These 10 frugal and sustainable life skills to master will help you save money and help you live more sustainably. It’s a win-win.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 1: Meal Prep
The first frugal and sustainable life skill you should master is the art of meal prep. Meal prep is life. And I know a lot of people don’t like meal prep, but it will honestly save you so much money and help you reduce food waste.
Right now, we are living in a time where everything is expensive. I went out to eat the other day and a grilled chicken salad was $27. Grilled chicken salad, just a chicken breast chopped up on a bed of lettuce. $27 when the bill came. I honestly was like, wow, I got financially mugged. I really felt that way.
Now if you’re one of the people on this planet that hates meal prepping know that you’re not alone. But also know that you can start small. You don’t have to start off by making these huge complex meals, then portioning them out in glass containers. And then, taking a picture and saying hashtag meal prep gains on social media.
Instead start by doing something like just slicing up some vegetables that you can use throughout the week to either eat raw or in a dish that you make that night. This will begin to establish the habit and then as you get better at cooking, or as you get more time in your schedule, you can add in bigger meal preps.
I personally love the website Budget Bytes for cheap, healthy and easy-to-make recipes. Yes, meal prepping is a time commitment. But when we are talking dollars saved, this is one of those life skills that if you can master will save you money over and over and over again.
If you start meal prepping when you’re 28 and you continue for the remainder of your career and you retire at 65, that is decades of savings that we’re talking about. That’s all money that can go towards things like your savings, your investments, your real estate portfolio, whatever. I would also say cooking is a life skill because this is something that you can do for your family, your friends and when you’re on a date. Knowing how to feed others is always a really valuable frugal life skill.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 2: Learn to identify quality fabric
Let’s face it, fast fashion trends come and go, but your bank account is a relationship you’re going to have for life. Embracing thrifting and doing clothing swaps with friends are all great ways to save money on clothes. But if you want to be able to identify the clothes that you will have for the long haul, choose high quality material. And luckily, high quality fabric is pretty easy to spot.
Tips for choosing high quality materials
Tip 1: Hold the fabric up to the light
Hold any fabric up to the light. If you can see through the fabric, that’s a sign that it’s probably not high quality material. Things like wool or really good cotton, you won’t be able to see through it. But if it’s a thin, flimsy polyester, you’ll be able to see through it.
Tip 2: Check the seams
My second tip is to check the seams and make sure that they are tight. If you have really loose seams holding your clothes together or if they’re jagged, that probably means they are not well-made and they will come apart easily.
Tip 3: Check the tag
And number three is simply look for what material it’s made out of. Something like polyester is a lower quality than a natural fiber like wool or silk. Those are higher quality fabrics.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 3: Learn basic mending skills
I saw a quote once and I’m going to paraphrase, but it said it only took two generations for all of us to forget how to sew and cook our own food. And obviously we just talked about meal prepping, but it hit me a couple of years ago that I can do a very basic stitch. I can sew a button back on, but I could not make a piece of clothing to save my life.
Now I’m not saying that you need to learn how to sew all your own clothes and start making all your own clothes. But I think more of us should know how to repair clothes that we already own, and maybe even learn how to tailor our own clothes.
Learning a few basic stitches will help save you money because you’ll be able to keep more of your clothes for longer. You won’t have to throw them out or donate them, just because there’s one little rip. Instead, you’ll be able to fix that little rip. Learning how to sew is pretty easy. You do not need a machine, though obviously you can get one, if it’s an interest of yours. There are a gazillion sewing YouTube channels out there and I myself have been consuming a lot of embroidery and sewing TikTok recently and I’ve learned a lot.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 4: Learn to cook a signature dish
Learning a signature dish is another one of these foods skills that you’ll be able to bust out on a lot of different occasions. If you learn how to make a roasted chicken or a really delicious vegetable lasagna, you’ll be able to bring that to family holidays. You’ll also be able to cook for your dates and you’ll be able to bring it to kids’ birthday parties.
You could have dinner parties with your signature dish and little votive candles. It would be so cute and cozy. Learning a signature dish is, I feel, a marker of adulthood and a fantastic way to save you money.
Everybody should know how to cook. Personally, I like to think that I have two signature dishes: a vegetarian lasagna and chana masala.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 5: Learn to eat seasonally
Shopping and eating in-season produce is a little hack to help you save more money and to eat more flavorful foods. In-season produce is so much more delicious than the stuff you get out of season. Have you ever had a tomato in August and then a tomato in December? The December tomato kind of sucks. That’s because that December tomato is not natural. It’s not in season.
Plus, eating in season is a huge win for your sustainable life. When we eat out of season that usually means that the food is coming from really far away. So when it’s December in the northern hemisphere, and it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. That tomato is getting flown up from Chile or Argentina all the way to New York. And that’s not good for a sustainable lifestyle because we have to emit a ton of emissions to get those tomatoes from the south of Chile all the way up to New York.
