Resources to help Black women close the wealth gap


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During the last five decades, the Black community has had limited access to building wealth for generations. A closer look at wealth in America reveals staggering racial wealth disparities. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 national Black poverty rate was more than double the white poverty rate in the U.S. (roughly 22% compared to 9%, respectively), as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The average white family’s wealth is eight times higher than the wealth of an average Black family, according to the Federal Reserve. Systematic inequality, lack of financial literacy, high default rates on student loans and employment discrimination, among other factors, have led to the racial wealth gap.

You can find several tools and resources below to help tackle a few financial challenges and develop ways to create wealth for yourself and your future family.

How Profound Are Systematic Inequalities and Racial Gaps in Finances?

For centuries, the struggle for African Americans to build, secure and maintain wealth has been ongoing in the United States. Many financial barriers began during slavery and continued after emancipation throughout the last 50 years. These barriers contributed to Black and African Americans’ opportunities for creating wealth.

The History of Racial Income and the Black-White Wealth Gap

Until its abolishment in 1865, slavery legally prohibited Black people from earning wages. Following emancipation, laws continued to marginalize Black and African Americans by restricting their freedoms and denying them opportunities.

When it was first initiated in 1935, Social Security did not cover most Black Americans, as it excluded farmers and domestic workers from benefits. Black people made up 65% of those occupations. Prior to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Black codes and Jim Crow laws, which legalized racial segregation in the South, detailed what work Black Americans could do, what they could earn and even their ability to leave after hired. Some states even restricted what property Black people could own.

Why Does the Racial Wealth Gap Persist?

Despite the end of these discriminatory policies and laws some 55-plus years ago, they created a systematic inequality that has been difficult to eliminate. They are deeply entrenched into America’s labor, housing, education, healthcare and justice system. These discriminatory policies originally set out to ensure white people could build more wealth than Black people. And over time, it contributed to Black Americans, on average, having considerably less wealth than white Americans. Studies show that since the 1960s, following Civil Rights, Black Americans’ financial stance compared to white Americans’ has shown little progress with homeownership, unemployment and overall wealth holdings.

6 Financial Challenges and Solutions to Close the Wealth Gap

Several challenges impact Black families trying to secure wealth and build financial wellness. Lack of financial literacy, systematic inequalities, lower income and limited homeownership can interfere with this community reaching financial freedom and independence. With all of these elements at play, many may find it difficult to build savings, survive income disruptions and create generational wealth.

1. Access to Mortgages and Homeownership

Redlining was one of the earliest forms of institutionalized racism. It allowed lenders to offer increased rates to customers in certain neighborhoods based on their race. Although this was outlawed in 1968 by the Fair Housing Act, it can still occur today.

A 2018 National Community Reinvestment Coalition study found three out of four neighborhoods that were redlined 80 years ago are still struggling economically. For example, some public policies presented as supporting economic improvement, creating new public spaces or fixing urban blight deprived Black communities of property ownership and affordable rental housing.

Black homeownership had a record low of 40.6% in the second quarter of 2019 since 2016, according to the Census Bureau. But white homeownership was more than 30% higher and consistently remains 30% higher for every quarter between 2016 and 2020.

What You Can Do

Be on the lookout for red flags that indicate discrimination. For example, if an agent is trying to direct you to specific neighborhoods with certain races or religions, or the agent tells you a property is not available when you know it is. It can also be discrimination if you are being denied a property because of your source of income or you receive public assistance.

If prospective homebuyers believe they are discriminated against, they should reach out to organizations such as the Fair Housing Justice Center or similar nonprofit groups or local human rights commissions.

In the case of mortgage discrimination or scams, such as an inflated mortgage rate or a denied application, applicants have the right to see any negative credit information and dispute it. Report suspected mortgage discrimination or fraud to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for alleged violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Also, know your buying power by obtaining your credit report and reviewing it for accuracy. You’ll want to fix any incorrect information that may affect your loan qualification or interest rate.

If you need help building or boosting your credit, try becoming an authorized user on someone’s card who has a long history of paying on time, using a responsible cosigner or obtaining a secured credit card. There are also credit-building tools like Experian Boost that provide positive payment history and allow you to add utility payments to your credit report.

