Imagine yourself sitting in a comfy chair six 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 quickly?
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, quickly, and without feeling deprived.
In this guide, I will 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, etc.
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 two years and won’t cancel — this is 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 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 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.
Being organized and in control of your money could lower stress levels.
Yes, it’s not going to get rid of stress completely, 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, kid's pocket money, coffee, etc. 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 many others are freely available”.
List your outgoings and work out how much you pay each month. If you have weekly payments, multiply 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 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 how much is left. This is an essential 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, put them on a ‘to-do list’ and set a reminder for when you can.
Step 1. Energy Bills Nuked (You’re Probably Overpaying)
Sidenote: Energy bills in the UK are at an all-time high, and for the time being, comparison sites won’t help that much. Read this article for more advice on energy saving and what to do if you’re struggling to pay the bill .
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 easy to switch to a better deal.
You can save around £20 per month and 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 the ECO feature on the boiler
- Use the washing line
- Turn appliances off properly
Step 2. Refinance Loans For Big Savings
You can save money by refinancing with better terms if you have a high APR loan.
A quick Google search will find great offers with an APR of 3% or lower. As long as the APR is lower than the deal you already have, it saves you money.
Here is an example of how to refinance a loan.
Bill has three 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 decided to refinance and found a loan offer for £8300 over three years, with an APR of just 5%. He uses the £8300 to pay what he owes 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, saving £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, 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 for the Electoral roll
- Rarely submit hard credit searches
- Consider a credit improving credit card (Always pay the total 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 utilization 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.
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.
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 paying 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, move to another one. It’s free to switch with minimal inconvenience.
A few years ago, my bank charged 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 could 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’re probably overpaying for it.
If you’re paying over £15 a month for standard broadband or over £30 for fiber broadband, you can typically save money by going elsewhere.
Consider a standard plan if you don’t have children and only use the internet for shopping or browsing.
Not everyone needs super-fast fiber broadband.
Step 6. Cheaper TV — Big Reductions Possible
Here are a few ways to save money watching television.
Sky, Virgin & BT customers not tied to a contract can 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:
- Unless they can provide a discount, you're going because it’s too expensive. (They will give 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 powerful way to save money is by canceling altogether 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 costs you much more money.
As for data.
If you’re paying for a high amount and not using it, phone the company and ask if you can reduce it.
“Remember that you’re likely using WIFI at home, and most shops and restaurants now offer free WIFI as standard.”
Consider a sim-only deal if your d working order and you’re out of contract. You can 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 yearly renewal fee, 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 your quote.
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. Consider a water meter if you have fewer people in your home than in bedrooms.
It can save around £30 each month.
Give the water company a call and ask about a water meter trial. 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 usually 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 payments, no credit card payments, no loan payments.
How much would it save you?
You can eliminate debt by using the ‘Snowball Method.
List your debts from 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 amount, 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 following payment gets bigger.
Like a snowball!
You could be paying hundreds more than the minimum by reaching your last significant 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 minor stuff such as everyday shopping.
Here are some ideas on making the most of your budget when shopping frugally.
Meal Planning Success
Planning meals and writing a shopping list is a great way to avoid overspending in the supermarket.
This lets you go to the shop knowing exactly what’s needed and avoids 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.
Intelligent 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 save 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 various 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, 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, buying in bulk for 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 if you have the storage space, 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 canceling any insurances you don’t need — like ‘workplace 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 — Discounts are 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 your area.
- 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 you need to know several extra things.
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 significant savings. However, many other methods combined will affect your finances for the better. Some are small changes with small savings, but others can add up to significant savings.
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 quickly 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 workplace kettle will cost you a few pence if nothing at all.
This doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but consider that most people don’t just get one coffee a week; most get more, some, one a day.
Work out how often 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 have the premium service, 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 choice 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 and be good for your health.
If you drink Friday and Saturday, 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 that can be found online.
Shaving Plans (Recommended)
Cornerstone and Harry’s offer shaving plans to save you money on razors and shaving gel. They will be delivered to your door each month or whenever you need them and typically save you money.
If you pay for your medical prescriptions, purchasing an NHS season ticket could be less expensive. 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 will 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.