How to Live Frugally & Still Get What You Want

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Frugal living is what many of us aspire to accomplish, but there are many more of us who have no idea how to live frugally and save money for the things we want in life. Luckily, there are dozens (if not thousands!) of personal finance experts just waiting to share their frugal living tips with the world, especially to somewhat financially clueless people like you. If you’re ready to learn how to live frugally, but you want to make sure you still get what you want in life and enjoy living, then these frugal living tips are just what you need. Read on to kickstart your frugal living and create the best lifestyle for you!

17 Best Frugal Living Tips from Expert Personal Finance Bloggers

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1. Try before you buy.

“One of my favorite frugal living tips is to find ways to borrow an item before choosing to purchase it.

We do a lot of DIY for our home, and often our projects require an item that we won’t use more than a couple of times. For example, installing carpet involves using a knee kicker. However, it’s a tool that you can’t use for anything else (unless you’re crazy creative!). While they only run about $40, that money can be put to better use by paying a debt, building your retirement, or funding the kids’ college. It’s hard to spend money on something you’re likely not to use again, especially after you try installing carpet for the first time (Spoiler alert: It’s not fun, and I love DIY, so that’s really saying something).

Luckily, we have a very DIY family, so we can often borrow tools from them. However, if they don’t have it, we can rent it from a hardware store, or even better, use our city’s local tool library. For $40 a year, you can rent anything – from yard work tools to tiling tools, and everything in between. They even have the basics, like hammers, saws, and ladders. That $40 we could have spent to buy a knee kicker now opens up a whole library of tools to use and supports a local resource, which is a win-win.

Check your city for a tool rental library, or you can even try your local library. Some libraries have tools that you can check out, like sewing machines, or create a local tool exchange to pool resources for everyone. There are many opportunities to rent or borrow items before buying them, which means less clutter and more cash to invest in your dreams.” – Tana Williams, DebtFreeForties

2. Pay in full when there are savings to be had.

“My best frugal living tip is to look for “pay in full discounts.” If you focus on the monthly payment without considering the total cost, you could miss out on money-saving opportunities. Many companies offer a discount if you pay in full. For instance, our car insurance company has a generous nine percent discount if we pay in full rather than make monthly payments; that saves us over $500 every year. The discounts aren’t always that big. Take Spotify Premium, for example, paying for an annual subscription instead of opting for monthly payments saves you $20. It might not seem like much, but even the smallest frugal decisions add up to big savings over time.” – Amy Beardsley, Early Morning Money

girl in a store

3. Stop worrying about impressing other people.

“When we talk about frugal living, people always think that they can’t do the things they like. That’s not true. In my opinion, frugal living means that you spend money on the things you enjoy while cutting back ruthlessly on the things you don’t enjoy. My frugal living tip is to stop trying to impress others! One of my favorite quotes is this: ‘We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like’.

We are often influenced in what we want by the people around us. If our neighbors have a new car, we think about getting one. When our friends move to a bigger house, we think about moving too. If that is something you want, please go ahead. Before going ahead ask yourself: do I REALLY want this item?

If I’m totally honest with you, I’ve bought many things just to impress others. Clothes, designer shoes, an iPod. After years of doing that, I figured it out: it doesn’t matter. It’s not about your appearance, but about who you are. Stay true to yourself and buying things that are valuable to YOU is something that I want you to take away from this.” – Marjolein, Radical Fire

4. Reduce your debt.

“There are several things you can do to start living frugally. When it comes to your finances, one of the best frugal living tips is to increase your debt payments. This may seem counterintuitive, but by allocating more money towards your debt, and especially your credit card debt, you will be saving a significant amount on interest in the long term.” – Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub

5. Live by a budget.

“There are many different frugal living ideas I love, from cutting the cord to always looking for a savings opportunity. However, my favorite way to practice frugality is to live by a budget. Budgets commonly get a bad rap, but they’re freeing. I love to budget because it helps us see where our money goes each month and reveals areas for improvement. Better yet, a budget can align with your goals, which is a hallmark of frugality. Spending towards what you value, while also planning for the future is an awesome way to take a budget to the next level and live frugally.” – John Schmoll Jr., Frugal Rules

phone next to Piggy bank

6. Automate your finances when possible.

“Our best frugal living tip is to automate your finances by immediately moving money out of your primary account and into other savings and investment accounts. This simple tactic has kept us from giving into the temptations of lifestyle inflation while living a relatively frugal life. Doing this for years, combined with increasing income, has allowed us to become completely debt free, including our mortgage!” – Mark, Financial Pilgrimage

7. Know what you can and can’t afford.

This frugal living tip is short and simple, but can revolutionize how you think about spending. “Know what you can’t afford. I follow a rule of 5. If you can’t buy 5 of them, you cannot afford 1 of them.” – Jaspreet Singh, The Minority Mindset

8. Don’t worry about having a new car.

Figuring out how to live frugally doesn’t have to impact every part of your life, but you have to choose your frugal living strategies well if that’s what you want to achieve. This is a great frugal living tip for anyone who wants to start with making one single change, and be able to see a difference in their savings. “The reason many middle class people never build real wealth is sitting in their driveway. The difference between driving a newer luxury car and an older economy car may be $5,000 per year. Invested over 40 years at 8%, that adds up to about $1.3 million. Want to be a millionaire? Drive a beater.” – James M. Dahle, MD – Founder, The White Coat Investor

