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The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living - Financially Well Off
Financially Well Off

The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living

If I had to guess being frugal isn’t something you’d willingly do.

The thought of wearing bad clothes or eating ramen everyday haunts you– I don’t blame you. But, you need to change your money-habits, else you’ll continue to live a stressful life.

So what’s the solution to living frugal life without being miserable?

Defining your ideal lifestyle and work backward.

You see, there are different levels to frugality and you haven’t found the right one. Here’s your ultimate guide to living a frugal life–one you can enjoy without feeling miserable.

What’s frugal living?

What does it mean to live a frugal life?

It means being less wasteful with your resources and living a happier life.

Yes, happier.

When you’re frugal money isn’t stressing you because you’re spending it where it counts. People who earn a low income aren’t the only ones who are frugal, wealthy people are too.

Being frugal is how many wealthy people were able to accumulate a lot of wealth in the first place. It’s a lifestyle you have to choose to live and one separating you from the majority of people. But, living a frugal life isn’t easy.

You’ll be the minority when most people are spending their money on toys and vacationing a lot. Fight the temptation to spend aimlessly, by having specific goals in mind.

For example, you may want to retire at age 50. Use this goal as your motivation to hold back on spending like everyone else.

Why should you be frugal?

Is being frugal for everyone?



You’ll always have financial problems if you’re not managing your money well. Frugality involves you not being wasteful with your money.

Not being frugal is like putting regular gas on a car requiring premium. The car will still run but your gas mileage will suffer. You work hard for your money, so why not be as efficient as you can with it?

You’ll feel happier and carry little to no debt by being frugal.

Being frugal can improve the quality of your life

Money is only a tool.

Yet, many people mix their emotions with money. This is a problem because their happiness is now influenced by the amount of money they have.

And guess what?

They’ll never have enough.

This is where frugality shines. Because you’re intentional with how money can improve your life, you go about making it happen.


By setting SMART financial goals. SMART goals are ones you can reach and measure.

For example, instead of wanting to be debt-free, state you want to pay off $5000 of credit card debt within 12 months. Doing this allows you to break your goal further into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks.

Research shows writing down goals increases your odds at being successful. Being frugal allows you to use money as a tool to help you reach your goals. By doing this money can help improve the quality of your life.


Photo by Estee Janssens

Being frugal won’t mean lowering your life’s quality

Being frugal shouldn’t mean you living a miserable life–buying only low-ticket items.

But, there may be times where you’ll have to adjust to a given circumstance. For example, if you currently carry a lot of debt, being more frugal is a better option. It won’t be pleasant, but you’ll feel great knowing you’re paying off your debt faster.

Once you pay off your debt or earn a higher income you can adjust the level of frugality you want to live. Being frugal helps improve the quality of your life, not the other way around.

Best frugal living tips

So you’re convinced living a frugal life can bring you happiness–great.

But, this alone isn’t enough. You need to adopt better money-habits. Here are a few key habits helping you be frugal and live a happier life:

Build solid money habits

How To manage your money

Create a value budget

A value-budget can help you understand what’s important in your life.

But, how do you create one?

First, understand your cash flow (i.e. money coming in versus coming out.) The best way to do this is by using Personal Capital. Sync all your bank accounts and let Personal Capital do the rest.

View your income and expenses on Personal Captial’s “Cashflow” dashboard. Your goal here is to view how much money you have left over after all your expenses. Use this money to pay off debt or save instead.

Next, create a list of “needs” and “wants.” From the excess money you have leftover, decide how much will go towards a few items in your “wants” list. For example, you can budget to eat out once a month with your loved one or buy a coffee a few times each week.

Finally, automate this process by using your bank’s automatic transfer feature. For example, if you know that each month you’ll have $1,000 in expenses, set up automatic to budget for this. Do the same for how you’ll plan to spend your excess money.

The end result will be your money transferring to many accounts each payday.

Start negotiating your expenses


Never settle for the price you’re currently paying for bills.

If you haven’t called your service provides (i.e. cell phone, cable, etc.) odds are you’re overpaying. You don’t need to be the best negotiator to successfully make this happen.

Create a list of all the service providers you pay each month. Then, categorize them from most expensive to least. Call your highest-charging service provider first to negotiate your bill.

If you don’t have luck the first time, hang up and try again.

I was able to reduce my cellphone bill by $10 per month with a 5-minute phone call. If I was able to do this, you can too. If you have no luck after several times, use services like Trim, who’d negotiate bills on your behalf.

Set a recurring reminder to review your expenses every 3–6 months. This way you’re confident you’re paying the lowest price possible for your services.

Remove all your debt

Evaluate where you stand


Knowing how much debt you carry shouldn’t be a surprise.

