How I Practice Frugality: 5 Tips

Can you guess how many of the items in my kitchen are thrifted?

Can you guess how many of the items in my kitchen are thrifted?

Making do is all about understanding that you don’t need the latest and greatest to feel like your life is full. But this can be hard to fully embrace when we are constantly bombarded by lavish images in marketing and in social media posts that we see every single day…

Everyone is trying to get you to buy something; the people you follow on Instagram, the people you follow on YouTube, the stores, the billboards, the online shopping… we are faced with big fat juicy carrots all day everyday.

And even if you can’t afford the latest and greatest right now, it’s way too easy to get swept up in a purchase that would otherwise be too extravagant for you - now there are loans and payment plans and credit cards that seem to be available for literally everything nowadays. Our culture seems to be at a fever-pitch of over-consumption, which is a little (or a lot) scary.

And most of us just flat out can’t afford it, even if we think we can. As someone who was never really taught about money growing-up, I used to be such an easy target for pretty much any marketing campaign under the sun - bonus points if the packaging matched the aesthetic of my room. ;)

But over the years I’ve learned how to approach budgeting and financing, and it has actually been so liberating. I wanted to share some of my tips in today’s post.

My first tip is a pretty basic one, and it’s simply to get on top of your budget. What are you making per month? What’s your rent/mortgage? What are your utilities? Are you still paying off student loans? After you’ve made a list of your core expenses, what do you have left over? How much do you want to save? What do you want to save for?

My tidy little Virgo heart would really like you to please make a color-coded Excel spreadsheet to record this all haha. ;)

A lot of people don’t take this basic step because they don’t really want to know the reality of what they are spending their money on. But knowing how much money you have going in and out will actually put you in control, and that’s powerful.

I used to avoid budgeting because I worried it would make me feel guilty for spending money on fun things. But instead, it allowed me to be a much better saver, and ultimately allowed me more money for fun since I wasn’t wasting money like I had previously. It was so easy to spend frivolously prior to budgeting, because I wasn’t looking at the hard numbers.

My second tip is to trial a little spending freeze. This one might sound scary, but bear with me. If you are feeling like you can’t get a handle on your bank account, try this. Look at your bank statements for the last three months and compile a list of all the non-essential items you purchased that you could totally do without. I bet you there will be a TON. Now add up how much money you would have saved had you not made those purchases. Would it be nice to still have that amount of money sitting on your bank balance? If so, it might be time to take a spending freeze for non-essential items. The biggest way to save money is to not spend it.

And no, this doesn’t mean never having your venti caramel machiatto ever again. It just means maybe having them a little less often.

Next up is one I sill struggle with periodically, but it’s important to learn to make “do” in your everyday life. This is all about using the resources you already have, instead of buying new ones. I think the mindset you need going into this is to be content and grateful for what you have, but also to be creative with what you have. Shop your closet, shop your home decor.

Another good way to practice this is to put off purchases. If there is something I’m eyeing up in a store that I don’t need, but that would be a nice-to-have, I don’t buy it right away. I wait a few weeks, and if I’ve forgotten about it, I know I didn’t really need it. But, if I can’t stop thinking about it and the item would actually improve my quality of life, then I’ll go back to purchase it. More often than not, I totally forget about the item in less than a week. Which says something.

My fourth tip is to start doing without. This is similar to cutting out non-essentials, except that here I’m talking about cutting some things out of your budget permanently. So, think about what you actually need to survive.

There are so many services and products out there nowadays that are deemed essential, but that most of the population did without just a few decades a ago. Things like cable, streaming subscriptions, brand new iPhones, brand new vehicles, massive wardrobes, etc. While the cost of living has definitely increased over the years, so much of what we are spending our money on is unnecessary to our actual quality of life.

Very often these days you’ll find households where there is a cable subscription, a Netflix subscription, a Hulu subscription AND additional monthly fees are being paid to have those services across multiple devices. I bet you could cut it all down to one Netflix subscription on just one device and your life wouldn’t change all that much.

Now, I absolutely believe that you should purchase what you need to thrive and continue living your life fully. I just think we could all be a bit more honest with ourselves about what things we actually need to thrive and live fully.

Reflect back on your buying habits. Stop buying for status. Stop buying for fear of missing out. Focus on what you have and what you really truly need.

My last tip is to be frugal, but not cheap. So much of what we consume these days is fast-fashion and products that are literally made to disintegrate within a certain period of time forcing you to buy another.

When I say be frugal, I mean saving up to buy quality pieces that will actually last you a lifetime. Or, buy those quality pieces second-hand.

This is why I love visiting the thrift store. Often I’ll find quality pieces of furniture and clothing for a fraction of what they cost originally. And they’ll last us so much longer than something I’d buy at Forever 21 or H&M.


Anyways guys that’s just a random little braindump for you today inspired by my morning Costco run where I saw a woman buying multiple iPads for her teenagers who were all following her around mindlessly while staring into their phones haha. Seeing stuff like that just gets me thinking. ;)

If you guys have anything to add I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Julia NelsonComment