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Frugal living is not just about being cheap (although those terms get confused!).
Living frugal is about being more intentional with your money. Doing your research before you purchase, and really thinking about if it’s something you need.
You work hard for your money, so you absolutely should be as intentional as you can be!
Let’s dig right into our list of frugal tips!
Table of Contents
1. Start a budget
Living on a budget was the biggest piece that helped us live frugally.
Once we started tracking our money, it felt like we got an instant raise!
Having and sticking to a budget is a huge key to living a frugal life.
2. Ditch the disposables
Switching to reusables has saved us so. much. money.
Cutting these two things has saved us well over $1,000 over the two years we’ve been doing it!
A few other things we do:
Wool balls instead of dryer sheets. We have these wool dryer balls and love them! And I like to put a single drop of essential oil on one of them to add some scent.
Reusable make-up remover wipes. I really like the Erase Your Face wipes.
A silicone baking mat instead of parchment or aluminum foil. We use the Silpat baking mat and absolutely love it!
3. Cut unneeded subscriptions
When we were getting out of debt, we really looked at the money we were pouring out every month.
Small $10/$15/$20 subscriptions every month really add up. Things like monthly magazine subscriptions, meal kits, beauty boxes, etc. can all get expensive over time.
We got rid of quite a bit of our subscriptions because of that, and it ended up saving us a lot of money.
4. Try DIY
We do this with a lot of things, namely household cleaners. It’s so easy to pour some diluted vinegar into a glass spray bottle and have an instant cleaner!
(I say glass because we made the mistake of using plastic. We used vinegar in it for a while but added essential oil and the smell of the oil stuck around for way too long!).
Have some vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide on hand, and you’re all set.
We’ve also made our own laundry detergent, dry shampoo, even clothes ourselves.
I know that seems like a super-frugal living tip, but think about it this way: you can make your clothes the exact size you need!
With so many good YouTube tutorials, it’s hard to mess up DIY. And it’s great because it can save you money!
5. Turn off the lights if you’re not using them
This sounds so silly, I know. But if you really think about it: how often do you leave a room and the lights stay on?
I do this all the time in my daughter’s bedroom. We go in there for a diaper change or to grab something, and in a hurry to go play again, it’s forgotten to turn the lights off.
If you’re as forgetful as I am, try out a motion sensor light switch to have the lights automatically turned off for you if you’re not in the room.
Or, if you have a good amount of natural light coming in, open those blinds and turn off the lights!
It’s amazing how much money you can save here.
6. Stop eating out…
There is nothing frugal about eating fast food or a restaurant.
Say, for example, you spend about $20 each time your family eats at a fast food place.
If you go out a couple of times a week, you’re spending over $2,000 a year for convenience.
Dial back or cut it out completely to save your family a ton of money.
7. …and meal plan
I’ve tried many different ways to save money on our grocery bill. Going for cheap foods, trying meal delivery services, and other plans.
What was the most successful way to cut our grocery bill?
Having a structured, weekly meal plan.
We like to have a rotating list of weekly meals on deck. We currently have 3 individual meal plans for 3 weeks. Once we hit that third week, we start back at the first again.
So far, we’ve really enjoyed the meals we’ve found over at Budget Bytes. Bonus, she’s got “budget” right in her blog title!
8. Shop for your groceries online, if possible
It’s SO much easier to pick up things that look tasty if you’re shopping in-store. I think I’ve done that literally every time I’ve been to the store. (Oh! I forgot that I “needed” that!).
It’s been really helpful to use the curbside service of our local grocery store.
We only pick up the stuff we need, and it shaves off money from our grocery bill.
9. Shop your pantry
Chances are, you have a lot of food in your pantry. Yet we still go out and buy all new ingredients and snacks.
Before going to the store, take a look at what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
And before you skip something already in your pantry, use substitutes to exhaust everything in your pantry, like with this handy list.
10. Spare time? Make money online!
Making money online has never been easier! There are lots of ways to make money online, depending on how much time you have and your skills.
It’s an excellent way to bring in more cash every month from the comfort of your home.
11. Make your gifts
Making your own gifts is especially helpful for Christmas time, when you likely will be giving out a good amount of gifts.
