5 Tips for Living Cheaply

It seems like every day life is becoming more and more expensive. Groceries, gas, and housing are just a few things here in Canada as well as in the US that have increased in price dramatically. It has many people asking how to afford living expenses. Everyone is looking for practical ways on living frugally.

Living Cheaply

It’s stressful and discouraging. I mean, you can’t stop eating or driving from point A to point B (especially if you live in a rural area or somewhere that doesn’t have public transit.)

So what are we supposed to do? Well, we can only manage what is in our control. That means we need to look at where we can cut expenses. So today I’m going to share with you some tips for living cheaply. If you want your savings account to finally grow, you’ve come to the right place to find out where to start to save money.  

Hopefully these tips will help you live frugally without being cheap because, let’s be honest, no one wants to feel like they are being cheap.  However, “living cheaply” and “being cheap” are two very different things.  You can live cheaply and it’s basically the same as being frugal, as long as you aren’t ripping people off or stealing to get ahead.  

So, let’s find out how you can live cheaply or frugally, while still feeling like you are not slighting anyone to benefit yourself.  Our goal should be that we are able to live within our means to give ourselves more freedom in our lives so that we are not weighed down by the heaviness of debt and expenses we just can’t cover with our paycheck.




Bigger vehicles like trucks for example, are going to cost you more in gas. For some people, having a truck is a necessity because of their lifestyle. They might be transporting loads they need a pickup for, or pulling trailers. But for many others, they own a truck because they like them but they don’t actually need a truck.

If that’s you, consider downsizing your vehicle to a car that is better on gas. Insurance will most likely be cheaper as well. Also, the silver lining about downsizing from a truck is that now whenever your friends are moving they won’t call you to help them transport their belongings! 🙂

If you DO require a bigger vehicle due to your lifestyle and you are a two-vehicle family, consider driving the smaller vehicle whenever you can, and driving the one that guzzles gas more when you can’t get away with driving the smaller one.

If you are shopping for a vehicle, consider avoiding the cost of a new car and buying a used one instead. New vehicles cost significantly more and if you buy a quality used vehicle you can still get a lot of years out of it. I’ve had friends who invested in new vehicles only to be hit by constant problems with it not many years after driving it off of the lot, so there really is no guarantee that you won’t get hit with high maintenance costs on a brand new vehicle.

While I don’t suggest you buy a used vehicle that is in extremely rough shape, there are plenty of people selling used vehicles that are not really that old but they want to get rid of their current car because they want the latest makes and models. We have always purchased used vehicles and for the most part I’ve been happy with all our purchases. I like to avoid vehicles with extremely high mileage as a rule of thumb.

You may also want to consider downsizing from two vehicles, to one.  This isn’t always possible depending on where you live, work, and transport your family, but if there’s a way it definitely will save you a lot of money.  You can read the pros and cons of living with just one vehicle in this post.

Being a one-car family can give you a lot more wiggle room in your budget.

If you live in a place where you can use public transportation, consider utilizing what your community has to offer if it will save you money. If there’s something close enough for you to take a bicycle to and from, consider a bike ride instead of driving.

Not only will you save money on gas but you will also get in some good exercise, and let me ask you, have you ever went out for a workout and said you regretted it? Probably not which means you’ll never regret biking from point A to point B if it isn’t a considerable distance.


I’ve had moments in the grocery store this past year where I’ve felt quite anxious looking at the major jump in prices, and the major shrinkage of the products I regularly buy. While you most likely can’t provide ALL your own food, you can supplement it.

Start a garden. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can grow SOMETHING. If you live in an apartment you can grow things on a balcony in containers. Many towns and cities have community gardens as well where you can “rent” a garden plot.

Depending on the style of gardening you want to do, you will most likely have some sort of initial start-up cost, but if you keep at it year after year, you will see that it will save you money in the long run.

There’s a million different ways to spend big money on a garden, but really, all you need is some dirt, some seeds, and the determination to weed, water, and tend to your little plot. Avoid getting sucked into all the really pretty garden layout and styles on Pinterest because it can overwhelm you and make you believe you need to spend thousands of dollars to grow successfully. That simply isn’t true.

