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Living frugally doesn’t mean depriving yourself. There are many ways to save while enjoying life and having fun.
But how can you live cheap and still do the things you love? Hint: it’s not all about clipping coupons.
Living cheaply doesn’t mean eating rice and beans and washing your Ziploc® bags. There are many different ways to save on anything from groceries to razors and even video games.
And just because you pay less doesn’t mean you get less. Often, you can continue buying the same products. Here’s how to live on the cheap and save on what you’re already planning to buy anyway.
Cheap Living Ideas to Save You Cash
How To Live Cheap – Table of Contents:
Services That Help You Live Cheap
1. Ibotta (+ $20 Welcome Bonus)
One of the easiest ways to save money is by using a cash-back app such as Ibotta. First, go grab yourself $20 just for signing up (we’ll wait). Next, download the app and look at the list of stores where it offers rebates.
You will find many grocery stores and big box stores such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club. Before each shopping trip, browse the list of rebates and add any that match up with what you plan to buy for that day.
Many of the rebates are for brand-name items but there are some that allow you to save in a general category such as bread, pasta, milk, eggs, etc. Some of the rebates may require you to watch a quick video before you can add them.
Go shopping as usual, matching your purchases with the brand and size on your Ibotta list. When you get home, just scan your receipt and wait 24-48 hours for the money to hit your account.
2. Dosh ($1 Welcome Bonus)
If you are looking for a mindless way to save money, check out Dosh. It’s an app that gives you a percentage cash back for purchases made at certain retailers.
To get started, you must add the credit cards you use most often for shopping to your Dosh wallet. Worried about handing over your credit card digits? Dosh uses bank-level security to encrypt your information and protect it from hackers.
Use the app to find retailers in your area where you can get cash back. This can include anything from the corner Exxon gas station to restaurants or big box store such as Walmart or Target.
When you go shopping and use your registered card to pay, you’ll get cash back from your rewards credit card + automatic cash back from the Dosh app.
3. Ebates ($10 Sign-up Bonus)
One of the best ways to save money while shopping online is to use Ebates.com. It’s an online portal that gives you a percentage of your purchase as cash back.
To get started, you need to open a free account (here’s a free $10 bonus) and search for the stores where you want to shop.
When you’re ready to make a purchase, click on the link from the Ebates shopping portal and you’ll be redirected to the retailer. Make your purchase as usual and check your Ebates account to see the cash back credit reflected. Keep in mind that this may take a couple of days.
Related: Want more info? Here’s our detailed Ebates review
The shoes you bought last week are now on sale and you’re kicking yourself for overpaying. However, getting a price match seems like too much of a hassle. What if someone can do that for you?
Enter Paribus by Capital One. This service monitors your online shopping receipts by scanning your inbox. It tracks your confirmation emails and watches for price changes. If it detects potential savings, it let you know and help you get money back.
Paribus monitor over 25 large retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart. In addition, you can get a refund on a hotel room booked through some of the largest travel sites such as Expedia, Priceline and Hotels.com.
If you’re looking for a simple app that rewards you for shopping, check out CoinOut (as seen on Shark Tank!) You will get a random reward for every receipt you upload. In addition, you can earn cashback by shopping through CoinOut at online merchants and signing up to CoinOut partners.
Start your purchase from the CoinOut app by clicking on the merchant logo. You will get CoinOut cash back automatically after completing the purchase. Use the app to find all of your transactions from in-store to online cash back so you can see all bonuses and watch your balance grow.
6. Collect Free Money From Your Credit Card
Do you *get paid* to use your credit card? Maybe 1% back? Psst… you could be getting double that (or more).
As long as you’re responsible with your credit card payments (ie. pay your bill in full), you could be collecting free money on every purchase. Unlike cash back apps and websites, credit cards will not make you jump through hoops to earn your bonuses. Instead, reward credit cards *automatically* rack up free cash for you month after month!
