6 Unexpectedly Frugal Ways Millionaires Save Money

Do you dream of living like a millionaire?

What do you imagine? Fancy dinners, elaborate mansions, fast cars and designer clothes?

Don’t forget your grocery budget, fixer-uppers, bumming rides and second-hand stores.

Oh, you didn’t think millionaires worried about that stuff? Well, how do you think they became millionaires?

For an invisible majority, accumulating wealth isn’t about a massive inheritance, family name or success in the entertainment industry. Most (multi)millionaires work and budget just like the rest of us — only smarter.

6 Ways to Save Money Like a Millionaire

If you want to actually live like a millionaire, here are six ways to save money our favorite frugal millionaires actually employ:

1. Make It a Game

Regardless of how much money you have to spend, it always feels good to find a killer price on something you want.

Millionaire couple Angela Marchi and Bob Weidner shop at outlet stores for deals, because they hate to pay full price.

When they go, Weidner likes to play a game: How many items can he buy without spending more than $100?

Frugal spending and saving are always more fun when you can make a game of it — we can almost guarantee it. Create challenges for yourself and your family to help you get the most for your money.

Pro Tip

If you're spending too much at the grocery store, check out these tools and tips to save money on groceries.

2. Buy Modest Vehicles

What’s the first sign of someone who just cashed a huge pension check or landed some kind of windfall?

A flashy car.

Any armchair financial advisor (‘hem, your dad or grandpa, usually) will tell you a car is a terrible thing to sink your money into.

“A car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot,” said every adult in my family since I was old enough to sort of know what money is.

Given the extra money, though, the first stop for many people is the Mercedes dealer.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Take a note from Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris, who commutes to the field either by bicycle or in a used 1991 Mazda.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard takes it even further: He rented a place close enough to the stadium his rookie year to walk to work, and he borrowed his girlfriend’s mother’s van when he needed a vehicle.

3. Spend on Extravagances… Selectively

Many self-made millionaires choose to spend money on experiences, rather than things.

That means travel and hobbies, instead of fancy cars and big homes.

We see lots of stories of people retiring early to travel or pursue other passions.

Sure, those experiences come with a cost not everyone can afford. But these frugal retirees are choosing to spend their extra cash wisely — on stories and memories they can share with friends and family, instead of fleeting possessions.

We always recommend spending and saving your money wisely — frugality doesn’t have to mean never spending it at all. It just means being choosy about when and how you splurge.

4. Ignore the Joneses

Consider what makes you happy, and ignore the rush to keep up with Joneses or Kardashians or whoever is leading the endless race these days.

And, for goodness sake, do not Instagram before you shop!

Don’t compare your life to your friends’ Instagram and Facebook photos. We all know these are hand-picked to portray unrealistic perfection, but somehow we still hold them up as an unattainable goal.

5. Save the Bulk of Your Income

Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno is notorious for his lifelong (relative) frugality.

Over his 17 years with the network, Leno reportedly saved every dime of his NBC salary.

He lived off earnings from personal appearances, endorsement deals and stand-up, which he continued to perform dutifully most weekends — even while he taped the show five days a week.

While it may seem like a celebrity has the unique luxury of setting aside a full salary, the habit likely started early, before the millions were rolling in.

“You know, when I was a kid,” Leno told fellow comedian Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld’s show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, “I always had two jobs, and I would bank one, and I’d spend the other. Then when I got ‘The Tonight Show’ I just continued to do that.”

Could you live off the income from a side hustle or part-time job — even for a few years?

Sticking to a tighter budget and automatically saving your salary from a full-time job could expedite your road to financial freedom.

6. Make Smarter Choices, Not Necessarily More Money

Self-made millionaires tend to accumulate wealth because they save, invest and manage money wisely — not because they make huge salaries.

Consider this: A 21-year-old liberal arts graduate making an average starting salary of $36,000 would need to save only $25 per week in an IRA to retire comfortably at 65.

That’s neither a phenomenal salary nor a major sacrifice in most weekly budgets. But knowing what to do with that small amount of money can mean big things.

By investing as much as he could of every paycheck, Brandon Sutherland was able to retire at 32. He expects to live for at least 30 years on the interest from his investments.

Brandon is a pretty typical college graduate without special advantages. He was just willing to invest up to 70% of his paycheck toward living the life he wants — sooner than later.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).