The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living: 69 Top Tips to Save Faster

Frugal living doesn’t tell you how frugal to be. You can be frugal just for this month, increase your frugality next month, then tone it down for the rest of the year.
notebook with words frugal living, cash surrounding it

Frugal living… What images does that conjure up? Shivering in your house in winter? Eating ramen noodles and never going out?

No, far from it. Frugal living is simply being smart with your money. Saving, investing, increasing your income, and repeat.

Everyone should practice being ‘frugal’. It doesn’t mean you’re poor, or that you can’t afford what you want. Saving the most you can only leads to hitting your financial goals earlier.

A lot of things people buy are not useful and unnecessary. So, cut the crap – literally. 

Different Levels of Frugal to Suit You

side view of pink steps going up a wall against a blue wall background

Do you need money asap? Frugal living doesn’t tell you how frugal to be. You can be frugal just for this month, increase your frugality next month, then tone it down for the rest of the year.

If you are saving up for something, you can get there faster by being more frugal – but you don’t have to sacrifice comfort. The point is, adjust your ‘frugal level’ to suit you and whatever financial goals you want to reach.

This list has ideas for each aspect of your life. Covered are the areas of finance, food, shopping, utilities, clothing, transport, entertainment, house-related, and lifestyle

Look at each category and see what you can do without, and what you choose not to sacrifice. 

Income is Just as Important

close up of a page with the word income being highlighted with a green highlighter

When I first stumbled upon frugality, I thought it meant saving at every opportunity at the expense of time. I read articles about clipping coupons, making everything I need, and I wasn’t on board. 

I value my time just as much as money, and efficiency is a high priority. Thus, there is a fine balance you have to discover between how much money you want to save, versus how much time you are willing to sacrifice. 

This is where having additional income comes in handy. There’s only so much time you have in a day, and you can ‘save’ more money by simply making more via another income source. 

I’ve included a section near the end about income, as I think it’s just as important as being frugal for the purposes of saving more, faster.

Let’s start with Finances for frugal living, one of the most important topics.

Table of Contents

Frugal Living – Finances

Frugal Living – Food

Frugal Living – Shopping

Frugal Living – Utilities

Frugal Living – Clothing

Frugal Living – Transport

Frugal Living – Entertainment

Frugal Living – House-Related

Frugal Living – Lifestyle Changes

Frugal Living – Income

Frugal Living – Finances

jars of money labeled travel, education, car, health, house

Pay Yourself First

Each month, no matter how much you earn, put at least 10% of your income into a Don’t Touch Me account. You can either open a fee-free bank account for this purpose, or use a ‘money pot’ if your bank allows separation of your funds into different ‘pots’. 

You will definitely not be spending this money, instead this money will help you make more money. Use it for investment or in a high yield savings account. But do not spend it!

Additional tip: Round up to the nearest 100. 

E.g. If you earn $2500 a month, 10% would be $250. Instead, round up and set aside $300 in money that you will not touch except to invest it.

Emergency Fund

After paying yourself, add some to your emergency fund. An emergency fund is your ‘rainy day money’ for accidents, hospitalizations, house repairs or any other unforeseen circumstance. 

Your emergency fund could be anything from $1000, or $5000, this depends on you. If you are young and healthy, don’t have many possessions and don’t own a home, $1000 could be enough. 

If you are more at risk of hospitalizations, a higher amount would be better. Of course, take into account if you have insurance or not. 

Top up your emergency fund to your designated amount each month. If it’s full, you can skip this step for the month.

a hand with a pen writing down a budget with calculator and cash on the table


The budget is the single most important thing regarding money for your household. If you can’t track your inflow and outflow of cash, you are shooting blind. It’s hard to save or know where you stand if you don’t track your money situation.

A budget is very easy to set up. Each month, decide how much you need to set aside for food, utilities, rent or mortgage, living costs, going out and entertainment. Record how much you spend on these things each month Then set a realistic and reliable budget. And don’t go over this each month.

You can have separate bank accounts for each aspect of your financial life to keep things easy to track. Or even store cash in envelopes titled food, living expenses, rent etc.

