The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make the changes in your life that you’ve been wanting to make. If you’ve been looking for ways to make your life less stressful and save more money, the key is to simplify your lifestyle and live more frugally. It might seem like a challenge to make a lifestyle change, but you don’t have to change everything at once. Try starting out with some of these frugal tips:
1. Smaller Living Space
Your living space says a lot about your lifestyle. And just because you can afford to live in a gigantic house or a huge, spacious flat, doesn’t mean you have to. If moving is in the picture for you this year, then consider finding a smaller living space. This will simplify your life in so many ways – less area to clean, less energy usage, less stress and money spent in general.
2. One Car
For some families this seems like an impossibility, but according to Leo Babauta from ZenHabits.net, it’s possible to live with just one car even in a family of 8. If you think it’ll work for your family, then downscaling to just one car is a great idea to simplify your life and life more frugally. You’ll save on insurance, gas, and trips to the mechanic. It’ll also encourage you to walk, bike, or take public transit whenever possible.
3. Shop Used First
Need a new sofa? Or a new washing machine? When you’re shopping for big-ticket items, looking for used items first can really save you a lot of money. Check your local classifieds, Craigslist, and other buy/sell/trade sites to see if you can find the item you’re looking for. Chances are, you’ll find a used item that is just what you need, for a fraction of the price it would cost new.
4. Home Cooking
When it comes to frugal living, cooking at home is key. Not everyone is a domestic diva in the kitchen, but whatever your cooking skill level, cooking can be fun. It’s also a great way to spend time as a family, especially if you have kids. This year, try to cook at home most days of the week. This will save you a lot compared to going out, and it’ll also generally keep you eating healthier.
5. Brown Bag Lunch
This tip piggybacks on the previous one – if you work away from home, you’re probably often tempted to just go out to eat on your lunchbreak. Don’t give in! With a little prior planning, it’s easy to pack yourself a lunch (maybe leftovers from last night’s delicious dinner!) to bring with you to work. You’ll save a lot of money, and eat healthier.
6. Less Plastic
Who needs 15 different credit cards? That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that many Americans have several different credit cards that aren’t exactly necessary. This year, try scaling back your credit cards so you only have what’s necessary – maybe just one or two cards that you use when you need to. This will save you money (less impulse buys) and it will save you a few headaches.
7. Use The Library
Your local library is there for a reason – to be used! Getting a library card is generally super easy and free. You can check out books, movies, and music, which equals free entertainment. Libraries are also great if you have kids. They can choose books to check out, and you can also take them to Read-Alouds and other kids’ activities, which most libraries put on every week or so. If you have a kindle, check with your local library if they offer digital book downloads. Some do!
8. Walk, Walk, Walk
So many of us are so used to having cars that we’ll get in the car and drive even if we’re just going down the street. One great way to get started on your frugal living plan in 2015 is to start walking more. Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll also get good exercise.
9. Give Homemade
Some people see gift-giving as a time to show off what fancy things they can afford to buy, but that’s not really what it’s about. You can save money and also give gifts that truly touch the hearts of your friends and family by making gifts yourself. Whether it’s a cool painted mug, a knitted scarf, or a cute Mason jar full of cookie ingredients, they’ll definitely appreciate something you’ve put some time and effort into.
Along the same lines as giving homemade gifts, you can also start to DIY things that you would normally buy or hire someone to do. Tasks like oil changes, basic plumbing, and even making your own bread are things that are easy to learn and will save you money if you do them yourself.
11. Hang Dry
This is a really simple change you can make in your life, but it does make a difference. When it’s warm and sunny enough, your clothes will actually dry faster if you hang them outside. Plus, you’ll save electricity, which is good for your wallet and for the environment.
12. Clip Coupons
This is a pretty obvious tip, but so many people ignore it every day! Frugal living isn’t necessarily always about not buying things, but about getting what you need for the best price. It’s really worth it to clip coupons from the newspaper for things like groceries and personal care items. When you want to shop online, there’s almost always a coupon available for the item you want to buy. It just might take a bit of searching, but in the end it’s worth the savings.
13. Make Your Own Cleaners
Living more simply and frugally means buying less in general. You can cut one big expense out of your budget by making it yourself in 2015: household cleaners. There are tons of easy recipes out there that use very simple, cheap, and safe ingredients to make laundry detergent, dish detergent, and other cleaners.
14. Edible Garden
Of course this tip doesn’t mean to move out to a farm and become totally self-sustaining (although if you want to, go for it). What it means is, grow as much of your own food as you can. If you have a small space, you can easily grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and other vegetables. With more space you can grow things like corn, squash, and fruit trees. Make the most of the space you have!
15. Patch It Up
All to often, when our clothes wear out, we simply throw them out and go buy new. You can easy save yourself some money by starting to patch up your clothes. It doesn’t even take much sewing skill, and for small holes it will take you all of 5 or 10 minutes. Definitely worth the money you’ll save.
16. Get Electronics Online
The next time you need a new cable, camera, memory card, or other electronic device or accessory, don’t head to your local electronics store. When you shop for electronics online at sites like NewEgg, Tiger Direct, and MCM Electronics, you’ll save money, and generally find a wider selection, too.
Living more simply is all about scaling down so you have the things you need, you enjoy the things you have, and you value what’s most important in life – family, friends, and good times spent together. Use these tips to make 2015 a simpler, more frugal, and more fulfilling year.