I know you’ve seen 100+ frugal living tips scattered over the internet.
But which tips are best? Which frugal living tips do you absolutely need and which aren’t worth your time?
As avid money savers, we’ve tried them all (well, most of them, anyways) but have only continued using a select few—the ones that result in the most free money and take zero time to use.
Otherwise, a money saving tip just isn’t worth it.
In fact, our #1 frugal living tip – the (free) Dosh App– checks ALL of our “money-saving” boxes. It collects free money (check), you can deposit our Dosh money directly into your bank account or redeem a free gift card (check), and the app requires 0 effort; it collects free money automatically (CHECK)!
Not to mention, Dosh has a free welcome bonus. Simply try the app out today, and Dosh will give you $1 for free! Learn exactly how this works in tip #1, below.
So here it is: a list of the best frugal living tips and ideas we’ve found so far that you need to use:
Best Frugal Living Tips and Ideas For 2020
We’ve Categorized these Frugal Living Tips into 4 Main Categories:
Money Saving Apps
1. Turn Your Debit Card into a Cash-Rewards Card! ($1+ Sign Up Bonus)
You know how a credit card works—receive 2% cashback on every purchase. But if you’re a die-hard debit card user, cashback perks aren’t available to you… Until now.
Try the Dosh App! Connect your debit OR credit card to the app, use your card like normal, and the Dosh app will silently collect money automatically, just like a credit card! Here’s just a peek at the 1,000+ retailers you could be earning free month from:
After a few months, open the app to see how much free money you’ve accumulated. It’s always a treat to find enough cash for a free Iced Caramel Macchiato in your account for doing absolutely nothing.
What’s more, when you download Dosh with our link you’ll receive a $1 bonus just for linking your debit/credit card to the app!
*COVID-19 Hack: As of 4/22/20, Dosh is offering 4% cash back at Safeway and 4% cash back at Vons when you order your groceries online. Create your free Dosh account here to earn easy money on groceries through the Dosh app, and grab a $1 welcome bonus! (Pro tip: use Dosh and Ibotta together to earn more free money)
You can learn more about the Dosh App in our comprehensive Dosh App Review post.
2. Free Money at the Grocery Store ($20 Sign Up Bonus)
The moment Nikayla and I return home from the grocery store, we snap a pic of our receipt, and free money gets deposited into our Ibotta account.
If you want to get paid to shop, you need the Ibotta app. And don’t worry, you won’t need to buy weird foods to earn money (that would defeat the purpose): just keep to your normal shopping habits, and Ibotta will give you money back for something in your grocery basket.
*COVID-19 Hack: Since you’re cooking at home, you’re probably buying more groceries than ever. Ibotta saves you money on groceries nearly every grocery trip. Grab your receipt, snap a pic, and earn cash back. (You’ll get a $20 welcome bonus just for using the app.) Another tip if you’ve been having your grocers delivered: Ibotta will give you 2% cash back on your Insacart delivers. So you’ll save on the delivery fee, and you still get to take a picture of your receipt to earn more cash back.
Download Ibotta here—you’ll get a bonus $20 just for trying it out—and start making easy money grocery shopping.
Looking for more info about Ibotta and why it’s by far the best app for earning easy cash back on groceries? Check out our Ibotta explainer video👇
Update 03/23/20: Ibotta has cash-back offers on grocery and restaurant delivery services:
– DoorDash– $2.50 Cash Back on your first order
– Instacart– 2% Cash Back
– Grubhub– 10% Cash Back for new customers, 2% Cash Back for existing.
– Blue Apron– $12.50 Cash Back for new subscribers
– Home Chef- $10 Cash Back for new subscribers
Download the free Ibotta App here (and grab this $20 Welcome Bonus for trying it out)
Check out all of our Ibotta tips and tricks in our full review post.
3. Automatic Money for Shopping Online ($10 Sign Up Bonus)
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) gives you cash back for shopping at your favorite stores
Here’s an example of how it works: Rakuten will tell you that you will earn 7% cash back if you buy something at Khol’s (see image below). After you make your purchase, Khole’s pays Rakuten for referring you to their store. Rakuten then shares some of that money (7% cash back) with you.
