By: Dannie Phan | October 14th, 2020
No one can manage their money wisely without a little help. It takes time and teaching to learn how to save while also having fun on a day-to-day basis.
If you want to learn how to live frugally, understand that the lessons may take a while to sink in. As you take small steps to change your spending habits, however, you’ll find it becomes easier, and even rewarding, to put money into your savings instead of spending it immediately.
What Does It Mean To Live Frugally?
Frugal living requires you to ask yourself what it is you need on a day-to-day basis and what is it, comparatively, that you want. For example, a frugal individual only purchases what she needs to get through a week – groceries, fuel and toiletries. Often paying in cash instead of credit cards. Comparatively, if you’re feeling a little looser with your money, you may instead opt to not only buy your groceries and other necessities but go out to dinner, buy a new video game, or head out to your favorite bar for the evening.
There’s nothing wrong with spending money if you want to have fun. Living frugally, after all, does not mean depriving yourself of everything that makes you happy. It does mean giving those things up on occasion to build up your savings account or getting out of credit card debt. For example, you could opt to go out to dinner once a month instead of every week. Alternatively, when you go grocery shopping, you could limit yourself to a single tasty snack instead of a cart-full.
A Frugal lifestyle lets you build up a financial safety net should something go wrong later in your life. If you make an effort to reduce your spending, you’ll find yourself dealing with less financial stress later down the line.
How Do You Live Frugally In 2020?
2020 thus far has been an interesting year. It’s not as easy anymore to go out to dinner or even go on vacation. As such, it’s a little easier, for some, to save money.
However, many people may have lost their jobs with the rise of the pandemic. As such, it may be significantly more difficult for you to pay for your utilities and groceries, not to mention your rent.
The good news is that there are resources available to you, just as there are ways for you to be frugal, as well. When you’re trying to be frugal in 2020, her are some frugal living tips:
- Buying what you need in bulk – Bulk shopping and couponing is a good idea both in a pandemic and in a normal year. When you shop in bulk, you’ll have the things you need to make it through a day for longer than you normally would. Not only does this make shopping less expensive, but it can also help you get ahead of the procrastination shoppers, should another lockdown come into effect.
- Limiting your travel – It’s already a good idea to limit how much you travel when there’s a pandemic. If you limit your trips to the grocery store and the office, however, you can cut down on how much gasoline you use and thereby cut your living costs.
- Turn off the lights – If you’re concerned about your utility bills causing you trouble, it may be in your best interests to limit your electrical usage at home. Reach out to your local provider and see if they won’t send you low-power light bulbs. Alternatively, unplug your devices so they don’t draw excess energy. You can apply these same tactics to water and gas bills, though make sure not to unplug anything you don’t know how to work with.
- Reaching out and seeing what available resources may benefit you – While unemployment benefits related to the pandemic are coming to an end, there are still government programs, like SNAP, that can help you more readily afford food should you be low on money. Unemployment benefits vary from state to state, meaning you may have the opportunity to retain a consistent income even as you search for new work.
Is Being Frugal A Bad Thing?
Being frugal is not a bad thing, as long as you do so in moderation. The last thing you want to do is deprive yourself or your family of the things you love. As such, don’t think that being frugal means never eating dessert at home or never renting a movie. Instead, it means doing so in moderation or even finding alternatives to those old well-loved habits.
For example, if you would normally buy a movie from an online streaming platform like Netflix or Hulu, why not rent it from your local library instead? Libraries offer you access to their materials free of charge, and this way, you won’t have to find a place to store your checked-out item once you’re done with it. Alternatively, consider limiting the number of desserts you buy at the grocery store or setting off a specific day on which you can go out for ice cream.
Don’t feel guilty if a new video game comes out that you want to pursue or if you have a craving you want to fill. As long as you do so with forethought, you can still be frugal and enjoy the things that you love.
Is It Worth Being Frugal?
Of course, making purchases in moderation can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to doing so. Does that mean being frugal isn’t worth it, though?
Of course not. It may take you time to learn how to be frugal in such a way that you’re still happy, but that process is rewarding. As mentioned, you’ll begin to generate a financial safety net with the money you don’t spend. You’ll have a chance to ease some of the financial stress that might otherwise make your days less enjoyable.
Can Being Frugal Make You Rich?
As mentioned, being frugal can help you put away the money you need to build up a savings account or become debt free. However, being frugal isn’t likely to make you rich. If you’re looking to earn scads of money, you’re not only going to want to watch your spending, but you’re going to want to invest.
Frugality helps you get the start you need to have a looser budget in years to come. Once you have that safety net underneath you, you’ll find it easier to make the connections and investments you need to double or even triple the savings you have put away.
The Best Tips For A Frugal Life
If you want to learn how to be frugal, the best things you can do for yourself – especially as you’re just getting started – include:
- Setting goals for yourself – If you are a goal-oriented person, you may want to decide what kind of financial goal you’re looking for. Are you looking to have a certain amount of money in your savings account? Are you looking to lower the cost of your energy bill on a monthly basis? Once you have these goals in mind, you can more actively make daily decisions that can help you move toward them.
- Shopping in bulk and cooking your own food – As mentioned, it’s never a bad idea to purchase what you need in bulk. Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club will let you take what you need en-mass so you don’t have to return to the store as often.
- Allowing yourself days off – You can also allow yourself to have fun now and again. Go out to dinner with friends if it’s safe, or purchase a movie you really want to watch. Just don’t let these activities occur on a daily basis. Instead, limit yourself to one instance of excess spending a week. This way, you can still have fun while also integrating more frugal habits into your daily life.
- Working with a buddy – There’s nothing quite like working toward a goal alongside a friend. If you and someone you know want to spend less money on a daily basis, why not work to hold each other accountable?
- Consider working with a money-managing app – There are some apps available on the market you can pair with your smartphone in order to save. These apps can round up the purchases you make at the grocery store or at other retailers and put that change into your savings account. There are cash back apps that will give back extra money from your everyday purchasesEven as you try to limit your spending, you can still be actively putting money away.
If you’re looking for a way to put money in the bank on a more regular basis, you do have options available to you. Not only can you work to be more frugal on a day-to-day basis, but you can sign on for programs like the one offered by Swagbucks.
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