This one is fun! 😉 Frugal people rarely need a checklist for what they do naturally but it could help someone wondering if they are frugal enough. I notice some people are naturally frugal while some people need a little kick in the jumper 🙂 but it’s always interesting to see the separation of why so let’s get started.
The checklist is a behavioral summary you should magnetize on the fridge door. Frugality is a specific quality on the economics of spending and saving. Everyone knows the general definition of frugality but not everyone can agree on the principles of frugality.
I’ll try to attempt one here and you can see my logic. I created a Frugal Gene checklist of what it means to be frugal. Frugality is not simply a word tossed around to prove monetary responsibility. It is a set group of small behaviors that need to be brought to attention in order to challenge spending habits.
Is frugality necessary to becoming financially independent?
The principle of saving money can be necessary for becoming financially independent. Not only that, it’s necessary to be frugal so you can keep your money saved, not squandered. Unless you are the wife of an NBA superstar or a key cast member to Games of Thrones – banging down 20 million dollars a year salary – absolutely you must. Frugality is also a less selfish way to live life.
This list is a subset of a larger list of major behaviors that someone with the frugal gene will gravitate to doing. How many of these do you have in total?
Contribute to a retirement account
Phew boy, this is important! Do you or your spouse have a 401k, HSA, or IRA? A frugal person is also smart with their money. A person with the frugal genes knows that contributing 401k, HSAs, and IRAs means it’s free money! Some companies with 401k plans also come with employer match.
Know their budgeted numbers
Everyone needs a budget, or at the very least, rough numbers to live in. It’s not just a frugal thing to do but it’s the smart thing to do. Budgets are, in fact, very important and the first time we made our budget I was so surprised to see where my money was going.
Now I’m addicted to it. We made our own budget template in Google (the same one that we use ourselves) that you can download for free if you sign up to our mailing list. Just like any decent human being, we won’t spam and you can unsubscribe anytime 😉
Shop largely at discounted stores
I love a great deal and pretty much all frugal people LOVE to scavenger hunt for a deal. I’ve gotten countless compliments from my kitchenware set to my collection of throw pillows – and my guests think I traded my wallet for them when they were literally fractions of retail. $20 new spanking throw pillow, brought down to $2.
Bonus, we make donations regularly to our Goodwill store so we can recycle back what we don’t use. Extra frugal bonus: the items we donate can count as tax deductions! You can find the official tax form here.
Your phone is more than 2 years old
This is the nail in the coffin for if someone is frugal. When I smashed the glass screen on my Galaxy phone, I kept it for 3 more years. Smartphones are expensive! People who trade up annually are simply wasting their money pursuing slightly new technology. Getting an unlocked smartphone is what we do and we are free from any smartphone-related contracts so we have no unnecessary incentive to trade up.
You buy generic brand groceries
We use to live near a Whole Foods and that’s where we went shopping because we didn’t have a car. Everything was indeed more expensive at Whole Paycheck. We opted to shop smart at their less expensive Whole Food brand which was called Whole 365 but it was still expensive. Now that we have moved I’m happy to say the less expensive Costco bulk buys and Trader Joe’s is now part of our staple.
Vacation budget is less than 10% of salary
Dave Ramsey ordains a vacation be nothing higher than 10%-15% of your salary but we all know the extra frugal people tend to shoot even lower than that! I mean, it’s not a vacation if you come back with a heap load of bills to pay – that’s just called putting off your problems.
You have trouble throwing away things
Eh, I can admit this might be a gray area – I’m don’t want every hoarder out there to think they’re being frugal. But I do think I’m frugal because I grow my own green onions, make my own taco seasoning, and sweet potato plants. Not because I hold onto an egg-shell container for 3 months hoping to make it into a craft project…(just an example, but yes I did do that 🙄)
A meal plan is a must
What makes a meal plan a must or frugal people is it makes cooking go more smoothly and efficiently. A meal plan also enables cooking in batches which are a great way to save money and time by reheating stored portions.
- 51 Healthy Frugal Dinner Recipes You Can Make for Under $2
- 25 Simple 5-Ingredient Meals for Under $5 to Feed a Whole Family
Cooks food in batches
Cooking food in batches might consume a great amount of the day, but doing so will save a lot of resources, money and a huge chunk of your time in the whole week. It is convenient and helps to fill the refrigerator for more efficient energy usage.
Will take that penny in the sidewalk
You may have a friend that will embarrass you by picking that lonely penny in the sidewalk. For frugal people, a penny is still a penny and is worth saving. When small values accumulate, it turns into a bigger and more valuable one.
Tracking spending trends
Tracing every dollar of your hard earned money is a good way to control your finances. It’s not just budgeting or tracking for one month but you also mind the overall trend of spending months over months. If you are tracking consistently you will be able to know where to watch your spending. It also helps in putting your focus on more important things and can help you achieve your goal, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Frugal people have plans when their other plan fails
A frugal person always has a plan B when it comes to their finances. Frugal people are usually careful by nature. There is no “uhh, we will just see what happens.”
Not embarrassed to bargain
You’ll spot a frugal one when they try to save a penny in each way possible, and that includes bargaining or speaking up when the price that rings out at check out is higher than the sales price.
As a frugal person, it is worth to try and bargain for a lesser price. But remember what differentiates a frugal and a cheapskate is a frugal person will know when to stop bargaining before it becomes too petty.
Focuses on long-term financial peace
A frugal person will not plan just for the expenses and savings in a week. Frugal people usually make sure that their whole month or their whole year is all accounted for. They have plans for retirement, unexpected emergencies, and other financial surprises.
