How To Start Living On Less Money

The idea of living on less money obsesses our mind nowadays

I don't know maybe due to inflation and worrying about future

Or concerned we won't have enough money to pay for our kids' colleges

Whatever these concerns are you have 2 options

Either to find a side hustle to pursue to make extra money

Or squeeze your expenses and think about living on less money

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live on less money

I know it may be hard to save money because you don't know what to cut from your budget

I am here to show you all possible ways to help you live with few money and save more

Why you should live frugally?

You live frugally because you don't know what will happen tomorrow

There is no contradiction between living frugally and enjoying your life

Once you start practicing living on less money you won't feel like you are sacrificing

I'll give an example, on my way to work I order a coffee from Starbucks

This caused a spike in my monthly spending

So I reduced it to twice a week and I did not feel any change in my life routine

You judge yourself and spot anything that causes you to lose money

Then direct this wasted money towards saving and investing for the future

Do you know if you invest $100 monthly with 9% mutual fund which is a reasonable rate, you would collect more than $300,000 after 30 years?

Is it possible to live on less money?

Yes, it is possible but you have to know how to live frugally?

That's what I am trying to show you below

Not knowing how to live on less money is not the issue

Some people read my advices and applied few of them

While others did not even try

Fearing that this will impact their way of living

Anything that will impact your lifestyle can annoy you at first

Later on it becomes your norm and you may add more to your lifestyle

1) Practice the 30 days rule on non essential items

Do you want to buy a big ticket item?

If so, please wait for 30 days

Who knows, sometimes It can happen that you will change your mind

2) Setup a plan for the Tax refund season

Doing your tax during tax season is a good time for a refund

This can happen if you are saving for your retirement as this will lower your income and government will refund you the difference on taxes applied to your full income

I suggest to plan on how to invest that money or put it towards your debt

3) Maximize the transfer to your retirement account

So many companies nowadays contribute to your retirement account

They will match up to a certain percentage the money you put there

It would be great to seize the opportunity and contribute to the maximum of what your company will match

4) Trick yourself that you did not get a bonus

Are you getting a bonus at the end of the year?

Live on less by adjusting your budget as if you are not getting any extra money?

If so, that would be a great opportunity to use your bonus money into investing that money

5) Automate to transfer money to your saving account

Having troubles saving at the end of the money?

Why don't you ask your bank account to deduct a specific percentage or amount from every paycheck?

By doing that you force yourself to save and create a budget plan from what is left from your paycheck

6) Get rid of your change put them in Piggy bank

Almost all of us get puzzled of what to do with their spare change

They end up anywhere in your home and they get lost

Try to use a piggy bank and save your change inside

Not only you will save some money but you can find change easily

7) Use apps to transfer your change to an investment account

There are so many mobile apps that can help you invest money easily

What they do is they round up all transactions you make using your debit or credit cards

Just link your cards to your mobile apps and it will take care of the rest

Apps like Acorns and Stash in US and Wealth Simple in Canada will deduct change from every transaction and invest that money for you

8) Find a buddy to challenge you

If you are not saving for yourself and the future

Perhaps you will save because somebody is challenging you

Find someone who is also living on less money like you

You can take the 52 weeks money saving challenge for yourself or with someone to challenge you

9) Use a cash reward credit card and save its cashback

There are so many cashback cards that give you money back on certain categories

Since you are already paying money for your daily spending then use a credit card that rewards you with cash

I pay an annual fee for a cashback credit card to maximize my cashback percentage

10) Create a budget

Do you have a budget? if not, what you are waiting for?

Just collect the last 3 to 6 months of your debit or credit cards spendings

You will be able to come up with realistic budget

And for this reason, I decided to create an undated ultimate budget binder

With current and 2 upcoming years as shown below

dated monthly budget page to live cheap by balancing your budget

11) Analyze your spending

The key to successful budget is to properly analyze your spending

Those who are living on less money investigate how much you spend in each category

I recommend you use my free sheet below on my products page

Income Expenses Tracker to live cheap taking care of your expenses

12) Make extra income by starting a side hustle

You can save which is good but you have a limit

Saving is capped to a certain amount but income has no ceiling

That's why I recommend to save but also find a side hustle to increase your income

13) Refinance your mortgage or negotiate your rent

Sometimes you can negotiate your mortgage for a better rate

This always happen if you negotiate few months before renewal date

What if you are renting you can convince your landlord not to increase your rent

14) Try the 52 weeks money saving challenge

When it comes to the 52 weeks money saving challenge I realized that it can be used as a challenge game with someone to compete with

