Change Your Life By Becoming A Frugal Freak – 11 Ways To Be More Frugal

Do you want to learn how to be frugal? Looking for ways to be frugal? Are you frugal? Or, do you like to waste money? By wasting money, I mean spending well beyond your needs. If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you are trying to become more frugal. Whether you already think you…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 24, 2022

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Do you want to learn how to be frugal? Looking for ways to be frugal?

Are you frugal? Or, do you like to waste money? By wasting money, I mean spending well beyond your needs.

If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you are trying to become more frugal. Whether you alrChange Your Life By Becoming A Frugal Freak - 11 Ways To Be More Frugaleady think you are frugal or not, I’m sure there’s more you can be doing to save even more money.

Now, everyone has things that they enjoy spending money on, and you probably try to rationalize with yourself for why you deserve that extra spending.

But, you probably don’t need a lot of the things that you spend money on.

If you truly want to pay off your debt more quickly, retire earlier than you thought you could, or reach whatever other financial goal that you have, then being more frugal is one path that may help you realize your goals.

I think earning more income is great, and it can definitely help you reach your goals.

However, some people believe that saving money alone doesn’t work and that earning more is the only way to improve a person’s financial situation. Others believe that saving money is better than earning more.

As far as saving money by being frugal, most people have room in their budget to cut back a little more, and the average person wastes a lot of money each month. And, even if you are a high earner or focusing on making more money, spending less will still help you on your path to financial freedom.

This is because earning more money won’t solve all of your financial problems. If you solely focus on earning more money, then you may never realize that you have a spending problem. This may hold you back for years because you didn’t think it was worthwhile to take a moment to learn how your spending habits may be negatively impacting your life. This can lead to lifestyle inflation, wasting money, trying to keep up with the Joneses, and more.

All of this is why I believe that the average person, no matter what you make, probably has at least a little bit more room to be even more frugal.

But, for the average person, it may be difficult to become frugal if you’ve been wasting money for years. That’s why I created this article. My hope is to show you that you can be frugal and take charge of your financial life.

And, being frugal doesn’t mean you are going to lead a boring or meaningless life– it’s exactly the opposite! Being frugal will allow you to focus on your long term goals, find enjoyment in what you already have, and you may find that being frugal can lead to new and fun experiences you never knew existed.

Related content:

Here are 11 ways to become frugal.


1. Accept frugality and stop believing the myths.

First, you will need to accept frugality.

The word “frugal” has many negative associations. People think that if you are frugal, then you are cheap, boring, and even a bad person. Many assume that frugal people only eat rice and beans (and nothing else ever), that they just sit at home all day and do nothing, that they have no hobbies, and more.

Many people think that happiness comes only from spending money. However, that is a sad way to think about money. Yes, money can help improve your life, but it’s not everything. And, if not managed well, it can lead to debt, stress, and more.

Being frugal isn’t always what happens when you are out of options.

Sure, there are times when people must buckle down and spend less than they usually do, like if you are living paycheck to paycheck. However, living a frugal life can go beyond cutting things from your budget. It can be something that isn’t just a short-term solution– it’s one that you can benefit from for the long-term.

What I’m talking about is just living your own life and learning how to save money by not engaging in needless spending just to keep up with others, going into debt, spending beyond your means, and so on.

There is absolutely no reason to go broke in order to have a good time. I believe that you can balance living a good life while saving money.

The power of frugality means that you can still live a great life while on a budget. Money doesn’t have to dictate how good of a life you have.

There are many reasons for why a person may choose to be frugal, such as:

  • You want to avoid debt.
  • You want a simpler life.
  • You know that you can still have fun while being frugal.
  • You want to appreciate everything and anything around you.
  • You want to stop trying to impress others.

Despite all of the negativity that comes from saying you’re frugal, it’s still how I’ve chosen to live my life. Sure, I still have my splurges, but I am very conscious about how I spend my money.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out on what life has to offer. My life isn’t boring (I travel full-time in an RV!), I have great relationships, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a bad person!

