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8 Tips for Achieving a Frugal Lifestyle

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
8 Tips for Achieving a Frugal Lifestyle

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Without overtly saying so, a typical theme at Backdoor Survival is saving money.  Whether it is making your own household products, finding new ways to repurpose old things, or showing you how to build  stuff yourself, saving money is something I promote both in writing and in practice.

Some may say that this is being cheap. Most certainly my own family considers it quirky if not downright silly, especially since they know what I can and can not afford.  But you know what?  For those of us that are members of the prepper community, saving money is not being cheap, it is being frugal.  Furthermore, being frugal is an important part of being self-sufficient because after all, our goal is to take care of our own needs with less reliance on governments, supermarkets and shopping malls.

8 Tips for Frugal Lifestyle

Frugal is a State of Mind

I have always maintained that living a frugal lifestyle means living a life without waste. It means being economical when it comes to utilizing resources (money, power, water, even words) so that those same resources can be spent on things that matter. And that is the crux of the deal: what matters to one person may be insignificant, excessive or even wasteful to someone else. It all gets down to choices.

You can be rich and be frugal. You can be poor and be a wasteful spendthrift. At the end of the day, frugal is a state of mind.

Wikipedia defines frugality as the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.

So how does one achieve a frugal lifestyle?

8 Tips for Achieving a Frugal Lifestyle

1. Make wise spending choices. A frugal person will buy the things he or she needs only after first looking for the best price and/or value for goods and services.

2.  Learn to recognize the difference between need and want.  I like to use the analogy of eating that second piece of homemade apple pie after already consuming the first.  Sure you want it; but do you need it?  Given a few minutes to think about it, the choice is likely to be “no” and much like buyers remorse, if you indulge, you will regret it later.

3. Strive for no debt. The frugal person will pay up front, or if using a credit card, will pay in full with each monthly statement. You can find some terrific deals at thrift stores; especially on used clothing in good repair. Another way to remain debt fee is to barter.

4.  Find joy in simple things.  Taking a walk with your dog can liberate your mind as you enjoy the fresh air and take in the scenery.  Playing cards or board games, reading, and even dancing are simple pleasures that cost nothing.

5. No miserly suffering. The frugal person will not suffer with the heat turned totally off because the cost of electricity is too high. Instead, the thermostat will be turned down and you will bundle up with heavy clothing and a nice down vest (possibly from the thrift store).

6. Reuse, repair and recycle. Continue to use that old, but working toaster. Likewise, keep your things in good repair.  Sew on those loose and broken buttons, fix a zipper (it is not as difficult as you might think), and keep your home and tools in tip top shape so that the need to replace things will become a thing of the past.

7.  Spend money on things that count. With every purchase you want to add to your lifestyle and not duplicate it.  Does that make sense?  Automobiles are a good example.  If you already have a car that runs great, do you really need to replace it?  Will it enhance your lifestyle or are you simply trading up?  Go back and read #2 so that you recognize the difference between need and want.

8. Do it yourself. Don’t pay for services you can easily tackle yourself. Or, if you don’t have a particular skill, see if you can find someone who does and barter, barter, barter!

Coming To Terms With Your Own Frugality

Times are tough and are likely to get tougher.  Many folks are still unemployed or underemployed, and the cost of merely getting by is escalating rapidly in spite of what the media, economists and governments are telling us.

That said, the challenge for all of us is to define frugality in our own terms. Whatever we do, we want to have a clear goal that makes the frugal lifestyle and the frugal mindset a worthy endeavor.  That goal can be paying the rent, saving for a down payment on a house, buying food, or even taking a vacation.

The Final Word

My goal is self-sufficiency but yours may be different.  Whatever your goal, think about frugality, and make sure you are not setting your self up for a miserable life by pinching pennies simply for the sake of pinching.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”.

Just make sure that you have a plan for those dollars that will afford you a more complete and more desirable life, however you choose to define it.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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9 Responses to “8 Tips for Achieving a Frugal Lifestyle”

  1. FTA, I re use bolts, nuts and fasteners that I’ve collected and have stored in bins. I can’t tell you how many times that neighbors have come over and sorted thru my collection of fasteners and found unusual sized fasteners that they had a hard time finding at hardware stores. Last year we built a 8 X 8 storage shed without buying one single screw or nail from Lowe’s or Home Depot from my cache of fasteners. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction in that.

    Best to all!

  2. Great tips! Love ’em all especially the ” do i need this or do I just want it?” It’s taken me several years to develop this response but it has served me well. I will spend money on certain things that will help me be more self sufficient but am prudent in my purchases. I like combing thru dollar stores, yard sales and military surplus stores. I AM NOT CHEAP! I will pay good money for high quality stuff. Being frugal can also be a fun way to bond with other like minded people. One of my favorite frugal people is a retired DEA agent and she has taught me so much about yard sales and eBay ( she is also a great cook and can stretch food budget like you wouldn’t believe). Another person is a 21 YRO guy who likes to partner up and visit pawn shops and used military supply stores. He’s even come up with some very helpful self defense issues around the home. Both people are a lot of fun and I can learn from them.

