What are the frugal living tips with a big impact?
How can I live very frugal? How do you live on a tight budget?
There seems to be a misunderstanding about the meaning of frugal living.
What’s frugal living?
Frugal living is not living as cheaply as you can. You don’t need to deprive yourself of what you love.
Instead, living frugally is about tradeoffs. It’s about nixing or spending less on what doesn’t matter to you or is a lower priority. That way, you can put that money towards what you care about.
For those higher priorities, you can strategically find the cheapest way to buy these necessities.
At the same time, you make the most out of what you have.
In the end, you’re spending less than what you earn and saving money.
Why live frugally?
Frugality allows you to achieve what you really want including goals like:
- Pay off debt
- Buy a house
- Go on a vacation
- Retire early
You can live a more simple and meaningful life.
Since I’ve embraced a frugal mindset, I’ve realized there’s not much I really need. Sometimes, you watch movies and you think you should live a certain kind of life.
The best things in life are not stuff.
How do you stay frugal?
Whether you’re a student, one person (single), a senior or in a family, here are frugal living tips with a big impact.
The frugal living tips are broken down by major expense category.
All of the frugal living tips might not be for you. Try the ones that appeal to your lifestyle and situation.
Related: Here are other great tips on minimalism that you might be interested in.
Frugal Living Tips With a Big Impact
Frugal Food Tips
Here are frugal tricks for food, particularly with groceries.
1. Meal plan
Meal planning (which is simply taking time to plan meals in advance) is one of the fastest ways to save money immediately.
If you do meal planning incorrectly, you could easily spend more than you would eating out!
For only $5 a month, you get a month’s worth of meal plans. This includes grocery lists.
It works out to $2 per meal! It also saves you so much time!
They offer a 14 day FREE trial which includes approximately 40 recipes (regular or gluten-free – it’s your choice).
If you feel the plan is not right for you, you can cancel at any time.
If you’re confident with meal planning and just need a little bit of a routine:
2. Do meal prep
If you do weekly meal prep on Saturdays or Sundays, you’re paying low peak rates on your utilities.
Meal prep not only saves you money, it also saves you time.
If you have all of your food prepared or at least ready (e.g. chopped onions, deskinned garlic, and cooked rice, noodles and beans prepared in advance), all you have to do is reach into the fridge to put together your meals.
3. Use the Instant Pot
Using the Instant Pot changed my cooking game.
I used to take all Sunday meal prepping for the week. Now it takes me a fraction of the time. You can cook a whole turkey in the Instant Pot in 45 minutes!
With the Instant Pot, I can cook a wide range of tasty recipes. I’m not as tempted to get expensive takeout!
If you already have an Instant Pot, Instant Pot accessories will help maximize your use – so you’re saving the most money and time!
Here are 3 of my favorites:
1) Extra cooking pot: The extra cooking pot comes in handy if you’re cooking multiple recipes or bigger portions like when you’re meal prepping.
2) Extra Sealing Rings: If you’ve made both savory dinners and sweet desserts in the Instant Pot, you know how the smell and flavor can stay on the sealing ring and possibly transfer to your other recipe.
I love curry dishes, but I hate when you make cheesecake with an unintended hint of curry.
If you have extra sealing rings, you can designate one ring for savory dishes and the other ring for sweet dishes.
3) Instant Pot Accessories Bundle: As an Instant Pot fan, this Instant Pot accessories bundle is exciting!
I’ve gotten pieces of this bundle separately. It would have been cheaper to get this bundle instead!
4. Trade recipes
Trading recipes is fun and informative. You can simply trade recipes via email and send a list of ingredients and instructions to friends and family.
Alternatively, you can make it a party. Each person can bring a large batch of one recipe and a bunch of tupperware. That way, everyone can bring home a meal’s portion to try. It’s a frugal way to keep things interesting.
5. Use your pantry
Part of frugal living means less waste. Before you go shopping for new food. Make sure you don’t already have the product or a substitute in the pantry.
