Amy has been an online writer for several years. Her goal as a writer is to spread as much knowledge as she can about saving money.
Why Being Frugal Can Be Good
Time and effort often take the place of money and high-paying jobs. I have been a master at thrifty living for quite a few years now. It has not always been because I needed to, but because I love to. I believe in not wasting things and enjoy living a simple, more peaceful life.
Being frugal helps me afford to be very generous with others because I am good at living efficiently. My favorite things are reusing, up-cycling, and being creative with my life. It adds richness to my daily routine and helps me appreciate the joy and peacefulness of simple things.
The following are 95 of my best thrifty living tricks. You will find great ideas that not only save you money but time and energy as well. I also have some tips that will help you earn more money.
DIY applies to everything in your household when you are trying to save money. You may not realize how many items you are wasting your hard-earned money on that are unnecessary and harmful to your family.
- Laundry detergent is very expensive. You can actually make your own for only $30 per year for a family of four. DIY laundry detergent works on all clothes and dissolves in cold water. You only need one tablespoon per load. We have been brainwashed by commercials that we need pricey laundry detergent to get our clothes clean. This is a marketing lie. There are many DIY laundry detergent recipes online. I have tried most of them, and they all work great.
- Beauty treatments cost people a lot of money. It is easy to make your own scrubs for pennies as well as your own moisturizers that are chemical and alcohol-free. Most lotions and creams that contain alcohol and other chemicals keep your skin dry, so you are forced to use more of their products. Make your own homemade treatments!
- There is no need for ten different bottles of home cleaners to keep your home clean and looking its best. In fact, many of these store brand cleansers are known to cause cancer. Make your own home cleaners that work even better. There are many recipes online.
- Buy a jar of extra virgin coconut oil. This is a multi-use beauty item that serves as an excellent treatment for your hair and face. It may be used to make a homemade conditioner or as a skin treatment by just applying a little bit to your face as an intense moisturizer. If you mix it with sugar and salt, it creates an awesome exfoliating facial scrub, better and safer than any store-bought brand.
- Make your own soap! Learning to make soap is fun. There are many recipes online; you can even make them in a Crockpot. The upfront investment is a little expensive; it would cost you about $30 for a 3 lb. batch. Regardless, the 3 lb. batch will make dozens of soap bars that will last longer than the store-bought ones and are a lot better for your family's skin. Some soaps are as cheap as $1 a bar, but they dissolve fast and are of very low quality. Homemade soap lasts forever; one batch will last your family a year!
- Conditioners are another great thing you can make at home. Expensive hair conditioners are unnecessary and don't work any better. You can still get shiny and healthy hair with a conditioner made at home. Conditioners made at home cost a fraction of what conditioners purchased at a salon cost. Homemade conditioners have no chemicals that strip your hair color or leave icky build-up.
Treats and Splurging
We all have to splurge sometimes and treat ourselves good. It's better to splurge on an experience rather than a thing. Memory is more valuable than a thing. Would you rather have a thing made out of plastic rather than a day trip to somewhere you haven't been before? Be careful with money spent on treating yourself; make it meaningful for you and your family.
Homemade gifts aren't cheap and are often treasured more than store-bought ones. One year I purchased some beautiful items for my mother at a yard sale and the dollar store and made her a homemade basket. My relatives went crazy for the basket more than any other store-bought gift I have ever given. The basket only cost me $15!
Gifts you make at home are more appreciated than cheaply made store-bought ones that have a lack of love and personal style in them. There are many ideas for homemade gifts online.
Food Shopping and Cooking
There is a lot of waste in households when it comes to groceries and poor eating habits. Check out how we shave down our bills each year.
Invest in these items upfront, and they will save you cash in the long term:
- Green bags for produce are the best! These bags are cheap and efficient. You can find them in any dollar store or Walmart for a few dollars. They will double the life of your produce, cheese, and bread.
