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What is a frugal minimalist? The answer might surprise you! After all, this lifestyle isn’t solely about living frugally or living minimally, but rather a combination of both; frugal minimalism is the art of spending less and saving more money, without sacrificing the essential things in life.
You might even say it’s the best of both worlds!
Read on to find out more about how to live a frugal minimalist life and enjoy all of the benefits that come along with it.
What does frugal living mean?
Frugal living is money-centric; it’s about cutting costs and living within your means. Frugal people are thrifty, look for ways to spend less and save more, and make wise choices with their money.
What does minimalism mean?
Minimalism is value-centric. Minimalists aim to reduce the non-essential items in their spaces, be they physical, mental, emotional, or digital.
It’s about clearing the clutter and making space for the things that you love, use, and need in your life. You can read more about the basic principles of minimalism here.
Frugal Living vs Minimalism
So what’s the difference between frugal living and minimalism? While there might be some overlap, in practice these two lifestyles are functionally different.
For example, a frugal person might purchase large quantities of items in bulk in order to save a significant amount of money, whereas a minimalist isn’t worried about getting the best deals but rather tries to buy less; they don’t necessarily want a lot of extras taking up space in their home!
Also, a minimalist might not be afraid to buy a high-end or luxury item if they feel like it is the perfect thing for their home. A frugal person would be more likely to shop around and try to find less expensive items or wait for a sale to save money.
But what if you combine these two philosophies?
Then you get frugal minimalism, of course! Remember, minimalism is a spectrum, and there are all sorts of minimalists, so it’s all about finding the right balance that works for you in your own life.
Let’s explore how to become a frugal minimalist and live a richer and more abundant life with less stuff, more money, and more freedom!
How to Live a frugal minimalist life
The benefits of frugal minimalism are many:
- more money
- less stress
- more freedom
- a happier home
- and reduced environmental impact, to name a few
So, how can one become a frugal minimalist? In this blog post, we will share our top 25 tips on frugal minimalism to get you started.
Also, please note that frugal minimalism is closely related to financial minimalism, which you can find out more about by reading this helpful guide.
1. Change your mindset
Practicing frugal minimalism starts with the right mindset. Frugal minimalists prioritize quality over quantity, are intentional with their purchases, and appreciate a less is more mentality. (Read more about this “less is more” principle in this blog post.)
Establishing the right mindset will naturally influence your way of life and guide you in your day-to-day activities and decision-making. A savvy frugal minimalist thinks differently about ownership.
They don’t follow fashion trends or try to keep up with the Joneses. They are mindful about their purchases and only buy things that serve a purpose or that they will use regularly.
Instead of thinking, “I need this,” they would ask, “Why do I need this?”
2. Start a budget
Going through the process of creating a budget will help you set the right priorities and challenge your decision-making. Every item on the budget is vetted for relevance.
A good budget can help you track your spending, eliminate bad money habits, and keep you accountable for every dollar spent.
Do you need help starting a budget? Download this popular FREE two-page budget planner [PDF]
3. Being in control of your finances
Being in control of your finance starts with tracking your income and expenses. After all, you can’t save what you don’t have (and you’d be surprised at how many people have no idea where all their money goes each month!)
If you need help with this, check out this blog post on how to track your spending for 30 days to save more money.
4. Start an emergency fund
No matter how great a plan is, life sometimes throws unexpected financial curveballs your way. These events can be costly and stressful.
Here are some of the most common financial emergencies that can make or break your savings:
- medical crisis
- dental emergencies
- major car repair
- job loss
- unexpected home repair
An emergency fund gives you peace of mind to live a worry-free happy life. The rule of thumb is 3 to 6 months of expenses coverage.
5. Buy less
Buying less is frugal living 101. Why? Because the less you buy, the more money you save, the fewer things to worry about paying upkeep and maintenance costs for, and less clutter to deal with!
It’s that simple.
6. Plan ahead
When you plan ahead, you put yourself in a position to make better decisions. If you plan your meals in advance and shop according to your meal plan, you’ll not only save time, reduce impulse buying, and be more efficient, but also you’re also less likely to waste food.
