Frugal Living Tips to Help You Stick to Your Budget
Finding the right lifestyle change to help your budget really depends on each person, because each person has their own financial vice. For some it’s eating out, for others it’s shopping, etc. For many of us, it’s a culmination of different things. Getting these bad financial habits under control doesn’t have to be a big change, but a compilation of smaller changes to help tighten up your budget. You’ll be able to better enjoy little indulgences, as well as plan ahead for important purchases–not to mention getting your credit score in better shape – by practicing some of these frugal living tips in your everyday life.
Eat Out Cheaper
Eating out is an expensive treat for many budgets, but it can be difficult to avoid. If you enjoy eating out too much to cut it out completely, just practice some frugal tips while you’re dining. Restaurant promotions are everywhere if you know where to look. Your junk mail and your junk e-mail are two places full of coupons. If you eat out, pick a place that you have a coupon for. You can also choose to eat out during breakfast, which is much cheaper than lunch or dinner.
Cutting out alcohol, sharing a dish, and ordering from the kids menu are all other ways to eat out on the cheap. Think burgers, chicken, and sandwiches. Whatever is cheapest to buy at the grocery store is probably also the cheapest on the menu. You can grocery shop with your health and finances in mind and you can order from a menu the same way.
Movies, concerts, events, and trips are all expensive aspects to a budget, if you enjoy filling your free time with entertainment. You don’t have to cut entertainment out of your budget completely, but you can sprinkle in some alternatives throughout your month to give your budget a break. Instead of a movie date every weekend, host a movie night at your house. Pick a few concerts in a year you can’t live without seeing, and spend the rest of your weekends listening to your favorite playlist while on a picnic. Choose a few events that mean a lot to you, and go on a few trips that you can’t miss, but spend the rest of your time taking part in fugal entertainment: Go on a bike ride, plan a game night, camp, hike, go to a poetry reading, or play frisbee.
For many of us, a big problem within our budget is how much money we are basically throwing in the trash. By eliminating how much you waste, you can help save in the long run. If you have an issue eating fruits or vegetables before they go bad, try grocery shopping more frequently, and composting what goes bad instead of tossing it. Meal plan every week for each meal, and each person. Be conscious of your electricity use and don’t leave lights on. Turn your faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth, and use reusable items whenever you can – and quality items to stretch your dollar. These small changes seem inconsequential, but it’s saving you money and helping the environment, so it’s worth making the change no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Public transportation, carpooling, and biking to work are all great alternative transportation options. Not only are they great options for your wallet, they are also beneficial to the environment.1 Sometimes it’s not an option to take the bus, but when it is, consider scheduling a few days a week where you aren’t alone in your car on the way to work. By avoiding your vehicle when you can and taking alternative forms of transportation, you’ll be making a small change in your lifestyle that can save you money long term.
Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries come and go no matter what your financial situation is. In order to give gifts a little more frugally, consider DIY gift giving. Choose to gift your time or an experience for your spouse or your family members. Organize a day for a picnic, frame an old photo, or go on a hike together. For children, there are a ton of DIY gift projects to make them including piggy banks, nightlights, or a slew of other ideas2 online. Consider homemade baked goods, or plants in decorated pots. It’s not the gift that’s important, it’s the effort you put into it.
Sticking to a personal budget can be difficult, but making frugal choices can help fine tune your budget and save more money. Making small, frugal changes can help you on your road to tightening your finances. For some, it’s not about making the big changes, it’s about making the everyday ones. Knowing the most frugal choices to make while eating out, finding alternative entertainment, eliminating waste, using alternative transportation, and making gifts are all tips to help encourage frugality.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who now lives in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys talk radio, cold coffee, and playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow Chelsy on Twitter @Chelsy5
This post was updated May 4, 2017. It was originally published May 4, 2017.