Sync up all your credit cards and loans on Personal Capital to view the total debt you owe in one place. Then decide how much of your excess money you’ll use to pay down debt faster.

Track your progress daily

Use a journal to track your progress.

At the beginning of each morning write down which tasks you need to do to reach your financial goals. For example, not buying coffee or taking lunch to work to pay off your debt faster. At the end of the day review what you’ve completed and what’s left outstanding.

Set a recurring reminder to review your progress at a certain day each week. This will ensure you’re on track to reaching your financial goals and will help you stay focused.

Learn to celebrate your small wins

Being frugal and reaching financial goals isn’t easy.

You have to resist a lot of temptation and build the discipline to delay short-term pleasure. Because of this, it’s important you reward yourself after completing key milestones.

Your rewards shouldn’t be big or irrelevant. For example, if you want to pay off debt, reward yourself with watching your favorite show for one hour. Rewards will help you stay motivated and avoid burning out.

Increase your income by doing extra work


You’re capped at home much you can save but not how much you can earn.

This is why focusing most of your energy towards increasing your income is important. Everyone has different lifestyle goals, but a higher income will benefit most people. Here’s how you can increase your income.

Why you need to start a side-hustle

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”–Pele

Starting a side-hustle is a great way to increase your income for several reasons.

First, your income has the potential to increase the harder you work. While starting a side-hustle is great, it’s not easy to build.


You’re building a business requiring a lot of time and dedication. In today’s digital world, you now have the option to make money off blogging and Podcasting. While some people make it seem like building a side-hustle is easy, it’s not.

Knowing this ahead of time will be your advantage. You won’t build a business with the expectation to make a quick buck. You’d also be ready to overcome obstacles most entrepreneurs face.

Choose a profitable side-hustle


With so many options to start a business nowadays, how do you know which one to choose?

Draw a ven diagram and list your interests on the left side and your skills on the right. In the middle add jobs overlapping with your skills and interests. Your goal is to pick a field where you’re skillful or interested in learning.

Building a side-hustle you’re interested in is beneficial. When facing obstacles you’d more likely stick around working in a field you enjoy.

Forget about finding your passion. Choose a side-hustle that interests you and go from there. I’d never imagined writing, but after starting several blogs I became a better writer.

Now, I enjoy writing and can pick a specific field within writing for my side-hustle.

The same can happen to you.

If you’re still unsure where to start here are some of the best side-hustles to start today:

  1. Blogging
  2. Writing
  3. Freelancing in a specific niche (i.e. web design)

All the side-hustles above will take months before they generate revenue. But, they have the potential to replace your current income.

Create practical goals to succeed

Nowadays, people share the success they’re having with their side-hustle.

But, the reality is it takes a long time to be successful. Building a successful blog for the first time can take years before it generates a large income.


You have to learn how to grow your traffic, build an audience, and build product/services people want. For new entrepreneurs, there’s a huge learning curve to learn all this. For those who claim they can build a successful blog in 90-days are not telling the complete truth.

People who build a profitable blog in a short period are either lucky or have experience. Regardless of which type of side hustle you start to know it’ll take time.

Here are some ways to secure your odds at succeeding: – Never stop learning–read books, listen to Podcasts – Hire mentors/coaches–hire paid ones, so you’ll feel invested and take action – Attend conferences–there’s a conference for almost any subject. Get out there and meet like-minded people who are where you want to be.

Most important, focus more on the journey of being an entrepreneur. Building a side-hustle is the same as building a business. You’ll have setbacks and experience stress along the way.

By focusing more on the journey, you’ll grow and have more patience than if you’d chased only the money.

Select smart investment opportunities


Create your perfect morning routine

Most people claim to not be a morning person.

But, you don’t need to be one to wake up early. Yes, it’ll be hard to wake up early the first few weeks but it’ll get easier. You won’t be getting up early without a purpose.

You’ll get up earlier to set yourself up for success before starting your day. Everyone’s morning routine is different but here are some ideas to help you get started:

Workout (5–45 minutes)

Your health is your top priority. By working out two to four times per week you’re helping your body stay healthy.

Meditate (3–10 minutes)

Being present is rare nowadays. Smartphones and other electronics have made it harder than ever to focus on one thing. Meditation helps you stay present and reduce stress.

Apps such as headspace help you meditate.

Read (10–20 minutes)

Reading first thing in the morning is efficient. You’ll gain new knowledge before heading off to work and ensure you read every day.

Journal (5–15 minutes)

Track your progress and plan out your entire day/week with a journal. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. If it’s easier, write down your most important tasks in a piece of paper.

Choose a healthy lifestyle

“All the money in the world can’t buy you back good health.”–Reba McEntire

To grow your income you need to be at your best.

Without proper health, everything falls apart. This is why you need to focus on your health.


