Most people think that working and frugality are a tradeoff, because when you work, you're busy, and all money saving methods takes lots of time and energy. So you have a choice to work more or be more frugal, but doing both simply isn't possible. This sentiment is only partially true. While time is money, and some frugal tactics do require an investment in time, there are quite a lot of money saving strategies that not only don't take extra time, but may even save both time and money. If you're a busy person that wants to save money, but feel you can't because time is precious, this piece is for you.
Monthly Bill Shaving
Some frugal strategies require a small, one time investment of time, but then save money each month after that. Cell phone service, internet service, cable service, health insurance, and many other monthly services eat up a big chunk of cash each month. Do a little bit of research—a short time commitment and a switch to a provider that is most cost effective for what you need. Sometimes, you're able to bargain with your current company for a better rate when you tell them that you're going to switch because you found another provider with better rates. If they lower your rates because of this, you save money each month but don't even have to deal with the headache of switching providers. Cable television can be cut entirely to save money, especially since websites like Hulu and companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime can offer you the same shows either for free or much cheaper than cable company rates.
Smaller Living Space
Downsizing and moving to a smaller apartment is a big money saver as well, especially beneficial for those short on time. A smaller house means lower electric bills, lower rent payments, less space to store “stuff” which helps curtail nonsense spending, and requires less cleaning and maintenance time, making it an all-around good idea for someone short on time and cash.
Grocery Spending Conscious
Food—both groceries and eating out—eats up a big chunk of most people's salaries. The more pressed for time one is, the more tempting it is to spend extra money on convenience foods. There are many things that can help save you both time and money in the kitchen, making it just as convenient as or even better than going out to eat.
Stockpiling groceries and bath and body supplies when they're on sale is both a money saver and a time saver. When there are good prices on things that are non-perishable (or even perishable if you have a spare freezer), buy as many as you have room to store in your house so that you don't have to ever buy things at retail prices. In addition to getting these items at rock-bottom prices, by having them in stock in your home, you eliminate those last minute dashes to the supermarket or pharmacy to pick up that item, plus the inevitable many extra items that make their way into your cart. Staying out of the grocery when not absolutely necessary also saves money on those extras that you don’ need and saves money on transportation to and from the store, with the added benefit of saving time—a boon for the busy person.
Bulk buying items, such as rice or pasta or legumes in twenty-five- or fifty-pound sacks from suppliers saves a lot of money because you eliminate the middleman and cost of packaging. Buying processed foods in bulk from wholesalers such as Costco or Sam's Club also save money and time, but not as much as you would think. Make sure to price compare any items that you buy in bulk, because, surprisingly, sometimes things actually cost more money when bought in bulk than when bought individually. Buying in bulk also has the added benefit of keeping your home well-stocked, avoiding those extra trips to the store.
With a spare freezer, you can buy half a cow or an entire pig directly from a farmer for much cheaper than you can find in the grocery store, and you can usually get processed venison from hunters extremely cheap.
Another money saving method in the kitchen is to, on a free day like the weekend, chop up a lot of vegetables and freeze them in containers to be used as needed. You can even assemble whole meals in the freezer to be defrosted and cooked when in a rush. A good money- and time-saving idea is preparing bags of assembled one-pot meals that can be dumped into a crock pot before you leave for the day, so that you come home to a freshly cooked, cheap meal. Much more cost effective than eating out, and it even saves the time it takes to go to a fast food place!
A general, and somewhat obvious frugal tip for busy people is that going shopping for things you don't need takes both time and money that many people don't have. Just doing without those things can save you both time and money. When things are needed, consider buying used on eBay, on Amazon, or other websites, making sure only to look for the items you need and not “window shop,” so you save time and gas by not making that trip to the store, and you aren't tempted to buy all those “must haves” that you never thought you needed before seeing those items on the rack.
As a busy person short on cash, yes, there are some frugal strategies that are not a good fit for your busy life, but don't write off frugality entirely as there is much to do to save even without excess time and energy.