One of the hardest things for anyone who is trying to live a frugal life is to learn the difference between a frugal decision and one that isn’t quite as frugal. It can be hard sometimes to know whether a decision will benefit your family in the long run – or whether it will do more harm than good. If you’re having trouble figuring out the difference, there are a few easy ways to teach yourself. One of them is learning the things frugal people do not do.
First though, I want you to understand something; frugal people aren’t born frugal people. Frugality if very much a learned behavior taught to oneself after years of practice.
If you’re just getting started; you’re okay, it will be okay and things will eventually work out. They always do.
21 Things Frugal People Do Not Do
When frugal people are trying to build a new frugal habit, they will often force themselves to repeat the same pattern over and over until the action becomes the habit.
That’s kind of how life works for anything but finances are a lot more habit based than most people think. The habit of building frugal habits is actually what can help you not only learn to save money but also to build wealth at the same time.
1. Make Impulse Buys
One of the biggest ways that people throw money away is by making impulse purchases more often than they should and frugal people do not make impulse purchases.
If you are not familiar with the term, an impulse buy is when you purchase something without planning for the cost, figuring it into your budget or otherwise making a responsible decision.
Instead, when a frugal person wants something, they will either wait for a deal or they will save the money for the item. In doing so, they keep their bank accounts where they should be.
2. Have one income stream
Know what you won’t find most frugal people doing? Working only one job or having only one way to get income.
Instead, they look for ways to make as much income as possible. This can include things like side hustles, getting a second job, investments and more.
Two of my own favorite side hustles are InstaGC and Swagbucks. In just a few minutes a day, I can do surveys , offers, watch videos and more and still earn $100 or more extra each month.
When you sign up for an InstaGC account, you’ll earn points for completing conventional surveys, doing offers, watching videos, clicking links and more. Once you receive 100 points ($1.00) you can cash out instantly for cash (Paypal, Bitcoin or ACH) or gift cards to around 200 different places.
When you sign up for a Swagbucks account, you can earn money in a few of the same ways as InstaGC, however, Swagbucks has a lot of other ways to earn too.
With Swagbucks, you can earn from surveys and offers, but also watching videos, playing games, printing coupons, and even searching the web! There are other ways to earn too!
Cash out your points for Paypal payments or gift cards to hundreds of stores.
3. Overdraft Their Checking Accounts
You won’t see most frugal people over drafting their checking accounts. and there is a reason for that; overdraft fees are not just a waste of money, but they’re an expensive waste of money.
Instead, a truly frugal person will use a financial planner such as THIS one to keep themselves on track and will avoid a negative account balance if at all possible.
4. Pay Their Bills Late
Paying your bills – even simple ones such as your electric bill – can result in late fees that add up quickly. You can easily find yourself spending several hundred dollars more than you need to spend – or can really afford to in late fees.
Instead, frugal people are more likely to work on lowering those bills – such as using ways to save money on those bills – than they are to allow the bill to go past its due date and begin to rack up late fees.
5. Skip Creating a Budget
It is a simple fact that the majority of frugal people are excellent at managing their money. While I no longer believe that ever family needs a budget 100% of the time – there are folks who do perfectly fine without one – I do believe that everyone started out needing one.
If you’re not currently using a budget and you’re not to the point where you can safely manage your money without one, I highly urge you to pick up a bill organizer such as THIS one and a budget printable like THESE and learn how to create a budget today.
Doing so will only lead to good things for you and your finances.
6. Waste Pennies
While the book has since been updated – with a third update in the works – that comment has stayed with me since.
A frugal person knows that sometimes pennies are worth saving. Whether it’s using a single $0.50 off coupon on your grocery bill or turning off a lamp on a side table using a few cents worth of power a day, it all adds up.
Anything small that you do in your life over and over adds up. It’s important to remember that; especially when you’re dealing with your money.
7. Waste Food
Do you know how much food is wasted each day in the United States alone?
30-40% of the food supply or approximate 150,000 tons of food every single day.
Now let’s put that into perspective for a minute; get out $100.00 of your grocery money for your next trip to the grocery store.
Throw away $30.00.
Sounds silly right and like something you would never, ever do? When you allow food to go to waste, that is exactly what you’re doing.
Instead, find ways to reduce food waste like THESE and stop literally throwing your money in the garbage can.
8. Buy for the Sake of Convenience
One of my girls recently spent some time with family in Ohio. These particular family members are not the smartest with their money and often shop for convenience.
Things such as running to the store daily for meals instead of shopping weekly – or even better monthly – cooking quick, boxed or frozen meals, buying without researching, not making a grocery list and buying the first thing you grab are all wastes of your money pure and simple.
It may not seem like it, but when you buy things solely for the sake of convenience, you often spend more money in the long run. It does not matter whether you’re buying groceries or a big ticket purchase.
9. Spend More Time in Stores than They Need
This goes along with that whole conveinence shopping thing but the more time you spend in stores; the more money you will spend.
Impulse buys, good deals that you just have to have, coupon usage that isn’t necessary and everything in between are all taking your money every time you shop.
Stay out of stores and you’ll keep your money longer.
10. Eat Out Daily
Have you ever watched the most frugal person you know? Chances are good that you’ll see them taking their own coffee to work and packing their lunch.
There is a reason for that. Eating out daily – even if it’s simply a coffee each morning – is nothing but a waste of money pure and simple. A frugal person knows this and would rather spend that money elsewhere.
