Over the years of writing for Not Quite an Adult, I’ve learned hundreds of ways to live more frugally and started to implement so many of them in my own life.
I’ve stopped buying clothing as frequently, I’ve cut down on alcohol consumption, decided that I’m never going to own a car, and so much more. It’s been extremely fun to test how far I’m willing to go with living cheap.
I’ve always been obsessed with the TLC show Extreme Cheapskates because it’s so interesting to see all of the things people are willing to do to save money.
I’m going to discuss a few of their tips in this article, but I don’t think that any of them are too extreme where you won’t even be willing to try them!
When you learn how to live cheap, you’ll find so many new and exciting ways to save money that your world will change a bit. Don’t worry, this is totally normal.
When you realize all of the silly ways you’ve been wasting money for your entire life, you’ll see so many of your decisions in a new light and be able to save hundreds of dollars a month.
1. Buy Clothes Second Hand
Clothes are one of those things that we just can’t avoid, we need to wear them. Thankfully, you can buy your clothes second hand and save a lot of money on really nice stuff.
A lot of people look down on second hand shopping for clothes, thinking that it’s gross or something. Don’t listen to those people. Just don’t buy used underwear, that would be weird.
A great place to shop second hand without having to flip through hundreds of items at a thrift store is Poshmark! You can find all of the best second hand clothes online which is extremely convenient.
2. Make a Strict Budget
Having a strict budget can really force you to live cheap by telling you exactly where to put your money and removing a lot of the wiggle room.
You can really cut down a budget by removing things like entertainment, eating out, and shopping expenses and this can really help you be cheap.
If you really want to go down to a strict budget, you can try out a bare bones budget and really start living cheaply.
3. Repair Your Clothes
Clothes are the kind of thing that we need to wear every day and they tend to wear out relatively quickly. Most people will just throw away their clothes when they get a hole in them or tear a seam.
If you really want to live cheaply, you should take the time to learn how to do some basic sewing so that you can fix your favourite clothing with just a few minutes of work, instead of buying new.
4. Cook at Home
When you cook at home instead of eating out for every meal, you can save a ton of money and cook really inexpensive meals.
A lot of families like to eat out because of the convenience, but they are likely wasting hundreds of dollars a month compared to making those same meals at home.
If you really want to be cheap, you can stick to meals based with rice or beans which are some of the least expensive food items you can find.
5. Get a No-Fee Bank
One of the simplest ways that people waste money each month, is paying bank fees! They charge around $10-20 per month just to let you have a checking account.
I find bank fees to be absurd and don’t like using a bank account that charges me for my money, so a great way to be cheap is to make sure that you have a no fee bank account.
If you’re Canadian, you can try out the no fee bank Tangerine! They’re my personal bank and you can get $25 for free when you deposit your first $100! Just use the orange code 50681730S1 when you sign up.
Bonus Tip: Use Paribus for Price Adjustments
Paribus is a free tool that will connect to your email and check your email receipts to see if any of the prices of your recently purchased items have dropped.
If they have, Paribus will get you the difference as cash back and you’ll feel comfort knowing that you didn’t pay too much. You don’t even have to lift a finger!
You can even get money back from Paribus if your items are delivered late which is a bonus when you need something quickly.
6. Use The 30-Day Rule
If you find yourself wanting to buy something expensive that you may not really need, you can try the 30 Day Rule.
The basics of this rule are that you wait 30 days after wanting to buy something before actually purchasing it. This removes most impulse purchases because you’ll honestly forget about most of them by the end of the month.
7. Shop Around
If you find a reason to buy something over like $20, you should shop around. This includes clothing, furniture, appliances, and more.
Most of the time with just a few quick google searches you can find the same item on a different website or sold at a different store for much less expensive.
8. Ride a Bike to Work
Driving a car every day can really increase your monthly costs and make it pretty hard for you to live cheap.
If you start riding a bike to work or school instead of driving your car, you can save on gas and maintenance on your vehicle which can save you tons in the long run.
Even better? You could even skip the car entirely and only own a bicycle. This will save you money on a car payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance which is the ultimate way to live cheap.
