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Are you tired of always being broke and never having any money? While making more money is certainly an option for giving your budget a nice bump– I would argue that becoming a better money manager and learning how to live super frugally would serve you better.
If you can live well on less, you never need more.
In practice what does that look like?
Let’s say that you are struggling to stay on budget. You are in deep debt, you struggle with impulse purchases, you chase that next shiny new thing– money is always tight, but you know if you can just make a little bit more money, things will turn around. You’ll be less stressed and able to do more.
Fast forward five years and you get a raise at work– hurray! You decide you can now afford to purchase a new home and new car for yourself. But guess what?! All those money problems you had before the raise?
You still have them after the raise.
You never learned to live with what you had and just because you have more now, you never addressed those money problems from before.
Money is a tool. Plain and simple. How it get’s spent is up to you. So, let’s learn how to better use our money and start living on the cheap!
1. Plan the Plan and then Live the Plan
It is crucial that you have a plan for your money. Some people (like myself) would call this a budget. Because a budget at its most basic is simply a spending plan.
You need to know where all your money goes! But before you even look at where it is going. You need to have a plan about where you want it to go.
Ask your self questions like:
- What are your financial priorities?
- What are your goals?
- What is important to you?
Once you have answered those questions, look at what you are spending money on and if that aligns with your money plan? If not, you need to make some changes.
Second point, once you have the plan you need to make sure that you are then doing the second half and living it! So tracking your expenses, checking in weekly, consider making the switch to a cash budget, whatever you need to do to stay on top of your money– just do it!
Plus, hopefully, there will be something in here you can take and use to supercharge your frugal life!
2. Make Sure You’ve Included an Emergency Fund and Sinking Funds in Your Plan
Nothing will derail your spending plan faster than unexpected or irregular expenses! Your car breaks down. Someone gets sick. You forgot to plan for your property tax bill.
All of these expenses could be covered with a fully funded Emergency fund and Sinking Funds.
If you don’t know what either of these are or you are looking for more information you can learn everything you need to know about emergency funds in another article I wrote and learn what sinking funds are and examples of sinking fund categories so you aren’t caught off guard!
3.Know What You Already Have
When you know exactly what you’ve got, you’ll be able to quickly identify what you don’t need.
I love all the things at Target– all of them (especially now that Chip & Joanna have Magnolia Market home goods for sale there!). You know what Target has alot of all the time? Clearance items.
Holy smokes, I couldn’t love the clearance rack more if it were my own child!
Here is what I know though.
Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean it needs to come home with you. You aren’t saving money when you are buying something you don’t need.
Knowing what you have can help with those impulses to reach for more.
4. Choose ReUsable Items and Ditch Disposable.
It can be tough to ditch the convenience of disposable, but when you need to make your pennies count, a small investment can pay dividends.
Here are my top 7 favorite reusable products!
Wool Dryer Balls. Not only do they save you money on dryer sheets, but they reduce drying time by up to 25% saving you money on utilities and you skip the harsh chemicals rubbing off on your clothes!
ReUsable BeesWax Food Wraps. A fantastic alternative to plastic wrap! Keeps food fresh and you simply wash with soap and water. They also come in a variety of sizes.
Reusable makeup remover pads. These are organic cotton and I’m absolutely in love with these little rounds. I use them up and then throw them in the washing machine. So simple.
Swiffer Sweeper Microfiber Reusable Mop Pads. This is a set of two machine washable microfiber pads. Super easy disposable replacement and in my opinion, work better!
Reusable K-cups. You can buy your favorite ground coffee in bulk and use these little beauties to save yourself TONS OF MONEY on regular k-cups.
Reusable food storage bags. A multipack of these extra thick, leakproof bags. Skip the plastic baggies and grab these!
5. Look for Free Options First.
If you are patient and willing to do a little research you would be shocked at what is available free of charge. Here are a few of my favorite areas to look for free:
- Frugal Fun Ideas: I have an entire post dedicated to frugal family fun and it’s full of ideas!
- Eating Out for Free (almost): Another favorite of mine is this post from Wallet Hacks with a list of places where kids eat free. If you enjoy going out to eat and it’s in your budget, why not maximize your savings?!
