It’s been almost eight years since we became consumer debt-free and four years since we paid off our house, making us 100% debt-free. And even though we now get to enjoy many things we didn’t get to when we were on the debt-free journey, we still practice many frugal living hacks.
1. Cook At Home
Even though we enjoy more take-out these days than we did back on the debt-free journey, we still cook the majority of our meals here at home. And since I now homeschool all three of my children, they’ve learned how to cook for themselves! For me, not eating out all the time isn’t a big deal as I grew up believing that eating out was a luxury, not an everyday thing. So for me it hasn’t been much of a sacrifice, to be honest. And since I enjoy cooking from home, it hasn’t really been inconvenient for me.
One thing that has been making my life easier these days is the Christmas gift my husband bought me in 2022! My pressure cooker/air fryer! I love this thing. It can take a fully frozen solid (I just pulled it straight out of the deep freezer), roast, and cook it to perfection in about an hour and a half! It’s amazing! And it’s so wonderful on those days when I look up, and it’s 3 pm and I don’t have anything thawed for dinner yet. Lifesaver!
2. Buy Secondhand
Most of our clothes are secondhand purchases. I buy most of my and my kid’s clothes and shoes from ThredUp and our local consignment stores. This is the way to go if you want to grab amazing deals on name-brand clothes! I know that this idea of buying clothes secondhand may freak some folks out. But the reality is, if you find a great consignment store (not a thrift store – even though those can be great places to find deals too sometimes) then you don’t have to worry over the quality of the clothes. The consignment store isn’t going to buy used clothing that’s stained, torn up, or smells awful. A good consignment store only accepts good quality stuff. If you’ve had a bad experience with a consignment store in the past, try again. There are amazing stores out there that can help you stretch your budget.
Another place to look is on Facebook Marketplace! You can score amazing deals on more than just secondhand clothes on FB! We got our dining room table on Marketplace for $50! It just needed a good scrub, and it was good to go!
3. Stay Organized
It’s super easy to get lax with money when you become debt-free because, of a sudden! You actually get to keep most of the money you earn! It’s tempting to buy, buy, buy. However, staying organized is important even after you’ve become debt-free. We still track our money and track our progress in achieving new money goals. We also work to stay organized on our taxes, saving us from paying a fortune to have our taxes filed yearly.
It doesn’t matter how you go about being and staying organized. Just pick a system and stick with it. The more organized you are, the better.
4. Money Meetings
I’ve talked a lot about this, especially in my book so I apologize if you’re rereading it. It is vital to your success with money to keep a regular Money Meeting. You need to check in with your money at least once a week. Why? Because things happen. Sometimes our information gets stolen, and thieves are sneaky. They’ll sometimes only take a few dollars a couple of times to make sure your card works. Then when you least expect it, they’ll spend almost all your money in a single transaction!
So put a day on the calendar – like actually put it in your calendar. Mark that day as the day that you will take 15 minutes to review all of your spending, all of your accounts and update your progress on your goals. Trust me. This is a life skill. And it’s okay if your day has to change as your seasons of life change. Just keep this “date” with your money a priority.
5. Sell Off Old Stuff
We did this all the time while on the debt-free journey. And it’s still something we do today regularly. We sell off stuff that is no longer useful to us. I clean out our homeschool area at the end of every school year. Then I post any homeschool items we won’t be using the next school year for sale on Marketplace. I used to do this all the time with my children’s clothes when they were little. I would post them by “lots”. Example: “five boys size 2T dress shirts $25”. This was a quick way to clear the clutter and make some extra pocket money.
Get into the regular habit of selling off the things you don’t need. Then take that money you earn and put it towards whatever money goal you’re working towards.
6. Save, Save, and Save Some More!
The advantage of being debt-free is that we now have more income to work with. We can save faster than ever before. This year we’re working towards our big long-term goal of saving up $100k in our retirement/investment accounts before the start of 2025. We also have various Sinking Funds that we work to keep funded so we can enjoy things like vacations, paying for homeschool field trips, fishing trips, camping trips, Christmas, and all sorts of things!
The point here is not to let the fact that you have extra money go to your head. Keep your money working for you. Stick it in savings and places where your money can best serve your future self.
Yep. I saved the best for last. We may be debt-free, but we still budget. Are we perfect budgeters? Oh, heck no! But it’s a regular habit that we stick to. We pay avid attention to where our money goes. Does this mean that we never overspend? Of course not! (See my 2022 Spending Review here for how I overspent at Amazon 😬). This just means that we keep trying. We keep working on paying attention to our money and fixing mistakes as they happen.
There you have it! Seven frugal living hacks that we still do even though we’re debt-free. What are some frugal living hacks that you live by?
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