To understand what’s in your pantry, it’s helpful to do a pantry inventory list to see what goods are expired or close to expiring and needs to be used up.
Once you know what those unused goods are, think long and hard about repurchasing these again. It might not be worth purchasing if it’s only used in 1 recipe.
6. Include vegetarian meals
Meat is the most expensive section in the grocery.
Having 1 or 2 meatless days a week can make a difference to your frugal budget. If you’re looking for meat substitutions, my meatless meals often use chick peas, beans, or tofu.
For beans and lentils, you can get even more savings by buying dry and in bulk.
7. Buy the 30-50% off sticker products
I know some people wonder if the severely discounted product selection (the 30-50% off products that are often just expiring) is safe to eat. I’ve been buying these in the fruits, vegetables and meat sections for years.
If you’re wondering where to get these goods, they can be found in the same category/section, often on a separate shelf or rack.
For the vegetables, I often refrigerate it and can prolong the lifespan for a few more days. If I can’t eat the meat on the same day I get it, I’ll freeze it.
8. Buy in bulk
When I see a great sale, I often buy in bulk, especially meat.
For meat, I also often portion it out in ziplock bags or tupperware.
For example, you can buy a whole ham at the grocery store and slice it yourself for even more savings. You can then freeze some of it so you only use what you need.
If you buy a lot in bulk, it’s handy to have a separate freezer.
Of course, you want to weigh the pros and cons of a separate freezer.
While a separate freezer means more space for stocking up (and less food waste if your fridge breaks down – this happened to us a few times!), it also means more electricity used.
I debated with my husband for a while about whether we actually need a separate freezer. With our growing family and fridges nowadays not lasting as long as they used to, we ultimately decided to get one.
When shopping for freezers, I highly recommend going with an upright freezer as opposed to a chest freezer as it’s easier to know and see what you have. You won’t have to dig through piles of food to get to the bottom.
9. Compare price per unit
A product can look like it’s cheap because it has a yellow “sale” tag on it.
Often, the price per unit will tell a different story.
Always check the price per unit. For example, $0.36/gram.
Over time, you’ll notice trends of what’s cheaper at different grocery stores and can stock up on good sales. You might notice that it’s often generic goods vs. branded items.
10. Use a grocery store coupon app
I use the Checkout51 cash back app to save money on groceries! It’s free to signup and the cash back process is easy!
All you need to do to get the cash back is purchase an item on their grocery list, take a picture of your receipt and send it!
After they’ve approved the receipt, they’ll put the money in your app account and you can cash out when you reach a minimum of $20.
11. Minimize impulse purchases
Every time you go to the grocery store, you are tempted to buy something you might not need.
Create a schedule of when you need to go to the grocery store (whether that’s once a week or twice a week). Minimizing the amount of times you go to the grocery store will minimize your impulse purchases.
If you want to ensure you’re not purchasing anything you don’t need, consider shopping online.
Many grocery stores have a pick-up service where you place the order online, drive up, call in, and someone drops off the food you ordered in your trunk. You don’t need to step into the store once.
12. Never shop at the grocery store when hungry
When you go to the grocery store when you’re starving, everything on the shelf will look good. You’ll likely buy food you don’t need or you’ll get takeout just to settle your stomach.
Make sure you have something filling before you go to the grocery store like a granola bar.
In fact, it’s generally a good rule of thumb to keep snacks in your car or purse so you’re not tempted to eat out when you get hungry.
If you’re leaving it in the car, just make sure you’re accounting for the weather. You don’t want to leave snacks in the glove compartment only to find out they’re melted or frozen when you need it most!
13. Shop with a grocery list
This way, you don’t buy more than what you need based on your meal plan.
It’s okay to indulge every now and then. Sticking with a list ensures you’re minimizing impulse purchases.
