How to Be Frugal
Personal finance

How to Be Frugal – The PocketGuard Guide to Simpler Spending

If you want to make sure you have more money in your pocket and increased financial stability, then there’s an important concept you should adopt. This isn’t something that only financial experts know about; it’s a traditional value that we can all learn from – Frugality.

Frugality is not just about penny-pinching, it’s about making sure that your money works for your sustainability. Becoming frugal means using your money to the maximum effect possible by eliminating needless spending, making your personal items last for as long as they can, and being wise about the economic and financial choices you make.

If you want to become frugal and exercise greater control over your day-to-day budget and your money in general, then you’ve come to the right place. By adopting the frugal mentality, you will be able to create a stable financial foundation, one that will ensure you’re able to make major financial decisions with greater certainty and success. The great thing about frugality is that it is remarkably simple to adopt for most people, and it won’t be long until your sound budgetary decisions pay off dividends with better financial security.

What Does Being Frugal Mean?

A simple definition of what it means to be frugal is aptly provided by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: ‘Someone characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources.’ Frugal people make whatever they own last as long as they can, whether that be money, food produce, personal property, or whatever else you can think of. 

It’s important to remember that frugality in this context doesn’t just refer to watching the money in your hand closely; it’s an all-encompassing concept. Whatever actions you take on a day-by-day basis, you should think about how each of them helps you save money.

If you have found it difficult to watch your spending or have ever felt that your food goes to waste all too often, you shouldn’t be angry with yourself. This is very common in modern society. 

Being able to live modestly on your own terms has never been more difficult in the age of 24/7 advertising and social media, where the ‘fear of missing out’ makes you want to spend your money on things you don’t need. Be kind to yourself; needless spending is something we’ve all done at some point. What’s important is recognizing it as a problem and addressing it properly.

What Are the Benefits of Being Frugal?

Adopting the frugality mindset has several benefits, with one of the most attractive being that it helps you become more financially stable and successful. By saving money you would have otherwise spent needlessly, you’ll be able to put your money to work as an investment in your future. Some of the other reasons why being frugal is a good idea include:

  • If you have debt, it’s much easier to clear the money you owe if you adopt a frugal living mindset. In a short time, you’ll realize just how much money you can save to pay off your obligations.
  • Being frugal has some health benefits that you may not realize. For example, we often buy food that’s unhealthy and expensive for snacking; becoming frugal means you’ll cut out these purchases and improve your health in the process.
  • Being frugal means that you’re able to achieve greater financial freedom as your spending will be significantly less affected by current trends, advertising, etc. Your spending will be entirely on your own terms.
  • Have you ever experienced stress due to not having enough money? Being frugal means that you will have significantly higher control over your money, and that means much less stress.
  • Frugality also contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. Overconsumption of finite resources is one of the greatest challenges we face as a society, and by becoming frugal, we become more responsible for our planet and its future.

Ten Tips For Frugal Living

There are many frugal ways to save money; in fact, the options you have at your disposal in adopting the frugality mindset are nearly limitless. There are some obvious things you can do right now to cut down on needless spending; other tips are more related to lifestyle changes you can adopt over time; and some ideas may surprise you.

Many members of the PocketGuard team follow the frugal mindset out of choice; it’s a philosophy that can generate real dividends in your life, not just your finances. We polled our colleagues about the things they do to stay frugal, and we’ve included their answers below.

1) Identify Cuts You Can Make To Your Spending

The first thing you should do is identify all your monthly outgoings and identify what bills, services, etc. you can cancel to cut your spending. Before you start, you can set a specific percentage that you want to cut your spending by; for example, a 40% cut would mean you should remove 2 out of 5 expenses.

Start by cutting expenses that don’t do anything for you; you’d be surprised at how many hidden subscriptions most of us have, then move on to cutting services you don’t use infrequently. Then you can consider working on finding alternatives, i.e., going running instead of paying for a gym membership.

2) Buy Items Based on Quality not Quantity

Being frugal means making things last, and that usually involves buying things that are more expensive but will last significantly longer than their cheaper alternatives. For example, if you buy a pair of boots for $50 that lasts for a year, that’s a poor deal compared to buying another pair for $150 that lasts for four years.

Whenever you go out shopping for new items of clothing, electronics, or whatever else you may need, ask yourself how long each particular item is likely to last. Buying cheap goods on impulse is tempting; we’ve all done it, but it costs you so much more in the long run, so always focus on quality, not quantity, when making purchases.

3) Eat At Home as Much as Possible

We all like going out for a nice meal with friends and family, but do you ever find yourself going out for food regularly, or maybe even all the time? Buying food from restaurants and takeaways can become very expensive, so if you want to become frugal, start by making most of your meals at home.

Eating out at a restaurant should be a special occasion, not a routine event, and takeaways are overpriced and almost always terrible for your health. By cooking your own meals, you’ll save a huge amount of money and significantly improve your health, and while cooking might seem difficult for some, it’s a lot easier than you may think.

