When we talk about frugal and minimalist living, the frugal accomplishments over one year play a huge role. These accomplishments move you closer to your goal of financial freedom. Would you like to know which frugal living hacks really work and which ones are just myths? This article will give a collection of the top 20 tips.
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How to cut grocery costs all year?
Last year, as our world was facing many challenges outside, we decided to simplify our home life. Moving away from the big metropolitan city was our goal for many years. But this pandemic solidified that goal with more intensity. There were two reasons.
One was we discovered that we can work from anywhere. The world is finally ready for remote workers. And the second reason was we reduced our consumption and stuck with the basics. With these things, it is much faster to gain financial freedom. For us, it starts with location independence.
Over the period of last year, we followed some of the frugal hacks that we now call our best “Frugal Accomplishments”. They also are a part of our Frugal Living Manifesto now.
I hope you will find some of these frugal living hacks useful for achieving your financial goals this year.
Adopting easy meals for a frugal weekly menu– Proud Frugal Accomplishment
Food is the most important and expensive line item in our budget. Average American spends the most amount of their take-home pay on food after rent or mortgage. This amount is set to increase by 15% in 2022. So, adopting a few easy meals made with frugal food ingredients has saved us a ton of money over the years.
Since last year, we have seen a sharp increase in food prices. There are multiple factors at play here. The pipelines were cut, our nation is more dependent on imports, there are shipping delays and there is no proper planning to consider any contingencies. It is a collective responsibility of all citizens to be mindful of what we do with our freedom to choose. It is a topic for another day.
For now, choosing fresh raw unprocessed frugal food ingredients from our VERY Local farmer’s market helped us save a good amount of money on groceries. We chose to visit the big box store only a couple of times last year. Since we did not watch the fear-mongering news, we did not go to the stores to hoard toilet paper. Instead, that money was used to support local small shops by buying the food they canned for long-term storage.
The less your food travels, the fresher it remains. Be careful what you get at the big box stores. Sometimes, bulk food will save you money but if the quality is poor, you will pay more in medical bills.
We also switched to a local GALA superfood store instead of going to Trader Joe’s. The hype there is seriously overrated.
When most of the US was facing supply shortages of fresh foods or so we are being told by the very honest “media”, we never had any food shortage in any of the GALA stores in the city.
We kept getting fresh green veggies, fruits, handmade bread, and organic milk here. We managed to keep our grocery bill under $40 most times. These included fresh green veggies, herbs, milk, eggs, and some fruits.
Next time you look at your grocery spending, do consider visiting your local GALA stores. The people there are truly honest and hardworking. And see the difference between your Gala Receipt and regular grocery stores. It was an eye-opening exercise for us.
Pick only one or two stores where you can get real food without artificial ingredients. That way you limit your spending and make a frugal weekly plan within minutes.
RELATED ARTICLE- Busy Millennial’s guide to homemaking
Shopping frugal foods
This is the key. When you go to bulk food stores such as Costco, Sams, or even BJ’s, you will notice that your cart has barely any products, and yet the cost of one shopping trip is about $150+.
That is because our minds think that getting a 10 lbs sugar is a better deal than getting a 2lb one at the local store. But if you do not use sugar that much, it is not really a good deal.
If you find another person or family to split the bulk foods, go for it. But if you are a smaller family or a single person, let go of the bulk foods you rarely use.
We returned the organic cake mix bought at the big-box store because we rarely make cakes in this household. It is better to get a smaller pack when there is an occasion and you know you will use the food for this special occasion.
Always keep a Frugal Shopping List in your family’s budget binder. Use this as a reference list while planning your frugal weekly meals or menu plans. That way you can include a few pricey food ingredients in your weekly food budget without breaking the bank.
We also kept a few Frugal Foods in our pantry at all times this past year. Storing these bulk food ingredients in airtight glass jars or BPA-free containers is a wise idea. It will keep the food fresh longer.
Keeping a list of our favorite frugal family meals
We kept a list of our favorite frugal meals. Keeping this list on the refrigerator at all times helped me cook our meals faster without wasting any time to think what to cook for dinner or worse ordering in from the local restaurant.
