Making immediate savings can be fun, but it’s the habits that can really help transform your money mindset. One of the best ways to create a healthier attitude towards money and to save money in the long term is to try frugal living.
Frugal living is where you’re intentional about what you spend. You make conscious decisions about what to buy, when and where from. It’s all about making decisions that benefit your life, from both a financial and a wellbeing perspective.
If you’re new to frugal living and want to give it a try, here are a few simple frugal living tips. Try making one or two a new habit for a few months and see how you get on.
1. Set a monthly budget
One of the best ways to start saving money more effectively is to set a monthly budget. Not only will you know how much you have left as ‘free’ money, but you’ll get a clearer view of your finances so you can make conscious decisions for the future.
If you’re new to budget setting, I’ve created a simple monthly budget spreadsheet that you can use as a template.
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2. Create a capsule wardrobe
It’s amazing how much money we can end up spending on new clothes each year. Whether you’re a fashion lover looking for a more frugal option or you’re seeking simplicity, a capsule wardrobe can be a rewarding way to dress.
If you’re not familiar with a capsule wardrobe, it’s a pared-back version of a seasonal (or year-round) wardrobe. Think classic basics that you can mix and match with each other, plus a few stand-out dresses or shirts. Team your capsule wardrobe project with a decluttering session and uncover clothes that can act as the basis for your new style. Then, add in new pieces as and when you need them. Over time you’ll build up a collection of clothes you can style every day.
3. Try a ‘no spend’ day or week
Sometimes it helps to get a little strict with yourself. If you’re trying to cut back on your non-essential spending, why not try a ‘no spend’ day or week?
Choose a day (or days) where you’ll try and make no purchases. It’s up to you whether that means all purchases or just those outside the essentials (like groceries). You might need to try this a few times to see if it works for you, but if it does you could start to form a new habit where you’re consciously spending less throughout the week.
4. Make your own lunch
If you work away from home it can be so tempting to pop down to the local cafe or corner shop to buy lunch. It’s one of those areas of spending where you don’t notice just how much it totals until you look closely. Luckily, it’s also a (relatively) easy place to cut back by making your own lunches.
Think about what you usually eat for lunch and look for ways you can make this ahead. Sandwiches are an easy option, so make sure you add your favourite fillings to your grocery shop. Leftovers are another great choice, especially if your workplace has a kitchen where you can reheat your meal. If you’re stuck for ideas, try searching for recipe ideas on Pinterest.
In some cases it’s not practical to make your own lunch ahead of time. If you’re in a position where you need to buy lunch out, look for opportunities to save money with what you buy. If your workplace has kitchen facilities, could you buy something that lasts or that you can make on-site? Could you try a different shop or cafe slightly further away, and make savings on your meal deal there?
5. Cut down on food waste
For another food-related frugal tip, try reducing the amount of food you waste each week. It’s inevitable that food goes to waste sometimes, but chances are most of us can make small changes to cut down on this. Not only does this help us save money buy avoiding foods we typically waste, but it’s more eco-conscious too.
Next time you clear out your fridge or cupboards, make a note of what you haven’t used in time. If you’re wasting a lot of fresh fruit, try buying frozen next time. If it’s store cupboard essentials like potatoes, try buying loose next time so you only buy the amount you need. You might notice that your bananas always go off before you get a chance to use them. Don’t throw them out – try making a delicious banana bread to use them up.
Put your frugal gains towards a new goal
If you’ve successfully introduced some of these frugal living tips to your life, you might find you have more money available than before. To help that money go further, why not put it towards a savings goal?
Whether you’re saving towards making someone’s birthday extra special or you’d like to invest in your career, my savings tracker can help you stay motivated to reach your targets.