Says “no” to unnecessary expenses
Peer pressure can be very destructive on personal finances. About 20% of the neighbors on the block have upgraded to a shiny, new Tesla out on their driveway. Even though my husband and I can afford a Tesla upgrade – we have no interest in following the trend. A frugal person will always have a nerve of steel to say no to unnecessary new purchases.
…But can easily spend on worthy things
However, a frugal person can easily spend on things that are deemed worthy. After all, their purchases are often planned, so they have the cash to buy things that they need when they need it. Our family will need to upgrade eventually to another car but it will only be worthy to upgrade when our car can no wonder run or keep us safe. We do not need a new Tesla.
Enjoys free entertainment
Entertainment is better when free, so expect that a frugal person knows different ways to past the time. If you invite them to see the Avengers: Endgame, chances are, you’ll receive a counter-invite that costs less.
A frugal person will usually use community resources, an excellent example is the Illinois State Fair which offers free stages for entertainments. Besides sharing accounts of Netflix and Hulu with friends, I personally feel YouTube has truly everything you need – and besides ads, YouTube is 100% free.
Avoids stores when there’s no need to purchase anything
The only reason to be inside a store is if there’s a need to purchase something important. Unless you’re window shopping (without cash, of course), it is better to be somewhere else where unnecessary spendings could happen.
Uses coupons and cashback in each purchase
Just like what was mentioned earlier, frugal people will cut their spendings and save every single penny. Using coupons and cash back is a part of the planning and shopping. The bigger the savings, the better.
Throw something out
When there’s an appliance or other things that are not in used at homes anymore, instead of throwing these out, a wise move is to go to a resale or thrift store and resell stuff. CPSC advises to throw out when in doubt about the safety of the stuff. However, if its harmless (clothes, outgrown toys, etc), it is advised to resell at thrift stores or other sources.
Would rather Netflix and Hulu than have a cable
Cables usually cost $120 a month, while streaming services such as Netflix usually costs about $10 to $15 per month.
Ignores the latest tech
Frugal mentality: why would you replace something when it is still working? A frugal person usually ignores the latest tech and is happy with their iPhone 6 Plus which is still working just fine after all these years.
Can make something out of leftovers
Cooking for a hearty meal should not cost a lot. You can make good fried rice out of the leftovers from your last meal. A frugal person uses everything from the last piece an the last drop, to save money and avoid unused resources.
Always make sure that there’s something in the fridge
It would be a waste of money and energy if the refrigerator’s job is only to cool down bottles of water. According to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, empty space in a refrigerator is inefficient. Cooking food in batches and storing them in the ref will save you time, effort, and convenience, which what everybody loves.
Stopping at clearance racks first
Purchasing something you need only when you need it is a practical thing to save money on purchases. A wiser thing to do is to check clearance racks to see if the thing you needed is available at clearance price.
Never ever skip a credit card payment
Accumulating interests in a debt shells money out of the pocket without a real benefit. When using a credit card service, a frugal person will always pay in time and will only pay with a credit card for small purchases.
Paying bills on time avoids late fees, and late fees are unnecessary spendings. According to Consumer, it will also affect your credit history. One way to avoid paying late fees is to stick in your budget and make sure to account for everything.
Accounts for everything, including fees
When using a financial service either by paying a bill or by transfer of fund, there are always small fees that could accumulate and become bigger spending. These fees, as well as anything else, should be accounted for when planning a budget.
Avoids paying someone to do something
Unless it is wiser to do so, avoid paying someone to do a task that you can do given your time availability. The reason for this is that these spendings will become “unnecessary” if you have the time and capability to do so. If you can do tasks like mowing your lawn during your free time, give yourself motivation and do so.
Double checks the pantry before shopping
You don’t want to over purchase and waste your money. As a frugal person, I picked up the habit of checking our staples like garlic, oil, and onions so when I see something perishable I won’t feel tempted to purchase because I can’t remember what’s at home.
Loves finding good second-hand things
Second-hand items can often be purchased cheaper than in retail but offer the same experience. Buying second-hand items, especially in electronics and clothing, can also help in managing wastes to help the planet.
Ignores brand names
Frugal people often disregard the emphasis of brands and more the function. A Gucci bag, however expensive it can be, has the main function of holding objects such as phones and makeups. If there’s a cheaper alternative, it is wiser to choose a less-known brand for savings.
Simplicity is the key when it comes to clothes
One trait that most frugal people share is that they opt to stay inside their houses if there’s no reason to be outside. Because of this, they usually opt for simpler and cheaper but comfortable clothes. They understand that they don’t always have to look like a fashion model.
Likes their houses small
A smaller house means lesser maintenance and energy usage, not to mention the cost of a mortgage. Bigger houses don’t always offer comfort and practicability. If a smaller house fits all your needs, go and grab it.
Few or no memberships
Monthly memberships for services that you rarely use, even if these services only cost a few dollars in a month, are still unnecessary expenses. Such examples are gym memberships or buying streaming memberships more than you really need is not something frugal people do.
Will never buy bottled water
It always surprises me when I see people buying a drink of Gatorade or sweet tea when they are easily 5 minutes from home. Bottled water or any kind of objects with one-time use is inefficient. Instead of buying water bottles for drinking purposes, bring along a water bottle, ask for a water cup from any nearby restaurant, and this will save you a lot of money and rid you of eco-waste.
Buying in bulk
The reason why a lot of frugal people buy in bulks is to prolong the time of usage of a product. If you have a proper discipline, you can spend money on jumbo shampoo to save more money per individual ounce. If you buy in bulk, you can immediately pull replacement and transfer it to a smaller bottle if you need to.
Friends with other frugal people
Birds of a feather flocks together of course. It’s the same value system as anything and having similarly frugal friends can be a benefit. They can help each other by sharing frugal ideas, recipe sharing, coupons and deals hunting are common activities too.