It takes serious strategy to save serious money.
Unless you've won the lottery, acquiring wealth takes a lot of hard work. Not only do you have to put years into a career, but you also have to be disciplined about keeping the money you make. People who are serious about growing their bank accounts usually have frugal lifestyle habits that make saving go more quickly. By implementing some (or all) of these habits in your own life, you can supercharge your savings rate and enjoy a richer life, in every sense of the word.
1. Frugal people prepare food from scratch. They refuse to pay a premium for convenience, preferring to make their own meals and freeze extras for emergency meals. They avoid eating out.2. Frugal people always have a meal plan. This makes cooking go more smoothly and efficiently. It allows a person to cook from the fridge or the pantry, using up ingredients that will expire soon, or focusing on the cheapest and most delicious seasonal produce.
3. Frugal people use every drop. They are masters at squeezing out every bit of toothpaste and face cream, draining jars of olive oil and maple syrup, simmering leftover bones into stock, turning the dregs of Dijon mustard into vinaigrette, and stockpiling butter wrappers for greasing cake pans. (Read: How to use the last little bit of your beauty products)
4. Frugal people shop second-hand. They make it a habit to check thrift stores, the ReStore, local auctions, consignment stores, and online swap sites like Craigslist and Freecyle before paying for something new. If they don't find what they want, they may choose to wait or buy the item new, but the point is that buying new is not their default action, and it often works out for them.
5. Frugal people value quality and reliability. Trends and brand names matter little to them. They want something that will last and do its task superbly, and they're willing to pay a premium for this.
6. Frugal people repair before replacing. When something breaks, they don't throw it out immediately and buy a replacement. They assess whether it's possible to fix it first and get in touch with local service providers to see what can be done to extend the item's lifespan.
7. Frugal people are low maintenance. This is not to say they're unkempt, but they consciously choose not to pour money into expensive aesthetic procedures on a regular basis. Manicures, hair styling, spa visits, massages, etc. are enjoyed occasionally, rather than being on permanent rotation in one's calendar. The same goes for clothes; quality and simplicity matter more than trends.
8. Frugal people stay home. They are content to have quiet evenings in and to entertain friends at home, so as not to incur the costs associated with going out, especially with eating at restaurants and buying drinks. (Read: Entertain like a TreeHugger this winter)
9. Frugal people take advantage of community resources. Many towns and cities have plenty of free activities for people to do, such as outdoor concerts, sponsored public skating and swimming hours, family movie nights, and hiking/biking trails. Frugal people use these, as well as get books and movies from the library.
10. Frugal people live in smaller houses. They understand that a smaller home can be liberating, as it forces one to own fewer belongings, reduces the amount of time spent cleaning, and requires less maintenance. It frees up significant amounts of money, which increases one's savings rate. Sometimes they opt to rent instead of buy, choosing to avoid all the costs associated with home ownership and keeping more of their assets liquid for investing.
11. Frugal people have like-minded friends. They understand that hanging out with 'spendy' friends on a regular basis is the fastest way to derail one's savings goals. Seeking out frugal friends is a good way to stay on track, to share tips, and to hold each other accountable. (Read: 'FOMO spending' is a real problem for young people)
12. Frugal people are always learning about money. They constantly want to improve themselves and their financial acumen through reading, discussion, and experimenting with investments and budgeting. They follow blogs and podcasts that help them to hone their frugality skills.
13. Frugal people think long-term. They refuse to live paycheck to paycheck, and always have the big picture in mind when making decisions. They tend to have a strong work ethic and are willing to put in effort in the earlier years of their life, so as to enjoy greater financial freedom down the road.
14. Frugal people live within their means. They budget carefully, allocate a predetermined portion of their income to savings and investments, and do not exceed it. They save up for big purchases, prefer to buy with cash (as opposed to credit), and keep an emergency fund for times of need. Most definitely, they do not shop for entertainment.
15. Frugal people give their children less stuff. You can tell a lot about a family's spending habits, based on their kids' toys and clothing. Frugal kids don't have a lot of toys; their parents expect them to make do with less and to play outside. They are not dressed in expensive trendy clothing because the parents understand what a waste of money it is.
16. Frugal people do low-cost exercise. Rather than spending a fortune on a gym membership or buying expensive equipment that will gather dust and/or clutter their (small) home, they prefer to run, walk, ride their bike, go swimming at a pool, or practice yoga at home.
17. Frugal people don't feel a need to upgrade technology. They consciously resist the urge to upgrade their gadgets on a regular basis. These are the people still using an iPhone 4 when the rest of the world has moved on to the XS.
18. Frugal people never buy new cars. They know that new cars are immediately devalued as soon as they're driven off the lot. They also understand that cars, new or not, are money pits that should be thought of as strictly utilitarian, not as a source of status or pleasure. (Read: Why you should never buy a new car... ever)
19. Frugal people buy in bulk. Whether it's food or household products, they are willing to give up storage space to save money. They shop at buying clubs or discount grocery stores, and pay close attention to sales. As a result, they're finely attuned to typical prices and knowing when something is worth stocking up on. (Read: 13 items you should always buy in bulk)
20. Frugal people are less stressed. That is because they're free from the suffocating mental burden of consumer debt. You might think that paying attention to every little detail in life in order to save dollars is more work, but it becomes a fun game for many frugal individuals. As they gain momentum, they want to do better and reach their goals faster.