In our consumer culture, spending money is an everyday part of life. We buy food, care products, and tickets to our favorite band's concert. But it can be hard to be frugal in a world full of advertisements urging us to hand over our hard-earned cash for the best new blender.
Someone asked for frugal living tips on a popular online financial advice forum that considerably changed people's lives. Others came to the comments section with their best ideas.
1. Wait 48 Hours
If you have an online shopping habit and spend way more than you mean to, you could implement this clever 48-hour trick. For example, if you're scrolling through your favorite store and see a cute top, stop yourself before pressing purchase. Instead, wait two days and then ask yourself, “Do I still desperately want that shirt?” Chances are, your excitement faded over the past couple of days, and you won't be as eager to pay.
2. Time is Money
Get in the mindset that your money is directly linked to the hours you work. Say you make $20 per hour. If you're looking at a $200 air fryer, consider it ten hours of work. Is your precious time worth it?
3. Add Items to Your Wishlist
Many online stores offer a wishlist option, so you don't have to add items directly to your cart. Instead, try adding something you want to your wishlist rather than pressing purchase immediately. That leaves you some time to consider your purchase logically rather than making a rash decision.
4. Find Fun Free Activities Near You
Leisure activities cost money, whether attending a concert, attending a baseball game, or even subscribing to a streaming service. But did you know there are often community events and venues you can access for free? This includes libraries, some local festivals, parks, and sometimes museums.
5. Is the Memory Worth the Price Tag?
Suppose you're deciding whether or not to lay down a load of cash on an exciting event like a concert, vacation, or fancy dinner. In that case, one commenter suggests you ask yourself: “In six months will I be glad I have this memory or glad I have the money?”
6. Eat In
It can be so much easier to grab a sandwich at the local deli than meal prep at home for lunch at work. But if you bring your food, you'll be surprised to see how much money you can save. One user who recently quit going out to lunch so often adds, “Nowadays when I do go out for lunch, it tends to be much more intentional and enjoyable.”
7. Pay in Cash
For some people, paying with a credit card feels like swiping a plastic rectangle that magically allows you to take home a new toy. Suppose you have trouble mentally connecting your card to your money. In that case, you may benefit from using cash to make most purchases. “When you pay with cash, you can see in real-time how much money you waste on junk you don't need,” writes one respondent.
8. Dumpster Diving
While dumpster diving may not sound glamorous, it can save you tons of money on food and many household items that would otherwise end up in a landfill. One self-proclaimed dumpster diver claims, “In 20 minutes a day, on my way to work, I earn more than $100 in goods and great quality food.” Just make sure to research your state's laws on dumpster diving before you give it a try.
9. Buy Items Out of Season
Instead of buying a bikini in the middle of July, try to time your purchases in the off-season to save money. While this method takes some planning and foresight, once you get in the habit of buying items out of season, you may see a significant improvement in your bank account.
10. Make Coffee at Home
Every coffee drinker loves to stop at Starbucks or a local coffee shop to fuel up in the morning. But if you do this too often, your financials may suffer. One user who used to spend $35 at Dunkin Donuts every week quit the habit five years ago and has managed to save big. “I take that $35 weekly and have it auto-transferred into a savings account. I have over 9k saved at this time.”
What other frugal life hacks have saved you money in the long term?
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This thread inspired this post.