Plus when we eat in season, we can allow vegetables to not only reach max deliciousness, but also their highest point of nutrition. If we pick a vegetable too early, it doesn’t have all of its nutrition developed yet, meaning it’s not as healthy for you as if you had given it another week or two. Luckily for us shopping in-season is really easy once you know what you’re looking for.
Northern hemisphere in-season produce
Here’s a quick little cheat sheet for those of us for eating in season for summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 6: DIY your cleaning products
Learning how to make a basic at home cleaner is really really easy. It’s shockingly easy. It actually does do its job and it’s super easy to make. All you need is water, vinegar and baking soda. These three ingredients can help you make an all purpose cleaner that you can use to clean your bathroom and your kitchen. It’s so much cheaper than constantly buying those really expensive and plastic filled cleaners at the grocery store.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 7: Learn where your money goes
Say it with me: it’s time to break free of our subscription addiction. I myself have fallen prey to this addiction more than once. Because there are so many subscription services out there. You can have a subscription clothing box, nine subscription streaming channels, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube music, there are so many subscriptions available! And most of them are just small enough, between $1.99 and $9.99 a month, that you don’t even realize it. All of a sudden, these $9.99 charges are adding up and its $120 bucks a month.
Take 20 minutes, sit down and go over your credit card statement and evaluate all your subscription services. Highlight the ones that you actually use, and that actually bring value into your life. And then try and find at least one that you can cancel. I recently did this. I went through all of my subscriptions and I could not believe how many things I was subscribed to. A lot of them are very valuable in my life. But again, this creep had just kind of happened and I hadn’t noticed.
I think when it comes to our money, the best thing that we can do for saving money, living frugally and living more sustainably is be in the know about where our money goes. The more nebulous our spending is, the harder it is to understand our spending and the easier it is for us to overspend. Then all of a sudden, we’re frustrated and we’re wondering why aren’t we hitting our savings goals. Why aren’t we investing as much as we want? And it’s because these little money leaks are snatching our money away from us. So take the time, sit down and see if you can let go of just one subscription.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 8: Find a fitness outlet
I have talked ad nauseam about my own health this year. Health is wealth– especially if you’re a woman. As women age, we lose bone density. I think about that all the time. I’m just like, wow, my bones are getting more brittle. From nothing, just from air. I’m not sure what’s happening to the density, but it is leaving.
So by 30, you should find an exercise routine that works for you, your body and your lifestyle. Maybe when you were 25, you were doing Pilates five days a week and running 20 miles a week. And now that you’re 30, that’s not as reasonable. That’s okay, switch it up! Maybe you want to do a Zumba class twice a week and yoga class twice a week.
Remember, health is not about looking a certain way or fitting into a certain size of pants. Health is about what makes your body feel good and operate well. You can also embrace free workouts. I go for walks all the time with friends. There are plenty of workout classes on YouTube. There are often free workout classes around major cities. And of course, you can do things on your own like hiking. I personally always recommend that people spend time in nature working out because not only is it usually free, or at least very low cost, but it also helps connect us to Mother Nature.
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 9: Learn home maintenance skills
Embrace your inner handy woman! There is nothing more satisfying than tackling a DIY project and doing it all yourself. Move over Bob the Builder, I got this! Invest in a solid tool set and take a few hours each month, doesn’t have to be every week, to learn a different DIY skill set. Maybe you want to learn how to fix a toilet or how to change a light bulb. There’s always something around your house that you can do and you don’t have to call somebody else for it. This will definitely save you money in the long run.
And I just want to take a quick moment here. And say I’m not advocating for you to do your own electrical work or plumbing. If you can’t handle that, please call the experts for the big projects. I don’t want you to flood your house, just so that you can save a little bit of money. But for smaller things, I do think that all of us should know how to take care of the basics in our home.
I’m talking about painting your own walls, learning how to fix a clogged toilet or a jammed toilet up in the top area. You know how sometimes that cord in there it gets stuck and then it doesn’t drain and you’re like what is this? Watch a YouTube video about what that is and figure out how to unstick it. Can you tell that I recently did this and I felt like a champ?
Frugal and Sustainable Life Skill 10: Learn to save for your future now
Please start saving and investing now for your future. Set financial goals. Invest often and aggressively if possible, and watch your money grow. Being frugal and acquiring skills isn’t just about the here and now. It’s about the life you’re building.
This is the single best frugal life skill that you can master all of these other things we’ve talked about. Those all will fall in line once you become a budgeting queen.
Remember, this is not just about how much money can you save and how fast can you reach your financial goals. Those are can be nice things, but this is really about living a joyful, sustainable, financially healthy life.
So get out there and embrace your sustainable self. Embrace your frugal living skills. Let me know in the comments what other skills you think people should work towards or if you’ve attained one of these skills we talked about here.
If you’re more of a visual learner, the tips are in the video below. Remember to subscribe for new videos each week.