currently have a loan with a high APR, then you can save money by refinancing with better terms.
A quick Google search will find some great offers with an APR of 3% or lower. As long as the APR is lower than the deal you already have, then it saves you money.
Here is an example of how to refinance a loan.
Bill has 3 years left on a £12000 loan. The APR is 18.5% and his monthly payment is £260. He has roughly £8000 owing once the interest is added.
He decides to refinance and has found a loan offer for £8300 over three years, with an APR of just 5%. He uses the £8300 to pay what he has owing on the current loan.
£8000 for the loan and £300 will cover any early repayment fees he may incur.
His monthly payments for the new loan are £230, a saving of £30 each month. He’ll finish the loan at the same time but will be £30 better off every month. This will save a total of £1080 over the next three years.
Pretty good savings!
What to do if you can’t get accepted for better loan deals
If you get rejected, then this will likely be down to a poor credit score. You’ll need to build your score up over the next 12 months.
Below are a few ways to do this:
- Make sure you’re signed up to the Electoral roll
- Rarely submit hard credit searches
- Consider a credit improving credit card (Always pay the full amount each month, otherwise this is a waste of time)
- Check details on your credit report and remove any mistakes
- Never miss payments
- Keep credit utilisation on the low side
- Cancel unused available credit
There are more ways to improve your credit score and sites like Money Saving Expert is a great place to learn more.
“You can see if your credit score is improving by using sites such as Experian and Equifax. Once you notice improvement, you can try to refinance the loan again using soft search loan accepting measures.”
Step 3. Swap Credit Cards Immediately
Ideally, you’re looking for a lower APR than the one you already have, with an interest-free balance transfer to clear the amount you already owe.
Compare credit card deals by using comparison sites such as “Compare the Market”, and “Money Supermarket”.
Swapping credit cards can save you hundreds.
A balance transfer with 0% interest will enable you to swap what you have owing from one card to another, but with the bonus of not having to pay interest for a set time (usually 12–18 months).
This will enable you to clear your balance interest-free.
Step 4. Switch Banks (They Pay You)
If you don’t like the bank you’re with then move to another one. It’s free to switch with very little inconvenience.
A few years ago, my bank was charging high interest and a monthly charge for my overdraft. I was paying around £25 per month for using my overdraft.
I decided to switch to a bank that offered a lower interest overdraft, no monthly charges, and a gift for my troubles.
This reduced my payments by almost 50%. I was able to pay my overdraft off quicker, and I now have no overdraft charges.
If you search for “best banks to switch with incentives”, you should find a few offers.
Step 5. Cheaper Broadband Deals
We all need broadband, but you are probably overpaying for it.
If you’re paying over £15 a month for standard broadband or over £30 for fibre broadband then you can typically save money by going elsewhere.
If you have no children and only use the internet for shopping and surfing then consider a standard plan.
Not everyone needs super-fast fibre.
Step 6. Cheaper TV — Big Reductions Possible
Here are a few ways to save money with regards to watching television.
Sky, Virgin & BT customers who are out of the contract are in a prime position to haggle with their supplier.
Here’s how to get up to 50% off the bill.
Give them a call and inform them you want to leave using one of the following reasons:
- You’re leaving unless they can offer you a discount because it’s too expensive. (They will offer you a discount)
- Tell them you’ve been offered a better deal by one of their competitors and unless they match it, you’re leaving.
You can also save money by downgrading the service. Do you need sports or movies? Do you need multi-room?
This costs considerably more and taking this off your package can save you quite a bit each month.
Another more extreme way to save money is by cancelling completely and using Freeview, Netflix or Amazon Prime as a cheaper alternative.
Step 7. Cheaper Mobile: Don’t Be A Data Fool
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you need the latest handset?
Do you need high data?
Would you be better off with a sim only deal?
The brand-new iPhone sounds appealing but do you need it when it will cost you much more money.
As for data.
If you’re paying for a high amount and not using it then phone the company and ask if you can reduce it.
“Remember at home you’re likely using WIFI, and most shops and restaurants now offer free WIFI as standard.”