No Debt

If you’re in debt, the first thing you must do is try to get out of it. If you have a lot of debt, then you may have to be more frugal for longer. Unless you can increase your income the only way out of debt is to save more by being extra frugal.

Pay off Credit Card each month

Before you are charged interest, you must pay off your credit card each month. You can keep credit cards with good rewards and points programs that give you free things. Just be sure to pay it all off each month.

Avoid Late Fees

For bills, credit cards or anything that needs paying on time, make sure you don’t miss these deadlines. Throwing money away for no reason is just careless!

Frugal Living – Food

a man and woman cooking in the middle of cutting a red bell pepper

Eat at Home

Unless you are rich, don’t eat out all the time. Restaurants and even junk food are expensive compared to a simple home-cooked meal. And they usually aren’t healthier, either. 

Uber Eats or home delivery of cooked meals is even more expensive. This doesn’t mean you can never eat out, just make sure it stays in your budget. One meal out could feed you for three days at home!

Cook in Bulk

If you hate cooking or don’t have the time every day, aim to cook in bulk. 

A three hour session in the kitchen could give you almost a week’s worth of food, at least a dinner each day. This is the most efficient way to spend time and money for cooking.

Creative Cooking

Being able to throw things together into something edible is a skill. Which you can get increasingly good at by practicing it. 

Open your fridge and pantry, and try to use leftover ingredients together. This will mean less trips to the grocery store, which saves you both time and money. 

Don’t forget your nutrition though and make sure you always have a stash of vegetables and a bit of meat if you eat it.

close up of interior of empty white deep freezer

Deep Freeze

If you have space, opt for a deep freezer. Being able to freeze a lot of food means less time spent shopping for groceries. This will also make bulk cooking even better as you can prepare a lot of meals and store them in the freezer. 

When meat or other food items are on special, you can buy more of it and stock up your deep freezer.

Well-Stocked Kitchen

Following from the previous points, even if you can’t have a deep freezer, keep your pantry, fridge and normal freezer well stocked. 

For the same reasons as before – less trips to the store and more combinations of food you can just throw together.

Grow Vegetables

Growing your own veggies is a good way to save money on groceries. You will need some time, but your vegetables will be healthier and fresher than the store. And you’ll not run out of them!

Shop Groceries at a Minimum 

Try to limit grocery store visits to once a week. The less you go, the less you’ll spend. This is more to do with the impulse buying that comes with visiting the store.

two hands holding up a notepad with a shopping list with a pen in right hand

Stick to your Shopping List

Always write down exactly what you need to buy and look up the catalog online for specials and sales. And when you visit, don’t go through every aisle. Just the aisles you need to get what you want. 

Do this efficiently by aisle if you know your local store well. Write down the food according to the aisle order – this means less time in the store and the fastest shopping experience. Saves both time and money.

Happy Hour

On the occasions that you eat out, try to go at happy hour. Prices are cheaper and usually worth it.

No Outside Coffee

Having coffee outside every day is one way to sink your money fast. A $5 coffee daily costs more than $1800 a year. Two coffees a day is $3600. That is a lot of money to a lot of people.

Make your coffee at home, and store it in a travel mug if you want to have it outside.

Prepare Meals for Work

If you don’t work from home, prepare meals if you will be having a long day. This will stop you from hitting the convenience store or drive-thru for a fast but expensive meal.

You can prepare food and store it in a bento box or little food warmer which is compact and easy to heat up at the office.

4 portioned glass containers, each containing sections of salad, nuts and chicken

Meal Prep in Advance

Plan out your meals for the week based on what’s on sale at the grocery store. This will ensure you always have healthy, nutritious and cheap meals ready to go. 

You can even go so far as to prepare ingredients in advance and then freeze them. Then when it comes to cooking, it will be super fast and easy.

Drink Just Water

This one is more optional, but you can just drink water. You don’t need other beverages to survive. Maybe you can have the odd soda or beer now and then, but you don’t need them every single day.

This isn’t just for money, it’s also for health. Of course, keep making your healthy fruit smoothies – just cut out unhealthy beverages.

Frugal Living – Shopping

wooden clock, the upper half in frame against a plain teal wall

Wait 24 Hours Always

For anything you buy that isn’t food and a necessity, wait 24 hours before you purchase. For large, expensive items or even big decisions, wait a month. This is to reduce impulse buying. 

