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35 Money-Saving Tips for Frugal Living

Shelley loves sharing her tips on saving money and living frugally.

The best money-saving tips for a frugal life

The best money-saving tips for a frugal life

Simple Living: The Make-Do Mentality

Most of us have, in some way, attempted to rein in our lifestyle, live more frugally, and make do with less. To some of us, reining in our lifestyle means to travel more simply; to others, it means an additional paring of the everyday budget.

Why should we rethink our spending habits? Should we make frugality a part of our normal life rather than something put into practice when times are tough?

Living simply, or frugally, allows you to spend less than you earn. For years most of us have been spending more than we earn! Now what we save can be put aside to pay off that debt, save or invest.

Another way of looking at simple living would be that the less you spend, the less you need to earn. This could mean you can work less and spend more time with your family or more time doing what you want to do. Or it may mean you can retire earlier.

10 Ways to Rethink Your Spending

  1. Cut down on daily travel expenses. Could your family cope with one car? It's your most expensive item, and its value doesn’t appreciate. Share or carpool on school or sport runs, and do the same or use public transport to the office. This is a two-fold saving opportunity: the cost of a second vehicle and the gas.
  2. Re-evaluate the home in which you live. Is it what you need? Even though you can afford a larger house, don’t buy one just because you don't have enough space. If you ensure that clutter does not build up, the space you need can be smaller and still remarkably comfortable.
  3. Think also about renting your home rather than owning it. Calculate the interest paid on the bond and the cost of insurance and maintenance. It may prove cheaper to rent, and you could be well ahead in the financial stakes in the long run.
  4. Buy secondhand or used. If you truly need something, why not see if somebody has one they don’t use or look at or
  5. Eat out less. This is obviously one of the biggest expenses, as it is so much cheaper to cook your own food! Especially if you do a menu for each week, buy only what is needed, and incorporate leftovers into the following days’ meal.
  6. 6. Take homemade lunch—be it sandwiches, rolls or salad—to work in order to avoid that lunch expense which mounts up over a month.
  7. Have a look at your shopping habits. Online purchasing can make impulse buying too easy. If you go to the shops or mall, ensure you have a list, firmly stick to the list, and then leave. Wandering around as a form of entertainment can end up costing you. Personally, I send my husband to shop for me, that way I get only what’s on the list and no extras!
  8. Curb impulse buying by having a weekly list. When you want to buy something that is not a necessity, put it on the list with the date. Ensure you do not buy this article until seven days are up. It is surprising how something you absolutely needed becomes a "no I don’t want that at all."
  9. Cut out cable: this will save money. Look at Netflix, or use your local library to rent DVDs.
  10. Seek free entertainment. As often as possible, try concessions at the movies, or look for inexpensive family fun.

Ideas for Free Family Fun

  • Go on a hike
  • Have a sunset picnic at the park or on the beach
  • Go to a museum or a zoo
  • Make playdough from scratch, or make hand-painted T-shirts
  • Play in the rain and make mud pies
  • Have kids make their own flower or vegetable garden

10 Tips on Exercise, Vices, and Credit Cards

  1. Exercise. This is extremely beneficial, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Walk, cycle and take the stairs instead of the elevator. I believe 10,000 steps a day will keep you quite fit, so purchase a pedometer and see what you can achieve!
  2. Sell your clutter by holding a garage sale or putting it on eBay. It's amazing what people will buy.
  3. Presents can cost a lot of money, but giving can be done inexpensively. Make something: cookies, a pie, or if you are "craftily blessed", a keepsake. Another idea is to give family members an experience as a gift: a trip in a hot air balloon, scuba diving lessons, a trip around a racetrack with a professional. Christmas is expensive, so start buying gifts early; that way, you are not courting a huge bill at Christmas.
  4. Quit smoking. I know it is difficult, but I have done it, as have many others. Add up what your habit costs you annually, including the coffee, soda or beer that goes with it: probably around $2000 per year, depending on how heavily you smoke.
  5. Drink in moderation. Cut down on drinking for health as well as monetary reasons. Or perhaps you could brew your own beer?
  6. Drink water to save on calories and save the cost of sodas, juices, and coffee.
  7. Batch your errands. Try to do all your errands at once using the most efficient routes to save gas and time.
  8. Use credit cards if you can make them work for you by paying them off in full every month. If you cannot do this, cut them up and pay them off.
  9. Cancel magazine subscriptions. There is a wealth of information online, so only buy the magazine if there is something in that issue you need to read. Not every issue of every magazine is of interest to you.
Make whatever you can, rather than buy.

