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7 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money NOW

7 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money NOW

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Frugal Living Tips to Save Money NOW? Some people are really feeling what I like to call the Covid-19 Pinch. Many families across the United States had to switch from in-person schooling to virtual schooling, which resulted in one of the parents usually having to stay home. Add that to the business that temporarily closed like restaurants and movie theaters, and some that are still closed like theater venues and cruise lines? The ripple effect that led to more layoffs spread through our communities.

7 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money NOW

We saw a few stimulus checks from the Government, unemployment was enhanced for a while, and food stamp cards were popular, with food pantries taking a heavy hit. While there were a bunch of people that avoided all of this, many were still (and are still) dealing with this mess. They need to save money, and save money fast!

7 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money NOW article cover image of a woman holding money

Some people were able to pick up part-time work by helping stock grocery store shelves or jumping into the gig economy and delivering for Instacart or Door Dash. I shared how you can easily open an Esty digital store and start making money. Some can’t because they are either high-risk or have to be home with the littles. So, we have whipped up a list of Frugal Living Tips to try and help you make the most of what income you currently have.

Quit Smoking

I know this doesn’t apply to everyone reading, and to those that it does, it may seem harsh. According to the National Cancer Institute, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28, which means a pack-a-day habit sets you back $188 per month or $2,292 per year. What could you do with that $188 a month? Add in all the benefits to quitting besides just saving the money: you smell better, your sense of taste improves, your skin won’t wrinkle as much, oh yeah – then there is that whole cancer thing...

Here is A LINK to a cigarette cost calculator – showing not only how much money you would save, but the time you bank when it isn’t spent smoking. And this video can help you quit:

 

Save Money by Rounding up Purchases

If you use your debit card or checkbook when you write the total spent in the ledger, round it up to the nearest even dollar amount. At the end of the month, when you are balancing your checkbook (yes, you should be doing this every month…) you will see that you have MORE money than your ledger tells you that you do. Take that extra money you saved and flip it into a savings account or sub-savings account. Unless you really need it NOW. If you don’t think that this adds up, why does everyone from McDonald’s to Firehouse Subs ask if you want to round up for their charity?

Use a Save Money Jar

This is a hot debate in the world of frugal living tips but is for all of you who are like me and like to spend just cash. Here is how this works: spend ONLY bills, not change. All the change you have goes into the “save money jar” at the end of the day. Your pockets will be lighter, your purse will be lighter, you won’t have that tempting pile of change in your car to tempt thieves into breaking a window… it is a good thing in many ways! At the end of the month, you will be surprised at how much your change really turns in to.

Now, here is the hard part. Many banks no longer use a coin counter as a service. UGH. That either means you have to count it out and deposit it after counting, or you take it to a place like Wal-Mart that has coin counter machines that charge you a little bit of your hard saved bounty.

Save Money on Gas

We still have to go places, even if most things are closed. While gas in my area hangs at around $2.09 a gallon, I have been filling the entire tank for under a buck. We have talked before about Tips for Saving Money on Gas, and Local Wisconsin Rewards Programs to Save on Gas, but the real discounts come from your grocery store perks cards.

My favorite right now is HyVee. Their Fuel Perks program means I use my store loyalty card at each checkout. I hunt out the days they have bonus offers, like today? I will be there because, for every $60 you spend, you get $0.60 in fuel perks points. Add that to the coupon I have for the week that gets me another $0.10, and a few things I have on my list that are in their ad for points like Artisan bread $0.25 or Aaron Jones Touchdown Squares Cereal – buy 5, get $0.50 in fuel perks – which I plan to make my S’more bars out of. Can you see how fast this is adding up? I will have over $120 in groceries, after the sales specials, and coupons and end up with about $2.85 in Fuel Perks from this one transaction.

If gas is $2.09, and I have $2.85 per gallon (up to 18 gallons) in credits? I will get an almost free tank of gas and have about $0.80 to roll over for my next gas fill up. Let’s do the quick math for you – $2.09 times 18 gallons that add up to $37.62 in gas — or I save over $37. Just for grocery shopping at one store very carefully.

Roundy’s has one too – but you can’t take more than a buck off your gallon per gas at a time. The bonus here? You earn points EVERY time you shop, on everything. You get 50 points each time you get a prescription from their pharmacy. Every 100 points are the same as a dime off. In a pinch, it is better than nothing, but I find myself scoping out HyVee more often.

Check which grocery stores around you offer a gas perks program – it really adds up!

Save Money Grocery Shopping

I have taught Coupon Clipping 101 classes and can’t touch on a one hour class in one article but let’s look at some of the posts I have shared:

Bottom line? Know what you have on hand to work with. Look at the weekly ads and cherry-pick the sales specials to fill in what you are missing for the meals that you will PLAN out. Here are some tips for meal planning, especially when it comes to the details, like planning out your grocery list.

