Frugal Living: Easy Ways to Save Money

frugal livingIf you’ve been a regular reader of Married (with Debt), you probably have realized that I don’t talk a lot about frugal living and the millions of little ways to save money every day.

That’s because I think you will get more mileage focusing on big savings like in your grocery budget or vehicles.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some small but easy changes you can consider if you need some extra room in your budget.

One of the main reasons I’m interested in personal finance is the psychological aspect of it. To be honest, most personal finance advice is pretty common sense. But, there are so many societal pressures pulling us away from these common sense frugal living ideas that they can be hard for some to implement.

Frugal living, if you find it hard, may be more about your thinking, not your doing.

Are you worried about how friends and family will perceive you?

Are you worried about looking cheap because you can’t spend $50 a week on lunch with your work colleagues every day?

Frugal living isn’t all about being cheap. In fact, I practice conscious spending, which means I’m a miser with my money when it comes to things I hate. It also means I spend lavishly on the things that make me happy, like travel.

Frugal living can empower you to get the most enjoyment out of the things you love, while turning off the spending in areas that aren’t any fun.

Before we get to the list, let me say this: Even if you don’t do any of the items on here, that is your choice. If you can make your monthly budget work, spend less than you earn, and do it while drinking gourmet coffee and weekly visits to the country club, more power and respect to you.

But if you are looking for some easy ways to save money that will add up, please read below.

READERS: If you have any frugal living tips to add, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them if they make sense.

PF BLOGGERS: If you have written an article on any of these specific topics below, or have one to add, email me the tip number and your URL. If it’s good, I’ll link the tip to your post.

FRUGAL LIVING: EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY EVERY DAY

  1. Buy in bulk on groceries.
  2. Use your own photographs to frame and decorate.
  3. Eliminate your home phone.
  4. Always shop clearance. Never pay full price, espeically for clothes.
  5. Re-gift those gifts you will never use. Think of it as recycling.
  6. Eat at home with your family.
  7. If you go out to eat, find a place where kids eat free.
  8. Use your local library, which has more than just books.
  9. Use a weekly meal plan to prepare your grocery spending.
  10. Never grocery shop without a list.
  11. Don’t wait until Christmas to shop.
  12. Water down your fruit juices, especially those that are extra sugary.
  13. Brown bag your lunches for work.
  14. When cooking dinner, make extra leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
  15. Don’t feed your child school lunches. Brown bagging is healthier and cheaper.
  16. Shop at thrift stores for items you can repurpose (furniture, etc).
  17. Buy and sell on Craigslist, too.
  18. Use a programmable thermostat.
  19. Always search for promo codes or coupons before buying online.  Right now, for example, you can find discount codes from Macy’s for up to 20% off your purchase.
  20. Make your own gifts and birthday cards and use funny pages from paper to wrap gifts.
  21. Buy a Sunday newspaper. The coupons will pay for the paper and then some.
  22. Use Netflix streaming instead of going to the video store.
  23. Take some time to price compare online the items you buy regularly like diapers.
  24. Have a day without meat each week. Saves money and is good for the planet.
  25. Make soups for meals. They can be frozen for an extra dinner later in the week.
  26. Make sure you are washing and drying FULL loads of laundry. Works for the dishwasher too.
  27. If you use hand-me-down toys, rotate them in and out to keep things interesting and new for your younger child.
  28. If you have the urge for new furniture, consider repainting the room, rearranging or repurposing used furniture instead.
  29. Buy all your insurance from one company.
  30. Have a shared birthday party for your child with another family member or school friend. Keep it simple.
  31. Shop up a size or two on clothing for kids when the prices are good, especially at the end of the season.
  32. Drink water. It is healthy and free.
  33. Buy generic, not name brand on household items. Same products at a much lower price.
  34. Think creatively when faced with high school expenses like Prom
  35. Don’t be afraid of using coupons when eating out
  36. Make your own detergent (that stuff is expensive!) and other household cleaners.

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49 thoughts on “Frugal Living: Easy Ways to Save Money

  1. #1, 4, and 17 have saved my wife and me SO MUCH money it’s ridiculous. For my wife, she LOVES just one clothing store, but she always refused to sign up for their credit card because she was scared of falling into debt. Eventually she broke down and got the credit card and guess what? She never uses it, but gets all the benefits of credit card holders for that store. Coupons. LOTS of coupons in the mail. Now she never walks into the store unless she’s got the coupons that they send her in the mail and there’s a sale going on simultaneously. The savings have been monstrous and all it cost us was to open a new credit card that now lays dormant. So I support #4, make your wife always use coupons or buy on clearance. She looks great and we save money!

    • Hey TB – glad you stopped by! Good tips, especially on the coupons. I love using their offers and not giving them the benefit of the debt!

