Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to learn about something is to turn to the experts who have succeeded before you. I’ve been blogging about saving money, frugal living, and making more money for around two years now and I’ve found so many common things frugal people don’t do.
I’ve learned that frugality is a complete lifestyle that is totally focused on just living below your means. I’ve also seen a ton of people who aren’t frugal talking about how people who practice frugality are just cheap but there is a distinct difference between being frugal and being cheap!
Most people these days are focused on spending money and getting more things, I’ve noticed this is even worse now with the invention of social media influencers. There are people who are paid just to promote products and make people buy them. The difference with frugal people? Well, frugal living experts are valuing experiences with their friends and family over buying more things.
Anyway, at this point I’m just rambling so let’s dig right into the things frugal people never do!
17 Things Frugal People Never Do
1. Borrow Money
When you think about your life and your finances, do you ever just assume that you’ll be borrowing money forever? The modern world seems to have normalized debt in some really insane ways. People think it’s impossible to get a car without having a monthly payment and don’t even get me started on the student loan crisis.
Debt seems to be the norm these days, and chances are you’ve believed that debt is normal and that you’ll never be able to escape it. So, what’s the difference here with a frugal person and a regular person?
Well, frugal people are always pushing toward paying cash for anything and everything they can. They will try their absolute hardest to cash flow school for their children, they will save up money and buy a less expensive car instead of getting a monthly payment, and they’ll do just about anything they can to completely avoid using credit cards.
You’ll see a ton of frugal living bloggers talk about how they hate interest rates and how they feel like they’re just THROWING money away. YUP! The first of many things frugal people don’t do is pay interest, especially on things they don’t actually need.
Want to know a little secret to frugal living? Sinking Funds!Basically, a sinking fund is a bank account where you put a little bit of money each time you get paid for a specific purpose (i.e., $50 a month for Christmas) instead of paying for everything on a credit card and paying it back later.
- Related Post: Beginner’s Guide to Sinking Funds
If you’re absolutely serious about living a more frugal lifestyle it’s definitely time for you to stop putting purchases on credit cards, get a less expensive car that you can pay cash for, and quit paying interest!
2. Window Shop
Window shopping (or online shopping) is the very first thing I avoid when I know I can’t afford to spend any money. I’ve found whenever I’m window shopping at the mall I’ll convince myself that I need that $20 fuzzy ponytail that I know I’ll never wear.
I know that it can be really fun to just walk around the mall with your friends and talk and shop without the intention to buy, but we both know that chances are you’ll leave with something you didn’t actually need and you’ll probably never wear.
This is one of the big things frugal people don’t do because they know not to shop unless they actually need something. If a frugal human knows they’re going somewhere where they may be tempted to buy something they don’t need, they’ll just leave their wallet at home.
If you’re looking to be more frugal and your friend wants to take a trip to the mall to socialize, bring your ID and your keys, and leave your cards at home to stop yourself from being tempted!
3. Pay Full Price
One of the silliest things you can do when buying something is to not spend a bit of time looking for a discount, cash back, or a rewards program. There are so many awesome websites, apps, and browser extensions that can give you crazy benefits to save you money.
- Related Post: How to Save Money Online Shopping
Since we’re deep into the 2000s, there is an app for just about every store and a lot of restaurants are jumping on that train as well, this means that you can download these apps and get instant discounts so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!
In the last part, I discussed my favourite cash back service for online shopping Ebates and they have a mobile app you could download to help you save a bit of coin.
Another amazing service that you NEED if you want to save money online is HONEY, it’s an browser extension that searches the internet for coupon codes to save you money when online shopping. Last week, I bought myself a microphone on Amazon for my youtube videos and I saved $30 by using Honey!
4. Spend time doing nothing
When a frugal person realizes that they have a bit of down time, they’ll do something about it. They’ll clean, or cook, or even pick up a side hustle so they can make more money to grow their savings. It can even be something insanely simple like filling out surveys when they have a free 5 minutes!
My favourite place to fill out surveys is American Consumer Opinion because they have surveys available for all types or people, not just middle-aged moms and dads which has been a problem for me in the past.
A really great example of a frugal person who took advantage of a side hustle is Caroline Vencil, she now makes over $20,000 a month by blogging just a few hours a day! If you’re interested in starting a blog, you should check out Beginner Blogging Blueprint (my other blog) that will show you where to start!
5. pay full-price for cosmetics
Cosmetics can be fun, playing with make-up is super fun and can completely transform my confidence. However, it’s so darn expensive! One of my favourite ways to save a bit of money on things like make-up is using Ebates when I make purchases at places like Sephora. I would never buy a $40 make up item without getting a discount or cash back!