Leaving things in your shopping cart online usually gets you a nice discount after 24 hours or even 48 or 72 hours. When you finally do decide to buy, you’ll be sure it’s what you want and need as well as save some money.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Amazon has a deal for things people often buy. These are amenities like baby wipes, toilet paper, toothpaste, razors and so on. If you buy through their subscribe and save option, you can save about 10%. They will deliver the items every month or several months depending on how you set it. 

Amazon Pharmacy

You can buy a lot of medicines from Amazon which may be cheaper than your local pharmacy. 

Online Marketplaces

Use Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for good bargains when you need to buy things. Electronics, kids’ toys, bags, clothes, you can get second hand or even new things for cheap.

woman in a thrift store browsing a rack of clothes

Second-Hand and Cheap Stores

Dollar stores are great for new things. For second hand make sure to use thrift stores. Big items like playground slides, doll houses, old bikes and cabinets can be found at garage sales.


Don’t buy brand names unless the quality is way above cheap stuff. Often, generic brands are perfectly fine and do the job well. You can apply this to food, clothing, and even medicine, as examples.


Always buy previous year’s or even electronics released a few years ago. The latest gadgets are way overpriced and the features are usually only slightly better than the model from last year.

Coupons and Discounts

Always look out for coupons, discounts, manager’s specials or things on clearance. You don’t need to spend time painstakingly searching for and clipping coupons. 

But whenever you’re in a store, just have a very quick check on what’s in the clearance bin. Especially if it was something you were going to buy anyway like vegetables or shampoo.

center shot of a a supermarket aisle with shelves of products on both sides

Shelf Eye-Level Trick

In marketing psychology there was a study done where they showed that eye level is buy level. People tend to buy items at eye level more than items on shelves below or above. 

This makes sense, so always check the other shelves for bargains. The generic or home brand items may be on the bottom shelf.

Less Shopping Trips

Going out less to shop or when absolutely necessary means you won’t be tempted to buy something on impulse. Even if you window shop, it can create a subconscious want of an item that later develops into you purchasing it.

Let’s say you see the item again in an ad, or one of your friends says something good about it. And then a sale might spring up, and you pull the buy trigger.

Money Saving Apps

There’s a suite of money saving apps that are smart to use when you shop online. Since you have to buy things for your essential survival, you might as well get some money back, rewards or discounts.

Ibotta and Rakuten are two of the most popular cash back apps. You install them on your web browser like Google Chrome, and they operate as Chrome extensions. They will alert you when you happen to be shopping on a website that has possible cash back, savings and discounts. 

This way you don’t have to manually check for coupons which can take time, not to mention many coupons on coupon sites don’t work (about 99% of them).

Frugal Living – Utilities

Bills are a massive money suck. Let’s get these as low as possible while remaining comfortable.

two home telephones against a white background, in their docks

Bin the House Phone

Who uses a house phone anymore (aka the telephone)? Everyone uses cell phones and there really isn’t a need for a home phone. For most people, it’s an unnecessary extra expense. 

No Cable

If you still use cable, cancel it and get Netflix or Hulu or any other streaming service instead. It’s a fraction of the cost and even better.

Check Subscriptions

Nowadays almost every service seems to have a monthly subscription. These most certainly add up, so track what you sign up for and pay for each month. 

If your stack of entertainment services is piling up – Netflix, Spotify, YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney Plus, Kindle Unlimited. If you have all these, it’s time to cancel some!

BYO Modem

Don’t just go for the modem that comes with your home internet plan. There may be rental costs involved that are completely unnecessary. 

Bring your own modem instead. Buying it is cheaper in the long run and you can always resell it easily.

a man seated at a desk with pen in hand, holding a phone up to his ear

Negotiate Bills

Ring up your service provider for utilities such as gas and electricity. You may be able to haggle the price down, depending on how long you’ve been a customer. Have a go and see what they can do.


When it’s cold, use a space heater or wear more clothes. Heating costs are one of the most expensive bills you’ll get.

No Dryer

Ditch the dryer and hang your clothes up. Dryers consume a lot of power (and money).