Think about our grandparents and great grandparents. They didn’t go out and buy all this equipment to build fancy garden beds. Probably none of them had raised beds. They didn’t research things like square foot or back to Eden gardening. They just planted their seeds in the ground, and they weeded their garden almost daily. They worked insanely hard to help their garden produce a bountiful crop. But they most likely didn’t put a ton of money into it.

Remember why you are gardening. It’s not for pretty Pinterest pictures (though, I do love pretty gardens and if you have the extra finances and want to invest in it I see no problem with it if that’s a hobby of yours.) Gardening is often primarily to live cheaply. So in my opinion, the best way to grow an amazing garden is to do it within your financial means.

There is nothing quite like fresh produce. Going to the garden in your backyard for some fresh tomatoes to make a toasted tomato sandwich, or some green beans to steam for dinner feels pretty amazing. There’s something about eating the food you were able to grow with your own two hands instead of having to buy it from a grocery store.


Food in season is cheaper than if you were to purchase it out of season. While you should shop in season to save money, you can also preserve food for the winter months so that you can enjoy those foods all year long.

You don’t have to have a huge garden to be able to preserve food. Consider visiting some local farms or or farmer’s markets and buying produce in bulk to preserve it.

And how should you preserve food? Well, you’ve got options. There’s canning, dehydrating, and freezing. While I’ve primarily stuck to canning, this year I plan to dehydrate some foods as well. Adding dehydrated vegetables to a pot of soup in the middle of winter is just one example of how to use the harvest.

Did you know you also can preserve things like meat, beans, and soup stock? Next time you make a whole chicken, consider making broth from the bones.

Making a freezer meal the next time you cook is a way of preserving as well. What do I mean by that? Well, next time you are cooking, instead of making just one dinner, make two batches and freeze the second one. This helps you save money because some day when you feel like eating out because you are exhausted and don’t want to cook you can just pull out your freezer meal and warm it up. It’s probably even quicker than going through the drive-thru and you’ll avoid the extra cost.

Also, next time you have produce going bad in the fridge consider cutting it up and tossing it in the freezer. Some things like fruit can be cut up and placed on a tray to flash freeze, then put into a freezer bag for either baking, or adding to a smoothie. Things like carrots can be blanched and tossed in the freezer for when you need some carrots for a side dish. Preserving isn’t just about what’s in your garden. You can preserve things in your fridge that are nearing the end of their life.

The other day I made too much rice and knew we weren’t going to get to eating it soon enough so I did a quick google search to see if I could freeze it and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that yes, I could. I pulled it out to make some chicken fried rice with it on another day. I was able to avoid the food waste AND save a little money.


Okay, now, I realize with mortgage prices and rent prices this seems like an impossible feat, and I don’t want to brush it off like it’s a simple black and white issue because in Canada it really isn’t anymore. But I want to give you some options to consider when it comes to how much you are paying for a house.

Last year we sold our country home, packed up all our belongings, and moved 7 hours away. While we loved our country home, we also felt stretched financially when it came to the mortgage payments and taxes. Since my husband is a carpenter we knew the chance of him finding a job somewhere else where housing was cheaper was high.

So we bought a house, in a small town of 1400 people, mortgage free. Now, our initial goal was to live in the country. And we hope to eventually build our country home one day if we can find affordable land. But for the time being we decided we could live in town, build up a little “urban” homestead slowly while we wait on God and see if He leads us back to the country.

I should mention, as we were looking for a house our realtor showed us a beautiful country home in a town forty minutes from where we are. It was easy to see how it would be great for raising a family there. But the taxes were insanely high, the house needed a lot of upkeep, and we would have had to take out a mortgage.

We had people in our life not understanding why we wouldn’t take that house. And deep down in that moment we wanted it. But we decided to focus on our goals and went for the smaller, in-town house with insanely cheap taxes and no mortgage. And God has blessed us with one of the most amazing communities here. Our whole family has built friendships that I am convinced will last a lifetime. We would have missed out on SO much had we decided to throw caution to the wind and just buy what we wanted and what the world tells us we DESERVE.

