How can we afford to travel as much as we have? Well, to be completely honest that’s a complex question to answer. Instead, I want to dive into some of the BIG WAYS that have helped our family save money and live more frugally – which allowed us to dive into full time RV living.
You see, we decided before we were married that money, or lack thereof, wasn’t going to hold us back from living each day to the fullest.
Yet, at the same time, I knew that we didn’t want to go into debt in order to live the lifestyle we wanted to live.
As a mother to 4 growing kids, and one who used to work a full-time job that barely paid for childcare and an extra car payment, I’ve learned and practiced many ways to live more frugally.
Let me first say the one thing that made the BIGGEST impact on our budget was our MINDSET.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before, and that’s because it makes such a huge difference.
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Mindset To Living Frugally
How you think about money, savings, and your lifestyle can hugely impact your behavior.
Is money something that makes you feel prestigious?
Do you feel more successful if you talk about how much is in your savings account at the next family BBQ?
Or, do you find yourself thinking about money as a means to an end? Something you NEED to be able to pay for the bucket list vacation ahead?
Having a good mindset, while not allowing your money to identify who you are, will help you be much more successful in saving and living more frugally.
Practice Good Habits
I’m not an expert on money, but as a mom with a Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis, I do know a thing or two about saving money and living more frugally.
If you can ‘train’ yourself to have good money habits, you will be much more successful in living a life where you don’t overspend, you are able to plan that dream vacation or trip, and you can feel more content with what money (and things) you do have.
An example of a good money-saving habit would be ordering tap water EVERY single time you eat out at a restaurant. Don’t spend money on alcohol or soda when you’re out to eat. Instead, you can save the difference and still stay within your ‘dining-out’ budget.
What’s Your Why?
Before I dive into my top tips, I want to ask you – why do you want to save money?
Why do you want to live more frugally? If you know what your why is, and you and your partner are on the same page about it, then you will be so much more likely to stick to your new ways of doing things.
15 Money-Saving Habits and Ideas
Below I’m going to share with you some great ways to save money and live a more frugal lifestyle. Or, you can read my blog post sharing 9 specific ways to cut costs while RVing full time if you’re on the road living the RV lifestyle.
1. Say No
This is a hard one for many people, but learning to say NO when the girl scouts come knocking on your door can make a big impact. If you don’t have a budget for it, then practice saying NO to the next person trying to sell you essential oils or pre-made baked goods.
Related Post: 8 Things You Do NOT Need For Full-time RVing
2. Shop at a Thrift Store
If you haven’t bought used clothes or household items before, then try it out. It can be a HUGE saving to your family’s spending. We visit Goodwill and local thrift stores about once per month and leave with brand named clothes for ¼ of the cost of retail stores.
Don’t just do it for your pocketbook, shop ‘gently used’ to help reduce all the extra ‘stuff’ being produced and barely used in this world. We don’t need more things to be added to our landfills.
3. Meal Plan
This might sound hard for you, but planning your meals out can make a huge difference in the money you spend at the grocery store.
If it sounds too overwhelming, then start easy by planning out 5 of your favorite dinners and making a grocery list for those meals. Then be flexible as to which day of the week you’ll eat that meal. Just know that you’ll have everything you need in the fridge when it comes time.
4. Don’t Waste Food
Instead of eating seconds at dinner, both Tony and I wait to see when the kids are full. If they still have food left on their plates, we eat their leftovers.
Hey, we’re all family, right?
That often leaves some untouched leftovers that we add to the fridge and plan a leftover lunch one day that covers at least one family meal per week.
5. Make a Grocery List and Stick to It
Making a grocery list before you go to the store can really help you stay within budget and not overspend. If you like to shop without paper, there are many great apps out there that you can add to your phone to keep track of your grocery list. That way, if you have some of the same items each week you can just add them right back in.
I even let the kids help sometimes by holding my phone and reading off what’s next on the list.
