Frugal Living Tips to Save Money: How I DECLUTTER My Expenses

How to save money frugal living? I am sharing 4 tips on living a frugal yet fulfilling life with his wife Natalie and our two cats Lili and Mom. For us, it is all about getting the most happiness out of every dollar spent and being mindful about 4 spending categories that can get in the way of getting to financial independence.

In my quest to be frugal, there are just 4 categories in my budget that I like to focus on that tend to give me the most savings for the least sacrifice.

Because I am not trying to sacrifice a significant amount of happiness for money. I want to live life along the way to getting rich.

On the go? Watch the video HERE.

For me, being frugal is all about getting the most happiness per dollar spent.

For example it’s date night, Natalie and I eat out at a five star restaurant and spend $500, we might get 80 units of happiness from that meal.

On the other hand, if we decide to try to make a beef wellington at home, we might spend $50 to $60 and get 69 happiness units.

In that moment, sure we got less happiness but not in the long run.

For one, when I spend too much it starts weighing on my mind like the next day, which is like a small drain on my happiness that restarts every time I look at my credit card bill.

So I am taking emotional damage.

Second, the opportunity cost is surprisingly high.

Let’s say Beef Wellington date night was $60. The opportunity cost is more than $440 difference because you have to consider what it would be worth had I invested it.

One of my goals is to become financially independent so I like to invest as much as I can.mAfter accounting for inflation, I could expect $440 invested in the S&P 500 to more than double in 10 years based on average annualized returns.

So really, I am comparing one $500 dinner to one Beef Wellington date night + 15 more Beef Wellington date nights in the future.

Naturally, food is one of my four categories that I like to focus on.

Food

That example was a little bit extreme, but food is something you interact with every day so you have the opportunity or temptation to spend money on it every day.

When a category has high transaction frequency, that is red flag because small spending everyday is easy to miss but it adds up big time throughout the year.

Natalie and I have a few tricks to be frugal in the food category.

Bulk carbs are a no brainer.

We like to buy a huge bag of rice for like $30 which lasts us for 6 months. Noodles and potatoes are also super cheap. We will throw 4–5 cups of rice in the rice cooker most weeks and always have rice ready to go.

And fried rice is best with leftover rice.

Since we don’t buy carbs more than a few time per year, our grocery hauls are mainly veggies which are pretty cheap and whatever meat is on sale.

When we are not in the mood to cook we like to carry out but we will only buy a protein entree and then supplement with cheap carbs at home.

Buying drinks and carbs at restaurants seems to be the least money efficient. In any case, cooking makes a huge difference for us and it kinda bleeds into my second spending category.

Entertainment

Natalie and I enjoy cooking so at times it can double as entertainment.

In that initial example, learning how to make a Beef Wellington was our date night.

Another way to leverage cooking is entertainment with friends. Instead of going out to the bars and spending way too much money on alcohol, doing a potluck at someone’s place is more fun in my opinion.

In general, we make a serious effort to try inexpensive hobbies.

Cooking is always a staple but right now our main hobby is making our Youtube channel and writing on Medium.

Picture taken by author

In the past, Natalie was really into woodworking.

She made a lot of the furniture she used for cheap and then was able to sell them when she was finished for a small profit.

I used to go rock climbing with a couple friends.

It kept me active and healthy which also saves money in a different way. We paid like $75 a month at a rock climbing gym which doubled as my gym membership because they had free weights there as well.

Going there several days a week, being active, and hanging out with friends made it frugal entertainment… until things took a turn.

Unfortunately, one of those friends moved away and the last two of us eventually lost interest in climbing. So I was left with a $75 membership just for weightlifting.

And it took me too long to cancel it which brings me to my third category.

Subscriptions and Memberships

The third category that Natalie and I pay extra attention to is subscriptions and memberships.

This category is easy to lose track of between streaming subscriptions and gym memberships.

There are a lot of ways for a bunch of small expenses to add up.

But it’s not the only way to spend a lot.

Big Ticket Items

The fourth category that Natalie and I really focus on is big ticket items such as house or apartment, car, and vacations.

Vehicles and Housing

Car and housing are kinda daunting to make a change but at least you only have to change it once. With food and entertainment, you have to make a better choice nearly every day.

Natalie and I definitely could have done better on housing. We would have saved more money on our living expenses had we rented a cheap apartment instead of buying a house.

We are not at a point in our lives where we need the extra space. We have found that owning a house brings a lot of extra expenses that add to a surprising amount so we made a video on how to make money on your first home HERE.

We have done a good job not buying new cars before we need to. Cars depreciate in value and cost you interest assuming you are getting a loan like we would. We prioritize affordable vehicles with good gas mileage.

Vacations

Next, vacations are a big ticket item that we are able to save a ton of money on by never going…

Not really. We love going on vacation and we are able to save a ton of money by using travel credit cards.

There are definitely some tricks to getting the most out of your credit cards. Also, most of the really good ones have big annual expenses that can cost you money if you aren’t utilizing them properly.

Click HERE to see my top credit card that Natalie and I have been using for the last year and we absolutely love it.

Catch you on the flip side.

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