The Easy Frugal Things You Can Do

Last week I posed a question to my readers. I asked “What is the easiest frugal thing you do?” I was impressed with the large response! So here are the answers, directly from my readers.

Plonkee said,

I get a discount for paying my utility bills by direct debit. The added advantage is that I’m much less likely to forget to pay them.

From E.D.:

-toss catalogs without flipping through them, or even better, stop them from coming
-get off promotional email lists advertising the lastest sales on stuff you don’t need anyway
-buy bread, meat, and butter only when on sale and freeze it (buying a small chest freezer or even a standing freezer is worth the savings)

Erin said,

I have been switching my lightbulbs to CFL’s as the regular ones burn out. It’s nice to know that the CFL’s I put in won’t need to be changed for 5-7 years! (of course we won’t be in this house anymore, so the future owners will benefit).

I combine errands so that I drive efficiently and waste less gas. I’ll do all my errands in one or two days so that I’m not running out everyday.

I also throw the catalogs straight into my recycling bin. No flipping through to see something I *need*.

I really appreciated Dawn’s enthusiasm! She listed,

I live for this stuff … and have been doing it for so long … (married 27 years to my high school sweetie) … that it has become automatic. Top favorites are:
1.) BROWN BAG LUNCHES DURING THE WORK WEEK (They are so economical to make, and once you get use to it, it becomes second nature … like brushing your teeth).
2.) CREATE AND USE A PRICE BOOK FOR YOUR HOUSEHOLD FOOD AND BATH/LAUNDRY/CLEANING PRODUCT (It takes a bit of effort to compile the book … but, once done, you can reduce your spending by a significant percentage).
3.) DON’T SHY AWAY FROM THRIFT STORES FOR CLOTHING PURCHASE (My community thrift store even has a 25 cent day once a month. I can pick up any clothing item for 25 cents … you can’t beat that. I tend to find awesome name brand items as well … Ralph Lauren, AmberCrombie & Fitch, Mudd, Lucky, etc. I even take a step further by selling found items that my family and friends can’t use and reselling them on Ebay).

I could go on and on … but, these are probably the ideas that help my household budget the most. Frugality can be a lot of fun!

Paula had some great ideas as well as some personal experience with CFL light bulbs.

Hang laundry. Your dryer is the second biggest energy hog in the house.

Menu plan, shop loss leaders, use coupons only for stuff that’s on sale and you actually will use.

IE: the CFL bulbs. We changed 75% of our regular lightbulbs last year. I compared the electric bill when it came around and it was a bit lower, not 50% or anything, but definitly lower usage.

Carol convinced her husband to drop HBO. When he saw the bill, he understood why.

I asked my husband to stop HBO on our cable because we really do not watch it last month and he just opened the cable bill and showed it to me and said “I did not realize how much it cost, look how much lower our bill is”

Mary had a great practical tip for single serving snacks. As a mom with school age kids, I’m definitely going to use this one.

I rely on sandwich bags instead of purchasing individually wrapped snacks, which are typically more expensive, unhealthy, and a waste of packaging.
Sandwich bags can also be reused.

Alison noticed that the less she shops, the less she spends.

I grocery shop at most once a week. I try to shop every ten days. I know I spend less on groceries overall when I am at the grocery store less frequently.

I also stay home. Between shuttling my son to preschool, going to the grocery store, church, and play dates for my son, for the most part I get enough time out of the house. If the urge to get out does come, I stick to visiting the library or the park, places that don’t require spending money. Gone are my days of going to Target just for fun. :)

Christian PF had a really basic tip that I think a lot of Americans miss. He doesn’t waste his food.

I try not to waste money on food – I found that I save a whole lot of money just by eating all of the food I buy at the grocery store each week!!

boomeyers had a couple of great tips, as well as some commentary on the cost of milk these days. Perhaps I should look into getting that cow…..

I loved reading the Tightwad Gazette series of books. This was the best help to me to find encouragement and “black belt” tightwaddery.

The most obvious tip is EAT AT HOME! Even if you have to spend a little more at the grocery store to make it more “resturanty”. It is worth it!

Plan your trips! Save on the gas!

At this point, I paid $4.00 for a gallon of milk yesterday. Buying a cow??? A thought??

Hilda is saving a lot by not going to the salon.

My easiest frugal thing to do is NOT going to the salon to get a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax. On rare occassions where I want color on my nails or shape/’clean’ my eyebrows, I just do it myself.