Establishing and maintaining a good credit record will also help reduce your home insurance costs. To lower your costs even more, consider buying your home and auto policies from the same company for a multi-policy discount, seek out other discounts for professional associations or employers and shop around for the best rates. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has information to help you choose an insurer in your state.

2. Securing Employment and Higher Income

Employment discrimination and a lack of hiring opportunities make it difficult for Black families to overcome poverty or build wealth if they’re unemployed or stuck in low-wage jobs. In the last 25 years, Black Americans have seen no change in hiring rates. The Harvard Business review assessed subtle forms of racial stereotypes and unconscious bias has changed very little over time despite increased efforts for diversity and inclusion. Since the 1990s, white applicants received 36% more callbacks than Black applicants with an identical résumé.

When it comes to getting a raise, PayScale reports that people of color are less likely to receive one when asked. According to its “Raise Anatomy” report, women of color were 19% less likely to have received a raise than white men, and men of color were 25% less likely.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting data on the African American unemployment rate in 1972. Since then, the rate has generally been twice as high as the white unemployment rate, as reported by the Center for American Progress. During the pandemic, the unemployment rate has only worsened for Black Americans. In the third quarter of 2020, the Black employment rate was 13.2%, while the rate for white people is 7.9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Federal Reserve reports in a 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances that Black families’ median and mean wealth was less than 15% that of white families at $24,100 and $142,500, respectively.

What You Can Do

You can implement some savvy strategies that can make living on a small salary manageable, such as finding assistance programs, asking friends and family for help or making small changes to your lifestyle to help save.

There are also a few strategies to help you when you are ready to ask for a raise:

  1. Be confident. You have the right to ask for fair, increased compensation if your work validates it.
  2. Research, research, research. Find out the salary benchmarks or current market values for your position in your company and industry, and use that documentation to support your request.
  3. Document your wins at work and use that to champion your request as well.
  4. If your manager says no, request a timeline to have the conversation again.

Look for employers committed to diversity and offer programs to support people of color through Diversity Employer, which includes an online job board, or The Black Perspective, which promotes companies actively recruiting African American applicants.

3. Learning How to Make Informed and Effective Financial Decisions

The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index), a survey that measures financial literacy, revealed African Americans demonstrated a low level of financial literacy. The P-Fin Index showed African Americans only answered 38% of personal finance questions correctly compared to white Americans who answered 55% correctly.

Black people received the highest scores in knowledge on borrowing and managing debt while their lowest score was in comprehending risk and uncertainty, insuring, investing and go-to information source.

The gap in financial knowledge between Black and white Americans may be partially due to educational opportunities. African Americans who are college-educated answered 53% of the P-Fin Index questions correctly on average, compared with 24% among those with a high school degree or a lower education level.

What You Can Do

African Americans with strong financial literacy are more likely to plan and save for retirement, have additional savings and manage their debt better. There’s no limit to how much research you can do — the more knowledge, the better. Learning more about your money can help you develop a budget, save more and improve how you manage your expenses.

Listen to money podcasts such as Brown Ambition or His and Her Money for insights from African American financial experts and entrepreneurs.

You might also consider getting life insurance. It can be an extension of financial security for you and your family. You can use it as a means to pass on generational wealth, replace retirement income, pay off debt when a partner dies or even make sure that a child or grandchild can go to college.

4. Cost of Using a Financial Expert

A financial advisor can help you navigate taxes, pay down debt and plan for savings. Advisors can provide advice and resources on how to best manage your money and make sure you align with your financial goals. According to the P-Fin Index, Black Americans lack financial knowledge in understanding risk and investments. They also have difficulties understanding credit.

But many people don’t use a financial advisor. For many, the cost may be the factor, especially if you live on a low income.

What You Can Do

There are free and low-cost options. Some advisors offer complimentary consultation or services. The Foundation for Financial Planning offers pro bono financial planning through its local chapters. You can also find financial advisors at the Financial Planning Association for free during the pandemic.

If you are looking for a Black financial advisor, explore the Association of African American Financial Advisors. There’s also plenty of free advice online through your 401k provider, bank or credit unions.

5. Not Building a Savings or Emergency Fund

Most financial experts would tell you emergency savings is a priority, and you’ll want to save at least three to six months of living expenses.