With Rakuten, you get free cash back for doing the online shopping you were going to do anyway.
Rakuten has more than 400+ online partners for you to shop at and earn free money.
What’s more, you will earn a $10 Welcome Bonus after completing your first cash back purchase. It’s the easiest money you can make.
4. Lower Your Bills with Trim
Wall Street Journal studied the broadband bills of thousands of homes and found that low-income areas are charged more for internet [source]. The truth is that many of your bills — internet, cell phone, cable, even medical bills — can be negotiated.
With no set price, these companies have the green light to milk their customers for every last cent without losing their business. It also gives you the right to negotiate your bills lower
Trim Negotiates Lower Bills
Try out the free Trim app. After you approve the bills you want Trim to lower, a representative will contact those companies overcharging you to negotiate a lower bill. You do nothing.
If Trim is unable to lower your bills, you don’t pay a cent for their negotiation services. But if Trim is able to lower your bills (the more likely scenario), you keep 66% of your savings the first year, and 100% of your savings every year after that.
Please note that trim takes their payment immediately. For example, if Trim saves you $10/month, they will request their 33% fee ($40) right away. But you keep 100% of the savings after that.
Trim saved their users over $1M last month alone. So why not get Trim and see what happens? You have nothing to lose and lower bills to gain!
5. Sweatcoin App- Get Paid To Walk
Nikayla and I love walking through nice neighborhoods to look at expensive houses. It gives us a chance to talk and dream and enjoy each other’s company.
But more recently, it’s been a chance to make money.
The more steps you take, the more money you earn. It’s just another incentive to get out and enjoy some fresh air every now and again.
Related Post: Is Ebates Legit? An Honest Rakuten (Ebates) Review (plus hacks to make more money)
Read more about Sweatcoin (and all the money you’re about to make) in our full Sweatcoin Review.
Money Hacks for Frugal Living
6. Use Credit Cards
Everything you buy should be 2% off. Which doesn’t sound like much, but when you spend $30,000/year, that’s $600 in free money!
Credit card companies, specifically rewards credit cards, pay you to use their card, and if you use them wisely—i.e., not go into debt—you can make great money with them. With our credit cards we get 2% off general purchases, 5% off Amazon purchases, one free airline ticket every year, free checked baggage on our flights, and plenty of other awesome money-saving opportunities.
We easily save over $1,000/year because we swipe a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit cards have also raised both our FICO scores above 800! And no, we have never taken on a dime of credit card debt. There is no reason to fear credit cards.
Ditch your standard bank card, and find a quality credit card with generous rewards. (because why wouldn’t you want more free money?):
- Here are the Best Reward Credit Cards of 2020 (we use #7)
- Here are the Best Travel Credit Cards of 2020 (click “see details” under every card for all the travel perks)
Not sure what your credit score is?
7. Utilize Amazon Subscribe and Save For 15% Off Everything
Toilet paper, Kleenex, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, paper towels, gum, protein powder, Keurig coffee pods, water filters, dog food, cat food… the list goes on and on.
We receive all these items for 15% off thanks to Amazon Subscribe and Save.
Tell Amazon that you want toothpaste sent to your house every 3 months, and you’re done—you never have to worry about buying toothpaste again, and you get 15% off. Picture it: a life without spontaneous TP runs to Walmart.
Get started with Amazon Subscribe and Save (it comes with your Prime Membership) and save yourself a little extra cash and leisure time.
Not a Prime Member? Sign up for a free 30-day free trial, here.
Got little ones or one on the way? Sign up for the Prime Family Free Trial and get a 20% discount on diapers.
8. Make Your Keurig Coffee For Cheap
There’s nothing more convenient than brewing coffee by the cup. There’s only one problem: those K-cups aren’t exactly cheap when compared to the cost of ground coffee.
So how do you take advantage of both the convenience of your Keurig machine and have access to the inexpensive cornucopia of coffee availalbe outside a K-cup? You’re about to find out.
Here’s what you need:
- Reusable K Pods: These K-pods last for ages! We’ve had ours close to a year, and they’re still like new. They’re also dishwasher safe. The only problem: they brew a weak cup of coffee. Because the perforations in the mesh are large, you can’t gind your coffee too finely or the grinds will slip through the grating and into your coffee. That’s why you also need item number 2.