9. Have a Roommate
If you really want to save money on your basic living expenses, you’re going to want to get a roommate.
I know that living with a roommate isn’t really ideal for most people, we don’t want someone all up in our stuff. However, if you really want to learn how to live cheap, you’re going to want to get someone to split costs with.
Having a roommate will cut your rent costs in half, as well as decrease your utility bills every month. Heck, maybe even get more than one roommate and really decrease your costs!
10. Buy Store Brands
When you’re buying pre-packaged food at the grocery store, there is usually a name brand and a store brand.
What most people don’t realize, is that these products are often made by the same company and the quality is the same.
For some reason the store brands are much less expensive but still delicious, so you can save tons of money on groceries by avoiding name brands.
Bonus Tip: Use Classpass for Bulk Gym Classes
Fitness classes are stupidly expensive and are a great way to get a fun workout in. Working out and keeping yourself healthy is an awesome way to save money on future doctor’s visits, so working out is a must.
With classpass you can save up to 70% on workout classes that you drop in on, which is awesome savings and allows you to still live cheap while enjoying a great workout class.
11. Get Cash Back
As much as you may like to be cheap, you can’t entirely avoid spending money and online shopping. However, there are a few ways that you can save money and earn cash back when you have to buy things.
First, you should always check for coupon codes online. You can do this entirely for free with the browser extension honey. They’ll search the internet for the best coupon codes to automatically save you money when shopping.
The next awesome way to save money when online shopping is to get cash back with Rakuten (formerly ebates). You can earn up to 10% cash back on amazon, walmart, and many more!
12. Pay Off Credit Cards
When you have a bunch of credit card debt, you’re going to be spending a lot of your money trying to pay it off. Spending all of your money to pay off debt makes it hard to live cheap.
When you pay it off slowly, most of the money you’re putting toward it is only going to cover interest and barely make a dent in the principal amount meaning you won’t be able to truly live cheap until it’s gone.
It’s important to work toward paying off credit card debt as soon as you can, no matter what the reason for the debt!
13. Avoid Bottled Water
Purchasing bottled water is totally unnecessary and a serious waste of money, especially if you’re buying them one bottle at a time. Not to mention bottled water is really bad for the environment!
You can save a ton of money if you just drink tap water, or if you can’t do that, get a water filter in your home to save money on water cost.
14. Meal Plan
Having a structured plan for what you’re going to eat can serious make a difference in living cheap and being more frugal. Having this plan means that you’re less likely to go out and buy dinner and waste money eating out.
Creating a meal plan and knowing what to eat can be complicated, that’s why we love $5 Meal Plan. They’ll send you a meal plan and grocery list each week for only $5 per month.
Their meals are geared towards inexpensive staples that you buy often and not weird ingredients you’ve never heard of!
15. Stock Your Pantry
Since living cheap means that you’re going to be cooking a lot of your meals at home, you’re going to need a nicely stocked pantry with all of your staples.
Unfortunately, food is extremely expensive if you’re paying full price and we wanna be cheap! You should wait until your staple foods go on sale and store them for when you need them.
This especially goes for things like rice, beans, and non-perishable snacks.
Bonus Tip: Use Acorns to Invest Your Spare Change
Acorns is this really awesome system that will invest your spare change. Let’s say that you make a purchase of $5.50, Acorns will round that purchase up to $6 and will invest the difference.
This is a really awesome way to start planning for your future without having to think about it, and without it being a real hassle.
16. Try Extreme Couponing
If you really want to live cheap in an impressive way, you can start extreme couponing to save hundreds of dollars a year on your groceries and personal hygiene products.
There will be a bit of a learning curve to the extreme couponing journey but once you get there, you’ll know where to find coupons, and how to stack them for maximum efficiency.
Extreme couponing is so interesting and cool to watch that TLC has an entire show dedicated to it where you can see people get $1000 worth of groceries for like $10.
These people even have stock piles of thousands of dollars worth of food and hygiene products that they sell to their friends and family for a discounted price, a decent side hustle!