However, because African Americans have historically had less access to stable jobs, higher wages and retirement benefits at work – all key elements that help support savings — they have been less likely to accumulate savings and invest. The current tax code also provides families with higher incomes increased tax incentives associated with both housing and retirement savings, according to the Center of American Progress.

What You Can Do

Look at your income, assess your monthly living costs and aim to save 10% to 20% each month. Setting aside a designated amount of money each month allows you to build up emergency fundsreduce and manage debt and prepare for retirement. Make it even easier on yourself by doing automated savings so that the money is automatically stored away.

To build assets, you have to manage your spending and start thinking about investing. It may be tempting to stray from your budget, but keep in mind that money spent on certain items, such as brand-name clothes and luxury cars, when you don’t necessarily need them is money that you can’t save or invest to grow wealth over time.

6. Paying for Education and Using Student Loans

Lack of wealth could translate into fewer opportunities for upward mobility like pursuing an education and the ability to pay for it. Black families often rely heavily on student loans and risker student debt options to finance higher education.

Borrowing money is not bad. It can be a good way to establish credit, and it’s a reasonable option when done responsibly. It can become a challenge if the borrowers cannot pay their loans on time.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 12 years after entering college, a typical African American student who attended college in the 2003–2004 school year owed more than what was originally borrowed, and 49% defaulted on their loans.

What You Can Do

Several organizations, colleges, associations and nonprofits offer scholarships and grants for Black students to help with affordability and understanding the application process. Relying on grants and scholarships to fund college can help African American students be more financially stable in adulthood.

When you graduate from college, look into resources and tools to help you pay down your student loan debts. Start by creating a budget and develop a plan to reduce your debt on a monthly basis.

Resources for the Black and African American Community

There are many resources available to help you achieve financial wellness. From programs that improve finance education to scholarships and mortgage financing assistance, these organizations and programs can help you get on the path to success.

Financial Services and Programs

  • Operation Hope: This nonprofit offers free programs and services to clients to help with youth financial literacy, homeownership, credit and money management.
  • Black Cooperative Investment Fund: This 501(c)(3) provides microloans to the Black community through pooled funds and raises awareness about economic empowerment, equity and wealth-building for the Black community.
  • AFCPE: This is an organization of certified financial experts. It is a great source to find a financial counselor or coach who can help you navigate your finances. It also offers free virtual financial counseling and coaching sessions to individuals and families struggling financially because of COVID-19.

Advocacy Organizations

  • Prosperity Now: This national nonprofit helps build financial security for families and communities with low income through research, solutions and supporting policies.
  • The National Council of Negro Women: This assembly of national African American women’s organizations and community-based sections provide research, advocacy, services and programs on health, education and economic empowerment in the United States and Africa.
  • 100 Black Men of America: Through mentoring, education, health and wellness and economic empowerment, this organization focuses on empowering young African American men.
  • Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: Founded in 1970, this nonprofit public policy organization works on ideas, research and policy solutions for people and communities of color.
  • National Urban League: This civil rights organization focuses on economic empowerment in underserved urban communities and offers comprehensive house counseling, educational opportunities, job and workforce development and other services.
  • The National Association of Black Accountants: This nonprofit association works to support opportunities for people of color who want to work in accounting, finance consulting and other related businesses.
  • National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC): With over 200 chapters located in 40 states and 50 nations, this is one of the largest Black associations. It’s dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities.

Community Support Groups

  • Black Women’s Blueprint: This mobile “healing” unit supports a variety of needs for Black women, including maternity and infant needs, as well as assisting with rent and temporary housing.
  • The Empowerment Program: This organization provides support groups and resources to help individuals overcome stressful life events, such as substance use and trauma, and provide ways to cope and recover.
  • 2-1-1: In a number of communities, you can dial 2-1-1 on your phone and will have access to information regarding a variety of services and programs, including housing, employment and education opportunities in your local area.
  • Modest Needs: This nonprofit provides short-term financial assistance to individuals and families with low incomes and are in temporary crises.

Housing Assistance Resources

  • NCRC Housing Counseling Network: This HUD-approved network of housing counseling agencies has provided counseling to 40,000 households nationwide. Their services include pre-purchase counseling, homebuyer education, mortgage delinquency and default resolution, among many more services.
  • Making Home Affordable: This government program provides you access to HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, advice to avoid scams and social networks to stay connected on info and resources.
  • USDA Home Loans: You can learn more about U.S. Department of Agriculture home loans. These home loans help people who have low or medium incomes purchase houses in rural locations.


