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Being frugal can feel really hard and impossible, especially when you’re first starting out on improving your financial journey.  When you’re just getting started on spending more selectively, the FOMO is real. You probably have visions of yourself joining a nunnery–having no fun, wearing the same clothes for years, and mostly hanging out in your room alone, staring out the window. But it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. Here are some tips for how to save money without feeling deprived.

Spend Selectively

The whole point of getting control in your finances is not so that you can hoard all your money, but so that you can have enough money for the things you really care about. If you really couldn’t care less about what your coffee tastes like but need a caffeine fix, order it black instead of getting a $6 blended drink. Unless you’re already extremely financially self-aware already, there’s probably something that you’re spending money on that you don’t really care that much about. Maybe it’s going to see a movie every month with your friend when you’re somewhat indifferent about movies. Maybe it’s the expensive face wash you’ve been using for years but are kind of indifferent to. Try to think of things that you aren’t really passionate about and save money in those areas first.

Create a Challenge

If you’re really feeling the urge to buy some fresh clothes, you can create a challenge for yourself to try new outfits with what you already have. Ask a friend over to give you a fresh pair of eyes and help you get more creative. You can invite your friends to do the challenge too. It would be a great way to get some new ideas and build some excitement into the clothes already waiting in your closet.

Get Creative with Social Engagements

If you and your friends are used to spending time with each other by going out to eat or seeing a movie, it can feel like saving money = not having any friends. But that’s just not the case! Get creative and suggest new things for your friends to do. Chances are, they’ll really enjoy the change of pace. Instead of going out to a movie, you can invite them over to your place for games. If weather is nice, you can meet them at a park for a picnic. There are lots of fun free and cheap things to do. You just have to be intentional about planning them.

Go Off the Beaten Path

There are a lot of fun things to do by yourself for free too. If you’re saving money by cancelling your gym membership, try out some new ways of exercising, like going on a hike or a bike ride. If you’ve given yourself a limited budget for books, utilize your local library. There are thousands of books you can enjoy for free, and the librarian might just have some great suggestions for you. Instead of thinking that saving money means that you can’t do anything at all, use it as an opportunity to learn of new things you can do for free.

Use Automatic Drafts

If I set up automatic drafts to take money out of my account the day after I get paid, it doesn’t really feel like I had the money to begin with. You’d be surprised at how quickly you adjust to having less money after you get paid. When the money isn’t there smiling at you from your checking account, you’ll be less tempted to spend it. If you don’t have to remember to make the transfer each paycheck but have it done automatically, the chances of your savings account flourishing grows astronomically.

Instead of Buying New Gadgets, Buy New Cases

I’ve discovered that when I get a new case for my phone, it feels like getting a brand new phone. This should be done with caution of course, because you don’t need to be buying a new phone case every other month. Another trick is to refresh your wallpaper or screensaver every so often. It makes things feel fresh and new even if you are carrying around a four-year-old iPhone.

Unsubscribe from Emails

My contentment rating goes up a ton when I’ve unsubscribed from emails from my favorite stores. I really don’t need to know when the new line comes out or when there’s a killer sale. If you’re not getting those emails, you’re not constantly getting reminded of all those pretty things you’re missing out on. And truth be told, you probably don’t really need them anyways.

Plan When You’ll Eat Out

Studies show that half the enjoyment of a thing is the anticipation of it (I don’t have a link to a study, but pretty sure I read this in this book AND this book). Instead of just eating out when you don’t feel like cooking dinner, plan it out in advance. That’ll at least double your enjoyment factor and you’ll get more bang for your buck. On top of the extra enjoyment is the benefit that you probably won’t eat out as often if you have to plan it first, saving you lots of money as well.

Give Yourself Fun Money

My husband and I do this and it’s been a lifesaver. To be honest, I don’t spend my fun money very readily. But it’s really nice knowing that I have it there. I feel like getting a handle on your finances is a bit like going on a diet. If you restrain yourself too much, you can end up gorging on all the foods you’ve been avoiding, leading to some serious regret. Just knowing that I have a small monthly allotment to spend things on wants and not just needs makes me feel less deprived.

Stop Window Shopping

This also includes internet window shopping. It can be really tempting to check out what your favorite stores have available at the moment, but this only makes saving money harder. Keep your blinders on when it comes to shopping. You’ll be a lot happier in the long run, even if it feels hard at first.

Find Free Concerts and Events

Lots of cities have free events you can go to. This is a great way to spend time with your friends and loved ones without spending a dime, whether it be a concert in the park or a killer fireworks show on the 4th of July. Just remember to bring water and snacks with you. It’s not a free event anymore if you have to buy a $5 bottle of water and spent $12 on food. I’ve been eyeing these pretty water bottles. 


I hope these tips helped you find ways you can start saving money without feeling deprived. Feel free to share this post with a friend who’s working on reaching financial goals without killing her social life!

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Kelsey Smythe is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.