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What is one of the differences that separate the wealthy from the poor? Wealthy people learn how to make their money work for them (through investing) while the poor choose to work for their money.
Saving and investing money is a lot easier when you are bringing home 6-figures every year. So what do you do when you are living on a low, single income? How can you start saving and investing money when you’re in debt?
The answer is: Living frugally and cutting expenses.
Before we get into my personal frugal living tips, I want to provide a few money resources that might help you out with saving and investing your money.
Rakuten – Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) is one of the largest (and best) cashback sites out there. They offer cashback just for shopping online with over 2,500 stores.
This is a website/app that I have been using for years and have saved a ton of money shopping online. If you sign up through my link, you will get $10 cashback!
Webull – If you are wanting to try out investing, Webull is my #1 favorite free investing app on the market. The app is extremely user friendly and offers free tools such as news and analysis recommendations. Beginners also have the option to try paper trading (aka trading without real money) to try out the platform prior to investing with your hard-earned dollars.
With my link, you can get up to two FREE stocks valued up to $1,400 after depositing $100 or more. Or you can get one free stock valued up to $250 just for opening an account, no deposit required. Then you can either watch the investments grow over time or cash out and take the free money.
If you aren’t quite ready for investing yet, I totally get it. One step at a time my friend! Now get ready for some frugal living tips.
Ok, ok so I still buy coffee. After all, coffee is what makes the world go round… right? However, I am definitely not into buying a $6 coffee from Starbucks. And before you start a mob and grab your pitchforks to come for me, just hear me out.
A $3-$10 coffee every day (or even a few times per week) can really add up. Let’s say you get a $5 coffee from a coffee shop 5 days per week. That is $25 a week, $100 per month, and $1,300 per YEAR. All just for overly marked up coffee.
I personally have a subscription with Trade Coffee (not affiliated, I just love them) and have my coffee delivered to me for $25 per month. That’s only $300 per year. I brew it myself at home and save a ton of money doing so.
If you aren’t a coffee drinker, then you are already one step ahead and are saving even more money!
Why people still buy paper towels is seriously beyond me. Cloth rags work just as well and you buy them once and will not need to throw them out for years and years. The average cost for a pack of paper towels is around $17.00. If you are buying paper towels once a month (some households purchase more frequently), you are wasting $204 per year.
That may not sound like a ton of money per year, but you would be surprised how much money you will be saving by not buying this (ridiculous) convenience item.
Ok, I still buy food too. Just not as much of it. According to the FDA, 30-40% of the entire food supply ends up becoming waste.
So in order to live frugally by cutting food costs in your home, I have a few tips for you:
- Make a food budget. When my husband and I were budgeting to try to get out of debt, a food budget saved our lives. We had Personal Capital track our spending and we noticed we were spending way too much money on groceries. I was able to cut the monthly grocery bill in half and still had more than enough food for the entire month.
- Only go to the store with a list and stick to it! Bonus tip: Don’t go to the store hungry or you will end up piling chips into your cart without thinking about it. (I am guilty of this one. Oops.)
- Regrow your food. And no, I don’t mean creating a huge backyard garden to grow your own crops. But I have been regrowing basic veggies such as onions, carrots, lettuce, bok choy, celery, and different herbs in jars on my kitchen counter with some water. These won’t sustain you forever, but you can get 3-4 uses out of each veggie that you regrow from scraps, which will save a little bit of money at the grocery.
- Freeze your food. Most people don’t know this, but you can freeze a lot of different types of food. I just recently learned about all of the types of veggies and sauces you can freeze. You can even make your own vegetable broth at home with veggie scraps and freeze it to make soups and other sauces with later!
- Try making your own food for cheap. I know that a lot of us don’t have a ton of time to constantly be in the kitchen cooking, however, you can make some simple items at home for way cheaper than you can find at the store. For example, I just found out how easy it is to make homemade tortillas with just a little bit of flour, oil, salt, and water. There are also a lot of simple bread recipes out there that only require a few ingredients!
Expensive Date Nights and Outings
It is so much fun planing an amazing night out with your partner or friends (my love language is quality time so I know this one can sting a little at first), but going out often and spending money adds up quickly.
