The Top 8 Habits of Frugal People
Would you like to be considered a frugal person?
Frugal people seem to have it all together - they save money and they have a great time with their families. But what does it take to be a frugal person?
Frugal people aren’t superheroes, but rather people just like you and me. Being frugal isn’t something they think about on a regular basis, it just is something they do.
Here are the top eight habits of frugal people and how you can incorporate their habits into your life.
1) They Make a Budget
Frugal people always know how much money is coming into their bank accounts, and how much money is going out.
After a while, having a budget is more in their head than on paper or online, because frugal people are so in-tune with their earning and spending.
Frugal people know when it’s okay to “splurge” on a family vacation or upgrade in their house because they know how much they have in savings based on their budget.
Setting a budget can be daunting at first, but it shouldn’t scare you away from being frugal. Setting a budget is actually quite easy, but it does take discipline to update regularly.
You may need to sit down nightly and input your expenses, but once you get in the habit of updating your budget, you’ll need to sit down and update it less and less.
Need some tips on creating a family budget? You can find an easy, step-by-step process here.
2) They Involve the Family
Frugal people know their budgets won’t be successful unless everyone is on board, including spouses and children.
While spouses have the most say on the family budget, frugal people involve their children and explain the importance of a budget and living within the family’s means.
Frugal people incorporate their children in the process so that no one feels like they “can’t” do this or that, or that a budget is a punishment and not something enjoyable.
By being upfront, explaining why a family budget is important, and suggesting other free or low-cost activities, frugal people take away the annoyance of having a budget and just make it another regular thing the family does, like always having dinner together.
Teaching children about budgeting and managing money is one of the best things you can do, and showing them how a family budget works is an easy way to incorporate them and teach them at the same time.
Show your children how a family budget that includes a monthly savings amount leads to a fun vacation is a great way to teach children about delayed gratification and the importance of saving for the future.
3) They Plan Ahead
Frugal people know that surprises typically mean expenses, and frugal people try to minimize expenses as much as possible.
This means frugal people prepare ahead for groceries, birthdays, home repairs, and more.
You probably already know how important it is to create a grocery list based on family meals your family will actually eat, but did you know you can plan far ahead for birthday parties and home repairs too?
For home repairs, for example, do an audit of your home.
Are there places lacking insulation, which means you’re probably spending more to heat or cool your house? That may be an expense to save up for, since you’ll need to do it eventually and it will help with your electricity bill.
Think you can’t save money on birthday presents, especially for kids? Think again! There are many ways to plan ahead - and save money - for kids’ birthdays, which you can read about here.
4) They Have Fallback Plans
Frugal people know that sometimes life has other plans, no matter how carefully they’ve planned everything out.
Kids get sick, cars break down, spouses work late and can’t help out at home - and sometimes this all happens on the same day!
However, frugal people always have fall back plans. They may or may not have a frozen meal in the fridge, already pre-made and ready to go.
They definitely have food on hand to whip up a meal, and it usually has at least one vegetable in it. They know who to call for help in picking up the kids, and they always have some medicine or cough drops on hand in an emergency.
If this sounds like Super Parent to you, don’t stress!
It’s actually very easy to have all of this on hand, it just takes a little advanced planning (see tip 3!)
Before leaving the house on a shopping trip, take a quick look at your pantry and medicine cabinet. If you’re running low on something, grab another bag of frozen veggies (you can steam or stir fry in a pinch) and some cough drops.
Before the summer, take a look in your cabinets and see if you need more sunscreen - it could be expired or you could have used it all the previous summer. While you’re at it, grab some aloe vera or sunburn cooling gel - you might need it, too.
Having a back up person to call if you can’t pick up your children on time (or if you’re sick and can’t watch them) might be slightly trickier, but consider the following:
- Your spouse
- A nearby relative
- A trusted babysitter
- A former daycare worker your children bonded with
Things definitely happen in life, but with a little planning ahead of time, frugal people (and you!) will have fall-back plans that won’t break the bank or cause additional stress when it happens.
5) They're Resourceful
Frugal people know that if they can’t do something, they can call on someone who can.
This might be a relative, friend, or complete stranger, but eventually they figure it out.
In many cases, you can save money by figuring out things yourself, and frugal people know this almost intuitively.
Try it for yourself: have you ever seen a recipe that called for some expensive ingredient, but maybe you knew about (or Googled) a cheaper substitute?
Ever need to install something in your house and YouTube’d how to do it? This is being frugal - and resourceful!
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes it takes a village to figure things out.
Don’t be afraid to rely on your network of family and friends to barter and trade - maybe you’re great at making websites and your friend is a hair stylist who wants to show off their work online.
Swap a few haircuts for building them a website - and you’ve saved money and spent time with your friend!
6) They Make Time for Fun
Frugal people know that sticking to the same meals, doing the same thing everyday, and saving money all the time can be “boring” or not very fun.
Frugal people understand they need to go ahead and have fun - sometimes this means spending money and sometimes it doesn’t, but it does mean getting out of the comfort zone every once in a while!
This is especially important for special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries. However, this doesn’t mean you give up frugality and spend like crazy!
Instead, you’ll only need to buy a couple things off your typical grocery list. If you’re making a cake for a birthday, you’ll probably have to pick up extra sugar, but you’ll always find reasons to use sugar in the future.
For an anniversary, maybe you make an elaborate meal, but you get the cut of meat or fish that’s on sale at the store.
These little things won’t break the bank and make special occasions even more meaningful.
7) They Shop Around
Frugal people know the difference between saving money and wasting money, but for many of us, it’s a very fine line.
Frugal people know which stores are closest to them, pay attention to sales, use price-comparison apps on their phone, and then purchase things for the best price that makes sense for them.
This means frugal people don’t drive everywhere to save an extra $.30, because frugal people know that extra $.30 savings is actually going to gas.
Frugal people know that being able to buy 60% of their groceries at store A and 40% of groceries at store B is a lot better than buying 20% of groceries at stores A, B, C, D and E.
Put this in practice by only paying attention to sales ads for stores closest to you, installing a few coupon or price-comparison apps on your phone (my favorite is Cartwheel from Target) and making your shopping list based on ads from only a few stores.
You’ll drive around less, saving money on gas and time - time that can be better spent on fun with your family.
8) They Don't Take "No" for an Answer
Frugal people know it never hurts to ask for a discount, so they do.
Many Americans are afraid to ask for discounts on items, although it’s very common in other parts of the world, but really, what’s the harm in asking for a discount? The worst answer is “no discount” - it’s not like the shop owner would raise the price on you for asking!
Now, this doesn’t mean you’ve overly pushy or aggressive.
As the saying goes, you’ll catch more flies with honey. If you’re looking for a discount (maybe a shirt has a tiny hole you can fix, or produce is slightly damaged), ask for a discount nicely.
Have a price in mind you’d like to pay, like 10% off, and see if you can negotiate the price down.
This works for big-ticket items the most, but you can have success with this method at any level. Frugal people know it’s always worth asking, so get yourself in this habit - or work up to it if you’re nervous.
As you can see, frugal people aren’t magicians or superheroes, they’re people just like you and me.
With a little planning and courage, we can adopt these habits of frugal people. You can start slowly by incorporating some of these tips and see how they fit with your family.
Over time, you’ll adapt to these frugal habits - and maybe you’ll have some more frugal tips for us too!