The premise of the bookThe millionaire next door‘ is that wealthy people often look like everyone else. They drive 10-year-old cars, go to neighborhood flea markets, and mow their own lawns, even though they could afford to splurge on whatever they want.
This article is about the frugalists next door. If they get thrift right, they end up looking like everyone else. Contrary to all the stereotypes you may have heard, frugal people aren’t scrawny, somber knaves with threadbare clothes and an air of perpetual sadness.
nope They’re well fed, decently dressed, and having as much fun as everyone else. They simply get their needs met without spending too much.
Your frugal habits are easy to implement and can have a big impact on your budget.
1. You are patient
When a thrifty person needs something, he doesn’t just rush out and buy it. Instead, they apply what I call the “frugal filter”:
- Do I really need it or just want it?
- Do I already have something that works just as well?
- If I really need it, could I borrow it or rent it, or maybe even find it for free on a group like Freecycle or a Buy Nothing Facebook group?
- If I have to pay, what are the top options to get the best price?
This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds. Basically, once you get used to it, filtering everything sparingly is second nature.
By the way, it’s okay to get something you want even if you technically don’t to need it. Just don’t pay too much for it!
2. You are imaginative
Frugal people love a challenge. We fix things around the house and outside, sometimes because we know how and sometimes because we watch YouTube videos on the subject. The parts tend to come from the odd bits of hardware and the scrap wood and metal we have saved for just such occasions.
For example, we didn’t have a convenient place to store the electric knife we use to cut our homemade rustic bread. So my partner built a small double sided shelf out of scrap wood and attached it to a wall near the butcher block work table where we do our meal prep.
Speaking of which: Partner longed for large flour and sugar containers like from his childhood. So he took some more scrap wood and built these bins under the butcher block table. Now we bake every time (and we bake a a lot of), we simply tilt the bins outwards and measure out the ingredients.
There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction in fixing what is broken or building what is needed. And of course the money you save. Wallow away!
3. They are looking for discounts
Once you are about 55 years old, you will be offered discounts. Use them!
Not old enough yet? You may qualify for a student discount or a military discount. Or maybe your profession (teacher, social worker, first responder) brings you a cost reduction.
Or create your own discount while shopping, e.g. B. “This floor unit has a few scratches – would you be willing to drop the price?” or “I would buy this sofa for cash in a heartbeat if you could offer me a discount.”
pro tip: You can join AARP at any age for just $12 a year and receive offers on travel, food, entertainment, financial services and other goodies.
4. They are looking for the best deals
Getting a one time discount on this new sofa is great. But frugalists know this seriously yearly Savings can be made on things like cell phones and car insurance. They also look for the lowest interest rates and the best rewards on their credit cards.
Visit our Solutions Center for help on these and other money leverage topics.
5. You eat really well
Frugal people don’t rely on take-out, convenience food, or meal delivery services, so they have to be concerned about what they eat. And no, it’s not a cheerless round of rice-and-bean meals, though both of those things are cheap, delicious, and super easy to make in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. With so many recipes available online, it’s never been easier to eat well for less.
You can find easy ways to make household items for pennies like soups, pasta sauces, breads, yogurt, condiments, and baking mixes. Some even tackle hip foodie stuff like kombucha, oat milk, and pea protein powder. (See “7 Healthy Foods You Can Make at a Fraction of the Cost” for more info.)
Frugal people garden when possible, then preserve what they grow by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. They visit the bakery to buy Dave’s Killer Bread and other sandwich surrounds for much, much less. Some even find ways to get free food.
Of course, they always look in the Manager’s Special section for expired items to use that day or freeze for a money-saving future. Here’s an example: My partner and I recently got lucky in 1½ pound boxes of Link sausages for 49 cents. That’s not a typo. He likes meat for breakfast and now we have enough frozen food for next year.
And that brings me to the next point about frugal people…
6. They have freezers
That’s where we put all the sausages and special meats and vegetables from other managers. There we also put:
- things we grow: Peas, chopped celery, rhubarb, squash, apples and gallons of raspberries
- things that have been given to us: Salmon, halibut, venison and various items from our Buy Nothing Facebook group
- Things we do for pennies: Soup stock, applesauce, pie fillings
- Things we get from the bakery outlet: Bread, English muffins, tortillas
A freezer allows you to buy in bulk from a warehouse or simply top up during a good sale. You can use it to say “Yes, please!” when a friend offers you some of the flounder he caught. If you’re really organized, you can spend one Saturday a month making and freezing appetizers, then skip the cost of takeout when you’re tired.
By the way, modern freezers are very energy efficient. An Energy Star certified freezer costs only $30 per year. So while you’re noticing a slight increase in your electricity bill, you’re also spending a lot less on groceries. Just ask a frugal person.
7. They buy generic drugs
Sometimes generic food doesn’t work. I once bought the most generic mayonnaise I could find. And I still wake up screaming from nightmares about the awfulness of this product.
But many other generic foods as well as OTC drugs do the job perfectly. Learn more at 32 Products You Should Always Buy Generic.
8. You look good for less
Not all thrift stores are created equal, but many places have name-brand and even designer clothes at significant discounts. Thrifty buyers are looking for well-designed clothes made of quality elements (for example, sweaters made of wool or acrylic).
The same goes for flea markets, which can fetch amazing clothes and outerwear for pennies on the dollar. And some of these “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups offer beautiful items for free.
Remember: only amateurs pay retail.
9. You save money on the potluck
In the typical potluck, many dishes are clearly store-bought: a deli tray, a plastic container of potato salad, a bakery pie, a Costco rotisserie chicken. It’s a safe bet that these things were brought by people who feel like they’re too busy to be frugal.
Frugal people bring things like:
- A loaf of this rustic bread that’s far superior to anything you can buy and incredibly easy to make
- A hearty cold salad made with chickpeas, lentils, or beans (and you can bet they used dried beans, not canned ones)
- A few gallons of iced tea from generic tea bags, or lemonade made from a dollar store mix and a thinly sliced lemon for added flavor and visual appeal
And they always take potluck food home if the host insists. Sparing bonus points for what’s left of this Costco chicken that makes a great soup.
10. They keep it clean for pennies
Judging by the commercials and print ads, you can’t possibly have a sanitized home without expensive laundry detergents, all-purpose spray cleaners, dish soap, paper towels, foaming bathroom cleaners, fabric fresheners, specialty toilet cleaners, or litter box deodorizers.
Not correct. Not correct. Not correct.
Frugal people know that simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing powder, and Dawn dishwashing liquid can be used (or combined) to clean just about anything around the house. Learn how with “20 Household Items You Can Easily Craft (Not Buy)”.
These things are not only cheap to buy, they also cut path on your garbage bill by refilling containers instead of throwing them away.
Bonus: You’ll feel complacent about slightly reducing your environmental impact. (Just not loud.)