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Frugal living isn’t about living without, it’s about becoming more resourceful.
It’s about finding better, more efficient ways of spending your money. Be it by, using coupons, loyalty programs, changing spending habits or doing more research!
If you are new to the frugal concept, read on to hear 5 simple tricks on how to live frugally even with only one income! These same tips will also help those of you who want to reduce spending, making their money go further.
5 Simple tips on how to live frugally on one income:
Get your finances in control.
One of the most important aspects on how to live frugally is by getting control of your finances. Firstly you need to create a budget and secondly, correctly tracking your expenses.
Why create a budget – Creating a realistic budget is one of the best ways to get in control of your expenses. This is especially true if you only have one household income.
What budgeting does is put you back in control of your finances. It shows you how to manage you money and how to make better financial choices.
If your financial situation has changed recently, making a budget will help you stay out of debt and even help you out of it if needed!
Creating a budget is pretty simple. However if your finances are already in dire straits, it could feel hard emotionally. If this is the case, it’s important that you face the facts and take steps to put things back on track.
If you have never created a budget before check out my simple step by step guide.
Why track your spending – No budget is going to be beneficial if you haven’t tracked your expenses. After all how can you understand your spending habits, if you don’t know what they are? Even the smallest of expenses can add up considerably, blowing your budget at the same time!
There are several options for tracking your spending, however one of simplest it to just write down every thing you spend on paper. By tracking all your expenses you are accounting for every penny spent. By doing this you can identify areas in your spending habits that you may want or need to change.
Trim your grocery bill.
One of the best ways to learn how to live frugally is by changing your food shopping habits! With only a few small changes you can dramatically drop your weekly bills. Why not try all or some of the following:
Change supermarkets – Does your usual supermarket sell everything you could ever need and more! If so, why not change to a more value based supermarket such as Aldi or Lidl. This way you won’t be persuaded to buy all sorts of random things you don’t really need.
Down branding – Most items we buy are also available as supermarket own brands for a lot cheaper. Many of which, it would be hard to tell the difference!
Supermarkets also usually have value budget lines, again giving you the choice to further reduce your food costs. Value items may not be as good as quality of branded goods, however even swopping out a few items can save you a few quid. This may take a bit of trial and error but you will soon get to know the items you are happy to swap and those you aren’t.
Buy in bulk – Well only when it makes sense! Things like cleaning products, pantry essentials and dry goods are all good to buy in bulk if the cost is worth it. Beware though buying in bulk may not always be the cheapest option. I’ve seen so many items sold cheaper as singles than the three for two offers I’ve seen advertised!
Stick to a shopping list – Making a shopping list is a great way to prevent impulse buying at the supermarket. I usually stick a list on the fridge and add to it as needed. This will not only stop you from buying unnecessary items but it will also save you time. Having and sticking to a list will greatly reduce the amount of time shopping, I’m usually in and out in no time!
Buy frozen or tinned instead of fresh – Frozen and tinned food is so much cheaper than fresh but can still have a similar nutritional value. Buying frozen will also reduce wastage as you will only use what you need.
Use supermarket loyalty cards – Many supermarkets now have their own loyalty cards. These cards usually work by building up points in exchange for money off coupons or discounted items. The savings may be small but they do add up. I personally have a Tesco club card, I then save up all my coupons and use them at Christmas.
Try out meal planning – Meal planing is a way of purposely planning out all your meals beforehand. This way you can shop just for the items you actually need. This method not only saves you money it also saves you time.
For tips on how to create healthy meal plans check out the Eating Well website.
Sort out regular payments.
If you really need to learn how to live frugally, then tackling regular payments is a must. you can save hundreds of pounds by switching suppliers or cancelling unused subscriptions.
Utilities – Energy bills can be expensive and take up a large chunk of our budget. However are you on the best and cheapest tariff for your needs. Many of us sign up to a particular energy provider and stay with them for years.
However according to The Money Advice Service, switching energy suppliers can save the average household £300 a year. It’s easy to switch, just choose a price comparison website and go from there. If you aren’t sure which site to use then the Ofgem website can guide you in the right direction. This is a government website that has approved a number of price comparison websites that comply with a code of practice.
TV and phone subscriptions – How many of us have expensive phone and TV subscriptions that we don’t use or need. One of my biggest outgoings used to be my mobile phone, however when the contract came to an end, instead of upgrading to a brand new phone, I changed to a sim only contract instead. After all the phone I did have was still in great condition and worked perfectly well.
TV subscriptions can also be expensive. Why not scale down to a basic package and see how much you actually miss. If you feel like you do need more options why not subscribe to something like Amazon Prime. This way you’ll get access to 15,000 movies and TV shows, over 2 million songs on Prime music as well as unlimited free delivery on Amazon.com.
Housing costs – If circumstances have changes significantly, then you may need to consider down sizing or moving to a cheaper area. This may seem like a daunting decision buy it may be the only way to take back control of your finances and get things back on track.
Shop second hand.
When finances change and you need to learn how to live frugally then changing spending habits is a must. One of the easiest ways to save money on essential items is to consider buying second hand.
Charity shops – You can buy almost anything in a charity shop these days. Clothes, furniture and even electronics can be found at very discounted prices. If you are lucky, you may even find some great luxury items at knockdown prices!
Buy/sell websites – Second hand doesn’t always mean second rate. If you are looking to buy something particular, why not check out the internet. There are so many resale websites out there offering discounted items and good quality second hand goods. You are sure to find what you need at a much reduced cost. One of my favourite websites for buying second hand goods is Ebay.
Sell unwanted goods – On the flip side, if you are needing to get hold of money quickly, then why not sell your unwanted goods? A good de-clutter is not only great for the mind, its also a great way of earning some extra cash.
Cut out needless spending!
If you really want to embrace frugal living then you really need to look at your non-essential spending habits. Do you really need to buy the fancy car or is that expensive gift really what the recipient wants or needs?
Eliminate non-essentials – How much money do you waste on non-essential items that you either don’t need or forget about? Instead of impulse buying, try and ask yourself if you really need it? One trick is to leave it and if you are still thinking about it a few weeks later then go back and get it. Usually, you’ll find that even after a day you won’t want the item anymore.
DIY Gifts – Instead of buying expensive gifts, why not look at making your own instead. Homemade gifts are usually enjoyed more and are much more appreciated.
- Homemade hampers
- Mason jar gifts.
- Homemade soap, candle and other spa items.
- Knitted items
- Personalised gifts
Transportation options – Transport costs can be a huge, especially if needing to rely on a car or a train. Is it possible to walk to work or even take the bike. If so transportation costs will be greatly reduced.
If you need to use a car, use a price comparison website each year to get the best value care insurance. If its time for an MOT, then shop around for the best deals, many garages often have half price offers.
If you need to rely on public transport, look into the cost of buying a weekly or monthly pass. However depending on how often you travel, this may not be the cheapest option.
Vacations/days out – Instead of booking expensive annual holidays, why not explore closer to home.
The same goes for days out. In most areas there will be countless places to visit that are free or cost very little. Why not join English heritage or the National Trust. For around £6 a month you can have free unlimited access to hundreds of stately homes, castles and gardens as well as other cultural and wildlife locations in and around the UK.
So there you have it, my simple steps on how to live frugally. As you can see, living frugally does’t have to be difficult. It just means incorporating some simple changes to your lifestyle and spending habits.
For more ideas on how to save money check out 22 Things to quit buying to save money!
If you feel like your finances are slipping out of control don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many organisations in the UK that can help and give great advice such as the Citizens Advice, Money Saving Expert, and Step change.
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Thanks for reading,
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