It is fun and affordable to any income no matter what

15) Analyze, negotiate and bundle your recurring bills

How many years you have been paying your bills with the same provider

Do you know you can negotiate and lower your bills

I convinced a friend of mine who was paying $140 for cable and internet

He called the company and they lowered his bill to $90

This pissed him off as he was paying this higher amount for 5 years

With AskTrim, BillSmart, BillCutterz, BillFixers and Bill Shark in US and Bill Busters in Canada they will negotiate your bills for you

16) Cut cable subscription

The key to living on less money is cut and replace your cable subscription

There is a service called IPTV where you expect to pay around $30 per year

You get more than 3000 channels streamed online

It can never be better than that

17) Cancel magazine subscriptions

Go and check if you have a magazine subscription

When was the last time you read this magazine

I bet you pile them and put them in recycle

Save your money which is around $20 and cancel your magazine subscription

18) Replace your home phone with VOIP phone

I don't think you need home phone if you have cell phone

But due to the fact that VOIP phones are so cheap

You can add a VOIP service or replace your home phone with VOIP

Average cost is $3 a month paid annually

19) Set reminders to pay bills and credit cards

If you don't want to miss any bills and paying your credit cards balances

Then best way is to setup a specific day each month to pay all your bills

By doing that you will never miss any bill and avoid late fee charges

20) Never finance anything

Sometimes you need to buy big ticket items like TV or Fridge

Here is the trick, so many stores will charge interest for paying installments on one or two years

While there are other stores that offer paying your amount due on 12 or 18 months with no interest

The idea is to look for these offers and buy your big ticket item with no interest

If you want to live on less money then avoid interest charges at all means

21) Use HSA or FSA

If your company offers you a medical account ask them for the HSA or FSA option

HSA stands for Health Spending Account while FSA stands for Flexible Spending Account

These type of accounts pay for any uncovered portion in your medical bill

For example, you can use your HSA to pay for your remaining 20% of your medical bill

22) Pay mortgage and student loans biweekly or even weekly

Do you know the less interval between your mortgage or student loans payments the less interest you will pay?

That's true, paying weekly or biweekly you'll pay less interest than monthly payment

23) Look for no fees bank accounts

Yes you can find offers for no fees bank accounts

It can be with a bank other than yours

But you can take this offer to your bank and see if they can offer you to waive your fees for extended period like a year or so

Most banks will not turn their customers down as they will switch to another banks

24) Write your grocery list

Nothing is better than writing what you need from grocery stores

That's why grocery list app like AnyList is designed to help you stay focused

You just write what you need for the entire week

What is even better, I tell Alexa to add my item to the shopping list

Same thing you can do with Google home

AnyList - one of the best way to save money
How To Start Living On Less Money 8

You can show and hide your crossed item by using the eye view icon

AnyList - adding multiple items
How To Start Living On Less Money 9

You can add multiple items one time

AnyList - meal planning
How To Start Living On Less Money 10

Also there is a meal planning feature

25) Buy the no brand supermarket items

Always the no brand is cheaper than the original item

Grocery stores ask the manufacturer to pack the grocery product under the supermarket name

Few times the no brand is of bad quality

If you want to practice living on less money then get the no brand products

26) Buy grocery items in bulk

Some items don't expire like rice, spices and salt

You can buy them in bulk when they go on sale

27) Buy essential products from grocery stores

I recommend to always keep track of your essential grocery items like milk and eggs

You don't want to run out of milk and buy it from gas station with higher price

28) Search for cheap groceries using coupon apps

Few years ago it was really challenging to search all flyers to look for deals or coupons

Nowadays with apps like Flipp or reebee they will do this hard job for you

All you have to do is search for your favorite items and the app will locate the cheapest store near you

29) Get cash back using grocery apps

Many grocery apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, Receipt Hog and Krazy Coupon Lady reward you for your grocery and shopping trips

Most of them ask to scan and upload your receipts to get cash back

30) Stop buying bottled water

Sometimes bottled water is good especially if you are on a trip or on the beach

Other than that I drink from the tap water

I meant live on less money by not buying bottled water as your main source of water

31) Buy from Supermarkets that do price match

Most of the grocery stores do their best to match prices of their competitors

This means you can continue your grocery shopping from your favorite grocery store

But also ask for price match for items you find on sale through apps like Flipp or reebee

32) Bring your own grocery bags

Nowadays all grocery stores charge money on grocery bags

Buy reusable bags for yourself, keep them in the truck and use them inside grocery stores

