If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might be surprised to learn that I haven’t always been this frugal.  I used to buy coffee every day, loved shopping, and splurged on occasional visits to an expensive salon.

Then my husband and I committed to paying off $127,000 of debt in only three years.  We knew we’d have to make major changes for this to happen.  I’ve always been somewhat frugal, but it was time to get really serious about frugality.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot of about what it means to be super frugal.  Here are nine things frugal people don’t typically do!

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Pay Full Price

Prior to getting serious about frugality, I didn’t pay much attention to price tags on relatively inexpensive items.  Now, I make all of my purchases (even small ones) thoughtfully and with consideration.

I often buy off-brand items, look for sales or deals, and use apps like Ebates and Ibotta to earn cash back.

Waste Food

Throwing away food is like flushing money down the toilet.  I hate cooking, so I love the convenience of just warming up leftovers.  It saves both money and time.

I also try to only buy what I’ll actually use, and I freeze any items that I can so they don’t go bad too quickly.

Borrow Money Often

This is probably the #1 differentiator between frugal people and non-frugal folks.  Debt has become so normalized in our society that many people believe it’s impossible to live without it.

This is not true!  Believe it or not, there are people out there who earn average incomes and pay cash for everything – yes, everything…even major expenses like college, cars, and homes.

Most personal finance experts advise against borrowing money as much as possible.

Obviously, there may be certain scenarios where borrowing money does make sense.  Most people don’t pay cash for homes (although it IS possible and if you can do it, go for it!).

My husband and I recently took on a mortgage and we also took out a car loan while we were paying off our student loans…you can read more about why we chose to do that here.

While we do occasionally use debt, we do so sparingly and only after careful consideration.  It is something we prefer to avoid as much as we can, which is why I drive a 19 year old car.

Over Pay Interest

Anyone who has ever been in debt knows that the real killer is interest.  My husband and I paid off $127,000 of debt in four years.  That number only includes the principal.

If we include interest, the actual amount we paid was over $150,000.  It would’ve been a ton more if we had paid our loans off over 10 to 25 years instead of only four years.

This is why frugal people avoid debt as much as possible and pay off any debt they have as quickly as they can.

It’s also important to have good credit so that you can get the lowest interest rate available on any loan.  My husband and I recently purchased our first home and we were able to snag a low rate thanks to our excellent credit.

We were concerned that our credit scores would drop to zero after we paid off all of our student loans and had no remaining debt.

For that reason, we took out two credit cards (we pay them off in full every month, have earned over $300 in gift cards, and haven’t paid a cent in interest).

I highly recommend the Chase Freedom Card.  If you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the card, you’ll receive $150 in cash back or as a gift card.

My husband and I earned a Target gift card and used it to buy household items for our new home.

It’s easy to set it up so that the entire balance is automatically withdrawn from your account every month.  This simplifies the process and prevents you from racking up debt.

Skip Budgeting

If you’d like to get your financial life together, one step you should never skip is creating a budget.  Many people find budgeting frustrating, boring, or annoying.

There is a common misconception that budgets are constricting, but the opposite is actually true.

A budget gives you freedom.  It provides you with permission to spend and allows you to gain control over your money instead of wondering where your money went each month.

Are you tired of feeling broke?

Our budget bundle can help you get on track!

Pay Silly Fees

Fees are one of my least favorite ways of spending money.  Fees are just plain dumb.  Parking fees, bank fees, ATM fees, anything with the word “fee” in it is a waste of money.

Stop paying for fees you don’t need to pay for.  There are banks that don’t charge fees.

Pay for Things They Don’t Use

Do you have a gym membership you haven’t used in months?  Cable you never watch?  A landline no one has called in years?

It’s silly to pay for things you never even use.  Frugal people consider not just the actual cost of something but also the cost per use.

If something seems expensive but you use it all the time, the cost per use will be low.  Conversely, something “cheap” may not actually be a good deal if you never use it.

Constantly Upgrade

Lifestyle inflation is one of the most common causes of financial problems.  In our society, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements encouraging us to want more, more, more.

How many Americans upgrade to a new cell phone every couple years, a new car as soon as the current one is paid off, a bigger home when they get a big promotion, etc?

We are constantly upgrading the stuff in our lives even when our original items are still working just fine.

Advertisers prey on our tendency to compare ourselves to others and they’ll do whatever they can to convince us that we “need” bigger and better stuff.

To be clear, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with upgrading something that’s broken or getting a new item if it’s truly a priority to you.

Spend Money Daily

Frugal people are thoughtful about their spending.  They spend mindfully and intentionally.  They do not spend carelessly or out of habit.

Spending money on a daily basis makes it likely that your little costs will add up.  A certain non-frugal person I know spends $10 per day at Starbucks.

$10 x 30 = $300 per month or $3,600 per year

It may not seem like much, but imagine what else you could do with $300 per month.  What if you invested $300 instead?

Being Frugal

These nine habits are things frugal people don’t typically do.  There are plenty more!


What are some things that you think frugal people don’t usually do?

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