Let's face it - living frugally can be a challenge. Saving money, planning ahead, and stretching every dollar can be exciting to talk about but harder to follow through with in daily life. Luckily, there are many small but significant ways we can incorporate frugal routines into our daily lives, which make a big difference in the long run.
This blog is called Intentional Ways - so as you can guess, I am all about living with intention. There are many things that make up "intentional living" to me, and living frugally is one of them.
Why? Because frugal living is so many things. It is stretching dollars, saving money, seeking deals, and ultimately utilizing the resources we have wisely, and caring for what we have.
We'll analyze ways to live frugally through the following:
making routines to stay on track
worksheets to organize & budget
home organization at the dollar store
home decor on a DIY budget
making commonly used products at home
saving money by cooking at home vs. dining out
grocery shopping on sale
prepping batch freezer meals
taking part in free, fun activities
frugal gift giving for any occasion
You'll find links throughout this post to other blog posts - there are plenty of blog posts that dive into each of these topics in deeper detail, so feel free to check those out for more in-depth tips.
1. Making Routines to Stay on Track
Routines are powerful ways to add frugal and intentional actions to our lives as a whole. Why? Because doing something routinely (whether it be daily, weekly, or even monthly) is a commitment. If we consistently do something, it really adds up to make a big difference in our daily lives over time.
Among all of the topics we'll discuss in this post, the underlying theme is making them intentional routines and habits that will positively affect your goal of frugal living from here on out.
So, we know routines are powerful - and they can also save us lots of money over time. The list of possible routines is endless.
Routines can include many things such as:
looking at flyers for sales before buying an item
tracking expenses and updating your budget
freezing a batch of meals to pull out as needed for to-go lunches
planning meals for the week ahead to help avoid any dining out
Did you know that a morning routine can help save you money and build a better day through being prepared? Check out the post here.
Another very important routine to maintain is self care - which shouldn't have to cost you money. There are many frugal (or even free!) ways you can practice self care, no matter your budget.
2. Worksheets to Organize & Budget
Another habit that really helps with frugal living is to use worksheets to stay organized. Having the structure of a worksheet to guide you in tracking (whether it be your daily schedule, the upcoming month, gifts you need to buy, meal planning, etc.) can really help us to stay on track with our goals and save money.
Why? Well you see, lets say you have a really busy day next week. You could use a daily planner to track what the day will look like, and a meal planner to track meals for next week in advance. This way, even on your busiest of days, you'll avoid either missing a meal because you're so busy or grabbing takeout (which can be expensive!) on the way. This is just one of many examples how organization can help us stay on track and on budget.
All of the worksheets offered on Intentional Ways can be found here!
3. Home Organization at the Dollar Store
There are many things we do at home - from cleaning and organizing to prepping meals and decorating. Home is a place of comfort, and I like to see home as a home base where we can recharge, rest, yet also prepare for what is to come next in our lives. Sometimes, what is to come next is as simple as planning dinners for next week and a monthly calendar of everyone's schedules for the crazy busy month ahead.
Organizing your home can be a challenge, especially if you're on a budget. But it doesn't have to be. Lately, I've been seeing organization items (such as bins and baskets) for more than what my entire spring cleaning budget is! If you have to buy multiples, you can quickly reach the one hundred dollar range.
Some ways to organize for free or on a minimal budget include:
utilizing items you already have (such as reusing/upcycling old containers, tins, jars, and boxes)
using dollar store bins/boxes/trays to organize (I got the cute Hello Gorgeous jewelry tray pictured here at the dollar store)
making use of dollar store items such as kitchen cooling/drying racks for extra storage (pictured here)
getting rid of items you no longer use, and selling them if they are in good condition (it doesn't always have to be a full garage sale, there are many apps and ways to do this online now too!)
I discuss some of these methods further in my Small Closet Makeover on a Dollar Store Budget post, where I completely transformed how my closet was organized using dollar store bins, baskets, and kitchen racks.
4. Home Decor on a DIY Budget
Decorating a home can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling things we can do in making a home cozy and personal.
However, it is also quite expensive. If you walk around any home store and look at even just the cost of one item, you'll notice prices that usually aren't quite budget friendly.
