I’ve written quite a bit on this topic already, but I’ve found myself doing even more tips and tricks to save money – and I wrote them down. There’s always more to learn, I guess! Frugality is a lot more than just following a list. I’ve found that it’s really a way of life. It isn’t about deprivation or being stingy as much as it is about joyfully recognizing how privileged we are, making small changes to maximize our resources in the wisest way possible.
Here’s some other tips that I’ve already shared in case you missed them:
- 10 Ways to Save Money
- Seven Habits that Will Save You Money
- Functional Winter Fashion: How to Stay Warm and Save Money
Live in the Past
Pretend you live at least a year in the past when it comes to technology and media. My husband and I use iPhones but we buy them in good used condition and we keep them in protective hard cases. They last several years – until battery life slowly goes, or Apple no longer makes apps supported by them! We just retired Josh’s iPhone 4. We now have a 5c and a 6. It’s still exciting to get phone upgrades! We just live in the past.
Same goes for movies and books. We wait for them to be available at our library for FREE! It doesn’t mean we’re missing out. We’re just enjoying the blockbusters, books, and TV shows other people have already seen – for the first time!
This strategy certainly is easier if you don’t have TV with all of its current ads. Being exposed to constant ads about the latest and greatest versions of things might make it tempting to do things when the rest of the world is doing them. But since we aren’t seeing most of those ads, we’re much less affected by them.
Embrace “Good Enough”
I’m guilty of thinking that everything should be perfect. It can be fun to pursue the perfect bra, perfect capsule wardrobe, perfect running shoes, perfect pair of boots, perfect blender, perfect coffee cup, perfect hand towels, etc. I’ve done my fair share of obsessing over reviews and brands in the pursuit of “perfection.”
But you know what I’ve learned? It saves a lot of money and frustration to just let go of the idea of perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist, so it’s futile to chase after the perfect version of things.
What I do instead is slow down, breathe, release those lofty expectations, and think “it’s just stuff.” If what I have already fills the purpose, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to work.
I don’t need to own the best of the best. Good enough is often good enough. I can save the money. Save the headache. And just have mostly average stuff. Because even if I buy the most expensive, highest-rated version of something – I will probably be disappointed by it because my expectations are THAT much higher.
This “buy it for life” trend is just that – a trend to get us to spend more money on everyday things. It’s marketers responding to the minimalism movement and attempting to cash in on it.
And when we see these “high quality items” marketed as “the only black dress you’ll ever need” that just happens to cost $300 – remember that you could pick up a perfectly okay black dress at the thrift store (possibly with the tags still on it if you’re lucky) for $4.50.
Also keep in mind that bloggers and Instagrammers are often sponsored. They didn’t buy that $500 leather bag. It was given to them so they could post it and link to the seller. Things aren’t often what they seem on social media.
It doesn’t mean I should buy junk. But it does mean that good enough is good enough. And that oftentimes what I already have will do the trick.
Don’t Go to the Store
Make it inconvenient to impulsively spend. I personally saved a lot when I had kids and it was suddenly inconvenient to go to the store. Before that, I used to spend hours on my days off looking for “deals.” The problem with these kind of deals is that they were usually things I didn’t actually need.
Rather than going to the store when you need something, try to source it on the used market first. Yes, it is less convenient, but the return on time investment can be huge.
I recently set out to buy some gym equipment for my basement, since I’m taking a break from running. It would have been easier and faster to buy them new – I literally could have done it with the click of a few buttons. But instead I kept an eye on Facebook Marketplace – and set notifications for “elliptical” and “rowing machine” in my area. Ultimately, even though it took longer, doing this saved me about $2,000! (Which I wouldn’t have spent in the first place!) Not everything is a good buy used, but gym machines are super expensive new, and super affordable on the used market because people usually want them GONE. In my case, I got a Nordictrack elliptical for $10 because the family was moving and didn’t want to transport or store it.
So set your notifications. Be patient. And act quickly when it’s a good match. Be willing to drop everything and go meet the person. Is it convenient? No, but it’s more than worth it. Buying things should be less convenient.
Yet another way to go to the store less is to order certain items in bulk every 6 months or so. I do this with laundry detergent and toilet paper. These are things I don’t need to be making special trips to the store to pick up. I love the industrial brand Boardwalk on Amazon for the price and the simplicity of their products.
In some ways, I’ve found it pays to run my home more like a small business. Do CEOs spend their working hours running from store to store because the toilet paper and soap are low? No, they either delegate or automate these chores. So why would I or my husband, the CEOs of our home waste our time and energy in the same way? I choose to automate the tasks by placing bulk orders a couple times a year when things are running low. I don’t need fancy hand soap, or toilet paper. I like unscented things anyway. I don’t need 100 kinds of shampoo and conditioner. I can keep it simple, automate the process, and save time and energy running to the store – which in turn will help me spend less impulsively.
When using Amazon, be aware of the huge difference between “needs” and “wants.”
While automating “needs” is is great, online ordering can be too convenient for “wants.” I try to sleep on all online orders at least one night before I act on them. This has saved me countless times from impulsive, unneeded, and half-thought-out decisions. And some things, like clothing, are better off sourced used or purchased on a store where you can try them on and return / exchange them easily. Amazon is a slippery slope when it gets too easy to push a button and buy things we don’t need.
That’s why my family hasn’t taken the plunge and bought Amazon Prime. It makes spontaneous orders too easy, when the best use for Amazon, in my opinion, is thought-out bulk orders. Bulk orders are almost always large enough to easily qualify for free shipping, so there’s no need to pay extra for that service.
I hope you’ve found this list inspiring. I would challenge you to find the balance that works for your family – that is maintainable and joyful, not depleting and defeating. Be sure to let me know your own favorite frugal tips!
Photography by Nine Kopfer