Which in turn, saves even more money.
When you have a busy day ahead of you, why not intentionally cook a little extra for dinner so that you can have leftovers the next day for lunch?
7. Keep shopping lists
Writing down what you want on a list is almost like therapy – the mere act will reduce impulse buying.
One mindful shopping tip that minimalists swear by is the 30-Day Rule, which is that when you find a non-essential or non-food item that you want to buy, you write it down in a list.
Then you take 30 days to think about it and if you still want the item at the end of 30 days you are free to buy it! Around 80% of the time, you’ll find you don’t want that thing anymore.
8. Buy quality, not quantity
Buying quality over quantity places more value on the standard of things rather than the price tag.
For example: when it comes to clothing when you spend less and buy fewer high-quality, timeless clothing items you actually save money in the long run because they end up lasting way longer than cheap fast fashion textiles.
It’s better for you and the environment!
9. Cancel memberships and subscriptions
Cancel subscriptions you don’t use, such as gym membership, magazines, entertainment, subscription boxes, and more.
For instance, if you hit the gym infrequently, see if you can work out at home, go for walks or runs, and use free workout programs on Youtube instead. Depending on where you live, you could easily save $100 per month or $1,200 a year from eliminating that one subscription!
10. Save money on utility costs
Here are a few ideas on ways to save money by making your utility bills lower.
- Hang laundry to dry. Running the dryers can burn up a lot of electricity. An inexpensive drying rack can not only will you save you money on your electricity bill, but your clothes will last much longer, meaning you need to shop less.
- Shower instead of a bath. However, that all depends on how long you shower. On average, a 10 minute shower uses 25 gallons (95 liters) of water, while a full bath can use up to 50 gallons (189 liters) of water.
- Install a programmable thermostat that can regulate the water temperature of the boiler. Turning the temperate down at night and mid-day when you don’t expect to use hot water.
- Replace your light bulbs with LED lights, which last much longer and use less energy.
- Turn off the lights. Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you don’t need them or leave a room. Make sure everyone in the family follows that
- Unplug electronics when not in use. The Department of Energy estimates that you can save 10% on electricity each month if you unplug appliances you don’t use and power down electronics before going to bed.
11. Participate in a money challenge
People who think frugal living is boring and that saving money is a chore are unlikely to want to keep up the frugality long enough to see real benefits!
On the other hand, if you stay positive and think of budgeting and saving money as a fun challenge, you’ll be more likely to want to continue to save in the future!
One great way to do this is to have a gamification mindset; set yourself goals and challenges to complete and make frugal living or minimalism more fun.
Here are three popular challenges:
12. Save money with meal planning
Meal planning is a great way to save money and eat healthily. When you plan your meals ahead of time, you can prepare meals around the ingredients you have in your pantry and only buy ingredients you don’t have.
Plus, it allows you to use up all the food you buy and not let anything go to waste. You can also take advantage of sales at the grocery store and plan your meals around what’s on sale.
You are more likely to cook at home when you have a meal plan, and we know eating at home saves big money.
13. Set boundaries and say “NO” to things
When you say no to the things that don’t matter, you will have more time, energy, and MONEY to spend on the things that do matter to you.
When you start thinking about your money in terms of how much time you need to work to afford an item, you are less inclined to make impulse buys and more likely to save your money for things that will improve your quality of life.
14. Time is money
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Frugal people might end up spending too much time in the effort to save a few bucks – and time is money!
For example, they might dedicate hours and hours hunting deals or driving long distances to shop for grocery items on sale but end up costing themselves more money than they save in gas and wasted time.
While comparison shopping and taking advantage of sales is a sensible way to save money, the value of time should not be ignored.
Time is potential. Imagine what you can do if you had more time on your side?
Perhaps you would take that big-data analytics course that can help you land a better-paid job or a promotion? Maybe you could grow your side hustle to the next level and build it into a full-blown business?
Remember, when you choose between expanding on your earning power and saving some money, the former is typically the better choice for long-term prosperity.
