I came across an article a few days ago that was actually pretty good. Not too many articles garnish my attention these days but this one did – 10 Daily Habits of Frugal People... on Eat Local Grown.
The list was pretty much spot on.
- Frugal people use everything to the last drop.
- Frugal people like to stay home.
- Frugal people don’t spoil their children.
- Frugal people have productive hobbies.
- Frugal people don’t shop as a form of entertainment.
- Frugal people set aside emergency funds.
- Frugal people save pennies through each day.
- Frugal people cook from scratch
- Frugal people do things the low tech way
- Frugal people repair things
The article described the way my family does things fairly accurately – then it had me reflecting on my own family’s smaller habits – things that we do that perhaps help us save more than the average family.
There are several other points we could attribute that help us too ~ so we’ll share.
1. Frugal people can find ways to have fun without spending
This is something that everyone probably does, but there are huge differences between how frugal & non-frugal people go about this.
Going anywhere with 5 kids (if not more) is costly – as much as would love to visit the Renaissance Festival, take the kids to the movies or even head to the Wildlife World Zoo, combined with the cost of feeding our family at some point, that’s not really a frugal choice for us.
Even with a coupon… it’s out of reach.
Using our own activity list we mention each weekend, combined with a one-time yearly investment in the POGO pass, we have found it more cost effective to stick to those activities. Then, small hikes, road trips that aren’t entirely that far, and local activities like taking a picnic while heading out to see some of the best Wildflower locations in Arizona is just as much fun for our kids and easier on the pocketbook than dishing out $20 or more for one person to get into a venue… or dropping $50-$60 on the entire family’s movie admission not to mention the cost of popcorn (hence why we invested in a projector – movies at home).
There are even a few dozen FREE museums in the Phoenix area that help our cause.
Before kids, and before 5 kids .. we really didn’t think about the cost of venues or activities – but with 5 it’s at the forefront of our mind. 99% of the activities we would like to do get discarded in order to be able to keep ourselves in line with the budget we have set aside each month.
2. Frugal people see reliability over cost
Although cost is important, reliability is a little higher up on the scale ~ you might be able to get something for cheap at the 99 Only store, but you are also paying for the poor quality, the fact that it might not last, and etc.
The same goes for quality home purchases – we got an Instant Pot two years ago this past December and had a family member tell us “But I thought you were a saver not a spender”?
We are. But that one appliance has also been a quality purchase that allows us to make yogurt, avoid eating out and being more self sufficient — so for us, it was a frugal purchase. Considering we use it 3-4 times each day, I’d say that it’s a frugal option for a family who wants to save.
Same goes for Cast Iron Cookware – sure .. you might pay just as much, but Cast Iron will definitely go much farther and last longer than your teflon pans (not to mention they are better too!)
One of the most notable virtues that a frugal person holds is the ability to look for items that will be reliable for them for a long period of time.
3. Frugal people shop used before buying new
Whenever our kids are in the market for clothes, which is often, shopping a sale online is not an option for us – unless of course it’s our oldest. The second hand stores (both online or in store). 98% of our children’s clothing is all hand me down or secondhand, that extends to shoes, too. It’s the only way to keep it affordable – not to mention they grow so fast.
If we need more dishes, plates or even homeschool supplies, we’ll always run to Goodwill or Savers to find something secondhand – using sites like Freecycle or even asking a neighbor if we can borrow tools is a great way to reduce your expenses too.
Buying new is great, but sometimes .. being able to grab something used for a fraction of the price or even being able to share with neighbors is an incredible feeling.
4. Frugal people are proactive
Frugal people are extremely proactive about the money they earn – they monitor and control their spending constantly- their finances are never on auto pilot. They take the time to find ways to reduce their expenses constantly — they generate much needed extra income through side hustles or passive income.
They sit down routinely to reasses their budget, making changes as needed on a regular basis. .. making sure to maximize the money they save into savings and investments for long term goals. Even more, they understand the importance of compound interest over time.
5. Frugal people use community resources
Almost every community has a TON of resources available to the general public – for example, the library offers study rooms, books and even DVD rentals. You can find FREE garden seeds through the Seed Library in town, and you can take part in any of the free city parks around town to include splash pads.