- Curb alerts! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Have you head that saying? You can often find people giving stuff away free on Craigslist and Facebook. There are even groups on facebook where you can buy, sell or swap. These groups are city specific so make sure you search accordingly!
- Check Coupons: Buy one, get # is one of my favorite deals. You know what’s better? Reward points from your grocery store, debit card etc. Make sure you are checking those to max out your benefits! I’ve gotten free gas, free groceries, and tons of other goodies this way!
- Get freebies! Did you know that there are companies that will send you samples of things for free?? A website I found called Pinch Me, has you fill out a few questions about your household and then they will send you appropriate samples. All you have to do is let them know how you liked them after you tried them. The Krazy Coupon Lady also has a list of 27 companies that will send you free stuff. Super. Simple.
- If you are having a baby, there are tons of companies dying to send you stuff for free. Check out this post by Retail Me Not.
- Become a Beta Tester. If you are willing to try something out and provide feedback, beta testing could be a good option for you. I’ve been a Beta reader for a few of my favorite authors, which means free books. I’ve beta tested software programs and product prototypes– there are lots of options in this area.
6. Check for Discounts, Rebates and Coupons
There are TONS of great programs and deals to be found if you know where to look a few of my favorite ways to save are:
- Honey. Helps you find the best price on Amazon. It shows you available coupons for the website you are shopping on. It’s as easy as clicking “apply coupons” button on your taskbar (You have to install Honey extensions on your computer). Lastly, you can leave something in the “save for later” part of the cart and Honey will let you know when the price drops– aka the Drop List.
- Bonus! When Honey makes a commission from the sale of an item, they split it with you, it’s called “Honey Gold”. Once you receive a certain level of “honey gold” you can redeem for gift cards to a variety of vendors (Target, Amazon, etc.).
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Want to earn cash back for shopping online buying things that you would have purchased anyway? Then this is for you. Rakuten is huge. You get a certain percentage (it’s different with each vendor) and once a month you’ll get the cash back on the purchases you made. You can use this for booking hotels, airfare, buying clothes, toiletries, groceries, etc. Who doesn’t love free money!! You can join for free and with my referral link, you get $10 after your first purchase of $25 or more!
- RetailMeNot. Download the plugin or search through their website and find coupons and promo codes to help save you money.
- Dosh. Dosh is probably the most passive cash back of all these options. All you have to do is link your credit/debit card to your account and when you use that card at participating stores it automatically sends cash back to your account. Once your balance reaches a minimum of $25, you can cash out via Direct Deposit or PayPal. Super easy and super simple! If you sign up through my site you’ll get a $5 bonus to start straight away!
- Ibotta* and Checkout51. You can upload your receipt and earn cash back on certain items that you purchased! You should check what items are earning cash back prior to going to the store to see if anything you need would qualify. *Note: If you click through to Ibotta using my affiliate link above, you will receive a $10 welcome bonus!
- Groupon and Living Social. I regularly check both sites for dining and great entertainment options! NOTE: You can use with Rakuten!
- Restaurant.com. This website offers restaurant gift certificates worth a certain value, but pay less for it. For example, pay $10 for a $25 gift certificate. Note: some restaurants do require a minimum to use the gift certificate, so plan accordingly. NOTE: You can use with Rakuten!
- Gift Card Granny. Gift card Granny offers discounted gift cards, including restaurants. If you are worried, they guarantee your purchase (the fine print is on their website).
7. Become a Master DIY-er
You will be surprised about just how much you are able to do for your self. Between Google, Youtube and Pinterest you have a wealth of resources at your finger tips.
A few if my favorite places to save money with DIY:
- Personal care. Coloring your own hair, pedicures, etc.
- Household cleaners. Not only can you save yourself tons of money making your own products you typically are using far less harsh chemicals.
- One of my all time favorite general all purpose cleaner:
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar ( 64oz bottle is $2.52 from Walmart & makes 16 bottles of the all purpose cleaner)
- 1 tsp dish soap (90 oz bottle is $5.96 from Walmart= makes 540 bottles of all purpose cleaner)
- 1 tsp baking soda (4lb box is about $2.48 from Walmart= makes 158 bottles of cleaner)
- Total Cost Per Bottle: = .37 cents
- One of my all time favorite general all purpose cleaner:
- Make simple repairs yourself. This is common sense, but the Mama in me feels the need to clarify– if you can do it safely don’t hire a contractor research the problem first and see if it’s something you can manage yourself. I saved myself $100 visit by fixing my disposal myself. Side note: did you know that there is usually a red reset button on your disposal?? I’m asking for a friend. *cough* Thank goodness for youtube?!
