How to live frugally – 25 tips to get you started

Want to tighten your belt? There are loads of simple ways to save cash, reduce waste and leave more money for those things you really want, without feeling like you’re missing out. Here are 25 simple ways to live a more frugal lifestyle…

Set a budget

Set a monthly budget for the essentials (and a few treats) and stick to it. Go through your outgoings and bank statements regularly, that way you’ll think more carefully about what you actually need and make the money go further.

Each month set a ‘no spend challenge’ theme for one area, such as weekends, clothes or eating out. Have a different theme each month, so you don’t miss anything too much; it’ll help to give your bank balance a boost. Read my ‘no spend challenge’ post for more ideas!


Drink water

Sugary drinks are expensive and we all know that nothing beats a glass of water when it comes to hydration. Ditch expensive drinks and stick with water. Be sure to buy a reusable water bottle too that you can take out with you everywhere; it’ll stop you spending unnecessarily and helps to reduce one-use waste.


Stay at home

Going out can be so expensive, and actually what makes it good fun is the company. You don’t have to miss out, just switch up what you do. Invite your friend over for a pizza instead of eating out, or share a bottle of bubbly in the garden instead of visiting the local pub. If you usually meet your friends for coffee and cake, why not take it in turns to host at home?


Stop using credit cards

Try to avoid spending money that you don’t have – this isn’t always possible but avoiding credit cards is a great way to keep debt free. Interest can quickly spiral so if you need a bigger sum of money opt for a low interest loan, if not save, save, save! It’ll make getting what you want so much more rewarding.

If you know that a big expense is coming up, such as a holiday, car repairs or Christmas, put a little away each month to help with the costs. If you do need to use a credit card, find one with 0% interest and pay it off before the interest starts to accumulate.


Cancel memberships and subscriptions

End subscriptions or memberships that you hardly use. If you’re paying out £50 a month for the gym, and barely visit, cancel and take up running or cycling instead – exercise doesn’t have to cost a penny! Check out my post on how to get fit for free for more ideas.

Similarly, ditch expensive TV packages – Netflix is just £5.99 per month, and Amazon Prime £7.99; lots of choice without the big bill. Cutting back could help you to save for something fun, like a weekend away or a holiday abroad.


Do it yourself

Save a small fortune by doing what you can yourself – it may not be perfect but it’ll certainly be cheaper! Wash your own car, clean your windows, decorate… the list is endless! Small amounts of £20 here and there quickly add up, so even the cheapest of expenses can take its toll on your finances. Where possible, roll up your sleeves and give it a go yourself – it’s surprising how quick and easy some jobs can be. (And you won’t be so annoyed when the kids add their grubby handprints! 😉)


Cook from scratch

Plan your weekly meals to make sure that there’s always something to eat in the house, and have a little junk food in the freezer for when you’re short of time and craving a pizza! It’s much cheaper to cook your own food, and usually a lot healthier too.  Read my post on meal planning to help you to get started – follow my tips and you can slash how much you spend on your weekly shop.


Reduce utility bills

Turn the heating down by just 1 degree to be more eco-friendly and slash your bills. It makes very little difference to how warm your home is, but research shows it can reduce your heating bill by 10%! Make sure you turn lights and electrical items off when you leave a room too – it soon adds up.

Try to cut your shower time too. Water Wise say, ‘It is estimated that Britain ‘showers away’ more than 2,000,000,000 litres of water each day. If every home in the UK took one minute off their shower every day it would save £215 million on our collective energy bills every year.’ So, it’s definitely worth rinsing a little quicker!


Boycott beauty treatments

Brow tints, facials, waxing and all sorts of other expensive treatments can soon add up. Take the time to reassess what you can do without, and what you can do at home yourself. My favourite wax strips are just 99p!

Plus, simply painting your own nails could save you £20 a month. And, colouring your own hair, or using a root touch-up kit to extend the time between expensive hair appointments, could save you hundreds of pounds each year. Take a look at my beauty money saving tips for lots more ideas!


Make your own lunch

Take a packed lunch to work. Even a small £5 expenditure each weekday wastes £100 every four weeks! On sandwiches! Use up leftovers or make your own salads and sarnies at home the night before. But, ditch sandwich bags in favour of reusable containers to save money over time, and reduce one-use plastic waste.


Have a frugal Christmas

Christmas and other celebrations can really make a dent in our bank balances. The most wonderful time of year is also the most expensive time of the year! The good news is that it doesn’t have to be crippling if you make a few changes. Firstly, set a budget (and stick to it) and put money away year round.

My next tip is to avoid unnecessary gifting. It’s a lovely idea to buy for all of your friends’ children and distant relatives, but realistically shopping for too many people is both stressful and expensive. Keep the gifts to close friends and family, and don’t be afraid to have a discussion with others – they’ll probably be relieved to lessen their spending too. Or, use secret santa to cut back on how many people you need to buy for. For loads more Christmas money saving tips, read my post 15 ways to save money this Christmas.


Fix it, don’t throw it

Fix what you can to avoid unnecessary waste – this applies to everything from appliances and furniture, to sewing up holes in your clothes. Last year we had a broken dishwasher and an oven blowing out cold air. Both things were fixed for about £30, by purchasing the parts ourselves and my husband fitting them following a youtube video.

Upcycling is great way to give your old furniture, kitchen cabinets or fitted wardrobes a facelift too.  A fresh lick of paint can transform what you’ve got with very little expenditure; it’ll save your old bits and bobs from heading to landfill and it’s actually pretty simple to do! Check out my paint review post for the best furniture paints.