7. Cushion App (refunds on bank fees)
How would you like to get a refund on those pesky bank fees without having to call customer service? The Cushion app does just that, looking through you statements for bank fees and haggles on your behalf to get them refunded.
If Cushion is successful at waiving your fees, it keeps 25 percent of the refunded amount. The app will ask your permission first before trying to negotiate any fees. You will get a summary of your refund within 24 hours.
Worried about security? Don’t be. Cushion uses the highest security standards to protect your data, including 256-bit SSL encryption.
8. Trim: Cancel unused subscriptions
Trim is another app that helps you automate your savings. The app analyzes your accounts to find recurring subscriptions and determine where you can save more. It can cancel subscriptions on your behalf, negotiate your Comcast bill, find you better car insurance, and more.
You can also use the app to set your savings on autopilot. Trim’s Simple Savings gives you the option to set weekly automated transfers into a high-yield savings account. It can also help you get out of debt by creating a payoff plan tailored to your needs.
(8.5. Six Hacks to Save More Money)
Saving money is easy… once you know how to do it. If you’re living without the peace of mind of having lots of money in the bank, then you haven’t learned how to make saving money easy.
Our Free “Savings Account Accelerator” Workshop exercises 6 Money-Saving Hacks that not only teach you *how* to save money, but also how to save money faster than ever before. Don’t change your lifestyle to save money – use this free information to make saving money easy.
9. Mint Mobile
If your monthly cell phone bill is getting out of hand, here’s an easy solution: try Mint Mobile. It’s contract-free cell phone service provider powered by T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network. You need to bring your own phone and buy a SIM card through Mint Mobile than choose your plan.
Plans start at $25 per month for 3 gigabytes of 4G LTE data for the first three months. You can get an introductory rate of $15 per month for the first three months. After that, expect to pay $25 per month for a three-month commitment.
Mint Mobile works similarly to a warehouse club for data plans – the more you buy the less you pay. If you want to keep the introductory price, you will need to purchase a 12-month plan. You may also bring your number, depending on availability.
10. Buy used electronics (Gazelle)
Electronics are a big ticket item that can add up. Going used is one way to save money and still get that iPhone you wanted. Gazelle is a website that buys and sells used smartphones and other devices, helping you save.
Trade-in your used devices for cash and buy certified pre-owned electronics. You can find anything from a Galaxy Note 9 to a 15” MacBook Pro for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a big box retailer.
11. GameFly: Cheap Video Games
Big gamers know costs for games can add up. Instead of spending all your hard-earned cash, try a services such as GameFly. GameFly offers over 9,000 video game titles for most major gaming systems including Nintendo Switch, Wii U, GameCube, Playstation 4, and many more.
Get all the popular new releases and older classic games that are difficult to find. After selecting the title through the online catalog, you’ll receive it in the mail and return it at your convenience using a prepaid mailer. Subscriptions start at $15.95 per month.
Bonus tip: Still have your PlayStation 4, XBox 360, or Wii? Buy the old games you didn’t get around to playing. Most are less than $10 and you can find many of your old favorites to enjoy on your gaming console.
12. Check Your Local Library
Another great way to save money is by using your library membership. Libraries are not just for books. Many offer movies, TV shows, and audio books. Some libraries also check out local attraction passes to members for free.
Most libraries offer free Wi-Fi, which can be useful if you’re looking to get out of the house to work but don’t want to spend money at a coffee shop. Check out the website for your local library or talk to a librarian to get more information on available perks.
Save On Food
For most people, food is usually one of the top three expenses. The average household spends more than $7,700 on food according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [Source].
While the other two large expenses – housing and transportation – are a little harder to tackle, you can easily make the changes below and save on your food bill. Living cheaply doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods or brands.
These money saving tips will help put money back in your pocket with little effort on your part.
Save on Groceries
The price of groceries such as eggs and milk continues to climb while your salary doesn’t keep pace. How can you feed your family well on the cheap and live well? Here are some ideas to help you save money on what you already buy.
