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Learning from Frugalists means learning to save

Frugalists live frugally and want to save as much as possible in order to retire early. Frugalism is an attitude to life, mostly of singles, who earn well. However, some of their ideas can also be useful for other people.

Editorial Team | May 13, 2023 4 min
A group of friends sits on a green meadow and they talk and laugh together.

Oliver Noelting, 32 years old and from Hanover, is a self-avowed frugalist. He saves to be able to enjoy life at 40 - without working. The freelance software developer is also a well-known representative of frugalism in Germany. Since 2015, he has been giving like-minded people tips for "less-is-more" in a blog.  

Most people wish for financial independence. They dream of winning a big lottery prize or receiving an inheritance. Frugalists want to achieve this on their own initiative: they take saving to the extreme. "Frugal" means "saving " or "thrifty". The idea is not to buy anything unnecessary. The movement originated in the USA and is called "FIRE" - "Financial Independence, Retire Early".  

Cooking yourself instead of going to a restaurant

Oliver Noelting and his supporters reduce their current expenses to a minimum - in order to get more out of life later. Frugalists want to increase their "savings rate" to 50 to 80 percent. Noelting earns very well in his job. He spent around 870 euros of his salary a month in 2020. He invests the rest well. In the end, he wants to have a fortune of 425,000 euros.

However, the idea of achieving financial independence by saving, remains an illusion for most people - especially for people with families. But you can be inspired by the Frugalists. There are many ideas that you may never have thought about before.

What Frugalists do

  • They don't book a hotel on holiday, but check in at the campsite, use house and flat exchange markets or even sleep in their own car,
  • make sure to live cheaply, even if their flat is smaller,
  • move into a shared apartment, live in a caravan or on a houseboat
  • sleep in the garden house and at the same time rent out their flat to tourists on Airbnb,
  • do not go out for lunch, but take something from home,
  • cook for themselves, use leftovers and prepare stews etc. for several days,
  • prefer to repair broken things themselves rather than buy new ones
  • go to the Repair Café when repairing things themselves gets too complicated,
  • buy second-hand clothes,
  • prefer to use a used car or rental car, car sharing, public transport, Flix buses or the bicycle - auctioned off cheaply in the lost property office, of course,
  • do sports outside and at home instead of going to the gym,
  • cut their own hair or have it cut by a friend.

Do Frugalists only drink tap water?

Frugalists do without fast food and expensive furniture and refrain from impulse purchases – in fact , from everything they don't really need. They pay in cash and not with a card. This gives them a better overview of their spending.

They take advantage of (new customer) discounts and special offers, look for cheap B-goods and display items. They do not overdraw their account, because they would have to pay interest. Cigarettes and alcohol are too expensive for them, so they don't smoke or drink. Instead, they have a library card and borrow books and magazines cheaply.

But there are also more extreme ideas: Some move into the holiday home to convert the garden into a vegetable, fruit and herb garden and thus become self-sufficient. They also save a lot of money by drinking only tap water - which is also good for the environment. Just like many ideas of the Frugalists.

Keep a record of all expenditure

Noelting also promotes a proven and well-known tool: the budget book as an app or classically with a piece of paper and pen. For him, it is "the perfect companion that makes you rich", he writes in his blog. Or in other words: "You recognise where you can use your money more efficiently and can thus increase your satisfaction per unit of money spent." Our perfect companion for you: the Riverty Back in Flow app. When you link it to your bank account, it gives you an analysis of your income and expenses. You can see your finances at a glance and see where you can save in the future.

There are many other tips on the internet and in our blog on how and where to make saving a habit in everyday life or how you can earn some extra money. For example, you can clean out your flat, sell used items on Ebay or at a flea market. Master larger purchases on a small budget, pay attention to the costs of mobile phone contracts, check insurance policies, change your car insurance at the end of November each year, regularly compare the prices of electricity providers.  

Consciously do without

Frugalists have learned that they don't need most of what they see in advertising. They make themselves independent of the opinions of others. They value conscious consumption and ask: What can I easily do without? How can I get something cheaper without neglecting my needs?

Frugalist blogger Noelting will not retire at 40 after all. He is only eight years away from his goal, but something interfered: his newly born daughter. "She is small and sweet now," he writes in his blog. "I probably benefit more from a reduction in hours or a few months of parental leave today than having the whole day off at 40."


The disciplined lifestyle of Frugalists is characterised by sustainable finances and conscious consumption. Their goal is to achieve financial independence through saving. Of course, this lifestyle is not for everyone, and it doesn't have to be. But we can certainly take away a few good savings tips that suit us and our lifestyle for the future. Do you think frugalism would be a way of life for you?