5 Ways to Frugal Living

Being frugal is an art and something Mrs. T and I practice on a daily basis. We’re always finding new ways to save money so we can use whatever saved for investments or big item purchases like vacation. I’m always amazed to see people spending unnecessary amounts of money when they can easily save 10% or more by taking some simple steps. Here are 5 really easy things that Mrs. T and I do on a regular basis to save money.

Bring your own lunch
My work has a cafeteria which serves today’s special for $7. I can also get different items for cheaper. Assuming I buy lunch every day, over the course of a month I will spend more than $140. Over the span of a year, I’ll end up spending close to $1700 on lunch alone. If I were to invest $1700 in dividend paying stocks, at a 3% yield, that’s $51 worth of dividend for doing nothing at all.

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably heard about the brown bag lunch idea. The idea is to bring sandwiches for lunch to save money. To be perfectly honest, I don’t like eating sandwiches for lunch. So the idea of bringing my own brown bag lunch doesn’t work for me. I do, however, bring my lunch regularly. Rather than bringing sandwiches, I bring leftovers from the night before. When Mrs. T and I cook dinner we almost always make some extras, so both of us can have the leftover for lunch the next day.

Cut your own hair
Ok not literally, I don’t cut my own hair, Mrs. T does. Because I’m a guy and have short hair, I need a haircut about every month during summer and about once every 1.5 month during winter. I used to find the cheapest hairdresser out there which cost anywhere from $15-20. Now $20 per haircut is considered cheap, some of my guy friends spend up to $50 per haircut!
Say I get a haircut on average 10 times a year, at $20 a haircut, that’s $200. If I go to a more expensive hairdresser, it would certainly cost more than $200 per year. A good hair cutting kit costs about $60-100. It might sound like a big initial cost but the kit pays itself back after 3-5 haircuts. After the 3rd-5th haircut you’re saving money every haircut. It is great if you have kids too because that would just save even more money for your family.

If you are a lady, you could look for hairdresser schools to get your hair cuts. This is what Mrs. T does. The saving rate is anywhere from 50% to 75% depending on the type of styling.

Borrow books from the library
It is very important to continue learning as an individual. One way to do this is to read lots of different books and educate yourself. Last year I read over 40 books and Mrs. T probably read about 25 books. Assuming $20 per book, that’s $1300 between the two of us. This is why utilizing the local libraries and borrowing books instead of buying makes sense. Not only is this an excellent way to live frugally, this also saves the environment. How often do you find yourself wondering what to do with that pile of books you only ever read once?

Ditch your TV
One of the biggest time waster in today’s society is probably TV. According to Maclean’s study, on average Canadians watched 28.5 hours of TV each week. That’s over 1 day a week that you’re spending in front of the TV! What’s even more amazing is that the cable bill has only gone up over the past few years. Here on the West Coast of Canada, Shaw basic cable costs $35 per month and that only gives you a handful of channels. If you want specific channels you need to buy add-ons, which will increase your cable bill. It is not unusual to hear friends and co-workers spending over $100 per month on cable subscription. On top of the cable bill, some people may add Netflix monthly subscriptions and watch a few pay-per-view or on-demand shows each month. Now that’s a lot of money and a lot of time you are spending in front of the electronic box. A good frugal living practice is to cancel your cable subscription all together. Save the money and spend that 28.5 hours per week outside, learn a new hobby, spending quality time with friends and family, or get a part time job. 😉 Or even better, ditch the TV completely. Our household has been TV free for close to 4 years and we have not looked back. I can think of better ways to spend 28.5 hours each week than sitting in front of the TV!

Get rid of your smartphone
Do you honestly need the latest smartphone with 10+ GB of data plan just so you can check Facebook and Twitter every single minute of your life? A phone bill of $50 per month is considered “cheap” these days. It’s not unusual to receive a phone bill of over $100 per month. That number is just mind boggling to me. Before I got a company phone, my monthly cellphone bill was less than $25 including taxes. I was using a non-smart phone that was over 3 years old. I had to get a company phone due to work but the company pays for the phone bill. I would be perfectly happy to go back to a non-smart phone today. Mrs. T has a non-smart phone as well (we call it a “not-so-smart phone”) and her cellphone bill is a very manageable $28 per month.

There you have it, 5 ways to frugal living that will easily save you a few thousand bucks each year. Use the money saved to invest in dividend paying stocks and let your money work hard for you.

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15 thoughts on “5 Ways to Frugal Living”

  1. All very good ideas Tawcan! I do all of them except I mostly cut my own hair and then have the Mrs trim the back of my head cause I can’t see that to make sure it looks good enough. Library just called me to tell me another book is ready when I haven’t finished Snowball yet. Plus I won a book on a give-away, so another will be coming down the pike soon too. I don’t read nearly as much as you do, and this year has been many for me. But libraries can save money!

    I have a dumb phone, used AIO wireless with a referral from Dividend Mantra so actually will be free this month… and maybe 4 more months? They seemed to have screwed up the referral bounty when transitioning to Cricket. Anywho, the wife has a smart phone but work pays for it, so that is like an easy $500 in tax free income from that!

    • It’s always to have work to pay for the smartphone. As long as you don’t get too many calls from work during non-work hour, it’s all good. 😀

  2. I think we do all of those things… Although we bought or phones unlocked and I have a dim card only contact which gives me unlimited data, unlimited text messages, and several hundred minutes for about £17 per month. My spouse spends about £10 power month because it’s not permissible at work to use phones…

    Keep up the good work!

  3. I pack my lunch and bring it ever day, and it astounds my co-workers. It’s so much cheaper and better for the environment to bring your lunch. I don’t cut my own hair, but I only get a haircut about twice a year so it doesn’t eat into my budget too much.

  4. Tawcan,

    Great list there.

    I’ve done everything but cut my own hair. Actually, I shave my head. So while I do technically groom myself, it’s not cheap. I wish I would have started just buzzing it down, because razors are expensive!!

    Best wishes.

  5. Tawcan,

    I’m with you on the using the library. I too read a lot…35-50 books a year. I usually get used books or buy them for my Kindle online. Recently I read somewhere about an app called Overdrive that lets you borrow e-books and audiobooks from your local library. I plan on giving it a try this week.


    • I’ll have to check out Overdrive app myself. I like flipping through a physical book better than ebook or audio book. Call me old fashioned. 🙂

  6. Good stuff! Luckily I have my mom make my food and cut my hair haha. I’m not sure about giving up my smartphone. It does make life too convenient. As for books, I usually use my bing points to get amazon gift cards so I can buy books there. I like owning rather borrowing.

    Thanks for the post, cheers!

  7. Great tips! We are pretty frugal ourselves, but we don’t brown bag our lunches everyday… gets too tough! I’ll never get rid of my smartphone… we just don’t add data on our plans. Just use WIFI. I always joke to my fiance about saving us $ by cutting his hair… but he refuses to let me cut his hair. He doesn’t want a mowed down hair.

    • Good idea on using wifi only on the smartphone. That’s definitely another way to save as long as your monthly plan isn’t outrageously high.

      You should tell him to let you practice haircutting on him. Only takes a few tries to be good at it. 😉

  8. Ha, never considered cutting my own hair! I’m going every six weeks, so that’s about €120 euro’s every year. Too bad my hair cut is too complicated to not have a professional do it.

    If I had children, I would definitely cut their hair myself. My parents did mine for years!

    Great tips, Tawcan!


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