Is your money working for you, or against you?
While buying a cup of coffee or indulging in the occasional dining out experience won’t exactly plunge you headfirst into financial ruin, seemingly minute expenses can add up over time, creating a setback in larger financial goals. Contrastingly, adopting simple living ideas can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in the long run.
People who adopt frugal living habits are often labelled extreme cheapskates, however it’s all about being resourceful and making sure you focus your money and attention on things that truly serve you.
Apart from the extra dollars in your bank account each month, frugal living has a host of benefits for the environment, as we become more conscious with our consumption and eliminate wasteful habits.
This article will explore some frugal living habits which can save you some coins- and even spark some joy in the process.
Cancel unused subscriptions
If you’re paying for monthly subscriptions such as streaming apps, or courier services, ensure what you’re paying for are things that you actually use so the commitment is justified.
For product-based subscriptions, think carefully about the items you receive in your subscription in each month and if they serve no real purpose in your day-to-day life, or don’t spark the least bit of joy, save your money by putting these funds towards something of greater value.
Repair broken items
Before you toss out an ‘old’ item, think about whether a repair is possible- it may be more cost effective than buying an entirely new replacement. In some cases, a broken item can even be repurposed, extending its life.
Buy in bulk where possible
Buying in bulk has a large up-front cost, however the cost per unit is usually cheaper, saving you money in the long run.
When shopping in bulk it’s best to buy items you know you use frequently, to avoid hoarding.
Hang your clothes out to sun-dry
Of course, tossing your laundry in the dryer is easier than hanging them out to dry the old-fashioned way, but it’s sure to contribute to a higher electrical bill.
Create a balance by using the dryer only for bulkier loads while taking some time to hang out lighter loads.
Make your own cleaning products
Many cleaning products on the market can be replaced with simple natural ingredients that can get the job done just as well- or at the very least- good enough.
When creating your DIY cleaning products, ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, work wonders and don’t contain toxic chemicals like many shelf products do.
Start a kitchen garden
With market prices constantly fluctuating, starting a small kitchen garden can significantly cut down your monthly food bill.
Start with easy crops such as your go-to herbs before graduating to longer-season crops.
Gardening can even become a relaxing form of entertainment and teaches discipline through trial and error.
Shop around to get the best deal
It takes more time but visiting a few stores to compare prices before making a purchase can save you money in the long term.
Avoid impulse buys by making sure your purchase is a good investment, which will serve you for a long time.
Find low cost or free forms of entertainment
Having fun doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg- and getting intentional about your spending doesn’t mean recreational activities gets thrown out of the budget.
Get creative and explore new and cost-efficient ways to have fun for you and your family.
Some ideas include outdoor picnics at public parks, binging on your favorite shows, a trip to the beach or allocating time to a passion hobby- it all depends on what your family’s interests are.
Think about the cost per wear/use
We typically equate buying cheaper items with saving money, however this isn’t always the case. For things that are subject to wear and tear, such as clothing, it’s best to spend money on items that won’t need to be replaced after a few uses.
For example, a pair of pants that cost $100 but is destroyed after a couple wash cycles isn’t really cheaper than a $300 alternative that is made of more durable material. In the same way, buying off-brand parts for your vehicle instead of the specific make for your brand may find you heading to the car shop more frequently.
Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees
There are many valid reasons people fall behind on bill payments, however this situation has consequences that can make a small financial hiccup even worse in the long run. Most service providers charge a fee for late payments and may even disconnect the service in instances where the delinquency to honor a payment is extended or habitual.
In cases where a bill is due on a specific day, set a reminder so you don’t make the expensive mistake of simply forgetting a transaction. Setting up automatic deductions can also avoid this problem.
Where you are strapped for cash due to an unforeseen inconvenience or even irregular salary payments, it’s a good idea to set up an emergency fund to help cushion this temporary situation.
Avoid credit card debt
Many people rack up credit card debt quickly simply because they do not know how to utilize this financial tool for their benefit.
A credit card isn’t ‘free money’ and shouldn’t be used to make purchases that you cannot afford. It’s best to plan the amount of money you can afford to spend each month, so you can pay back within the grace period to avoid any losses.
Be aware of your card’s billing cycle and plan your purchases as far as possible from your card’s due date, so you have extra time to pay back the money and avoid interest charges or late payment fees.
Overcome the need to have the latest gadgets
Whether it’s your vehicle, phone, laptop or some other electronic device for which newer models are continuously released, focus on functionality over trends and popularity so your investment serves you for a long time.
Spending money to upgrade perfectly functional items can prolong longer term goals such as buying a home or travelling the world.
Use your products sparingly
The more you adopt a frugal lifestyle, you realize that overconsumption is a problem many people have- not only in how much we buy, but how much we use- and how much goes to waste.
Use your products sparingly to get more use out of your purchases- a small drop of toothpaste will do the job, for example. In the same way, laundry detergent should match the size of your washing load.
Enjoy more meals at home
A home-cooked meal isn’t only made with more love- it’s lighter on the pockets, too.
Reserve dining out for special occasions as much as possible and treat get creative in the kitchen, treating your meal prep as more of a sacred ritual and less like a chore, as you conjure up new and nourishing recipes for your family.
Meat and dairy products can send your grocery bill up if you include them in every meal.
Save money by trying some vegetarian meals or designating specific days that your family will consume meat.
Cutting up smaller pieces of meat or using ingredients such as rice or beans can also stretch meats per meal.
Remove the pressure of external beauty standards
Social media can make us think that we need to spend exorbitant amounts each month on beauty maintenance or buy the most expensive products to care for our bodies. Focus less on products that are marketed for their look and more on those that are inexpensive but practical and get the job done.
What other frugal habits do you and your family do to be more resourceful with your money? Let us know in the comments!