We do this every year, and it’s fun to give out gifts that you actually put some work into.
And since there are so many great DIY tutorials online for everything from baking to crafting to woodworking, you will be hard-pressed to find an excuse not to make something!
12. Use cash-back apps
Cash-back apps and extensions have seriously put so much money back into our pockets.
Take Ibotta: I earned back over $50 in just a few months of using it. And we get the cash back from just shopping for what we normally would shop for!
It’s as simple as scanning your receipt and earning cash back for some of the items you purchased.
Every app/extension has its own rewards system, and it’s easy to find which works best for you. Either way, you are earning rewards on something you are already doing, like grocery shopping.
13. Be on the same page
I added this to the list of frugal living tips because it can really cost you both in the long run if you’re not on the same page.
Take, for example, one of you who wants to cut costs and dwindle down your monthly budget to save the most money.
If you’re not on the same page, your partner may feel the frugality in a negative way, and spend the money anyway. And they wouldn’t have necessarily done something wrong; they just weren’t on the same page as you.
The amount of damage that can do to a monthly budget is huge and can take a little while to recover from.
Because, as you try to make up for the overspending, the pattern could repeat itself. It might turn into a nasty cycle.
Being on the same page is crucial to living the financial life you both want.
14. Cut your monthly bills
The trick here is not to get complacent with your current providers.
When you search around for your providers, chances are you are finding the best deal at that time.
But over time, incentives and different discounts pop up, and you’re no longer getting the best deal.
15. Instead of lavish dates, try to go cheaper
Going out on a date is so darn expensive. But it doesn’t have to be!
Check out our list of some really fun and frugal ways to go out with your significant other here.
All of these ideas are $20 or less!
16. Buy used
When it makes sense, buying used can get you a great deal on things you need.
We did a lot of bargain hunting for some of our baby gear, our bicycles, household items, and other things to get great deals.
Another great deal on buying used is buying your vehicle used. From what I’ve heard, buying a car about 3-4 years old is the sweet spot.
Use platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, LetGo, and OfferUp to find some great deals.
17. Cut cable
This one was tough at first because I love HGTV and watching shows when they’re first out (instead of waiting for them to come to a streaming service like Netflix).
But the money it saved us each month definitely outweighed the negative for me! We saved almost $100/month just on our cable service alone.
You can subscribe to a couple of streaming services, or even use a TV antenna to pick up some local channels.
18. Sell things you don’t use
I like this idea because it gets rid of the clutter in your home and puts some extra money in your pocket.
We did this when we needed extra money to pay off debt.
But this also works great just to make your home more breathable, with less clutter. And it makes you appreciate the things you have more.
19. Pay off and get rid of your credit cards
We learned the hard way how much credit cards can hurt your finances.
Some only look at them for the perks (“free” points, credit score jump, etc.), but when you really weigh things out, these things are toxic.
If you’re able to pay off your credit card in full every month, then the toxicity level goes down quite a bit.
But if you carry any balance, or use it for anything you can’t afford, it makes it all not worth it.
Daily compounding interest on your balance is what makes so many people with credit cards fall into a dangerous trap (that’s what happened to us).
An emergency pops up where you need extra cash now and don’t have it, so you put it on the credit card.
Don’t let this happen to you.
That’s why I strongly advise against credit cards, and cutting them up, and paying them off ASAP! It ends up saving you money, especially if you’re not able to stay on top of it every month.
20. When you travel, travel cheaply
Some may think that frugal living means no travel. Think again!
I know travel can be really expensive. You have to think about getting to your destination (airfare, train, car, whatever method you choose), hotel stay, car rental, food, and any other things that you might need/want/forget.
We cut out travel when money was really tight and we focused on paying off debt. It was just a luxury we couldn’t afford.
Bonus: none of these guides mention using a credit card!
Bonus #2: check out the post on hotel stays to find out how to save a ton of money on things like food and laundry while staying at a hotel!
21. Try meatless dinner days
Oh, my husband was so against this. He’s a muscly guy who likes his protein in the form of meat.
