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The beauty of frugality is that adjusting your spending habits in just a few key ways can have a big payoff for your full financial picture. Saving money by being frugal doesn't require sacrificing everything you love. Instead, you can find out how to get what you love at a better price while determining what you can live without. To start saving more now, try implementing these seven key frugal habits.
1. Eat Out Less Often
Do you consistently order takeout in the evenings, grab breakfast on the go or rely on ordering lunch multiple days a week? You might find that introducing just this one frugal habit—cooking more meals at home—has a big impact on your monthly savings, especially if your dining out budget is currently one of your biggest expenses.
Not only will you spend less if you eat out less often, but you'll also have more control over how healthy the meals you cook are. Try looking up recipes online for inspiration and building time to slow down and cook in the evening into your routine.
If you have a busy routine, prepping your meals ahead of time and even freezing bulk meals can help you ensure you're well-fed on weeknights without paying a premium for convenience.
2. Buy Used
By making it a habit to buy secondhand whenever you can, you can stack up savings without actually having to forgo anything. When you need to buy clothing, glassware and other kitchen goods, home decor and furniture, school supplies or even a car, consider buying secondhand.
Buying anything brand new often means paying full price, whereas buying things used can lead to big bargains and doesn't necessarily require you to compromise quality. For example, if you find yourself in need of a new pair of jeans, check out your local thrift shop or consignment store. You might find name brand options at a fraction of the cost. For even more savings, look for local "buy nothing" groups.
3. Use a Purchase Waiting Period
Try implementing a waiting period to curb impulse shopping. Whether you're in the habit of shopping online or meandering the mall and walking away with retail items you hadn't really intended to buy, taking a breather before you buy can help.
Rather than handing over cash on the spot, simply jotting down the things you want to buy—and telling yourself that if you still want the items in a week or a month that you'll buy them then (and only then)—you may find that the impulse to buy often fades. If it doesn't, it could give you time to look into other frugal options, like buying secondhand.
Employing a waiting period, you may even be more content with the things you do buy, given that you had your mind made up about them for a substantial period of time before you took the plunge and invested the cash. That means more savings and more satisfaction—a win-win.
4. Adjust Your Thermostat
Whether it's blasting your home with cool air in the summer or turning up the heat in the winter, getting your space to your preferred temperature can be costly. Turning your thermostat back 7°F to 10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting can save you 10% per year on heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
That may mean being a bit hotter in the summer, or needing to put on a layer to stay comfortable in the winter. But if you can hack it, it's a simple, frugal way to spend less each month.
5. Opt for Generic
When it comes to saving money at the grocery store, choosing generic or store brand goods over name brand is an avenue to instant savings; for many items, there isn't a detectable difference.
For example, buying store brand frozen vegetables or tomato sauce won't make a huge impact, especially if you're integrating those ingredients into recipes and souping them up (pun intended) with spices. You'll be able to cook the same meals for less, and you likely won't notice the difference.
6. Buy for Life
Cheap, trendy clothing from fast fashion brands, shoes that cost little and fall apart quickly or furniture produced cheaply with flimsy materials may save you money upfront, but is not a great investment and may even cost you more over time.
Instead of buying what's on trend, invest in high-quality items that you'll love through the seasons and over the years. Just keep in mind that this type of buying costs more upfront, so you'll need to be selective and clarify your priorities before you buy.
For instance, as the temperature drops and you consider splurging on multiple trendy sweaters to carry your wardrobe through the season, consider instead buying one high-quality sweater that you love. Look for a style and color that matches much of what you already own. Over time, you might find that minimizing what you buy and paring down your possessions to fewer, but higher-quality, items will help you save a lot of money and still bring satisfaction.
7. Use Your Local Library
If you frequently buy new books, pay to rent movies, pay for audiobooks or even attend pricey events, taking advantage of your local library could help you pile up savings. Whatever you like to do for entertainment, consider your library a community hub for accessing what you want without shelling out cash to get it.
Many libraries also offer modern updates such as access to a "library of things," through which you can borrow useful items, or provide free passes to community events, art museums, performances and more. Check your local library to see what resources you could be accessing for free.
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Good Credit Brings More Savings
Shifting your mindset to embrace frugality in small ways can lead to big savings. Likewise, minding your credit and ensuring you're embracing good credit habits that increase your score over time is a key way to save more money down the line. The higher your score, the easier it is to qualify for advantageous loan terms when you need to borrow, such as when you buy a home or finance a car.
To see where your credit stands and receive personalized tips to boost your score, sign up for free credit monitoring through Experian.