17. Be a Minimalist
The basics of minimalism are that you are living with only the things that you absolutely need. This means you don’t make any frivolous purchases and buying things that aren’t necessary for your life.
To start being a minimalist, you first need to find out which things are most important to you and which things you can part with, you can even make money by having a yard sale with anything you don’t really need.
Then, over time you’ll stop letting so much stuff into your life and start thinking before you make any purchases.
18. Go to Food Banks
If you’re really struggling for money and are really trying to live cheap because you can’t afford any other options, you could try food banks.
These food banks are there to help people who are in need and don’t have the money to feed their families in ways that most people can afford to.
There is no shame for you to go to a food bank if you are in need, so don’t worry about people judging you, they just don’t understand your circumstances.
19. Eat Less Meat
When you go grocery shopping, oftentimes the most expensive thing in your shopping cart is going to be some kind of meat.
Having a few meals a week that are meatless can save you tons of money, or even going vegetarian entirely.
Just use Pinterest to find great veggie recipes and start saving money by going meatless!
20. Shower at the Gym
If you have a gym membership that you aren’t willing to part with to start living more cheap, you can always take advantage of all of the amenities at your gym.
You can do your entire hygiene routine, including a shower, at the gym and save a ton of money on water costs over the course of a year.
I’ve even seen people who use their gym water fountains to fill giant water bottles and then just bring them home to drink so they don’t have to pay for their drinking water.
Bonus Tip: Earn Money with Surveys
If you find yourself sitting around and watching TV a lot, you should start doing surveys while you’re doing it!
You can earn real money by doing online surveys while you’re doing things like watching TV or just laying in bed. It’s a great way to make a few dollars a month to spend or save however you want.
21. Stop Paying for Cable
If you’re reading this, I assume you want to learn how to live cheap. Well, I don’t think that paying for a cable package fits in the living cheap category!
Cable packages are silly and expensive and you can save hundreds of dollars a year if you replace your traditional cable package with something like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
You’ll be able to discover tons of new shows while saving money on paying for all those channels you’ll never actually watch.
22. Buy Snacks in Bulk
We all love snacks. I don’t think I could live without popcorn. However, snacks are some of the more expensive food items at stores compared to how much nutrition is actually in them!
If you’re always buying the same types of snacks, try buying in bulk. This will save you a ton of money and make sure that you’re always fully stocked on your favourite foods.
23. Try a Capsule Wardrobe
We all need to wear clothes, but buying clothes with tons of patterns that only match with one specific item in your wardrobe isn’t a way to live cheap.
A capsule wardrobe is a closet that is filled with clothing that matches with almost anything else in your closet, neutral colours and patterns, so you can wear more of your clothes more often.
Doing this makes you spend less money on clothes because everything is wearable all the time and you don’t need to buy a new pair of pants to go with that wacky top!
24. Eat Your Leftovers
A huge way that people waste money that is extremely common is to just not eat your leftovers. If you wanna live cheap, you need to finish everything you cook!
When you cook a meal and are in the process of cleaning you can start packing the meals up in tupperware so you have lunch for the next day and actually eat them.
This can save you tons of money on lunches at work or school the next day.
You can even have one day a week where you eat all of your leftovers for dinner, it may be weird and a bit of a random mess, but it will save you money.
25. Air Dry Your Laundry
Running a laundry dryer can cost you a bit of money in utilities and bills are no fun when you’re learning how to live cheap.
Changing up the way you do your laundry and starting to air dry your clothing is an awesome way to save that money and help your clothing last longer in the process.
All you need is a drying rack and some patience!
Bonus Tip: Use Honey for Coupon Codes Online
If you’re online shopping, you should always try to get yourself some coupons so you can save a bit of money. Annoyingly, it can be hard to find coupons online but honey makes it easy!
Honey is a free browser extension that searches the web for coupon codes that you can use with just one click to install. Last week, I saved $50 on a bunch of gifts from Amazon and it felt so good!
26. Stop Wearing Make Up
If you’re someone who is regularly wearing make up, maybe that’s something you should cut back on if you really want to start living cheap.
It seems like expensive, luxury make up is gaining popularity and costing people hundreds of dollars a year for something that you just wash away at the end of the night.
