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  • 8 Tricks to Living Frugal

    8 Tricks to Living Frugal

    Sandra Sherk

    Learning how to live frugal has become a necessary skill nowadays, especially if you live in a big city like Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal where living costs are on the rise. I am not ashamed to say I am a frugal person. Why? Because there is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Being frugal means being smart with your money, and understanding that value is just as important as price.

    How frugal living supports big financial goals

    Frugality has helped me as a Credit Counsellor. I practice what I preach, so I’m able to discuss different options and ideas with my clients that will help them save and get out of debt, and I can tell them that the ideas do in fact work! Living frugal has also allowed me to do well financially, even though my whole career has been in the not-for-profit sector. If frugal living seems like something you would like to try below are some of the different ways I’ve been able to live frugal and love it!  

    Consider used items instead of buying brand new 

    When I got my first job after university, I had to move and get my own apartment. I was lucky because my parents had just downsized and I could furnish my place with family items. I would love to have bought a new sofa bed but I knew that would make the other furniture look old and I couldn’t afford to buy all new items.  So instead, I bought wallpaper and spruced up my apartment that way. Many people commented on how well coordinated my place was.

    Cut vehicle costs by saving on gas whenever possible

    My dad shops at a grocery store that includes gas coupons on the receipt to a particular gas station. He doesn’t go to that gas station, so he saves them for me. The only difference is that instead of paying at the pump I have to go inside to pay, but I’m saving four cents a litre! To me it’s worth the effort but that might not be true for everyone. For example, my son (who could really benefit from the savings) says it isn’t worth the extra effort. To each his own, but I can truly say I’m happy to save four cents a litre on gas. Little savings here and there really do add up, so I never say no to an opportunity to save.

    Decrease bank charges by avoiding ATM service charges

    When you start to live frugal, you become very essential on your spending and find ways to cut out all unnecessary costs. For many of us, banking charges are one of those costs. Some people are paying  upwards of ten dollars a month just for a standard bank account! So having to pay ATM charges on top of that doesn't make any sense for most budgets. Don’t pay for additional service charges you can avoid. For example, I only use my bank’s ATMs and therefore avoid paying $6 in service charges for using another bank’s machine. 

    Brown bag your lunch to work to save big bucks

    Let's say you spend about $7 on lunch whenever you purchase it at work, and let's say you only buy lunch 3 days a week. That still works out to almost $1,100 a year, which could be put towards something better that will bring you more joy in the long-run, like a trip or giving a room in your home a makeover, or sprucing up your backyard or balcony. Even after all these years of working, I still consider a morning tea and lunch out as ‘treats’. I pack my lunch the majority of the time and I take my tea in a travel mug. And when I do go out for lunch, I thoroughly enjoy it! Living frugal doesn't mean suffering and saving every penny. It's about using every penny for things that truly matter to you, instead of spending it on frivolous things that will only bring you five minutes of semi-satisfaction. 

    Earn points that matter… and use them!

    Earning points and freebies should never drive your spending—don't use your credit card just for the sake of earning points—but if you are going to make the purchase anyway, you might as well earn points for it. Points or AirMiles on your credit card are good if you have the right credit card (for example, if it has no annual fee) and if you use the card wisely. That means paying off the balance in full every single month, and making your monthly payments on time. I have booked a number of flights using my AirMiles and the savings have been fantastic since it’s a no-fee credit card. I also clear my balance every month so I don’t pay interest charges. But it's important to use the points, otherwise it's pointless. 

    Save money on travel by cutting out the frills 

    I like to travel but I don’t like to pay the price that airlines charge for their inflight meals. Buying food at the airport can also cost you close to double than what it should had you bought the items at the grocery store. (And forget about buying drinks at the bar!) I take my own snacks to eat during the flight and I eat before or after the flight too. I also take my own earphones. Another tip is to wait to book your seat until 24 hours ahead of your flight time to avoid that extra $25 charge.

    Shop with a purpose to save

    I shop carefully for my clothes, shoes, etc. I like to buy quality items because they last longer, so I always watch for sales. I don’t just go to the mall and say, “Here I am!” with wallet in-hand. I plan. I also avoid going to the mall as a pastime. It's too easy to think that a small purchase here, and another one there won't make much of a difference, but it does, especially if you're making a trip to the mall once a week, or once every couple of weeks. 

    Frugal living means focusing on quality over quantity

    Quality items last longer, so you won't have to go out and buy a new one after a few months or a year. For example, my friends know I like colourful, quality purses. I shop at outlets to get the purse I want at a price I am willing to pay. I also wait until they offer an additional 50-60 percent off. I may pay a little more than I would for a department store purse, but I enjoy the quality purse more and I get a number of seasons out of the purchase. Purses go through a lot of wear-and-tear and I’ve noticed quality purses last significantly longer and uphold their quality, so you’re saving money if you shop smart and get them on discount.

    Contact Credit Canada for help on living frugal

    Being frugal over the years has allowed me to have a nice home, travel and save for my retirement. It’s a great way to help you save for the things that are most important to youlike a home, university/college, a wedding, or your retirementwhile not compromising your overall lifestyle. As Confucius said, “He who will not economize will have to agonize.” Use our Budget Calculator to see what areas you can cut back on in your everyday spending that will help you achieve your financial goals. But if you're looking for more specific, one-on-one advice, you can book a free counselling session with one of our friendly Credit Counsellors by calling 1.800.267.2272They can review your budget and suggest how you can cut your costs and become debt-free.


    Topics: Money Management

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