- Bread machines are an awesome way to save time and your hard-earned cash. It's better to make your mixes from scratch than purchase store-bought ones. There are a million recipes online. You can do other things while the machine does the work for you.
- A food dehydrator is one of the best investments you can make. With it, you can make your own snacks, such as dried fruit or trail mix and jerky, to name a few. It helps preserve your food from an at-home garden into things like "sundried tomatoes," which may be stored for a few months. These types of foods are more flavorful and nutritious.
- Plastic food containers keep dried goods fresh longer. Sugar. flour, oatmeal, rice, cereal, beans, and so much more can be stored in these containers with airtight seals. They also keep bugs out and help your dried goods from getting moisture in them. They keep everything more flavorful.
- If you have extra room in your home, a deep freezer is a great idea. You can throw together frozen meals that can be quickly cooked for dinner. You can also use them to store items when they are on sale, like vegetables and meat, so you can freeze them for use later.
- Crockpots and slow cookers are every thrifty person's kitchen items. You can use them in the summer months rather than your stove to reduce your electricity bill. They work great all year by allowing you to put meals together in the morning and have them ready when you get back later. Crockpot meals can be made ahead, frozen, and can be put on low for an easy meal on a busy night.
- Food processors are a great tool for cutting time in the kitchen. They allow you to chop a lot of veggies ahead of time and store them for easy use. Pre-chopped produce is very expensive, it's three times the amount of money you would spend on something you can throw in your food processor.
Tricks for Shopping at the Grocery Store
- If you buy produce, buy it fresh and locally. In most areas, people get a better deal at roadside markets rather than the supermarket. Purchase it fresh, then freeze it or can it for the winter months.
- If you are not able to purchase fresh veggies, it's better to buy frozen and not canned. Frozen veggies are more nutritious and better for you.
- The best place to shop is your windowsill, patio, or backyard. Grow as much food of your own as you possibly can. Store-bought produce is expensive and has pesticides on it. It isn't the freshest produce which makes its nutritional value reduced. Even apartment dwellers can grow plants in smaller containers. Herbs, tomatoes, and peppers are very easy to grow in containers and can provide a vast amount so that you can freeze, can, or dry them for later use. If you have a decent size gardening area, an organic straw bale garden is the easiest to start and take care of.
- Beware of coupons. Sometimes they persuade you to purchase products that you don't need. I know most extreme couponers would advise you otherwise, but coupons should be used rarely on the items you normally purchase and need.
- Think about joining a co-op. Co-ops allow you to save money by buying items in large amounts once a month. Many communities across the United States have co-ops. The only unfortunate thing about them is that there isn't much variety involved. Basically you receive what is in season and currently on sale; it is a great way to stock up and put items in your freezer.
- Don't use price as an excuse to engage in poor eating habits. You may be saving on junk food, but it will cost you in the long term. Bad health often leads to lost wages, medical costs, and sometimes complete financial disaster. Saving on junk food now can affect your future in a negative way.
- Make sure you run an inventory on the food you have in your pantry etc. This is a great way to see what you need and avoid waste. It's a great tool to avoid over-purchasing. Many times it's difficult to see what you have in the back of your pantry or freezer. Making sure you control your inventory will stop waste and needless spending.
- Only purchase items in bulk if you can use them before they go bad. It doesn't pay to purchase a 20-bag of flour if you can't use it before it spoils. Think about what you actually need, not just the price of the item. When you throw away food, you are throwing away money.
- There are a lot of big chains out there that advertise awesome sales and promotions. When you buy only the sale items at that particular store and get the remainder of your food items at the least expensive store, you can save tons of money.
Stockpiling Done Correctly
Stockpiling is great for people that work on a seasonal basis or want to be fully prepared for lean times in their household. When stockpiling is done the right way it can work wonders in saving a lot of money.
- Use a certain amount of money (like $15 per month) to add to your personal stockpile just in case your family encounters a financial crisis such as a job loss. Some great things to add to your stockpile when they are on sale would be shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant, rechargeable batteries, and ingredients for household cleaning products.