Make whatever you can, rather than buy.

11 Tips on Planning, Saving Energy, and Cooking

  1. Either do it yourself or make it yourself. If you are not sure, look it up online. Admittedly, some problems are difficult and require a professional, but most tasks around the home can be conquered with time and effort. You are rewarded with satisfaction and money saved!
  2. Convenience foods: Frozen or microwaveable foods, or anything packaged and prepared, are, as you know, much more expensive. So try to replace them with fresh food and staples.
  3. Travel frugally. Air travel is usually the most expensive and this cost can be reduced by buying in advance when a sizeable deal comes up. Train travel is excellent, and if you are hiring a car, shop around as hiring rates vary enormously.
  4. Be careful with your cell phone: data bundles and SMS costs can be expensive. Regularly check your bill and see where you can cut back.
  5. Maintenance: If you take care of what you have, it will last longer, and you will save money by not replacing items unnecessarily. If something requires regular maintenance, such as the car or the lawnmower, schedule the maintenance. Oil changes and servicing for your car will be most beneficial for the longevity of your engine.
  6. Saving energy and gas. Think about what you can do to lower the power bill in your home; small things can add up to significant savings. Pull furniture away from radiators for better circulation; only boil the water you need in the kettle i.e., don't fill it for one cup of coffee. Switch of chargers when not in use as they do drain a small amount of electricity. Ensure the geyser is well insulated, and the temperature is not set too high, about 60deg C is sufficient.
  7. Buy your casual clothes at sales or from the marked-down rack.
  8. Make it a habit to plan ahead, and you can save a lot of money. Look ahead at birthdays and purchase presents at sales.
  9. Cook ahead. If you have one free day a week, or month, batch cook food and freeze in dinner-size portions. Ensure it fits in with your menu for grocery shopping, and that way, there is something ready if you're busy or too tired to go shopping and then cook.
  10. Sun-dry clothes instead of using the dryer. Hanging your clothes up on the line is reasonably quick, and the clothes last longer and smell fresher.
  11. Try to make one or two meals a week meatless: pasta, vegetarian chilli, falafels with hummus and pitas, or some Thai dishes.

5 Washing and Cooking Tips

  1. Add washing soda to your washing powder to make it go further.
  2. Use half the amount of washing product and softener in your machine. It works just as well and does not clog up your machine. I always add water to the softener bottle and mix it 50:50, water to softener. The clothes are happier, and softener lasts twice as long.
  3. Slow cookers do save you time, money and washing up. Prepare the meal the night before, place in the slow cooker in the fridge overnight. Before leaving for work, switch on the cooker at the right temperature; when you arrive home, the kitchen smells of your delicious meal, and you don't have to cook!
  4. Use lentils to bulk out dishes based on mince or ground meat. Oats are another good bulking food. Powdered potato can also be used to thicken soups and stews.
  5. Pasta and risotto are inexpensive and fill one up. A hearty minestrone soup is a great way of using up leftover vegetables; bulk it out with macaroni. Polenta is another very cheap, delicious and nutritious staple.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Jacobb9205 on March 04, 2015:

CyberShelley, No problem :)

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Read More From Toughnickel

Shelley Watson (author) on March 03, 2015:

Jacobb9205, So glad you stopped by - thank you.

Jacobb9205 on February 17, 2015:

Thank you for the tips, I appreciate it!

ElleBee on August 18, 2014:

Great ideas! I am always looking to save money in general, and right now I am getting more intense about it as I am to pay off a lot of debt. Definitely will be trying some of these tips.

Shelley Watson (author) on July 30, 2013:

Victoria Lynn, thank so much for stopping by and adding substance to my hub.

caseymel, Thank you for visiting. There is nothing quite like the taste of tomatoes picked straight off the vine, delicious.

Melanie Casey from Indiana on July 29, 2013:

I have a tomato plant and a few pepper plants. I don't have to buy tomatoes or peppers all summer long, plus I know they are pesticide free. There's nothing like freshly picked vegetables!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 29, 2013:

This is great! I do a lot of these things. I use less product in the water, usually, but I think I'll try adding water as you mentioned to make sure I don't forget! I used to mostly use my slow cooker in the winter for warm meals, but I've found that it's great in the summer. It saves on electricity and doesn't heat up the house, thus saving even more on the a/c bill. I even made banana bread in it! Thanks for a great hub!

moonlake from America on July 03, 2013:

Great ideas. Voted up and shared.

