We are all cutting corners constantly and a few extra dollars every month can go a long way. If you are trying to save up for college or just want a nice dinner once in a while, you could try saving a buck or two on things that you could do without.
If you begin to save money, you will have more of it to feed your goals with. Here are some of the things you will be able to achieve by simply including some extreme frugal living tips in your life:
- Paying off debt and having a better credit score.
- Saving towards that dream holiday of yours.
- Paying for college.
- Saving for big payments like a new gadget or a new house.
It is easy to spend $10 on something every now and then and before you know it all ads up. These tips and hacks that I use to save money have allowed me to travel and be debt-free.
So, here are some of my best extreme frugal living tips:
Some of the links below are affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
#1 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it benefits you
I recently came across some information that I believe is both disturbing as well as life-changing.
If you live in the United States, you know how awful hospital costs can be and what hospital debt can look like. The industry is corrupt to a large degree and a lot of procedures/ medications are over-priced. However, did you also know that your medical debt could be eligible to be forgiven?
So, let us break this down- hospitals in the United States get tax benefits and tax exemptions if they are non-profit hospitals. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), these hospitals are required to provide discounted or free care to customers that fall beneath a certain income bracket. A rough statistic would indicate that approximately 58.5% of all hospitals in the US are nonprofit. That means you are potentially eligible for a discounted price or free care.
Why have you never heard of this? Because hospital staff are routinely told to avoid telling patients this even exists. To be honest with you, there are hospitals that actively try to make it hard to get financial aid as well- multiple forms, invasive questions (what car you own, income, bank statements, etc.), not telling patients it is an option until the patient asks, etc.
However, that should not stop you from trying. Let us use UMass Memorial Health as an example. All I did was type in ‘UMass Memorial Health financial aid’ into Google and I immediately found what I was looking for:
Some hospitals are great about this and actually tell patients what their options are but some do not. So, ask! Ask them if you are eligible, ask them to give you the forms, and Google it. It is worth every second.
To determine whether you are eligible for financial aid, you need to check the cutoff at the hospital you are dealing with.
For example, UMass Memorial Health has a sliding scale that determines how much aid you are eligible for. The sliding scale works by taking your income into account and then giving you aid based on that income. This could be 300% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, 200%, etc.
Different hospitals have different policies. You would need to check on the hospital site you are dealing with.
While there are hospitals that do make the process of receiving legal financial aid difficult, there are also patients that have taken to the internet to talk about what a great experience they had:
Everything largely depends on the hospital you wind up in but this piece of information could save you thousands which is why I wanted you to have it- for now, for the future, for your peace of mind.
#2 The 365 Rule
The 365 rule is something I learned from one of my favorite Facebook pages: Dear Alyne.
This is a method I have used to save money to travel and it really works if you stay dedicated and focus on your goal. Here is how it works:
Every time you feel like buying something silly like a cup of Starbucks coffee for $5 or even just a bag of chips for a buck, you multiply that amount by 365. This allows you to see how much you are spending a year on that ‘tiny, cheap’ product that you probably buy every day. (like a cup of Starbucks coffee)
It is a game-changer because you realize how absolutely useless and unnecessary the product is that you are spending a fortune on every year. For example, let us go back to the Starbucks example:
$5 x 365= $1825!
I think we can all agree spending close to $2000 is unnecessary to say the very least. I am not saying, do not get a cup of joe every now and again but use this rule whenever you can. This simple saving money challenge will help you in the long run.
It is on the top of my list of creative frugal living tips because it has helped me save loads by giving away very little.
#3 Get rid of your cable subscription
Getting rid of cable is not as absurd as it sounds. Think about it- It is really unnecessary.
Even if you do not already have a Hulu account, it is a wise switch to make since the average cable subscriber pays about $85 a month and Hulu has a starting cost of $5.99 a month!
If you only want one of the two, I suggest going for Hulu over Netflix.
The reason I recommend Hulu over Netflix is because they have far more flexible pricing options and in my opinion, you get more for your money.
With Hulu, you can start at a monthly cost of $5.99 with ads or a monthly cost of $11.99 without ads. These are your two options and both of them are under 12 bucks. You also get the first month free.
Both these plans offer users the ability to watch on up to two screens at a time with the option of upgrading to unlimited screens for an extra 10 bucks a month.
Hulu is only available in the United States
With Netflix, the starting price is $8.99 and you only get to watch on one screen at a time.
Two screens are $12.99 and four screens, the premium plan, comes in at $15.99. (You also get a free 30 days if you are a new customer)
As for pricing increases, you also get some HD features but after using both Hulu and Netflix, I honestly could not really tell the difference in picture quality which is what makes Hulu a better bet for me personally.
It is more affordable and has more flexibility when it comes to what you want out of it.
It is time you move with the times and leave cable behind. What you get out of it is simply not worth the price.