- Don't confuse stockpiling with hoarding. You should have a stockpile that includes items your household can use within one year's time. There is no need for a basement full of toilet paper just because you found it on sale; that would be a waste of time and space.
- Use good judgment when making your stockpile, be efficient with your time and space and use common sense when starting and keeping track of it.
- People that live in small homes may also stockpile. You could store items in containers under your bed or in your pantry. The most important thing is that you know the areas where everything is kept.
- Make sure you keep a list of inventory and cross out what you need and add.
- Always use good labelling when organizing your stockpile. Keep a clipboard and inventory sheet posted in storage areas and pantry. This enables you to take a quick look at the sheet and see what you need for your weekly shopping trip.
Saving Money on Clothing
If you have growing children, you might want to start a clothing exchange group with fellow mothers. Kids outgrow their clothes pretty quickly and don't get much use out of brand-new clothes. If you are a part of a clothing exchange group, you can dress your kids for free.
There are many consignment stores out there that have the latest styles for kids. You can trade in slightly used items for a store credit and use the credit to purchase more clothing in the store. This is an awesome way to save money on your kid's clothes and you have a bigger selection than any overpriced store in the mall. There are also many adult second-hand clothing stores that work the same way.
Many thrift stores and garage sales are also fantastic places to buy clothes for your kids. You may also purchase a size-up for your kids so that they can be ready for the next season. I have scored some great deals on clothing at garage sales and have used them in my clothing exchange group.
Second-hand stores are also a magnificent place to find purses, shoes, and jewelry. Accessories are fun and can be made into something reflecting your own style.
Entertainment and Hobbies
- Utilize your backyard! Basic things such as foliage and flowers may be turned into some beautiful projects.
- If you live near the ocean, collect seashells and create any beachy décor items such as custom picture frames and mirrors.
- Think about all the time you spend in front of the tv. Television is a giant and a huge time and energy robber. Netflix is a great time saver when it comes to tv. There are no commercials, and they have a variety of programs to watch.
- Utilize your library. The library is the best resource out there when it comes to reading, learning, and viewing free programs. Libraries are fun and interesting; they also instill a passion for learning in kids when you take them there routinely.
- Start a group of people that are interested in exchanging coupons, sharing craft supplies, or whatever other ideas you all can come up with to save money together. It's free, and you can start it up on meetup.com. If you are already part of a group in your community, you can start a hobby group and share knowledge and supplies for it. Hobby groups are not pricey and are healthy for our minds as they provide an outlet in our lives.
Energy Can Be Saved
- Good curtains are a must-buy when trying to save money on energy. Light-blocking and insulated curtains keep your home cooler in the summer months and hold in heat in the winter. Buying the right curtains can reduce home energy consumption and, in return, save you a lot of money on your energy bills.
- Zone heating and cooling is a great thing to do in your home. You can do this by heating and cooling the main living areas in your home during the day and switching to the bedrooms only during the night.
- Unplug items in your home when you aren't using them, and make sure you shut down your computers at night. Over time, you will save a lot of cash on electricity. It has reduced my electric bills by 10% each year.
- Seal your home's foundation annually. Block cracks around older windows to avoid heat and cold loss. This is an inexpensive thing to do and will save you a lot of money.
- LED lighting and CFL bulbs are a great way to go when trying to save energy and money. You spend more upfront but save more in the long run. It is best to use CFL bulbs in places where you have the lights on for a long period of time. CFL bulbs aren't good for places where you turn the lights on and off quickly; it reduces the bulbs.
- Purchase an inexpensive cleaning brush and use it every few months in your dryer lint trap and for the rear coils on your fridge. It extends the life of your appliances and helps them run more efficiently.
- Make draft blockers for the bottom of the doors in your home. Use can use thin pool noodles found at most dollar stores. Cut the foam in half and slide it under the door so that it wraps around the bottom. You'll be very surprised at how much this cuts your energy bills. My friend sews homemade bean bags that are the same length as the door and keep them in front.
