Welcome to this article on frugal living tips. Side hustle income is awesome and so is teaching online, but let’s face it, it’s doesn’t exactly pay a six-figure income.
That’s why today, we’re going to be talking about frugal living as predominantly for those that earn freelance income from teach from home jobs or other online side hustles, but a lot of the tips are suitable for anyone looking to save more money. Frugal living is super important if you’re trying to make bank and put away some serious savings for your future.
In this guide to frugal living as a side hustler, we’re going to be covering everything you need to know about keeping your living costs low and making your income go further. However, just a little disclaimer that these frugal living tips are not financial advice and you are responsible for your own financial decisions. This guide is merely for education and entertainment purposes only.
Now that's out of the way, let's get rolling with the tips!
Tip 1: Use Wise, Payoneer or Revolut to Receive Your Pay
Frugal living is all about cutting out any unnecessary costs, and one of the biggest unnecessary costs online teachers have to deal with is exchange rate fees. Many of the China based ESL companies pay their teachers in RMB via direct transfer to your bank (however, you can read here how Non-Chinese online ESL jobs became a better option for teachers).
Unless you’re living in China, your bank has to convert that RMB to your home currency, whether that’s USD, GBP, EUR, or whatever else. But here’s the rub: they do so at an incredibly hiked up exchange rate.
That means your bank is likely taking a huge cut of your salary by giving you an unfairly weighted exchange rate and pocketing the difference. Fortunately, there is a way around this, and that is to use Wise, Revolut or Payoneer.
You can set up a borderless account with Wise to get a fair, accurate exchange rate (like the one you get on Google) on all money received. All you have to do is set up an account, grab your Wise bank details (account number, sort code, etc), and ask your teaching company to send your wages there instead. We’ve written a more detailed guide on it here:
A lot of worldwide online teaching platforms offer payment either through PayPal like Cambly or Cambly Kids. However, more and more are now paying through the alternative – Payoneer. To get an idea of why Payoneer may be the favourable alternative, you can check out Payoneer vs PayPal.
A further benefit of Payoneer is you can get $35 for free once you receive your first $1000 of income into your account, all thanks to this website. You can do this by clicking the button and signing up below:
Online teaching platforms that pay teachers through Payoneer include:
If you wish to read an extensive guide on Payoneer, you can click the image below:
Revolut is very similar to Wise, in that its main benefit is being able to switch between currencies on the app and pay with the card on your travels. This means that you won't have to exchange your home currency at the airport or travel agent and get stung by their unfavourable exchange rates. It is also has money vaults to organise and save your income. You can check out the guide on how to get a Revolut card below:
Tip 2: Sell Your Unwanted Gift Card Codes
Ever receive a gift card as a present and don't really know what to get with it? Well these gift cards still have value. You can sell them on sites like CardCash for real cash to people that do want to use them. It’s a great way to bump up your monthly pay cheque and squeeze out a little more cash and that’s what frugal living is all about, right? Making the most of every penny.
So check if you may have one laying around from Christmas…cash it in!
Tip 3: Spend Less On Classroom Materials
If you’re teaching English online, the chances are high that you use props, puppets, whiteboards, and all that other online teaching tools. To live more frugally, stop buying them and start using what you already have.
A lot of teachers think you need to invest in a puppet, but really, a teddybear/plushie is probably just as good. After all, you’re only using it to keep your younger students attentive in class. Ask your younger family members if you can borrow theirs. If you’ve been using paper, switch to reusable whiteboards instead.
Most importantly, don’t pay for classroom decorations. Instead of paying for posters to put up on your wall, just set up your classroom digitally instead. Software like ManyCam allows you to make your own digital classroom background, so there's really no need for paper posters.
While we’re on the topic of ManyCam, it can also be used to create digital props, removing the need for any physical props at all:
Tip 6: Start Tracking Your Expenses
As online teachers and freelancers are classed as independent contractors, which basically means you’re self-employed. As that means you’ll be submitting your own tax returns, you should get into the habit of monitoring your expenses so that you can offset them against your taxable income.