I’m saving a lot compared to my co-workers who goes to the salon every couple of weeks to get French tips, pedicure, wax, etc to the tune of at least $40 a pop. Let’s see, that’s $40 x 2 (a month) x 12 (in a year) = $960 savings a year! That’s almost 25% of the maximum contribution to a Roth IRA one can make for 2007.

rocketc doesn’t drink or smoke. Neither do I. It’s bad for you. :)

This isn’t for everyone – but, we don’t drink or smoke. Very easy on the wallet.

Pablo has some advice for those who choose to smoke, as well as some ideas that apply to everyone.

There are a few things that are easy for me in regards to being frugal ..

1) Bringing lunch to work. I work a graveyard shift alone and can’t leave, very occasionally I will order a pizza but I have gotten much better about that.

2) Use my PayPal Debit card to pay for everything and get 1% cash back instead of my banks debit card. My credit is not good enough(EEK!) to get a credit card with better rewards, so this is great in that situation.

3) Some people may not get any use out of this or agree with it, but I am a smoker and was spending outrageous amounts of money on cigarettes per month(more than $100). All things considered, I still enjoy smoking and did not want to quite. I instead started packing my own cigarettes. Box of empty cigarette tubes with filters is only $3, a 6oz Tin of tobacco ranges anywhere from $7-$15. My brand is $12. That is enough to make a carton(10 packs, or 200 cigarettes) for $15. The initial investment of a tube injector was only $7 and it’s lasted almost 2 years now. Bonus effects? I smoke less than I used to, instead of almost a carton a week i now go a month with about a carton and a half. Also the tobacco tastes much better in my opinion.

Joel has an idea that saves on money AND stress. Anything that saves me some stress is worth looking into!

The easiest frugal think I did was convince my boss to let me work from home a couple days a week. Saves on gas, lunch, and STRESS!

Heather had so many great ideas, she wrote her own post. I suggest you check it out. There’s some good stuff in there!

Finally, my local friend Angela, who reads this blog frequently, but never comments (everyone say “Hi Angela!”), had a great suggestion. Recycle your soda cans. Here in Oregon, throwing away a pop can is like throwing away 5 cents. If you drink a lot of soda (or beer), the money you get back from recycling can really add up.

Thank you to everyone who responded! Hopefully this page will be a great resource for newbies to frugal living. And I’m sure those of us who are veterans at the frugal lifestyle could probably find something new to try, as well!


By , on Oct 19, 2007
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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  1. anona mead:

    long ago I found that poverty was an attitude of mind not a state of being. Life changed dramatically for the better when I changed my mindset. Just think being frugal is your hobby and you will get the greatest pleasure from [childish I know] thumbing your nose to our consumerist society. Luckily I am English so my ‘eccentric’ ways don’t cause too many raised eyebrows. We have a long tradition for eccentricity and jolly proud of it I am too.

  2. Michel:

    When there is a really great deal I stock up. One time I bought organic milk on its last sell by date for .75 a gallon…it normally sells for over $6 a gallon. I bought 10 gallons and froze it. A few weeks ago I stumbled on a sale for cottage cheese the same thing only it was .10 vs. $2.75. I bought 25. The kids love it, and it normally keeps for about another week for me. The rest I froze and will use in lasagna.

    This week I went to a local thrift store because I needed some workout pants, and the kids could use a few things. This particular shop gets returns from a very nice catalog…that they can’t resell. I found every item except one t-shirt still for sale online. I spent $67.59. If I had bought it through the catalog it would have been over $650, and nobody can tell the difference. Yes, one shirt did have a spot on it, but I gave it a good wash, and hung it out in the sun….white as can be.

    Every town has their places to get deals…the trick is learning where and when. And then sometimes, just not shopping is a great way to save. I wanted new curtains for my sons room, and I have been looking for 2 months. Tonight I was organizing our storage in the basement, and there is the perfect set of curtains, that I had bought to turn into a white petticoat for my daughter….free. Well, actually $2.99, but my daughter didn’t really need another petticoat. And I bought the curtains 2 years ago.

  3. This is an awesome list. I am a bit sad that I missed this.

  4. Very cool tips. We almost always eat at home and we try to eat cheaply. Rice and beans are staples and can be combined in lots of different ways! We made an initial investment in some spices which has really paid off. :-)

  5. Hi Angela! ;)

    Great post…it was cool seeing all the tips from everyone :)

  6. Great ideas! Here’s another: how about giving up soda? Personally, I love water. However, the BF drinks tons of soda. His empty wallet is proof!

  7. Lynnae:

    @Jennifer – I’ve been wanting to do a post about price books. Unfortunately, I haven’t been successful in putting one together yet. If and when I do, you can bet I’ll write about it. :)

  8. I keep hearing people talking about price books. I’d love to see a post with a how-to on how to make one. Anyone?

  9. Erin:

    Glad that you posted the comments from that article. There are some great ideas in there.

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