- When it's time to purchase a new appliance or electronics, make sure you look for energy-efficient items only. Maintain all of your appliances to keep them running efficiently. This rule applies to everything, including computers, refrigerators, washing machines, and tvs.
Think Before You Throw It Away
- There are such things out there that you might be throwing away that could be helpful to your life. Broken-up eggshells are great to use in your garden around garden. The shells will provide nutrients and drive away bugs. Things such as dryer lint can be used for clay and homemade paper projects. Coffee grinds have a vast amount of uses. They can exfoliate the skin, reduce cellulite, feed roses, and other plants, to name a few.
- Before you throw something out, ask yourself if you should really be doing it. Is there another use for it? The landfills in the United States are a huge problem because of mindless garbage being thrown away. Reusing and recycling items can save you money and save our earth.
- If there is room in your backyard, start a compost pile. It will turn your trash into beautiful fertilizer that will transform your garden into something amazing.
- Pass your items onto those who may need them. It is also good to try and find items you need for free from neighbors, friends, and family. Freecycle.org is a great website to check up on, and see if freecycling is available in your area.
Make Your Health Your #1 Priority
Exercising and eating well are very important when it comes to frugal living. Medical bills are a huge expense, and many illnesses and disorders are due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Our bodies are not made to process all of the chemicals and bad things in junk food. Health issues such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are often preventable and can cause financial ruin for a lot of families. Even with insurance co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses still pile up.
Exercise will give you more energy and make your mind more focused and happy. It is free and can be done in many different ways. Exercise will make you enjoy your life more and your family as well. It will provide you with more time and energy because you have made yourself your top priority. More money and time will be awarded to you if you do everything you can to prevent some of these diseases.
Always see your doctor for regular check-ups. Mammograms, physicals, and other doctor-recommended exams should be part of your life. Prevention is always the best medicine.
Purchase a quality multivitamin to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need. A lot of cheap vitamins sold at stores result in pricey urine because your body isn't processing them correctly. Whole foods vitamins work better. They are a little more expensive than the store brands but are still affordable. Amazon has great prices on them.
Don't smoke, and keep alcohol drinking to a minimum. These poor habits are very expensive and bad for your health and well-being.
The Best Stores for Saving
- Dollar General is great because they are a discount store that also takes coupons. They have many personal care products for a lot less than grocery stores.
- Dollar Tree is great for wrapping and party supplies. Their gift bags are only 50 cents; other stores charge twice as much.
- Aldi's is an awesome store for grocery staple items. Produce, cereal, and milk are less expensive at this store.
- Health food stores are the best place to go for bulk herbs. I have saved a lot of money purchasing my herbs at my local health food store.
Buying Things Online Can Be Easier on Your Wallet
I am a big fan of Amazon Prime. It's $79 every year but is a good investment. You can purchase both big and small items for your home with no sales tax and shipping costs. Trust me, it adds up!
Buying online can also help you research items and save time and money on gas.
Best Things to Buy Online
- Bulk grocery and drug store items
- Rechargeable batteries
- Home improvement supplies
- Computers and electronics
- Book and games
Amazon is incredible for home projects. There are some organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity that sell home improvement supplies for less than retail. You can go on their website to see if they have a location in your area.
Flea Markets and Yard Sales
There are a lot of yard sales and flea markets going on in both Spring and Fall. Communities usually hold town-wide yard sales, and churches hold a lot of these types of sales as well. I always make sure I get to the larger sales as early as I can.
Great Items to Buy at a Yard Sale
- Home Decor
- Games & Toys
My Last Words!
I have witnessed the law of attraction both in a negative and positive way in my own life personally. When we view living thrifty as a negative "poor" practice in our lives, we can fail with it. When we think we don't have enough, we seem to never have enough. In our minds, we convince ourselves that we are barely making it, and that is what will basically follow us in our life.
