17 Real Frugal Living Tips That Will Save You Money in 2020

Do you want to become more frugal? Try these simple frugal living tips to help you embrace a frugal lifestyle that will help you save some serious money.

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Living a frugal lifestyle is a great way to save money, and make your finances go further without having to really sacrifice your lifestyle or standard of living. 

Saving money without sacrificing your lifestyle sounds like the dream, doesn’t it? Well, a frugal lifestyle can help you get there. 

What is frugal living?

Frugal living can mean different things to different people. But at its core, frugal living is about making the choice to be more intentional with your spending. 

And it’s also about knowing when not to spend and when to hold back on something that doesn’t quite fit into your budget.

It’s not about being stingy, but it is about finding ways to save where you can, and to be smarter about the decisions that you make about your spending. 

Why you should give frugal living a try

Ultimately, a frugal lifestyle is just about prioritising the things that are important to you. 

Forget sacrifice and deprivation (unless that’s important to you!) 

Frugal living is about smarter spending, figuring out what’s meaningful to you and deprioritising the rest. 

And when you do that, you unlock the freedom to enjoy the things that you really value in life. 

What can a frugal lifestyle help you achieve?

Adding some of these frugal living tips to your life can really help you to uplevel your life and achieve your financial goals.

A frugal lifestyle has helped people to do things like

  • Pay off credit card and student loan debts
  • Save up a deposit for a mortgage
  • Quit their soul sucking day job to travel the world
  • Start that dream business
  • Or even just save up an emergency fund for some peace of mind

So  let’s dive into those frugal living tips. 

Don’t worry, you don’t have to follow them all. 

If you’re a complete beginner to the frugal lifestyle then pick a couple of these ideas to start with. Choose the ones that you can slip into your routine. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you and can start to incorporate more of them.

Frugal Living Tips

Dishes of healthy food being prepared

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 1: Cook your own food 

The food budget is a pretty good place to start when you’re trying to trim your expenses.

It’s no secret you can save money by cooking at home instead of ordering in. But have you ever thought about how much you can save?

On average, it can be 5 times more expensive to order in food. 

Depending on how often you’re ordering in or dining out, switching to cooking your own food could save you hundreds.

And when I say cook your own food, I’m not talking about using a meal kit service. Sure, they’re convenient, and often cheaper than dining out. But they still work out as around 3 times more expensive than cooking from scratch at home.

So you might want to think twice the next time your thumb is hovering over the Deliveroo app.

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 2: Meal planning

Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated.

All it takes is an hour or so to decide on what you want to eat throughout the week. 

If you do it right, it can be a game changer for your budget, and your time. 

Grab some paper and start by making a list of what you already have in the kitchen. Go through your cupboards, your fridge and your freezer. 

Then go through your recipe books or favourite recipe sites for ideas to use the ingredients you already have. Anything you need that isn’t already in the kitchen goes on your grocery list.

Be inventive about what else you can cook. If you have a recipe that uses half a bag of kale, what recipes can you find that will use up the other half? Get creative with what you have! This can spark another recipe idea, and cuts down on food waste so it’s a win for the environment and your budget.

If you want to really ramp up the savings, you can also check what’s on sale at your supermarket that week, and use that as a basis for your meal plans. 

So how does this save you money?

Simple. If you go food shopping without a plan it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying anything that you see with no real idea of how you’ll use them to make proper meals or what you have at home already. 

And I don’t know about you, but I find it kind of exhausting to come up with dinner ideas every day, so knowing that my whole week of meals is already planned out is a huge stress reliever.

But if coming up with your own meal plan is too overwhelming for you then get someone else to meal plan for you. I stumbled across Erin’s $5 Meal Plan a while back, and it is SO good! She’s done most of the hard work you. For just $5 a month Erin email’s you a weekly meal plan where each meal will cost about $2 per person or less. She even includes a shopping list, so all you’ll have to do is get the ingredients and follow the recipe!

She has a sample meal plan on her site if you want a better idea of the amazing meals that Erin comes up with. Check it out here.

And don’t fret if you’re not in the US – the meal plan is emailed out every week so you can make use of it no matter where you are in the world.

If you’re interested you can sign up for a 14 day free trial here.