#4 Get cashback on your shopping
One of the best frugal living tips I know of is pretty simple: you can get cash back on online purchases by using a website like Ibotta to make them. You can also receive cashback by submitting receipts from previous purchases.
Another option is using Rakuten. Rakuten works on a commission model where they receive a commission for referring customers to brands and then use a part of that commission to give you cashback. It is one of the few techniques that help everyone involved. There are no fees to be paid and no forms to be filled either.
#5 The Arigato Method
I recently came across something I thought was pretty interesting and thankfully enough- free as well which is what frugal living is all about. I am always looking for ways to save money, make money, and budget better so when I am looking for tips to help me to do that, I have noticed that Japanese culture is full of a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
The last time I spoke about Japanese budgeting methods was when I wrote a step-by-step post outlining the use and benefits of the Kakeibo budgeting method so you can check that out if you are interested in learning more. Today, however, I wanted to dive deeper into what is known as the Arigato method. It is not long enough to warrant a blog post so here is a small add-on in this post about frugal living.
In case you have not brushed up on your Japanese lately, ‘Arigato’ means Thank You which is the center around which this method is created- giving thanks.
This method was made famous by Ken Honda who has written over 50 books in Japanese and sold over 7 million copies. During his time as a writer, one of his projects was to interview 12,000 millionaires in Japan. The idea was that he gets to see what is different about the way those people think, view the world, and what values they hold on to as they move through life.
During his interviews, one of the people he came across was Wahei Takeda, otherwise known as the Warren Buffet of Japan. When Honda asked Takeda what his secret sauce to success was, Wahei taught him a simple technique- Arigato Money. It is one of my favorite frugal living techniques and I follow it myself because it is so incredibly simple.
The secret to wealth is simply to arigato your money which is easier said than done because Honda himself did not immediately understand it at the time. To put it simply- it means appreciating your money.
By simply taking a moment to ‘arigato in and arigato out’ you wind up appreciating your money every time you have to write a cheque, buy a coffee, receive a salary bump, etc. Honda goes on to say that by simply ‘thanking his money’, his life improved- he became happier, more content, and even started mysteriously receiving more money because he had improved his mindset around money and what it means to him.
When he was interviewing Wahei and focusing on appreciating his money, it “attracted abundance”. No one claims to know how the world works but we do know that our mind can be an incredibly powerful thing.
When you thank your money and value it, you begin to let it move through your life with that much more ease rather than simply chasing it like a mad man.
You have that much less stress and anxiety around the concept of money itself which allows you to actually appreciate money and what you appreciate appreciates.
If you truly want to start living a frugal life, you need to start valuing the money you spend and earn.
This technique can be summarized in one sentence he said during his interview with Good Morning America– “If you start appreciating money, you won’t be worrying about money.”
If you are interested in learning more about Ken Honda’s philosophies around money, I would recommend reading his book ‘Happy Money’ that was written with Americans in mind. Honda talks about how Americans tend to spend too much and the Japanese tend to save too much in their respective cultures. The key is balance and being at peace with the money coming in and going out of your life.
#6 Say Goodbye to that useless gym membership
Stop paying for the gym.
It is unnecessary and most people do not use it anyway. The average cost for a gym membership in the United States is $58 a month or $696 a year.
Think about how many times you actually used it this year. I am not saying do not even try being fit but there are plenty of other free fitness options out there.
You do not need to pay $50 a month to lose weight. I have used amazing websites like Fitness Blender that have tons of great videos you can use to lose weight at home OR you can just run!
If you are looking to get healthy, eating right helps more than anything else. Exercise helps with toning your body but if you want to loose weight, you need to eat right!
Here is a healthy meal planning bundle from Amazon you should consider trying if you are looking for a great diet.
#7 Consider buying used products
Buying used stuff is not as bad as it seems in your head. You will save loads of money (which is what frugal living is all about) and there are a lot of products out there that have hardly seen the light of day and their owners are already tired of it.
For example, buying a used car is a great way to save some cash. Even something for your house can be purchased at a fraction of the cost if you consider buying a used item.
You can buy something used off eBay or Amazon (take a look at this refurbished Mac on Amazon for example) with ease + it is safe!
#8 Start comparing prices before you jump the gun
If you decide to buy something online or even from a shop, it would be a wise decision to try out a few places before you narrow down on one. You could save a couple of bucks or even a cool hundred by just looking around a little more.
We tend to lose a lot of money out of pure laziness and it is quite silly if you think about it.
#9 Start bring frugal with your electric bill
Using LED bulbs is the best advice I can give you. They are more expensive to buy but boy do they make up for it quickly. They use 90% less energy than the ordinary light bulbs that you are probably using.
This means that if you switch it could bring down your electricity bill substantially (by about $100 on average). Click here to head over to Amazon to buy some of my favorite kind of LEDs (cheaper than a store).
#10 Stop using Uber
For students, frugal living is 10 times harder since everything is so expensive while your income is not the best.