On the other hand, when we approach living thrifty as a personal goal and a beautiful accomplishment, it makes us feel fulfilled and free up more resources around us, causing our lives to be more abundant and richer in many ways. We can start appreciating what we have. Living thrifty becomes more creative and like a game. We find more ways to save.
Don't focus on what you don't want, for example, deep debt and never-ending bills. Focus on what you do want; for example, being organized and in control of your own dreams and being at peace with your life. By thinking differently, plan how you will attract more money and make more money as well. Have a mindset of abundance and not being "poor."
Sit down and try to come up with ideas to make $50. Maybe you have some items in your home that you don't use anymore; you can sell some things on eBay for quick cash. Maybe you are good at doing crafts and can make something to sell on Etsy. Be creative and be amazed at how many things you can think of to make $50. Once you start doing this, you will be motivated to keep up with it. You can turn it into a work-at-home job. Think creatively, and money will flow towards you.
Frugality has a lot to do with doing research and having a positive attitude.
Please feel free to comment on this article with any of your own ideas!
© 2015 Amy
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on July 06, 2020:
I can't begin to tell you how much I love this article about "Thrifty Living." I'm all for it. And as you point out in your final words, "when we approach living thrifty as a personal goal and a beautiful accomplishment it makes us feel fulfilled and free up more resources around us causing your life to be more abundant and richer in many ways. We can start appreciating what we have."
Thank you for these helpful suggestions.
Mary Wickison from USA on November 28, 2017:
Excellent ideas. Where I live there aren't many 'bargain stores' such as Dollar Tree etc. which is a shame. We use and reuse things many times over here on our farm.
I like your idea about the Law of Attraction. Seeing being frugal as resourceful. We plan to buy a sailboat so all of this will come in very useful as we will be adapting our skills we have learned here to life on a boat.
Amy (author) from East Coast on June 20, 2017:
Making my own laundry detergent have saved us a ton of cash. There are plenty of recipes out there. Also, it is even better if you add laundry fragrance crystals.
Geri McClymont on June 19, 2017:
Thank you for sharing these practical ideas for thrifty living. I especially want to start making my own laundry detergent and soap! I agree with you that living frugally results in more personal peace and joy. Great article and thanks again for sharing.
Claudette Coleman Carter from Media, Pennsylvania on March 10, 2017:
Nice job. Appreciate the information.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on November 22, 2016:
Amy, this is all good advice. My wife and I already practice most of these tips and would practice more of them if we had a house and yard. A new to me tip is the pool noodles one.
Two sites for comparison book shopping are bookfinderDOTcom and addallDOTcom.
I buy most of my clothes at the local Salvation Army store. Each week a different color of price tag drops to half-price, and on Saturdays those prices drop to 69¢. That is what my good-as-new shirts, pants, and winter coat cost me each. The most thrifty thrift shops differ from town to town. I used to live where the St. Vincent DePaul store had the best deals overall.
Janellegems on November 04, 2016:
These are awesome, amazing thrify tips. I especially like the ones to make your own soap, laundry detergent, conditioners and beauty treatments and home cleaners. These can save a lot of money.
Glenis Rix on Hub Pages on October 13, 2016:
Great hub. A lady who shares my approach to life! I bought some coconut oil a few months ago. It's very cheap and lasts for ages. It's solid when cold but becomes liquid when it becomes warm or touches the skin. I hadn't thought of using it to exfoliate but strangely, when taking my shower this morning, I was thinking about mixing some olive oil and salt - which I have done in the past.
I'm a great fan of store loyalty cards. I save up the points and use them for Christmas treats.
Tiana Dreymor from Columbus, OH on May 14, 2016:
You couldn't do 5 more? Hee hee...
I think I could have wrote this. Or maybe I did already. One of my latest articles is on the 10 years of Living Tiny... that's the title I used if you care to look it up.
This is a good hub. So many people are careless about what they throw away. True... I've furnished my house from the alley. And I'm proud of it.