Many of the ingredients we need for these 20 frugal meals are always in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. The recipes are always written beforehand on these Classic recipe cards. They are simple, functional, and minimalist.
If I am not around and hubby has to cook meals, he can do that without fidgeting over his phone looking for a recipe on youtube.
Simple meals meant simple preparation. It meant fewer utensils and quicker cleanup. This is a formula for lazy housewives like me.
Related Article– Lazy wifes ‘ guide to spring cleaning.
Setting up a frugal weekly menu
Do you plan your weekly meals? Even if you do not spend dedicated time planning meals, you may have a rough idea of what you can cook in a week right? Having that idea is great for your wallet too.
It helped in two ways:
- I saved time in meal planning. Since I already have the list of our favorite meals, and the list of frugal pantry ingredients, adding the meals to the menu plan takes less than 10-15 minutes.
- The monthly menu plan also helped us cut down the trip to grocery stores. We usually used to go to the big-box store once a month but since switching to monthly meal planning, we have been there once in 2 or even 3 months. Fewer visits to the store, more money in your wallet. If we needed any filler ingredients for fresh veggies, Gala was our first preference.
This transition was easy to make because we followed weekly frugal meal plans for a long time. For the monthly plan, I just collected our past weekly meal plans and arranged them on the monthly calendar according to the events for each week.
If you can not make a meal plan for the week, cook a few frugal dinners for your family in the week and save money every week.
Total Savings= $2400 approximately
Switching to a meatless menu– Another hard by Proud Frugal Accomplishment
You may have noticed that I did not include meats in this article. At the start of 2021, hubby decided to change his eating habits for health reasons. So we stopped buying red meat, and chicken and only kept Salmon on our grocery list.
For protein, we included lentils, beans, healthy oils, Ghee, and avocado instead. This helped him healthwise and our grocery budget also went down.
Total Savings= $4000 Approximate
Decluttering the kitchen to make space for bulk family dinners
This past year, we sold quite a lot of kitchen gadgets including a slow cooker, ice cream maker, bread maker, etc., and invested in Instant Pot instead. It has streamlined our family dinners and lunches.
How about you? how many kitchen gadgets do you use regularly? How many of those gadgets are continuously hooked up and on? It costs you money for keeping the gadgets always on.
Pairing down kitchen essentials also helped the electricity cost down. We have an electric stove. It takes a while to heat it and it stays warmer long after the meals are made. Such a waste of electricity. Switching to Instant Pots has been the best decision for us ever. We sold our extra gadgets to make money for Instant Pot and I got it during Black Friday last year.
We also gained premium real estate back in our tiny kitchen. It is not motivating me to cook bulk meals and do a quick clean-up afterward.
Cooking bulk frugal family dinners
We now cook only once the night and use leftovers the next day for lunch. We call it our ” Frugal Dinner Menu plan” now because the regular meal plan has shrunk to a tiny size. This has also given both of us time to complete our studies and consume nutritious frugal dinners under budget.
Total Savings= $400- $500 approximate
Switching to InstaPot for all the frugal dinners
I resisted falling for yet another kitchen gadget when Instapot came around the first time. I was already using the slow-cooker then. In fact, I had two of them- one was a 3-pot slow cooker and one was a huge 7qt slow cooker. They were helpful already but they were taking up a huge space in our tiny kitchen.
Another thing was the slow cooking. Although the meals were nutritious, at times I just wanted the slow cooker to do a job of a pressure cooker. I know too much to ask right? So, finally, a friend of mine told me how much time she is saving with Instant Pot, and I decided to give it an honest try.
It was a bit of a learning curve and I’m a lazy housewife so I stick with my ways of doing things. But then slowly, I started making all our frugal dinner meals in the Instant Pot and it felt so much better to not have 3 different pots to clean up afterward. Now, we cook all our dinners in an Instant Pot. I love it so much that I got brave and started using other functions that it came with.
It has replaced two slow-cookers, one yogurt maker, a double boiler, and one stove-top pressure cooker.