  2. I am pretty frugal with things. I am a student, so lack of salary = frugalness. But I realize that compared to my friends, I spend less on discretionary items, and save up to buy big purchases. So sometimes my friends think I’m cheap, but I am just being frugal, so I can save up and buy my new laptop or my soon to be clunker.

    Of course, food is a huge expense for us. No matter what we do to bring it down, its by far our biggest expense apart from rent. It would help if I started cooking more.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..New iPad Debuting TodayMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by! Food is probably our biggest expense too, and also the best place to look for savings. It can be tough when friends laugh at you for being cheap. Just think ahead when they are deep in debt and you are cruising towards retirement.

  3. I’m working on cutting down on my food budget for the month of March. There are not many more places to cut so I feel like I need to do something in this area. I already make all of our own baby food and we do some freezer cooking for my husband’s work lunches as well.
    Marianne recently posted..Is The Cost of Convenience Worth It?My Profile

    • Food is so important, not only to our budget, but to our bodies. I’ve been watching too many documentaries on how horrible our food chain is, which does wonders for killing my appetite!

      Thanks for reading!

    • I hear ya. I asked my wife is she’d be interested in making our own detergent. She said “Heck no.”

      I don’t even know if that is safe for the High Efficiency washers we have.

  4. We had the opposite experience with #29. We shopped multiple companies and picked the combination of insurance that worked best for us.

    I would definitely recommend assessing your deductible when purchasing insurance. If you’re paying more for your lower deductible, than your saving over the course of your policy, you may just want to go with the higher deductible and stock the rest in emergency fund.
    Andi @ MealPlanRescue recently posted..Second (Ever) Lifestyle CarnivalMy Profile

    • Great tips. We have a $500 deductible and it has bitten us a few times but I don’t think I’ll lower it. I like to gamble a little!

  5. I love – and agree with – most of these, but I have to object to the idea of buying all your insurance through a single provider. I’d always believed in that mantra, until I started shopping around and – for whatever reason – managed to save several hundred dollars a year by switching just my car insurance to another provider (who would have charged me hundreds MORE than my current provider to insure my home). I may be the only one, but it’s not always true that bundles save!
    Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals recently posted..What Will Be Your Greatest Accomplishment?My Profile

    • Hmm. I’m going to have to look into this as I see Andi mentioned it too. Our insurance is about as low as it will go so that may be clouding my knowledge on this.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Any single one of these alone might not seem like much, but employing many of these consistently over time really can make a difference. I have another tip we can add to the list… Take advantage of “reward” programs like the grocery stores that give a few cents off of gas each time you purchase… A few days ago, I filled up with $2.55 per gallon gas with reward points accumulated from grocery shopping!
    Joe recently posted..Woodwork JournalMy Profile

    • Great tip, Joe! This is something we don’t take advantage of, but should look into. I’ll add it to the list.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • That sounds a lot like my diet – it definitely is a money-saver. You are dead on about the cost of food –

      Thanks for reading!

  7. With gas prices getting so high, turn your lead foot into a feather. Slower acceleration will do huge wonders for getting better MPGs if you drive around town a lot. Just let that car in front of you get a little further ahead when the light turns green. You won’t sacrifice much, if any, drive time.

    I started doing this a few months ago, and I’m getting about an extra 5 miles per gallon better than before. For my car it amounts to a little over 20% increase in gas mileage. Who doesn’t want to save 20% on something?!
    Bryan recently posted..NoFollow Affiliate Links? What Blogger’s Need to Know to Save PageRankMy Profile

    • That’s a great one we missed, Bryan, thanks for adding it. Good point about drive time. With lights, you aren’t going to get there any faster by accelerating rapidly.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Frugal and saving are two of the sexiest words ever! haha

    While I couldn’t do much of the DIY you’ve mentioned, I love the idea of a day off from meat. My mom loves to eat fish (no wonder, she’s frugal).

    I’ve always been debating about gifts I don’t use. I thought someone else would enjoy them if I give it away but someone else told me it’s like you don’t appreciate the person who gave it to you. I’m torn.
    Jonha | Saving is Sexy recently posted..What Does Saving Means in the Philippines?My Profile

    • I know what you mean. Today we are re-gifting some items our daughter received for her birthday. She had a party and 30 kids came, and brought way too many gifts. This is probably easier to do with kids’ gifts.

      Thanks for reading!

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  10. There are many way to save money and the first is to know where your money is going. You might be surprised what you find when you record every penny you spend for a month. For example, are you eating out too much? Do you find yourself spending money on wants instead of needs?
    Tracy96 recently posted..Toys for Your KidsMy Profile

  11. These are all great ideas. A website you might find useful is The Twightwad Gazette site, at tightwad.com. There is also a book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn.
    Tracy recently posted..Educational Classic ToysMy Profile

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