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Like all habits, living frugally is a hard one to maintain. It falls into the same category as exercise, eating our 5 vegetables a day, and flossing – we all know we should do it, but sometimes taking that first step is the hardest.
What’s more, frugal living as a term sounds a little…frumpy. A lifestyle based around saving up your pennies isn’t exactly sexy, you know?
But do you know what the actual definition of “frugal living” is? Frugal Mama defines it as:
Being careful with our money so we can afford what we really love.
I love that. When you put it like that, who wouldn’t want to live frugally? Spending money on things that don’t make us happy doesn’t make any sense. Spending money more wisely so we can afford to splash out on the things we love is something everyone should be aiming for. A hard habit to get into, sure, but once you’ve started, the road suddenly seems so much clearer. Here are a few of my personal tips for frugal living – remember, it’s a journey, not a simple-step process!
Less Social Media
As someone smack in the middle of the Millennial generation, I know how old it makes me sound to advise others to reduce their social media usage. We grew up in an age where chunky mobile phones were replaced with the cutting edge of technology in just a few years – social media has been born and growing at our own hands. To turn your back on that feels…backwards.
I’m not saying stop using social media – many of you probably used social media to get here, right? I use it too, obviously! What I’m talking about are the wasted hours scrolling through your channels out of sheer boredom. You’re gaining nothing from that time but seeing more and more posts designed to make you want to buy a product. Social media not only floods us with adverts to buy, buy, buy, but it’s also been found to increase feelings of isolation.
Take a break from social media. Go out with your friends. Go make new friends. Stop thinking about the envious lifestyles of social media stars – they’re paid to make their channel look like that, remember. Not only will you save money by focusing on you – but you might just save a whole lot more of yourself too.
Start Cooking Smarter
Before I started focusing on frugal living, one of my biggest sources of spending was on my weekly food shop. I love cooking, and would spend too much money on multiple ingredients each week to come up with something interesting and new each day. Cooking smarter means two things:
Cooking from Scratch
Take-outs and ready meals are a money drain, and do your health no favours either. Start cooking meals from scratch, even if that means starting simple with a basic meal of chicken, rice and vegetables, for example. There are tonnes of cook books and blogs out there that will teach you step-by-step how to cook a delicious, healthy meal without blowing your budget. A few of my favourite health and fitness bloggers have recently released books that focus on cooking from scratch with healthy, wholesome ingredients. Check out Zanna Van Djik’s Strong, featuring recipes and workouts, and Clean Eating Alice’s book that follows a similar pattern.
Meal planning isn’t just for health & fitness nuts, although that is where I first learned about it. Meal planning can be as complex as you make it. You can either plan every single meal of the week, prepare those meals in one day (Sunday is popular), and then have the meals ready to reheat when you need them. Alternatively, you can simply make a meal plan each week. Then, prepare your meals fresh as and when you want them. More time, but some people can’t stand reheated food for several days!
Buy Because You Need It, Not Because You Want It
Many of us buy something because we see it, want it, have to have it. Before I started implementing the habit of asking myself, “do you need it?”, I’d rarely stop and think before I purchase a new item of clothing just because I liked the look of it.
There are many, many times that I walk past a shop window and think about all the clothes I want and don’t have, but asking “do you need it?” is a great way of making yourself pause before buying. More often than not, those few minutes are all you need to say no and keep walking.
I won’t lie, I still end up buying things because I want them. Living out of a carry-on bag helps a lot with stopping me from buying and buying, but the urge is still there. Making baby steps – one purchase in every 10 wants, for example – is the only way forward.
Be More Aware of Your Intentions
When talking about tips for frugal living, we don’t necessarily need to focus on one area of our lives. Sometimes, it just takes a change in perspective, which is where intentional living comes in. Intentional Living is simply making a conscious attempt to live according to your values. Think about what will make your live meaningful and rich, and then try to live intentionally to achieve those goals. If you know that a more frugal lifestyle will ultimately make you happier, being aware of those intentions every day will help make your decisions throughout life far easier.
With a little creativity and research, you can cut down your spending in almost every element of your life. A few examples:
Homemade gifts tend to be a lot cheaper than store-bought items, but they’re also a far more thoughtful way to show someone you love them. I’ve recently started making Christmas gifts for my family rather than buying them things that will probably end up dusty and forgotten in a cupboard somewhere.
Last Christmas, I made vegan Chocolate Truffles, Orange and Vanilla Soap, and Mulled Gin – 3 items that saved me a lot of money, but were totally unique gifts for my relatives that took far more time and thought than a simple trip to the shops! If you’d like the recipes/instructions to any of the gifts mentioned above, let me know in the comments!
Women in particular needlessly spend a lot of money on hair and skin products, when the same ingredients are often sitting in our kitchen cupboards. Try a Coconut Oil hair mask in place of your expensive hair conditioner, or a home-made sugar scrub as an exfoliator. DIY Beauty Hacks are a great way to save money and take better care of your skin with only natural ingredients.
I can’t stand them chemical smell of a lot of cleaning products, but thankfully there are many DIY options to use instead. A simple white vinegar, water, and lemon juice solution is the perfect alternative to surface and all-purpose cleaners, and will get rid of dirt and stains just as well, without forcing you to spend your hard earned cash on costly branded products!
There are so many tips to frugal living that it can be easy to get overwhelmed! Start small, focusing on cutting down your spending in one area of your life at a time, and it will suddenly feel so much easier.
What are your top tips for frugal living? Let me know in the comments!