Frugal living skills, not only can they save you a heap of money, they can also add real value to your day to day life.
For me, living frugally is not just about saving money but also making the most of what I have, whether that be money or things.
Honing some of your own frugal living skills can be rewarding and fun.
Following are my recommendations for the frugal living skills worth focusing on, especially if you’re just starting out on your frugal lifestyle adventure.
Frugal Living Skills – The Essentials
1. Planning and Organisation
The foundation of a successful frugal life is planning… Everything.
Yep, everything. From your budget to your weekly menu.
When you plan ahead, nasty surprises don’t happen too often.
The first and most important topic on your planning list should be your budget. Take the time to figure out how much money is coming in and how much has been going out. Budgeting doesn’t have to be difficult or scary here’s an article on budgeting to help get you started.
Make sure you plan ahead for regular and irregular bills, too.
Set some goals for yourself and your family and reinforce those goals by using a vision board.
Save money and time by developing a simple menu plan. You’ll be amazed how much money you can save on groceries and eating out when you have a simple menu plan in place and a few pre-prepared meals in the freezer.
Include general maintenance items in your planning, like when the car is due for its service or new tyres.
And, don’t forget to organise all your paperwork so always have the information available you need, when you need it.
2. Financial Management
Financial management is definitely a core frugal living skill. All the planning in the world amounts to nothing if you don’t know how to put those plans into action. Managing your money is no different.
Good financial management reduces stress, keeps you out of debt, and enables you to reach your financial goals.
And the foundation of a great financial management plan is a budget. If you need some help to get that started, check out:
- How to Fix Your Budget When it isn’t Working
- 11 Free Budget Printables To Help Get Your Money Under Control
Now you’ve got your budget, put it to use.
A popular method for sticking to your budget is using the cash envelope system. Here’s an excellent article explaining how the cash envelope system works from SeedTime.
3. Creative Problem Solving
Sure, there aren’t too many problems you can’t solve by throwing money at them but it takes a creative thinker to solve problems without money.
This frugal living skill will free you from the ready-made-solution world and save you more money than you could possibly imagine.
Reclaiming, reusing, recycling and re-purposing stuff you already have or can acquire cheaply, is a skill that not only saves you money, it’s extremely satisfying, too.
Not sure how to get started? Pinterest is a treasure trove of clever ideas and inspiration.
The knack to being a successful creative problem solver can be learned. Just ask these two questions to trigger ideas:
- How can I solve this problem with something I already own?
- How can I reuse or re-purpose this instead of throwing it away?
Then get creative.
4. Simple food preparation
For most families, the grocery bill is one of their largest regular expenses.
It’s also one of the easiest areas of spending to trim.
One of the biggest impacts you can have on your food budget comes from cooking at home using basic ingredients. Simple nutritious fresh food that’s tasty and keeps you healthy can be much cheaper than pre-prepared food.
If you’re already comfortable with the idea of cooking from scratch, consider adding food preserving to your catalogue of frugal living skills.
Buying produce when it’s in season (and cheap) then preserving it for future use can save you a ton of money.
Preservation methods vary depending on the type of produce but the usual methods are dehydrating, water bath and pressure canning. You can learn more about creating a well stocked pantry using different preserving methods and ‘how to’s’ via this Pinterest board.
Also make the most of your freezer by cooking meals that are ready to reheat for those evenings when cooking is the last thing you want to do.
5. Spend Wisely
The adage, “it’s not what you earn, but what you keep”, never goes out of style. Be sure to spend your hard earned cash wisely and keep as much as you can in your wallet or bank account so you can pay off debt, build an emergency fund, and general savings.
Some of the ways you can do this are:
- Avoid impulse shopping
- Compare prices for big and small purchases
- Consider a spending freeze for a week or month
- Shop the sales for clothing, etc.
- Re-use, re-purpose or buy second hand when you can
- When you can’t buy second hand, buy the best quality you can afford.
6. Do It Yourself
When you have DIY skills you can avoid costly fees for plumbers, and other tradespeople.
But DIY skills can extend to other things as well, like refurbishing furniture, changing the oil in your car, and making your own cleaning products.
There are, of course, times when a qualified professional is essential like with electrical work. Better to pay the electrician than have your house burn down because of an electrical wiring fault.
Don’t think you have the confidence to tackle the whole DIY thing? Start small.
Pick a project you’ve been wanting to try your hand at, and start researching. You’d be amazed what you can find on YouTube in the way of instruction videos. And don’t forget the local library.
The more skills you learn, the less you have to rely on other to do it for you and pay a premium for it.
Don’t make it so hard for yourself that it becomes a punishment, choose to DIY things that your enjoy and give you a sense of accomplishment and only outsource the stuff you despise or requires a qualified professional.
7. Take your green thumb for a spin
Guess what? You don’t need a garden to be able to exercise your green thumb. Or even your brown one.
Gardening is one of the essential frugal living skills because plants can add an enormous amount of value to both your budget and your well-being.
You can grow herbs on your windowsill, vegetables in a pot, strawberries in a hanging basket and even flowers for your table. Fresh edibles and fresh flowers are often seen as a luxury but if you can grow things successfully, you can have these things every day at a fraction of the price of buying them.
If you have a garden, you can go even further and grow even more fruit, vegetables, and flowers. There are a multitude of ideas out there for growing a lot of food in a small area so don’t let a small garden limit your approach.
Indoor plants, especially in your bedroom are valuable, too.
8. Caring for your belongings
Remember the adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?
It doesn’t just apply to your health, it applies to your stuff, too.
If you take care of the stuff you already own, you’ll need to replace it less often. That means, you spend much less over time.
Make it a priority to do preventative maintenance on your home. A classic home maintenance task is cleaning the gutters and ensuring the downpipes are blockage free. Trust me, you don’t want to discover there’s a blockage during a torrential downpour… Like I did… 🙁
Being able to maintain what you own, and fix it rather than replace it, saves you money, reduces the impact on landfill, and helps maintain its resale value.
What should you be maintaining? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Inside and outside the home:
- Regularly inspecting the exterior of your home to detect problems early
- Changing tap washers
- Clearing gutters and downpipes
- Regularly painting or oiling timber sufaces
- Garden weeding, pruning, mowing
- Pest control
- Cleaning carpets and upholstery
- Repairing appliances, furniture and other household goods
- Pet grooming
- Keeping bicycles, etc. out of the weather.
- Ensuring your vehicle is serviced regularly
- Changing oil and oil filter, spark plugs if you can
- Checking tyres for wear
- Keeping your car clean (inside and out)
- Changing wiper blades.
- Replacing buttons and repairing split seams immediately
- Following care instructions on labels
- Cleaning coats, shoes, etc before storing until next winter
- Always putting clothing, etc. away properly (no more ‘floor-drobe’!).
9. Bartering with your neighbours
Bartering has always had a place in human society. And, it’s still a frugal skill worth developing.
Bartering can be as simple as swapping homegrown vegetables for baby sitting or it can be as complex as joining a bartering group.
It’s also great for building relationships within your community. If you have an elderly neighbour you could offer to do some heavy work in their garden for a task like ironing or sewing.
You can also find local bartering groups by searching on Facebook or Google bartering websites.
9 Frugal living skills that’ll save you money
- Planning and organisation
- Financial management
- Creative problem solving
- Simple food preparation
- Spend wisely
- Do it Yourself
- Take your green thumb for a spin
- Caring for your belongings
You don’t have to earn a high income to be able to enjoy a quality lifestyle. Just hone your skills in these nine areas and you’ll find life becomes less stressful and more abundant.
Which frugal living skills do you already use and which will you work on next?