Frugal Tips For Saving Money Without Sacrificing Quality Of Life

Living frugally has become a consistent goal in the lives of American consumers. Frugality has become a badge of honor among both those in younger generations, as well as older Americans hoping to maximize their retirement savings and other financial planning objectives. Saving money and creating long-term wealth will enhance your lifestyle tremendously, but it isn't always easy to follow through on plans for saving. For many, the infusion of frugal living tactics can seem like a gigantic step away from quality-of-life necessities in the present. Young people, especially, might feel a squeeze since many people in their youth often prioritize nights out with friends and other experiences in the moment ahead of future financial considerations.

The reality, though, is that responsible money management doesn't have to cut into your lifestyle substantially. There will be some tradeoffs, of course, but they don't have to be life altering and/or socially painful. Tightening your belt in a few key ways can help you let loose in others that will maintain your participation in hobbies and time spent with friends or family. These simple tips can help you make the most of your budgeting practices in order to chase after long-term financial planning without sacrificing your current quality of life.

1. Lean into the joys of home cooking

The first thing frugal spenders will want to target comes in the form of meal planning. Eating out at restaurants or ordering take-out is a great way to quickly run out of free cash. Restaurants, naturally, mark up prices to turn a profit and, per the small business loans platform Funding Circle, customers can expect to pay 300% more than the wholesale cost.

There's absolutely room to include dinner dates and special occasions out with friends or family in your budget, but consumers can easily overdo it when thinking about what they're going to eat on a nightly basis. The problem is compounded further for those who work in offices and feel the pressure (or a desire) to routinely go out or order lunch with coworkers. This becomes two mealtimes where eating prepared portions might be the easy choice yet costs substantially more.

As a frugal alternative, many people looking for financial relief will lean into the practice of home cooking. Preparing meals at home doesn't have to mean a boring slate of the same three or four plates each week. By cooking at home, you will save heaps of cash on your overall monthly food expense, meaning there's suddenly room in the budget for a regular inclusion of more luxurious ingredients and adventurous dishes. Eating out is a great way to stay floundering financially, and it's therefore one of the worst ways you can waste your money.

2. Delay your next upgrade

Another important strategy for living frugally, but not at the expense of quality of life, comes as a rethink about the way you upgrade electronics and other "lifestyle gear." From your computer to your car, consumer spending is often focused on replacing long-standing equipment that helps to manage daily life. With the cycle of new releases of smartphone technology ramping up to a yearly schedule, consumers are bombarded with advertising surrounding the latest and greatest in phone tech. But the truth is that your cell phone will often perform its responsibilities for as long as you wish to keep it. Barring a truly broken device, your old phone isn't likely to miss a step until the manufacturer stops supporting it with routine updates. For reference, Samsung phones ship with seven years of security and operating system updates, while Apple devices offer six to eight years of support, depending on the model.

With a lengthy timeline of modern technological performance in perspective, the one-year release cycles that these and other phone manufacturers have developed seem somewhat frivolous. Instead of spending $1,000 on a new phone every year or two, shift this purchase to once every three or four years. This will give you an extra chunk of money to save for retirement or pay down outstanding bills on a yearly basis. You don't have to forget about upgrades altogether, simply delay them by a year or two whenever possible for increased financial mobility.

3. Look for cost-effective purchasing alternatives

The way you spend your money is just as important as what you're spending it on. Many consumers purchase the same kinds of goods and services on a routine basis. For example, it's likely that you've heard the adage about cutting out your morning coffee in order to save more. Though this concept is one financial tidbit you would do well to stop believing, it might be worth checking out other coffee shops on your way to work to bag a cheaper cup of Joe on your morning commute.

Buying in bulk is another important purchasing decision that many smart consumers prioritize. For instance, the shopping practice is among Mark Cuban's best tips for money management. Buying in bulk gives you a discount on some of the things you'd be spending money on anyway. Consumables like rice, toilet paper, ground beef, and even hobby or workplace necessities, like golf balls or drill bits, should be bought in bulk whenever possible. You'll always use these kinds of purchases and if stored correctly, they won't go bad. Buying in bulk offers purchases at a lower unit cost, driving the overall amount you have to spend to get the things you need down over the long term.

4. Consider tackling projects around the house yourself

Handling household projects yourself is another practical way to be frugal without cutting into your quality of life. DIY solutions often cost far less than the prices charged by professionals. Of course, if you aren't confident in the work that needs to be done — e.g., wiring a new light fixture in your home — hiring a professional isn't only the safer approach but can end up as a more cost-effective solution, too. For example, hiring a pro from the start rather than dealing with a botched DIY that then needs to be taken apart before a proper solution can be implemented.

Even so, any home improvement or repair job you can tackle on your own is one you should try to target. One great example lies in lawn care. Every yard will be a unique undertaking, but the average homeowner spends $100 to $400 per month for professional full-service lawn care service. Buying a lawn mower and edger (if you don't already have these tools) works out to be a drop in the bucket compared to ongoing lawn care costs.

A moderate purchase upfront will save you tremendously over the long term. Perhaps even more beneficially, mowing your own lawn gives you an opportunity to get out in the sunshine on a regular basis. Eliminating expenses you don't need to be paying because you have the skills and the tools to perform the work yourself creates an immense sense of accomplishment, all the while saving you potentially huge money over the long term with each passing project that you tackle yourself.

5. Utilize coupons, cash back, and rewards

Finally, many shoppers simply fail to take advantage of rewards programs, price-reducing coupons, and cash-back opportunities that can make their shopping experience far more cost-effective overall. Using a cash-back credit card (and, most importantly, paying off the monthly balance) will provide you with a small cost reduction in the form of your cash-back offer with each purchase.

Coupons are another great way to save money on the things that you're already purchasing. Online browser extensions that apply coupon codes can be a godsend as they automatically find and apply price-reducing codes to your order. In store, meanwhile, signing up for rewards programs at places you frequent and hunting for discount opportunities wherever you can find them can minimize your regular spending categories like groceries, clothing, or even gasoline.

In many cases, there's little need to spend overt time or energy hunting discount opportunities, too. Plenty of price-reducing tools simply fall into the laps of astute consumers. Anytime you're gifted the chance to reduce the cost of your basket, you should take it. Anything that can reduce your outgoing expenses creates additional capital that can be directed elsewhere without requiring a big financial sacrifice.