A Beginner’s Guide to Frugal Living: 24 Easy Ways to Start Saving

Learn how to live well for less with the help of coupons, creativity and a little elbow grease.
Kelsey SheehyAug 31, 2021

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Frugal living isn’t about being stingy; it’s about being resourceful.

It’s about finding ways to save where you can — whether via coupons, freebies or DIY hacks — so you can focus your money and attention on the things you value, whether that’s saving for a comfortable retirement, traveling the world or living a debt-free life.

Here are 24 ways to be more frugal in your everyday life.

Stretch your food budget

Frugal foodies: Here’s your recipe for eating well on a budget. Just add a dash of creativity, a dollop of planning and a healthy dose of ingenuity. Cooking, and even growing, your own food can help you stretch your budget farther. And simple tricks like splitting entrees and hitting happy-hour specials can help you dine out on a dime.

Frugal food tips

Use freebies and coupons to save when shopping

Coupons, deals and freebies are your friends. You can use them to save money on things you were going to buy anyway — a tenet of frugal living. But use them mindfully, rather than as an excuse to spend on something you don’t actually need.

Frugal shopping tips

Take advantage of free entertainment

Free, fun things to do are all around. Date night? See a free concert or pack a picnic and head to the park. Family outing? Go for a bike ride, volunteer together or check out a museum.

Frugal entertainment tips

Embrace DIY projects

You typically have two options when you need a product: buy it or make it yourself. Although heading to the store (or to Amazon) is convenient, DIY is often cheaper. But that does require another type of investment — time.

A little craftiness can also make the items you own last longer. Free online tutorials and community classes can teach you to mend everything from clothing to small appliances.

DIY tips

Find savings on household expenses

Before you call the handyman, consult YouTube. There, you can learn how to do tasks as varied as fixing a leaky faucet or remodeling your bathroom. Getting frugal at home can also mean examining your monthly bills for ways to save on electricity, water, cable and even your cell phone bill. The more you save on those expenses, the more you can spend on (or save for) what's important to you.

Frugal home tips

Could you save even more?

  • If you still want to cut expenses, jump on the phone. For any bill you pay – utilities, credit cards, loans, mortgage, insurance – call that company's customer service team. Politely request to have your bills lowered or deferred. Don't be afraid to ask to speak with the representative's manager, who may be in a better position to help you.

  • Call 211 or visit 211.org. This free, confidential service helps many people pay bills and rent, secure food, access the internet and more.

Before you build a budget
NerdWallet breaks down your spending and shows you ways to save.

Save money on holiday shopping

Check out NerdWallet's Black Friday guide for top deals and money-saving tips to help keep your holiday budget on track. Black Friday is Nov. 26 this year.