If your phone is in good working order and you’re out of contract then consider a sim only deal. You can still get a reasonable amount of data (If needed), unlimited calls and texts for around 80% less.
Step 8. Cheaper Insurance (Don’t Accept the First offer)
Compare and haggle.
Insurance companies provide you with a renewal fee each year which is usually more expensive than the previous year. They do this because most customers accept the increase.
Do this instead.
Get a better quote on comparison sites. Phone your insurance and tell them you’re leaving unless they can beat the quote you have.
It’s that simple.
Step 9. Water Meter Savings
You could be saving money if you use a water meter instead of monthly set bills. If you have fewer people in your house than bedrooms then consider a water meter.
It can save around £30 each month.
Give the water company a call and ask about a trial of a water meter. If it saves you money then great, If it doesn’t then convert back to monthly bills.
Step 10. Cash-Back Sites Are Great
Cashback sites are a great way to save money by shopping as you normally would. You simply shop online and receive a percentage back as cash.
Everything from clothing, technology, food and more can be purchased with cashback.
Step 11. Clear Debt (The Amazing Snowball Strategy)
Imagine not having any outgoing debts each month. No car payment, no credit card payments, no loan payments.
How much would it save you?
You can eliminate debt by using the ‘Snowball Method’.
Simply list your debts in order of high to low. Big loans at the top and small credit cards at the bottom.
Target the smallest debt first.
Pay the minimum payment on all your debts, but for the smallest debt, you pay the minimum plus anything else you can afford on top. (If you act on the methods in this guide, then you could use some of the money you will be saving to pay a little extra)
Continue this till that debt has gone.
You then target the next debt using the minimum you are already paying plus what you have been paying for the cleared debt.
You continue doing this till you have no debts left. Every time you clear debt, the next payment gets bigger.
Like a snowball!
You could be paying hundreds more than the minimum by the time you reach your last big debt.
Dave Ramsey explains this method in more detail on his site
How To Shop Frugally In 2021
Frugal living isn’t just about saving on the big items. You can also save on the smaller stuff such as everyday shopping.
Here are some ideas on how to make the most of your budget when it comes to shopping frugally.
Meal Planning Success
Planning meals and writing a shopping list is a great way to avoid overspending in the supermarket.
This enables you to go to the shop knowing exactly what’s needed and to avoid overspending.
Make sure all the items are on the list as you don’t want to be making more trips to the supermarket than necessary.
Smart People Use Cheaper Shops
Lower priced supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl are gaining popularity because people are wising up to the rising cost of groceries.
These supermarkets are saving people money and there isn’t much (if any) compromise on the quality you receive.
Websites like “Hot UK Deals” will list bargains, offers and deals for a wide range of items.
If Aldi and Lidl are not for you or you don’t want to move away from Asda, Tesco or Sainsbury, then consider branding down to save money.
Try Asda beans instead of Heinz, Tesco bread instead of Warburtons, etc.
Toiletries and Cleaning Products
You can’t eat them but we need them. If you shop for these items in the supermarket, then you’re likely overpaying.
The best places to shop for these items are discount stores. Think ‘Poundland’, ‘Home Bargains’, and ‘B&M’.
Buy In Bulk To Save
If you have the storage space then buying in bulk for things like toilet rolls, tin foil, and cleaning products is recommended.
Other items such as meat, bread and pasta typically provide savings the more you purchase.
If it’s less expensive, keeps you away from the shops and you have the storage space then buying in bulk is a great way to save money.
Best Sites For Bargains
Amazon, eBay and Facebook are great for bargains. Amazon is great for bulk deals on groceries, eBay is great for clothes and Facebook is great for large products like furniture, cars etc.
Honey App Is A Must Have
One last thing to mention is the free app (plugin) that works for most web browsers.
It’s called ‘Honey” and it works by applying coupons to your shopping basket when purchasing online.
It’s completely free and works like a charm.
Frugal Living Tips From The Great Depression
We can learn a lot about saving money from the great depression.