- Reusable K-pod Filters: Because filters are impermeable to even the finest ground coffee, you’re free to grind your coffee as small as possible (the key to a strong-brewed coffee). Stick these filters into the reusable K pods, fill the filter with any coffee of your choosing, and brew yourself a strong cup of coffee.
Now you’re free to enjoy a strong cup of coffee of any flavor on the cheap!
Frugal Living Lifestyle Changes
9. Take Advantage of the Library
Libraries are a magic portal into infinite awesomeness. And that’s an understatement.
There’s nothing like a good book (or audiobook if you’re not too keen on reading) to turn your mind off to all the stresses plaguing your thoughts. If you haven’t tried reading, please give it a shot.
Imagine your favorite TV show made 10X better and 10X longer. Also, watching it is actually good for your brain. Try it, and I promise you’ll love it.
Go to goodreads.com, find a book (maybe a personal finance book?) with great reviews, checkout that book or audiobook from your local library, and discover your next free and probably most favorite hobby.
10. Sell Your Clothes Online With Depop
We have a one-in, one-out policy for our clothes: when I buy a new pair of jeans, an old pair needs to leave. It keeps our closets manageable, and more importantly, it gives us an chance to make easy money.
All of our gently worn clothes are sold on Depop—an online thrift store. Depop makes the process of selling clothes online incredibly simple. Just take a pic of that shirt you no longer wear and set a price.
When someone buys it, Depop creates a printable shipping label. Stick the shirt in a box, tape that shipping label to the box, and drop it off at your nearest post office.
Also See: How To Live Minimally
11. Drink Water
We are able to keep our grocery bill under $300/month because we drink water. Sodas, juices, bottled drinks—sure they taste good, but they cost too much money.
Drink tap water, or if your tap isn’t good, buy a water filter. Here’s the one we use. You’ll save at least $100/month.
12. Always Use A Shopping List
The most important factor in keeping our grocery bill under $300/month is using a shopping list.
Before heading to the grocery store, walk into your kitchen, open your ‘Reminder’ app on your iPhone, and create a grocery list. Once you’re at the grocery store, don’t deviate from your list.
Buy what you need—no more, no less.
13. Feed Your Pet Appropriately
Be honest with yourself: is your dog overweight? If so, you’re losing money!
Stop free-feeding your pet, and put them on a healthy diet (their optimal diet can be found on their food-bag). I know you feed them extra food because you love them, but I promise they’ll be much happier and more energetic when they no longer have to carry that extra weight around.
Plus, you’ll save hundreds on dog food and thousand on future veterinary bills (it ain’t cheap to have a diabetic dog, my friend.)
14. Work Out At Home
Do yoga—It will keep you young forever. You’ll become extremely flexible and gain functional muscles that will let you do fun tricks for you to show off with.
Plus, it doesn’t cost much money. We like to use Glo.com There are thousands of lessons taught by the top instructors in the country.
Stop paying for that gym membership you don’t use, buy a yoga mat, and see what your body is capable of with yoga.
How to Make Frugal Living Fun
15. Play Card Games
A deck of cards is going to give you more hours of entertainment per dollar than pretty much any source of entertainment out there.
Every night, we like to play cards while dinner is in the oven. It’s another simple, frugal way to take our minds off today or what needs to be done tomorrow, so that we can enjoy the moment.
Grab a deck of cards and take a chance to connect with your spouse and kids. Our favorite games (listed in order from most favorite to least favorite):
- Egyption Rat Screw
- Gin Rummy
- Spoons (AKA Pig)
- Rummy 500
16. Take Advantage of Parks and Recreation Areas Near You
For years now, government leaders have seen how recreational amenities can improve the life of a city. More towns are finding ways to add bike paths, tennis courts, basketball courts, ballfields, walking trails, and parks. Enjoy some time away from the computer and phone screens and take a stroll or a ride on a trail.
Sometimes there are so many great things to see under our noses that we take them for granted. Don’t be afraid to call a Chamber of Commerce, a Convention and Visitors Bureau (also known as a Tourism Bureau). Find out what sites you can visit for free or very minimal costs.