But when things got hard and we needed to save money on our groceries, we decided to throw in a couple of nights a week of meatless dinners.
You know what? He didn’t hate it!
My favorite site to find all sorts of budget recipes, including meatless options, is Budget Bytes. Beth updates her site constantly with more recipes. It’s worth checking out.
22. Find coupons
Coupons are pretty darn easy to find these days.
You can go the old-fashioned route of clipping them from the newspaper or local ads. Or browse the vendor’s website for their coupons that week (I do this all the time while in the checkout line at Hobby Lobby!).
You can even use helpful apps that store coupons for you to pull up when you go shopping.
Couponing has never been easier.
23. Switch to LED light bulbs
These energy-efficient bulbs can last almost 21 times longer than their incandescent counterparts.
LED light bulbs cost more, of course, but make up for the price difference in just about three months of usage.
24. Buy in bulk
If there are items that make your grocery list every time you go to the store, it might make sense to buy those items in bulk.
Most times, buying in bulk can really save you some money!
Check out our in-depth comparison to see who has the best deals between Amazon and Costco here.
This really only works if there’s little chance of the item spoiling quickly. For example: if you buy grapes in small bags each time to go to the grocery store, it may or may not be beneficial to buy those in bulk. A small bag eaten in a week vs a 5-pound container that could spoil before you eat it all doesn’t save you money.
However, if you have a bigger freezer and can buy things like meat and frozen veggies, it could really save you in the long run!
Really think about it before purchasing though. Buying in bulk can be dangerous.
Just like with any store outing, you could end up buying something that’s not on your list. And when it’s at a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club, that can get wasteful and expensive quickly!
25. Use the cash envelope system
The cash envelope system goes hand-in-hand with our monthly budgeting.
We allocate a certain amount of money to categories like groceries, gas, and clothes in our budget. When we get a paycheck, we take money out of the bank and put that money in the appropriate envelope.
Once you run out of money, you’re out until the next paycheck. And if you need money for a category that’s out of money, you’ll have to take from something else.
It’s a great way to keep your budget in check and key to frugal living.
Before you say you don’t have a green thumb, know that my thumbs don’t have a spot of green to be found.
But again: YouTube (and online tutorials in general) can be an awesome resource.
We’re currently growing peppers, tomatoes, chives, and broccoli. Sure, I mess things up with how often to water, but I’m learning. And it’s rewarding to grow your own stuff!
Especially since you know what’s touched it (and more importantly, what hasn’t touched it).
I really like growing ours in containers, but you can also create a nice garden right in your yard (if you have one).
And if you have an abundance of vegetables and fruits, try canning or freezing your own food! Think green beans, tomatoes, berries, peaches, etc.
27. Move down to one car
I know this sounds like another super-frugal living tip. It’s not for everyone, but moving down to one car can save an incredible amount of money!
Think not only about the cost of the car, but maintenance, gas, and insurance on top of that.
If your family is able, moving down to one family vehicle can be a little inconvenient, but can save you hundreds of dollars every month in expenses.
28. Shop around and compare costs
It certainly takes more work to shop around before you buy. But you don’t necessarily have to go to each store to find out the best costs.
With the availability of stores’ products online these days, it’s easy to compare costs from the comfort of your home.
For example, I did a deep dive cost comparison of household staples between Costco and Amazon. All of it online!
29. Keep track of how much things cost
This one goes hand-in-hand with comparing costs. Keeping track of the cost of things tells you in the moment if you’re getting a good deal.
It might be helpful to keep a price journal to keep track of how much things cost, and where.
30. Buy generic as much as possible
Store brands are cheaper, and typically have the same make-up as the name brand!
If you can’t go completely store brand, try to at least go generic for things you are purchasing a lot of. Think pasta, cereals, frozen foods, and toiletries.
It might be a small amount per item, but those add up over time to serious savings.
31. Create a list before you head to the store… and stick to it!
We’re all guilty of not having a grocery list!
We overspent so much when we didn’t have a list to stick to. Even when we did have a list, we often bought things that looked good that weren’t on our list.
That got us into trouble.
Create a list before you head to the store, ideally over time to make sure you get everything you need. We have a Google device that we just tell to add certain things to our shopping list as we need them.