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Why a frugal lifestyle is powerful, painless & fun


For some of us, frugality comes naturally. But for others, frugal living conjures up images of a miserly, meager existence. No wonder so many tune out when the topic of frugality comes up!


But what if I told you living frugally doesn’t have to be painful or boring? And what if I also told you it could bring financial peace, security and even freedom? It’s true. A frugal lifestyle can provide all this and more.


In this article, I’ll share the whys and hows of frugal living. Then, I’ll get you inspired and motivated by sharing my 53 favorite frugal living tips. Ready to start saving? Let’s go!




1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.


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As someone who’s always been frugal, I can vouch for the benefits of living a frugal life. There are so many! For those who need a little more convincing, here are my top reasons to embrace frugality.




Frugality is the simplest, quickest way to improve your finances. When compared with increasing your income, living frugally is far easier. You don’t need special training, knowledge, or tools to save money. Simply pick a tip and get started today!


I think of frugality and saving as low-hanging fruit. Take those easy wins and use them to propel your finances forward.




Underneath the simplicity of frugal living is its incredible power. With a few frugal choices, you could save thousands of dollars every year. Those thousands of dollars could become tens or even hundreds of thousands when saved and invested over time.


Imagine the options and freedom that kind of money could bring to your life. Frugality can help you get there.


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Being frugal can play a huge role in helping you reach financial freedom. How? It increases the gap between your income and expenses. This gap is your savings. When invested wisely, your savings are what will get you to financial freedom.


While a decent income also plays a part, you won’t get far if you spend it all. Frugality is the other half of the financial freedom equation. Embracing it can help you reach your goals sooner.


Some people think frugality is difficult and takes the fun out of life. They’re just doing it wrong! The truth is that living a frugal life can be completely painless.


The key is to focus on your values. Cut back hard on things you don’t value. Then, enjoy spending on things you do. That’s the secret to frugality without deprivation.


Maybe I’m a money geek, but I find frugality and saving to be incredibly rewarding. Seriously though— how can you not feel good about slashing an expense in half or cutting a no-longer-needed expense?


Frugal changes like these are undeniably rewarding both emotionally and financially. If you’re having a hard time embracing frugal living, try focusing on the rewards. That may be what you need to get started.


I honestly find frugal living to be lots of fun. That’s because it’s not all about cutting back and saving money. In fact, much of it is about getting creative and learning new skills and ideas.


Also, it often requires connecting with and learning from others. This, too, can bring more fun and enjoyment into your life. All of this just makes frugality even more rewarding!


So, now you know the whys of frugal living. It’s time to learn how you can start embracing this way of life. It isn’t hard, especially if you break it into manageable steps.


That’s what I’ve done for you in this section. Have a read and get ready to start your frugal living journey.


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Get started by learning about the many ways to save money through frugality. To give you some ideas, I’ve listed my 53 best frugal tips in the next section. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of websites, podcasts and books on the topic.





Try to be thoughtful when choosing your initial money-saving tasks. Don’t start with overly difficult or drawn-out ones. This could sap you of motivation and derail the whole process. Instead, select tasks that are relatively easy to accomplish and give you a boost.


When considering frugal ideas, always keep your values in mind. As mentioned, this is the best way to prevent feelings of deprivation. You’ll also gain a greater sense of satisfaction when your frugal decisions are true to your values. In turn, this will motivate you to keep going.


Once you tick off some of the easy tasks, it’s time to take on some of the harder ones. They may require more time and effort to complete, but they’ll usually make up for it with bigger savings. Make the leap and go for it — it’ll be worth it!



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Keep a running tally of the money you’ve saved. (It might be fun to display your progress using a coloring sheet or wall chart.) This will increase your motivation to continue working through your money-saving tasks.



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Start making plans to put your savings to work (or enjoy a portion of it)! This can also help to keep your motivation high and feed the virtuous cycle of frugality.


Finally, it’s time to put your newly-gained savings to work. You could pay off debt, deposit it in a high-interest savings account or invest it. As you watch your net worth increase, you’ll further fuel your desire to find even more ways to save money.