33) Plans your meals weekly

I recommend to buy your grocery list to last for one week

Sometimes it can happen that you forget items and you go specially to buy them

With AnyList you can even plan for items required for your weekly meals

This will definitely help you to reduce your grocery trips

34) Buy cheap meat cuts

Not all meat cuts are the same

Some meat cuts like fast fry or stir fry cuts cost more

You can cut meat yourself especially the stir fry

35) Use takeout coupons

Sometimes you need to take your family and go to restaurants

Nothing is wrong about that

But to live on less money You can use Groupon and Restaurant.com to look for takeout coupons

36) Go for family portions in restaurants

If you are in a restaurant always look for family portions meals

Sometimes you see a menu item where it says add extra piece for $

Ask if by adding an extra piece would turn it to a family plate

You save money especially if you are eating the same plate

For example, chicken plate is $17.99 and family plate is $21.99

37) Cook your food in bulk

You should plan your cooking time smartly

Especially the cooking different meals with common ingredients

For example most cooked vegetables come with beef stew

You can cook a beef stew portion that can be shared between 2-3 meals

38) Use leftover dinner for lunch

Most of us eat dinner at home and lunch at work

You can cook dinner with enough portion to pack it for lunch next day

Definitely by doing that you save money buying lunch at work

39) Eat breakfast

Definitely you need morning breakfast for healthy reason

You will not starve on your lunch time so you would eat proper portion

40) Avoid meat and poultry once or twice a week

I'm not sure if this is healthy or not to skip meat and poultry once or twice a week

What I know is definitely you will practice living on less money

41) Buy a large freezer

What do you think I ask you to buy a large freezer while discussing living on less money

I have my reason, sometimes you buy meat and poultry when on sale and stock them in your freezer

Definitely it is really worth it and you are saving money on the short and long run

42) Plan to cook cheap recipes

So many meals contain in their recipes ingredients that are really expensive

Take an example, cooking cashew you can replace cashews with almonds

Be innovative and replace expensive items with cheap ones

43) Cut drive thru coffee and restaurants

I am a coffee addict who used to buy Starbucks coffee on my way to work

This habit had to stop and I reduced it to once or twice at most a week

I blame the technology as I was using Starbucks app to order my coffee and skip the lineup

Starbucks Keurig K-cup at home and reduce my daily Starbucks

44) Upgrade your Costco membership

I saved a lot of money when I decided to try the executive Costco membership

But how? well Costco has 2 types of membership

The gold one where you pay $60 and get no cashback

While the executive you pay $120 and get 2% cashback on all purchases

Bottom line, I get around $85 which reduces my membership fees to $35

This makes it cheaper than the gold membership

45) Buy flowers from Supermarket

Do you know that supermarkets sell flowers cheaper than anywhere else?

Yes if you want to live on less money then buy flowers from grocery stores

46) Buy some items from Dollar stores

Dollar stores are the cheapest

Especially you can buy so many items for one or two dollars

You can pay $5 or $10 for the same items in other stores

Don't believe me check for greeting cards, notebooks and Christmas decorations as an example

47) Join loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are free to join and accepted in most stores

For example Air miles are used and collect points for free

You can apply for all loyalty programs and start collecting points right now

48) Buy cookware and skillets from discount stores

Discount stores sell cookware and skillets 50% than other stores

You can build a list of all kitchen utensils and buy them when they are discounted more in discount stores

49) Shop around for the best cell phone plans

If you need a cell phone plan and not in a hurry

During black Friday and Christmas cell phone companies slash prices like crazy

Keep an eye on these 2 events and get a plan locked for 2 years contract

Also you can live on less money by bundling a plan with your spouse

50) Plan buying your gifts ahead when on Sale

We all have specific set of events like birthdays, thanksgiving and Christmas

I recommend to buy gifts ahead of time if you know what you need to buy

For example, if you see deals on thanksgiving you can buy gifts for Christmas too

51) Buy gifts from your own gift cards

I have never used any of my gift cards for myself

What I do is I buy other gifts with these gift cards

52) Rent your dress

There are many occasions to attend and each needs a new dress

I am not sure if you thought about renting your dresses instead of buying

It is up to you to think about this option

53) Consider buying used items if possible

Buying used items helped me to save lot of money

Especially for electronics and video games

I start by looking into used items under Amazon then eBay

Then I move on checking Facebook Marketplace

54) Check what you can get as free stuff

Do you know you can get so many free stuff online

You can call it samples and they are free

If you are interested then check my post on 100+ websites to get free stuff online

55) Shop from discount stores

Where do you buy your clothes? Do you go to brand stores?

