Living a life of frugality doesn’t have to be hard. Try these 26 frugal living ideas to live a better life.
Congratulations on your debt-free journey, mama!
Whether you’re just starting out, or have been plowing away for some time, I want to encourage you to keep going! Eliminating all of your debt is a worthwhile goal and will make a huge difference in your life.
You’ll probably even sleep better at night knowing you don’t owe any money to anyone!
Have you delayed your efforts to get out of debt because you don’t make much money?
I have great news for you. You don’t have to increase your income before you start getting serious about paying off debt!
I have 26 frugal living tips that will help you finally get rid of that burden forever!
What is Frugality?
Before we get started, let’s get clear on what it means to be frugal.
Basically, it’s being aware of the things you need versus what you don’t need.
It’s choosing to live in a way that supports that awareness. Saving, making thrifty purchases, and not living in excess are apart of living frugally.
It’s also an attitude of wanting to be resourceful and not wasteful.
Some people choose to live frugally temporarily while they get out of debt. While others have made it a way of life and have no desire to go back to their former ways of living and spending.
No matter what you decide, living frugally is an amazing eye-opener. It can help us to see just how much we consume without even realizing it!
1. Do a Debt Analysis
If you’re sick and tired of living under the burden of your debt, the first thing you need to do is assess how much debt you have.
Collect all of your statements and records to find out what you owe.
Then, make a clear goal of when you would like to have all of your debt paid off.
Having a specific date is a vital part of keeping you motivated and focused. Do you want to have your debt paid off in 6 months? 1 year? 3 years?
Depending on what you owe you can set a date that’s both realistic, yet challenges you to make radical sacrifices in the short-term to pay it off.
I recommend setting a goal month, day, and even time that you finally be free!
Check out this post on a debt free plan you can use for your family.
2. Reduce Your Grocery Bill
How much do you send on food each month? And not just eating out. But the little pick-me-ups, the snacks at the grocery store, and the vending machine at work…
Those little things add up quickly! Look for ways to make your meals from scratch as much as possible so you can reduce your grocery bill. Shop around to find out where you can get the items at a cheaper price.
Compare the price of fresh produce versus frozen. It can be helpful to set a mini-budget for each person in your home.
For example, you can decide each person in your home is going to have a budget of $45 per week.
It can be easier to think within a per-person scope rather than the family food budget being X amount. Whenever there’s a lump sum of money it’s easier to overspend and end up buying things you don’t need.
Creating a budget within a budget can bring extra security and help you to see that there’s no room to overspend. You can still plan to spend on snacks, but plan in a way that it lasts for a whole week or month.
It also helps to shop with a list and buy in bulk. Leaving home without a list is a no-no. Also try to limit your trips to the store if you can.
3. Sell Things You Don’t Need
There’s a pretty good chance you have some extra things hanging around the house you don’t need. It can be hard to detach from things, but if you truly don’t need it, why hold onto it?
You can get out of debt a whole lot faster if you give up the things you don’t need. Did you receive gifts that you don’t need which can be returned? Do you have a second car you don’t need that you can sell?
Frugality is a mindset. It’s amazing what we can do without! Sometimes we just don’t see it because we’re so used to having it. Look through your closets and your garage to find those items you truly don’t need and sell them!
4. Shop at Thrift Stores
Rather than purchase your clothes brand new, start shopping at consignment stores.
They have a lot of gently used stores with clothes that look almost brand new! You can shop for your entire family for right around $150-$200 (depending on your family size).
5. Pre-Plan Free Fun For Your Kids
Living frugal to get out of debt can feel like a long, uphill battle that seems like it will never end. If your kiddos always hear you say, “We can’t afford it,” or, “You don’t need that new toy,” they can become discouraged.
It’s important to factor in some fun things they can enjoy for free or low cost. For example, local libraries usually have a bunch of goodies they give away to kids as incentives for checking out books.
They also have free classes and events your kids can join. Look around your local area to find out what’s happening in your community.
6. Bargain Services
Think about what skills you have that you can bargain. It’s likely that you have some skills that could help someone else.
Offer to bargain your services in exchange for someone else’s products or services.
Is your husband a handyman? It doesn’t have to be by profession. Maybe he could do some fixing up for someone at your local farmer’s market in exchange for food.
Can you cornrow children’s hair in a fancy style? Can you babysit? Do you know how to build a website?
Don’t overlook anything just because you think no one would need it or be open to bargaining. You never know!
If you need more ideas, check out this post on 22 freelance services stay at home moms can offer.
7. Sale-Based Shopping
You don’t have to be a couponer to save money, mama. You can shop based on what’s on sale. So if you see there’s toothpaste on sale, grab a couple extra.
I will warn you though. The hardest part about sale-based shopping is being strong enough not to buy things you don’t need.
The key is to stick only to what’s needed and nothing more. You’ll quickly defeat the purpose if you start buying unnecessary items just because they’re on sale.
8. Eliminate Daycare Costs
If this is possible for your family, you and your husband can work opposite shifts to save money on daycare costs.
