Living Frugally: Reduce Your Living Costs in 15 Simple Steps
Aging is no excuse to spend money carelessly!
It’s easy to say you want to live frugally and cut your living costs, but it’s harder to actually implement it.
You see, living a frugal lifestyle isn’t just a way of life. It’s also a state of mind. This lifestyle calls for a behavioral change and a conscious awareness of how you’re spending your money.
It’s not complicated if you know how…
If, like many Americans, you often find yourself with too much month at the end of the money, this post shares tried and tested tips to get you started on the once elusive journey towards simple, frugal living.
But first, do you understand what frugal living really is?
What’s Frugal Living?
The term frugal is often misconstrued into a negative one. Being frugal doesn’t mean you’re a cheapskate; far from it.
Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, frugal people still enjoy spending money within reason. They just want to stretch that money to achieve their personal goals and reduce stress.
If l were to summarize frugal living in just one sentence, this could be it:
“Smart finances, not tight finances.”
Frugal Living Doesn’t Mean A Lifestyle Overhaul
Contrary to popular misconception, embracing a frugal lifestyle isn’t about deserting your interests or declining all invitations that come your way.
Rather, it entails being very intentional with your spending by cutting back without cutting out everything you like. It’s all about finding a balance.
The best part about frugal living is anyone can do it!
Have the Right Mindset
The pressure in society is to spend, spend, spend. Some people strive to look like they can afford to buy top-shelf stuff… even when they can’t.
It’s no secret that thinking about finances and planning for the future instills anxiety and stress in many people. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to adopt frugality at first.
Discipline is key in money management, and sometimes you can feel burned out before you even start.
With the right mindset, living more frugally is possible regardless of your income bracket.
Look at this lifestyle change as a chance to approach with positivity and intention, rather than a punishment or burden.
Enjoy the emotional and financial benefits of being thrifty.
Keep it Real With Your Loved Ones
After switching to a frugal lifestyle, it’s common for some people to make excuses to avoid uncomfortable conversations.
When invited to dine out or go on vacation with friends, these people feign sickness or being stuck in the office instead of graciously declining the invitation.
If you want your budget and relationships to thrive, it’s important to talk about money with your friends and family. Feel free to admit that these activities are simply out of your price point.
Instead of approaching this journey from a place of shame and doubt, come from a place of pride and empowerment. This will help you resist unnecessary pressure, create room for better practices and stay focused on your goals.
Create a Budget
If you’ve ever had your toddler grandson or granddaughter over, you know how they can disappear if you fail to keep a close eye on them. Well, money is like that, too.
With online shopping and credit cards at your disposal, it can be easy to splurge on various things without a second thought.
It is a lot easier to cut expenses when you know how much you are spending on what. Now is the time to really get to know what you are spending and evaluate your budget.
Tracking your daily expenses for a month is the most effective way to trim your spending. You’ll be surprised to learn how fast little things add up over the course of a month.
There are various budget apps and personal finance tools that can help you manage your funds and send you alerts when you overspend.
Frugal budgeting helps you to live a cost-effective lifestyle that doesn’t sacrifice comfort.
Reduce Your Living Costs in 15 Simple Steps
To achieve your frugal living goals, there are numerous tips and ideas that you can incorporate into your lifestyle.
This article will discuss 15 habits that can put you on the right financial path.
- Drop Unnecessary Insurance
Insurance is an essential part of your financial life. It protects you against the unexpected, but it can be a large expense.
What was covered in your 20s is very different than what you cover in your 50s. It’s time to review your coverage to ensure it fits your lifestyle.
While car insurance and homeowners/ renters insurance are crucial, some other insurance types may not be necessary at your age. You will save the cost of any policies you decide to cancel.
For instance, it may be time to reconsider your life insurance if you’re debt-free. You can also ditch your disability insurance if you’re no longer working for a living or have no dependents relying on your monthly income.
When you bought your car or home, how hard did you search for the best auto or homeowner’s insurance rates? Not very? Try shopping around and finding a less expensive option than your current provider.
It’s not a must you wait till your current policy is expired to change providers. With most providers, you can leave at any time without having to pay for the remainder of the policy.
- Take Advantage of Off-Peak Deals
Many people approaching retirement have travel as a primary goal. But vacations are a big-budget trap for most families.
Save money on airfare, hotels, meals and attractions by traveling and eating out at off-peak times.