Glass jars of dried beans and legumes on a wooden shelf

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 3: Bulk up your meals 

Bulking up meals is one of the most traditional frugal living tips, but it works.

There a ton of different things you can use to bulk out meals.

Red lentils are high on my list, and one of my all time favourite kitchen staples. 

They’re super cheap and packed with protein, fibre and minerals, making them filling and nutritious. 

Plus, they cook up quickly so you can toss a few handfuls in at the last minute and they’ll break down until they’re fall-apart-soft. Perfect for thickening soups, chilli, curries, casseroles and mince dishes. 

You can do the same thing with oats. 

Dried beans and legumes are another cheap and awesome pantry staple for bulking out meals. You’ll need a bit more advance planning though, as most of them need to be soaked first, and they take a lot longer to cook. 

Glass containers filled with healthy batch cooked food


Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could spend more time on the things you love doing?  Well, with batch cooking you can reclaim time that you’d normally be spending in the kitchen! 

After all, it doesn’t take that much more time and energy to cook four meals than it does to cook one, so you might as well save yourself some effort and cook extra when you can. 

You can reheat leftovers for a speedy lunch or dinner the next day, or portion them up and freeze them to have as a quick “ready meal” another day. 

This can be really handy if you know you’ve got a really busy time coming up – your future self will thank you!

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 5: Pack your own lunch

I once read that we spend around £1,500 / $2,000 a year on lunches. 

That breaks down to around £6 / $8 a day. 

On it’s own doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re not careful then this is an area of spending where a lot of small purchases can soon add up to a lot of money. 

If that’s you then the good news is that there’s a lot of saving potential in bringing your own lunch. 

If it feels too overwhelming to make the full switch to packed lunches in one go, try adding bits at a time. 

So, bring your own drink, fruit, snacks and just buy the sandwich. You can buy most of that stuff in multipacks from the supermarket, so it’s way less effort but can still save you a lot of money. 

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 6: Try store brand

Forget spending time looking for coupons. Buying store brand goods is a fuss free way of spending less without buying less. 

A lot of store brand stuff (aka generic brand) is made in the same factory as the branded stuff – so there’s no difference between them apart from the packaging.

Can’t bear to break up with your favourite brands? Try swapping out just one or two of your faves for the generic version to start with. 

Most of the time you can even max out your savings by trying the generic generic brand. Confused?

In essence, there are 4 main tiers. 

  1. Premium – these are often marketed with words like “luxury” or “finest” to give the impression of a more premium product
  2. Branded – manufacturer brands, like Cadbury’s, Heinz, Nestle
  3. Own brand – there are the store brand versions of the branded products
  4. Value brand – more stripped back and no frills, and usually with very basic packaging to give the impression of a more “economy” product

You might notice the branded tier moving around a bit. Depending on the product, sometimes it’s pricier than premium and sometimes it’s cheaper than store brand, but usually it’s somewhere in the middle. 

So if you usually buy branded then try dropping down a tier to the store’s own brand product. 

If you try it and don’t notice a difference then stick with it. 

Or you can shift down again to the value brand for even more savings. If you can’t taste the difference then there’s no point in paying more for prettier packaging. And it can save you up to 30% off your grocery bill!

If you don’t like the value brand you can always move back up a tier and still save money. 

Basket of reusable bags and eco cleaning supplies

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 7: Bring your own bag

If you’re not already bringing your own bag with you when you go out shopping then you’re throwing money away! Here in the UK shops have been charging for bags for a few years now, but if you’re still paying the plastic bag charge then get in the habit of bringing your own bag with you. 

Buy a couple of foldable tote bags like these, and toss them into your handbag. You can get them in really cute prints and they lightweight and fold up really small so they don’t take up much room. 

Yes, I did say to buy something on a frugal tips post, but trust me! Reusable shoppers will last you years, so you’ll soon recoup your investment.

Plus, reducing your plastic use is way better for the environment too.

I always keep one of these foldable bags in my handbag at all times, but for grocery shopping I find these stronger jute bags to be better.

The foldable bags don’t have as much structure, so we found that food and packaging was getting squashed, especially if we packed in a hurry or had a lot of heavy things to carry.

The bags were also getting worn and damaged quite quickly.

So we switched to sturdier jute back for our food shop and kept the foldable bags for lighter, everyday shopping, and everything is lasting so much longer! We’ve been using the same set of bags for 5 years now, so they’re lasting really well. 