So, what I want to leave you with this point is this: IT’S OKAY TO LIVE IN A SMALL HOUSE. It’s okay if you don’t have a basement, or a rec room, or if your kids have to share a room. If you are worried people won’t come over if your house is too small, I can promise you they will. We have kids and adults and families and sometimes even dogs at our house 3-5 times a week. We’ve hosted close to 20 people over for dinner, and we will do it again. If you open the door and make them food, they will come! 🙂

It’s also okay to consider moving hours away to cheaper housing. It’s not always an easy thing to do. It’s scary and uncomfortable. But in the end you may just be like us and wonder why you waited so long to do it.

Maybe you want to live somewhere that is out of the box. These days people are living in trailers, and even vans. While I can’t imagine doing this full-time all year long in one location, many people who do this travel around and so it’s very exciting for them to be living on the road.

They are able to keep their housing expenses extremely low but are also able to explore new places and travel on a very limited budget. Sure, there isn’t much space in some of these places people are calling home, but when you are traveling you don’t spend much time at “home” anyways.

And of course, tiny homes are all the rage these days. These can be a great option as well, but you have to make sure your community regulations and restrictions allow them. Some areas unfortunately have specific zoning and rules that make tiny homes illegal so if you are going this route make sure you know the rules in your area. However, if you are set on a tiny home and are willing to do what it takes to keep your housing costs low, look at moving somewhere that does allow tiny homes.


Guys, the Joneses might just be broke. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. You don’t see their bank statements and you don’t see the letters they receive from collection agencies.

Don’t compare your situation to your neighbor’s. You don’t need the same things to have a good life. You don’t need a ton of toys, big or small, to be happy. Too much stuff can weigh you down. Consider having some tunnel vision in this area of your life – keep an eye on your financial goals and ignore what your neighbor is doing when it comes to building up their stash of stuff. I promise you, on your deathbed you won’t say “I wish I bought more stuff.”

There are so many benefits of frugal living and the Joneses aren’t frugal people so they aren’t the ones you want to take your cues from. The money habits of your neighbors who have all the stuff may not be what they seem. The important things aren’t what’s stored in your garage or your house. Your worth is not tied to the amount of money you have.


While these five tips will help you get started in saving money, there’s so many other little ways you can save cash that can add up over time. Check out these 80 ways to live frugally. 

That post will tell you of cheap ways you can save money every day, like making your own coffee, visiting your local library, downsizing your streaming services, getting fit at home instead of owning a gym membership, and taking advantage of a free trial when offered for things like subscriptions and services. These top frugal living tips will help you save on the small things so it can add up over time to help you save so much money.

Other ideas of how to live cheaply at home include doing your own hair at home instead of going to a salon, or to ditch the air conditioning and just open windows instead. Toss some food into plastic containers instead of buying lunch at work, or sew up your old clothes instead of throwing them out and buying new ones.

The ways to save money are endless, and a great place to start is to do whatever is easiest for you. Basically, whatever way is an easy win for you to save money is one of the first changes you should make in your life when it comes to living frugally. A little bit of change can go a long way.


This is a question many people are finding themselves asking these days. 30 years ago the answer would look quite different than it does now and I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this, but I will touch on it a bit.

Now, I should clarify- the question isn’t whether you should live AT HOME (because, don’t we ALL do that?) but if you should live at your PARENTS home.

While I am not at that stage with my own children, I believe at some point, kids need to “launch” and get out on their own. However, I recognize that our kids are facing higher rent, mortgage, gas, and food prices than we did. Inflation has definitely outpaced the increase of income.

If living at home for a few years helps you save to own your own house eventually, and it’s a situation where everyone can live together relatively peacefully (because, not all families can do that) then it can be a good option. However, you want to make sure during that time you are saving the majority of your money and not spending it by going out.

I will say though, I believe there needs to be an end goal. SO if you are living at home, how long will you do it for? How long will it take you to save for that home to be able to go out on your own?

That being said, it’s not the same answer for everyone. Some people live at their parents for a long time because they are single and their parents need help, and it’s a good relationship that works. Others leave the moment they turn 18 because it isn’t a healthy situation at home.

So I guess what I’m saying is, you need to weigh the pros and cons when making the decision. 