Shelley Watson (author) on March 20, 2013:

Jackie, Thank you so much for stopping by and adding the really useful tip on fabric softener sheets. I really appreciate you taking the time to tell us how to do it.

Jackie on March 17, 2013:

I have some home knit reusable fabric softener sheets. I have alread diluted my softener liquid in 1/2 (or more and still works great). I ten add the diluted fabric softener to a folgers coffee canister -- to the tune of 1/2 oz to 1 oz and then I add about 1 and 1/2 cup water to this and add the "sheets" (you can use cut up face clothes or other "rags") to the water. Remove and squeese out excess liquid. Afgans need more liquid in the sheets than other materials. Most of my laundry gets hung up on clothes dryer racks and a fan put on them (when needed).

Shelley Watson (author) on January 04, 2013:

KerryAnita, Thank you for popping in.

Shiley, Glad you stopped by and for adding the info about the homemade laundry soap - good to know.

Rumintasari, sorry to hear business is tough though usually the beginning of the year is a slow start. Not a bad idea to lower your expenses as when your business improves you'll have funds for the fun stuff in your life!

Ruminta Sari from Sleman on January 04, 2013:

thanks for the useful article, business is tougher lately, need to start thinking about lower my expenses.

Karen Shiley from Washington on January 04, 2013:

This is a very useful article. I also try to live frugally and am teaching my children frugal living skills. A few months ago I started making my own homemade laundry soap after reading about it on one of the hubpages. It works just fine for us, and for tough stains I still use a commercial stain remover. I know this saves us a lot of money.

KerryAnita from Satellite Beach, Florida on January 02, 2013:

Great Suggestions!

Shelley Watson (author) on October 21, 2012:

sereseus, Thank you so much for visiting and the great comment. Much appreciated.

Deepak Chaturvedi, Thank you for stopping and commenting, I appreciate your views very much.

Deepak Chaturvedi from New Delhi, India on October 21, 2012:

Nice money saving tips.This is informative and useful.Thanks to tell the people how to live with minimum money spend.Thanks to share.

Albin Pius from kerala,India on October 21, 2012:

Great tips you have here.I realize that you are a great thinker.Keep up the good work.

freecampingaussie from Southern Spain on September 18, 2012:

This is a really good hub with some great ideas . I have always mainly bought second hand clothes / other items & always dry clothes on the line !

Shelley Watson (author) on September 16, 2012:

vespawoolf, Thank you so much for visiting and I am so glad you like this series.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 16, 2012:

I love your frugal living series. These are great tips and it makes for a healthier lifestyle as well. Frugality never hurt anyone! : ) Voted up and shared.

healthylife2 on August 02, 2012:

I found these tips extremely useful since we are on a tight budget this year. I think making a list for impulse buying is a great idea. We are finding inexpensive ways to enjoy the Summer and have probably spent more time together than ever and are enjoying it!

monicamelendez from Salt Lake City on August 02, 2012:

I've seen a few super useful hubs that you've created now Shelley!

Shelley Watson (author) on July 24, 2012:

Urmilashukla23, Thank you for stopping by and the comments!

Rebecca2904, Renting is not throwing you money away, especially if this is not a long term stop for you. If you take into account the mortgage interest rate charged, the utilities, electricty, water, gas etc. and the cost of maintenance. Then weigh that figure up against, putting that money into an investment. Also what must be brought into the equation is real rise in property value for the area in which you are interested. The rise in property value is more than likely less than the interest the bank charges on its Loan. Hope this helps, Thanks for visiting.

healthylife2, Great comments, so glad you stopped by!

healthylife2 on July 24, 2012:

very helpful tips! Changing my diet and eliminating processed foods has helped me spend less on food but I will have to work on that impulse buying and think cooking ahead more is a great idea.

Rebecca on July 20, 2012:

Interesting hub! I guess you might say we live quite frugally - we don't have a car because we can reach everywhere we need to go by bike, and I always try to only buy clothes in the sale. I was interested to see that renting instead of buying your house was one of your tips - we rent, because we're not planning on staying here forever, but a few of our friends own their houses because they think renting is just like throwing money away. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this?