Use budget supermarkets

Switch to a budget supermarket to save a ton without going without. Once you swap, you’ll never switch back and you’ll save a small fortune; this is an easy change as it won’t effect your lifestyle but you’ll see the savings immediately! And, never go to the shops without a list and a meal plan. Be sure to read my post 10 tips for food shopping on a budget to make sure you don’t fall into the supermarket traps.


Use your leftovers

In the UK we throw away a shocking 7 million tonnes of food and drink per year! Research shows that for every 3 bags of shopping we buy, one ends up in the bin! Not only is this bad news for our bank balance, it’s also awful for the planet.

The easiest way to cut back is to make the most of your leftovers – soups, sauces, quesadillas and curries are great ways to use up what you’ve got. For lots of leftover ideas, make sure you read my post on how to make the most of your leftovers, and check out the yummy recipes I’ve included.


Sell your clutter

We all have bits and bobs laying around collecting dust. Why not have a clear out, free up some space and make some extra cash?! If you haven’t used something for more than a year then the chances are you won’t miss it. And, one person’s trash is another’s treasure! It’s amazing how quickly it all adds up too. Use my four step decluttering guide to get started.


Invest in re-usable items

Reducing our waste is a great way to do our bit for the planet, and it can be really cost effective too in the long run. Here are a few easy switches:

  • Ditch the sandwich bags in favour of reusable containers. Picnics, packed lunches, leftovers and baked goods can all be stored in reusable tubs so ditch those bags and reduce what goes to landfill.
  • Invest in some reusable cotton pads for removing make-up and cleaning up grubby little ones. Prices on Amazon start from around a fiver for a pack of 10-15 large pads – just throw them in with your washing and they’ll be good as new next time you need them.
  • Stock up on some reusable water bottles; fill them up before you head out to save money and reduce the need for single-use plastic.
  • Use cleaning sprays with washable cleaning cloths to avoid one-use anti-bacterial wipes.


Walk or cycle

Use your legs! Think about which short journeys could be walked or cycled – leave the car at home, get some exercise and slash your petrol costs; it’s a win, win! When you do need to fill the tank, visit a website like to quickly compare fuel prices near you.


Rent or borrow

Don’t buy things that you won’t need for long. For instance, if you’ll only read a book or watch a movie once; rent it from the library or borrow from a friend rather than buying something that you’ll soon no longer want. Similarly, if you need an outfit for a special occasion or a night out, see if you can borrow something from a friend instead of splurging on something you’ll only wear once. Think wisely about how much use your things will get, and watch your bank balance grow.


Have free fun

Days out and weekends don’t need to cost a penny – there are tons of ways to spend quality time with family and friends, and lots of fun to be had, without breaking the bank. Read my post on 12 free days out for frugal fun this school holiday to get started.

Fancy something a bit different? Check out what’s on offer for free in your nearest city, often they’ll be lots of freebies to take advantage of. My 10 free days out in London article proves there’s so much free fun to be had in the capital!


Grow your own

Growing your own vegetables is actually really simple, plus it can save you money and it’s good fun. Seeds are usually very inexpensive for the amount of produce made, and my kids really enjoy the process of growing their own.

It’s really handy too; when we need lettuce or radishes for a salad we pick them. Plus we know that there’s been no plastic nor transportation involved, and that the veg has been grown naturally without chemicals. If you don’t have room for a veggie patch, a lot of produce can be easily grown in pots.


Avoid impulse buying

The easiest way to stop spending money is just to avoid hitting the shops unless you actually need something in particular. But, with the evolution of technology, online sales, deals, social media ads and television adverts are everywhere; we’re bombarded by them every second of every day. And, it can make changing our buying habits a real challenge. Always ask yourself, do you really need it? What value would that item bring to your life?

If you’re feeling the pressure to get dragged into spending money you don’t have, or complicating your ‘less is more’ lifestyle, just switch it all off. Choose to simplify, get some fresh air and give yourself some much needed space from it all.


Minimalise your wardrobe

When you’re clothes shopping, try to pick items that can be mixed and matched. For instance, if you have three skirts and three tops that all go nicely together, you can mix and match to make 9 outfits! Think about which pieces will compliment each other, or pick new items that could team up with other clothing pieces that you already own. It’ll save you money and wardrobe space! Check out my 10 ways to create a sustainable and affordable wardrobe to reduce your spending and help the planet.


Holiday sensibly

From the moment you book, to the moment you arrive back at home, going away is one of the most expensive things we splash our cash on. Travelling is such good fun, and the memories and quality family time are irreplaceable – it’s certainly something we all wish we could do more often.

Take a look at my top tips for keeping holiday costs down, with my 12 ways to travel on a budget post, to get the most from your money. From cheap flights, to self-catering, to housesitting – there are lots of ways to cut back. Think about it, the more you save, the more you can travel!


Shop second-hand

Selling websites and social media pages have lots of bargains; from furniture, to curtains, to rugs, to kitchenware, to clothes! So always take a look before you buy new – as well as it being better for the environment, it could save you a small fortune! Join Preloved today to get started on your second-hand adventure! There will always be someone selling something that you need for a fraction of what they paid for it. Charity shops can be a great option too!


Pick need over want

The best way to see significant change is to really re-evaluate your lifestyle. Ask yourself what you really need and what you value the most. Could you downsize to a smaller house to reduce your mortgage payments and have more cash for the fun things in life? Or, perhaps your household has more than one car and you could make do sharing – we’ve saved a lot by becoming a one car household.

Being frugal goes hand-in-hand with a minimalistic lifestyle, and this means changing your mindset entirely. It’s not about missing what you don’t have, or feeling hard done by when you go without. You’re choosing this, and for everything you let go from your life, you’re gaining so much more. Time. Money. Energy. Happiness.

When we start to see the world in a different way, and our perception of value changes, we can finally appreciate what’s really important. When we stop feeling defined by our possessions, they stop holding us back.


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