Most ticketed attractions and hotels have special rates for mid-week travelers. If you come in before dinner rush, you will beat the crowds and enjoy specials from most restaurants.
At 50, you probably have a more flexible schedule. Take advantage of this new-found flexibility to do all sorts of fun activities on the cheap.
- Senior Discounts
Remember those senior discounts you couldn’t use when you were younger? Well, now is your time to grab them!
If you know where to look, there are plenty of discounts available to help you live cheap.
Ask in-store about senior discounts everywhere you go shopping—even if there is no sign. You’ll be surprised at how many stores offer, but do not advertise, them.
This is a great way to take advantage of your age as a way to save money.
- Coupons Coupons Coupons
Never pay full price!
A coupon is a voucher that guarantees you the ability to get a product at a reduced price, or even for free!
Some items can be expensive, even if you buy in bulk. Before you go shopping or make any kind of purchase, visit a coupon site.
Don’t clip. Couponing is not as time-consuming as it once was. Gone are the days when coupons could only be found in newspapers, magazines and flyers.
Alternatively, head to Google and search coupon + the product you’d like to purchase or the store you’d like to shop. You are almost certain to find some kind of savings.
Another tip is purchasing discounted gift cards online. If you’re lucky, you may score gift cards for up to 20 percent off.
Pro Tip: If used incorrectly, coupons and discounted gift cards can actually make you spend more. Most of the coupons you’ll find will be for products you don’t actually need.
- Abandon Vices
You’re not getting any younger. You can no longer drink and party like you used to back in college.
At your age, excessive drinking and smoking can be detrimental to your health. This can be even more costly than the amount of money you spend on your chosen vice. It’s time to drop your expensive consumable habits.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.26. if you smoke a pack daily, that translates to $188 every month and $2,292 every year. A decade of smoking comes with a hefty $22,920 price tag!
I know quitting smoking is a serious challenge. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking is an Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in Smoking Recovery. It will help you quit easily and enjoyably using Carr’s simple, drug-free approach.
- Eradicate Unnecessary Routine Expenses
Morning coffee, weekend shopping, evening movies, daily paper, lottery tickets, etc. All these might seem like low-cost expenses, but they add up quickly.
Make small adjustments by differentiating the things you want and the things you need.
You can also lower your bills.
To save on utility costs, replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, unplug unused electrical devices, install a programmable thermostat for your HVAC system, repair leaky faucets and toilet, and turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Find Cheap Entertainment
Are you bored? Free, fun things to do are everywhere!.
Is there a public library where you live? Do you have a library card? Your local library could be your ticket to free entertainment.
You can borrow and exchange DVDs, games, magazines and books at no extra cost. Entertainment doesn’t have to come at a price.
Cable television plans are getting pricey. The average American household pays $217.42 a month in cable bill. This is a lot of money!
Unless it’s necessary for reception, cut the cable or reduce cable TV down to the most basic package. The cord-cutting revolution is in full effect! People are switching to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Prime Video among other streaming platforms.
Other inexpensive ways to have a fun and memorable time include hosting a potluck dinner, going for a hike, having manicures and pedicures with your girlfriends at home, and playing board games.
By cutting down on entertainment costs, you can save a lot of money throughout the month.
- Evaluate Your Subscriptions/Memberships
Do you have a gym membership that you don’t use much or anymore? Or maybe you have paid for multiple streaming services but somehow never get the time to watch television.
Subscriptions are the way of the world these days.
But do you even know what you’re currently subscribed to? Most subscriptions are automatic, meaning you might not even realize you’re still paying for services you don’t use.
Unused paid subscriptions can be a money-wasting mistake. If your current subscriptions/memberships no longer justify the monthly expenses, it’s time to cancel them!
Instead of paying a monthly gym membership, work out at home. You can find at-home yoga classes, resistance workouts and cardio routines for free online.
You can also unsubscribe from those tempting email newsletters or merchandise catalogs. Yes, they don’t cost you money directly, but they can tempt you to make impulse purchases.
While at it, review your cell phone talk and data plan. Negotiating a cheaper plan with your current provider or switching to a smaller carrier can save you big on monthly costs.
- Downsize Your Home
For most Americans, their dwelling place is their biggest expense, so any attempt to live frugally must include housing.
Just because you can afford a mansion doesn’t mean you should live in one. What’s the point of living in a 5 bedroom house when it’s just the two of you? Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Don’t wait until you retire to downsize to something more manageable like an apartment or condo. Smaller homes are less expensive to buy and maintain. You won’t have to employ a gardener or cleaner. You’ll also save money on your utility bills, monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and more.