You can also save a ton of money by doing DIY manicures or hair cuts. I’ve been cutting my own hair all year because I’m not too picky and I’ve actually gotten pretty good at it! I use these hair cutting scissors and will probably not go back to a real salon unless I want to completely change up my colour sometime soon.
Looking good is fun, but a frugal family knows you don’t need to spend a ton to look cute and have some fun!
6. Throw Away Anything That Isn’t Trash
Did you know that frugal people are awesome for the environment? Sounds silly, but frugal humans are always cutting down on their consumption of things they don’t need as well as reusing or recycling most things they no longer want.
When going through their closets to get rid of clothes they no longer need, frugal people will take a few minutes to reflect on their purchasing habits so they don’t make the same mistake again. When they do end up with a pile of clothes they don’t need, they’ll donate all the stuff that’s great quality so someone else can enjoy it and turn the less quality items into rags, pillows, or doll clothes for their kids!
Another thing that frugal people are great at doing is selling all things they don’t want or need and putting that money into their savings. They know that if their product is in decent condition, someone will probably buy it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
7. pay attention to brand names
Something I’ve noticed is an even bigger issue now than ever before is brand loyalty and brand names! People are at a point where they just won’t buy something if it’s not a certain brand that they love.
Frugal people aren’t brand loyal in the slightest, they’ll buy whatever is the best value regardless of what brand it is. They also aren’t afraid to buy no name or store brand products when they’re grocery shopping because chances are it’s all made in the exact same facility anyway.
8. Keep Cable
What year is it? 2005? We are living in the future! Most frugal families have cut the cord and are well aware that expensive cable packages are a thing of the past. With the invention of Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube there is no longer a reason to have a full cable package with 100 channels that you’ll probably never watch.
These packages usually end up being around $100 a month where you can get Netflix which has tons of awesome options, watchable on 4 screens at once, for less than $15 a month. You could probably pay for Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go for less than the cost of one traditional cable package.
9. shop at the last minute
One of the simplest ways to force yourself to spend more money is to buy something the day before you need to have it in your home. This is especially bad around the holidays because a lot of stores will increase their prices in the few days before Christmas. It’s really important that you plan ahead for these kinds of things!
I’ve also been in a few situations where I went to the store last minute to get something I needed and they didn’t have it! Which meant I had to go for a more expensive alternative and lost money.
10. spoil their children
When a frugal person has a child, they know that one of the worst things they can do for that kid is to spoil them with material possessions. Not only will this cause your child to think they deserve things they haven’t earned, but it’s going to cost you a ton of money over the years.
You want to make sure that your children understand the value of a dollar and you can get them to earn things that they truly want. It also helps because they can do chores and get better grades in order to earn things instead of being spoiled with them automatically.
11. BUY BOTTLED WATER
Everybody needs to drink water, that’s just a fact of life. However, spending money on plastic water bottles every time you go to the grocery store is not only bad for the environment, but it’s bad for your wallet. Frugal people are well aware that there are more economical ways to save money on water.
A frugal household would have a very important thing in their fridge, a Brita Water Filter, of course! Each member of the household will use this water filter to fill up their own reusable water bottle to save them a bunch of money each week and help the planet while they’re at it.
12. IGNORE SMALL HEALTH ISSUES
If you’ve ever had something really wrong with your health, you know that there were small things that warned you that something bigger might be wrong. Ignoring small health issues is not a good idea for your health (duh) but also for your wallet.
When you start to see something small going wrong with your health, it’s time to go to a doctor so you don’t risk having to pay big money later on when the problem gets much, much worse. Even with free health care here in Canada, it still costs money for me if I leave something to get worse!
13. Upgrade Their Phone Each Year
If you’ve read Not Quite an Adult before, you know that I frequently like to expose my old self for being bad with money. I genuinely used to upgrade my phone every single time apple made a new one. No joke. I got my very first phone at age 14, and I had 8 phones in the 10 years following that and paid a lot of money to have a new phone every year.
The only features on a cell phone that you really need are calling and texting so you could truthfully get away with just a flip phone, but that may be a little too old school for most of you.
Upgrading to a new phone when your current phone works just fine is something a frugal person would never be seen doing. Personally, I just had a phone contract end and decided to not get an upgrade and my phone bill went from $102 a month to $45. I’m saving $50 a month!
If you’re super techy and can’t be seen with last seasons iPhone or Android and you just must upgrade, maybe you can try using Sinking Funds so you can plan for your purchase a little better.
14. delay repairs
If you want your expensive things (i.e., appliances) to last at least a decade, it’s time to get those repairs done as soon as possible. You don’t want to wait for things to get a lot worse and other aspects of the thing to break because of the small repair that need to be made.
Getting things repaired frequently may seem like it’s going to cost you money, however, getting things repaired is going to be a lot cheaper than having to buy a brand new one in a few months!