Working opposite shifts is a great way to save hundreds of dollars you’d otherwise spend for childcare.
If that isn’t possible, have you considered starting a blog? Blogging is the safest and budget-friendly way to start making money online!
9. Be Household Smart
Look at each and every household item you use to figure out how you can cut back.
Here are just a few ideas that’ll save you a few extra bucks:
- Stop buying trash bags (instead, use free plastic grocery bags you get from the store)
- Cut your toothpaste and shampoo bottles open to make sure you’re using every last drop of it
- Make your own DIY cleaning products instead of buying them
- Stop buying paper towels and napkins. Use reusable cloths instead!
10. Close Your Credit Cards
Yep, just close em’ out. Or cutting them up works too! Since you’re goal is to get out of debt, continuing to spend on credit is not a good idea.
If you can manage to keep your expenses below your income, you’ll have funds left over to save for emergencies.
You can’t prevent emergencies from happening, but you can be smart about where you draw money from to cover those expenses.
If you have a pool of money saved on the side, you won’t need to borrow any more money from other sources.
It’s too easy to grab the credit card when you come up short on groceries, gas money, rent, or medical expenses. But just think of how much it will push you further away from your goal rather than closer to achieving it.
This brings me to the next point.
11. Start Saving
Saving is a huge part of eliminating your debt. Rather than start saving after you get out if debt, it’s vital that you save and dig your way of debt out simultaneously.
If you throw all your extra money at your debt without saving, you’ll have no choice but to get right back into debt when you have an emergency. And emergencies definitely hit us when we least expect it!
There are two ways you can approach saving money for emergencies.
- You can (and should) live below what you earn. Then save your leftover money. The lower you can keep your monthly expenses, the better. Don’t spend the extra money on coffee, manicures and pedicures, clothes you don’t need, more toys your children don’t need, eating out, and so on.
- You can look for additional ways to earn money. These could be one-time odd jobs like babysitting or doing yard work for someone. You can also get a second job.
Check out this list of 107 ways you can make $100!
12. Pay Cash
It may be the 21st century, but it’s also the age of death (I mean debt) by credit cards.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because the majority of people are using card payments to pay for their basic needs that it’s the best decision.
Notice, I said card payments. This includes debit cards, mama. When you use your credit or debit card for purchases, you’re far more likely to overspend than if you have the cash in hand.
The envelope system is an effective method to ensure you’re directing your money where it needs to go.
It makes a drastic difference when you can actually see the cash leaving your hands!
13. Get a Side Hustle
Whether you’re a stay at home mom, homeschooling mama, working in or out of your home, your possibilities are endless!
If you’re serious about obliterating your debt, consider taking on some extra work to bring in additional income.
If you already have a main source of income that sufficiently supports you and your family, you could use the income from your side hustle for sole the purpose of paying off your debt.
14. Create a Budget
Creating a budget is absolutely essential to make frugal living choices. You need to know where your money is currently going, and then decide what you will and will not spend on.
A great tool (and free!) to track and manage your spending at a glance is Every Dollar.
A budget doesn’t have mean all you eat is beans and rice 6 days a week. There’s still a lot of room to be flexible, just without overspending. The goal is to set boundaries for your spending.
15. Give Low Cost Gifts
It’ll save you money and be far more personal that something you bought from the store.
You can also stock up on free things you get throughout the year to give them as give when special occasions come around.
16. Reduce Your Phone Bill
As a mother, keeping a phone line is important. But there are a couple of ways you can reduce your monthly bill.
Here are some options:
- Find a cheaper monthly plan
- Pay in full for your phone (don’t make monthly payment on the actual phone itself)
- Purchase a prepaid phone and use your minutes wisely for important calls only
- Use a free government phone and stop paying your phone bill altogether (this is available to residents in the United States)
You can save quite a bit of money just by getting a cheaper plan. On a low end, what if you saved $45/month? That’s $540 back into your pocket that you can use towards paying off your debt!
17. Eliminate Your Tv Bill
How much do you spend on your cable bill, mama? If you love having your favorite shows available for you and the kids and don’t want to give that up altogether, that’s fine!
You can still call to stop your cable service while enjoying the same (or similar entertainment) for free or cheaper.
Here are some ideas:
- Watch videos, movies, cartoons, and other shows you like for free on Youtube
- Borrow videos and movies for you and your children from the library for free. They also have tv series available as well!
- Use streaming.
Even if all you end up saving is $30 per month, that’s still money you’re able to hold onto each month.
18. Look For Lower Insurance Rates
Car insurance can be a huge drain on your income each month. Don’t settle for the first company that says it has the lowest price.
Do some shopping around to make sure you’re getting the best deal out there.
Ask friends, neighbors, family, and do thorough research to find out what other companies have to offer before you settle.
19. Lower Your Transportation Costs
Transportation expenses can suck you dry fast! If you’re able, avoid using the car as much as possible.
It’ll save you money on repairs and gas. If you can carpool with your co-workers or friends, go that route.