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat out at all. It means that if you have a daily habit, it’s probably time to break that particular habit.
11. Make Impulse Buys
Splurges are necessary to keep you from going crazy with your money, but a splurge is not the same as an impulse buy.
A frugal person knows the difference and you won’t often see them making careless impulse buys.
12. Toss Something Without Trying to Reuse It
Reducing waste really is a staple of a frugal lifestyle and reusing an item you would otherwise throw away is a great way to reduce waste.
13. Use Items for Only One Use
Repeat after me:
Single use items are a waste of money. Single use items waste my money. I may as well throw my money in the garbage if I’m buying a lot of single use items.
Disposable razors that are good for a single use (or even two), disposable silverware and dinnerware and so on can easily be replaced by longer lasting items that won’t cost you nearly as much in the long run.
14. Skip Having an Emergency Fund
While I don’t think that ever family needs a budget , I do think that every family needs an emergency fund and a crisis budget and most frugal people will not sklip having one.
Taking the time to learn how to create a crisis budget (HERE) ensures that when a crisis does happen – because one will for sure at some point – your family can continue to live well as opposed to struggling.
Having an emergency fund ensures that your family can handle the financial cost when Murphy’s Law takes its place in your home.
15. Use Disposable Products
Frugal people tend to lean more toward using reusable products and do not use disposable products if they can help it. This goes a long with single use items.
Reusable products are more expensive at first, but since they last longer and are much better quality, you spend less over time than you do with their disposable counterparts.
A few examples of disposable products that are easily replaced with reusable ones are:
- Paper towels with Unpaper Towels – Amazon HERE, Etsy HERE
- Disposable Menstrual Pads – Amazon HERE, Etsy HERE or Make your own with THIS free cloth pad pattern
- Mop Pad Refills – Amazon HERE, Etsy HERE
- Disposable Cleaning Wipes – Follow our recipe HERE
- Disposable Fabric Softener Sheets – Follow Our Recipe HERE
If you’re looking for even more resuable products to swap, you can check out THIS list.
16. Be Brand Loyal
I’m not going to lie; I am brand loyal-ish on two products when I do not just make them myself. Laundry detergent and dish detergent.
My husband is a truck driver who has very dirty laundry. This makes me need a laundry detergent for him that works amazingly well. for his laundry.
For mine and the girls, I use my DIY laundry detergent found HERE. This helps keep the cost of it down still.
Dish detergent is just personal preference. I prefer the original blue Dawn. There are so many uses for Dawn dish soap – like THESE – that paying a bit more for that bottle actually costs me less since it works for more than dishes.
I also find that most other dish liquids are watery and because require more product to do the same job.
With that said, being brand loyal costs you unnecessary money. Chances are, there is a generic equivalent that costs significantly less. If you have never tried the generic options, now is the perfect time.
16. Buy New If Used is an Option
I love shopping at thrift stores, don’t you? Most frugal people do and in fact, will often make thrift stores and buying used a priority over buying new.
To be honest; there are things you shouldn’t buy new (HERE) at all since buying them new is often a waste of money.
To be fair, there are also things you should not buy used. (HERE)
17. Compete with the neighbors
Ever hear the pharse “Keeping up with the Jonses?”
The Jonses are making you broke.
You won’t notice a frugal person trying to keep up with their neighbors – or the fictional Joneses – because they don’t need to. They realize that saving their money and having the life they want that way is far better than trying to out do the neighbors.
18. Separate their finances
I am going to take flack for this most likely, but I do not believe that the majority of families should have separate finances.
Doing so allows one person to hide negative habits such as gambling or excessive shopping from the other.
It also places all responsibility for managing the family finances squarely on the shoulders of one person.
This doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t have your own accounts. You should. In our home, we have the family account and Steve and I both have our own separate spend accounts. The family’s money is the family’s money and the money in our separate account is ours to do whatever we want with.
The set up allows everything to get paid on time and still gives Steve and I some play money.
Now with that said; there are situations where you should not share bank accounts.
If you are in an abusive relationship or you or your partner has an addiction or negative habit, do not risk your family’s income by sharing finances if at all possible.
19. Skip eating fresh and eat junk
Does your family eat fresh meals prepared at home or do you eat highly processed meals that are packed with things yuour body doesn’t need? It may not seem as if it could be costing you money but it is.
Highly processed, high sugar, high gluten foods are not doing your health any favors, but how does this cost you money?
In medical care.
Doctors visits, copay’s, prescription costs and more all add up very, very quickly.
This is why frugal people – while they do eat as cheaply as possible – also recognize the value of having quality, healthy foods.
20. Shop without looking at the sales ad
Each week, I sit down and look at the grocery ads for multiple stores. I want to know what the best prices are for the items I need.
When you don’t look at the sale ads, you risk having to pay full price for what you need instead of being able to shop around to find the best price.
You also miss out on coupons and other exclusive deals.
21. Shop Without a List
Finally, you rarely see a frugal person shop without a grocery list. When you shop without one, you open yourself up to buying things you don’t need or to forgetting something you do.
Buying things you don’t need are impulse buys and we’ve already talked about those. Forgetting something that you do need often leads to a quick run into the store were you may pay more or buy more impulse buys.
Either way, a list helps you spend less money overall.
Do you agree with these 21 tings frugal people don’t do? Do you have any others to add? I’d love to hear what you think; leave me a comment and let me know.