You do not need an instant pot to make bulk meals. Any big size pot or pressure cook will do the trick. The only other thing you may need to invest in is good-quality glass food storage containers like these. You can even find them in your local thrift stores.
Total Saving= $480 Approximate
Switching to frugal healthcare insurance– The best Frugal Accomplishment so far!
Do you spend way too much on health insurance in the USA? Our cost of health insurance has risen consistently over the last few decades. Yet the amount of actual health care that keeps people healthy has gone down.
People who have taken charge of their healthy by living a healthy wholesome life with fewer artificial ingredients and less stress can keep themselves out of the expensive hospital system in this country.
Anyway, switching my very expensive medical insurance to Liberty health share has helped us save about $700 per month. This number may look different for you and your family. But, certain factors reduce the monthly premium such as:
- Following a healthy lifestyle of a nutritious diet
- Keeping a regular fitness regime
- Not smoking
- Not being dependent on stimulants such as Alcohol or other suppressants
- Keeping a healthy self-care routine
- Not having critical or chronic illnesses
I try to follow a healthy natural whole diet as much as possible and do not have any medications for chronic illnesses. My natural home medicine cabinet is fully stocked with homemade natural remedies for most common ailments. If required, our local chiropractor does adjustments for posture correction.
I’m also learning alternative health and have been practicing whole health modalities for more than a decade. All this has led to huge savings for us.
I love their corporate philosophy too. If you are self-employed or even employed but do not like the way your health insurance is affecting your family’s budget, look into Liberty health share.
Total Savings= $7000/-
Keeping frugal shopping habits
Keeping our shopping trips to a minimum helped in 2021. We did “spending fast” on clothing for the whole year. Both of us did not buy any clothing items except the one hubby got from his college after completing his post-graduate degree.
We also did not shop for any linens, bedspreads, or pillows last year. I bought good-quality organic cotton fabric instead and stitched simple pillows at home. For bedspreads, I am currently looking for the best options in cotton or hemp material. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments for me.
We kept our bookstores’ visit to 0 last year. I still kept getting the books I needed for my course from Thriftbooks, the local library, or Amazon.
Related Article- 40 Money-saving habits for Financial Freedom
Switching off the devices when not in use
Saving on electricity with the Instant Pot- We consistently managed to keep our electricity bill down to under $100 during the summer and spring months. Switching off the devices when not used helped. Not watching television every evening also helped.
Total saving= $120 Approximate
Switching to homemade natural home-cleaning supplies
For years we used to use store-bought cleaning supplies. They were ok to use but soon I started getting allergies from disinfectants, air fresheners, and heavy-duty cleaners.
I learned to make homemade cleaning supplies by watching a few you-tube videos and finally got the right blend for our needs. All the supplies needed for these DIY cleaners are available easily in most stores or on Amazon. Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in huge a Gallon Bottle lasts us for more than a year.
Total savings= $200 Approximate
Learning to negotiate like your life depends on it!
How often do you negotiate to get the best deals on the most common purchases? Since “mall culture” has taken over our modern life, many of us tend to assume that we can not ask for a good bargain. Some people even think it’s rude to ask for a better deal or do bargain hunting. Do you know who wins in this mindset? Everyone else but you.
Even if you negotiate just one monthly bill down to lower rates, you save a good chunk of change. We lowered our monthly phone bill with this tip. We also negotiated for the heating unit, water filter unit, water heater, and latest a huge book bundle.
Be willing to wait to get the best deal. And if you do not get it, walk away. The stores always want sales and they will do their best to give you a deal.
And if they don’t, you can always check other stores. Be loyal to your bank account not to the stores or a brand.
Total saving= $ 750 Approximate
Decluttering the stuff we have in the house
This tip made us some money in 2021, not a lot but enough to pay some bills. We sold most of the stuff locally, on Mercari, Poshmark, and on Offerup. This helped us in packing our essentials quickly. It is also become easier to clean up the whole house in under 30 minutes.
