20 Things Frugal People Do some tips and tricks that will save you money!

I'm cheap. You can call me frugal, thrifty or a good shopper.  Perhaps even a mindful consumer. If I had to pick a word to describe my spending style, I think I would like to be considered resourceful. 
According to the dictionary, frugal means sparing or economical with regard to money or food. I suppose that's a good word to describe how we chose to live.  And it's one most people can relate to.

I really like to live well on less.  That's sort of my motto.  We started out married with a newborn at the ripe old age of 20 and 21, part of being frugal came out of necessity. Next year, our oldest son is starting college, and well, we are going to be going back to working with a pretty bare bones budget. However, through the years, we have found out just how far we can push our budget without really feeling like we are missing out on anything.  We really do live pretty darn well on less. 

I've written a list of 20 things that frugal people do every day to save them money.

1. They don't buy souvenirs

We like to travel. While that isn't necessarily frugal, we think that spending money on life experiences, trumps being cheap. We see value in the experience, not in the cheap crap that you buy at the gift shop walking out. So no, my kids don't have a stuffed panda from the San Diego Zoo, or mouse ears from Disneyland, but that doesn't mean that they don't still have memories from those trips.  

2. They don't eat out often

The majority of our meals are eaten at home. I pack lunches for our whole family during the day, and at night we share a meal together. Eating out just isn't cost effective for our family now that we have what amounts to four adults {my daughter is 13, my son is 17} and one child.  Even a cheap dinner with a coupon at a fast food joint will set us back easily twenty five bucks, and it's inevitable that the kids will still be hungry.

3. They shop sales and combine coupons

I rarely buy something if it isn't on sale. It's even better though if I can find something on sale and with a coupon! That's when I stock up. If my kids ask for something that's not on sale at the grocery store, they know it's almost always a no. 

4. They price match

Most stores remain competitive by price matching. This requires a little bit of research, but with the ease of smart phones, you can usually do your research in the aisle of the store. Price matching saves me not only time, but money.

5. They combine errands

Gas prices are dropping {hallelujah!} but it's still important to combine your errands. I try to hit all the stores in one area at the same time not only to save on gas, but also to save on my time. My husband always tells me that my time is worth something. 

6. They shop around

I am not loyal to one store or another. I do have some favorite stores, but if someone asked where I did the majority of my shopping I couldn't narrow it down to only one store. In a typical week, I will go to three different grocery stores hunting down their loss leaders from the ads. The same goes for big ticket items. I always shop around before I make a purchase.

7. They know their limit

Early on in our marriage, my husband and I said that if we spent more than $50 on any item, we would talk to the other person before buying that item. That's when we really didn't know each other's spending style. I rarely purchase anything over $20 without seriously questioning my purchase and my husband just rarely purchases anything.  There is usually a dollar limit in my head that I have associated with most purchases.  

8. They do the math

I'm constantly doing math when I am buying something. Is it cheaper to buy the bigger size toothpaste or the smaller one or is the cereal by ounce cheaper at the grocery store or at Costco. I recently got a new iPhone and while the cost out of pocket is dang on expensive, the math worked out over the life of the phone and with our plan to save us money in the end. {you can read this post on saving money on cell phones here}, so we purchased the phone and found our own plan.  

9. They cut out cable

It drives my husband batty when I say that we don't have cable. We actually have very basic cable with only network channels. We also have Netflix streaming and a Tivo. You can read more about it here.  On average, we pay less than $25 for our entertainment budget {including movies} each month.

10. They have a full pantry and freezer

I buy in bulk when I find a good deal. I freeze bread and lunch meat and if I find a sale on meat, I stock up. Because I cook most of our meals, I like to have food on hand so I'm not rushing around trying to figure out what to make for dinner. 

11. They are selective spenders

We often put off spending and rarely miss the item we were tempted by. The best way to not spend money is to just not buy anything. It's like telling someone who wants to lose weight that the key is diet and exercise.  The same thing is true of saving money. You want to save money, then don't spend it!

12. They do the work themselves

My husband changes the oil in our cars. I clean my own house, we do our own yard work. If we can do the work ourselves, we usually chose that route.  I do love to treat myself occasionally with a coffee from Starbucks, but I can make it at home for far cheaper and I usually do that the majority of the time.

13. They plan ahead

Failure to plan is planning to fail. The biggest financial trap I've seen people get into is not planning ahead. This could be as long term as planning for retirement but it could also mean that you are planning ahead to avoid spending money. When the kids were little and we would be out and about, I would plan our trips around nap times and meal times. I didn't want to be stuck without food on hand for the kids and be forced to eat out. Planning ahead saves you money in the long run.

14. They don't buy things at full price

As a family we buy 90% of our clothing second hand. Most of it is stocked up during garage sale season {tips on how to buy second hand clothing for the whole family}, but for those items I don't buy second hand, I never buy something full price. I rarely tempt myself by even going to the mall, but if I do, the only racks that draw my attention or are even a consideration are the sale racks. You can see this post for more specifics on how we save money on clothing

15. They use the library

We make good use of our local library. We rarely spend money on books. I see great value in books, though if you are only reading a book once or twice, I don't see value in the price tag. We find book titles that we are interested in and put them on hold. This sometimes requires planning {see number 13}, especially if you are leaving on a trip and need a book or two to read on vacation. We also use their free local museum passes and schedule in the free events that occur at our local library.

16. They bring it from home

I have a fully stocked fridge at home, so we pack our lunch if we are spending the day at the museum. I have reusable water bottles with me in case we get thirsty. If I have something at home that I might need, I bring it along instead of buying it. 

17. They buy quality items

I would rather pay a little bit  more to get a quality item that doesn't need to be replaced as often as a lower quality item. This means that I know the quality brands and gravitate towards those when I make a purchase. This doesn't mean that I buy the quality items full price, this only means that I know which brands are higher quality and I focus on those if I can.  For instance, when I was looking for a new bike for my youngest son at a garage sale, I had a particular brand in mind because I knew that it was a higher quality item. This same rule applies when I am shopping for used clothing. I know my brands and buy higher quality items because even after they have been handed down multiple times, the clothing is still in good shape.

18. They cook from scratch

Processed foods are more expensive. While they are more convenient, they aren't healthier and they usually cost more. I rarely, if ever, buy processed foods. 

19. They use {and reuse} what they have

It's not uncommon to find a bottle upside down in one of our cabinets. We squeeze every last drop out of the toothpaste tube and aluminum foil and ziploc bags get washed and reused. We try to make the best use out of what we have before we replace it. That sometimes means being creative and doing things a different way than we planned, but it's best to use what we have on hand rather than spend money on something we don't need.

20. They join rewards programs

Getting the best price for something is almost always on my mind. We have a rewards credit card {that we pay off each month} that gives us cash instead of points so that we can spend the money on whatever we want. I have rewards cards at nearly every store I frequent so that I can get the best prices at checkout. We make the most out of the purchases that we do make, so that our spending dollar goes further.
I'm constantly learning and would love to learn from you! Perhaps you have a tip or two that I didn't add to this list. I would love to hear if you have anything to add. In the meantime, making a little change here and there can save you big change in the long run! 

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