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 8: Get crafty with your cleaning

Hands up if you have a cupboard stuffed with cleaning products for every room of the house. 

I’ll be honest, although I love a clean home, cleaning isn’t an activity that’s high on my list. 

I find myself getting swept up in the #cleanfluencer hype, looking for that holy grail cleaning product and thinking that I need something different for every surface and stain in your home. 

Sound familiar?

But lately I’ve managed to trim down my cleaning supplies, and the upshot is that it’s saved my money and is waaay less overwhelming to deal with. 

Instead of a billion different sprays, I now use


Stardrops is amazing at cutting through dirt and grease, and is so cheap.

I add a good splodge of it to a spray bottle dilute with water. Used with microfibre cloth, it makes a fantastic multi surface cleaner for practically every room.

And if I have any grease spots on clothes then I use a dab of it neat before washing.

I am absolutely obsessed with the stuff, but if you can’t find any then washing up liquid or castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s works as well. 

Although I’ve also started using bar soaps a bit more lately, like this Savon du Marseille. It’s a little pricier, but the block is HUGE so it should last a long while, and I appreciate that it’s completely plastic free.


This basic ingredient is an amazing household all rounder (but make sure you get the white stuff and not brown malt vinegar!)

Vinegar has some mild antibacterial qualities, and the acidity helps cut through grease.

I use it for everything from

  • deodorising wood chopping boards
  • deodorising and unclogging drains
  • getting rid of hard water stains
  • descaling the kettle, the shower head and taps
  • as a substitute for fabric softener….

The list goes on!

The smell goes away pretty quickly, but if you’re really not keen then make a scented citrus vinegar.

To make this two ingredient non-toxic all purpose cleaner just add some used citrus peel to a glass jar and cover with neat vinegar. Leave it steep for at least a week, then strain.

You end up with a beautiful sunny coloured vinegar that’s infused with citrus oil which boosts the cleaning power of the vinegar and makes surfaces shine! Just dilute it 50/50 with water before you use it.

A heads up – if you have porous surfaces like stone, granite or wood furniture then stay away from the vinegar because it will damage them.


Baking soda has so many great uses.

Mix it with a bit of washing up liquid and a tiny splash of water for a gently abrasive cream cleaner which is perfect for getting stubborn food residue off pans, or that annoying scummy surface on the shower screen door.

It’s also perfect for deodorising – just sprinkle liberally over dry carpet, fabrics or upholstery, let it sit for 20 minutes (or overnight if you can!) and then vacuum it up.

You can even use it to freshen up tupperware containers or shoes.

A generous amount of baking soda followed by vinegar and hot water is also an easy (and fun!) way to unclog a sink. 

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 9: Line dry your clothes

Tumble dryers can be huge electricity hogs so check the weather forecast before you do laundry and hang it out to dry whenever you can. 

I’ll admit, this can be hard to stick to, especially in winter. Or if you live somewhere like the north east of England, like I do.

But nothing quite beats the fresh smell of line dried laundry, and the savings on your energy bill can be huge. 

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 10: Buy used and second hand where you can 

Before you buy something new, have a quick check to see if you can find it second hand. 

It can save you a lot of money, and rescuing perfectly usable goods from landfill is much better for the environment.

A great place to start shopping second hand is with your wardrobe and furniture. 

Check your charity or thrift shops for second hand clothes at great prices, or you can take a look at apps like Schpock and Poshmark. 

Charity shops can also be a great place to look for furniture, and your local classified listings can also be a good place to unearth some bargains.

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 11: Reframe your thinking 

Think of your purchases in terms of hours worked.

This doesn’t work for everything, but it can be a powerful way of curbing impulse purchases.

For example, if you make £12 an hour, then that new Morphe eye palette is 2 hours of work. With that in mind, do you still need it?

Lots of things don’t seem worth it to me when I think like this!

Find a side hustle that you can start from your own home office to maximise your income and earn more money

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 12: Find a Side Hustle 

It’s a mistake to think that you can save your way to financial freedom.

Sure, it’s a huge help to keep an eye on your expenses and save money where you can, but cutting back is only half the picture.

To really maximise your wealth you need to combine a healthy amount of saving with a way to increase your income.