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OK, now we’ve got the whys and the hows of frugal living covered. Are you pumped up and ready to start saving? In no particular order, here are my 53 favorite frugal living tips to help you save money and spend less. (And maybe even reach FIRE (financial independence, retire early!)


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Revisit your recurring expenses to see if you can reduce, cut or optimize them. For example, do you still read that magazine? Could you get away with less mobile data? Revisit your expenses annually (at minimum) plus anytime your needs or life situation changes.





Every year or so, shop around and get two to three new quotes on your recurring expenses. Switching to a competitor or taking advantage of promotions could save you hundreds.


Instead of leaving for a competitor, try negotiating with your biller. Call and ask to speak to the retention department. Mention how long you’ve been a customer, then negotiate for a discount or get them to meet (or beat) a competitor’s rate.




Some billers offer a discount to customers who pay their bill once a year or all upfront versus monthly. Insurance, online services and some medical services often offer this payment option.





Maximize your spending by paying with a rewards credit card. Even better, use a card that offers higher-earning categories (for example, groceries, gas, restaurants).


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Often, smaller businesses will offer a discount if you pay in cash or with your debit card. (This tip goes against my previous tip. But in some cases, the savings are greater than any credit card rewards you might earn.)



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Many billers and banks offer refer-a-friend programs where you and/or your referred friend receive a bonus. Sometimes, the referral bonuses can be quite lucrative, so always check to see if your biller or bank offers them!



Resist the alluring sales pitches to buy extended warranties. They’re rarely worth it. Since you’re now a frugality expert, you should be saving enough to cover any issues that arise.


This is an easy way to potentially save hundreds on your insurance. Raise your deductibles as high as you can afford. Your coverage will remain the same, but your policy premiums won’t — they’ll be much cheaper!



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Thoroughly read the details of your insurance policies. Are you paying for coverage you don’t need (for example, jewelry and fine collectibles on your home insurance; rental car coverage on your car insurance)? Remove unnecessary coverage and enjoy the savings!


Most insurance companies offer senior, group, corporate, alumni or profession-specific discounts. These discounts are sometimes not publicly shared, so you may need to ask to access them.



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When purchasing insurance or applying for a mortgage, you’ll often do better by working with a broker. Brokers can access quotes from multiple companies. That means they can often find you a better rate than you’d be able to find yourself.



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So many banks now offer fee-free accounts. There’s no longer any reason to use accounts with fees or minimum balance requirements. You can also do even better than that! Try to find a no-fee account that pays you high interest and functions as a checking account.





Keep in mind that fee-free bank or investment accounts may still have hidden charges. You could incur them if you’re not aware. Be sure to understand any potential fees and how to avoid them.


Even the best of us make mistakes! Call your bank or brokerage to plead your case if you slip up and are charged an account or transaction fee. Often, they’ll offer a one-time fee waiver. It’ll cost you a mild scolding and a promise not to do it again, but it’s worth it!


Consider investing your money in index funds or ETFs when you’re ready to put your savings to work. They’re effective, easy to use and the fees are ultra-low. (Tip: I highly recommend The Stock Series by JL Collins to learn more about this style of investing.)





Want to live in your house for free (or close to it)? Try house hacking! Some ideas include: renting out your basement, taking in roommates, or Airbnbing your guest bedrooms. You may also want to consider my family’s house hack of choice: hosting international homestay students.


Save big on transportation costs by living in an area that’s walkable and/or bikeable. By avoiding the need for a car, you’ll save money, get healthier and help the environment! (Tip: Visit to find walk, transit and bike scores for most cities in the world.)



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1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.


:Ivan Nadaski / iStock


Plan your meals one to two weeks at a time, basing your meals on what’s on sale (see the next tip below). This frugal living skill not only saves you money but time and stress as well. (No more coming home and wondering what’s for dinner!)


One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to check flyers and shop sales. Doing so could easily save you thousands every year.


(Tip: Use flyer apps like Flipp and Reebee to quickly and conveniently find the best deals in your area.)


This is one of my favorite frugal hacks! Look for services like Flashfood or Imperfect Foods. They sell close-to-expiry, ugly or overstocked food at heavily discounted prices. We use Flashfood regularly, and it saves us 50% or more on quality, still-tasty groceries.





