Have you ever looked at some of your frugal friends and wondered how on earth they can LIVE so well on so little? How can they be so… happy… when they’re living like they’re in the stone age?

Maybe you’ve looked at other people who live frugally and thought to yourself, “I’d never go THAT far…”. Some people take frugal living to a whole new extreme. Luckily, you don’t have to go THAT far to be able to live frugally and save some money along the way.

Here are the top 22 things frugal people don’t do(in fact, they would never do them), and why you shouldn’t be doing them either if you are trying to embrace frugal living for yourself.


How to live super frugally

I get it. Living frugally just comes naturally to some people. You might have friends who pinch pennies everywhere they can, use coupons, are fierce budgeters, and STILL manage to have fun and live fulfilling lives, while you’re sitting there thinking “how do they manage to do it?” (as you sip on your $9 caramel macchiato. I can ensure you of one thing – they don’t go out and spend $9 on a drink.)

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, someone else you know goes a bit too overboard and reuses everything from their baggies to their toilet paper.

You don’t want to be that person.

But I can help you learn how to be extremely frugal so you can save money, but not so frugal that you don’t get to live your life. There’s a happy medium, and you can learn how to find it here.

Are you ready to jump in? Here it is.

Related: 12 Items to Reuse to Save Money

how to live frugally. Jar full of money

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Here we’ll go over some frugal living ideas, along with answers to your question “what do those that are frugal do?”. You’ll also learn some things that frugal people would never do to help you learn the best frugal living tips that anyone can do (even people who hate saving money).

1. They don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale or because they have a coupon to use

This might possibly be one of the biggest frugal living no-nos. Buying things that you don’t need, simply because you have a coupon for it is something that frugal people wouldn’t dream of doing.

But it’s something many people do struggle with.

I get that if you have a coupon it can seem like a good idea to buy something – even if you weren’t planning on buying it anyway. You may look at the coupon and say to yourself, “but look at how much money I’ll be saving!” when really, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ll be saving, if you weren’t planning on buying it originally, you’re not saving money – you’re spending extra money.

On the other hand, if you find a coupon for something that you were planning on buying anyway, then it IS a good idea to use it to save some extra pennies.

2. They don’t buy unnecessary stuff

Have you ever been curious about frugal spending habits? What do they buy, and what don’t they buy? Well, when frugal people go shopping they don’t buy things just because they’re convenient. They buy things that they need, and make do with what they don’t.

Sure, an apple slicer might be convenient, but it’s not that much harder to just slice the apples by hand – and save your money. If you’re trying to be a frugal person, then buying stuff just because it’s a good price, it looks cool, or you think you might need it (one day) – is a big no-no.

3. They don’t let their food go to waste

This is something a LOT of us are guilty of doing. You make a meal and pack the leftovers up into the fridge telling yourself you’ll eat them later. Then, a week passes by and the food you packed up has gotten shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten about, and next thing you know it has gone bad and has to be tossed.

People who are dedicated to being frugal know that food and groceries are one of the biggest expenses in a person’s life, so they are diligent about the amount of food that they make. And if they make too much? Then they pack the leftovers up in clear containers (these are the ones) and make sure the food gets kept at the front of the fridge, and they use it up within a couple of days.

But what happens when you can never manage to buy the right amount of food and it goes bad before you even get around to using it?

If that’s the case, you’ll want to start meal planning. Meal planning will allow you to lay out the meals you will be making for your family so you can make a grocery list based off of those meals. Then when you go shopping you’re ensuring you’re getting exactly what you need and no more. Meal planning is how my husband and I went from spending $1,000 a month on groceries to $300 a month (you can learn our method here).

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4. Frugal people don’t have unnecessary expenses

When frugal people look at their budget (don’t have a budget yet? If you want to be frugal you NEED one) they don’t see any expenses that aren’t absolute necessities.

They budget their money for the normal budgeting categories, which includes a “fun” category. (Yes, even frugal people still have to have fun!)

5. They don’t pay their bills late

Paying bills late means you’re actually paying more than the total cost of your bill. You’re paying a late fee.

Late fees are expenses that are 110% avoidable. And they are 110% a waste of money.

Wouldn’t you rather not waste your money on late fees and put it towards something else? (Treat yourself to a coffee – or better yet, buy a coffee maker so you can treat yourself at home -, put it into a savings account, or pay some other bills with it.)

6. They don’t have the latest and greatest of everything – and they’re okay with that

They might still be using a phone that they got 5 years ago (gasp!), they might buy their clothes from second-hand stores, and they might not have a new car. But by living with less in certain areas of their lives, they’re able to live richly in other areas – even if they’re living on a low income.

As a rule of thumb, if whatever they have still works well and does the job right, they don’t see any need to upgrade. They keep on using it until it runs out of life or can no longer serve its purpose.

7. They don’t eat out often

Frugal living gurus also know that eating out is a great way to waste their money. Sure, they might treat themselves and eat out every once in a while – but it’s certainly not a normal occurrence in their lives.

They know that they could make a meal that’s just as good for a fraction of the cost at home – it just requires some work from them. (This is where meal planning helps people save money, again. By planning your week’s meals in advance you won’t be as tempted to eat out because you’ll always know what you’re having for dinner. No more of those “I don’t know what to make for dinner – let’s just go out.”)

Related: How We Went From Spending $1,000 a Month to $300 on Groceries

8. They don’t buy coffee out often

Just like eating out, spending money on coffee every day adds up quicker than most people realize, and that’s why frugal people choose to buy an at-home coffee bar so they can make themselves a coffee every day for far cheaper than buying one at the store.