4) Shop Around for Utility Providers

If you’re in a position to shop around for utility providers, and we recognize that some of them may not be due to local laws or monopolies, then you absolutely should. In localities where you can choose between various gas, electricity, etc. providers, you can look for a cheaper alternative to your current plan.

Many utility providers try to make it seem difficult to cancel your contract, but at the same time, many companies will provide incentives for you to sign up with them, including cheaper rates and sign-up bonuses. If you make this a habit by checking your plans on an ongoing basis for cheaper alternatives, you will become more frugal.

5) Recycle As Much As You Can

Going green isn’t just about helping the environment; it can also save you a lot of money. Whenever possible, make sure you reuse and recycle as much as possible. There are so many ways that you can incorporate recycling into a frugal lifestyle, and you’ll realize in a short time just how much money you can save.

Re-use everything that you can; always ask yourself before you throw something away whether or not you can fix it. Never use single-use items, and always prioritize products that will last a long time. Some companies and local authorities also offer buyback programs for glass bottles, aluminum products, etc., meaning recycling can even put money in your pocket.

6) Focus on Thrifting

Thrifting for second-hand clothing can help you live modestly, and when you know what you’re looking for, it becomes easy to purchase high-quality clothing in good condition. This is a great introduction to becoming frugal, and you can take this idea to the next level by thrifting for second-hand furniture too.

A lot of furniture today is pre-made and of generally low quality. It might be easy to assemble at home, but it’s not going to last you for a long time. By looking for high-quality second-hand furniture, you should be able to find something for your home that will last you a long time and look much more unique.

7) Do DIY Around the Home

Do it yourself (DIY) means fixing and building things around your home without having to rely on a paid professional, and while you should consider whether you’re able to do so, if you are, this is a great way to save money. DIY also has the added advantage of providing a tremendous feeling of satisfaction after you complete a home improvement yourself.

Just make sure that you can afford the improvements that you want to make for your home, so set up a budget before starting any DIY project. Also, while things like painting, decorating, woodwork, etc. are within the remit of most people, you should still leave complicated tasks like electrical wiring and plumbing to professionals unless you have experience.

8) Be Smart When You Go Grocery Shopping

Each grocery shopping trip should start with a frugal budget where you set a maximum amount you’re able to send for each trip. You can even set sub-budgets for different categories. Then, when you go shopping, always look for deals like buy one, get one free, or look for products that may be reduced in price because they will go out of date soon.

Always sign up for loyalty programs offered by different stores and supermarkets, and consider sticking to one brand, as this tends to result in higher rewards due to your consumer loyalty. Finally, when you go shopping, stick to your list, don’t buy anything on impulse that you don’t need, and focus entirely on the essentials

9) Quit Smoking and Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

We’re not here to tell you what to do with your personal life, and if you want to smoke and drink, we recognize your decision as a free-thinking adult. With that being said, if you want to live frugally, quitting smoking and moderating your alcohol intake (or stopping drinking overall) will go a long way towards helping you save money.

It’s pretty obvious why. Tobacco and alcohol are expensive, mostly due to government taxation, so giving them up or at least cutting down on them is one proven way to be frugal with money. It obviously has numerous health benefits too, so that might be another factor that you want to consider.

10) Plan Your Travel Wisely

Since the COVID-19 pandemic ended, people have been spending huge amounts on travel once again, and why not? We all remember being stuck inside for months at a time. Being frugal doesn’t mean that you have to give up on travel; it just means that you should plan your budget and itinerary to a great degree of detail.

Compare the costs of everything that goes into your trip, including air tickets, accommodation, car rental, you name it. Also, consider traveling at times of year when it’s going to be cheaper, and visit resorts when they’re not in their peak seasons. You’ll be amazed at the savings you can make by traveling like this.

How PocketGuard Helps You Be More Frugal

Becoming frugal is just like building your own house; the key to success is establishing a strong foundation, so when you’re starting out, focus on the fundamentals of good financial management. The first step you need to take during this process is to ensure that you are able to control your day-to-day budget. This includes managing your daily expenses, bills, and outgoings to ensure that you’re never without money in your pocket.

PockertGuard can help you with this process, as we provide one of the simplest-to-use and most effective daily budgeting apps available on the market. Our app handles repetitive chores like bill monitoring and spending tracking, allowing you to concentrate on money management activities with custom trackers and categories.

One of our other standout features is the ‘In My Pocket’ budget tool, which you can use to calculate your disposable income after your bills and expenses have been accounted for. This makes it simpler than ever to be frugal, as you’ll know exactly what you can spend on your day-to-day activities.

Becoming frugal and financially stable has never been easier thanks to PocketGuard, so if you want to learn more about using our budget tool, send us a message via our contact form. One of our specialists will get in touch with you and tell you everything you need to know about making your money work better for you. In the meantime, remember, being frugal doesn’t mean you miss out on fun, so enjoy making better fiduciary choices knowing you’re investing in your future.


Dmitry Savransky
Dmitry Savransky

Chief Editor

Dmitry graduated from National Technical University of Ukraine ‘Kyiv Polytechnic Institute’. He joined PocketGuard at the end of 2021 as a Head of Product with strong background in fintech. Dmitry i...

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