We probably all have that one friend in our lives that continues to surprise us with their cheapskate ways. Can you believe some of the lengths people go to in order to save a bit of money? Usually, it’s fine; people can do what they want to do and as long as they aren’t negatively affecting others, they can be as cheap as they like. However, some things just leave a bad taste in our mouths. For instance, have you ever gone out to eat with a group of friends, only to have someone buy the most expensive meal AFTER you’ve all agreed to split the bill? What about that friend that mysteriously disappears into the toilet when the bill arrives? Yeah, those are real cases, not fakes!
For some people, appearing cheap is like a badge of honour. They just can’t get enough of it because they like to be known to save money—even if it means annoying other people. They’ll buy everything the cheapest and they’ll get excited when they see those big discount numbers popping up around the store. It goes without saying that they do live life a lot more frugally than others, but there’s always a difference between appearing frugal and appearing cheap. If you want to be the former, then you’ve picked a good choice. Appearing cheap is unattractive to a lot of people and it can even put them off hanging out or going out with you. If you don’t want that to happen but still want to live a frugal lifestyle, then you’ll need to follow these tips to conceal your cheap ways yet still live with financial stability.
Learn to budget properly
The core to living a financially stable life is knowing how to budget properly. Let’s face it—if you aren’t good with managing your money then you aren’t going to live life with plenty of extra cash in your pocket. One of the main reasons people want to live frugally is so they have extra cash for emergencies and so they can live life comfortably without worrying about being in debt. Being able to budget is a very basic management skill that everyone should learn at some point in their lives, and the earlier you do it the more effective it is.
Learning to budget is very simple. You take your monthly salary then subtract your expenses. To calculate your expenses, gather up your bills and then add them up. Next, keep an eye on how much money you spend on things such as groceries or entertainment. Make sure you’re truthful with your expenses, or else this advice won’t work! Once you’re done, the number you’re left with should be positive and that’ll be the amount of money you have to spend or save on whatever you like.
Keep in mind that your budget categories can be modified to your liking. For instance, if you count entertainment in your budget, then you’ll be restricted on how much you can spend on having fun. Instead of having this as a category, you might want to exclude it and simply use whatever leftover money you have as the entertainment budget instead.
The next step is to know where to cut expenses. One of the common places to look for savings is with your utility bills. Unsurprisingly, electricity rates and other utility costs can fluctuate during the year, resulting in volatile costs. As a result, different suppliers can give you different savings and you may want to consider comparing the costs of your utilities with different manufacturers. Keep in mind that you won’t always save money initially. There might be cancellation fees with your previous supplier or you might only save money for a while because there’s a discount on the introductory period. You might also end up with poorer quality of service, so make sure you take these things into consideration by researching and looking up reviews.
Another good place to cut down on your budget is with luxury expenses. Whether you’re saving for a dream holiday or spending a great deal of money on entertainment subscription services, make sure you’re trying to be frugal with your luxuries. For instance, do you really need multiple on-demand video services, or does one of them offer more choice than the other? Cable television is another place where people can save a lot of money each month. You probably don’t view all of the channels available to you, hence why many people have decided to cut their cable television in favour of specialised internet channels. Being frugal without looking cheap is a lot about giving up comforts and only focusing on things you’re truly passionate about. Whether that’s gardening, video games or sports, make sure you invest time, effort and money into something you love instead of wasting it on side projects or things you only “like”, not love.
So to conclude, make sure you learn how to budget properly. That was a lengthy section, but such an important task needs to be given the spotlight. Now let’s take a look at some other useful ways to be frugal without looking cheap.
Know how to shop properly
Whether you’re shopping at a grocery store or looking online for the latest deals, make sure you’ve learned the basics of frugal shopping. Frugal doesn’t mean buying the cheapest thing every time. Again, a distinction needs to be made so that you aren’t accidentally looking cheap. Instead, being frugal is all about buying the best value for money. This is harder said than done. Simply buying the milk that costs the least per gallon isn’t frugal nor is it cheap. You have to look at other factors such as the shelf life, quality of the milk and other brands that are on sale. For example, if there’s a whole ham on sale at the deli section, then you might be wondering if that’s worth it compared to the pre-sliced ham that you usually buy. Not only is the whole ham most likely better quality, but you also get more of it for your money—the only problem is that you have to cut it yourself!
The key to shopping is understanding what your money is going towards. Don’t just walk into a store and buy the cheapest item pretending to be frugal—it doesn’t work like that. Instead, make sure you’re giving yourself ample time to research prices, look up the best deals and compare different stores. Knowledge is 90% of what makes someone a frugal person, not their bank balance. If you understand how to get the best quality while paying the lowest amount, then you’ll live a life of financial freedom where you can buy whatever you want and eat whatever you like while still spending the least out of all of your friends.
Since knowledge is so important with shopping, you want to avoid doing anything on impulse. Don’t look at a 50% deal and instantly snap it up—there’s likely a reason it’s on sale in the first place! If you notice that an item has drastically reduced on price, then there are many factors that could have contributed to it. For starters, they might be clearing stock because there’s a newer version of the item coming out. The sale might be brand-wide, meaning that other stores are also stocking it. Or it could just be that the item has fallen in price due to its unpopularity. As mentioned before, do your research before buying anything and you’ll save a lot of money in the long run and feel like one of the smartest shoppers ever!
Live a minimal lifestyle
Minimalism is a hot topic among interior designers. It’s stylish, clean and looks fantastic for what is essentially “less stuff”. Minimalistic living is praised for its design choices, but if you boil it down to its essential components you’ll realise that you can get a fantastic look at home for less. There are, of course, some companies that will charge you for buying less. Stylish furniture comes at a price, but assuming you’ve got an eye for good interior design and functional furniture over style, you can get a beautiful expensive-looking home for a lot less than you think.
The key is to first declutter your home. Not only does having a lot of clutter at home make your place look like a mess, but it also makes it look cheap if you have a lot of junk laying around. Clean up your home by using your garage or a spare room as a storage location. Once you’ve moved all the clutter out, you can then sort it out and throw away anything you don’t need. Now that your home is decluttered, you can stop replacing pieces of furniture or even throwing out things you don’t need and donating them to charity or selling it locally.
The goal is to create a minimalist look by saving money on furniture and useless appliances. Minimalism and frugality is a match made in heaven, so take advantage of both!