I know a lot of people that are choosing to live a more simple life by being frugal, and they are some of the best people I know.

Sadly, those negative assumptions and myths about frugality cause many people to avoid it all together.

And, for many people, it isn’t until they are much older that they realize how much money they wasted when they were younger. They realize that they could have been more thoughtful about their purchases, saved more, and spent more time focusing on finding happiness through simplifying their lives.

However, by that age, it can often feel impossible to try to make up for all of that lost time when it comes to saving, earning money, and investing.

So, in order to become more frugal, I want you to be more realistic with your spending and understand that frugality isn’t a means to an end.

Instead, it’s just the beginning.


2. Ditch that expensive car.

The other day on Facebook, someone mentioned that they finally bought their dream car as a reward for their new salary. Their new salary? $40,000 a year. Their new car? $40,000!


You’re telling me that you are fine with working a whole year just to have that car? And, that doesn’t even include what you’ll spend on financing costs, fuel, maintenance, insurance, etc.

Sadly, this isn’t completely surprising.

The average person in the U.S. spends $483 on a new car payment and $361 on a used car payment.

This is crazy especially when considering that many take out high-interest rate loans in order to make their car payments. Back when my husband worked in new car sales, he often told me about new car buyers with car loans at interest rates of 20% and above.

While $483 a month may be affordable to some, I’m going to assume that it’s a lot of money for most people. Plus, once you add in gas, maintenance, insurance, taxes, registration costs, and more, that number is going to be much larger.

If you want to be more frugal and take charge of your financial situation, then you will need to analyze your car expenses.


3. Quit with the excuses.

Everyone is guilty of making excuses, and I know that people will continue to make them until they realize that excuses are just that– excuses.

Just think about the last time you said, “That won’t work for me because (insert your excuse here).” Or, “I can’t cut that expense out because….”

As a personal finance expert, I hear a lot of reasons for why a person can’t be more frugal.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for why some people have financial setbacks, but there are still many people making excuses for why they can’t achieve their goals or why their life is bad.

The problem with making excuses is that this bad money habit can hold you back, which means that you may never reach your financial or life goals.

To put it simply, excuses prevent you from living the life you want. You’re giving up before you’ve even begun.

Next time you think that you can’t go without a certain expense, be realistic with yourself. For example, so many people are drowning in a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, and yet they pay hundreds a month for their cell phone. For many people, you’re probably making an excuse for keeping your cell phone. Instead, you need to be more realistic with your spending.

Read further at Are Your Excuses Making You Broke And Unsuccessful?


4. Know that you don’t deserve everything.

Yes, you may be awesome and think you deserve something, but should you really be buying it? Just because someone else bought a 100 inch 3D TV (or a mansion, nice car, gadgets, had a crazy-expensive wedding, etc.) that doesn’t mean you should as well.

You might think, “Oh, well they have a comparable job to mine, so, if they can afford it, then I can too.” Or, “They’re the same age as me, I should be able to buy that as well.”

However, you have no idea how this person is paying for it. Maybe they saved for years, or maybe they are just putting everything on their credit card.

By thinking that you deserve everything, you are hurting yourself. Instead, you should be realistic with your financial situation and only buy what you can truly afford.


5. Be happy with what you have.

If you’re able to read this blog, then you probably have a better life than many other people in this world. It’s important to realize that not everyone has access to a computer, an internet connection, or a comfy spot to read from.

So, the next time you think that you can’t survive without something, be honest with yourself about whether or not that’s actually true.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life and have a good time.

The power of frugality means that you can still live a great life while on a budget. Money doesn’t have to dictate how much you enjoy life.

There are plenty of ways to live an awesome life while saving money. Yes, you can still see your friends, have fun with your loved ones, and more– all while staying on a realistic budget.


6. Realize the less money you spend, the less you need.

By spending less money, you’ll decrease the amount of money you need in the future. This includes money for emergency funds, retirement, and more.

This will help you to build your emergency fund quicker and reach retirement sooner.

Just think about it: If you are already living a frugal lifestyle, then you will be used to living on less in the future. This means that your retirement savings doesn’t need to be as large, which means it may be easier to reach that savings goal.

