168 Frugal Living Tips to Help You Spend Less Money

A few weeks ago I was lamenting about the high prices on everything lately. Recession or not, it’s getting harder to afford the increased cost of living. I asked Being Frugal readers for help, and the readers came through in a big way!

This post is a compilation of comments and emails I received when I asked my readers how they deal with high prices and what things they do to make their money stretch further.

I’ve separated the tips into categories to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. I’ve credited each reader once throughout the article, though many submitted ideas in multiple categories.

Please consider visiting the websites of those who contributed to this project! They gave great advice here, and I’m sure they each have a lot more to offer on their individual blogs!

Now…what you’ve been waiting for. How to save money on just about everything.

Save Money Grocery Shopping

Including tips from Diana, Emily, FrugalWannabe, LJ, Allison, JenMarie, and several more.

  • Shop for produce at a local farm stand.
  • Never buy coffee, soda, or other drinks or snacks out.
  • Always grocery shop with a list.
  • Take advantage of sales on items that you would normally buy.
  • Only shop once a month.
  • Keep a price book and track prices by unit cost.
  • Stockpile staples when prices are low.
  • Buy generic items.
  • Use the Grocery Game.
  • Plan meals according to what is on sale that week.
  • Take advantage of rainchecks if the store doesn’t have a sale item that you need.
  • Take advantage of rebates at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid…but only if you’ll use the item and will follow through on the rebate.
  • Buy enough of a sale item to last 12 weeks. That’s about how long sales take to cycle.
  • Shop at discount marts: Grocery Outlet, The Dollar Store, etc.
  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Many stores offer a small discount per bag.
  • Take advantage of stores that double coupons.
  • Watch out for deals on things that your friends need, and have them do the same for you.

Save Money on Cooking and Eating

Including tips from Bellen, Lisa, David, Paidtwice, Boomeyers, Jackie Star, Georgia Hawkins, Lisa K, fathersez, MoneyBlogga, Sarah, and several more.

  • Eat less meat.
  • Become a vegetarian.
  • Eat leftovers.
  • Cook large amounts and freeze extra for busy nights.
  • Scrape out food jars to use the last little bit.
  • Cook from scratch.
  • Never eat out.
  • Eat from your stocked pantry.
  • Bring lunch from home (it’s worth it to invest in proper containers).
  • Eat less. The average American eats too much.
  • Don’t use the vending machines at work.
  • Always have a meal plan. Always.
  • Use the Once a Month Cooking system.
  • Keep soup starter jars in the freezer. A little leftover this, a little leftover that. Nothing is wasted.
  • Get creative with leftovers. Concoct new recipes, so nothing is wasted.
  • Base most of your meals on rice or beans to cut down on meat consumption.
  • Look for events that entertain and feed you at the same time. Church socials, shopping at Sam’s (think about those free samples)…
  • Don’t drink soda. Drink water!
  • Make your own jello cups (or applesauce cups, or pudding cups) for lunches and snacks.
  • If your kids complain about generic cereal, put the generic in a name-brand box. They’ll never know the difference!
  • Rear your own chickens.
  • Join a freezer club. Get together with like-minded people to exchange meals for your freezers. It’s cheaper to prepare a lot of one meal and split it up, than to prepare a bunch of different meals.
  • Make your own baby food.
  • Always take a snack and bottle of water wherever you go. You won’t be tempted to stop for expensive fast food or drinks.
  • Grow your own produce. No room? Try a square foot garden! Or use pots on the patio.
  • Freeze, can, or dehydrate your produce.
  • Cook with the crockpot to avoid using the oven, which warms up the house.
  • Use a convection oven to accomplish the same purpose.

Save Money on Cars and Gas

Including tips from Alicia, Heather, Bibi, Working Rachel, Christian PF, Rob Madrid, Mark, and several more.

  • Run errands once a week and use the most efficient route.
  • Walk as much as you can.
  • Stay home as often as possible.
  • Keep tires filled to their proper pressure.
  • Don’t suddenly stop or accelerate.
  • Carpool.
  • Bum a ride with friends and chip in for gas.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Use a diesel car if you have one.
  • Coast when you see a red light ahead, instead of hitting the brakes.
  • Use public transportation.
  • Try to get by with one car if you have two.
  • If you have one car that you only drive a couple of times a week, consider getting rid of it and using cabs.
  • Drive your car until it’s old. This works really well when you buy a car that will run for 200,000 miles.
  • Keep up on your car’s maintenance.
  • Turn your car off at lights.
  • Coast when you can.
  • Limit city driving.
  • Turn off the engine and coast to a stop. (Only do this if you know your car and know what you’re doing. It could be unsafe, depending on the car)
  • On a long trip, keep a steady foot.
  • Make it a challenge to see how far you can go on a tank of gas.
  • Use a discount card to buy gas. (Many grocery stores offer them, as well as Costco).
  • Fill up early in the morning when the air is cool, and the gas is dense. You’ll get more gas and less air.
  • Fill up when your tank is half empty.
  • Shop around for insurance. The rates can vary a lot!
  • Use gasbuddy.com to find the lowest price on gas.

135 thoughts on “168 Frugal Living Tips to Help You Spend Less Money”

  1. Under “Saving Money on Cooking and Eating”

    Is rearing your own chickens cheaper than just buying a whole chicken at the store? Seriously, I’m considering a “gentleman’s farm”. Chickens and Ducks would be a top priority. Thoughts?

    BTW, child is allergic to egg, so those wouldn’t be considered in the equation.

  2. Of course, if going vegetarian means you’re sicker later in life, it isn’t going to do you much good now either.

    You eat food for two reasons, biologically: (1) to get energy, and (2) to get nutrients. Your two main sources of energy are glucose and fat. Now, you can get fats as an energy source on a vegetarian diet, but there are fewer foods with enough fat in them in the plant kingdom than there are in the animal. So most people who go vegetarian get their energy from carbs.