Costs like classroom materials, props, ManyCam, and internet subscriptions are all necessary for you to do your job, so you can probably claim these as business expenses to save money. You may even be able to claim part of your rental costs as expenses if you’re using it as a home office. However, always consult your accountant to find what is best for your situation and the tax laws of where you live.
Here is a guide on online teaching and taxes.
Or if you need a tool for helping to keep your income and expenses organised, you can check out the free trial of FreshBooks accounting software below:
Tip 5: Cut the Coffee Addiction
If you're like most people, you probably can’t face the thought of going into class without your morning coffee. A typical routine may go like this: wake up, drive to Starbucks, spend $5 on a latte, come home, start teaching.
If you teach for 5 days a week – that’s $25 down the drain (or more accurately, down the oesophagus) every week. To live more frugally, you could make the switch over to instant coffee or even tea. Teabags are a lot cheaper! And it doesn't even have to be something extravagant like Titanium Tea. At the very least, learn to like instant coffee instead to save money. One scenario could be to switch from coffee to green tea in the morning and have a decaf instant coffee in the afternoon (to satisfy the coffee cravings rather than the caffeine cravings).
And if you don't like instant coffee, maybe combine it with your protein shake – breakfast and morning coffee all-in-one! And while we're on the topic of protein shakes.
Tip 6: Meal replacement with Huel
If you're passionate about health and fitness, as well as saving money – this is a very hard thing to do in unison. So this tip may not be frugal for some, but if you find yourself spending a lot on food to make sure your diet is healthy, you could consider trying meal replacement shakes like Huel.
Huel goes beyond being a simple protein shake and is a powder drink that is designed to provide all of the macros needed for a healthy balanced meal. This little hack has helped many to lose weight and save time and money by not running around the supermarket trying to find healthy food for 3 meals per day every day. The affiliate link below will get you $10 off your first order, as well as a free flask and t-shirt:
(Of course, always consult your health professional before trying out new diets. This website is not a health professional, just sharing anecdotal tips for entertainment purposes).
Tip 7 – Buy groceries in bulk
Buy groceries in bulk from wholesalers like Costco and freeze them to save money. However be careful not to end up buying more than you actually need, or end up having 8 jars of peanut butter which you get sick of after jar number 3.
Tip 8 – Save your grocery receipts
After your grocery shop, use a receipt-scanning app like CoinOut to get money back on your purchases. Little things like this add up over time.
Tip 9 – Comparison shop for everything.
Use comparison tools to find the cheapest broadband, mobile, and energy suppliers and switch over if you can get a better deal.
Tip 10 – Prioritize clearing your debts
Before making savings, clear out those debts so that you pay less on interest.
Tip 11 – Before spending anything, try to find a coupon code online to save money.
A great free tool for this is Honey, which automatically finds coupons for you if it is added to your Chrome Extensions.
Tip 12 – Eat out as little as possible
Those restaurant bills and home deliveries certainly add up.
Tip 13 – Always turn off your lights and appliances before leaving home to save money on electricity
This one is simple but easily forgotten.
Tip 14 – Split your rent
By living as frugally as possible and splitting your rent with a partner or roommate, you should easily be able to spend less than $1,000 per month.
Assuming you earn $2,000 or more from your online teaching job, that’s $1,000 per month in the bank. Over the course of a year, you’ll have put away over $12,000— that’s enough for a deposit on a house!
Tip 14 – Earn cashback
There are many cashback apps such as Swagbucks which can help you earn a little extra through making purchases and taking quizzes.
Final Thoughts on Frugal Living
Hopefully that's some motivation for you to start living frugally. When you combine frugality with boosting your income through online side hustles, you really start to take control of your finances. Thankfully we have a lot of information on creating an online income also, such as a list of platforms to help you earn through teaching online:
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