However, if you are living at home for an extended period of time and you aren’t a kid anymore, consider contributing to the household expenses, even if it’s not asked of you.

It doesn’t mean you need to pay rent, but maybe you can buy some toilet paper or paper towels to stock the house up for your parents. Or pick up some ice cream to store in the freezer as a treat for a family member in the house. Maybe use your cell phone to call them when you are out to see if they need anything before you come home.

It’s a great idea to have a relationship that is give and take if you are living in close quarters, instead of it feeling one-sided.


Okay, here’s one of the best frugal living tips for the cheapest way to obtain household items and more. Start shopping at thrift stores. This is where you are going to get a better deal on so many things, from clothes, to housewares, to furniture. Stop shopping for new clothes and start buying second hand. This is one of the places you are going to see big savings.

You can even buy Christmas gifts for your kids at thrift stores. There is this common belief that every Christmas gift you buy has to be new. When kids are especially small they don’t even realize the difference between new and used, so if you can get them a gift they would really like that is cheaper because it’s used, but still in great condition, why not?

My kids are older now and we buy a mix of new and used and it never bothers them to receive a used gift if it’s something they really wanted or would use. So re-think the way you would shop at a thrift store. You really can buy a lot at these places.

Speaking of second hand, check out your local area ads for people selling used items. This is an excellent way to find specific items you are looking for at a great deal. You can find ads for used items on social media and online sites. Some of the best deals are found by a simple google search! At the end of the day it’s the little things that add up financially, and the more you can do to find a good deal the better.

Also consider online or in person auctions. Sometimes an auction is the best place to score some good stuff for a great price. Sometimes things will go for dirt cheap because no one bids on them.

Keep your eye out for local auctions and you may just find yourself a really good deal on something you really need. Plus, auctions can be a lot of fun and are an outing in themselves. It’s a good place to spend an afternoon.

Basically, when it all comes down to it, avoid buying as much as possible brand new.  While there are a few exceptions of things you will want to buy new, the majority of your stuff can be purchased second hand and it can last you a really long time.  Most of our furniture is all used, whether we obtained it for free or purchased it second hand.

Also, because we have kids I’m pretty happy that a lot of our stuff is second hand.  My kids don’t stress about spilling on things or ruining it, and I don’t stress about a brand new item being ruined.  We’ve literally never paid money for a couch in our entire lives (and let me tell you, we’ve gone through a lot of couches, because…boys….need I say more?  Or is it just my house where the couches are used as a jungle gym?)


I’d say they can but I’d offer a word of caution here because they can definitely cause more harm then good if you are living on a tight budget.

In full disclosure, I have a credit card. But we have learned over the years how to use it very wisely. If you are on a tight budget and need to live cheaply, credit cards are not a way to have extra money. Credit cards can be a very simple way of getting into trouble. On a limited budget it can be very difficult to pay a credit card off when you make less money.

However, if you know you can be wise, and you don’t overspend or use credit cards when you don’t have the cash in the bank, it can be helpful to have a credit card. Bottom line, you need to know whether you can handle the responsibility. The minute you can’t, I recommend cutting up the card. I know it may sound extreme, but credit cards aren’t gift cards and if we start treating them like one we will find it’s a great way to get into some serious financial trouble.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of believing that you can’t make it in this life without a credit card.  While having a credit card makes some things a lot easier, there are many people who get by just fine without one.  If you feel more secure without owning a credit card, then by all means, don’t own one.

The one benefit to owning a credit card that can be a good thing in a frugal lifestyle, is the loyalty points programs.  Now, these aren’t beneficial if you spend just to get the points, but if it’s on things you’d buy anyways, such as gas, groceries, and bill payments, then this can be a benefit for you. 

We have a points program on our credit card that allows us to earn points to purchase items in a popular store here in Canada and we have been able to save these points to purchase things over the years that we needed. 

We also have a points program that earns us free groceries.  I save them all year long to use them at Christmas when my food bill is more money and my wallet has less because of the holiday expenses.  

So, for me, credit cards have actually helped me save money in various ways.


