To be frugal basically means to be conscious about your spending. You will tighten up on your purchases and really pinch your pennies, so that you can start saving your money. The New Year is a perfect time to begin your frugal journey and here are some frugal tips for the New Year to help you start!
Full disclosure: I’m far from what people will call frugal.
But I have discovered that tightening up my spending is becoming a must.
New Year, New Budget over here!
Why? Because I have four kids, who are growing out of the “cheaper” phase of life and into the big-ticket phase of life.
Oh- that’s right, parents of littles. You only think they are expensive now. Just wait!
Before puberty is what I call the “cheaper” phase when it comes to most children’s expenses (childcare excluded- because whoa- that’s a budget buster!).
When you start looking at man-sized shoes and jeans and shirts you realize how inexpensive most little kids’ clothes really are! I about fell over when Luke’s Old Navy jeans rang up at $49.99 vs. the $15 ones for his younger brother.
But what can you do? Kids grow up, and so do their needs. So that paycheck has to learn to stretch a bit farther than it once did.
We have a 17-year-old in the house asking for things like a new computer for school, crew team dues, a car next year, insurance on that car and, oh, yeah, college in 1 1/2 years.
Granted, he’s got a part-time job to work toward paying for some of these expenses, but these big-ticket items are not cheap, yo!
Whoa. It might be time to become frugal.
Frugal Tips for the New Year That Will Save You Money
Frugal isn’t a word I use a lot, but it’s one I’m going to get real familiar with in the new year.
Here are five simple tips to become more frugal that shouldn’t be too hard to incorporate into everyday life.
Time to put some money away, one dollar at a time!
New Year’s Frugal Tip 1: Change up Your Food Order
First of all: don’t eat out.
I know, I know, easier said than done. But my family is a perfect example of why killing our drive-through or restaurant habit is a must.
We spend almost a week’s worth of groceries- bonus tip, shop at Aldi’s if you have one!- during ONE MEAL when we all go out together. #Ouch
So. Try to cut that back. We’ve made huge changes here and rarely eat out anymore. And you know what? It wasn’t saving me time or effort in the long run anyway.
But if you do go out, try this to cut down a bit on expenses.
When you head out to your favorite restaurant that you just are not willing to give up, you can be frugal by slightly changing your order.
Skip the appetizers and desserts for one.
Order a glass of water, for free, for another.
I started this with my kids when we go out to eat and not only is it healthier, it cut our bill down remarkedly.
Six glasses of water save our family at least $10 each outing. Sometimes more- I think Chili’s charges $2.35 a coke now!
When the server comes back to ask if you are interested in dessert: just say no! Desserts at restaurants are so expensive.
Go ahead and ask for the check. You can have dessert when you get back home.
Even if it is just a glass of chocolate milk to settle your sweet craving.
New Year’s Frugal Tip 2: Make Your Coffee
If you just cannot make it through the day without a cup of coffee (right here- this is me!) from your favorite coffee shop, consider making your coffee.
There are many different varieties of coffee beans, flavorings, and creamers that you can add to your cup of brew.
And you can even get Starbucks to make at home at a fraction of the cost if you love that brand- which I do.
While it may not taste exactly like your five dollar coffee from Starbucks, you can easily create a concoction to satisfy your craving while pocketing some extra change.
I stopped making my- ahem- thrice-weekly drive through a few weeks ago, and while I know the baristas miss me, I have noticed a nice fat “coffee slush fund” growing in my savings.
Win for 2020 right there!
Frugal Tip 3: Get to Decluttering
You may be wondering how decluttering is frugal, but it is what you do with your clutter that makes it frugal. And this is something I fail miserably at.
If you read my tips for moving during the holidays, you know I am on team declutter- purge and purge again!
Instead of tossing it all in a garbage bag and taking it to the nearest Goodwill dropbox (hello, right here- this is me!), take it to a local consignment shop.
Or better yet, throw a bi-annual yard sale.
I have a friend who does this and makes a lot of money back on her children’s & work clothes that she no longer needs.
You will be amazed at how much money your clutter can make you!
And then you can take whatever the consignment shop rejects and drop it at Goodwill or whatever charity works best for you.
Frugal Tip 3: Buy Whole Pieces of Meat
Instead of opting for boneless, skinless chicken breasts for dinner when you head to the local supermarket, search for whole chickens.
My kids love it when I crockpot a chicken, shred it, and we have meat for tacos for days!
Purchasing a whole chicken, or a whole turkey is usually cheaper too- and if you are a small enough family, you can make the meat stretch for a couple of days off one bird.
What you are not able to use right away, you can even store in your freezer for future use.
Frugal Tip 4: Craft and Reuse
Birthdays can get expensive. Boy howdy, can they!
On top of having to purchase gifts, you also have to purchase wrapping paper or gift bags, as well as a birthday card, none of which are cheap.
Craft your birthday card to save two to five dollars- this is where my sweet artist in residence has agreed to step up! Lucy loves to draw and create gifts for the family, and she’s our designated holiday/birthday card maker.
We also saved any gift bags that we received over the holidays.
They can easily be reused for gifts that you will be giving away!
If it’s appropriate, we also love making this simple 4-minute fudge to give away as gifts. The kids enjoy making it and giving it to friends and teachers in place of store-bought gifts.
You’re going to save more money this year by doing the little things. The little things add up- at least that’s what I’m counting on.
I’d love to say that all these savings are going into a fun travel fund, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
I’ve got a lot of big kiddo expenses on the horizon, so I’m working on cutting those corners to save a few bucks!
What frugal tips do you have for the New Year that will save others money?
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Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)