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Frugal living is your #1 money saving trend!

12 March 2024
5 minute read
father and daughter

Frugal is fabulous – if you want to save money! Frugal living will help you manage your budget and ensure that you live well within your means. But it will require a mindset change!  We take a look at what frugal living is, how to put it into practise, and how much you could save by living frugally every day.

Frugal living 101

Frugal living is about buying only what you need when you need it! You don't spend on the luxuries or non-essentials, so there will be some sacrifices. But, there will also be lots of savings.

When you live frugally, you will always ask before spending:  

1. Do I really need this item or service

Frugal living requires you to distinguish between needs and wants, so you only spend on real needs. A need is something you cannot do without, such as food, a home to live in, transport to school or work. A want is the frills, such as the top of the range car, prepared and take-out meals, luxury six-bedroom home with pool and sauna.

To work out if you have a need or a want, get back to basics and think about if you could do without an item or not. For example, you may need a haircut to look presentable and neat, but you want the latest style and colour and expensive products? The need is to look presentable, the fashion statement is the want and you can do without it. You will only spend on the need when you practise frugal living!

There is an element of doing without and making sacrifices when you live frugally, because you will have to learn to cut down on items that are nice to haves and instead choose to save money and prioritise long-term financial stability. Learning to make sacrifices is essential if you are going to learn to live frugally. Start small and go easy on yourself. Change does not happen overnight.

2. If I really need this item, how can I spend as little as possible acquiring it?

Frugal living requires you to become a professional bargain hunter! You need to find out how much the item or service you need costs and how you can buy it as cheaply as possible.

Negotiate prices, use loyalty programmes or cash backs also look for and compare special offers. Consider buying second hand from places like Facebook Marketplace or even swap items or services with friends and colleagues. But always make sure you get value for money! You want a bargain, but quality, not cheap and nasty.

Finally, investigate DIY options. You may need to learn some skills for some of these, which YouTube or a friendly neighbour or colleague can help with! Remember, DIY can cover many areas!

  • Cook all your meals at home and don’t waste leftovers
  • Cut your own hair, including the family’s and for the ladies do you own nails
  • Grow your own veggies at home if you have the space
  • Decorate your home using hand-made items and art
  • Maintain your own garden and clean the house yourself
  • Make your own cleaning products such as using bicarb and vinegar

This step requires planning and research, so you get the best deal you can and spend as little as possible. You will also need to take up the challenge of learning new skills! You may even be able to hire out your newfound skills and start a profitable side hustle!

Top tip: Start small if you are worried the change to frugal living will be too drastic! For example, pick one spending category in your budget and start practising frugality there, such as household groceries and cleaning products.

3. How do I make this item last as long as possible?

Maintain, maintain, maintain! Wear and tear will reduce the lifespan of items, but if you look after your possessions and maintain and service when required, they will last longer, and you won't need to replace as often.

For example, clean items after using them such as your lawnmower and hair clippers. Regularly service items like your car and air conditioner. Repair and replace parts such as seals on your fridge and freezer. And take care of your phone and invest in a good screen protector and cover.

Frugal living in practise

It's time for your monthly household cleaning shop, replenishing your supplies of detergents, soaps, polishes, sponges, dusters. These items, as you know, can really drain the budget! When you practise frugal living, however, they are an expense category that allows you to save big!

The first step is to identify the need, which is to clean your home.

The next step is to work out exactly what you need to clean your home. This may include a dishwashing liquid or washing machine detergent and dishwashing pods, as well as basic household cleaners. Some of these you may need to purchase, but you can also use cheap and readily available substitutes! This includes vinegar and bicarb for cleaning your home, and using old t-shirts as dusters. For items you cannot DIY, you scan the specials, use coupons and discounts, buy bulk, buy no name brands, and get the best and cheapest deal possible. In addition, you make sure you make cleaning easier, such as by rinsing plates and wiping them down before getting out the detergent. Finally, when you do use your detergent or polish, you use only what is needed and recommended. So that's a teaspoon of washing liquid not two tablespoons!

Net result: Your household cleaning bill is down R300 for the month, and some of the items you purchased last an extra two weeks, reducing next month's bill as well!

The frugal living way

Frugal living is a conscious choice that will take time before it becomes a habit! Remember to sleep at least one night before you spend, buy the specials, and use only what is needed. 

Is frugal living a radical move? It depends on how far you take it! It is about back to basics and minimalist living, which could be quite trendy! But it is also about doing without, planning ahead, and spending what is necessary, not what you have. Remember to always ask what the actual need is before you decide to spend. And avoid impulse spending, it just costs too much!

Make frugal living about having more, not sacrificing everything

Frugal living may be a big change for you and your family, especially if you have been spending a lot on luxuries! But, take it one day at a time, start small and take manageable steps on your frugal living journey. The savings will start adding up very quickly, that is the promise of frugal living.

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