15. start a 1/2 full dishwasher
This is a big one in my house as a child, my mom would get so angry if there was even enough room for one more bowl in our dishwasher. Starting a 1/2 full dishwasher is just a waste of energy, and water and you should try your best to make sure that your dishwasher is full no matter what.
16. BUY SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE IT’S ON SALE
Someone who runs a frugal household loves a good sale, don’t get me wrong here. They’ll search out all of the sales for the things they actually need. However, there is a seriously fine line between buying things on sale because you need them and buying something only because it’s on sale.
Checking out things in the flyers or online to check for sales is an awesome way to spend time if you actually need something but can lead to bad spending habits of financial mistakes in the long run! Stop buying things just because they’re on sale.
17. Skip Budgeting
The very first step towards being frugal is to have a budget for every penny. Frugal fanatics have a plan for their money and they know exactly what they want their money to do for them. So many people who are in bad financial situations don’t realize how much budgeting could do to change their entire outlook on money.
Even just skipping budget for a few months can put you back years in your overall financial plan. Budgeting is a pretty common topic on this blog because it’s my holy grail for saving money. If you’re looking for a great frugal budget, I highly suggest you use the Zero-Based Budget because it’s going to make a plan for every single dollar that come through your door.
- Related Article: Budgeting for Beginners: a 7 Step Guide
18. Spend Emotionally
Once again, it’s time for me to call myself out for my past mistakes! I’ve been so guilty of emotional spending on more than one occasion. Sometimes when you’ve had a bad day, or a bad week, you can totally convince yourself that spending $100 on a new outfit will make you feel better. It can be a temporary bandaid for a problem that is much greater.
Frugal people know that the storm is going to pass and that momentary joy they get from a purchase will not solve their problems. It’s only going to create a new problem (a budget problem) that they’re going to have to solve later.
One of the best things you can do to cut back on your emotional spending is to figure out the spending triggers that you have and other things you can do to completely change your habits and behaviours instead of spending money you don’t need to spend!
- Related Article: How to Stop Spending Money You Don’t Have
19. HAVE EMPTY FREEZERS
Did you know that having an empty freezer actually COSTS you money? It’s true! An empty fridge/freezer actually costs more money to keep cold which means you’ll be wasting a ton of money on electricity that isn’t necessary.
Frugal people are aware of this little fact so they use their freezer space to plan ahead with freezer meals for the crockpot, or casseroles/lasagnas that can be a super easy way to make a meal instead of eating out.
20. Eat Out More Than Once a Week
I know, food in a restaurant is always more delicious than food at home. I’m not a very good cook. I’d love to eat at restaurants every day. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do for your wallet. Eating out just once a week can blow your entire grocery budget for the week.
Being frugal meals spending more time meal planning and a lot less time eating out. When trying to save money you need to realize you can feed two people an awesome meal at home for less than the cost of one meal at a restaurant. It’s so important to limit eating out as much as possible if you’re really committed to living a more frugal life.
Bonus Tip: One of my favourite services ($5 Meal Plan) is a really awesome tool to use if you suck at meal planning and making creative meals. $5 Meal Plan will send you a meal plan AND a detailed grocery list each week for only $5 a month. Get Your First Two Weeks Free!
21. Buy Too Much House
Buying a home can be a really emotional experience. You end up going to a bank and getting pre-approved for way more than you can actually afford day-to-day and most of us just assume that it’s okay for you to use it all. Banks really love to lend money because they get their interest and that’s how they make their money.
The bigger your loan, the longer you’ll be paying money back to the bank. A great general rule is to keep your monthly payment at or around 25% of your total take home pay (after taxes).
Being house poor is a real and horrible thing. You don’t want to ruin the next few years of your life because you bought more home than you can truly afford. A frugal family will take a true and real look at what they can afford, and what they truly need. They won’t buy a 5 bedroom house when they only have one child!
22. Spend Money Every Day
People who are truly frugal are really big fans of no-spend days, weekends, and even months or years! Being able to avoid spending any money really focuses you on what’s important. Being able to spend time instead of money is a huge plus, spending more time with your loved ones instead of buying them presents and expensive adventures.
If you’re the type of person who spends money every single day, maybe it’s time that you leave your wallet and cards at home and focus on people who are around you instead of focusing on things you want. If you truly want something, maybe you could try using the 30-Day Rule to stop your crazy impulse spending.
23. buy expensive coffee daily
Oh coffee, it’s up there with avocado toast in the things that millennials spend too much money on if you ask any stupid internet publication. However, buying expensive coffee (like Starbucks) every day isn’t the best use of anyone’s money, regardless of their age.
If you switched your $5 morning coffee to something like a K-Cup or a brewed coffee at home, you could save hundreds of dollars a year. There’s even super cool coffee makers that have a brewer AND pods in one! This is the exact coffee maker that’s on my counter right now!
