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I want to drop bad habits like hot potatoes. And I think it’s easy to wager that all humans have some kind of bad Habit we’d like to kick. Whether you have an insatiable sweet tooth (guilty), take to drinking a little too often, or generally feel unmotivated and lazy, there are always ways we can improve.
In fact, good habits are quite frugal. Habits help us take care of our surroundings, body, and mind. They help us stay focused on our lives so we’re less tempted to buy, say, more clothes or a new car. Frugality is all about making the right decisions every day. With that in mind, I compiled a list of frugal habits that are free and that will help you reap benefits for years to come.
Add your own in the comments!
23 Frugal Habits
1. Drinking water
I mean, water is the cheapest thing that we can possibly drink. It comes freely from our tap and has zero calories.
What’s not to love about water? Instead of soda, alcohol, coffee, or juice, opt for drinking water instead. You’ll save money and avoid empty calories in the first place. If you want to be more mindful of your water intake throughout the day, check out this app.
I would honestly sleep all day if I didn’t have to, y’know, do things. I’m one of those rare unicorns that gets too much sleep; most adults don’t get anywhere close to the recommended 6 – 8 hours of sleep. If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to make mistakes, eat poorly, and feel down.
Prioritize sleep so you can feel well-rested each day.
But hey, I know this is easier said than done. I’ve had success with dimming the lights one hour before bedtime. This tells my body that it’s time to start winding down.
It’s also helpful to turn off all electronic screens one hour before bed. Opt to cuddle, read a book, or do coloring pages before bed instead of checking Facebook. The artificial light messes with our natural rhythms that signal sleepiness. If you have trouble sleeping, you could also try melatonin supplements (check with your doc first of course) or a soothing cup of chamomile tea.
3. Working out
Exercise is the one thing that we all should be doing, but we never can seem to find the time for it.
I’m a SUPER lazy person, so I’ve had to integrate exercise into my Morning ritual. It’s become a habit now, so I work out without much mental resistance. Morning workouts are better for me, but find a time in your day that works for a 30-minute slot for exercise.
If you have kiddos, consider involving them with your exercise routine. That could mean going for a walk with the kids, running with a jogging stroller, biking and pulling the kiddos behind you in a wagon, or going swimming with the kids. This gets you exercise plus quality time with the kids. What’s not to love?
Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive or horrible, either. I use free YouTube fitness videos to change up my workout every day. Why pay for a group fitness class when you have access to unlimited free classes on YouTube? If you need a buddy to keep you accountable, invite a friend to do the fitness routines with you.
I’m relatively new to the world of journaling. I’ve started writing down three things that I’m grateful for, as well as logging all of my food intake for the day.
I’m guilty of taking good things for granted as well as overindulging in food, so that’s why I chose these two topics. Journaling is a great way to record your thoughts from the day or track your behavior.
Too often I think we get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle, and we forget to sit down and reflect on our lives. This is a recipe for feeling like a zombie, which is horrible and un-frugal (zombies like to spend money, y’all).
To be honest, I’ve seen people’s journaling habits become expensive. You don’t need a fancy schmancy bullet journal to do journaling. Hell, avoid killing trees and opt to journal in an app on your phone (this one is my favorite) or on your computer.
If you’re a paper and pen type of person, go through your house to find old bits of paper or half-filled notebooks. I started using these to journal and didn’t have to spend a dime.
5. Go for a walk
Oh man, y’all. I could write a book on the benefits of going on daily walks. There’s something cathartic and magical about going outside, moving, and enjoying the world as it is. Walks help me clear my mind of the day’s stresses. It reminds me of all the great things happening in the world. I also get to pet all the neighborhood cats, which is a big plus.
Go for a walk solo or with a buddy to get out of the house. Fresh air does so much good.
6. Meal prep the night before
I’m guilty of eating a last-minute strawberry Pop-Tart before work. And hey, crazy days happen to everyone. What’s not wonderful is eating junk every day because of a failure to plan meals. I feel like, well, junk when I eat junk food. Healthy, homemade meals are the key to feeling more alert and productive throughout the day.
I make sure we eat well by prepping our meals ahead of time. Sometimes I’ll pre-cook entire dishes the weekend before; sometimes I prep meals the day or night before.
Carve out a meager 15 – 30 minutes out of your day to prep healthy food. I promise you there’s a lot of self-loathing when you have a Pop-Tart a day.