You can consider visiting discount stores like Marshalls

Still you will find some brands and lot of varieties

56) Shop off the season

I learned to live on less money when I got my kids

They grow so fast and I have to buy winter and summer clothes yearly

I discovered that it would be cheaper to buy multiple sizes if I find good discount

Also I buy the next year at the end of every season

57) Check public libraries before buying books

Let's agree on something

Do you still need to keep any book after reading it?

I love reading and I discovered that so many books which I bought are in public library

So check first your public library before buying your book

58) Switch to non disposable napkins

Do you have kids?

if so then definitely you use paper towels a lot to clean after them

It would be better to use non disposable napkins that are washable too

59) Stop buying alcohols and cigarettes

Your health is important to you and your family

Cut cigarettes if you have the will and reduce your alcohol consumption

Cutting cigarettes may be hard first but believe that you can do it

60) Buy refurbished laptop and TV

Refurbished doesn't mean it's a bad product

It is simply this product was on display

You still get a warranty so nothing to worry about

61) Don't buy extended warranty

In my opinion it is not worth it especially in electronics

I did not buy extended warranty before but again it is up to you

62) Do Christmas exchange gift and put a limit on Christmas budget

We as families put a lot of burden before Christmas as buying gift is personal

That's why I liked this idea as I tried it by myself in one of our past Christmas party

Everyone buys a gift for a family in the range of $25 to $35

We write the family name on a sheet of papers and fold them

A child picks a folded paper and the chosen family picks up any wrapped gift

Then this family picks up another folded paper

The new chosen family has the option to take any opened gift from other families or pick up a wrapped gift

If an opened gift was taken then the family who lost the gift can go and open another wrapped gift

This idea turns Christmas exchange gifts into a fun and memorable event

63) Save shipping charges by using Amazon prime

I was hesitant to subscribe to Amazon prime but since COVID-19 it made my life easy

This helped me to save on gas going to the store especially waiting in the lineups

I buy so many things online where I know it is same price or little bit cheaper

64) Use open source software if possible

There are so many software you definitely require for your laptop

If you want to live on less money then you have to adapt the open source software

You can download freeware from the internet

I will give you an example

Do you know there is an open source office called OpenOffice?

Also there are many antiviruses that are free to try for one year

65) Do your own garden

You don't need to hire a gardener if you just cut grass

Just invest in electric or gas lawn mower and do it yourself

Also remove all weeds when they show up

66) Plant your vegetables at home

There are so many vegetables that you can plant in your garden

Like parsley and mint they are easy to grow up and you can use in cooking

67) Plant Perennials

In winter if you have snow, this will kill your plants

That's why you can plant perennials that survive in all seasons

68) Start to use rechargeable batteries

There are so many things around the house from electronics to toys that take AA or AAA batteries

You can invest in a rechargeable batteries

69) Switch to dry cleaning at home

Dry cleaning is definitely expensive

I found something called Dryel that can dry clean your clothes

70) Make your own gifts

I know this option of making your own gifts is not for everyone

But still you can browse the internet for ideas of many things you can assemble together and present them as gifts like drawing on mugs

71) Mend your own clothes by yourself

I am not lucky as it's hard for me to find a pant that is 29 long

It can happen to buy a pant for $10 and pay another $10 to shorten it

I discovered you can use cheap portable sewing machine to mend clothes by yourself

So if you want to live on less money then find ways to do simple things by yourself

72) Do your own renovation

If you are not handy at least you can paint your own house

You would save few thousands hiring a painter to do it for you

73) Make your home pet free if possible

I didn't want to open this topic

Raising a pet at home costs you a lot of money

You can ask those who own pets how much average they pay per month

74) Sell your used household items on Facebook Marketplace

I used to have so many unused items and didn't know what to do with

Till I discovered Facebook Marketplace

It helped me to sell so many things where buyers pick things up and pay you cash

75) Rent your basement

If you have a basement with separate entrance you can rent it

Think about it especially if you have a grown up kids and don't need it

76) Recycle for cash

Do you hear abou Recyclebank?

