Do you want financial independence? Do you fantasize about not relying on 40 hours of office time every week? Thanks to my frugal lifestyle, I’ve been able to leave my breadwinning job and stay home with my baby while building a business and pursuing passive income.
It sounds like a pipe-dream, but it’s been working and even if I’m not retired today (I mean, I’m 28) I’m not dependent on a 9-5. I’m on the road to financial freedom. But before I lose ya…
What exactly is “financial independence” and how do you get it?
Being financially independent means you are able to live your life without working. Think trust fund babies. The super rich are born wealthy and only work because they’re bored or it’s a contingency for the disbursements on that trust fund. I’d bet my life you won’t find them in a cubicle.
I think of financial independence as freedom. Freedom from a 9-to-5. Freedom from trading my time for money. So while I will be working to earn money for the foreseeable future, I will also be living in a way that allows less for more. Meaning I don’t expect to fall into a put of old money to find financial freedom.
There are ways to live without needing unlimited funds, and while I like to indulge here and there – it’s all about cutting out the unnecessary expenses of everyday life.
Frugal living is the name of my game. At this point in my life, I can’t even fight it. I think it’s in my blood. I’ve been labeled Fiscally Responsible, and that sounds pretty cool (thanks Stacey!). Despite being mistaken as a cheapskate, living below my means has given me so much freedom.
Even if I’m not free to indulge in every desire that pops into my head (and there are A LOT of them), living frugally lets me make money for the things that matter and stop wasting money on crap that doesn’t. So I’m here to share my tips to frugal living and making realistic steps to financial independence.
Minimize fixed expenses
Frugal living starts with living below your means. Housing and transportation are two of the biggest expenses you should have each month. I say should have because it’s good to keep in mind when you take a look at your budget.
So just because you can afford the home of your dreams or something close to it, doesn’t mean you should. The same thing goes for cars. Keeping your biggest expenses as low as possible will free up so much cash. My husband and I bought a fixer-upper and pay HALF as much as we would pay for an apartment. And our car is affordable AND good on gas.
Notice I said “car”. Not plural. We make it work with one vehicle, for frugal reasons. (Which cuts our car insurance in half too.)
Keep a budget in mind
Whenever it comes to money (spending it, saving it, earning it), there should be a figure in mind. Before buying our car, I did months of online shopping and had a clear idea of what a “good deal” looked like. So when we came across an accidentally underpriced at the dealership, we knew we had to jump on it.
Before heading to the mall, I tell myself “I can’t spend more than $75 on everything today” and it keeps me from buying the perfect shoes (without price checking).
Before checking my bank account balance, I give myself a threshold. It generally sounds like “please be above $X or I can’t buy that bottle of wine.” It’s not perfect, but it works!
No Impulse buys
Resist every temptation to just buy. Whether you took a trip to the mall, or target, or the grocery store. If you weren’t expecting to buy it, then Do. Not. Buy it.
I’ve been that person. The person who feels obligated to make a purchase just because I walked in. But those days are over. It got weird when I never knew what to do with the stuff. Maybe it was a skirt that I thought was cute, or a soapdish that would be perfect in my bathroom.
Those spur-of-the-moment emotional decisions just left me with a closet of untouched clothes and donate-able clutter. Basically, I don’t like buying things with little to no thought behind it. It leads to over and unnecessary spending. Make the most of your money.
Since you have thought about what you need and aren’t just blindly swiping your card all willy-nilly, you have the chance to check for cheaper.
My go-to retailers are Amazon and Target.
Always search for coupons
When you take the time to compare prices on your must-have purchases, then you have a chance to find a coupon/discount/rebate. Before I submit an order, I always open a new tab and search for “XYZ promo code” (XYZ = the store). This has saved me anywhere from 40% to free shipping.
I recently got hip to Honey! It is a browser extension that AUTOMATICALLY scans the internet for coupon codes. Umm hello?!