Some of the most cozy and cute ways to decorate on a budget are:
making DIY wood signs (like the one pictured above! I used a piece of wood, paint, and a dollar store stencil!)
using faux flowers
buying cute thrift store mugs & filling them (like with a faux flower)
making your own dollar store centrepiece
printing wall art or quotes & framing it yourself
More DIY & frugal home decor pieces can be found in this post.
5. Making Commonly Used Products at Home
So now that your home is organized and decorated frugally, what's next? Well, most of us use a lot of different products in our homes. From personal care to cleaning products, we typically purchase many of these various items.
One way to save is to either shop on sale or to begin making them ourselves. I will admit, right now I buy most items on sale and only make a handful of items. One thing I love making is DIY wet wipes which are so cheap in comparison to store-bought and are actually more enjoyable too.
There are many options for homemade products including soaps, cleaning products, laundry detergent, shampoos and conditioners, and the list goes on.
6. Saving Money by Cooking at Home vs. Dining Out
Food is expensive. My first tip for saving on meals is to cook at home as much as possible, even if it means packing a lunch or making coffee at home instead of buying it elsewhere.
The meal pictured here is one of my favorites for a work lunch and helps me avoid dining out - a simple protein box. Even if you aren't the best of cooks, saving money by eating at home can be made easier with simple recipes.
Let's take a look at it this way - if you dine out once per week at $20 each time, in a year you will have spent $1,040 on that alone. Even a $2 coffee Monday - Friday all year long is $520. I don't know about you, but I'd rather save that money for something else if I have the opportunity to cook at home most of those times instead. Dining out is wonderful, but I like to save it for special occasions only.
7. Grocery Shopping on Sale
Shopping when items are on sale (and stocking up if they will stay fresh for a while in the pantry) is a great way to save money on grocery expenses. Making items at home (such a bread, muffins, etc.) rather than buying them at the store, is another great option.
Planning out meals in advance and making a list of items you'll need from the grocery store is also a wonderful way to save money. Why? Well, you're cutting out costs by only buying what you need. You also have an opportunity to look for sales in advance and plan your meals around them. I offer some free meal planning & grocery list printables here.
I highly recommend tracking your expenses as well as it makes you realize how much little costs add up in the long run. Tracking expenses is motivating for cutting down on dining out or grabbing a coffee, and even helps with motivation to shop on sale and utilize store rewards programs or discounts when possible.
8. Prepping Batch Freezer Meals
Another wonderfully frugal option is having freezer meals on hand. Freezer meals are fantastic if made in bulk as ingredients are often cheaper if bought in larger quantities.
Some my favorite freezer meals are:
pancakes, waffles, french toast
for lunch & dinner:
pasta and meat sauce
casseroles (mac & cheese casserole pictured here)
In just a few hours of meal prep you could have meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for weeks to come. How awesome is that? A little bit of work today for a whole lot of yum & money saving tomorrow.
9. Taking Part in Free, Fun Activities
Spending time with loved ones doesn't have to cost money - but often times it does.
When I budget, I find this to be the hardest category to cut down, because it means coming up with alternative options that are cheaper but just as fun as going out and spending money on activities.
Sometimes it seems easier to go out for dinner or go see a movie, but there are so many frugal activities we can do with family, friends, or significant others without spending much money (or any) at all.
10. Frugal Gift Giving for Any Occasion
Another item that is important to look at is gift giving, which can really add up over months and years.
I truly enjoy gifting for people's birthdays, special holidays, or even just to show them a little love for no specific occasion. Sticking to budget friendly gifts including DIY projects and outside-the-box ideas allow me to do this while staying in my budget.
The following blog posts will help you find some budget-friendly gift inspiration:
Planning out a gift with a worksheet can also help you decide on the purpose and budget for the gift before you even begin to spend your money on it. Of course, sometimes splurging and buying someone a big gift that they really want is great! Although I'm always one to seek a sale :)
Frugal Can be Fun!
As you can see, there are many small but significant changes we can make to live more frugally. Intentional actions, thoughtful decisions, and finding frugal prices can all aid us in doing so. These ideas are just SOME of the many, many ways we can live frugally.
What is one way you live frugally? I'd love to hear in the comments below! :)