Be Frugal With Your Time, Not Just Your Money!

Are you wasting your time being frugal?

Frugality, for many, can conjure up the image of a mad man / woman frantically cutting out coupons from the paper to save a couple of quid on their shopping bill.

This not my perception of frugality at all.

My time is more precious to me than money and true frugality is not solely about about managing your money wisely, but also your time.

I started this blog 3 months ago to document my journey towards owning my own home, within 4 weeks that initial plan had transformed into a 15 year plan to retire at 50 – if only I had got myself into this mindset at 20 I’d be retired now!

You see I want my time back, I went straight to work from school and I feel like I’ve not truly started to live yet. I love my job, there is no denying that, however, I don’t want to be sat in an office as I hit my 50s.

By that point I want to have achieved financial freedom allowing me to travel to all those places I’ve always wanted, but was unable to due to a mixture of not having the money or the time.

Don’t waste your time being frugal, and here is how.

How to be frugal with your time and your money

Be Penny Wise And Not Pound Foolish

It is a waste of time and energy scrimping around to save pennies when you’re regularly blowing large sums like it’s nothing.

For instance, there is little point shopping around to save £7 per month on fuel when the finance, tax and insurance on it is costing you over £500 per month.

Or living off nothing but beans for a week and still blowing £400 a month on nights out.

When attempting to shrink down your outgoings in line with your budget, focusing on the big expenses is paramount, which in turn give you the biggest payouts when it comes to saving.

Take my example of biggest outgoings when I sat down to really look closely at  my finances, back then my biggest expenses were:

  • Rent
  • Smoking
  • Take-aways / eating out   

First step for me was to find somewhere cheaper to live. Not only did I cut down my rent, I also managed to find somewhere where the gas, electric and water bills were included.

Next stop was eating out and take-aways. I started to make a monthly food planner, and although we still have the odd little treat, we have dramatically saved a ton of money by planning ahead and cooking fresh most days.

Smoking came next and all in all by taking these simple steps I reduced my outgoings by £500+ per month!

They are just suggestions and I know that moving is not always an option, especially if you have children. Another suggestion could be to carpool.

If you live near someone you work with, take it in turns to drive to work, that way you will half your fuel costs – as will they.

When you are trying to save money on something else keep your eye on the big picture, always bearing in mind which will give you the largest overall saving.

Another example is holidays. When you’re planning a holiday there are numerous ways you can save a few quid:

Look for basic accommodation like a hostel, eat in some nights rather than paying restaurant prices, house swap with someone for a week or two by using a service such as Love Home Swap.

Those are all very valid ways to save yourself some money, however, by concentrating on the big expenses like flights and accommodation, you’ll find the biggest savings.

According to Cheryl Rosner, the CEO of travel site Stayful.com, Tuesday is the best day of the week to save money on booking hotels, travel and flights.

Another top tip is to delete cookies.

Airline websites keep track of your cookies and they increase the price of tickets to rush you into buying if they see you keep looking at the same page.

You could even book your accommodation the same day you travel using last-minute hotel apps and websites that offer deep discounts to those that are booking for the same day.

If same-day scheduling makes you nervous, book a hotel in advance that has a liberal cancellation policy, then scrap that reservation if you find a better deal.

Now this isn’t to say you should never try other money saving techniques. By all means try and save everywhere you can, just don’t lose sight of the pounds when pinching the pennies.  

Save With Money Off Apps and Other Gadgets

In this day and age it is not really a productive use of time to be sat there cutting coupons from the paper when there are a whole host of apps that do it for you such as, Quidco, VoucherCodes, Wowcher, Groupon and MySupermarket to name a few.

We all love a good deal but if you spend hours of research to find a tablet that is £30 cheaper, that might not be the best use of your time.

Try sites such as PriceJump. It is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that automatically finds the best deal whilst shopping for an item on Amazon.

Invisible Hand does exactly the same thing and can be used on Chrome, Firefox and Safari, the main difference is it works for any online shopping site, not just Amazon.

When you are searching for an item or tickets to buy online an extension pops up and tells you where you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

You can also get super frugal with your energy too. Save money by asking your supplier to fit your home with a smart meter.

Not only can you kiss goodbye to meter readings and estimated bills, they can also show you your main points in the day for energy usage so you are able to make a plan of how to cut it down.

Most importantly, fix your price and change supplier regular to make sure you’re always paying the lowest possible price.

Construct Spending Rules To Aid Smarter Decisions

I can’t speak for everyone but I am not in a position where I can make lavish, frivolous purchases without giving it some serious thought first.

I often used to find myself pondering on a purchase for so long that it became a huge waste of my time.

To resist the temptation of this I started to use the 10/10 rule.

It goes a little something like this:

  • If the item you’re buying cost £10s or less, do not spend more than 10 minutes thinking about buying it. This comes in especially handy when you’re shopping online. If you haven’t took it out of your basket after 10 minutes you buy it.
  • If it’s over £10 and you have spent more than 10 minutes deliberating whether or not to buy it, you put it back.

For larger purchases of £100 or more the rule of thumb is to give yourself a week to consider it.

I’m not suggesting if the item you want to buy is £99 that you go ahead and buy without any thought.

The trick is to give yourself ample time to consider larger purchases properly and not waste too much time on the smaller ones.

Following these rules can help you find the correct balance between taking time to consider your spending, whilst also preventing you wasting your time over-thinking smaller purchases.

What tips do you have to be frugal with your time as well as your money?

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Thinking Thrifty

David Jack Taylor is the founder and editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
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9 thoughts on “Be Frugal With Your Time, Not Just Your Money!

  1. Nice article, David! You can easily drive yourself crazy with the small financial wins and lose sight of the big picture. People like to bust on the $4 latte (here in the states). But I remember a podcast I recently listened to (I think it was Afford Anything) where the guest said for some that latte is a part of having a productive day that leads to much larger wins. I butchered the lesson but it was essentially the same lesson as yours. He had a similar tactic for purchases as your 10/10 rule. Love this kind of stuff.

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