Also, if you spend less money, you probably won’t need as much in your emergency fund, which can also help you fund that sooner!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate in the United States has averaged around 5% in the past year, and averaged 8.33% from 1959 until 2016.

Mr. Money Mustache has a great graphic in his blog post The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement that shows you how your savings rate can dramatically impact when you’ll retire. For example:

  • With just a 5% savings rate as mentioned above, it would take you 66 working years until you reached retirement.
  • A 25% savings rate means that it would take you 32 working years to retire.
  • A 50% savings rate means that it would take you 17 working years to retire.
  • A 75% savings rate means that it would take you 7 working years to retire.

So, by saving more of your money, you are likely to retire sooner. Sounds amazing, right?


7. Finally stop paying for cable.

The average monthly cable bill is over $100. By the year 2020, the average cable bill is expected to be around $200 a month.

That is just crazy talk.

If you need to be frugal, then getting rid of your cable might be the first place to look.

You can read more about cutting cable here and how to save money by doing this. I recommend getting a digital antenna so that you can receive local channels for free!

We don’t pay for any form of TV (not even Netflix!), and it definitely helps us to live simply.

However, if you aren’t ready to quit paying for TV all together, there are lots of options that allow you to only pay, usually much less than cable, for the shows you want.

Related: 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money


8. Don’t let your wants turn into needs.

One of the problems in understanding wants and needs is realizing that sometimes our needs can cause us to spend more than we should, meaning needs can turn into wants.

Here are some examples of basic needs turning into wants:

  • Water- To stay hydrated, all you need is water. However, this need can turn into a want with things like bottled water, soda, coffee, etc.
  • Food- Food can come in many forms, and the healthier the better. But, going out to eat all the time turns this need into a want and can cause you to spend more than necessary.
  • Shelter- The place you decide to live doesn’t have to break your budget. You can rent a room from someone, live in an apartment, a tiny home, a mobile home, etc. But, this need becomes a want with overspending and thinking you need something way above your means.
  • Clothing- Clothing needs are things such as pants, shirts, and underwear so that you can go out into society and not be naked and put in jail. You can get affordable clothing by shopping at a thrift store (such as Goodwill or Plato’s Closet) or buying items that fit within your budget. But, wants are expensive clothing and shoes, such as Louis Vuitton, $10,000 suits, etc. You don’t need these items in order to survive.


9. Declutter and downsize.

Frugal people LOVE having less stuff. So, if you want to be a frugal freak, then you will probably want to declutter and downsize.

Decluttering your life to simplify it can lead to many benefits. Here are some examples of how decluttering and downsizing your home will allow you to,

  • Save money. In some cases, a bigger home can cost more due to higher utility bills, more clutter being bought, higher insurance, more maintenance and repairs needed, higher purchasing price, etc.
  • Have less clutter. The bigger your home, the more likely you’ll have empty rooms that you feel the need to put stuff in. Now that we live in an RV, we are much more mindful of what we buy. We think about every purchase in terms of weight, size, where we can store it, and more.
  • Spend less time on maintenance and repairs. If all the other factors between two homes are the same (age, location, etc.), a bigger home is more likely to take up more of your time and money due to more things breaking.
  • Spend less time cleaning. A larger home is going to take a lot more time to clean than a smaller one.

Related content: Downsizing Your Home? Here’s How I Went From A 2,000 Square Foot House To An RV


10. Quit spending money on entertainment.

If you truly want to be more frugal, then you should (and can) find entertainment that is free and/or affordable.

Someone once told me how expensive it was to enjoy life. They were telling me about all of their debt and everything that goes along with it, and they also told me that their monthly “fun” budget was around $500.

Uhhh, what?! $500? A month?!

If you are trying to get rid of high-interest rate debt, I can’t think of any reason why you should be paying $500 a month to have fun.

All of that money can add up to a lot of stress! Cutting down your entertainment budget doesn’t just save you money, it is just one of the ways to simplify your life and be more frugal.

