Does the thought of an unexpected expense – such as a vet bill, a fence repair or a medical bill – make you uneasy? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the tips below on frugal living can help you save for a rainy day.1
- Cut down on commuting costs. Carpool with co-workers, bike to work or telecommute if you can. Even changing the way you drive can save you money – such as inflating your tires to the proper pressure and limiting acceleration and sharp stops.
- Buy “less house” than you can afford. Buying a bigger house may bring costlier utility bills, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and repairs – which leaves less for other expenses (especially unexpected ones).
- Build a minimalist wardrobe. Invest in a few, quality pieces in neutral colors that “mix and match” well with each other. Liven up your outfits with accessories – such as belts, hats or purses. Besides saving you money, choosing an outfit for the day will be faster.
- Save on food. Eating out is costly, so try to bring your lunch to work and cook at home as much as possible. When shopping, steer clear of “convenience” foods (such as microwaveable meals, ready-made sauces and pre-cut vegetables and fruits). Consider buying vegetarian protein (such as lentils or tofu) instead of meat. Cook foods in large batches so you can eat leftovers during the week.
- Avoid shopping. To avoid an impulse buy, steer clear of stores and online shopping sites. If you really need something, consider used instead of new.
- Find low-cost or free ways to exercise. Skip the expensive gym membership and go for a run, watch an exercise video at home, or find other low-cost or free ways to work out.
- Focus on prevention. Healthy habits – such as eating right, exercising, stress management, and going for regular checkups – can save you money by preventing costly health issues down the road. (On a similar note, taking care of the things you own now can make them last longer.)
- Give hand-made gifts. Not only are they thrifty, handmade gifts are also a thoughtful, unique way to express your creativity. The Internet is a great place to find tutorials for handmade gifts – from jewelry to barbeque rubs.
- Travel frugally. Consider staying with a friend or relative to reduce lodging costs. Traveling off-season or in the shoulder season can also save you money (and you’ll avoid the crowds). Instead of flying, taking a train or driving may be a more frugal option.
- Seek out low-cost or free entertainment. There are plenty of frugal – and fun – ways to spend your time. Consider hiking, going for a bike ride, picking up some good books from the library, seeing a matinee, hosting a potluck, or other wallet-friendly options.
Living frugally can help you build a less stressful and simpler life.
1 Leo Babauta, “The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living,” Zen Habits, http://zenhabits.net/the-cheapskate-guide-50-tips-for-frugal-living/.