6. Do Without – Or at Least Wait
Practice being okay without getting that next thing that you want. Instead, wait 30 days and if you still really want it and you can justify spending the money, you know it’s ‘right’ (within reason).
For example, my cell phone was cutting out on me and I could hardly hear anyone on it anymore. The photo quality was horrible with a scratched camera and I was struggling to keep the battery charged. Yet, I made myself wait over a month (more like 3 months) before buying a new one.
That’s 3 months of saving before I came up with a large amount of cash to buy a new iPhone.
7. Drink Water
If you live in the USA, then the water right out of the tap is safe to drink and FREE. Even at most restaurants and bars, you can ask for water and they’ll give you a glass of ice water for free. Take advantage and save on all the money you would be spending on paid drinks.
Do the same at home. Cut out canned soda and drinks as much as you can.
8. Workout At Home Or Outside – Cancel that Gym Membership
Go for a run outside, do some pushups in your living room, or practice Yoga in your bedroom when you wake up. There’s no need for a gym membership if you can just get into a good routine of working out at home.
9. Live Smaller
Start thinking like a minimalist, you’ll be so glad that you did. Have less stuff, live simply, and in a smaller house so that you don’t need to fill it up with so much furniture.
Having less ‘stuff’ will also allow you to have more TIME to do the things that bring you joy. If you have less furniture, for example, to dust each week you’ll have extra time to play board games with your kids or go for a walk with your husband!
10. Make GOOD Coffee At Home
If you have an addiction to coffee or espresso like we do, allow yourself to invest in a quality espresso maker and good coffee beans so that you are not tempted to buy coffee at Starbucks each morning.
It’s an investment that will pay off quickly if you stick to avoiding coffee shops and appreciating your own barista skills at home.
11. Use Reward Cards For Miles To Fly
This one is a little tricky because you can get yourself into a jam if you do it wrong. But if you know that you can pay off your credit card each month, then open one with a huge sign-on bonus for points so that you can pay for your next family vacation with miles instead of cash.
We did this for our overseas trip that started in Bali in 2019 and were able to use our Chase Points to pay for all 6 of us to fly to Bali and then 5 months later to fly from Tokyo to Denver, Colorado.
12. Don’t Carry A Balance On Your Credit Card
Whatever you do, don’t keep a balance on your credit cards. Especially if you have the high-interest cards you open to get points for travel. The interest you’ll have to pay may not seem bad, but getting behind and spending more money than what you have each month is NOT a good habit to get into.
13. Cut your Cell Phone Plan And Use A Reseller
You might be surprised how much money you can save by using a reseller like PagePlus instead of paying AT&T directly for unlimited minutes and data. It’s usually half the cost and they still use the same network and towers.
14. Clean with Vinegar and Baking Soda
We save money each month by cutting out typical cleaning products and paper towels while using an old dishtowel to clean with vinegar and baking soda. You might be surprised by how much you can save when you cut out clean wipes and special toilet bowl cleaners.
Related Post: 11 Habits To Keep Your RV Clean
15. Live With Just One Vehicle
This may not be possible, but think outside the box for a minute and see if it could be. If you have a partner, do you both commute to work? Could one of you work from home to save on gas and a second vehicle? Or, could you carpool or take public transportation?
We have been living for the last 10 years with just one vehicle, besides our Class C Motorhome, for our family of 6. We’ve had to get creative at times, but it’s helped us so much to save on the gas, insurance, car payment, and maintenance of another commuter car.
You Can Live Frugally
You got this my friend. If you know your WHY and can make even just a few changes from the suggestions above, then you will begin to notice a shift in your spending and savings. You will be able to establish some great money saving habits while raising your family.
One that you will be so happy you made.
As a mom who prioritizes traveling as a family and living each day to the fullest, I’m not one to NOT spend our money. I just work hard to save it and live frugally so that we CAN spend our money on the things that matter most to us. Experiences over things.