    And that’s the problem. Those of us with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes can’t just dump the meat and eat only plants. Everybody needs more veggies in their diets whether they are vegetarian or omnivorous, but you can’t get by only eating veggies if you’re vegetarian. You need something more calorie-dense to get enough calories to survive and thrive.

    And if people with a propensity for type 2 get their energy largely from carbs, that’s a straight path to diabetes. It’s been documented over and over and over again in the medical literature although, oddly, government and university “experts” in human dietary needs tend to ignore the data. But it does explain why, for instance, Native Americans are going diabetic in such alarming numbers now, and it surely explains why so many poor people are fat–fatness being an intermediary step between normal glucose metabolism and diabetes in the vast majority of cases.

    I gained most of my last seventy extra pounds while on a vegetarian and sometimes vegan diet, for what it’s worth. Somehow I don’t think this is going to save me money in the long run, or save the insurance companies money, or save the government money either.

    If you’re going to cut spending, don’t do it at the expense of nutrition.

    • You are absolutely correct, and not just regarding diabetes or other health challenges. Animal fat from naturally raised livestock is the most nutrient and calorie -dense food on the planet. Our grocery bills went down, WAY down, when we started eating a low-carb high-fat unprocessed diet. We eat two small meals a day. No need for elaborate spices, condiments, sauces, recipes, food processing equipment, or snack foods. We are healthy and full eating only eggs, butter, cream, cheese, meat, and some vegetables/fruits. Each of these foods costs a lot more per item but I’ve calculated that per day it is less than a typical frugal carbohydrate-based diet of pasta, salads, casseroles, etc.

      Most important from the frugal angle is that, once adapted to a very low carb high fat diet, dental cleanings are practically unnecessary. We kept going (we have dental insurance) but there was never anything to clean. The hygienists and dentists kept asking and commenting “were we just here for a cleaning” (we were not, it was over a year) and “have we been to another dentist in the past few months” (no). We brush with baking soda and a drop of essential oil and haven’t been to the dentist in a few years now. Our diet keeps our saliva healthy, which keeps our teeth healthy.

    • I could not agree more. People have no idea how dangerous it is to mess with nutrition in the name of spending less. A few years back things got very difficult for me financially and was thus forced to survive off my local (undersupplied) food bank. Whithin months of consuming practically nothing but the low quality nutritionless grains supplied to me I had lost over 30lbs leaving me at 79lbs at 5’6. My intestines are so wrecked now I have had 3 surgeries in the past year, to remove one blockage and two dead sections and I will never be able to eat wheat or dairy again. I still weigh 80lbs and I still visit my foodbank for some items but I cringe now when I hear a volunteer make a snide remark about ‘how I can’t just eat the expensive stuff’. GRAINS ARE NIT AND SHOULD NIT BE A FOOD GROUP. PERIOD.

  3. Furgal? Some of the suggestions indicate a level of mis-fortune and poverty. “dumpster-dive” get a life or better yet a second job!

  4. Great list. I have to say though that most of these are things we should be doing when times are good as well as rough. Better for the wallet and the environment.

  5. Some great tips from start to finish. I was under the misconception that local farm stands would be more expensive than Wal-Mart or the big grocery stores, but after my first visit I found that they were not only cheaper but also offered a much better product. As a plus, they are better for the environment because much less energy is used to transport the goods to market.

  6. Some new tips there I had not seen before, I would like to add, smoke lawn grass, and not the illegal kind, that would save money, i guess

  7. Really, you all should be patting yourselves on the back. I did the easy part of compiling the list. You all came up with the brilliant ideas!

    @Lev – I will put a disclaimer on that idea. Thanks for bringing it up.

    @David – Thanks for explaining about diesel engines. I sure didn’t know anything about them! :)

  8. wow, you were not kidding. this is some list. I like how you have it sorted too. thanks for taking the time to post this.

  9. Learn to live. Money is for using. Sure eliminate what is not necessary or not fun. But don’t fill your head up with negative stuff. Plan what you are going to do with you money to have a really great life.

    Learn to cook. Learn to make your house nice. Only eat food out if the food and occasion is really great. Walk because it is more fun. Etc etc. And help each other. Eating together. Playing together. Fixing things together is cheaper and fun.

    • I love your positive attitude. Yes, many of us forget in this recession to have fun, and it is so important that we stay balanced, focused and positive. For us younger generations this is particularly vital. What if all I focused on was that I had less money, education and opportunity and more worry and higher cost if living than my parents? I would be in a bad place indeed! But I don’t. I look at things as different, not better ir worse. Instead I embrace the opportunity I have been given to learn how to live a more sustainable life. I value the chance to be creative and resourceful and to focus on my friends, family and others who are in greater need than I. These are the real gifts in life.

  10. Awesome list! (Thanks for mentioning me too)

    There are a few on here that are totally new to me…I will be trying them out for sure.

    Great job putting all these tips together

    Take Care

    LJ

  11. “Use a diesel car if you have one.” Diesel is priced higher at the pumps these days … does a diesel car run that much more efficiently?”

    Diesels are much more efficient than regular gas engines – plus you can convert them to run on veggie oil, which is free if you go around picking it up. I plan on converting a pickup truck to run on it when we get to New Mexico…

  12. Wow!! What an exhaustive list! Thanks so much for putting this together…

    I do have an honest question, though. I don’t understand this one: “Use a diesel car if you have one.” Diesel is priced higher at the pumps these days … does a diesel car run that much more efficiently?

  13. You cheated! There’s only 167 great tips here.

    These two should only count as 1:
    – Eat less meat.
    – Become a vegetarian.

    Shame on you! :)

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