Make the best of sales by stocking up and buying in bulk, then store the excess in your freezer for future use. By doing this, you won’t need to buy groceries at regular prices or wait for sales. You can simply ‘shop’ from your freezer!


Combat food waste and boredom by getting creative and reimagining your leftovers. For example, turn a roast chicken into chicken noodle soup, chicken salad sandwiches, or fried rice. (Tip: Look online to find recipes for your leftovers. Often, you’ll discover new dishes that may be even yummier than the original dish!)



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If you notice your food’s spoiling sooner than expected, try this simple fix: Clean your fridge. You’ll likely find this fixes the problem. You will save your food from an untimely early demise, and you’ll save money!



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Instead of keeping your cooktop on the entire time, try this energy-efficient technique:

  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Drop in the pasta.
  3. Stir the pasta to prevent clumping.
  4. Bring the water back to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  5. Put the lid on the pot.
  6. Let the pasta soak for 10 minutes.
  7. Try it for doneness.
  8. If it’s not done, try it every 2–3 minutes until fully cooked.

Note: I learned this cooking technique from “The Complete Tightwad Gazette.” It’s the bible of frugal living!




Did you know that most dishes don’t require a preheated oven to start cooking? Save energy and time by putting your dish into the oven when it’s still cold.


During preheating, your food will slowly come up to the right temperature. This, in turn, reduces the overall cooking time and energy use.



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If a smaller appliance will get the job done, use that instead of a larger one. For example, use the toaster oven instead of the wall oven, the Instant Pot instead of a pot on the stove, the hand mixer instead of the stand mixer. This saves you energy and, in turn, money!


If you enjoy eating out, you could save big by avoiding the dinnertime timeslot. Many restaurants offer happy hour specials or the same meals at a discount for lunch. As a bonus, you’ll also avoid dinnertime crowds!





My family can usually fill up on three restaurant dishes between the four of us. A typical restaurant dish costs $20 or more (plus tax and tip). Sharing dishes can add up to significant savings and helps to avoid overeating!


If you can’t finish your meal, ask to have your leftovers wrapped to take home. Don’t forget to also pack uneaten dipping sauces, side dishes and bread. They’ll get tossed anyway, so why waste delicious food that you spent your hard-earned money on?


Don’t be shy about finding and using coupons and group deals when eating out. They’re a fun and frugal way to try new restaurants (and you could discover a new favorite spot). But don’t forget: being frugal is the goal. Being cheap is not—so make sure you tip on the undiscounted amount!



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Drinks (alcoholic or not) are often the most marked-up items on restaurant menus. Desserts have a lower markup but are nonetheless costly for what you get. By enjoying your drinks and dessert at home, you’ll not only save on the menu price but also taxes and tips.


This may seem weird or gross to some, but it could become the norm if discussed more often! Unless you live in a hot, humid climate, you could very likely shower every other day (or less) without issue. Your skin, wallet and the planet will thank you for it!



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Not only can you wash your body less often, but the same goes for your laundry! Clothing, towels and bedding do not need to be washed after every use. If the item still smells and looks clean, keep wearing or using it until it truly needs a wash. It’s a time, energy and money-saving win-win all around!





Save money, energy and wear and tear on your laundry by hang drying and avoiding the dryer. I realize it can be a pain to hang up many small items. So, reserve your dryer for socks and other tiny items. (Don’t forget to throw your hang-dried towels in the load — see the next tip!)



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To soften your ‘crunchy’ hang-dried towels, pop them in the dryer with your damp laundry. The moisture from the wet laundry will soften the towels. And the towels and dryer balls will speed up drying time and fluff up the rest of your laundry. (It really works!)



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Did you know that ‘free’ or discounted cell phones from cellular providers are financed via your phone plan? It’s rarely a good deal, so opt instead to buy your phone elsewhere (preferably used), then BYOD to your carrier. You could easily save hundreds this way.





So many of us have fallen into the ‘normal’ routine of upgrading our devices every two to three years. It’s time to stop the madness! For the sake of your wallet (and our planet), resist this cultural norm and hang onto your devices for as long as you can. Four to five years is a more reasonable lifespan for phones (and five or more years for tablets).