One of the two things I spent on as a student was Ubers or just cab rides in general. They are expensive and so unnecessary. A lot of the Uber drives you take as a student are easily walkable so you can get some exercise out of it too.
Of course, frugal living tips are not enough for most college kids so I would actually recommend picking up a side hustle to earn some extra cash. This could be freelancing, becoming a DoorDash driver in your free time, or even selling homecooked meals for working individuals.
#11 Invite friends over for drinks
Going to a bar or a club is expensive. The drinks there are far more costly than buying the bottle for yourself. If you do drink alcohol or just like to party from time to time, consider doing it at home. A house party is always far better than going to a noisy bar/club anyway + you win frugal living points!
Sometimes the best tips for frugal living are pretty simple- we just do not think about where are money is being spent often enough.
#12 Work from home
You save on simple things like work clothes or the super long commute to work. If you work from home every day, you could even consider ditching your car for good. You also do not have to spend money on lunches outside which is more money saved and one more successful step towards your frugal living goals.
While working from home can have risks because of anonymity, using a service like Flex Jobs will help you stay safe. For a flat monthly fee, Flex Jobs vets out scammy job postings and only shows you good, relevant remote work opportunities.
FlexJobs recently released an analysis where they looked into how much cash people save by working at home. Hint: A lot. ( You save about $4000 a year on average if you decide to work from home!)
Related Reading: How to Start a Freelance Business in 9 Steps Guide
#13 Change your cell phone contract
If you are in the United States and are using Verizon or AT&T, the average bill you are paying every month is about $100. That is no small amount.
Do you actually need that much data?
Look at how much of your data you are really using every month and question whether you are overpaying for no reason.
If you are out of the house a lot then it is understandable but most people spend a lot of time in areas that have WiFi so they normally end up over-spending on mobile plans.
Take a look at your monthly bill and consider trying a cheaper plan that benefits your frugal living endeavors.
#14 Cut your own hair
This sounds absurd (especially to women) when I mention it at first but hear me out on this.
The average haircut is about $45 and that is not even an expensive place so if you get your haircut every 2 months that is $300 a year!!
If you decide to cut your own hair you also save time. I have also learned more about my hair texture, what length suits me and what works for me personally since I started doing it myself.
I am not saying this will work for everyone. If you have short hair, going to a salon is probably best but for a lot of people, this is a great option.
You will also realize how salons try to sell just about anything to you once you start seeing how easy it is to handle stuff yourself.
#15 Buy fewer products!
Talking about how salons try to sell you a bunch of useless crap…. cutting my own hair taught me how many products are not necessary at all.
Most of the face washes, exfoliators and fancy hair stuff you use is doing more harm than good. Makeup is a known evil so if you do use a lot of makeup, consider reducing the number of products you use. A simple foundation is pretty expensive.
If you have a bathroom full of different shampoos, face washed and who knows what else, take a good look around and add up the price tags. Is all that stuff even helping you?
You could save hundreds every year by narrowing your list down a little.
#16 Write a shopping list before you visit the grocery store
We tend to buy anything that takes our fancy when we enter a Walmart and all that stuff adds up. A candy bar here and a packet of crisps there all adds up to a couple of hundred dollars every year.
Keeping a shopping list in your hand when you go to the store will keep you focused and help you stay away from all those unnecessary goodies.
Frugal living tip: Just remember to stick with it!
#17 Learn how to repair clothes so they last longer
I learned a couple of basic stitches when I was younger like sewing the hem or just a simple backstitch or the running stitch which I am so glad I had the ability to learn. It has helped me tons.
I can shorten a dress or hack off sleeves if I want to. I can also tighten a loose shirt. These little things have saved me quite a few pennies because I repair a lot of clothes instead of tossing them.
If you do not know any basic stitches, do not worry about it. They are pretty easy to learn. Try one of the hundreds of YouTube tutorials out there.
#18 Cancel memberships/plans that you are not using
I save every penny I can from wherever I can and it all adds up!
I know so many people that have tons of subscriptions they do not use and pay for every single year/month for no reason at all. You are literally letting money fly out of your bank account every month. One of the best ways to save money for the future is by not spending it frivolously!
If you have a club membership and go swimming once every six months, cut it out of your budget. It is not needed at all.
A service like BillShark can help you reduce your bills with no upfront payment necessary. The company takes a one-time 40% cut of the reduction they managed to get you and if they cannot get your bills reduced, you do not pay anything at all.
#19 Rent out a room
Renting out some unused space in your home could be a great way to earn a couple of hundred bucks every month. You will get to meet someone new, have some company and thicken your wallet.
Consider putting up your extra room on Airbnb. You will get to meet people from all over the world!
#20 Buy in bulk
If you want to live a frugal life, consider buying a product like detergent or toothpaste in bulk. It is not like you are going to stop using it or want to switch brands anytime soon so this is a pretty easy way to stay frugal.
Buying in bulk can save you a lot of money over time and it also means fewer trips to the store.
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