Below are a few ideas to get you started:
- Make your bread
- Grow herbs
- Grow Vegetables
- Save leftovers for another meal
- Create stock from a meat carcass
- Mend your clothes
- Don’t buy what you can’t afford
- Brew alcohol
Frugal Living Tips For Seniors
Pretty much all the tips in this guide can be used for anyone but the below advice is particularly relevant for the older generation and those who are now retired:
- Check insurance — Consider cancelling any insurances you don’t need. Things like ‘work-place cover’, that you won’t need if you have retired.
- Downgrade Mobile Plan — Chances are you don’t use the phone as much as you used to while working.
- Utility Discounts — There are discounts available if you are over a certain age. Check your options for all utility bills.
- Shopping Discounts — A lot of retailers offer discounts for pensioners. Be sure to ask before you buy.
- Free Days Out — Getting out and about doesn’t have to be expensive. Research pensioner groups and free pensioner days out in the area you live in.
- Benefits — Make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to. Contact the “Citizens Advice”, and ask about benefits you are entitled to as a pensioner.
Frugal Living On One Income
Almost all the advice in this guide is relevant to you but there are a couple of extra things you need to know.
Firstly, you can receive a council tax discount if you live alone and if you have children you’re likely to be eligible for certain benefits.
Try the free calculator on “Entitled Website”, to see what help is available.
More Frugal Living Ideas (Small Changes, Big Results)
A lot of the tips mentioned above are for moderate to big savings. However, there are lots of other methods that combined will have an effect on your finances for the better. Some are small changes with small savings, but others can add up to big savings over time.
Try the following.
Making your lunch for work and children in school will save you money compared to spending money each day from various food outlets.
School dinners cost around £40 a month for one child, double that for two and then throw in what you spend for your lunch. This could very easily rack up to around £120 just for Lunch!
Making your own will cost you less than a quarter of this.
Eating Out Less
You don’t need to eat out as often as you do. Try to limit this to once a month as a treat and the savings you make might surprise you.
An alternative is to eat out earlier for the early bird offers.
Coffee Shops Are Draining Your Wallet
A cup of coffee in a cafe will cost you about £3 a shot, around £12 a month. Using the work-place kettle will cost you a few pence if nothing at all.
This doesn’t sound like a lot at first but consider the fact that most people don’t just get one coffee a week, most get more, some, one a day.
Work out how many times you’re buying coffee, how much you are spending and how much you could save each month by cutting the days down.
Cheap Fuel Is Available
Purchase fuel from the cheapest outlets. These are typically supermarket garages and not the well known big brands such as Shell and Esso.
Share Music Subscription Or Use The Free Options
If you love music and you must have the premium service then you can save money by sharing it with friends or family.
Apple and Spotify offer family accounts which are a little more expensive than single accounts, but when you can share it with 4–6 others it can save you money.
Another option is to use the free option that they all offer.
Buy Clothes For Less (Sales)
Most shops have at least two big sales a year. You can pick up some great bargains if you’re quick to act. It’s not hard to know when the sales are happening–Just Google it.
Cut Back The Booze & Cigarettes
This isn’t as easy as it sounds, however, it’s not impossible either. It will save you a lot of money as well as being good for your health.
If you drink Friday and Saturday, then consider knocking one of those days on the head. If you smoke then try and get help to quit.
Grow Herbs & Spices (Easy To Do)
Save money and grow your own. You don’t need a lot of room, just a few pots and a little guide which can be found for free online.
Shaving Plans (Recommended)
Cornerstone and Harry’s offer shaving plans that can save you money on razors and shaving gel. They will be delivered to your door each month or whenever you need them and typically will save you money.
If you pay for your medical prescriptions it could be less expensive if you purchase an NHS season ticket. This is usually beneficial for those who pay for a prescription at least once a month.
It’s Time To Take Control Of Your Money Starting Today
Frugal living is the key to success, it’s simple, uplifting, discreet, and can save you a small fortune each year.
It’s going to take a little effort at first, but then the hard work is over and the results will speak for themselves.
Your money will be working for you, not against you.
Imagine the relaxing feeling of being debt-free with money spare for holidays, emergencies, and retirement — You’ll be in control.
Simply get started.
Before you know it you’ll be sitting in that comfy chair for real.