It can be extremely helpful to carefully plan all of your errands and shopping trips. For example, you could shop for all of your household items once a months (in bulk) rather than each week.
You can also decide that you’re not going to make any extra trips after you’ve already done your shopping for the specified time period.
This will help reduce the number of trips you make when you go to the store to pick up one or two things.
Creating a list of all the essential items you use will help you out in making sure you don’t miss anything when you make your shopping trip.
And although it’s faster and it feels great to get a professional car wash and detailed interior cleaning, do that yourself too!
20. Pack Lunches
A study shows that the average American spends around $50 a week on lunch. That turns out to be around $3,000 a year on just lunches alone.
When you look at the numbers, is it really worth it? Why not make your lunches from home? Homemade lunches can actually be more delicious than takeout (and healthier!).
Even the money you pay to fund your child’s cafeteria meal account add up quickly. Save the money you would be spending by packing lunches for your entire family.
21. Lower Your Utility Bill
Choose a reasonable price range for your monthly utility budget. Define what price is unacceptable and consciously make an effort to stay within your budget range.
You can lower your utility bill just by doing small things like turning off lights that are not being used, unplugging appliances and electronics that are not being used at that time, and reducing the number of loads you’re washing and drying.
Talk about you goals with you children and turn this into a game!
Let’s see how low we can keep the bill this month.
You’ll need the help of everyone in your family. If you don’t exceed your budget, through a mini party. A free party, that is! Celebrate with music, tea, and cookies! 🙂
22. Cook and Reduce Takeout
Every article you’ve read so far has probably suggested this (because it can save you loads of cash!)
Whether you’re treating you and your family to actually meals or just your morning coffees, decide to cut back.
If you’re not aware, your hard earned monies will slip away after you’ve bought vending machine treats, snacks, takeout lunches, and pick-me-up beverages.
It feels good in the moment, but you must try be intentional about not spending on those things. I’m not suggesting you never buy them (we all want a little treat sometimes 🙂 ). Just set a limit as to how much you’ll spend per week or month.
It’s much cheaper to cook from home. Here are a few things you can do to cook from home, even with your busy schedule:
- Prepare your meals and snacks on your day off (wash salads and chop toppings, etc). Store them in containers for the week to grab and go!
- Freeze meals so you don’t have to cook from scratch as much during the week.
- Learn to make your favorite takeout foods from home! Even if you’re vegan, you’d be amazed at how there is a healthy vegan substitute for just about every meal you can imagine!
- Create some healthy InstantPot meals to save time when making meals.
Oh yes, and keep a cooler full of ice in the trunk of your car so you can easily keep your snacks and meals cool when you’re out running errands with your baby.
23. Learn Salon Skills
It’s time to get even pickier about where you spend your money, mama! Which means it’s time to rethink the barbershop and salon visits for you and your family. Now’s the time to learn how to cut hair yourself.
Take the time to learn to cornrow your daughter’s hair rather than pay someone else to do it. Do your own manicures and pedicures yourself and the money you’ll save will add up quickly.
24. Debt Free Support Groups
Becoming debt free is a journey, and some days you’ll feel the pain of inconvenience a bit more than others.
Surrounding yourself with others who are on the same journey can give you an extra boost of encouragement and inspiration.
It can be helpful to hear from others who are in different phases of their journey of paying off their debt.
On the days you feel like you’re not paying debt off fast enough, I encourage you to hop on Youtube and listen to the stories of people on the Dave Ramsey Show who do the Debt Free Scream.
You’ll get super inspired as you hear how people made unthinkable sacrifices to get out of debt completely. And the best part is, they have no regrets! Their free!
25. Seek Free Fun
Just because you’ve lowered your entertainment budget doesn’t mean you and the family can’t have fun. There’s a ton of free or low cost things you can do, you just have to look around.
Try looking in your local library and community for free family events, classes or meet ups. Some of them might be one time, and others may be ongoing.
26. Find Alternatives to the Social Norm
Since enjoying one another’s company while eating a good meal apart of our social norm, you’ll have to get used to saying “no” more often.
When friends ask you out for coffee or to girls night out, you need to be more creative about staying within your budget or not spending at all.
Maybe some nights you could invite them over for an affordable dinner you prepare at home.
It may also be a good idea to let your friends know your financial goal is to get out of debt. That way, they can support you instead of urge you to keep spending.
Frugality Tips You Can Start Doing Today!
There you have it! 26 frugal living tips to help release you from the bondage of debt.
Remember, the main thing you want to do is put all the money you manage to save towards paying off your debt. If you spend it on unnecessary things, you’ll only delay your goal all the longer.
Just keep in mind, these sacrifices are only temporary! You may feel like your goal is so far away. But just remember that every payment towards your debt gets you a little bit closer, mama.
If you need more help, I have a big post on 63 ways you can save money and live on one income for good!
I’m rooting for you!
I’d love for you to share additional tips as well as what you’re doing to live frugally and save more. Let me know in the comments below!
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