9. Take a breath before every purchase and track your spending.

“Tracking your spending as you are doing it is key to frugal living, especially if you use what I call values-based spending. By taking a look at what you’re about to buy, noting how much it is, and asking whether it’s really worth it to you or not, you can prevent overspending and get more of the things you want. Why? The pause and thoughtfulness helps keep you aligned with your goals. You’ll waste less money and be happier with the purchases you do make.” – Jackie Beck

truck in front of a house

10. Skip the small meaningless purchases to make way for the good stuff.

“Most people spend too much money on things that aren’t important to them. Because they aren’t important, they don’t think about how much money is actually going toward them. These are typically smaller purchases, less than $10 or $20 each, but they add up quickly. The best thing people can do to live frugally and still feel like they have what they want is to track their spending with something like Mint.com or another program and look for these money leaks. Be intentional about putting more money toward the things that are important to you and being very mindful about not spending it on the things that aren’t.” – Scott Sherman, financial coach with Live Your Way Financial Coaching and blogger at I Dream of FIRE

11. Create clear, realistic objectives for your frugal living budget.

“Another important thing you should do if you want to live frugally is make a budget. When starting one, you should have a clear objective in mind. A budget will help you prioritize the things that are important to you, and minimize spending on things that aren’t. Creating a budget is not necessarily easy. One of the keys to maintaining one is establishing realistic milestones for meeting your objectives. Tracking and noting your expenses will definitely help you achieve a certain frugal living standard.” – Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub

12. Don’t just be frugal for the sake of it, and don’t over do it.

“It’s best to generally have a goal for your frugality, instead of being frugal for the sake of it. Without a clear goal, things can go south pretty quickly because of aimlessness, because then you lose motivation and it begins to take the joy out of your lifestyle. I’d also try to be aware of when frugality is too much (i.e. when it starts hampering your quality of life or denying/depriving you of necessities).” – Sophia Petra Lee, The Simple Sum

13. Consider the Trade Offs Before You Make a Purchase

“My best tip on saving money is that it’s often easier to save money when you think about it as a trade off. Rather than saving for ‘retirement’ or some other long term nebulous goal, I find it valuable to pick something specific. If you’re saving to buy a car, your spending choices become clearer. Do you want to buy a cup of coffee or would you rather be closer to a new (to you) car? By making the trade off between two specific things, it’s easier to stay on track with your goals.

When you pick something nebulous, it’s hard to compare them. Do you want a new iPhone or do you want to retire a month earlier? It’s hard to see what that look like and decide between the two. You end up wondering if your life would be better with a new phone (it probably would be a little better, but you’d enjoy an earlier retirement more!). It’s also hard to save money for the sake of saving money. It’s easier to save it for something, rather than to save it just because you ‘should’ be saving it.” – Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks

girl writing in a notebook

14. Challenge Yourself to “Buy Nothing”

If you’re really trying to bring new meaning to your life with frugal living, then this tip might be suited for you. “Consider doing one of the increasingly popular ‘buy-nothing’ challenges. This is the best way I know to discover that happiness and solutions are not exclusively something one buys. It takes about 6 months of buying nothing to really understand this.” – Jacob, Early Retirement Extreme

15. Think Outside the Box

“Our #1 frugal tip is to think outside the box. It encompasses many things, like buying bigger sizes of things you use often in order to save money. For example, if your family lives on peanut butter, then buying this staple in bulk is a good way to save money. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you need bulk everything. There is no point in buying bulk butter if you rarely use it. You are better off buying the size that meets your needs.

Additionally, figure out ways you can make things last longer. For example, we buy the paper towels with the select-a-size sheets. The store was recently out of them so we bought the full sheets. It was amazing how wasteful a full sheet was. It also got us to thinking and how I don’t need a half sheet all the time. So I’ll rip the smaller sheet in half and save more. The more you can think outside the box and be thoughtful with your spending, the farther your money will go.” – Jon Dulin, MoneySmartGuides.com

16. Stock Up During Sales

“We all need to buy groceries and non-perishable items to live on every day – so stock up when you can! I personally dislike coupon-clipping and I don’t have time to drive/walk around to five different stores to buy household goods. Besides, don’t you care how much your time is worth? Instead of sweating the small stuff, stock up on some non-perishable items when they go on sale. You’ll make fewer trips to the store this way for those goods, you’ll save a bit of money because you’re buying in bulk, AND you’ll actually enjoy shopping for the fresh food and groceries that are actually good for you!” – Mark Seed, My Own Advisor

17. Give Every Dollar a Job

“Be intentional with your money. Know exactly where you have to and want to spend your money before you ever spend a dime. Give every dollar a job, whether it’s for essentials, wants or savings. This way you can control your money, rather than your money controlling you.” – Julie Grandstaff

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Figuring Out How to be Frugal Begins With You

You can read all the frugal living tips in the world, but it’s up to you to decide the best way to adapt frugal living habits for you. You don’t have to start with all 12 frugal living tips, but you do have to start with at least one, whether from the expert personal finance advice above or from someone else you trust.

Frugal living doesn’t have to be hard

If you’re having trouble deciding what frugal living tips to start applying to your own life, try using the Piggy Chrome Extension when you shop online and you’ll start earning cash back and saving money automatically when you shop online. You don’t even have to change your spending habits to start saving money with Piggy and working toward more frugal living.

Now you know how to live frugally, so you have no excuse not to start right NOW!

Read More Personal Finance Advice to Make Your Frugal Living Plan

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