15. Find free ways to have fun
Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of free or cheap ways to have fun, such as:
- going for a walk in nature
- visiting a local museum
- having a picnic in the park with family
- going to a community event
- playing tourist and exploring your city or town
- borrowing books from the library
- camping in the backyard with your children
- cooking a special meal at home together
16. Cut transportation costs
If you are a two-car household, consider cutting out one car. According to AAA.com, the average annual cost of car ownership in the US has increased to a staggering $9,282 per year.
This number is comprised of depreciation, insurance, fuel, and maintenance/repair. It goes without saying here that less is more.
Things to consider when you are struggling with getting by with one car:
- keep grocery runs to the weekends
- use Uber/Lyft
- walk or bike when possible
- take public transport when possible
- telecommute if your job allows it
RELATED POST: 20 Tips to Become an Extreme Minimalist – If You Dare!
17. Pay off debt
Paying off debt is almost always a sound financial decision, especially if you have high-interest rate credit card debt.
High-interest rates suck up most of the monthly repayments, and only a little goes to pay down the principal balance you owe to the credit card company.
You can take a balanced approach, prioritizing paying down debts and making a small contribution towards your savings account if you need to establish an emergency. Once you have enough savings to cover six months of your expenses, start to pay down debt aggressively.
We eliminated over $250,000 in debt in five years with this balanced approach!
18. Sell clutter for cash
Getting rid of clutter doesn’t have to feel insensible and wasteful when you can sell your cutter to someone who actually wants it.
Not only does this help alleviate financial guilt, but it also reduced the likelihood of your stuff ending up in the landfill, as most donation centers are overflowing with more stuff than they can handle
19. Spend cash (no credit)
If you’re someone who just can’t avoid the temptation to overspend and end up accumulating expensive credit card debt, then it’s time to stop using your credit card!
You can use the cash envelope system to help you commit to the cash-only mindset.
Studies have shown that people spend less when they don’t use credit cards. After all, you can’t spend more than what you have when paying with cash.
20. Become a DIY master
You might be surprised how many hidden talents you discover when you start DIY.
Not only does it save you money instead of hiring somebody to do it for you, but it also gives you great satisfaction to see something you made with your own two hands.
Even if you’re no Mr. Fix-It, you can still find small ways to save money by DIY-ing at home. Almost any skill you could ever want to learn can be taught in a quick YouTube video; I have learned how to make small mends to make clothes last longer and my husband was able to fix a leaky kitchen sink himself!
21. Shop your home
Before you buy new furniture or home decor, see if you can repurpose any of your existing furniture or household items instead.
We have repurposed several furniture items in our own home, which saved us a bunch of money and a lot of fun, all without sacrificing the unique style we wanted.
For instance, we turned a kitchen cabinet that didn’t fit into our kitchen into not one, but TWO new storage items: a stylish office cabinet for my husband’s office and a dresser for our boy’s bedroom.
We also modified an IKEA Billy bookshelf to store our vacuum cleaner.
These small hacks saved us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, just from repurposing items in our house for new use.
22. Drink more water
Water is healthy for our bodies, but it also saves us money.
We often reach for sugary drinks or coffee without even thinking about it, when all we truly needed was a glass of water. Your body will thank you with radiant skin, a smaller waistline, and feeling great.
23. Reduce food waste
Studies indicate that up to 30% of the food people buy goes waste. This means that if a household spends $600 a month on food, they are throwing $180 of that away.
Add it all up, and you get a total of $2,160 each year of food waste! You’re not talking chump change here.
24. Shop second-hand and thrift stores
Shopping second-hand is a great way to save money without sacrificing style. You can find high-quality items at a fraction of the original price at thrift stores.
25. Join Buy Nothing groups
The Buy Nothing Project that started in 2013 has reached global communities, connecting people to share freely with one another.
People can post gifts of items or services others can use and ask for things they could use, all free of charge and with no strings attached. What a great way to save money and the environment!
You can also join local Facebook Buy Nothing groups to find, get rid of, or swap items for free.
Frugal minimalism has made such a wonderful impact on our lives, and we love sharing the joy of it with other like-minded families like us.
Do you have any wonderful frugal minimalist tips or hacks you would like to share? Please drop them in the comments below!