7. Lay out your clothes
Frugality isn’t just about saving money. It’s also about saving time. I’m trying to pave the way for more efficiency in my life so I can save my precious, precious time. One thing that really helps is laying out tomorrow’s clothes the night before.
Who wants to hop out of the shower in the morning and decide what to wear?
Yeah, no. I can barely come to terms with the fact that I’m awake at 6 am; I don’t trust myself to make wardrobe decisions half-awake. I simply lay out my work clothes on top of my dresser when I’m getting ready for bed. I even fold them neatly so they won’t get wrinkled.
8. Take a luxurious bath or shower
When was the last time you had a good shower or bath?
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our hygiene routine; just get in, scrub a little, and get out. But making time once a week for a nice bath or shower has been life-changing for me. It’s like a relaxing little treat I give to myself. I soak in the tub for just 20 minutes and emerge a brand-new (and squeaky clean) woman.
9. Make your own coffee or tea
I know most of you already make your own beverages, but this deserves a mention. I’ve integrated coffee-making into my morning routine. Although I’m half-asleep, I still use my muscle memory to grind the beans and boil water.
I absolutely hate it when myself or Mr. Picky Pincher goes to work sans coffee because I forgot to make it. And that’s a recipe for buying coffee somewhere, which is expensive!
10. Sit outside
Since I work remotely, I have the ability to work on my porch. Oh, friends. This has been awesome.
I’m shocked that most businesses don’t have a courtyard where people can work and enjoy being outdoors. Sitting outside makes me feel calmer and more alert. I know most people can’t work outside, but it’s possible to make the outdoors part of your daily routine.
For example, sit on your porch in the morning with a cup of coffee. Or maybe sit outside and do a quick journal entry before cooking dinner. We spend way too much time cooped up inside; step outside and get a little dose of Vitamin D.
Did you know that the majority of breaths we take are shallow and rapid? Breath has the power to change your body chemistry. When you’re stressed, you tend to take shallow breaths that make you feel panicked and crappy.
I’m totally guilty of this, particularly while at work. The key is to recognize when I’m feeling panicky and to take three slow, deep breaths. This adjusts my mood almost immediately so I can be happy and more productive.
12. No electronics
I doubt I spend more than two hours of my waking day away from electronics. Our lives are hardwired into our devices these days. It’s important to remember that we can live great, full lives without the aid of technology. Make it a habit to unplug from your phone, TV, or computer for an hour a day. Choose to do any of these positive habits to fill that time. You’ll notice a boost in your productivity and sense of purpose.
13. Read a book
I know people say that reading is a dying art, but I don’t agree with that! With the proliferation of online content, we’re reading more these days than we ever have before. The downside is that we aren’t reading physical books. There’s something to be said for the experience of holding a physical book in your hand. Consider reading a book as a positive habit. I admittedly need to be better about this; I always enjoy reading far more than I think I will.
But the best part? You can read physical books for free. Just check out your gorgeous local library to find a plethora of books.
14. Watch the sunrise
I’m a morning person, but that doesn’t mean I’m thrilled about getting up at 5 am to prep for the day. But then, just as I’m starting to wake up, a magical moment happens. The sun starts to rise. I’m often to busy or annoyed about going to work to pay much attention to the sun. But some days I make it a habit to watch the sun rise. I like to sit on my back porch, watch the trees start to light up in a beautiful gold light, and sip on my freshly brewed coffee.
There’s something beautiful about watching a sunrise; give it a try!
Thanks to our technology, we’re more connected than ever. While that’s been good in many ways, constant connection can also be a bad thing. Too often I feel like I’m overwhelmed with information and all of the bad things happening in the world.
Meditation is more important than ever for us to take time to disconnect. I love using guided meditations since I find it hard to meditate on my own. All you need to meditate is a reasonably quiet place where you can shut your eyes and concentrate. I make time to meditate after my morning workout, but you can also meditate during a commute on public transportation, after eating dinner, or before bed.
16. Eat breakfast
I was shocked to learn that 31 million Americans skip Breakfast in the morning. This practice is generally frowned-upon by doctors; the reasoning is that skipping breakfast may lead to a slower metabolism. And hey, who wants to be hungry until 12 pm? Not me. This girl needs to scarf down a lot of food in the morning to stay awake!
