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How to Become Frugal During Hard Times

Are you feeling backed up against a wall and needing to become frugal due to hard times ahead?

Become frugal without staying crouched in the corner. Believe it or not, you can still live a great life on less while learning how to live super frugally. And make amazing memories even when you have to cut back.

More importantly, you need to be sure you’re protecting your assets. Your businesses, family, home and whatever is important to you. And you can do all of this by simply sticking to a strict budgeting plan and learning to become frugal with your life adventures.

You can also use your mind to think of creative ways to save money. I list some ideas that I have used in the past that have worked for us. 

So, here are some great ways to become frugal during hard times. In this post, you’ll learn:

  • The answer to the commonly asked question: “How do you save money
  • Other ways to become frugal besides saving money
  • Ideas for cheap activities for families so you and your family can still have some fun in your life! 

These ideas are from my own experience while learning how to save money on a small salary. They are ways and ideas for cheap activities for families that I have practiced (and will be practicing) to save our money when we need to save the most.

Listen to the Rural Women Inspired Podcast:

Become FrugalSave Money

How do you save money?

After reading the book 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness by Jim Rohn, I learned a few things about how to stretch your money as well as ways to save money on a tight budget and become frugal.

A good portion of what you earn should be put away in a safe place. For example, each member of my family has their own savings account at our bank. Or you could simply open a safety deposit box at the bank to keep cash in.

I don’t recommend keeping cash in your home unless you have a safe you can lock up. It’s easy to spend cash when you see it. The money speaks to you, doesn’t it? Money that is not seen is not heard. And this is especially important while learning to become frugal.

Then, when you need to spend cash, make a plan for frugal ideas to save money. And decide if this plan is a smart one that will purchase something you or your family need. Make sure you are investing your money wisely into something that will help your family’s assets grow into something bigger such as:

  • College Funds
  • Business
  • Farming Operations
  • Continuing Education
  • Personal Development
  • Service and Skills

Learning certain skills, like growing food using your own resources, can also help you to learn how to save money every month on essential items you need.

Grow Food

I know plenty of hard working people who are growing their own food (both animals and plants) in spaces of all size. Inspirational homesteaders are in this world growing gardens from their inner city apartment in hopes of living frugal lifestyle. Yes. Google “urban homesteaders” if you don’t believe me.

And small homesteads are keeping a few dairy goats or a couple of pigs and chickens to supplement their protein needs. You would be surprised on how much you can squeeze into a little bit of land.

Even if you have no land, there are ways you can still grow your own food. Have you heard of container gardening? Herbs and vegetables can all be grown easily in containers. I plan to grow my herbs in containers this spring because I’m tired of fighting weeds in my herb garden.

No matter the size of your property, you can find ways to grow some of the food your family will consume. Stop saying you can’t become frugal. And try growing some of your own food.

become frugal

Save Food

Do you have left overs after meals? Perfect! Become frugal while learning how to use those leftovers for later meals.

I love reusing leftovers for an extra meal. Or even two meals! And there are a couple of strategies I use to keep leftovers in the house as a part of decreasing money spent on food while learning to become frugal.

Practice moderation in your diets. Teach your kids to “eat to live.” Meaning they should learn they don’t have to stuff themselves with junk to live. Following correct serving sizes and adjusting menus can really help to stretch those meals out further and become frugal with the grocery budget.

Drink more water. Make sure every member of the family has a bottle of water with them. Water is the most important nutrient to consume daily. Not only does it hydrate properly, but it also helps with metabolism. Keeping the family full in between meals.

We now grow a lot of what we eat on our farms. I share many recipes on my web site with you that host our farm fresh ingredients. Also, we preserve quite a lot of those ingredients to use throughout the year. I no longer purchase things like apple sauce, ketchup or steak from the grocery store.

But, there are ingredients I don’t grow that I still have to buy. And for that, I have a plan that has helped to become frugal at the grocery store.

Meal Plan

I used to go to the grocery store without a list and just throw in whatever I wanted. Not a good idea.

Because I found the grocery bill to be drastically reduced when I only bought what was on my list. Which is basically dairy and baking products because we now grow almost everything else we eat.

Along with making lists and plans, decide what ingredients you can buy in bulk that will keep for a long time. This can include canned goods, cleaning products and baking products. We are Sam’s Club members and buy a good majority of bulk products there.

I also make sure I purchase produce that is in season. If you compare prices, you’ll find that produce that is in season is cheaper. And find a way to use up all that produce in other recipes. You may have to preserve some of it by freezing, canning or using in other recipes. But it should not go to waste!

Then, I plan all of our meals for the week. I also make some meals ahead to freeze. This really decreases the number of trips made to the store for things we don’t really need. 