Be sure to do this for any area you visit, especially if you have to travel for work.
How Can I Live a More Frugal Lifestyle?
Frugality becomes a mindset. It is an approach to life that makes us ask what is the best use of my time, resources and money. If you want to live a more frugal lifestyle, it is possible. Just figure out what is comfortable for you and your partner. After all, you want to make sure both of you are on board.
17. Avoid Banking Fees (Overdraft and Otherwise)
Brick-and-mortar banks need to make money to operate and maintain physical branches in all the communities they serve, and they earn money through fees. However, online banks and institutions do not have the same challenges, which is why they can offer fee-free services.
Learn how to avoid overdraft fees and discover where you can put your money without having to worry about banking fees, hidden or otherwise.
18. Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt ASAP
We like credit cards. No, check that. We love credit cards because we are able to enjoy cash back rewards. Nikayla and I make credit cards work for us by paying off our balances every month. This allows us to rake in the maximum amount of cash back rewards while paying absolutely no interest.
But, if you carry a balance from month-to-month and pay credit card companies interest, then you are not fully realizing your rewards potential. Most people pay more interest on their credit cards than they will ever earn with investments. Some cards are charging 24% to 27% interest.
Three things to do right away to keep from going further into debt:
- Consolidate your credit card debt to decrease your interest rate
- Pay more than the minimum amount (you will never pay it off if you do)
- If you are able, stop charging purchases to credit until you can pay off the balance each month
19. Learn How to Budget Your Money Properly
There are always actions we can take that will help on the margins, but if we really want control of our finances so we can live abundantly and frugally (we do not think they are mutually exclusive terms), we need to use our money properly. This means budgeting, cutting expenses, saving more, and spending appropriately.
Do not let “budget” become a four-letter word to you. When you understand how to budget, you will gain control over your money instead of your money controlling you. Budgeting is simply telling your money how it will be spent before you receive it.
Budgeting is having a plan for your money. We agree with Benjamin Franklin, who said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Here are some links to guide you with an action plan to succeed with your finances:
- How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck: An Actionable Guide
- How to Budget: The Step-by-Step Process
- 11 Actionable Money Hacks to Save Easy Money
20. Save 50% Off Your Meal When Eating Out by Using Groupon
Being frugal does not mean you are unable to enjoy life. Nikayla and I want you to be able to do more with your money, which you can when you plan how to spend it better. Groupon can help you.
Jump onto Groupon and check out the deals in your area. You can save up to 50% or more at restaurants near you. Who knows, maybe you will discover your newest favorite place to dine while saving some serious cash.
How do You Become Really Frugal
If you think about it, frugality is simply a commitment to efficiency. You become efficient with your time, with your money, with your spending, and with your resources. It starts with a decision to explore what is necessary in your life. What can be eliminated? What can be scaled back? Perhaps something needs to be added.
Is a second car necessary? Can you get around with public transportation? If you only need an extra car once or twice a month, can you rent one locally? Can you get a ride with Uber or Lyft? Can you walk to work? Can you ride your bike? Can you catch a ride with a co-worker and pitch in for gas?
When you examine and question every expenditure, you might realize you and your significant other can live frugally on one income. See which one of these changes you implement without much disruption to your life:
21. Save $500+ by Cancelling Subscriptions
Streaming services are the best. We get a ton of entertainment, whether it be a movie, a song or an ebook, at our fingertips for a fraction of the cost of ownership. But, those costs come month-in and month-out. What can be done to reel in some of these costs?
Let’s face it, these services are so easy to sign up, right? (Just sign up with Facebook.) But, they are not always the easiest when it comes to cancelling. Or, sometimes we just plain forget we are paying for a service because we quit using it.
Thankfully, there are apps and online services to help us sort out what subscriptions we are paying for. These apps can help us cancel those services, or, if we want, trained staff will negotiate better rates. Either way, we save money.
Learn how you can save hundreds a year by canceling subscriptions or negotiating lower rates for cable or phone service.