Your financial goals will only really start to come to life if you can find a way to maximise your income while minimising your expenses.

And the easiest way to do that is to find a side hustle.

It can be a challenge to add another spinning plate to your life, so try and start with something you enjoy doing. Maybe there’s a way you can monetise your hobbies? Or perhaps you have a skill that is high demand? Maybe you want to start your own blog?

The great thing about the internet is how easy it start putting your knowledge to work and start earning some extra income.

Need some ideas? Check out this post:
13 Proven Side Hustles You Can Start Right Now

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 13: Get paid to shop

Would you turn down free cash? If you’re not already using cashback sites you may be leaving some money on the table. 

If you know you’re going to be making a purchase anyway then spend a few minutes checking cashback sites such as Rakuten, Quidco or TopCashBack

You can get money back on all sorts of things these days, from energy bills and insurance to toiletries, food and electricals. It really doesn’t take much time to have a quick check on the app, and then make your purchase through them.  

Even savvy, frugal folk have to shop, but when they do you can bet that they get paid for it!

You can also get cashback credit cards that will give you a little bit of extra money back on your credit card purchases. We earn an extra £60 or so a year with our cashback credit card, and it’s basically free money when you consider that we’d be making those purchases anyway!

 A word of warning though – treat it like a debit card and make sure you can pay your bill off in full every month, otherwise it’s definitely not worth it.

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 14: Give your cards a rest / Use cash

Try leaving your credit and debit cards at home for a while and sticking to a cash based budget. 

Physically exchanging cash for goods makes spending feel much more real, and can really help you to evaluate whether you can actually afford something, and whether you really need it after all. 

You don’t have to do this long term, but paying in cash can be a powerful way to make you more aware of your spending and your financial situation.

If you’re struggling to curb overspending then give the money envelope budgeting system a try to help you see where your money’s going.

If it isn’t practical for you to use cash only for a few weeks, then try a virtual money envelope system.

Apps like Money Dashboard will categorise your spending for you so you can see exactly where it’s all going, and then decide where you can afford to cut back.

Some of them even let you set savings goals to help motivate you!

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 15: Sell what you don’t need

Frugal living is about prioritising the things that are important to you and simplifying our spending. So it makes sense to carry that over to our surroundings. 

And let’s face it, most of us are surrounded by things that we no longer want or need. 

By clearing out that clutter you’re making more space for the things that are really important to you. But one person’s junk is another person’s treasure, so why not make a bit of cash in the process? 

Use sites like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace to shift things that no longer serve you. If you’re decluttering your wardrobe then you can also try somewhere like Poshmark. 

Coffee and notepaper on a white desk

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 16: Do a subscription audit 

Look over your bank statements for the past 3-6 months.

Are there any subscriptions or direct debits that you can cancel?

Have a think about whether you’re really reading that monthly magazine, or participating in that monthly membership.

It’s also worth checking to see if you’re out of contract for an old subscription but are still being charged for it. Or maybe you signed up for a free trial but forgot to cancel it.

All these little things can add up, we can be haemorrhaging money without realising it.

Checking over your account and statements every few months (atleast!) is a great way to keep on top your money and evaluate if you’re still happy with where you’re spending it.

FRUGAL LIVING TIP 17: Automate your savings and investments

As you get into the frugal living lifestyle and start reducing some of your expenses, make sure that you have a plan for those savings. A great idea is to funnel them directly into a separate savings account. This keeps your money working hard for you, and gets rid of the temptation to spend it mindlessly. 

Being able to see exactly how much you’re saving can be a really powerful motivator to help you continue on your frugal journey, and can inspire you to look for other ways to save. 

Embracing your frugal journey

Most of these easy frugal living tips can save you some serious money starting today so if you’ve been thinking about saving money and living a more frugal life I hope this post has been useful.

Frugal living comes from making little lifestyle and mindset shifts, but you don’t have to try and do it all at once. 

Be gentle with yourself. 

Try weaving one or two of these tips into your life at a time. Eventually all those small changes will add up and you’ll build that money saving momentum that will help you take more control of your finances. 

So what are your favourite frugal or money saving tips? Do you already do any of these tips on a regular basis? Let me know!

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Want to become more frugal? Try these simple frugal living tips to help you embrace a frugal lifestyle that will help you save some serious money!