Dishwasher to the Max

Fill your dishwasher up so it’s full before running it.

Frugal Living – Clothing

a hand showing a white card with second hand written on it. the card is attached to a black and white checkered dress

Wear it Again

Wear your clothes a few times before putting them in the wash.


Use thrift stores for clothes. If you have a family, hand-me-downs for kids (or adults in extended families) can save you a lot of money.

Budget in Advance

For a household, budget in advance what clothes each member of the family will need for the year. You will avoid accidentally spending extra on clothes when the seasons change.

Frugal Living – Transport

a red car against a surreal gray background

Buy Used

Buying a used car that is a few years old is the most money-efficient. Get a reliable brand and model. 

After one minute of buying a brand new car, it loses 9-11% of its value – when you drive it off the lot. After one year, it’s worth 20% less. And each year after it loses 15-25%. 

Walk, Bike, Public Transport

Especially if you live in the city, walking, biking and taking public transport are the most cost-effective options. 

Cars add a high amount of monthly expenses when it comes to insurance, repairs and fuel.


Carpool with your colleagues to save on fuel costs – and it helps the planet, too.

Frugal Living – Entertainment

mother father and daughter reading a recipe book. bowl and whisk beside them

Free Family Fun

You can do a lot of the things with the family for free. Museums, parks, playgrounds, national parks, and camping are just some of many activities. 

Check your local council’s Facebook page or Google free things to do in your area.

Fun at Home

Who says you need to go out to have fun? 

Board games, Netflix at home, video games, cooking together, cleaning together and gardening together. You can have a good time with the family and even get some housework done!


The library is often overlooked for providing entertainment. You can rent free movies, games, and books, of course. Sign up and become a member – they often have free community activities too!

Frugal Living – House-Related

a man and woman lying on the floor touching each other's heads with paint rollers and trays

Be the Handyman

Instead of hiring a handyman, open YouTube and learn how to repair whatever needs fixing. Then go to the hardware store, get what you need, and get to work. The more you practice your DIY the better you’ll become. 

Most house-related problems can be fixed by yourself whether that is to do with appliances or general repairs. 

Some tasks may be more dangerous and require, for example, an electrician. Use your own discretion – if it seems dangerous then get outside help.

Fire the Cleaner

Having a cleaner adds up in costs. Perhaps it saves a bit of time, but if your house isn’t too big to begin with then you can easily clean it yourself. A few hours a week is all it takes. 

If you keep it clean often, there is even less to do. Use the extra few hundred bucks per month on food.

No Nail/Beauty Salon

Manicures and pedicures also add up in cost, and you can do them by yourself at home! Maybe, you could go sometimes to pamper yourself, but make it a special occasion.

vinegar and baking soda closeup with a cut lemon and spoonful of baking soda

Make Cleaning Stuff

All the things you use to clean like soaps and detergent can be made cheaply and easily with simple ingredients like vinegar. 

Many of the solutions you buy commercially have chemicals that are harsh and unnatural. Learning to make your own cleaners may just make the surfaces of your house last longer.

No Paper Things

Use a cloth instead of paper towel, and definitely don’t use single-use items like paper plates. Not only is that a waste of resources but it wastes your money.

Print outside your Home

Unless you use a printer regularly, there’s no point in having one. If you print things once in a blue moon, just print somewhere else like the library or a print shop. It doesn’t cost much and buying printer ink is expensive.

Use a Bidet

Having a clean tush is nice, and sometimes we use too much toilet paper to get this result. But cleaning with tissue alone isn’t that effective. Save paper by buying a portable or travel bidet.

Frugal Living – Lifestyle Changes

a young man running down a street, dressed in gym clothes

Look After Your Health

Maintaining your body should be a priority. When there are less health problems, your health insurance will be less, which will save you money. And the risk of going to hospital or having expensive hospital bills is less, too.

Cancel Gym

You can work out easily at home nowadays. Get some equipment if you need to, just get off the recurring monthly payments of gym memberships as the cost really adds up.

Live with the Like-Minded

It’s much easier to live amongst people who are also frugal. Pick a neighborhood with no fancy cars and houses, but modest homes and modest cars. Pick a place where people are happy with what they have and aren’t materialistic.