Living cheaply comes with so much freedom, but the downside is that it can be difficult to attempt a new way of life when you previously used to spend money often when hanging out with friends or family.  Sometimes family and friends have a hard time understanding our new choices and aren’t very supportive of it.  You may find you hit resistance with those around you when you start saying no to the things you used to say yes to.

I won’t lie to you, it will be a struggle at first.  But over time it’ll get easier.  People will start accepting your new way of life, or if they don’t then there is a chance you will find new like-minded people to hang out with.  Those who truly love you though should eventually come around.

There are things you can do to make it a little easier during the transition.  Consider alternatives that don’t require money when your friends want to get together.  Invite them to your house for some coffee and a homemade dessert.  Take a trail walk together.  Have a picnic at the park.

When it comes to family, you may have to set a few boundaries.  Maybe at Christmas instead of everyone buying each other gifts you can pull names out of a hat and do a secret Santa.  Maybe instead of celebrating a family birthday at a local restaurant you can host it at your house and all bring a dish and turn it into a potluck.

You never know – in the end you might have those around you thanking you instead of being upset because by default they might start saving more money themselves!


Change and growth in our lives is often not linear.  it’s more like a crazy up and down roller coaster.  There’s a high chance that when you start living frugally there are times you will have a set back.  You may overspend, or miss an overdue bill, or just not budget correctly.  

That’s okay.  It happens.  Don’t look back.  Just move forward and continue to make good choices.  Don’t beat yourself up but instead look at the way you have improved and continue to tell yourself that you can do this no matter how hard or bleak it looks right now.

When we change our lives we often have failure along the way.  But the only way you won’t fail at all is if you don’t try.  So learn from your failure and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day or better yet, this moment is a NEW moment full of possibilities!  Don’t let yourself give up.


Maybe you are in such a deep financial pit that you can’t see how you could ever get out.  Your debt is so large that you’ve stopped opening bills when they come and you can’t sleep at night.

At the start of tackling debt it looks scary.  I remember owing 20,000 in student loans and being a stay-at-home mom while my husband made a very modest income. I thought we’d never get out of that hole.  But I made whatever payments I could. 

Whenever I got some extra money, whether it be a small check in the mail from the government for some kind of rebate they gave, or some birthday money, I put it towards the debt. 

Sometimes it was only 20 dollars at a time.  However, over time it made a difference.  I didn’t think it would, but I started getting addicted to seeing that number go down!  Eventually, though it took a little longer than others, we paid it all off.

Sometimes there’s a setback where you’ve gotten an unexpected bill so you can’t pay as much down to your debt.  That can be discouraging, but in the long run a month isn’t going to make a big difference in you paying down your debt.  So just stay the course and keep at it, and eventually you will see that your hard work is finally paying off.


Look, just like anyone else I’ve felt discouraged watching the cost of everything rapidly increase, especially this past year. But don’t lose hope! There are little ways to improve your financial situation and life can be full and happy, even on a small income.

You can grow your bank account and save on your grocery bill if you are determined and willing to make some changes. Re-evaluate your monthly bills. Is there anything that can be cut back? It’s a good idea to really take a look at your budget every now and again and analyze whether you can reduce any of the expenses. Is there anything different you can do to reduce your grocery budget, or medical bills, or can you negotiate with the electric company for a cheaper electric bill? Some of these may not be feasible, but it’s always worth another look just in case.

Maybe you can change how often you go grocery shopping or make a weekly meal plan to save money. Maybe you can start adding generic brands to your shopping list. A general rule as a frugal person is to always look for cheaper ways to do what you are already doing. 

You may see that I’ve mentioned a lot of changes to grocery shopping in this article, and that’s because I believe that’s one of the easiest ways to save money.  It’s a great place to cut your budget because it’s not a set amount each week.  Sales come and go, prices go up and down, and certain foods stretch farther than others. 

This means that you may be able to find new ways to save each and every week.  While you probably won’t save as much as you want every single time you go grocery shopping, chances are there are times where you can keep your grocery bill down lower than the previous week or month, especially when there are good sales on at that time.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find anything else you are able to do to save money or reduce your expenses. But prices can fluctuate and that’s why the best thing to do is check in on your budget and your bills every 3-6 months.

I hope you now feel armed with some easy ways to live cheaply. You can do this!

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