When your aim is to save as much money as possible, it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re looking for sustainably frugal living tips. There are so many ways to do it. Here’s how you can start.
- 1. Make a budget and follow it.
- 2. Plan your meals.
- 3. Choose free entertainment and hang out more with friends.
- 4. Build a sustainable capsule wardrobe.
- 5. Use public transportation or car-pool.
- 6. Buy secondhand or refurbished gadgets.
I spent a lot of time avoiding the entire concept of trying to save money. We earn money in order to spend it on things, right? But after I woke up from that stupid attitude, I’m now on a mission. I found money saving tips that worked for me, and I tried to find as many ways to save money as possible, through frugal spending – that are relevant to me and my lifestyle – and have begun carefully following through. As you look around, you realize there are many opportunities to save, through careful, frugal spending of your money.
Sustainably Frugal Living Tips
1. Make a budget and follow it.
This is the single most important step. A budget will not only give you an overview of your spending, but it will allow you to allocate your money in a way that you choose. Spend on what you absolutely need, and stop letting money flow out of your hands on frivolous, unnecessary purchases.
2. Plan your meals.
Every weekend, plan your meals for the week ahead. This helps you minimize expenses, and also improves your health. Imagine deciding ahead of time to include salads and dry fruits in your daily meals. And planning ahead will help you stick to your healthy eating goals, so it’s a win-win.
3. Choose free entertainment and hang out more with friends.
Unplug from all the streaming services. Or, if you cannot do that, then just have one service that carries your favorite shows.
Play your guitar (or listen to music at home). Explore the outdoors with your friends. Read more. Take up new hobbies. Walk your neighbor’s dogs. There’s a ton of things you can do without having to spend money. And, funnily, it usually ends up being something that’s also good for your mind and soul.
4. Build a sustainable capsule wardrobe.
Ignore the ever-changing fashion trends, and opt for classic, timeless pieces in your wardrobe that will never go out of style. Buy quality pieces that will last you a long time, so you won’t have to replace it in just a year. An additional option is to shop for quality secondhand clothes in thrift stores.
5. Use public transportation or car-pool.
If you’re living in a well-connected city, and you have the time, then opt for public transport to get around. It’s the most eco-friendly way to travel. If you’re in a place that has little to no infrastructure for public transport, then you have no choice but to drive around. Even so, try to share rides with others, or combine several chores together so you only drive the minimum amount necessary. Saves you money on gas, and also reduces the carbon emissions from your car.
6. Buy secondhand or refurbished gadgets.
This lets you save some money, while also getting off the hamster wheel of ‘must buy the latest smartphone model.’ You do not need to buy the latest smartphone model. A heavily discounted model from two years ago is perfectly fine for your needs.
Frugal Living Tips for Shopping Online
I’m not a raving fan (especially of their numerous sustainability issues), but I admit it’s very convenient to shop on Amazon. Which is their intention, and why most people do it, right? Especially during the pandemic.
Amazon is a double-edged sword. You can get many benefits from shopping on the site, but the drawbacks are very significant. Issues such as their treatment of workers, their anti-competitive practices, their bulldozing of independent businesses are all massive and heinous. However, the company still provides a useful service, and the numbers speak to their popularity. We can work hard towards making them accountable, while also making use of their unique strengths.
I only buy very specific things on Amazon (preferring to do most of my shopping at the local market, or, shockingly, not at all). For example, did you know you can buy used and refurbished goods on Amazon?
Amazon Warehouse Deals (Open Box Deals)
This includes products that have been returned, damaged at the warehouse, or are used and have been refurbished. When I found out buying a brand new phone is more damaging than keeping and using your existing phone, I delayed buying a new one. But eventually, I had to get a new one, and this is where I looked. Used phones in the Warehouse Open Box deals.
The ‘Open Box’ refers to the packaging having been opened and/or damaged, or the product having been rejected due to some minor defect (that I personally have no problem with as long as it’s functionally okay). Amazon does go to great lengths to describe the condition of the item accurately so that you don’t get any nasty surprises.
The discounts are steep, but browse around a bit before you zero in on what you want.
Amazon Outlet Store
The Amazon Outlet Store carries brand new items, but at heavily discounted prices. The catch is that these items are either older/outdated models, markdowns, overstocks, or closeouts. The steep discounts are great incentives to get people to buy unsold stuff that are outdated but in perfect and mint new condition. Look here for great bargains on clothing and kitchen gadgets.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card
Sign up for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card to get 5% cash back on everything every time you shop on Amazon (whether the item is on sale or not). It’s a $0 annual fee card.
Use this when you’re buying the refurbished desktop or mobile phone, and save some money while also minimizing the environmental impact.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you should opt for the free shipping, yes, but not for the priority two-day shipping. Consolidate all of your shopping, and buy it all together, say, once a month – so that the carbon emissions from shipping all your products to you are minimized.
If you’re an EBT or Medicaid cardholder, or a student, there are discounts for you, as well.
2. Seek Out Sustainable Alternatives to Amazon
Amazon has got you in a death grip, but you still can transition to buying your household and other items from more ethical marketplaces. There’s a whole list of ethical alternatives to Amazon here.
3. Use Cashback Apps
Cashback apps put money back into your account when you purchase something. You need to use that to master your frugal living.
Apps such as Rakuten, Ibotta, and Fetch Rewards can help you accumulate on loads of cash back and allow you to make the most of your money.
4. Use Reward Programs and Gift Cards
Apps such as Swagbucks can help you earn points that will accumulate and get you gift cards.
Sign up for whatever rewards programs exist at the stores that you frequent, and this is especially important for the big purchases that we do online – airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. If your credit card has airline miles or hotel stay reward points, make sure to activate and accumulate them for future use. These can be incredibly useful in saving you money in the future.
With these basic frugal living tips, you can, firstly, minimize your expenses, and secondly, make the most of your essential expenses while shopping online. I hope you found these tips useful.
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