- 50 Ways to Shrink Household Expenses from Josh with This Old House. His tips are super practical.
- A few of my favorites: Shortening your dryer hose so your dryer will run more efficiently, keeping closet doors closed to save on heating/cooling that extra bit of space unnecessarily, and signing up for your utility’s time of use plan.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Pre-Loved Items
There is so much money to be saved buying used (pre-loved) items. One of my all time favorite places to buy clothes for my girls is ThredUp.
Think of ThredUp as an online consignment shop. The reason I am in love with this website is that, not only am I getting a great deal on gently used, or never worn items are available for great prices.
If your kids have out grown clothes or no longer need something, Thred UP also will accept your clothes. They will send you what they call their “Clean Out bag”. It gets processed (they go through everything) and then they’ll send you an email with your earnings. The first 14 days, you can use your credit to purchase items from the thredUP.com. After 14 days, you can cash out using PayPal or a thredUP Visa Prepaid Card. I’m kind of obsessed with this website.
Bonus! If you sign up through my link above you get a $10 credit.
You can also check Facebook, thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist and more!
I’ve found amazing deals on sports gear, workout equipment, camping gear and more!
Don’t be shy– get creative!
9. Find Friends Who Live and Love Frugal Habits
My Dad told me, You are who you hang out with. Like it, or lump it– I have found that to definitely be true.
I’m not saying cut people out of your life, but having that support system to keep you on track and can help keep you accountable will help with your success.
I know some people can find it difficult to say no to events or dinners because they are embarrassed about being frugal.
First, I’m here to tell you, there is no shame in having money goals and getting after it. Because that is what you are doing, Mama.
Your money is a tool, and you are swinging the big hammer to make s#^% happen.
But in case you are more the upholstery hammer type, having a frugal friend or two who are willing to picnic in the park, or swap babysitting is not a bad idea.
For the big spenders in your life, maybe invite them to some of those free events you found or invite them over to dinner instead of going out to eat.
Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to stop having a life. It just means doing more with less!
Don’t be afraid of your frugal habits!
10. Meal Planning and Groceries.
The most popular area where people are most likely to overspend is on groceries and eating out. For a long time it was the same for our family.
Families are busy, mom and dad are exhausted. You are running kids all over the city for appointments, activities, etc.
I 100% get it!!
But, this is the one area, if you are willing to put in the work, you can really save some money. Meal planning, hands down, is been one of the most influential tools you can use to cut down on food waste, stick to your food budget, and keep your evenings on track.
Whether you are a once a week grocery shopper or a monthly shopper– planning ahead can save you some serious money (and keep you from the very expensive eating out habit!).
Do you hate meal planning or simply don’t have the time to spend searching through recipes and making a grocery list?
$5 Meal Plans could be the answer to your problems.
$5 Meal Plans is a weekly service that will not only plan the meals for your week, but also send you the corresponding grocery list. For just $5 a month, they will send you a delicious meal plan that typically costs about $2 per person, but in most cases less.
If you have a special diet that you follow or are interested in specific types of meals, they also offer 4 specialty plans – a 30-Minute Meals, Slow Cooker Meals, a Paleo Meals, and Vegetarian Meals– all at a serious discount compared to the regular meal plan.
The main differences between the specialty meal plans and the regular meal plans is that the six week specialty plans follow a theme and the plans are sent to you all at once, rather than over the course of six weeks. These plans are offered for as little as $4 a month.
Money is a tool. Learning to live well on less positions you in a place of power over your life and finances. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your life.
Maybe sign up for a few money saving apps. Check Google for possible coupons before you hit, ‘Buy’. Or maybe it’s finally making a spending plan for your money.
Wherever you start, the most important part is that you start!
I’d love to hear from you, if you’ve got any super frugal tips, I’d love to hear them.
Please comment below.