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The Ultimate Frugal Living Guide: 18 Tips for Extreme Penny-Pinching

The Ultimate Frugal Living Guide: 18 Tips for Extreme Penny-Pinching

When it comes to spending less and saving more, there are many ways to get financially fit, but some are much easier to accomplish than others. We’ve put together the ultimate frugal guide for people who are excited about saving money and really want to do whatever it takes to whip their finances into shape. Check it out below.

1. Dry your clothes on a line.

I know, I know. There’s this thing called a dryer that someone invented. Lucky us! However, you can save around $100 a year or more if you hang your clothes up to dry on a line. If you don’t have a yard, you can hang them up in your apartment too.

2. Wash dishes by hand using one sink-full of water.

Some people say washing dishes by hand costs just as much as running the dish washer, but if you use just a minimal amount of water, you’d be surprised at how much you save.

3. Make your own laundry detergent.

Did you know that you can actually make your own laundry detergent? It’s really awesome because you can see exactly what goes into it, which creates a healthier environment in your home.

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4. Take public transportation.

Gas and parking passes get so expensive, especially if you use your vehicle every single day. Do some research to find out how much your local bus or subway costs. You might be surprised at how much you save. Also, ask around your work to see who might want to share a ride with you.

5. Make every gift you give.

With the popularity of websites like Pinterest, there is no shortage of ideas for handmade gifts. All you have to do is search for crafts or gift ideas, and you’ll have hundreds of awesome tutorials and ideas at your disposal.

6. Travel in-state.

Everyone always travels to different states or countries, but I bet you’d be surprised at how much fun you can have within a 200-mile radius from where you live. That way, you can save on hotel costs and maybe learn something new about your community along the way.

7. Give up your smart phone.

I know—these days, smart phones might seem like a necessity, but I lived without one for almost two years and I was amazed at how relaxed and rejuvenated I felt after giving it up. You can also save hundreds of dollars a month on your cell phone bill. If you really, really want to save money and penny-pinch, this is the way to do it.

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8. Become a coupon expert.

You’ve probably seen the TV shows about extreme couponers, and that can be you too! All it takes it a little bit of time and practice to learn about couponing. You can save hundreds of dollars on groceries this way, so it’s definitely worth the time you put into learning about it!

9. Get a roommate.

Maybe you didn’t have a good experience with roommates in the past, but you can’t deny that having one cuts down on costs dramatically. For the most benefit, ask your roommate to split all bills with you, including electricity and water, so that they will be respectful about their usage.

10. Grow your own food.

Think of how much money you’ll save if you grow your own tomatoes or herbs. Plus, you’ll have awesome, fresh-tasting veggies to put in your dinner, which is great for both your wallet and your waistline.

11. Patch up your own clothes.

You don’t have to buy a sewing machine to do this: all you need is a few pieces of scrap fabric and a needle and thread. It will only cost you a few dollars. Plus, you can watch tutorials like this one on YouTube that explain the process in just a few minutes.

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12. Use the Internet from your local library.

If you are really strapped for cash, you can use your local library for Internet access. They are usually open every day, and the librarians are so helpful if you have any questions.

13. Give up cable.

Today, you can catch all of your favorite shows on your computer, so there is no reason to pay $100 a month for cable. Plus, watching TV takes up valuable time that you could be using to hustle and make some money.

14. Use cards or board games as your main entertainment.

You don’t have to spend $20 per person to go see a movie. Playing board games with a handful of friends actually makes for a really fun night—just try it and see. I think you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive and how fun a game night in can be.

15. Cook more meals at home.

Eating out is definitely a drain on your budget. If you start to cook in more, you can save hundreds of dollars a month.

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16. Shop at thrift stores.

You can buy all your clothes and furniture from a thrift store. I always say that it’s amazing what people will give away! You can definitely find designer duds if you look hard enough. Also, be sure to go on 50% off days if your local store has them!

17. Clean with vinegar.

Vinegar can be used to clean just about anything. You don’t have to spend any more money on expensive products. All you need is an old rag and a vinegar/water mix to make your house sparkle.

18. Unplug everything when you leave the house.

Our very last tip is to unplug all electronic devices when you leave the house. Although it might take up some time and only save you a few dollars, this is a must for those of you who want to live the ultimate frugal living.

Of course, these aren’t the only ways that you can save money and live better, so please share your tips with us in the comment section below!

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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