    What’s interesting to me is that my fellow employees think I’m wealthy. Don’t get me wrong, I do very well financially but I drive 2 trucks that are both 12 YRO and well maintained, I wear inexpensive clothing off the rack ( but still looks good ) and I usually bring a sack lunch from home. Funny thing is that the owner of the company I work for is very well to do and is always looking for a bargain but he also eats his lunch at his desk that are leftovers from home. The wealthy stay wealthy because they know a good value and are frugal. They work hard to be frugal.

    As for barter, I LOVE it! I do believe many people don’t like to negotiate
    for services or products because it makes them uncomfortable. Personally, I like to treat barter as a game. I truly enjoy the friendly back and forth of negotiation. If a barter trade gets testy then I walk away thinking ” do I need this or do I want this ?”. I do trade my carpentry skills with my local mechanic friends who are real whizzes at mechanical repair of my vehicles and this year I’m expanding my garden and will be trading labor in the garden with two young families for fresh veggies and canned products from the garden. Again, this is a friendly community building exercise that will benefit us all with some fun and laughs envolved.

    Frugality, whether rich, middle class or poor is really a mind set that if you embrace it will pay huge dividends in so many different aspect of our lives.

    Best to all!

  3. If what you say is true- then how come you delete my response. (Just remember- I been doing this since before you was born! Back in ’62, (During the so-called Cuban Missile Chrisis, I was living beside a USAF SAC Base- they hat a fleet of B52s at the end of the runway- with heaters on the engines, and they were airborne, in less than ten minutes! You got no idea how tense that was!
    I already had my ‘bail out bag’- they did not call it that- at that time.
    No matter- there was no roads out of there, at that time. I figured- if the shit comes down, I will go to the ‘ville on the Hamilton River- I will present my arms and kit to them, and I will ask them: You got room for one more in the boat, out of here?
    At that time, my feeling was: I will find and destroy the people that poisoned my planet!
    I said it in 1962, and I am saying it now!
    Beware! If you poison my planet- you will beg me for death! I am gonna HURT you!
    I like your blog, and I am trying to support that. (But I can’t buy any thing that you post- so I gotta get it elsewhere. (That’s Your Prob- not mine). You post a lot of stuff that I can use. But just remember what I said: You poison my earth- I am coming for you! You got that?

    • First – CALM DOWN – threatening everyone on the planet does not make people want to listen to you.
      Second – you may do what I sometimes do and forget to check the “I am not a spammer” checkbox. Also if you use foul or obscene language, then I can understand why Gaye might remove a reply.
      So, make sure you check the box and keep foul words out of your reply and you will probably see your replies staying.
      Remember – how you treat others determines how you will be treated. Use courtesy and I think Gaye would love getting your input. Just like you are learning from her, she and all us readers can learn a lot from you.

    • Amen Jim, Dave is just making sure he’ll be the first to go. Getting along with others will be a valuable asset.

    • Dave – I am lost. I have not deleted any responses to this thread. If there are embedded links it may be held for moderation and as Jim says, deleted if there is profanity. Other than that, I do not censor unless a commercial site is using these comments to blatantly sell something. Allowing that would be unfair to my advertisers and IMO unethical on my part.

  4. A great reminder that living a frugal lifestyle also helps provide peace of mind and allows us to slow down and think about our decisions. Personally, I love handing out vegetables from the garden to my neighbors and bringing people over and introducing them to a self-sufficient lifestyle, and so far everyone has been very interested and supportive. Might even have a community garden in the works.

  5. About ten years ago I realized that I was getting nothing out of television. In my area satellite is the only way to get TV. No cable and no direct broadcast TV. I started to feel I was wasting money on something I had no use for. And it seemed that they had the same shows on for months at a time. So, I dropped the TV service. Yes, there have been a few times that I wished I had it – usually for a day. But, then realized that I really did not need it. Now much of my entertainment comes from radio or the internet, or reading a book. The TV? I still have it and sometimes use it to watch a DVD I decided to purchase (quite often from eBay).

    • For $17 a month, I use Netflix and have 3 movies out at one time. I have saved over $4200 since 2008 by unplugging.
      I used that money on preps– medical supplies, food, dehydrator, vacuum sealer, solar oven, water drums, lots of food ….on and on.
      Those still paying cable bills?/ Well, I won’t go there.

      But, don’t whine when the shit hits the fan and you can’t feed your children,
      You made your choice and it was cable/tv.

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