There are also sites like Freecycle, and the Buy Nothing Project that are also great resources too.
Every city has free resources – but like anything else, it takes your efforts to find them so you can use them to benefit your family (and pocketbook!)
6. Frugal people think long term
A frugal lifestyle is very much focused on the long term – though it does also touch on da to day choices too, most people that are free from debt with substantial savings have a lifestyle that has been many years in the making: Spending less than what they earn, and sticking with that mentality year after year.
The mindset is all about long term – the focus on a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle without any thought to saving long term will not make you win with your money in the end.
7. Frugal people can cook from scratch
One of the easiest ways to destroy your budget is to buy packaged food at the grocery store. Here’s a tip: it’s not really food ;) Even if you are couponing for that food in a box, 80% of the time it’s cheaper to make your own.
Boxed pasta mixes, granola bars and even cereal are extremely expensive to buy – not to mention, they lack the nutritional value of real food. It’s always cheaper to buy those healthy pantry staples and learn how to make your own food – cooking from scratch is rather simple, not to mention you are not relying on someone else’s labor.
Learn how to make your own food by doing your own self research – take the time to find those things that your kids will love that you can make at home and you will find yourself making less grocery trips. Stocking up on those bulk pantry items 1 time each month will allow you more time to have with your family AND learn the basics of making your own food. Invest in appliances that will make your life easier and help your cause.
8. Frugal people find contentment in doing and not buying
Life in general can be stressful – from long hours at work to family stresses, we all relieve stress in different ways. While some people may take out their stresses in the form of retail therapy and shopping, frugal people deal with their stress in different ways.
They might use time with family on a walk or with a soccer ball to relieve stress… they might spend some time in the garden. Or, they might throw on the sprinkler in the yard and relieve stress by watching their kids giggle and scream as they slip down the slip’n slide in the backyard.
They might prefer to spend time in the kitchen cooking to relieve stress, or even doing a little yard work. Or, running for 30-40 minutes – or another form of exercise. There was a time when I used to go to stores out of stress or boredom, but looking back that didn’t help my stress OR boredom, but simply gave me another reason to spend.
9. Frugal people plan ahead for food
Millions of Americans roll through drive through lines daily – from Wendy’s to Subway, McDonalds and even full blown restaurants – in some cases it’s truly because they didn’t prepare adequately at home.
In other ways it might be because they are just simply tired and want convenience.
No matter what it is, it’s costing some serious cash – especially over time as a habit. Frugal people plan ahead for meals. They, too, get just as tired or feel the pinch of the busy weekday, but they push that aside and take the steps required to have food on hand at home for their family.
We could probably roll through the drive through too, but I’m not willing to do that, because seriously – I have to throw down $50 – $60 at Subway for us all to eat, and that is money I could spend on real food and so real food it is.
Frugal people have planned in advance with cheap pantry staples – if they don’t have meals planned, they have the ingredients required to throw it together in a hurry, OR they have something in the freezer they can pull out to avoid having food delivered or picking up take out.
This takes a lot of fortitude – it means that you need to constantly be aware of what you have on hand, that you have taken the time 1-2 times each month to stock up your pantry. It requires that you keep easy & family friendly recipes on hand, and it might even require that you take the time ahead of time to have chicken and beef pre-cooked and ready to go if you are in a pinch.
Sometimes it means making food when you are tired or you don’t feel like it.
10. Frugal people are content
This doesn’t particularly mean they are content with where they are at financially, but more in a sense that they are content with what they have, and they don’t get caught up in the shopping fever just to have “stuff” or, have what the neighbors have.
Not only do they know how to rent or borrow, they shop mindfully – and they look for ways to multipurpose items or make items stretch to avoid making an additional expense. They have learned how to be self sufficient by making items at home .. and don’t particularly get caught up in need, new gadgets or fashion.
Frugal people take the time to be grateful, they know how to fight that uncontrollable urge to shop for things and they have learned how to be content with the items they have (and can afford!) instead of looking to more stuff to satisfy that desire.
On a final note
Do these habits come naturally? Not usually – they can spring up from experience I guess. These are habits I find that apply to our family – and although they were never previously habits we had, they formed over time.
Five children, personal experience, and a developing appreciation for a mindset or commitment to spend less than what we earn.