Do you pay for storing the stuff you do not use often? Is there a full garage or a local storage unit you pay monthly to store “the stuff” that you do not use now and have a doubt that you will use in near future? Add up the monthly fees for these storage options and consider decluttering this year.
Total savings= $500/-
Swithing to a frugal wardrobe– Proud Frugal Accomplishment
We switched to a minimalist capsule wardrobe at the start of 2019. Hubby always had minimal but quality clothing. He rarely shops for trends and sticks with basic good quality clothing. He is also very careful with the way he maintains his clothing.
I followed his advice and kept only 2 pairs of jeans, 2 yoga pants, a couple of blouses, lingerie, and 2 nightdresses. It also made the laundry chores super simple. I also downsized the accessories.
Since the Pandemic hit us, remote working has been the norm. So did not need as many clothing items and decided to let go of them during the last decluttering in November.
Do you notice how many clothes in your wardrobe as just sitting there since the Pandemic? Consider selling or donating them to make room for the stuff that you use often. Our main wardrobe has become the office supplies and pantry storage area now.
Total saving= $400
Switching to all natural and frugal makeup
How often do you purchase new makeup? There are some beauty bloggers, who keep buying a bucket load of makeup every month- agree they do the reviews with that much makeup but imagine how much of that is going to the landfill.
After discovering the horrible cancer-causing ingredients in most makeup and personal care items, I officially stopped applying full makeup at the start of 2015.
Total saving= $100 approximate
Choosing frugal handmade home decor items
Since we downsized our home a couple of years back, we kept the decor to minimal. Most of the decor is DIY- We love to switch the wall decors with prints. Check out some of the seasonal decors I have made last year for the fall.
For Valentine’s Day, you will find a beautiful wall decor printable to celebrate the season of love.
Simple printable doctor saves space to store the decor items and cleaning is a breeze. I still have some sentimental decor items from years ago but we paired them down quite a bit and sold some to make room for essentials.
How about you? you do prefer seasonal decor or evergreen decor?
Total saving= $150- $200
Sticking with a small frugal Christmas budget
This year, we did not spend much on Christmas gifts. Instead, we used handmade greeting cards to wish our friends and family. I was looking for an upgrade to a laptop for months. We finally found one after Christmas. It was a big Christmas spend.
Prepping for a stress-free holiday helped us keep the expenses down significantly. Have you seen our stress-free holiday planner?
It helped me and my customers plan our holiday schedule, activities, and budget without unnecessary worries or overwhelm because you start planning for any holiday weeks in advance. Try it out and experience simple holiday living yourself.
Total saving= $300-$350
Be mindful during Black Friday Shopping.
This year, we invested in a few educational resources and work tools during Black Friday. These tools will save us a good amount of money over the whole year.
Total saving= $1280/- due to deals on monthly membership tools and some bulk deals.
Expected benefits- multiple. The tools will save more time. I can potentially add more products and bring in more revenue over the period next year.
Related Article- Black Friday Deals for Frugal bloggers and Entrepreneurs
Following frugal minimalist living
We tried to keep our living very minimalist this year due to the upcoming changes in locations. Whenever we had an option to buy something, we looked for ways to repurpose what we already had or look for a real bargain deal if we could not find the perfect repurposing idea.
E.g We wanted to purchase an office table when hubby started working from home during the pandemic. Since he needed quite a large set-up, I gave him my desk. I had to find another table but not knowing how long the work from home will last, we canceled getting a new desk for me and used the dining table instead. Then we sold even that dining table as it was bulky and taking up extra space.
Then we repurposed waired shelving with the wooden shelf on top for a few months of work. Eventually, hubby returned to work and I got my desk back.
In just a few months we saved a few hundred bucks by postponing major purchases and repurposing the stuff we had around the house.
Is there anything you need to purchase for yourself or your family? Try to find ways to repurpose. It’s fun doing this once in a while.
Thanks to following this mindful frugal lifestyle, we both managed to continue our advanced education. Hubby has finished his master’s and I will complete mine by August this year. We also chose to be location-independent this year.
How about you? What frugal tips, wins, and accomplishments have you experienced past year? Please share them with me and our blog readers.