I live a frugal life, but not a boring one! We even have more holidays than most families because we have learnt all the tips and tricks for saving money. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our TRAVEL page. We don’t sit around at home and sulk and not have a life. We have an amazing life. My children don’t ask and want for things because that is the way I have brought them up. Infact, I take them overseas to poorer countries to see the happiest little children who have next to nothing, but love and family. Materialistic things aren’t important to us. We do have a nice house and nice furniture, but all done on a budget. My children don’t go without.
Go with one car. Many families have two or more cars. Besides your house, your car is probably your most expensive item. If you can do with one, you should. My wife and I both work, and we have six kids, and yet we have learned to manage with one car.
Go with a smaller house. Just because you can afford a larger house, doesn’t mean you should live in one. Live in as small a house as you can and still be comfortable. I don’t mean you should live in a one-room apartment with a family of four … you know what I mean. You can save thousands a year with a smaller house. Many times, if you get rid of a lot of clutter, you don’t need a large house.
Go with a smaller car – Again, you can save thousands by going with a smaller car. A car instead of an SUV, for example, is a big savings. Be comfortable, but don’t overdo it. You’ll save a lot on gas this way too.
Rent rather than own – This will probably spark a huge debate, as it always does. The thing is, just don’t assume that buying is the better investment. If you calculate the interest you pay on a mortgage, the cost of insurance and maintenance, buying is often much more costly than renting … and if you rent, save money, and then invest the difference, you can actually end up well ahead in the long run. Now, it’s not a given, so do a comparison, factoring in all expenses.
Look for used first. – If you need something — I mean really need it, not just want it — see if someone you know has one that they don’t use or need anymore. Send out an email to family or friends, or just ask around. Then look to buy used, at garage sales or thrift shops. You can find a bargain if you look around.
Eat out less. – One of the biggest expenses in our daily lives is eating out — the average person spends well over $2,000 a year on eating out.
Eat out frugally.
Brown bag it to work – Instead of eating out for lunch, bring your lunch.
Adopt a minimalist wardrobe – This tip won’t be for everybody, but I try for a minimalist wardrobe.
Stop online impulse buys – Ask yourself, Do I WANT it or NEED it?
Don’t shop – Don’t go to the mall or other shopping area or department store to look around and shop. Go to a store if you know what you need, and then get out.
Use a 30-day list – To curb impulse buys, create a 30-day list. When you want to buy something, other than a true necessity (medicine or food, for example), put it on this list, with the date you added it to the list. And make it a rule that you can’t buy anything for at least 30 days after you put it on the list. And stick to it. You’ll find that you buy a lot less with this system.
Cut out cable – This will save you hundreds also forces me to do things like read and have conversations and go outside. Win win.
Use the library – Instead of buying books, check them out. The library often also has a great selection of DVDs (depending on your area), saving you even more. Now who needs cable?
Find free entertainment – Find cheap ways to have fun. Entertainment often ends up costing a lot of money, if you go to the movies, buy concessions, or go out at night, go to the bar, etc. The average person spends about $1,800 a year on entertainment (not including eating out). Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun … but there are cheaper ways to do it.
Frugal exercise – Exercise is important, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Stay healthy – Easier said than done, I know, but staying healthy can save you tons of money on doctor’s visits, hospital bills, and medicine over the long run. An ounce of prevention, and all that. Eat healthily, and exercise. Simple and effective.
Commute by bike – Even if you own a car, commuting by bike will save you gas, and get you in shape at the same time. I highly recommend it.
Carpool or ride the bus – OK, you don’t want to bike it. So find a friend or neighbor who works near you, and arrange a carpool. Or take public transportation. Simple advice, but something a lot of people ignore.
Walk – Often we drive to the corner store, or to a school that’s less than a mile away. Leave a few minutes early, walk, burn some calories, and save gas.
Sell your clutter – This is not so much saving money as making it, but the frugal, simplifying cheapskate, like myself, will want to declutter and make a few bucks doing it. Hold a garage sale or sell it on eBay. It’s amazing what some people will buy.
Frugal gifting. -Gifts can cost a lot of money over the course of a year. Look for ways to do it cheaply. Make a gift, or give a consummable. My family enjoys getting and giving cookies, for example.
Quit smoking – Not the easiest way to save, I know. It’s hard. But I did it, and so have many, many others. Not only will you save on cigarettes (which are expensive over the long run), but also associated costs (I used to buy a soda or beer to go with my cigarettes) … and of course the huge, long-term medical costs. In less than 2 years of not smoking, I’ve saved well more than $3,000.
Alcohol in moderation – If you drink one beer or a few beers a day, that adds up to big money each month. Some drink even more than that. It’s expensive. If you can cut your drinking to the occasional party, and once in awhile with friends (not all the time), you’ll save tons.
Sweets in moderation – Desserts and sweet snacks give us lots of calories with no nutrition. And we pay a premium price for that, in dollars and in our deteriorating health. Cut back on sweets (don’t eliminate them entirely of course) to save money and cut calories.
Drink water – Often we drink lots of calories through sodas, coffee, alcohol, juices, tea, etc. And that costs a lot too. Drink water, save money, save calories.
Batch your errands – Instead of running an errand or two every day, batch them into one errand day, and plan your most efficient route, to save gas and time. Also do as much bill-paying online as possible, to eliminate some errands.
Stay home – Becoming a homebody might not sound like a lot of fun, but it really can be. I love staying home with my family. We can do all kinds of fun things at home. Or I can spend a day alone, if the family is at school, and really enjoy it. It’s quiet and peaceful, I can read or watch a good movie or respond to comments on my blog or write. Staying home can save tons, in eating out expenses, shopping expenses, gas, and incidentals.
Stop using credit cards – Credit cards are not evil.
Cancel subscriptions – With the wealth of information and entertainment online, do you really need magazine subscriptions? With all the news online, do you really need a newspaper subscription?
Make your own. -I won’t go into all the possibilities here, but many times we buy things when really, we could make them ourselves for much cheaper if we get a little creative. Now, this might take a little more time and effort, but it can be fun, especially if you make it a family project. We recently made our own (very simple) bookshelves with only a couple of pieces of lumber, instead of buying them. If you don’t know how to make something, search for it online. You’ll most likely find some instructions.
Do it yourself – Instead of hiring someone to do something, try doing it yourself. Sure, it takes some time and effort, but it’s satisfying, and of course cheaper. It’s also educational, if you don’t know how to do it — again, do an online search, read up on it, and give it a go. Frugality freaks are DIYers.
Stop paying interest – I recommend it for a frugal lifestyle. consider any other accounts or loans where you pay interest, and see if you can eventually eliminate as much of these as possible.
Reduce convenience foods – Frozen foods, microwaveable stuff, junk food … anything that’s packaged and prepared for our convenience is not only more expensive than something you cook yourself, but also most likely less healthy. I’m not saying to eliminate these completely, but reduce consumption.
Travel frugally – Airfare is most expensive, usually, so look to buy your ticket in advance, and look for deals. Also consider train travel. Shop around for car rental rates, as they can vary greatly (or use public transportation). Look for cheaper accommodations, or stay with a friend or relative.
Maintain stuff. This is a no-brainer, but we don’t often think about it: if you take care of what you have, it will last longer. You’ll then spend less on buying new stuff. When you buy something worth maintaining, take a few minutes to read the maintenance manual, and create a maintenance checklist that you can attach to the item. For important things like your car’s oil changes or tune-ups, put them in your calendar.
Save energy. There are little things we can do to lower our power bill.
Save gas. With the rising price of gas (and no end in sight), fuel has become a major monthly expense for many people. Small things can add up to big savings.
Only buy bargain clothing (when you need clothes).
Plan ahead. – Sure, easy to say, hard to implement. But if you make it a habit to think ahead to things that are coming up in your life, you can save a lot of money. For example, if you think about where you’re going to get your meals when you go out to do errands, you can pack a lunch or dinner instead of eating out. If you pack a big container of iced water, you don’t need to buy expensive bottled water. If you know that a birthday is coming up, you can buy a gift on sale instead of spending more at the last minute.
Cook ahead. If you have one free day a week (or even a month), cook food in big batches and freeze in dinner-sized portions. I don’t do this all the time, but I have done it and it saves money (buying big can often save) as well as time. You have to plan it out a bit, coming up with a menu and shopping, cooking enough meals for a week or a month. But once you’re done, your meals each night (and for lunch if you like) are quick and easy. This saves you from eating out or eating convenience food when you’re hungry but too tired to cook.
Wash clothes less. – Some people wear clothes and then wash them, but I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing my clothes more than once if they’re not really dirty. I use my nose as a test — I don’t want to wear clothes that smell, but most times the clothes are still perfectly clean. This saves on washing.
Sun-dry clothes – When my parents were young, everyone used a clothesline to dry clothes. Now dryers are ubiquitous, because they’re fast. But if you don’t wash a ton of clothes, it’s not that hard to take a few minutes to hang them up. You’ll save a lot in electricity, plus your clothes last longer.
Eat less meat. -I’m not saying you have to become a vegetarian , but once in awhile, eat meatless dishes. Pasta, vegetarian chili , vegetarian Indian or Thai dishes, falafels with hummus and pitas and tomatoes and lettuce … there are plenty of tasty dishes without meat.
Save on groceries – buy home brand. Shop around for the cheapest meat and vegetables. Learn when prices will be marked down on meat. Look for marked down bakery items and freeze them at home.
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