  • Take Inventory FirstAny meal planner knows that this is the first step. You need to know what you already have for a few different reasons. First of all, many leftovers can be used for different dishes, so you don’t have to waste them. It is also a good idea to take stock so you can plan meals based on certain ingredients you have. And lastly, it keeps you from adding an item to your grocery list that you already have.
  • Start with the Simplest Meals FirstYou may only plan your dinners or every meal of the day for each member of the family. To simplify this process, just start with the simplest meals on your list. For many people, this is breakfast. If you know you want to make an omelet every day for breakfast, you can write down the ingredients you need, and be done with that portion of the meal planning. Make sure you not only write the meals you need for each one you are planning, but also the ingredients, and the number of ingredients. Having more than one chicken dish? Look at the amount you need for each and get a good total of how much chicken o pick up if you have run out completely. This is going to prevent multiple trips to the store in the middle of the week.
  • Work on Your Grocery ListThis one is completely up to you, but it does help to organize your list. You know what order you go in the grocery store, whether you start in the produce section or do the deli and bakery first, so that is how your list should be ordered. This is going to make shopping the fastest possible, and also avoid aisles with foods you don’t need, but are often tempting to you. Don’t need snacks? Avoid that aisle completely by having an organized list. This all takes us to:

Save Money by Cooking At Home

It is no secret that a family of four can’t get out of McDonald’s or Culver’s for under $30 anymore.  Cooking at home is probably one of the top frugal living tips and saves you a ton of money as restaurants have to mark food up anywhere from 3 to 5 times the cost to pay for the overhead. The real trick to this is Planning Your Meals a Month Ahead of Time. This guy cracks me up and shares why HE doesn’t eat out.

By planning out every dinner, possibly even lunch and breakfast if your personality is super organized, you take the stress out of cooking. You can put the menu on your fridge and rest easy knowing that you won’t have to spend your commute wondering what you’re going to whip up, when in reality, you’re already so hungry you’ll eat the first thing you see in your fridge.

Reasons to Meal Plan a Month in Advance

  • Meal planning can seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. Sitting in front of a blank menu can be hard if you’re used to rummaging in your fridge until you find something that looks good every night. Filling in a week’s worth of meals can be tough, let alone a month. Tough as it may be, however, there are distinct advantages to meal planning a month in advance.
  • By planning in advance, you’ll be able to slash your grocery bills, possibly in half. Stores want you to buy more than what’s on your list. They place tantalizing items on display that are hard to resist. The less often you’re at the store, the better. By planning a month in advance, you only need to do a large shopping trip once a month and fill it in with things like milk, bread, and eggs. Plus, you’ll save more because you’ll be able to buy in bulk.
  • It’s not as hard as you think. By setting up a meal rotation, you can easily set up a month of meals. This will save tons of time, leaving you free to cook and enjoy your meals.
  • Meal planning can help make being healthy easier. Not only will it help relieve stress, but it will also let you plan your meals exactly, down to their macros. If you’re following a certain diet, meal planning is the only realistic way to stick with it. By planning far in advance, you’ll lower costs, be able to shop in bulk, and will save time. In a world that never stops running, it can feel refreshing to have a little time to rest.

Tips for Meal Planning a Month at a Time:

In most respects, planning out your meals a month ahead of time is the same as a weekly meal plan. There are just a few things to consider:

  • When and where to grocery shop: Just because you are planning a months’ worth of meals, doesn’t mean you are prepping and cooking them all at the beginning of the month. You may want to split this up into weekly or bi-weekly grocery trips so your food doesn’t spoil.
  • Whether or not to prepare them ahead of time: This is a really important decision to make, and one that will determine what types of meals you make. If you like freezer meals, you can definitely make more of them at once, as opposed to salads you put in jars, which won’t last nearly as long.
  • Factoring in changes to your schedule: You probably know what is going on in the next week but in the next month? Maybe not. This is why it’s good to have backup ideas for at least a few days out of the month when things may not go exactly according to plan.

Save Money Eating Out

Yes, if you know How to Avoid Eating Out you can save a lot of money, but there are times when we just want to eat something we didn’t have to make. I know this seems contrary to frugal living tips 101, but it is a mental sanity break occasionally.

At the beginning of my savings quest, when we did the spending audit, we realized that we ate out WAAYYYYYY too much. It was a lot of money we shelled out for a nice time, but nothing left to show for it. (sigh) This video shares how SHE saves money eating out – some cool tips.

One of the first things we did was to turn our credit card reward points into $25 restaurant gift cards! We had enough points to get 40 (yes, forty) different cards for national chain restaurants.
We also took advantage of Restaurant.com – they often do sales for $25 gift certificates for just $2. If you catch their sale early enough, you can score some GREAT deals on neat places to eat! Some do have restrictions as to when you can go, and what your bill needs to be so you can use the gift card.

Combine those gift cards with a night that kids eat FREE – order only water – and you have a VERY inexpensive outing.

The Bottom Line?

This all boils down to you. You have to look at each thing you plan to spend money on as either a NEED or a WANT. When you are trying to save money fast, it is the NEEDS we focus on – the WANTS can come later when the budget has freed up a bit. If you follow even just one of the 7 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money NOW we shared, you can have some bonus cash in your pocket at the end of the month.

Looking for more Frugal Living Tips? Try some of these great recipes:

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