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Have you decided to get more frugal with your lifestyle recently? Being more intentional with your spending is a great habit to get into, but when you’ve spent the past few years without any real accountability on your saving habits, it can be difficult to know where exactly to get started. Today, I’m covering frugal living for beginners, with some of my best easy changes to get you started.
If you’re a regular on the blog, you’ll know that frugal living and minimalism are two lifestyle changes that I’m all about. After traveling the world for a year with just a carry-on bag, I’ve come to love the idea of spending my money only on the things that make me truly happy.
Prioritising the things I want in life, and adjusting my spending accordingly, has allowed me to save more money, shape my career around my biggest passions, and helped me understand exactly what I want to do with my money.
If you are just getting into frugal living, you might be wondering exactly how being frugal has helped me achieve all of this.
Well, I find that’s because people often confuse being frugal with being cheap.
I define frugal living as spending smarter. Frugal living is about spending your money only on the things that truly bring value to your life – and therefore reducing mindless spending on material things that do nothing for you.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Frugal living for beginners is easy, too. There are so many simple changes you can make today to help bring awareness into your spending, and most importantly, help you start saving money and living happier from day one.
My best tips for frugal living for beginners:
1) Be Clear About Your Goals
I became interested in frugal living and minimalism when I decided I want to have a location independent business that allowed me to live wherever I wanted.
Minimalist travel, by the way, is definitely the way forward.
Having this goal allowed me to clear the clutter in my life and adjust my spending so I had savings to travel and live the life I wanted.
In order for you to do the same, you need to be clear about your goals.
I recommend getting a planner (I love my Passion Planner!) to note down some of your goals and plans.
Try to make them action orientated, for example: ‘Save $100 more every month’ as opposed to simply ‘Save more money’.
I find simply noting down your goals can be a great first step in making plans to actually achieve them.
2) Evaluate Your Outgoings
Have you ever really tracking your outgoings before?
It’s not something that many of us are in the habit of doing, but when you think about it, this should be our first step for frugal living for beginners!
You can either use a budget tracking app or simply note down all your spending on a spreadsheet alongside your income (as a freelancer, this is something I’ve had to get into the habit of – my money never comes in one day!).
A few (free) budget trackers you might find useful include:
- Personal Capital (great if you have investments and multiple savings accounts you want to track all in one place)
3) Easy Swaps: Bills, TV, Internet
There are a few super easy swaps you could make today to start living a more frugal lifestyle – and save money instantly.
- Getting new quotes for your utility provider. Many people find that they can save $100 at least simply by switching providers (especially if you haven’t considered changing in years).
- Cancel your TV subscription. In a world with Netflix and iPlayer, do you really use your TV service that often? Canceling it and signing up for a service such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime can save you a lot of money every month.
- Get a new Interner provider. Similar to your utility provider, you could find you’re spending way more money on your internet than you need to.
4) Address Your Worst Spending Problem (Food, Transport, Entertainment)
Everyone has that one thing that just drains their wallet.
Mine is definitely my membership to the gym, climbing wall, yoga classes and whatever other fitness pursuits I decide to try each month (snowboarding indoors is next!). However, I’ve adjusted the rest of my spending so that I can afford to spend my money in this way and on something that I really love.
For example, I switched to a SIM-only phone and pay just £5 (~$7) a month instead of the £30 I was paying on a contract. Similarly, I now eat a very healthy, whole foods diet that consists mostly of veggies, fruits, and nuts and beans. While I ate healthy in the past, my diet of meat and dairy was a lot more expensive!
Some people know that big events are the biggest drain on their finances (my mum can’t help but go crazy every time a holiday comes around!), so learning how to do events like Christmas on a budget could be so helpful if you know this is a hurdle that always gets you.
Find that big drain on your money, and decide:
Does that drain bring real value to your life, or could you live without it?
Once you know the answer to that question, you’ll know whether you need to remove that big money-drain from your life, or to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate that thing you love.
Makes sense, right?
5) Do Things From Home More Often
One of my best frugal living tips for beginners is to start enjoying your home more.
It’s an obvious fact that you’ll spend far less money if you spend the weekend at home compared to out and about all the time, so trying to make staying in more of a habit is an obvious lifestyle change.
Staying in doesn’t mean giving up your social life or the things you enjoy, either. You just have to get creative!
Instead of going for an expensive meal out, try making a fakeaway from home for a healthier and cheaper alternative. You and your family or partner can also make this into a fun way to spend time together (although I know I like to cook alone – my family can just watch!).
Likewise, instead of going to the pub and spending £20 on a bottle of win, have your friends over to socialize from your home. A bottle of wine from the shop will cost less than half that price, and your bed is right upstairs when you’ve had enough of the night.
6) Get Some Frugal Hobbies
As regular readers of this blog will know, one of my biggest passions in life is rock climbing.
While you do need to invest a bit of money in some rock shoes and chalk in the beginning, one of the best things about climbing outdoors is that it is completely free, a great way to stay fit, and a guaranteed way to see some of the quietest, most beautiful spots in nature.
I’m not telling you to necessarily start rock climbing, but finding an inexpensive hobby that you love to do can be a great way to embrace frugal living for beginners. When you’re having fun doing something and saving money almost by accident, frugal living doesn’t seem like a huge lifestyle change.
Check out my post on inexpensive hobbies to try out for some inspiration!
7) Make Like-Minded Friends!
You’ll have a much more difficult time building better money habits if you’re surrounded by people on a totally different page to you. It’s in these circumstances that frugal living can often be interpreted as being cheap, as these people don’t really understand what you are trying to achieve.
If you can’t find anyone in your friendship group to try to learn more about frugal living with you, join some online communities to provide you with a support network.
There are plenty of active Facebook groups with people all over the world happy to share their tips and advice.
8) Consider Decluttering
When I had to reduce my belongings down to just a carry-on bag in order to travel the world, that experience made me see possessions and how much we really need to live in a totally different perspective.
Previously, I had clutter everywhere. From my wardrobe to my kitchen cupboards – and let’s not even talk about the garage!
Now, I try to be so much more mindful about the material possessions I accumulate. If I buy a new top, I’ll normally have thought about which top it will replace, or why I need a new item of clothing before buying it. In the past, I would mindlessly spend just because.
Frugal living for beginners starts, in my opinion, with making decluttering a habit in your life.
Donate, recycle, or sell the items you never use – and make some extra money while helping rid yourself of some extra baggage.
9) Find Ways to Bring in More Cash
If you want to be smarter with your spending, an obvious solution is to increase the amount of cash you have in the first place!
The good news is that you don’t need to start applying for a second job if you want to increase your income – in fact, there are a huge number of things you can do to make money on the side with as little as an hour of work each evening.
Here are some posts to help you out with that:
10) Evaluate Your Progress – and Keep it Fun!
Finally, frugal living for beginners is all about making easy changes that will quickly become habits.
Evaluate your spending, your goals, and the changes you have made each month to know whether you are genuinely making a change to your lifestyle.
Most importantly, keep it fun.
Having more money is great, but living a life you love is more important. Don’t sacrifice the things that make you happy simply to have a bigger number sitting in your bank account.
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