I am not saying that you should never go on date nights either. I am only saying that there are much cheaper ways to have date nights or outings with friends.
For example, when my husband and I want to have a date night, we will either make a nice dinner at home or if we are in the mood to go out, we will split our meal. (Or just order a few appetizers to split which is just as good).
If you end up splitting a meal, the bill is cut in half and you don’t have soggy leftovers to bring home. It’s a win-win.
It is definitely nice to splurge sometimes, but if you end up going out with friends or your partner once every week or two, these costs can really eat into your monthly savings. Pun intended.
It’s even more costly if you end up doing dinner and a movie. Don’t even get me started on the cost of movie theatre tickets.
I have found that watching a movie at home on Netflix is much more enjoyable than sitting in a theatre and is a fraction of the cost. Which leads me to my next frugal living tip.
I have never, ever… ever… paid for Cable TV.
The average cable bill in the US is $60 per month. Netflix costs $12.99 per month. Prime Video is included if you have the Amazon Prime membership and Hulu is $6 (or $12 if you don’t want to watch ads). And there is more than enough stuff to watch on these other platforms in my opinion. Or you could ditch the TV altogether and pick up a book, that’s even cheaper.
Name Brand Stuff
I’m not just talking about clothes either. I am talking about name brand stuff from the grocery store as well. The marketing wizards at these grocery stores intentionally place name brand items at eye level so that we, the consumer, will spend more money.
And here’s the deal, most of the name brand condiments, chips, cereals, protein bars, etc. are all made in the same factories as their generic counterparts. This means most of the time, they are the exact same product as the name brand items. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
Instead of buying high-end name brand stuff, try opting in for generic products. It will save you a ton of money in the long run and help you to live more frugally.
Expensive Cleaning Products
Most cleaning companies will create a bottle of full of chemicals and will slap a cleaning label on it that tells you that you can ONLY use them for certain parts of your home.
But you can make darn good homemade cleaners with ingredients you probably already have around the house. It just takes a few minutes to whip up a few different cleaners for a fraction of the cost of buying store-bought cleaners. You can find some of these recipes here.
Water bottles not only destroy the planet, but they will also destroy your wallet as well. There are so many other ways to get good drinking water that won’t cost you $10-$20 every single time you go to the grocery store.
For example, I don’t have the option to get my water from my sink or refrigerator, so we have a water cooler in our kitchen. We will go to the water convenience store once a month and fill up 5 different 5-gallon jugs for about $1 each. #savings
And you could easily fill up a refillable water bottle and carry it with you at all times.
“On sale” Items and Impulse Buys
Listen to me when I say that these items are NOT saving you money.
If you are at the store for something specific (that you actually need) and it just so happens to be on sale, that’s different. But buying non-conventional items JUST because they are on sale or up by the cash register can really cost you a lot of money. Especially if those items do not serve a purpose to you or your home.
If you find an impulse (or sale) item, a good trick is to not buy the item, and either save or invest the price of the item. That money will build up over time and you will have a lot less clutter to worry about.
Knick-knacks – (a.k.a… Clutter.)
You know, like the little “cute décor” items that are always conveniently 60% off. The little plaques with cute sayings and the little pots with the clearly fake succulents in them. Yea, those knick-knacks.
As stated in the previous tip, buying something because is it cute or trendy will end up costing you money and won’t do anything for you but sit on a shelf in your house and collect dust.
If it does not serve a purpose in your life or actually bring you joy, then it is just an item that is going to cost you money. And the more knick-knacks you buy, the more money you will spend in the long run.
We have made it to the end!
I know that some of these items might make you feel like you will be sacrificing a lot, but once you start cutting costs and living more frugally, you will realize that you never really needed all of these things. Most of the items I listed above are convenience items and that is all they will ever be.
I would love to hear if you have cut any of these items yourself? What items will you be cutting out to save some money next? Let me know in a comment!
Hey there! My name is Tegan and I am the author and creator of The Blissful Budget.
My goal with this blog is to help you save more money, earn more money, and start to live the life you want by obtaining financial freedom.