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on July 14, 2012:

Excellent tips. Well written and voted up!

Shelley Watson (author) on July 12, 2012:

RTalloni, Thank you for stopping by, and I agree it is going to be so important in the near future.

RTalloni on July 11, 2012:

Your frugal living tips are tops, and important in this economy.

Shelley Watson (author) on July 09, 2012:

Tari, thank you for sharing. You are quite right, eating out is horribly expensive especially if you think what one meal out costs compared to groceries you can buy for the same amount.

Tari from New Zealand on July 09, 2012:

I recently did an exercise with my finances are realised I spent more money on eating out than anything else followed by petrol costs. Isn't it ridiculous what you throw your money away on? Will I give up on my mochachino? No. However I will buy the ones you have in grocery store for the same amount you would spend on one coffee and get 10 sachets instead.. that right there, is a saving.. lol

Shelley Watson (author) on July 08, 2012:

DDE, yes you are right, thanks for stopping by.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 08, 2012:

Awesome tips from you live with what you can afford, the best and easy way

Shelley Watson (author) on July 08, 2012:

ChristyWrites, I agree sometimes I can actually improve on what the restaurant makes, which makes sooo self-satisfied!

Zionsphere, yes a lot of people are struggling, but what is so good about it is even when you start rolling in money, the advice is still good - we don't need to waste just because we can!

Rebeccamealey. I also gave up cigarettes just over two years now, and what a difference to the budget - the money saved goes toward a great holiday!

Shelley Watson (author) on July 08, 2012:

jdnyc, Caseymel, Sadie 423, Thank you so much for stopping here - appreciate your visits!

Just Helen, I tried wash balls many years ago and they were awful, I will now try again as they have obviously improved. Thanks for the great tip!

Reptilia, Ha Ha my son is at college so I know what you mean - great you stopped by, look forward to reading more of your work!

Rachel on July 07, 2012:

Thanks for your comments on my hubs. Some of these tips are great. I'm a college student so frugal living is pretty much all I do, but I haven't thought of some of these. Air-drying my laundry would save me quite a few quarters! :)

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on July 05, 2012:

I love your ideas. As a work-at-home writer/artist, I definitely have learned to cut where I can. At least until I make some money. Hehe. But, I saved and paid everything off so that I could work at home. Your tips are sound - I do many of them myself. :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 05, 2012:

Great ideas, excellent Hub! I too quit smoking a couple of years ago. I sure noticed a difference in my budget! Thanks, Cyber Shelly!

zionsphere from Oregon on July 05, 2012:

Voted up a useful! These are all great tips. Very timely hub. It seems like just about everyone s struggling to make ends meet right now.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on July 05, 2012:

I eat out a lot less than I used to and it does save me money. And at the end of the day I don't even miss it! You have a great list here.

just helen from Dartmoor UK on July 03, 2012:

Hi Shelley! Thanks for commenting on my healthy Eating on a Budget hub!

This hub is really useful too. Have you discovered wash balls? I have been using one for the past 2 months now and it is fantastic. It only cost me £4 ($6) so has already saved me loads of money.

I will vote this hub up!


Shelley Watson (author) on July 02, 2012:

2patricias. Thank you for the good ideas - I must also stay out of the shop to avoid impulse buys.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on July 02, 2012:

A very useful list (voted up).

I do one big grocery shop (on line) per month. In between I have a weekly box of vegetables delivered, plus a dozen fresh eggs. I find that I spend less, and eat just as well. Why? I have to plan ahead, and also I am not tempted to buy things on impulse.

sadie423 from North Carolina on July 01, 2012:

Great tips!

Melanie Casey from Indiana on June 30, 2012:

Great tips! I am always looking for ways to save money.

Shelley Watson (author) on June 30, 2012:

Hi Lou, glad the ideas are useful. Thanks.

JR from California on June 30, 2012:

Great list!

LouTucci on June 30, 2012:

Dear Shelley, I can't tell you how much I appreciated this Hub! I already utilize some of these but you've given me even more ideas! Thanks!


Shelley Watson (author) on June 30, 2012:

Hi billybuc, I was looking for more ideas on simplicity and frugality hence the hub, and I am very glad to hear that you have never been happier. Great encouragement for anyone thinking about trying to live frugally.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2012:

I've been doing this for six years now and I can tell you I've never been happier. Let others chase the golden ring; I am quite happy living frugally.

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