You can recycle your plastic containers there

For electronics you can use uSell and Gazelle

77) Trade babysitting

Sometimes you need to leave the kids and go somewhere

This requires you to hire a babysitter and pay a lot of money

You can trade babysitting with someone you know and trust

For example, if your friend or family member needs you to babysit their kids

You can do so in return of babysitting your kids when you need so

78) Do your nails at home

You can do your own nails at home, it is so easy

All you need is cotton balls and nail polish remover

79) Try working from home

If you have the ability to work from home then go for that and save money on gas

After COVID-19 so many companies discovered that their employees are capable of working from home

80) Try carpooling

Do you know anyone at your work who lives nearby

If you don't or embarrassed to ask there are apps which can really help you

These apps search for people that work in a nearby area and are on their way to work

81) Get use of public transits and buy season tickets

If you are living in a big city and you work in downtown then it is better to take public transit

It will cost you a lot to park your car plus you can take subway or train and save time

82) Shop around for better car insurance rate

I know calling insurance company for getting a quote is not an easy thing

You can spend a minimum of an hour per each call

Good news is you can use Google to search for compare car insurances

If you find a really low rate for specific company you can invest some time to call and investigate

83) Buy used cars

I am not into buying new cars as they lose 15% when you take them out of dealership

I always buy trusted used cars where I can negotiate the price

At the same time you have a high chance to negotiate with your insurance company

84) Empty your car trunk

Don't ever drive your car with loaded trunk especially unused items

It will cost you gas and decrease your car performance

85) Look for cheap gas stations near you

Every gas station set its own price for gas

It can be challenging to find the best gas station with the lowest rate

Not anymore you can download GasBuddy app, it will find the lowest price near you

86) Plan for cheap nights in theaters

Do you know every Tuesday most theaters offer all movies for $2

If you plan to go to theater then Tuesday is your best day

87) Check for students discounts and admission fees

Do you know students are qualified for discounts in many area like entertainment and transportation

This is a good opportunity to save money if you have student in your home

88) Replace GYM membership with community center

If you have a GYM membership and you are using it occasionally

What I can tell you is to check your local community center

Most of them have GYM tools so you can cancel your GYM membership and go there

cheapest way to live without GYM membership

89) Pack Food for your road trips

If you are driving for a long road trip you can take food with you

Not only you save money but also you save time

90) Buy travel packages before its peak or based on deals

Do you know that travelling on flights on Tuesday is cheaper than days of all week?

Don't buy your first travel price but look around and use the internet to search for last minute deals

91) Watch free DVD movies from public library

Do you know you can rent DVD movies from your public library for free

Sometimes you can download Hoopla app and watch movies from your home

92) Invite your friends over for snack

I know your friends ask you to meet outside to see each other

This cost you a lot of money as you either go to pubs or restaurants

I recommend to invite your friends at home for snack

93) Lower thermostat to save electricity on your water heater

Most thermostats come with 6 or 7 levels to heat your water

You can lower your thermostat instead of cooling the water manually with your shower

One thing to do is to use low flow showerheads to save on water while showering

Last thing is to turn off your water heater when you are on vacation

94) Use slow cooker or crock pot instead of oven

Have you tried using slow cooker instead of your oven

I know a lot of people who can turn on their slow cooker and go to work by the time they come back food will be ready

95) Turn off unnecessary light off

If you are not staying in a room then turn off the light

I know it takes time to practice the habit of not leaving light on when leaving the room

96) Use LED bulbs

LED bulbs are not expensive anymore just check this 24 Sylvania LED for $23.46

They save you money on your power bill

97) Use major appliances on low peak and weekends only

All appliances that you have control on are better to use on low peak and weekends

You can google when your low peak time starts in your city

98) Use smart plugs for some appliances

Some devices consume something called phantom electricity even when they are turned off

Best solution is to use smart plugs to program it to disconnect during night time

99) Use energy efficient appliances

If you have the option to replace your appliances then buy energy efficient ones

They are equipped to save you on electricity and help you live on less money

100) Turn off Air conditioner when not home

Turn off your air conditioner when you are not home

If you are worried about the time it will take for your air conditioner to cool up your home then I recommend to install smart thermostat and control it from your phome

101) Save electricity using a ceiling fan

If you experience extended summer in your area then use ceiling fan in days with mild weather

102) Use Windows and doors blinds

Do you know that blinds can reduce the effect of solar heat by 60%?

This can prevent the heat effect in days where weather is reasonable and thus not using your air conditioner

103) Check weather-stripping

Having leak in your windows can cause your heating process to run continuously

Always check for leaks and use weather-stripping as cheap and affordable solution

104) Close doors and floor registers

Hot or cold air moves in every room even washrooms

That's why if you close registers in rooms you are not using

And close their doors that would have great impact on your heating or cooling process

105) Use smart thermostat

My life has changed after I switched to smart thermostat

You have so many features like bringing your home to your desired temperature sometime before you return back from work

Also you can set your vacations ahead of time


Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.