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How to be frugal: eight tips to help you save money and change your life

how to be frugal

How to be frugal in eight simple ways

If you haven’t heard about the cult of thrift, it’s basically a lifestyle commitment to saving more and spending less. Sounds simple, right? Being thrifty or frugal can look easy on its face, but it requires some real mental realignment in terms of how you move through the world as a shopper and spender. We’re going to show you how to be frugal. It’s not hard to save money when you have the right tools and the right outlook on life.

Read on for our intro to frugal living, and how spending less relates to retiring early, getting out of debt and more.

how to be frugal

Frugal vs cheap

How to be frugal without being cheap? There are ways to be smart about money while still being generous. Instead of being closed-fisted, frugal people do more with less money. That doesn’t mean people who are frugal never spend money, they’re just more thoughtful when they do. Frugal habits are about more than saving a nickel or a dime. Frugal living is about setting long-term financial goals.

Eight frugal tips: frugal living ideas

Here are our top frugal tips. With the right mindset, you can start saving, living debt-free and even think about early retirement. Minimalist living and frugality are on the rise and being a conscious consumer (dare we even say, an anti-consumer?) can certainly help you save money.

How to be frugal and happy? You don’t need to be cheap and make huge sacrifices.

1. Give gifts, just gift smartly

You can get great sales and buy meaningful items without splurging. Instead of picking up the tab at a night out to dinner with friends, try treating people to one-on-one coffee dates.

2. Grocery shopping goes budget with coupon clipping and more

You can hack your grocery bill. Shop on sale items, look at the final sale produce rack (then cook it up tonight) and stick to the outer aisles. Fresh items on the outskirts of the store are cheaper (and healthier) than everything in the inner aisles of grocery stores, like packaged chips, cookies and soda. Don’t be afraid of coupon clipping or using apps that offer a roundup of flyer deals.

3. Use technology to score thrifty deals

We rounded up our favorite apps that help you save money. From barcode scanner apps that comparison shop for you on the fly, to browser extensions that automatically apply a discount code for you at checkout, there’s no shortage of tech tools available to make being frugal more automatic. Integrate these tools into shopping, especially for big-ticket items from major retailers.

4. Don’t be afraid to buy secondhand (it’s a frugal mindset)

Don’t jump to purchase, do your research first. Buy secondhand from Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and other online communities.

5. Nurture your prudent side, not your impulsive side

Many of us have experienced a “shopping high” at some point or another. It’s a flood of dopamine when we make an impulsive choice, and it feels pretty good. The truth is, by shopping impulsively, we’re rewarding ourselves for unnecessary spending. How to be extremely frugal? Become a person who covets prudence over impulsiveness.

6. Spend a little more on items so they last longer

If you’re shopping for really cheap items, chances are they won’t last as long. Frugal shoppers believe in buying something once and getting a ton of use out of it. If you find yourself shopping for jeans every six months, you might want to reconsider your purchase. Conscious consumption, thinking about what you buy and why you need it, will help you save in the long term.

7. Minimalist living should be your goal

Do more with less. You don’t need five different backpacks or three pairs of running shoes or 10 different ball caps. Dig into your closets and look at what you’ve got double of. Can you sell some of those items online and make some extra cash? Everything counts.

8. A little bit over a long time

The average American saves less than 5 percent of their disposable income. That’s a lot of spending on extra, non-necessity items.

How are your savings stacking up? You can save by putting a little bit away over a long period of time. You’re not going to see overnight results with frugal living. A long-term commitment is where it’s at. It makes sense that many frugal people cite early retirement as a financial goal. They know it’s worth it in the long run.

How to retire early? Be frugal with money.

Nonretired Americans, on average, say they will retire at age 66. If you’re staring down that number and thinking, I’d like to retire earlier, incorporating frugal practices into your life might help.

It turns out prudence and planning rank high among the qualities and behaviors of people who retire early. The state of mind of early retirees speaks a lot to early retirees’ ability to make do with less. These frugal types appreciate what they have, and consider themselves affluent with less income than people who retire later in life. Minimalist living, saving money and frugal living can all help people get out of debt and enjoy early retirement.

People save more with Ting Mobile: the number one cell phone provider for frugal people

The Kennedy family saves at least $135/mo since switching to Ting. That’s huge, don’t you think? They did it with just a few simple adjustments to their mobile usage, and by applying a more frugal mindset. They download content over Wi-Fi and like to see how low they can keep their bill. They think of it as a fun contest each month.

Now that’s frugal thinking. With Ting, the Kennedy family can take steps toward controlling their budget and setting those savings aside for the future.

Here’s the beauty of Ting, your bill can be as low as you want each month. We don’t set a minimum beyond the $6 line fee.