90% of Americans Say They Have Frugal Habits. Here Are Some Worth Adopting

by Maurie Backman | Updated Nov. 1, 2021 - First published on Oct. 30, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
A woman cooking at the stove and laughing with her girlfriend drinking coffee.

Image source: Getty Images

What does it take to be frugal? Here are some habits that could easily help you spend less and save more.

Being frugal can mean different things for different people. On a basic level, it involves making an effort to spend less and live below your means. Sometimes, maintaining a frugal lifestyle involves a degree of sacrifice.

But there's an upside to being frugal: The more mindful you are of your spending (and the less of it you do), the greater your chances of landing in a financially secure spot. That means having a healthy amount of money in savings and avoiding dangerous credit card debt.

In a recent Personal Capital survey, 90% of respondents say they have frugal habits they abide by. If your goal is to become more frugal, here are a few habits it pays to uphold.

1. Drive an older car that runs well

Some assets have the potential to appreciate in value over time. Cars aren't one of them.

When you buy a new car, it loses a chunk of its value the minute you drive it off the lot. Hanging onto older cars as long as possible is a smart habit that can result in a lot of savings.

Of course, you shouldn't compromise your safety in the course of saving money, so if you own an older car you have concerns about, that may be a good reason to upgrade. But even so, you don't need to rush out and purchase a new car. Rather, aim to find a certified used vehicle that will get you where you need to go, without all the bells and whistles.

2. Cook at home rather than dining out

Eating at restaurants means getting to try new cuisines and not having to spend time preparing meals or cleaning up afterwards. It also means spending three to four times more per meal than you'd probably spend on home-cooked meals.

While it's okay to eat at restaurants or order takeout once in a while, if you want to be more frugal, aim to prepare the bulk of your meals yourself. If you're bored of your current menu, you can always explore different recipes online to mix things up. Or incorporate a social aspect and take turns hosting potluck dinners with friends.

3. Don't outsource everything

When you work hard all week long, you want to relax on the weekends. But if you outsource every home maintenance item on your list, from mowing the lawn to cleaning your house, you could end up spending more than you'd like to.

A better bet is to arrive at a compromise. If there's a time-consuming task you can pay someone else to do for a reasonable fee, it may be worth freeing up those hours so you can enjoy some downtime. But the more grunt work you're willing to do, the less you'll end up spending.

Being frugal often boils down to spending carefully and sacrificing to a reasonable degree. Learning to live frugally could work wonders for your finances, so it pays to give these tips a try and see what a difference they make.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2024

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

Our Research Expert