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Always shop the used market first! Even like-new items sell for a fraction of their original purchase price. Buying used does require patience and effort, but it usually pays off. This is especially true when you’re done with the item and resell it for the same price or more! It’s essentially like renting items for free (or close to it).



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If you do a lot of shopping at Amazon, you’ll love Camel Camel Camel. It’s a website that helps you monitor Amazon for price drops on items you’re interested in. When an item you’re watching drops in price, Camel Camel Camel will send you an alert. (Tip: Prices can change quickly on Amazon, so jump on it when you get an alert!)


Sign up for rebate sites like Rakuten, Mr. Rebates, and Great Canadian Rebates. These sites allow you to earn cash back on your online purchases. Watch for bonus events when you can earn 2x, 4x or even 10x the normal rebate on your purchases! (Tip: Check multiple rebate sites before making purchases. Often, the cashback amount is significantly higher on one site.)



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Discounted gift cards are a great way to save even more at your favorite stores! (You can purchase them in both physical and electronic formats.) Shop for them at websites such as Raise, CardCash and Cardswap. Typically, you’ll get bigger discounts on gift cards in larger denominations and for less-popular stores.





For maximum savings, stack every money-saving shopping strategy that’s available to you. Here’s how:

  1. Pay for your discounted gift cards with a rewards credit card.
  2. Use a rebate site to earn cash back on your purchase.
  3. Use a discounted gift card to pay for the purchase.


Deposit Photos


Train yourself to ignore regular-priced items. Instead, head to the sale/clearance section of your favorite store or website. You’ll typically save 25% to 50% on these items, but the discounts can be even higher. (This blows the typical 5% to 10% off offers on regular-priced merchandise out of the water!)


These are getting harder to find, but it’s always worth a try. Search online for promo, discount, or coupon codes for the stores you shop at. Typically, these coupons will get you free shipping or 10% off your purchase. (Tip: If you’re also using a rebate site, check the terms and conditions. Sometimes, using a coupon will void the cashback offer from your rebate site.)


One of the best ways to save a lot of money is to DIY everything that you can. Here are some ideas to get you started: cooking, baking, home, car maintenance and repair, renovations, haircuts, pet grooming, vegetable growing. The possibilities are endless! (Tip: YouTube is one of the best, free ways to learn how to DIY just about anything.)


Mending and repairing things is, sadly, becoming a relic of the past. This is terrible for our wallets and the environment. Thankfully, the right to repair movement is gaining steam. Fight back against disposable culture. Turn mending and repairing into a normal part of your frugal living routine!





Maintaining your stuff goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Take care of your belongings and regularly maintain them. It will save you money and prevent the need to mend or repair them in the first place. (Tip: Set recurring reminders on your phone so you don’t forget to take care of routine maintenance tasks.)





Travel can be very costly. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save on vacations and trips. Traveling as a group is one of them. Group travel can net you valuable discounts through bulk purchases and shared accommodations and transportation.





This is my family’s favorite form of travel accommodation! Airbnbs are typically more affordable than hotels. Also, there’s usually a kitchen to cook or reheat meals (which saves money on eating out). We also love that Airbnbs are actual homes. This gives us a more authentic travel experience.


Slow travel is one of the best ways to make travel more affordable. How? When you slow travel, you can spread out the cost of transportation (e.g., flights, trains, etc.) across many more days. This brings your per-day cost way down. Slow travel also gives you time and flexibility to select slower, more affordable modes of transport.


Travel hacking is the process of earning credit card points to pay for your travel expenses. You could end up paying little or nothing for flights, hotels and other expenses. It’s a fantastic way to turn your regular spending into free or discounted travel!





This final tip will help you go beyond the tips in this post. Anytime you’re faced with a spending decision, get creative. Ask yourself how you might be able to do it more frugally. Over time, you’ll get better and better at it. (It’s like exercising a muscle, so practice often for best results!)


I hope this post inspired you to embrace frugal living. When you live frugally, you’ll save money and time and lighten your footprint on the Earth. What’s not to love? Take action now by picking one (or a few) tips from this article and get started!


When you’re ready to learn even more ways to save money, visit my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series. Through the interviews, my interviewees and I share our actual expenses along with a plethora of frugal tips from all over the world!



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