There are many ways to have fun for cheap. Check out How To Have Frugal Fun for some of my ideas.


11. Stop wasting money impressing others.

As you probably noticed, there was a common theme above– in order to be frugal, you need to stop caring about what others think about you.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, I don’t care!” However, for many people, that’s simply just not the truth. Many people constantly spend money to impress people and to keep up with the Joneses. This may mean buying a nicer car than you can afford, moving into that McMansion, and more.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t buy nice things. But, I am saying that you need to be realistic with your spending and truthfully tell yourself whether you need or even want that item, or if you are just trying to impress someone else.

No one cares about what you have or what you’re trying to show off.

No one likes a show off anyways.


How can I live as cheap as possible?

The best frugal living tips above will help you live as cheap as possible. You’ll learn how to be frugal with food, how to be frugal but not cheap, how to live simply and cheaply, thrifty tips and tricks, and more.


Can being frugal make you rich?

Yes, learning ways to be frugal can definitely make you rich. You’ll be saving more money, which will help you be wealthier.


Is it worth being frugal?

Yes, being frugal can definitely be worth it. There is no need to just waste money.

Are you a frugal freak? What do you think of frugality? Do you think it’s negative?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Great points to consider if you want to live a frugal lifestyle. Especially items 2,6,10, and 11. Purchasing a car or home that you can comfortably afford can go a long way in allowing you to live on significantly less than what you make. Foregoing spending on expensive entertainment and outings and trying to impress others are also key.

  2. We’ve learned that what is frugal to one person is not frugal to another. I like your analogy about the word frugal meaning “to not waste money”. We actually consider it to mean getting value for your money, which I guess is the same thing.

  3. I think that many people still struggle with the idea that being frugal means to do without vs. being in alignment with your values. I consider myself pretty frugal…but, I still travel, go to the theater and occasionally go out for really nice meals. But, it’s how I do it that’s different.

    1. Yes, exactly! I consider myself frugal and so many people think that’s a negative.

  4. We got rid of cable a few years ago and haven’t missed it. It’s crazy how much money you can save just by doing that. Another easy win for us was switching to a discount mobile phone carrier. I have Cricket Wireless. The coverage is great and cut my bill in half.

  5. Hey Michelle,

    I think it’s safe to say from time to time, we all spend money on things we know we can go without. One thing many people don’t think about is when they get in their frugal spending feelings, it’s an unwritten opportunity to use their phones or speech recognition programs on their computers and laptops to write reviews about products and services they purchased and recommend to others. Doing so can and will create financial opportunities for them in terms of making money in affiliate commissions by promoting relevant affiliate links alongside their published blog reviews. I myself am guilty of frugal spending. But good thing is, I have alot to write about and tons more money to earn back from my past frugal spending.

  6. Hari @ Parhelia Finance

    I think some of these things are due to people seeing others have all these nice and fancy things on social media and feeling like they need that stuff in their lives too, or at least the things they can afford. But all of these are so on point! Thank you, I forgot about some of these. I think the last one is very important too, everyone’s trying to impress others more than they think want to get ahead sometimes, but gotta do what you gotta do to get to your goals right, even if it means reevaluating who you spend time with.

  7. The expensive car is what derails so many Americans. The average new vehicle cost is now $34k. That’s the average. So most people, I assume, just consider that a “standard” car and a necessary expense. Absolutely crazy…

    1. Judy

      My husband and I have never been enamored with cars. We want something reliable and safe. Our last two cars were used, one through a friend, and the other through a National used car agency. The agency has a record of the cars history. We find the reliability, through experience, of Japanese cars to be the best. Before we bought our last car we had a Honda Accord with over 200,000 miles on it. We never had a problem with it and kept the maintenance through out our ownership. We donated that car to Public Television and I am sure whoever bought it will put another 100,000 miles on it.We will keep these cars until they expire. We have cable but will be dropping it and getting an antenna for local stations we have a few streaming now and it will be enough. Cable bills are outrageous with more channels than we could ever watch.
      We eat at home Rarely eating out and watch our food budget. My husband brown bags it to work and we only us Starbucks for just coffee when we are traveling. I am still considering ways to spend less.