If you want to start being more frugal you should embrace your bare face and gain the confidence to go out without make up whenever possible.
27. Bake Your Own Bread
The ingredients in bread are pretty inexpensive in bulk and a loaf of bread can be baked for a fraction of the price you’d pay in store. You can use this recipe to make bread!
28. Try House Hacking
If you have the money to buy a home, you may want to consider a duplex or triplex to try out house hacking.
The basics of house hacking is that you purchase a multi-family home, live in one unit, and rent out the other unit(s) to cover most (or all) of your mortgage payment.
House hacking is a really incredible way to save money while also building up some equity in a home that you can own for years!
29. Get By With One Car
If you’re a family where there are two people who are able to drive, you may want to consider only having one vehicle.
Most families (in North America at least) have two cars and that’s just the norm, but it can be extremely expensive to be a multi-vehicle home.
If one of you is able to ride a bike to work, or carpool with a friend, you can go down to one car and save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a year.
You’ll save money from your car payment, your insurance, maintenance, and gasoline!
30. Turn Your Heat Down
In the winter, heating costs are going to be a huge part of you spending money. Growing up in a 100 year old home, we always spent too much money on heating.
My family was the type to not turn the heat on until it was unbearable and we would have hundreds of blankets around, and always be wearing sweaters, and if you wanna live cheap, you should too.
Try not turning up the heat until you just can’t handle it anymore. Get yourself some slippers, socks, and blankets and you’ll see a nice decrease in your overall utility costs.
Bonus Tip: Get Paid to Walk
We all need to move, and we should all be walking every day! You can even get paid to walk with this new app, Sweatcoin!
Sweatcoin connects to your phone through their mobile app and tracks how much you’re walking to let you earn sweatcoins. You can then trade these in for gift cards, special offers, and even cash from paypal!
31. Insulate Your Windows
One way that homes get really cold during the winter months is through windows not being properly insulated.
Cold air can enter your home through the windows and even just the cold radiating off the windows can really freeze a room.
You can use an inexpensive plastic that will stop a lot of the cold air from really entering your home!
This will help you keep your overall heating costs down, saving you tons of money over the winter.
32. Call to Negotiate Bills
There are some bills that we aren’t able to cut out, like our phone bills and utilities. We are going to have to pay these bills each month, so why not try and save money?
The simplest way to save money on your bills, is honestly to just call and ask.
You can have a quick conversation with an agent and tell them that you’re strapped for cash and ask if there is anything that they can do, and most of the time they can do something for you.
33. Don’t Buy Video Games You’ll Only Play Once
I am a huge fan of playing video games and computer games, they are the best and can be a great stress relief.
However, video games are really expensive and you should only buy the ones that have decent replay value.
For games that you can finish in a few days, you can always just rent them or borrow them from a friend so you don’t have to spend your whole pay check on a game you’ll never play again.
34. Wash Veggies in a Bowl
This is a bit of a weird one that most people wouldn’t think about. When you’re washing vegetables in the sink, you often leave your water running for a long time in the process which is just letting money go down the drain.
If you really want to save money and live cheap, you can wash your vegetables (and maybe even your dishes) in a large bowl to conserve water.
35. Bring Lunch to Work
Buying lunch at work every day is going to be an extremely expensive undertaking and can cost you hundreds of dollars a month and just isn’t worth it.
Bringing your lunch with you to work or school is an awesome way to live more frugally. You can eat awesome meals that you made so you’re never disappointed.
There’s a bonus to bringing your lunch to work or school, and that is that you’ll actually eat all of your dinner leftovers and not waste any food!
Just make sure that you write your name on your lunch in the work fridge, or you may have someone eating your food.
36. Quit Your Vices
If you really want to live cheap, you should quit your vices. This is going to be different for each person, but it could be smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, or eating a ton of junk food.
Quitting these bad habits will help you save money each day and that really adds up over an entire year.
You can live a lot more cheaply if you just stop doing the things you know are bad for you.
37. Batch Cook in Your Oven
It costs a lot of money to heat up your oven, especially if you’re doing it more than once a day. That’s why batch cooking is a great option.