Read 5 Ways to Preserve Fresh Produce

become frugal

Decrease Leisurely Shopping Trips 

But how do you save money if you love to shop? Learning to decrease your shopping adventures is a great lesson along the path of learning to become frugal. 

One of the ways for how to save money each month is to decrease shopping for things you don’t really need. I’ve never ever been one to buy things for myself. I’m definitely not a fan of shopping all day. But I have a big problem when I go into a farm store, pet store, baby or toy store “just to look around”.

I mean, come on. Can you really get through any of these stores without saying, “I need this” or “AWWWWW – So Cute!” How do you save money when all of those amazing items are screaming at you to buy them?

The truth is, you probably don’t need it. Honestly. This is the hardest part of learning how to live frugally and save money. Look around your house (I’m looking and groaning). Tell me you don’t have way more than you need.

I’m not saying not to shop. Shopping local is amazing for small rural communities. Usually, when I go into a store these days, I leave my money at home or tucked away in the vehicle. Seriously. I just don’t bring it in. I know what I need ahead of time and I bring enough money to buy that. It’s really helped me to become frugal with our livestock inputs as well.

And if I’m going into my favorite store to just look around, I definitely do not need to buy anything! I don’t need more clutter in my life and become frugal by doing so.

It’s definitely hard to learn how to budget and save money on a small income. Here is a creative way to make an income for your shopping trips or savings jar. 

Declutter and Sell 80% 

I don’t know about you, but I need less clutter in my life. My house is crazy and I’m overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” I have. According to the book, 4-Hour Work Week, the rule of thumb is 80/20.

Keep only 20% of the things you use 80% of the time. And sell the rest. Or give it away to someone who could use it. At least you won’t have it anymore to trip over.

So, as you go through each room in your home, decide what you use 80% of your time. Be mindful of seasons as well. Don’t declutter in the wintertime and get rid of all your garden stuff because you aren’t using it. Actually, it might be a great idea to just keep your decluttering time seasonal.

Then, have different piles for keep, give away, and sell. List items to give away or sell on virtual places, such as local Facebook market place pages. You could also have a garage sale. Or swap out with friends and family for things you actually need – no money involved.

Accept Those Hand Me Downs 

For adults or kids, it’s never a bad idea to accept clothes that are free if you need them.

Find friends or relatives that have kids a little bit older than yours and just ask if they will be getting rid of clothes. Make sure the clothes will be in good shape. Because the truth is, your kids will either ruin the clothes or grow out of them before you can blink. So, there’s really no need to have a lot of super new designer clothes.

Another scenario is if you’re body is changing drastically. For example, when I was pregnant, I was able to “shop” through my sister’s closet and find some awesomely cute clothes for free. It could be the same if you’re losing weight as well.

There’s no shame in accepting hand me downs. Sharing clothes can be a fun way to get low cost or free fashionable clothing to help keep you and your family looking swell.

Plan Free or Cheap Activities for Families

Everywhere you go as a family costs money. Or do they?

Believe me, there are many fun things to do as a family that is low cost or cost very little money. There’s lots of family activities at home and many family outdoor activities that are fun and frugal! Here’s a short list of fun things to do with your family that don’t cost an arm and a leg:

  • Hiking
  • Dog Parks
  • Free Swim Night
  • Kids Eat Free nights at restaurants
  • Pumpkin patches (check web sites for pricing)
  • Local festival or event: Search for “Fun Places to go with family near me”
  • County fair (sometimes you pay for parking)
  • Local community library event
  • Free Local entertainment: Search for “fun places to go near me”
  • Family Game Night
  • Community Service
  • Family Bike Ride
  • Go to the Zoo (Find out days or weekends where cost is lower or free)
  • Make Family Movies for YouTube

There’s so much more out there for families to do. Decide what you want to do with your family. Do a search for “cheap family outings near me” or “fun family activities near me.” Then, look for a cheaper way to do the same activity. You’ll be surprised at what is out there to be found.

Here’s some fun activities for teenagers

Take Your Own Family Photos 

This may seem a bit over the top, but it’s just another way to become frugal save some money. Because I would be hiring professional photographers. I believe in preserving memories through photographs.

Check out my monthly photo shoots I took each month of my children during my second child’s first year. I started this because I wanted to capture both of their changes from month to month.

Monthly photo shoots would be so incredibly expensive for our budget with a professional photographer. I’m not professional, but I know professionals become professional through lots of practice and study. And knowledge of their subjects.

So, why not try this. Take some photographs of your family.

