This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I could earn a small amount of money if you buy something (at no additional cost to you, of course). If you have any questions, please see my disclaimer page.
Are you trying to save money?
There are tons of great ways to save money when you are buying things. Shopping smart, using money catcher apps, cutting coupons and price matching are great ways to spend less cash.
Oftentimes, saving money is equated with living frugally. They sound like the same sort of thing, right? If I am not spending money, I must be living frugally. Well, not exactly…
Saving money is a great first step to living frugally. It requires diligence, persistence and planning, all of which are essential for living frugally. But saving money means that you are also spending money, albeit a lesser amount of money.
Living frugally is more about using what you already have. Using less of what you are using. Choosing to do without.
“Frugality is defined as is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.”
This means that living frugally involves limiting how much you consume in all aspects of your life, and reducing the amount of waste and excess that you have.
So you see, truly living frugally requires more than just spending less cash.
It requires completely changing from a consumer mindset.
Have you ever tried to change your own mind? It is not easy! But oftentimes, our mindset is developed by our behaviors.
So, start by changing what you can – your behavior.
Here are 5 behaviors to start to help you change to a frugal mindset.
1. Use up your trial and travel sized toiletries.
For years, I saved every teeny tiny bottle of shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, toothpaste, lotion, and soap I could get my hands on. As someone who was taught the value of a dollar at a young age, I knew that saving things like this was important.
In reality though, saving it alone was not a wise, money saving technique. It was foolish! It took up space in my house and contributed to mental clutter. All in all, I was doing the exact opposite of living frugally. I needed to actually USE these toiletries to start living frugally.
So I did. I stopped buying all of these things and started using what I already had.
It took me almost nine months to go through all of my shampoos. That is A LOT of trial sized bottles of shampoos! I just kept a little glass vase of them beside my shower until, eventually, they were gone! As an aside, my hair actually improved from using all these different shampoos.
Anyways though, use your travel products up. If you are saving them because you may take a trip, save two. Do not save nine months worth like I did.
2. Cut open “empty” bottles.
I have a shocker for you. They are not empty folks. I don’t care how much you have squeezed and what tool you used. There is still product in there. Cut open toothpaste tubes, sunblock bottles, make up bottles, etc. Sometimes, I am able to use the “empty” tube or bottle for another two weeks after I would have thrown in away. And that translates into money savings. More importantly, it is a great way to start changing your behaviors to get you on track for a more frugal life.
Along the same lines, pop the inner lids off those Bare Minerals foundations and use a thin makeup brush to get the last bit of concealer stick or lipstick out (though really, has anyone in the history of time ever used up a lipstick?).
But speaking of using up old lipsticks…
3. Use old products.
If you are a saver (and typically people who are interested in living frugally are savers), you probably have a bunch of old lipsticks, hair products and cleaners that were not quite right for one reason or another. Unless you are allergic to them or something, use them up!
Living frugally means making do in some cases. I have a personal rule that I cannot buy a new product until I have used up or discarded all of my old products that do the same thing. This keeps me from saving things for years, cluttering up my space. It also keeps me from spending money to buy new things when I already have something that will work. Last, it forces me to be content with what I have, which is an underlying attitude required for frugal living. A win on all fronts!
3. Fix broken things.
In the last 24 hours, I have glued three Christmas ornaments, two toys, a ceramic snowman’s hat, and a magic wand. Can you tell that I have children, and that it is almost Christmas?
None of these things were essential to fix. But fixing these things instead of buying new ones saved me a bit of money.
More importantly, it hopefully will teach my children how to have a frugal mindset at a young age. In the consumer era that we live in, I could have had another magic wand delivered to my doorstep in 48 hours, for probably less than $10. But it is not always about the money, but rather the practice of using what I already have and imparting this practice on to my family.
Some of my favorite fixers are Gorilla Glue and Durham’s Water Putty.
4. Make foods instead of buying them.
The internet has become a great resource for finding recipes for making all of the things we usually buy in stores. So much “old knowledge” on how to do things has been lost in our day to day lives, but the internet has created an easy way for us to learn how our ancestors did things on their own.
Need inspiration? Check out my Loving Your Table section. It is devoted to bringing you delicious recipes that you can easily make at home. All of the recipes I have listed or linked are things that I used to buy. Now, using staples that I have in my pantry or fridge, I am able to make these things myself. As an added benefit, I know exactly what is going into my food.
5. Shop in your basement.
Before you head out to the store or add something to your Amazon cart, look in your closets, garage and basement. Shopping in your basement takes time and effort. It may require moving things around and sorting through boxes. But you saved all of that stuff in case you needed it later, right? This is the time! You need it now, so find it, fix it if necessary, and use it!
As a rule of thumb, I ask myself this question when I want to buy something: do I have something with the same function as what I want to buy? If so, I don’t buy it!
For example, I want Joanna Gaines’ new Hearth and Hand cocoa pot. But I already own things that keep liquids warm. I have several thermoses. I have given away several thermoses in the last year because I had too many and never use them. I also have a teapot. So I do not need Joanna’s cocoa pot, even though I love it, because I have several things with the same function as that cocoa pot.
To embrace frugal living, use what you already own instead of buying new whenever possible.
So there you have it.
A few simple behavioral changes you can make today to begin cultivating a frugal mindset.
Doing these things will not only save you a little money now, but they will also start you on the path of changing your mindset to one of living frugally.
What are some of your favorite frugal living tricks?