You can plan your cooking in a way that you will only have to turn the oven on once, and cook more than one meal back to back.
Doing this will be less expensive than turning the oven on each time you want to cook something new. This is great for meal planning!
38. Swap Books with Friends
Reading books is a really important part of life, you can learn so much about yourself and about the world through reading. I would never tell someone to give up reading to save money.
However, I will suggest that you stop buying books for full price if you want to save.
You can ask your friends to all bring books that they have finished and aren’t planning on keeping to a nice get together and have a book swap.
You’ll be able to get some awesome books to read for the next few months and then just do it again!
39. Find a Cheaper Grocery Store
Most grocery stores sell the exact same items and have the same basic layout but there are certain stores that are way more expensive for no real reason.
Taking the time to find out which grocery store is the least expensive in your area can save you a lot of money since you need to buy groceries to survive!
Recently, we moved and discovered a new grocery store where some of our staples are $2-3 cheaper than at our last store. Totally worth changing grocery stores!
40. Do a Clothing Sniff Test
This one may be gross to some, but it is a smart way to save money on doing laundry!
If you have an article of clothing that you wore but aren’t sure if you need to wash it, smell it! Most of the things that you’re going to wash, don’t actually need to be washed.
Just maybe avoid doing the sniff test for things like underwear. Those should be washed after each wear.
Bonus Tip: Do a Savings Challenge
If you’re trying to kick start your journey to living cheap, you could try a savings challenge. These challenges are a structured few weeks or few months where you follow a plan to end up with a certain amount saved by the end.
41. Wash Clothes in Cold
Laundry is a real money sucker and for a lot of families can be the biggest energy user in the home.
Washing your clothing in hot or even warm water is going to increase those costs substantially because you’ll also be paying to heat the water.
Not to mention the damage that washing in warm or hot water does to your clothing in the long run!
If you start washing your clothes in cold water, you’ll see a substantial decrease in your utility bills over time.
42. Cancel Subscriptions
There are a ton of convenience subscriptions out there, like Netflix, Hello Fresh, Just Fab and many more. These are meant to make your life easier but you definitely pay the price for that convenience.
If you want to live cheap, these subscriptions aren’t the way to go. You don’t need to be paying the extra money to skip the grocery store and get shoes delivered every month.
43. Avoid Fast Food
Fast food is some of the least healthy but most convenient food out there. I absolutely love grabbing some fast food when I just can’t be bothered to cook. However, if you’re trying to be cheap, you better cut it out.
Fast food prices seem inexpensive on the surface, but there is very little nutritional value which makes you need to eat twice as much food to feel satisfied.
This is both had for your health and bad for your wallet!
44. Buy Holiday Decor After the Holiday
Having holiday decor is something that’s really important to me, I absolutely love feeling festive no matter which holiday we are talking about. Unfortunately, holiday decor is really expensive.
The best way to save money on holiday decor is to purchase it the day after the holiday, instead of before. You can store it in your home until the next year and enjoy it to its fullest extent, without having to pay those pre-holiday inflated prices.
45. If It’s Yellow… Let it Mellow
This one may be a little gross to some people, but if we’re talking extreme cheapskate status, you should be doing this!
If you haven’t already caught on, this means that you don’t flush the toilet when someone goes pee. You just use the bathroom, and let it hangout until someone goes number two.
This is a good way to save a ton of money on water costs from flushing the toilet way less.
Bonus Tip: Get a Side Hustle
Living cheap doesn’t have to mean you have a lack of money, it just means that you don’t want to spend that money for no reason.
Having a side hustle is a great way to make some side income and have more money to play around with each month so you can afford to make the choices to live cheap!
Here are some great articles to teach you different types of side hustles you could start!
- Non-Computer Side Hustles
- Real Ways to Make Money From Home
- Awesome Work From Home Jobs
- How to Flip Furniture for Money
46. Get a Deep Freezer
A deep freezer is a really awesome option if you want to bulk purchase things like meat, or other frozen items so you can store them for the times when they are more expensive.