If you look at my monthly photo shoots, you’ll learn you don’t have to have an expensive camera. I got my Canon T5i as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago but I also use my iPhone 10 to capture some snap shots for Instagram. Phones these days have amazing picture quality. So, if you have a smart phone, you have a decent camera as well.

Learning to become frugal may be about cutting out a few basic items you would normally hire out. But there are ways to keep these doing these things. Learn to do them yourself with what you already have.

Owning your life is all about thinking what you need, continuing to live the life you want to live by thinking outside the box.

Invent Different Ways To Earn Cash to Become Frugal

It’s much easier to save money when you can make a little extra income. Figure out what’s native to your area and if there’s a market for it. For example, black walnut trees are very plentiful here and the nuts fall to the ground in the Fall. Plus, there’s locations to take these nuts and sell them for a fairly decent price.

I made some money to spend on Christmas this year by selling 430 pounds of black walnuts that were simply laying on the ground. Pretty easy money, if you ask me. Plus, it was one of those cheap activities for families because my whole family was involved in picking them up. 

Another way to make some quick cash is to collect metals. A popular one is aluminum. All you have to do is go walking with a trash bag to find aluminum cans. In fact, take two trash bags.

The price for aluminum cans vary from place to place. You may not get a lot of cash when selling cans, but maybe you could earn enough for a fun night out with the family. 

Finally, what other business venture could you create from what you already have access to? Here are 23 business ideas to get you started. Put your thinking cap on and go where your creative mind takes you.

Check out some outdoor family activities near me in the Fall

become frugal during hard times

Stay Positive As You Learn to Become Frugal

This is life. You can only control so much. Learning to become frugal and practicing frugal living tips and ideas takes a positive “I Can” attitude. It’s important to believe in yourself while practicing how to save money every day. It is not easy. 

Because you may have some members of your family completely against what you are trying to do. But you have to stand your ground. You have to stay positive and not buy those things the kids want but don’t need. It’s definitely a life change but things will get better.

Also, finding fun cheap activities for families to do will keep the balance in family dynamics. You NEED to have that fun. To let loose on the stresses of life. 

The truth is, life happens. The markets can’t be controlled. Neither can the economy. But your freedom and your life can be controlled. You have the power to stay positive through the feeling of financial discomfort. Feeling comfortable in money is one thing. Learning to control your comfort is another, whether you have a lot of money or not.

And you can control your money no matter if you have a cushion or if you’re living from pay check to pay check.  You can control how much you spend or save. The feeling of financial freedom is a luxury. How will you get control of yourself and your budget and stay in control when hard times hit? When you can finally answer the question: “How do you save money?”…You’re headed in the right direction towards success. 

Finally, This Too Shall Pass

Times may be tight on the budget, but you will become financially free again if you learn to become frugal. Because what comes down will come back up again. Stay true to yourself.

Even through the hard times, you can enjoy your life. The secret is using your creativity and thinking outside the box. 

Because, it’s all up to you. Do you remember learning about the Great Depression? Or the farm crisis of the 1980’s? Because times are looking pretty bleak again.

But, if you talk to anyone from that era, you’ll find that they still lived a pretty good life. They saved, borrowed, exchanged and found ways to have a great time while practicing extreme thrifty living. My Great Grandmother was a teenager in the 1930’s and has lots of frugal living tips from the great depression. She claimed everyone was in the same boat during the Great Depression. But she still felt like her life was fulfilled. And that’s so true.

So, with hard times coming in the near future, how will you continue to live a fantastic life while learning to save and cut back? How will you become frugal today for tomorrow?

~ Much Love ~


7 Calorie Burning Activities for Fall | Farm Fit Living

Wednesday 18th of October 2017

[…] And this year Black Walnuts were selling for $5 more than last year. I sold 430 pounds of black walnuts and received $65 in cash handed right to me. Hello, Christmas money. […]

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Wednesday 2nd of November 2016

[…] How to Become Frugal During Hard Times […]


Monday 24th of October 2016

This is a great post— love the tips and advice. We all need this at some point in life.

— DT | Here I Scribble

Valerie CottageMakingMommy

Friday 21st of October 2016

These are excellent tips. Too many are prideful and don't want to do what they need to do.

Mindy Young @ Farm Fit Living

Friday 21st of October 2016

Yes, Valery. I worry about the farmers who have enjoyed several good years with their lake houses and new vehicles. Things are going to have to change.

Kemi Odesola

Thursday 20th of October 2016

so many great ideas, most of them I already do. What I really need to do is clean out my closet and have a yard sale! Great post!

Mindy Young @ Farm Fit Living

Friday 21st of October 2016

Hi, Kemi! I am also thinking of yard selling. Or selling online via Facebook.

Comments are closed.