If you’re already renting, but find your home too big for you, move to a cheaper area where you’ll pay less in rent.
Look for a location with facilities like libraries, grocery stores and health centers within walking distance. This will help further reduce your living costs.
If you’re not ready to relocate yet, but own a home in an area that’s frequented by tourists, consider renting out part of your space on Airbnb.
- Flex Your DIY Muscles
Sometimes, life’s greatest lessons are learned during the darkest time. This is what happened during the Greatest Depression, where people had to be resourceful to survive.
It was unthinkable to replace broken things. People learned how to fix things on their own.
When approaching retirement, you’re usually rich in time. This means that you can finally manage to handle household maintenance that you used to pay someone to do.
The idea of learning a new skill can be a little scary. Sure, it takes some effort and patience, but it’s an amazing way to save money if you learn skills that can help you be more frugal.
YouTube has oodles of DIY repair tutorials. You can learn how to repair furniture, sew clothes, change a flat tire, fix a leaking tap, etc.
In addition to cutting costs, doing physical activities has health benefits.
- Cook (and Pack) Meals at Home
As we age, we become slightly more intolerant of many things like badly cooked or overpriced foods.
The solution to these annoyances is cooking from scratch.
There’s no doubt that grabbing fast food is convenient, but eating out can get very expensive. The average American spends a whopping $232 per month eating out.
Set aside an hour each week (probably on Sunday evenings) to plan what you’ll cook for dinner. Meal planning for the week ahead will help you save money.
Try meatless dishes. I’m not saying you turn into a vegetarian (although you could always give it a try), but there are plenty of tasty dishes without meat.
By cooking food you already have in your freezer and pantry, you won’t have to undergo the daily agony over what to eat.
Also, you’ll learn to overcome the temptation to eat out. You should only consider impulse buying when you come across an unexpected bargain.
Don’t feel confident in the kitchen? There are thousands of YouTube videos and cookbooks for beginners.
- Buy Lightly Used, Refurbished or Generic
To live frugally, you have to make some drastic decisions.
Many people overpay for brand names. What they probably don’t know is that they can buy the same product with a different label, but at a fraction of the price.
Have you noticed how almost every store carries its own “brand” of merchandise? As long as something is in great condition, there’s no need to pay full price for it. This is especially true for electronics and home appliances.
Sometimes, you can even get these items for free by perusing the free section on Craigslist or checking what friends, family and neighbors are trying to get rid of.
- Age-Proof Your Home
You may be asking yourself how age-proofing your home will help you live a frugal lifestyle.
Well, here’s how. The average hospitalization cost for a fall-related injury is $14,000. Money spent on medical equipment, home health and rehabilitation goes well beyond this immediate fee.
Age-proofing your home can make it safer and prevent falls in your advancing years. Start by decluttering and reorganizing your home.
Next, do modifications such as installing brighter lighting, bathroom grab bars and handrails.
- Trim Transportation Costs
Besides your home, your car is probably the second most expensive item you own. If you have two cars, sell one. Or sell both and buy a newer, more fuel-efficient one. If you switch from a car that gets 25mpg to one that gets 15mpg for 100,000 miles, you’ll save nearly 2,667 gallons of gas.
How you drive and how often you service your car impacts your car’s fuel consumption.
If you drive with sudden accelerations and hard stops, you’re more likely to pay more in fuel.
Keep your driving habits in check.
Practice preventative maintenance to reduce repair costs in the long-term. By doing regular servicing, potential problems can be identified early enough and be addressed before they develop into pricey replacements.
Public transportation and carpooling once in a while are other fantastic ways to save money. They can introduce you to new people and let you experience new joyful moments.
- How Much Are You Paying In Banking And Investment Fees?
Banking and investment fees can really add up.
The first step to minimizing them is figuring out exactly how much you’re paying to maintain each account.
Start by scrutinizing your statements and calling each financial institution. Negotiate for cheaper fees.
These 15 steps won’t solve all of your money problems, but they will help you build healthy habits that can set you on the path to financial independence.
Frugal living isn’t something that happens overnight. Once you’re ready to start, try following just one tip at a time.
Remember, frugality doesn’t have to be boring. To make it a lot more fun and enjoyable, turn it into a challenge.
What are you waiting for? Get started NOW!