22. Become Your Own Handyman by Watching YouTube
The depth and breadth of what you can learn to do by watching how-to videos on YouTube is ridiculous. Here are just a few examples of how friends saved money watching how-to videos on YouTube:
- They learned how to polish and brighten their headlight casing with toothpaste;
- They learned how to replace a faucet in the bathroom; and
- They learned how to open the hatchback on an HHR when the battery went dead (you can only open it electronically from the outside).
p.s. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Just search “how-to” + your subject.
23. Buy in Bulk (Save the Environment Doing So)
We know some of the warehouse clubs go crazy. There is no need to buy 5 pounds of pretzels to save a buck if it’s just the two of you. However, even at your local grocery store you will discover companies sell pasta in 2-pound and 3-pound packages now.
Pasta has a great shelf life, and you can cut down on the packaging when you buy in bulk. You will save some money, and you will save the environment with less waste going into landfills.
Can You Be Too Frugal?
Some people equate frugality with being cheap. At Budgeting Couple, we want people to live a good life on their existing income. This can happen when we come to grips with what we make, what we spend, and what we can change so we can have more income in our wallets, in our banking accounts, in our retirement accounts, or in our stock or real estate portfolios.
Long before the internet, Amy Dacyczyn published a newsletter, The Tightwad Gazette, which was later collected into a massive book. She chronicled her life of extremely frugal living. Her newsletters were full of frugal living tips with a big impact.
She experimented with just brushing her teeth without using toothpaste; letting soap air out and harden before using it; keeping a pantry stocked with staples rather than shopping to make meals; making her own chocolate syrup and cleaning supplies; and cooking everything from scratch. She even offered a tip on how to save around $30,000 in one day (keep reading).
Is it too frugal to save sturdy plastic cutlery you get from a takeout so you can use it for lunches? Is it too frugal to keep those plastic Chinese takeout containers to use as a Tupperware replacement in your home?
For a disposable society that wants instant gratification, I guess we can be considered “too frugal,” but so what? Do you want to be normal and try to scrape by paycheck-to-paycheck? Do you want to fit in with mainstream America by being in debt up to your eyeballs and unable to pull just $400 out of your savings account for an unplanned expense?
So, what will it be for you and your partner? Oh, and one last thing. Do you want to know Amy Dacyczyn’s tip to save $30,000 in one day? It’s simple. Don’t buy a new car.
Is it Worth Being Frugal?
Frugality works. In this post, you possess a lot of actionable items that can change your financial world. As I see it, the question is not so much “Is it worth it being frugal,” rather, “Are you ready to start being frugal to shape a better life for yourself?”
You have the knowledge, so it is time to act. If you are still on the fence, then let me suggest two things that will take virtually no effort on your part:
- Sign up for Ibotta right now and start earning cash back from the grocery store
- Then sign up for Ebates/Rakuten and start earning cash back when you shop online
You have to eat. At some point you will walk into a grocery store and stock up on food. Are you going to leave money on the table by not taking advantage of Ibotta? Or, are you going to take a concrete step and sign up for Ibotta to start earning cash back rewards? (Wait until the app starts telling you how much your friends are getting back, and you will feel silly for not starting sooner.)
We all shop online. So, why not install the Rakuten Browser Button. Whenever your browser loads an online shopping site, you will be alerted to get cash back. We love this because it literally requires no effort. Just do what you normally do and get your rewards.
What’s Your Game Plan?
While frugal living might seem like a ton of work, saving money and living frugally becomes effortless once you incorporate the tips above into your daily life.
An easy first step? Download the Dosh app and link your credit or debit card. You’ll start collecting free money (on autopilot) right now.
Alright! Those are the best frugal living tips and ideas for 2020! Do you have any frugal living tips and tricks you use daily? Let us know in the comments below!
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Related Frugal Living Tips Posts:
- How To Live Frugally On One Income: 40+ Simple Money Saving Tips
- How to Avoid Costly Bank Fees
- How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck: Step-by-step
- Money Hacks: 11 Tips To Save Easy Money
A budgeting fanatic and a frugal living lover! We want to share our budgeting techniques because of how much they have improved every aspect of our life! We teach the ultimate way to budget so you can save tons of money, eliminate debt fast, and achieve guilt-free spending!