Instead of spending $3 on a coffee every day, you can bring that number down to less than $0.25 a cup (depending on the kind of coffee you buy).

9. They know what to buy in bulk

Frugal people don’t always go shopping at the most convenient store. They know that sometimes they can save a bunch of money if they go shopping at a store like Sam’s Club or Costco.

But, they also know what items to buy in bulk, and what items are actually cheaper to buy in smaller portions. Here’s a list of 10 things you should always buy in bulk to save money.

10. They don’t let a great sale go by

IF something is on sale that they need and go through a lot of, they’ll take advantage of the sale and stock up so they don’t have to buy whatever it is again for a few months.

For example, if toilet paper came on sale for a great deal, they would stock up because it’s something that everyone uses and will always use. If something like cheese came on sale for a great price, they would stock up (within reason) because they know they can freeze the cheese to keep it from going bad. One thing frugal people don’t stock up on is perishable items. Things like produce that can’t be frozen and will go bad in a matter of days isn’t a smart thing to stock up on, and they know it.

Related: 60 Surprising Foods That Can be Frozen to Save Money

clever frugal living ideas with jar full of money

11. They don’t go to the mall often

People with frugal habits don’t go to the mall often, even if they don’t plan on buying anything, because they know that even window shopping is a dangerous game to play when you’re trying to save money.

12. They don’t make last minute trips to the grocery store

You know those last minute grocery store trips where you go in for 1 or 2 items and come out with an entire basket full? Frugal people have decided to completely cut off those trips so they aren’t tempted to spend money on unnecessary items by planning their meals in advance. When they plan their meals they can make one big shopping trip and buy everything they need for the week so they don’t have to make any other stops at the store throughout the week.

13. They don’t go to the grocery store without a list

To continue the topic of grocery stores, frugal people will never go shopping without a grocery list. They know that if they set foot in that store without a list there’s a far bigger chance that they’ll buy things they don’t need than if they go shopping with their list.

Shopping with a grocery list allows them to only go down the aisles they need to go down and avoid parts of the store that they don’t need altogether.

Always, always, ALWAYS shop with a list.

14. They don’t forget where they spent their money

Keeping track of where your money goes is an important part of living frugally, and it’s something that these people do diligently. When they pay their bills they know exactly where the money they spent went, and what they bought. This way if there’s an unexpected expense, they can pinpoint it right away. This also helps in the case that someone steals your card and is using it without you realizing it, that way you can catch it right away rather than letting it go on for a few months without noticing.

You can learn how to start tracking your spending here.

15. They aren’t clueless about the price of an item before purchasing it

This. Is. Important.

Someone with frugal living habits knows how much something is before buying it, that way if they get charged more, they can catch it right away rather than noticing it a few days down the road and having to go back to the store to correct it.

Many times sale prices won’t register at the checkout, so if you aren’t aware of how much the item is supposed to be, you could be losing out on a lot of money.

16. They always look through local flyers before going shopping

Flyer shopping is a big part of frugal living, especially when you’re planning your one big shopping trip. By looking through flyers from your local grocery stores before you go shopping you can eye out where the best prices are so you can save some extra money on your groceries.

Related: Make Your Money Management Easy

17. They know how to, and aren’t ashamed to, say no

When living frugally, you aren’t going to be able to go to every outing you’re invited to. If you’re trying to pinch your pennies, there will come times where you’ll have to politely decline an offer to go out.

Frugal people don’t live boring lives and they do enjoy going out and treating themselves every once in a while, but they know exactly how much money they have in their budget set aside to spend on fun activites, so if they’re out of money in that category for the month they know that it’s important to politely decline an offer than spend more money than they have just to go out with their friends.

18. They don’t settle

There are endless ways to save money, and you can bet that frugal people know almost all of them – but they also know that there are more ways to learn. They don’t settle with what they know and refuse to learn anything else. They’re always open to try new ideas and new ways to become creative with their finances so they can save more money.

19. They don’t often buy brand new

A frugal person knows that they can get nice, name brand clothes without paying top dollar for them simply by widening the stores they shop at. Rather than going to the mall to buy clothes, they might first look around at a couple of different thrift stores to see if they can find something nice there. Or, they may search on buy and sells to see what other people are selling out there.

This is how frugal people get nice clothes for a fraction of the cost of buying them new, but this doesn’t just go for clothing, either. They know they can get things like furniture for cheap from buy and sells or local scratch and dent stores, too.

20. They aren’t clueless

They have a plan for their money. They don’t spend carelessly and irresponsibly, they put deep thought into where they spend their money.

21. They aren’t above doing small side hustles here and there

Frugal people know that there are so many different ways that they can make money – besides just as their job. They know that if they’re in a pinch they could easily start up a small side hustle to make some consistent money from.

Frugal people are willing to put the work in to see results – they don’t give up easily.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Money From Home (that are actually legit)

22. They save money and have a plan for it

They don’t spend every little bit of money that they get – they’re careful to set a certain amount aside each month to put into their savings account and emergency fund so they’re always prepared for the unexpected.

Related: 5 Ways to Start an Emergency Fund When Money is Tight

If you want to save more money, Ebates is my extreme money saving hack. Ebates offers cash back for purchases made through them. So you can be making money back on things you were going to buy anyway. Ebates offers a variety of stores, including Walmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, JCPenny, Amazon, eBay, and many, many more! Sign up for free and get a $10 cash bonus when you sign up through my link!

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frugal living hacks with money in glass jar