1. $5 Meal Plan
Are you struggling with what to eat and what to cook each week? For just $5, you can get a fresh meal plan delivered to your inbox. It will have everything you need, including recipes, for every meal each week.
Many people know they should create a meal plan but find it time-consuming and boring. Going with a service such as $5 Meal Plan, you take the guesswork of what’s for dinner each night – and breakfast and lunch.
Most meals will cost you $2 per person or less, saving you money while reducing your stress. The recipes are easy to follow, and you will also get a shopping list to help you organize your grocery trip.
Ready to try it? Here’s a free two-week trial
2. Home Chef
Restaurant-quality meals for less without leaving the comfort of your home? Yes, they exist and you can try them today and save $30 with Home Chef.
Here’s how it works:
- Once you sign up, customize your delivery dates (you can skip weeks within your account)
- Mix and match customizable meals to create up to 26 weekly choices
- Receive your box with fresh, pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipe cards – all delivered straight to your door
- Prepare a delicious meal from your box in about 30 minutes
A meal delivery service such as Home Chef is a great way to live cheap and save money. You get restaurant-quality meals you can enjoy at home, saving you time and money. No driving to and from the restaurant, waiting for a table, paying for drinks or tipping the waiter.
Ready to get started? Grab that $30 off and order your first box
Save on Healthy Foods
Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many different ways you can eat well on the cheap. Here are some frugal ways to save on natural and organic foods:
Vitacost is an online marketplace that sells natural and organic products for less. Besides discount vitamins and supplements, you can also buy healthy foods for a fraction of the price you’d pay at your local store.
In addition, Vitacost often runs sales and sends out coupons to email subscribers so join their mailing list. You can find discounts on foods from big brands such as Pacific Foods and Yogi. Save on everything from nut butter to olive oil and flour.
Vitacost also carries their own brand of products that meet some of the same standards for larger brands but for much less. It’s also a great place to find foods for specialty diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and so on.
4. Thrive Market
Another great website for buying organic for less is Thrive Market. Save 25 to 50 percent on the organic brands you love including gluten-free, non-GMO, non-toxic products. There is a monthly membership but you can try it for free for 30 days.
If you decide to get the membership, it’s only $60 per year and earns you free gifts and guaranteed savings. Members enjoy wholesale prices every day. According to Thrive Market, you can save an average of $30 per order, helping you break even on your membership in two orders.
5. Make a shopping list
You’ve heard this tip before but it’s very important. If you’re not already making a shopping list when going to the store, start today. It’s a easy way to save money and live cheaply without making sacrifices.
Go through your refrigerator and pantry to see if you’re out or almost out of any staples. Add those to your list and everything you need to make breakfast, dinner, and lunch plus snacks for the next few days.
When you go shopping, only buy what’s on your list. This is why it’s important to make sure you have everything you need on it. If you left something out, don’t buy it. This will teach you to get better at planning out your trips and helps curb impulse purchases.
6. Don’t shop hungry
Here’s another common but powerful tip – don’t shop hungry. Even if you think you can resist, your stomach and your brain will conspire against you. Eat a small snack or go shopping after a meal.
When you’re at the grocery store, avoid the samples and keep moving. Those samples will get you and you won’t even know how they ended up in your grocery cart.
7. Drink water
Many times when you think you’re hungry you’re thirsty. Don’t confuse the two as it can lead to eating unnecessary calories. Drink plenty of water throughout the day so you’re well hydrated.
Still buying bottled water? Consider switching to tap for an easy way to live cheaply and save money. Switch to using a water filter instead and carrying around a reusable water bottle – better for your pocket and better for the planet.
8. Frozen over fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating fresh is always best but going with frozen is a close second. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at peak freshness and flash frozen to keep nutrients. Consider hitting up the frozen aisle if you’re shopping for produce out of season.
Frozen fruits and vegetables work well when using them for cooking or in smoothies. If you’re shopping when something is not in season, you’ll get more nutrition for less in the frozen food section.