  8. Renee

    I have a car payment, but it’s a Subaru that I plan on keeping a long time. I like knowing my car is dependable. I have friends that have bought used cars and they’ve had nothing but trouble.

    I have cable (because someone likes baseball :-/ ) but we cut back in other areas…like going out to eat…two dinners out pay for my cable bill. I use gift cards for the occasional Starbucks. I also bring my lunch most days. I’ve also started grooming my two dogs….the initial investment in clippers, tools, and a grooming table paid for itself in three groomings.

    I use my mileage visa for everything and earn at least one free flight per year…paying it off each month.

    1. It’s all about being mindful – good job!

  9. I definitely agree with point 8. A lot of times people are confused about the items they absolutely need vs those they overindulge in and simply want. Lastly… Cable is the biggest unnecessary budget buster there is today especially with the presence of Hulu and Netflix.

  10. Great advice! I’m the frugal one and my wife likes to spend. Yikes! Being frugal takes discipline but over time the results of being frugal can be remarkable. I will show her your article tonight… Thank you!

  11. Yes to ditching the expensive car! I tell people that all the time. Even if the car note is “affordable”, once you add all the expenses for gas, full coverage insurance (which can be super expensive), maintenance, repairs, etc. you could have a down payment for a really nice house. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, exactly! It all can add up so quickly.

  12. Kris

    I cut cable tv about 5 years ago and love not paying so much money for a whole bunch of channels I don’t watch. So many other options for your entertainment. Streaming services, digital antenna, youtube, and free DVDs from the library are just a few you can rely on to watch your shows.

  13. Great list, Michelle! If we all do even just a few things on this list, we’d be in better shape. I agree with others that learning contentment is the most important thing on here. It’s the key to everything else.

    I loved this line: “No one cares about what you have or what you’re trying to show off.” So true!

  14. J.D.

    Frugality is known to so many as the f word. It’s really sad. If only more people would realize how freeing it can be.

  15. Many used to say me i am frugal but i really love to be it. I love spending more, but people thing i’m doing a wrong thing. According to me there is nothing wrong in being frugal, i definitely want to show this blog to everyone who calls me frugal. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Kim

    A lot of good advice here. It’s really easy to overlook things you might not see as a problem in your budget.

  17. I would love to cut cable. Sadly we live in a place where internet only comes with cable, and we work from home. Some day there will be low cost standalone internet. Hopefully soon!

  18. So…. I only pash cash for cars and I always buy a car that is a few years old. I also haggle like crazy when I purchase. I also keep my vehicles a long time! I had my last one for 10 years and would have kept it longer had I not had a baby and desperately needed more space (it was a 2 door).

  19. Thanks for sharing! This is helpful for staying motivated to be frugal!

  20. #3 Quit with the excuses is my favorite.

  21. Marguerite

    a great reminder for me, especially around downsizing – I don’t need to pay $1100+ a month for a 2 bedroom apartment if I can do with a one bedroom and save $200 a month – need to let go of stuff

  22. From India

    But what about the medium where you are watching YouTube. You have to pay for your internet expense which is costly for some people. What I do is I hack people’s WiFi and then I take the advantage of internet from them without them even knowing the truth😎

  23. Telisha

    Wow amazing blog post, as a frugal living blogger myself I love reading post like this. Thank you so much

  24. Wonderful frugal pointers! It’s especially true about keeping an eye on wants vs needs. These boundaries can creep and blur as life goes on and you get pay raises, new friends etc. How do you manage to keep stock of this?

  25. Montana Greider

    Great blog!
    My husband and I went plant-based back in 2019 (for health/environmental reasons), and I have noticed that we spend less money on groceries and when we eat out! Meat can be so expensive, beans and rice are dirt cheap! We do buy mostly organic, which is worth the little extra cost for us knowing we are getting food that is better for us and the environment. Even cutting meat out of your diet 2 days a week and swapping it with tofu or beans can really add up in savings.