I used to hate breakfast, though. Breakfast foods usually made me sick to my stomach. Back in those days I would simply eat cereal, toast with jam and butter, or yogurt with fruit for breakfast. Heck, an apple or a banana goes a long way. If you have a tough time putting together breakfast because of time, consider making breakfast prep a new habit.
17. Make your bed
We all have that one thing about the house that needs to be tidied up. For me, it’s the bed. I absolutely can’t start my day if my bed is messy. I have no clue why, but there’s an indescribable satisfaction to crawling in your stiff, neat sheets at the end of a long day.
I make my bed every morning after I cook breakfast. I can shower in peace, knowing my house looks a little tidier. Ahhh.
18. Turn negatives into positives
This is HARD. At least for me. I feel like my day is ruined if I step in gum, burn dinner, and Zap bites me (he bites hard, guys). My mind automatically goes negative any time something happens. Hell, something GOOD will happen and I think, “Yeah, this is too good to be true. Something bad will come of this.”
This is obviously no way to live.
Give yourself the gift of happiness and turn these negative thoughts around. For example, if someone cuts me off, I combat the urge to flip them off. Instead, I think of their humanity and that everyone gets a little annoyed when they’re driving. Cut yourself and everyone around you a break with positive thoughts. It’s hard to do at first, but it becomes easier with practice.
It wasn’t until I started doing pole fitness that I realized how un-bendy I’ve become at the ripe old age of 25! My standing desk has helped with my flexibility since I no longer sit for 9 hours a day, but it’s not enough. I’ve started stretching at the end of my lunch break and it makes me feel so rejuvenated. I don’t do anything crazy: I just stretch my arms and touch my toes. It’s a good way to combat stiff muscles after a day of work; it also wakes you up!
20. Set micro goals
I’m a big believer in tracking my daily tasks. I adore my paper planner, which I use to plan my meals and all of my daily tasks. Not only does setting these micro goals help me get shiz done; it also helps me feel accomplished at the end of the day.
If you’re a paper person, consider a cheapo planner to write down your daily tasks. If you’re a more tech-oriented person, look into to-do apps. I really like this app that gamifies your to-do list.
21. Cook healthy snacks (and eat them!)
I’m totes guilty of inhaling entire bags of chips and bars of chocolate in seconds. I’m a junk food monster. Obviously eating junk isn’t good for me. I realized if I want to eat better, I need to make healthy eating easier than junk food.
That’s not easy, my friends! Healthy snacks usually require some sort of prepping–and that’s enough to make me dig through the pantry for Oreos.
I’ve started prepping healthy snacks as part of our weekly menu. For example, I’ll bake chocolate zucchini muffins and freeze them for later. Or, better yet, I always keep our fruit bowl full of snackable fruit. What’s more convenient than a healthy snack already sitting in the middle of your table? This is as easy as buying a bunch of bananas.
22. Care for your teeth
I’ll never forget a story my dad once told me. His coworker was retiring after serving in the government for over 50 years. My dad had the chance to sit down with his coworker and ask, “Jim, if you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?”
Jim only had two things to say. “Well, first of all, I’d have gone to Hawaii when I was young. I don’t look good in a bathing suit now that I’m 70. Also, take care of your teeth. You don’t know how good they are until you lose ’em.”
A big regret I hear from people is that they wish they’d taken better care of their teeth. Do you brush your teeth in the morning and evening? Do you floss? Do you go to the dentist twice a year? Dental care is an important part of everyone’s routine. Lack of dental care can really come back to bite you in the future. Dust off that old pack of floss and prioritize caring for your teeth.
Minimalism is all the rage these days. I don’t consider myself a minimalist, but I do think there’s a fine line between hoarding and owning useful items. A decluttering mindset helps me get rid of unwanted crap in my mental, digital, and physical spaces.
I take care of mental clutter with meditation, positive thinking, and journaling. I clear out my digital clutter once a month: I check my spam folder, empty trash, delete unused files, empty my computer’s trash, clear my history, and change my passwords. I also like to delete any apps on my phone that I don’t use. I control physical clutter by going through one room each weekend to organize and get rid of any items I don’t need.
Decluttering helps us take a look at all the areas of our lives that can be optimized. Why keep all this stuff around that we don’t need?
The bottom line
We all need a little more positivity in our lives. Positivity often comes from establishing good habits, but good habits are hard. I’m a lazy blob, but I’ve found that using these habits have made me more aware and happy. And you know what? I’m a lot less likely to spend money when I’m content with my life.
We want to know: What are your favorite positive habits?
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