You could even store pre-made crockpot meals so you never have to worry about making dinner when you’re extra busy.
There’s a whole community of people who are super into having a deep freezer and will teach you everything you need to know.
47. Rent a Room on Airbnb
If you live in a two bedroom home and aren’t really the type to want a full time roommate, you may consider renting your second bedroom out on airbnb.
If you don’t have a secondary bedroom in your home to rent, you can even just rent out your own bedroom. Sounds crazy, but hear me out!
People who are living cheap will rent out their bedroom on airbnb as a “private room” and then sleep on the couch or turn their living room into a weird bedroom for them to stay in.
This is a really great way to live cheap and be able to make money off your living situation without committing to a full-time roommate.
48. Check Out Free Entertainment
For a lot of people, their entertainment budget is one of the biggest money suckers. A lot of entertainment ends up being eating out and concerts, which are expensive!
To really live cheap, you need to find free entertainment alternatives in your area. This could include free movie nights, outdoor concerts, and more.
To find free events in your area you can search things like “your city + free events” or “free things to do in your city”.
49. Start a Garden
Having a garden of your own is a really awesome way for you to stop spending a ton of money on fruits vegetables.
You can make really beautiful meals when you have fresh vegetables to work with, including some really amazing salads and roasted veggies for days.
If you have the space to start your own garden you can save a ton of money on your favourite fruits and vegetables over the course of a year. You could even sell these veggies for a bit of side money to family and friends.
This tip obviously doesn’t work for people who live in super populated areas where there may be things like rats or other animals to eat your plants, or if you live in an apartment.
50. Cut Your Own Hair
Why can’t our hair just stop growing? Well, it doesn’t work like that. Hair just grows and we need to keep chopping it off which can get really expensive.
A great way to get a hair cut on a budget is to do it yourself! You can get a decent pair of hair cutting scissors for less than $15 and watch some youtube tutorials on hair cutting.
Just please, don’t give yourself bad bangs or accidentally shave off a section of your hair. Be careful out there.
Bonus Tip: Monitor Your Credit Score with Credit Sesame
If you really want to live frugally, you need to have a good credit score. Having a good credit score will get you lower interest rates on car payments or mortgages, and get you approved for apartments more easily.
To make sure your credit score is decent, you need to monitor it! You can monitor your credit score entirely for free using Credit Sesame.
51. Make Your Own Wine
Just because you want to live cheap, doesn’t mean you need to stop drinking wine if that’s something you’re into.
Thankfully, you can go to a make your own wine store in your city and get wine for just a few dollars a bottle instead of $15 or more.
You can even buy the wine in bulk, you may need to pay a bit up front but you’ll be set for the year!
52. Downsize Your Home
If you want to learn how to live cheap, the first thing you should look at is your housing situation.
A lot of people are living in houses that are too big for what they really need and paying too much of their monthly pay toward their housing.
To live cheap you can really cut down your living expenses by switching from a single family home to maybe a duplex or an apartment so you can save a ton of money.
53. Look for Used Furniture First
If you’re noticing a need for a piece of furniture in your home, you should plan ahead and start looking for it used first.
You can look at places like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. and find decent quality used furniture for a fraction of the price of new furniture.
54. Eat Healthy and Take Care of Yourself
Something that is going to be expensive for a lot of families in the long run is medical bills and doctor visits.
If you don’t want to spend money on going to the doctor, you should focus on taking care of yourself now instead of later.
You should be eating relatively healthy most of the time and exercising regularly if you want to live cheap and not have to pay for constant doctors visit for things that can be preventable.
55. Carpool to Work
We’ve talked about biking to work, but sometimes the weather doesn’t make it very possible. When the weather is less than ideal, you can always try and find a friend from work to carpool with.
Carpooling will benefit you by not having to pay full price for gas, and will benefit your work friend because you can give them a few dollars a week for gas. It’s a win-win!
Being cheap doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and you can really save money and live a great life while being cheap! There is nothing to be ashamed of.
I really hope you enjoyed this deep dive into how to live cheap, and if you have any suggestions that you’ve tried be sure to leave them in the comments below.