24. throw Away Left Overs
Chances are that when you made dinner last night, you made too much, right? There’s definitely a little bit of leftovers after every meal I cook! But what did YOU do with the leftovers? I really hope the answer is that you put them in some nice tupperware and ate them for lunch today…
There are so many people who succeed at putting the food into containers in the fridge, but will end up throwing them away a few days later when they go bad.
When you’re working towards living a more frugal lifestyle, it’s a pretty great idea for you to make a plan to incorporate your dinner leftovers into your lunch schedule for the week. This will not only save you money by not wasting food you’ve already cooked, but it stops you from buying lunch for $10 a day!
25. paying someone when they could diy
Most people who consider themselves to be frugal are also super handy and a jack of all trades. They’ve learned how to fix things like plumbing, sewing, etc. Why would they pay someone to come fix something that they could fix really easily themselves?
This is especially important with the creation of Youtube! You can find a How To… video on just about any topic in the entire world. Next time something breaks in your house try and look up how to fix it, what’s the worst that could happen?
26. Pay Bank Fees
Can you believe that it’s totally normal for people to throw away around $15 a month just for the use of their own money? We pay banks interest rates, bank fees, and other stupid fees each month so the banks get rich and we stay where we are. It’s a silly system, but thankfully there are tons of no-fee bank accounts popping up that can be an answer to your prayers.
Bonus Tip… for Canadians: Last year, I started banking exclusively with the NO FEE bank Tangerine, and it was the best decision I ever made. If you live in Canada and would like to try a no fee bank account, Tangerine will give you $50 when you deposit your first $100 (woo, free money!) if you sign up using my orange code: 50681730S1
27. Pay Late Fees
This one goes right along with paying bank fees and is just a giant waste of money. Frugal humans are always focused on their finances. They’re totally aware of their payments, when they’re due, and how much they owe, before they even get a bill. They know exactly where to send their money.
Being frugal and having this knowledge is an insanely good way to make sure that you never miss a payment and have to pay late fees.
28. Buy convenience foods
It’s super easy to go into a store like 7/11 and grab a bag of chips and a soda, especially if you’re on a road trip or something. It’s even worse at places like the movies where these types of foods are sold at an extreme mark-up, just because they can.
Buying these foods for full-price is a silly way to throw your money away. It’s just as easy to go to a bulk store and buy your favourite snacks and throw them into a nice tupperware container and bring them with you! Frugal people are huge fans of buying the good stuff in bulk.
29. Ignore Clearance Racks
Back in high school when I was shopping with my friends (and my mother’s money) I used to completely ignore clearance racks because there was something in my brain that had convinced me that I was too good for them. I didn’t need discounts. I had mama’s money!
Who was I kidding!? There is no reason to think like this. Fast fashion stores like to make people think that the things that are on clearance are no longer in style and you should try and avoid them.
Someone who focuses on living a more frugal lifestyle will walk into a store and check out the clearance racks first. Or they’ll buy a swim suit in November because it’s 50% off and will get used a ton once summer rolls around. You can find great stuff in clearance racks and all of it is the same quality as the full-price clothing that’s 10 feet away!
30. Skip Free Events
Frugal people are the least likely to go to a movie when it’s not discount day. They’re also not likely to go to a spa, or a concert unless they can get something like a groupon. Why would you spend your hard-earned money on an expensive night out when you can find TONS of free entertainment in any city?
There are so many free options for outdoor concerts, festivals, walks, and so much more. Being frugal means you’re totally awesome and aware of these free events and know that you should take full advantage.
31. buy big ticket items without comparing
Sometimes people decide that they want a new fridge, or a new TV and go out and buy the very first one they see on sale. This means that they aren’t looking at the items specifications or the actually cost for what you get!
A frugal fanatic will compare 5-10 similar items before ever stepping foot into a store and would never make a purchase without having all the details before hand. These purchases aren’t tiny, so why wouldn’t you put some effort in?
32. Try To Live Someone Else’s Life
The final thing that frugal people don’t do is try and live someone else’s life. The key to being able to save money is to not focus on everybody else. You don’t know what other people’s true financial situation is.
That person you’re trying to be like could have a $30,000 car but could have a $29,000 car loan. Their amazing clothes could have been purchased entirely on credit. The truth is you never know what other people are experiencing and what kinds of negativity there is behind the facade they put on.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real problem in our society because of social media and it’s causing a lot of people to go into debt because they see someone else’s perfect life on instagram!
Something that frugal people realize is that people are only posting the absolute best parts of their day. They would never post their credit card bill.
I hope that this blog post has taught you that being frugal doesn’t mean you have to entirely deprive yourself of everything you love in life. It’s about making choices to value things that truly matter to you instead of trying to keep up with the joneses’ and strangers on the internet.