9. Compare the price per ounce
Food companies are tricky, trying to get you to buy less food for more money. Have you noticed how some of the packages for your favorites have continued to shrink while the prices stay the same?
The easiest way to save is to compare the price per ounce. If you have two products that are different prices and different sizes, divide the price by the number of ounces. Now you have an apples-to-apples comparison that will help you decide which one is a better deal.
For a more advanced version, keep a price book for the items you buy most. This way you can tell if you run across a great sale and you can stock up. It will also help you compare prices between different stores and different brands.
10. Try grocery-store apps
Most grocery stores have a store app you can download to your phone or tablet. Use it to find coupons and deals exclusive to that store and keep track of your discounts.
Many will offer exclusive discounts to app users. You can also add your store reward card on the app. Most apps let you browse the latest store sales, clip coupons, review special offers, and more.
You may also be able to combine the in-app discounts with third-party coupons for even bigger savings. For example, if the app has a store coupon for Bounty paper towels and you also have a manufacturer’s coupon for the same brand, you may be able to use both. Make sure you read the fine print.
11. Chew Gum
Here’s a cheap and easy way to save money on food: chew gum. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, chewing gum can help. This is true between meals when you’re likely bored.
Instead of snacks between meals, pop a piece of gum in your mouth. Check if you’re still hungry after 20 or 30 minutes. Also, make sure you fill up at each meal. Chances are, you won’t be hungry, saving you money on food.
12. Eat at Home
One of the cheapest ways to save money on food is by eating at home. When you buy already prepared food, you’re paying for the convenience of having someone else cook it for you. Instead, cook your own food and reap the savings.
Stumped for where to start? Here are a couple of ideas to help you eat well for less.
Spend Less Money
Spending less money is easier said than done. However, there are a few things you can try today that will save you money and make your life easier.
1. Use Napkins
While paper towels are handy to have around the house for cleaning up messes, try using a napkin next time you’re eating. Napkins are much cheaper and are meant for helping clean up food messes.
2. Stop Buying K-Cups
If you have a Keurig, the cost of k-cups adds up. Instead of giving it up in favor of a drip coffee maker, why not try reusable k-cups? Yes, they exist and they can save you hundreds.
Use them with your favorite ground coffee to brew the perfect single serving cup of coffee. Don’t forget the k-cup filters, which help keep your coffee sediment-free and improve the taste.
3. Safety Razor
Shaving can get expensive when you have to keep buying new razors every couple of weeks. Also, all that plastic ends up going to the landfill, which is bad for your wallet and the planet.
Try a safety razor instead, which can last for a long time and it’s made of metal. You can get replacement blades cheap. The razor will last you for many years so no more worries about dull blades.
New Habits For *Easy* Cheap Living
Picking up a few new habits can also save you money. Here are ideas for ways to pad your wallet and improve your health.
Do you only floss twice a year before going to the dentist for a cleaning? If you ignore your dentist’s advice to floss, it’s time to pay attention. Flossing is a cheap way to prevent tooth decay, saving you money and pain down the road.
Also, it can help you fight heart disease. Several studies have shown that people who have poor oral health have higher rates of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke compared to people with good oral health. Floss your teeth every day – your heart will thank you.
2. Energy Efficient Savings
Making energy efficient changes to your home can help you save hundreds if not thousands every year with little effort. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
3. Arcadia Power
Looking for a way to save the planet and put more money in your pocket? Create a free account with Arcadia Power and let them connect you to clean energy and help you spend less on your power bill.
To get started, just create a free account and start saving. Arcadia Power tracks the market for you to find better energy prices and make it easy to upgrade to smart home technology.
Here’s a coverage map so you can check if Arcadia Power is available in your area:
4. Re-insulate your home
Another great way to save money on your energy costs is by insulating your home. Homes are full of crevices and holes that let the air conditioning and heating escape and let outside air in. Plug those leaks, especially around your windows and doors, to save money on your bills.