Let’s talk about frugal living in Australia. What does it mean to be frugal? And, what are my best strategies to start living frugally? As a frugal finance blogger, it is a topic I am wildly passionate about.
You might be wondering, what is the point of being frugal? Why should I be frugal? Being frugal allows you to achieve some amazing financial goals.
Because I discovered being frugal, I was able to save $50,000 by the age of 20 and had a $100,000 net-worth by the age of 22.
This was with zero help from family, being paid an average wage and no other handouts (living at home, inheritance, connections, sugar daddy etc.) Studying finance at university taught me all the money lessons I know today which I openly share with my readers in this blog, for free.
If you’d like to learn how I hit those milestones (or thinking that’s bs, how did she do it), you can read my articles about it:
By embracing a frugal lifestyle, you too can achieve incredible financial goals without making an incredible amount of money.
What does frugal living mean?
We all have different definitions of what we believe “frugal” means. Some of us may take a more negative view and see it as being stingy. However, I believe that being frugal is about being mindful with your spending.
Frugal life is the best life as it allows you to hit your financial goals faster, without sacrificing the things you love.
The difference between cheap and frugal
“Cheap” is about cutting corners and spending as little as possible. “Frugal” is about prioritising where your money goes and ensuring every dollar has it’s place.
Let’s take shoes as an example.
Being frugal means understanding that a good pair of shoes is an investment and is worth spending. It is also about understanding that you don’t need fifteen different pairs of shoes – unless it makes you happy. Being cheap means buying the cheapest pair of shoes, no matter if they are ill-fitting or poor quality.
I also believe if your frugality affects others negatively, it is cheap.
Not paying a friend back, always “forgetting” your wallet and never covering the Uber are all examples of cheap. Us frugal folk don’t want to associate with people like that! Being frugal on the other hand, is suggesting having pre-drinks at home before going out to dinner or going for a movie on Tuesday when it is cheaper.
Frugal living is about value
Rather than spending the least amount of money possible, frugal living is more about value. What do you need? What makes you happy?
For me personally, I know that fashion and beauty products aren’t the “best” use of money. But, they bring me joy and therefore provide me a lot of value. Here is what I like to spend on, and what I don’t:
I just make sure I specifically budget for them and stick to it every month. I reduce my spending on other areas which I don’t value as much.
You will have your own personal “splurge” and “save” categories.
While there’s nothing wrong with splurging, you can’t splurge on everything. Okay, you can if you are rich or have no financial goals but most of us need to prioritise what is important to us in order to splurge and hit our money goals.
My top 3 frugal living tips
Are you ready to get started? Here are my top three tips. These three steps will help kickstart your frugal living journey.
Budgeting is a key part to frugal living. You need to understand your income and expenses to be able to prioritise.
To be mindful with your spending, it’s important to first understand where your money is actually going! Do you know exactly how much you spend on food every month? Or bills?
The first step is understanding where your money actually goes.
For example, if you are spending $80 on a gym membership you don’t use, you can cancel that cost and allocate it towards something else, like going out with friends. There are many different ways to budget – software, excel spreadsheets, phone apps or even good old pen and paper.
My suggestion? Find a method that works for you and stick to it for at least 3 months.
After the 3 months is up, sit down and assess your expenses. Were there any purchases that you felt were a waste of money? Or perhaps you felt you spent too much on one category without knowing? These insights will help you understand where you can trim the fat out of your budget.
2. Buy second-hand
This is one tip that has helped me save thousands of dollars over the years – buying used. Buying items second hand has may benefits. Not only do you ended paying a lot less than new, you can often get something of a higher quality. You are also doing your part for the planet by reducing waste!
I love op/thrift shops and will often buy clothes, shoes, bags second hand. Furniture can be very expensive new so most of my furniture is used or…from the side of the road. I am not ashamed to admit that!
However, there are strategies to shopping like an expert when buying second-hand, it is not as easy as it seems!
Op shops can overwhelming. It can also be hard to imagine what an item looks like outside of a thrift shop rack. Due to this, I’ve met many people who have said “Money Marketer, I never find anything op shopping!” or “How do you get always so lucky?!”.
Okay, fine. Maybe I have been a bit lucky, I’ve literally found solid gold earrings for $3 – BUT, there is more to it.
Op shopping is not about luck, but actually skill. Let me teach you all my tricks!
Read my article where I share all my secrets:
Here are some of my second-hand finds, with prices!
3. Think outside the box
Before spending money, think outside the box!
Can you borrow a dress to a wedding instead of buying one? Or, can you cover your old beat up coffee table with vinyl instead of buying a new one? You sure can!
The $11 coffee table
This is a real-life frugal project I did a few months back.
My coffee table was old, scratched up and I knew I needed to replace it. However, I realised it was a perfectly good solid wood table – I just needed to hide the damage.
Instead of buying a new table for $100+, I bought stick-on wood vinyl sticker from Bunnings for $11. I covered the table up with it, and voila! Good as new. Here is a before and after:
Just like the coffee table, see if you can think of any creative ideas that are an alternative to spending money or buying something new!
Another frugal project I did recently was changing the buttons on my coats instead of buying new ones. Don’t ask, just read the article: