168 Frugal Living Tips to Help You Spend Less Money

Save Money on Utilities

Including tips by No More Spending, Damsel, Susan, Paula, southernseven, Looby, Fresch, My Dollar Plan, and several more.

  • Turn off every electrical item at the plug every night. Putting everything on power strips makes this easier.
  • Keep the lights off during the day.
  • Line dry clothes outside when it’s warm and sunny.
  • Line dry clothes by setting dryer racks over heater vents. Use your shower rod if you need even more room.
  • Let dishes air dry after running them through the dishwasher.
  • Cancel the cable.
  • Don’t use hot water in the summer.
  • Consider a family plan for cell phones.
  • Use CFL bulbs.
  • Turn down the thermostat (or turn it off). Use candles in the room to raise the temperature. A set of little tea candles goes a long way.
  • Don’t run the heater at night.
  • Open windows on summer nights to cool down the house.
  • Use a fan.
  • Get rid of your land line and use your cell phone.
  • Take short showers.
  • Insulate your water pipes.
  • Install low flow showerheads and aerators on all faucets.
  • If you’re going to be in and out all day, park on the street, rather than using the electric garage door opener multiple times.
  • If you live in an apartment, see if you can split the cost of a wireless connection with your neighbors. But make sure it’s legal first.
  • Turn off the PC if you won’t be using it for an hour or more.
  • Use nightlights that only come on when it’s dark.
  • Use nightlights in the bathroom, so if you have to use the bathroom at night, you don’t have to turn on the light.
  • Keep the freezer full. If you have to, put milk jugs filled with water in the freezer. It’s less expensive to keep a full freezer cold than an empty one.
  • Never leave the water running when rinsing dishes, brushing teeth, etc. Only use the water you need.
  • Have your young children shower with you, instead of giving them separate baths.

Save Money on Medical Needs

Including tips from my mom and more.

  • Use a flexible spending account or cafeteria plan, so you can pay out-of-pocket medical expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe generic medication.
  • Buy generic medication at Walmart or Target. They have a lot of different medications available for $4.

Saving Money on Clothing

Including tips by Shanti, Jen D., and more.

  • Limit clothes shopping.
  • Shop at thrift stores.
  • Shop garage sales.
  • Sew, using discount fabric (easy to find at garage sales).
  • Change into play clothes after school to keep good clothes looking nice.
  • Re-use jewelry. If you lose a beautiful earring, put the one you have on a chain and wear it as a necklace.

Save Money Around the House

Including tips by Marci, Joanna, Jisun Moir, Debt Reduction Formula, and several more.

  • Use only half of a dishwasher tablet at a time.
  • Use rechargeable batteries for electronics and toys.
  • Store batteries in the refrigerator. They last longer.
  • Do repairs (paint touch ups, sewing, etc) one day a week. If you keep things in good working order, they last longer.
  • Accept hand-me-downs. You can donate them if you can’t use them.
  • Do home repairs yourself.
  • Reuse things. An example: Plastic grocery bags can be reused as lunch bags, shoe bags, or laundry bags on vacation.
  • Email for free samples. You can get some good stuff!
  • Wash and re-use Ziplock bags.
  • Make your own Christmas cards by making a collage from the fronts of Christmas cards you received the previous year.
  • See if your local dump or transfer station offers free firewood or garden mulch. Take advantage of it.
  • Use water from boiling eggs or pasta to water your plants.
  • If you’ve bought stuff that you haven’t used, see if you can return it.
  • If you rent, rent from a person, not a company. You’re more likely to have some of your utilities paid, especially if your place is a room inside a house or a basement apartment.
  • Move in with roommates.
  • If you and your family or friends have a lot of websites, consolidate them all into one hosting package and split the cost.
  • Flush the toilet only after you use it 2-3 times.
  • Use a kitchen rag instead of paper towels.

Save Money on Entertainment

Including tips from Frugal Dad, Ron @ The Wisdom Journal, and several more.

  • Cancel magazine subscriptions.
  • Use the library for books, magazines, and movies. See if you can reserve them online and then just pick them up.
  • Read newspapers online.
  • Celebrate “no spend” weekends, where you don’t spend anything.
  • Prepare special dinners at home, rather than going out to celebrate.
  • Eat out only once a month.
  • Use hotel points and airline miles for vacation.
  • Split an entree with someone else when you go out for dinner.
  • Do free things for entertainment: Hiking, free city concerts, board games.
  • Only order from the dollar menu when eating out.
  • Go to the park and have a picnic.
  • Take advantage of “get in free” days at the museum, etc.
  • To find special festivals, get a free state tourism guide.
  • If you find that you go somewhere a lot (a zoo, amusement park), buy a season pass.
  • Entertain at home. Have friends over for dinner, or have a game night and just serve snacks.
  • Make your own “take out” style meals. Pizza is a good way to start. And if you do a recipe search for your favorite restaurant foods, there are some good knock offs out there!
  • Trade babysitting with friends who also need a sitter.

Save Money on Miscellaneous Things

Including tips from Chris, Becky @ Family and Finances, Jeanne, Libby, Kathy @ brazoscowgirl, Rebecca, and several more.

  • Only get haircuts every 8-10 weeks, instead of every 6 weeks.
  • Cut your own hair.
  • Do your own manicures.
  • Shop for Christmas gifts year round to catch the good sales.
  • Compost…it’s good for the garden.
  • Dumpster dive, if you’re brave and it’s legal where you are.
  • Sell something every week.
  • Never spend change. Collect it and put it in a savings account.
  • Get rid of excess stuff. It costs less to store and maintain.
  • Sell it on eBay or Craigslist.
  • Or have a garage sale.
  • Or give it away on Freecycle.
  • Sell homemade items on Etsy.
  • Don’t watch TV. It cuts down on wants.
  • Get rid of the TV all together.
  • Enter blog giveaways. You never know what you might win. (I won $100 last month!)
  • If you get a raise, don’t increase your lifestyle. Save the extra or pay off debts!
  • If you’re a two income family, make sure the second income is more than the expenses associated with working.
  • Use a fee-free credit card with rewards. Charge everything to get the rewards. But ONLY do this if you are diligent about paying it off every single month. If you pay interest, it isn’t worth it.
  • Pay off debt as quickly as possible. Saves on interest.
  • Make sure you get get the best interest rate on your savings, CD’s, etc.
  • Invest your money. Make it grow.
  • Use a budget.
  • Use a spreadsheet to keep track of variable expenses.
  • Use cash.
  • Change your mindset. Instead of thinking “what do I need to buy?”, think, “what do I have that I can use?” That’s how people got through the Great Depression.
  • Give stuff you don’t use to others. It gets your mind off of your situation and onto others. And it promotes a sense of contentment and gratitude.

As you take steps to live a more frugal lifestyle, think about these last two reader comments. If you remember these two things, you will be well on your way to saving more money on day to day expenses.

Marci said, “When buying, ask yourself – this item is costing me so many hours/minutes of my work time…is the cost worth the time I had to use earning the money?”

Bellen summed it up nicely with “Remember to reuse, recycle, re-purpose, rethink, repair!”

A huge thank you to all who contributed to this list! I hope it’s a good resource for anyone who reads it! And remember to check out the great websites of those who submitted ideas!

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By , on Apr 3, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{135 Comments}

  1. Rob:

    Here’s a simple but effective way to control your grocery spending and also avoid unpleasant surprises at the check out line. Decide a limit of how much you are going to spend on groceries each week. On your grocery list, put the expected price of each item. Add them up before you leave the house. If the total exceeds your limit, cross out some items and don’t buy them. This also clarifies what are needs and what are wants.

  2. Scoo:

    Overall, these were very good time tested suggestions. However, chickens have been cheaper when purchased at the grocery store in bulk frozen sacks than raising your own in the back yard since 1954. My father stopped having a cow around 1942 for that reason. Stopped raising chickens when it cost him money to do so. He continued having 3 gardens a year until he could not even give the produce away unless he shelled the peas and beans and shucked the corn first. Also, could not give the fish he caught away unless he had cleaned them. Also, today’s woman likely does not know how to cook dried beans or use a pressure cooker. Maybe her mother does not know how either.

  3. Stephanie:

    Ok, here are some things I didn’t see:

    Buy whole chicken instead of pieces and then after you use the meat, make your own chicken stock. Great for soups, dumplings, casseroles, etc.

    Only do laundry and dishes when there’s a full load. You waste water by doing partial loads, and soap too.

    Have a capsule wardrobe. You don’t need so many clothes that your closet is bursting at the seams.

    Combine all your errands into one trip, starting with the farthest away.

    Learn how to use coupons with sales, and shopper rewards, all at the same time.

    Reinvent leftovers : roasted chicken becomes chicken nachos, leftover chili tops hot dogs, mashed potatoes become potato cakes, etc.

    If you don’t need it (need vs want) don’t buy it.

    Fix it instead of buying a new one.

    Shop for food that’s in season. It’s generally cheaper than out of season foods.

  4. r boyack:

    Turning you car off at a stop light to save gas only works if the car has a carburetor and if the light is going to be really long. This wont save you gas if you have a fuel injected car. When you turn it off and then back on the ecu floods more gas into the cylinders on initial start up then if you were to leave it running.

  5. J Martin:

    Go to auctions to buy lawn mowers or even cars…. Also if u smoke…invest in a cigarette machine …you’ll pay about 60 cents a pack that way. I drive a Cadillac that had under a 100,000 miles on it for $1200.

  6. Unzinkable:

    I just reupholstered two armless sofas with a couple of red twin bed sheets sets and a staple gun. They look great!

  7. Nico:

    This article is amazing! After all, the typical ‘millionaire’ is the everyday person who is smart with his money, lives below his means and focuses on savings first!

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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

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