Be active and go to the gym 2–4 times per week. I have trouble going to the gym, invest in some equipment to do your workouts at home.

Eat healthier. Cut out sugar and high-calorie items (i.e. bread, pasta, etc.) Prioritizing your health isn’t a short-term move, it’s a lifestyle change. As with forming any habit, it’ll take time.

Instead of going to the gym or eating healthy immediately, start slow. You’d be less likely to burn out and build a strong foundation for forming healthy habits.

Up your reading-game daily

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75”–Benjamin Franklin

How often do you read each day?

Random articles and work-related tasks don’t count.

If you aren’t reading books or online articles with intention, you’re dying. You’re not dying physically but you aren’t growing intellectually. This will hurt you from building wealth.

It’s easy to look at wealthy people and believe their success isn’t as hard as it seems. The truth is, it is. If success was easy wouldn’t everyone be successful?

This doesn’t mean you can’t reach success. It only means you’ll have to continuously learn new things. No one specific thing will make you wealthy, but the accumulation of knowledge over time will.

Everyone has a busy schedule.

Instead of complaining wake up one hour earlier to read and 10–20 minutes before going to bed read more. On your commute to/from work, listen to audio books. During your break time, read 5–10 minutes.

Every little adds up. By reading a few minutes between your breaks each day, you’ll make time to read one or two books per month.

Transform your free time to be productive

Podcasts are becoming popular.

They’re convenient to listen while at the gym or during your commutes to/from work. But, don’t only listen to entertainment shows. Listen to business, finance, and other educational content.

Podcasts are a great way to consume up-to-date information from subject-matter experts.

Learn new skills with free and paid education

The way we learn new information is changing.

You now have the option to learn from thousands of online courses, free and paid. Taking courses makes sense if you’re looking to advance your career or learn a specific topic.

Boost your odds succeeding hiring the right coach

“Income seldom exceeds personal development.”–Jim Rohn

Investing hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on a coach can feel absurd.

But, a coach can help you grow and improve in areas you alone can’t spot. Best of all, hiring the right coach can help you take your side-hustle to the next level. Here are other ways coaches can help you:

  1. Introduce you to their network
  2. Hold you accountable to take action towards your goal.

Only because a coach can help you doesn’t mean you should go into debt hiring one. Open a separate savings account to save up for the right coach.

Best frugal living ideas


Photo by Tamara Garcevic

Most of the advice so far focused on building better habits and managing your money better.

Frugal living requires more than only adopting quick frugal tips. It requires you to step out of your comfort zone and adopt a better lifestyle.

But, it helps to know some frugal saving tips you can take action on. Here are some of the most effective frugal living moves you can make to help you save money:

1. Learn to say no effectively

Learning when to say no can save you money.

For example, accepting to go to the bar every weekend with friends is costing you. Instead, mix things up and offer a cheaper alternative. More important learning to say no to yourself.

If you want to buy a new TV, promise yourself to save up for it instead of using your credit card. Assuming a TV is something you value, say no to other things to have the budget to buy valuable items.

2. Earn money from things you no longer need

According to data, the average US household has 300,000 things.

Odds are there’re items lying around your house you can sell today. Spend an hour or two during the weekends to search your house for items you no longer need. Then, sell these items on places like eBay or Letgo.

3. Obtain free money with your groceries

You have to buy food regardless.

Why not earn a few dollars afterward?

This is possible thanks to apps like Ibotta. Take a picture of your receipt and Ibotta deposits your cashback within 48 hours. Whether you earn a $1 or $2 per each shopping cycle, this is free money.

4. Home-cooked meals will save you money

It’s good to eat once in a while.

The problem is doing this daily for work.

You can end up spending anywhere from $200-$400 per month eating out. Instead, meal prep your lunch for the entire week. And, if you enjoy fancy restaurants, budget to do this once or twice per month.

5. Leave your credit card at home (use cash instead)

The best way to fight debt is to stop digging yourself further into it.

Credit card debt is common nowadays. But, this doesn’t change the stress it brings to most people. Your best option is to leave your credit card at home and pay for everything in cash.

If you have a strict budget, it’ll be challenging at first but worth the effort.

Live a frugal life and be happy

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.”–Benjamin Franklin

Living a frugal life isn’t the same for everyone.

It starts by defining what your priorities are and working backward from there. Once you know your priorities, have a purpose. Being frugal isn’t easy, no matter what level of frugality you choose to live.

That’s why you need a purpose sustaining you through the tough times. Forget about applying all the frugal hacks out there. Instead, build strong money-habits helping you live a frugal and happy life.

Learn to manage your money better, remove debt, and invest in yourself. Eventually, you’ll earn a higher income, feel happier, and be less stressed about money. Isn’t this worth being frugal for?

About the Author Chris

Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.

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