You won’t have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses – this is one of the big middle-class money traps where you are stuck being poor while trying to appear rich.

Be Happy with Less

Tying into the point above, adopting the mindset of simply being happy with less will mean that happiness comes easier.

This is called Minimalism and it’s worth a go if you haven’t tried it. Having less clutter and stuff around you subconsciously clears up your mind and puts you in a better mood.


If you have a big house, downsize. Too much stuff and too much space means too much cleaning, maintenance and unnecessary headaches. 

Living in a smaller home is easier to take care of and saves a lot in utility bills.

close up of a lotto sheet with 3 numbers crossed out in blue ink, pen in frame

No Gambling

Don’t gamble and don’t play the lottery. $10 a week is $500 bucks a year. $40 a week is $2000 a year. Put that into your investment instead. The chances of you winning is less than being struck by lightning. 

Unsubscribe from Store Emails

At first I didn’t want to include this, as I like to know about the sales and specials going on. Visiting sites with bargains was something I did daily. 

But, looking at what’s on sale actually makes you purchase more (speaking out of personal experience). 

It’s best to just look things up as you need to, and keep out this FOMO (fear of missing out) that can happen when you are constantly exposed to something you want, but not need.

Unsubscribing from email lists makes sure you don’t fall into this trap. Remember – you can just look up the item on Google when you actually need it!

No Spend/Low Spend

Have months or even just weekends that are No Spend or Low Spend. During these times, try to not spend any money at all. Include your food costs and necessary utilities, but set this as a challenge to not spend on anything else.

Make Gifts

Gifts cost a lot of money. Instead, make something that speaks from the heart. If that’s not your thing, make something useful or practical with your hands. 

Examples include DIY projects, knitting something, writing or drawing something, making a simple card. 

Bathe Less

Did you know you don’t have to bathe everyday? You might want to freshen up certain areas of your body, but showering each day is not necessary. It preserves your body’s natural oils. 

Frugal Living – Income

Saving money and being wise with it is good, but you should also aim to increase your income. This is the most effective way to save money quickly. Here are the ideas for making additional money.

a sleek and minimalist-looking modern room with scandinavian style furniture and plants

Declutter and Sell

It’s very popular now to declutter – that is, going through your house and getting rid of anything you don’t use anymore or need. And then, sell it on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. 

You can get rid of stuff on the very same day and make a quick buck. 

Side Hustle/Online Job

Get another form of income via a side hustle from a hobby or skill, or even a work-from-home job where the hours are flexible. 

This can even allow you to double your income and you’ll be saving money at lightning speed.

Remember there are a lot of apps now that let you make money outside your primary job, like Uber and delivering food.

Part-Time Job

Of course, you could get a part-time job. The hard part is that you won’t be able to control your time as much as a side hustle or work-from-home job. You could burn out or get stressed trying to meet the demands of two employers. 


They pay tiny amounts of money, but every little bit helps, right? Check out sites like Swagbucks where you can make up to $2 per survey completed. Or InboxDollars which pays $5 per survey.

Use your free time to do some surveys instead of watching TV or scrolling through social media. Here are the best survey sites.

hands on a laptop on the website airbnb


This is only applicable to those with a spare room. If that’s you, you can get very good money renting out that room on Airbnb on a short term basis. 

Dress it up and make it look nice, allow access to your kitchen and a bathroom and the guest will be happy. This idea is great if you like meeting new people!


Remember that 10% of income you should save from each paycheck? Invest it to turn that money into more money. 

These are the best investment apps to use. Wealthbase is a good investment app for beginners, while Acorns is good for savers. 

Closing Thoughts

I hope you have got some ideas about where you can cut costs, as well as where to gain more money. 

You can kill two birds with one stone with many of these ideas, like decluttering and selling and shopping online with cashback apps. 

And if you have a homestead and want to know the best small income farm ideas, I have just the article for you!

Remember, the key to financial success is cutting costs on things you don’t actually need

You can have things you want, sometimes. Delayed gratification is an excellent skill to cultivate. Spend on things you want in moderation, but not excessively. And work on getting more income. 

Good luck on your financial goals, I hope you’ll reach them faster!