Then, once it’s time to shop, our list is basically already made!
32. Amazon trade-in opportunities
Amazon’s trade-in program allows you to trade in thousands of different items to receive an Amazon gift card in return.
It’s a great way to get rid of extra stuff lying around and build a little credit on Amazon for your future purchases.
33. Skip the dryer
One easy way to be more frugal is to skip the clothes dryer and dry your clothes using good ole’ Mother Nature.
We have a few ways we do this at our house. We bought a retractable clothesline for outside to hang our cloth diapers, but use it for other clothes too. I love retractable lines because I don’t like looking at a big clothesline outside!
For inside, we have two different methods. First, we have another retractable clothesline that spans our laundry room, but it can really fit anywhere in your house since it’s retractable! I seriously love it, and we use it all the time. Especially great when the weather’s not great outside.
The second we use, but not as often, is a rack that folds up and sits between our dryer and the wall. We mostly use it when we’re out of space on the clothesline.
Finally, to hang everything up, we bought these stainless steel clothespins. We chose stainless steel because we didn’t want them rusting in the sunshine when we used our outdoor line.
34. Try a spending freeze
You can choose how long you want to do it, but a spending freeze can be a great way to stash back some money!
Aside from saving money, each spending freeze really instills a new perspective on buying things. It starts to make you sit back and really think through purchases (especially large purchases) before you make them.
Spending freezes have been nothing but positive in my family!
Check out our post on the varieties of no spend challenges, as well as tips to maximize your savings.
35. Drink water
Not only is it healthier, but it’s also cheaper! Win-win!
Drinks like bottled soda and sugary sports drinks are already pretty unhealthy for you. But they are especially unhealthy for your budget.
Looking on Amazon, I’m seeing an 8 pack of Coke for $4.28. If you finish off a pack a week, it’s over $200/year for these sugary drinks.
If sports drinks are your thing instead, let’s look at the prices on Amazon again. A 12 pack of Gatorade is $14.25. If you finish that 12 pack in two weeks, you’re paying almost $400 in Gatorade alone for the year.
Almost $400, you guys!
You’re not only saving yourself hundreds of dollars, but you’re saving yourself the unneeded sugar.
36. Avoid convenience foods
These destroyed our budget when we were paying off our debt!
It was one of our most frequent money fights was my husband (not to call him out!) going to the gas station for little, less than $5 trips for sodas and snacks.
Those small trips, that don’t hurt in the moment, add up over time.
Another culprit is grabbing fast food on the way home if you’re feeling too tired to cook dinner.
I totally understand that, since it’s happened to us on several occasions. But since fast food is marked up a considerable amount, you’re paying quite a bit for the convenience!
37. Shop thrift stores
I love love love thrift and resale shops.
We have some great resale shops around here that have fun and unique things at them. Not just stuff you find in bulk at your local Target!
We also like to shop at thrift shops for clothing. We just did some winter cloth shopping for our daughter at Once Upon a Time, where we purchased 4 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, and a jacket for just under $50! That’s such an awesome deal.
If you don’t want to buy secondhand, you could also check out your local TJ Maxx or Marshalls.
38. Turn down the water heater
According to energy.gov, turning your water heater down to 120F can save anywhere from $30 to over $400 per year.
Check your dishwasher’s manual though, since it may or may not need a higher temperature point to function effectively.
39. Take longer between washing your hair
It saves water (money!) and having to buy shampoo and conditioner (more money!).
I’ve slowly moved from washing my hair every day to washing it every 4-5 days, depending on what time of year it is. If it’s summer, it might be every 4 days. In the winter, I could get away with 5, or even 6 days!
It’s seriously saved so much in shampoo and conditioner.
40. Keep up with household maintenance
It costs significantly less to keep your appliances, vehicles, and household systems maintained than having to replace a neglected system.
We like to have any maintenance we do on a family calendar. That way, a reminder pops up letting us know it’s time to either schedule or perform some maintenance.
There’s our list of frugal living tips!
Are you already practicing frugal living? Do you have any frugal living tips that didn’t show up here? What has saved you the most money over time?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!