You can stalk my traffic all you want if you save me money 😉 You can download Honey for free HERE.
But the best deal for online shopping has to be Ebates! At ebates, there is a constantly updated list of businesses who will give you cash back. You could get 1-40% back for every dollar you spend. This is great because you’re going to buy it anyway, why wouldn’t you get paid to buy it?
Create your Ebates account here (or another one with a new email lol) and get a $10 sign-up bonus!
Trends are silly. Whether it’s clothes, decor, accessories, or toys. I try to stick to the tried and true. It might not be exciting or hip, but it saves me so much money on crap. Forgive me, but that’s just how I feel. “Fast Fashion” joints like H&M, Forever 21, and even Zara are all about staying trendy, but the quality doesn’t last through the laundry. Sticking to simple and traditional classics are always a safe bet.
My advice: find a uniform style that works for you, and don’t worry about putting too much effort into it. Honestly, there are more important things.
When it comes to clothes: When you stick to foolproof styles, you can prioritize quality. It’s easier to justify spending $100 on a little black dress that you know you can wear for the next 10 years.
When it comes to decor: It can be tempting to drown your living room in rose-gold accents because it looks soooo gooood on Pinterest. But don’t. These aren’t things you just hide in the back of your closet because they’re out of season. You live with them everyday!
Instead of diving head first into a popular style, slowly picking up little items will help your own style come through (and gives you the flexibility to jump on the next style bandwagon) without a total makeover. #farmhousedecor
Wait for sales
Sales are awesome, and they happen everywhere. Frugal living has made me hate paying full retail price. It’s just not necessary. If there isn’t a coupon, a rebate, a sale, or a cheaper version on Amazon then it can wait.
And waiting makes it that much sweeter when you finally get it. OR! The wait makes you realize you don’t really want it anyway. In either case – you’re saving money.
Finding the best deal is great, and sometimes that deal is on ebay, craigslist, or facebook marketplace! Used items are usually crazy cheap because people just want to get rid of it.
ThredUp is my new obsession. It’s an AMAZING online thrift store with every.thing. The stuff is so affordable, and of course it’s only good quality. They only accept about 40% of the stuff sent in. Click here for $10 to shop at ThredUp!
This checks all the frugal boxes (price comparing, waiting for sales, making trends affordable), and can help you realize the value of things without paying full price.
I almost exclusively buy baby clothes and toys used. They grow into and out of them so quick, it only makes sense. And it’s easier to pass them on for little to nothing when you paid little to nothing for them.
I am always scouring the internet for items that I’ve been price-comparing.
Eat at Home
You gotta eat, but eating out is frickin’ expensive. With 3 meals a day, even fast food will run you over a hundred bucks a day for even a small family. That’s just downright stupid.
Now I’m not saying eating out here and there is out of the question, but for the sake of frugality, it has to be limited.
There are so many awesome ways to keep home cooked meals easy and awesome, but I won’t lie to you. Most days, I go with one or the other: easy or awesome.
Mac’n’Cheese and frozen foods are a staple in my home these days. It’s not awesome but it’s easy AND cheap. But if you have the time (and energy) then awesome, healthy, nutritious meals are often cheap too. At least way cheaper than delivery.
Don’t buy anything that can’t be reused
Things that are used once and thrown away have no place in a frugal lifestyle. With the exception of toilet paper, I don’t like paying for things that are considered disposable.
I even have a stash of gift bags and tissue paper that we’ve received over the years, and I go shopping through it when I’m gifting something to someone else. It might sound tacky, but no! It saves me $4-$8 every time.
Even furniture can be sold and make you some money.
Finding financial independence without a trust fund starts with living below your means. As consumers, we’ve been trained to spend and buy things we don’t need. Adopting a frugal mindset clears all that brainwashing and your finances will thank you.
You can live a frugal life without sacrificing quality and the things that really make you happy. Instead, you will make room in your budget for more of what matters and eventually you can save several hours a week to spend on things more valuable than time in a chair.