14. Double your recipes
Whenever you make any recipe, cook extra. You’re already using up the energy to warm up the oven or the Instant Pot. If you have the ingredients on hand, doubling your recipes will provide leftovers for lunch the next day.
If you can’t finish the meals by the time they expire, freeze them.
What I love about them is that they’re BPA free. they’re airtight and leakproof, and the lids just easily snap or screw on. The rectangular containers can be used in the oven, microwave, freezer, fridge and dishwasher.
15. Use your leftovers
I often make it a rule that any leftovers from lunch or dinner the day before, I’ll eat for lunch the next day.
If you have a lot of leftovers that will span a few days, you can use the leftovers in different recipes so you don’t get sick of it.
For example, if I have leftover chick peas, I often cook it in a quesadilla or use it in hummus. Alternatively, you can even use it as a substitute for flour in brownies.
16. Bring your own lunch to work
I know it can be especially tempting to eat out if you work close to a food court or takeout restaurant.
Bringing your own lunch will save you so much money. You just have to make it a habit.
17. Don’t go out for dinner
If you absolutely need to get takeout (sometimes you just have those days when you need to indulge), it’s often cheaper to get takeout for lunch than it is for dinner, especially if you target early bird or happy hour specials like 50% off appetizers.
Don’t forget to check out Groupon to see what restaurant deals might be near you.
18. Don’t buy takeout coffee
While it’s nice to go to the coffee shop and have someone else prepare your coffee or tea, this is a habit that gets expensive over time.
There’s the $5 coffee expense. When you think about the gas to/from the coffee shop, the cost can shoot up.
Say you treat yourself to takeout coffee 3x per week. That’s $780/year!
When you have an instant coffee and tea maker like a Keurig, it’s just as easy and faster to get the hot beverage you need in the morning.
When you buy your own coffee grounds and use refillable K-cups, you’re saving even more money and being environmentally friendly.
19. Get Free Starbucks
If making your own coffee is too harsh of a frugal lifestyle transition, consider the many ways you can get free Starbucks.
Swagbucks is one of the best ways to get free Starbucks because you don’t have to pay a dime! You just have to take a little time searching the Internet, watching videos, playing games, taking surveys, shopping online etc. You have a lot of options about what you can do!
You can also get Starbucks gift cards by taking surveys on Survey Junkie (Only in U.S., Canada and Australia).
Here’s my post on 9 different ways you can get free Starbucks.
20. Grow your own food
For the last few years, we’ve had a vegetable garden.
Gardening is a huge money saver and it’s healthy – you know where those vegetables came from and how they were grown.
If you start it from seeds and don’t buy the plants, you save even more. You can also use food scraps to grow new food. For example, you can use the celery ends you’re likely cutting off to grow new celery.
Before this garden, I knew nothing about growing vegetables. I hadn’t even owned a plant.
Take it from a newbie like me, just start. Even if it’s just one plant like a basil plant. Once you start, you realize the benefits. 1 parsley plant will become 2.
21. Check your grocery receipts
Every time I go to the grocery store, I make it a habit to check my receipt BEFORE I leave the store. You might be surprised, but 5 times out of 10, there’s often an error on the receipt.
It could be that the sales price wasn’t registered or they scanned the wrong bar code and the 50% off sticker wasn’t applied.
If you’re in Canada, there’s the Scanner Price Accuracy Code. When the scanned price is higher than the displayed price:
- If the correct price is under $10, the retailer should give the product to the customer for free
- If the correct price is over $10, the retailer should give the customer a $10 discount off the correct price
22. Don’t drink bottled water
I used to drink bottled water all the time until I met a person who worked in the water department in our government. He said that he only drinks tap water and not bottled water.
He said, “I know exactly what’s coming out of the water from the tap – what the water is made out of and I know it’s safe and good to drink. I have no idea what’s in bottled water.”
This got me researching into the subject. I came across articles talking about how bottled water and clean tap water are almost identical in purity and taste.
23. Don’t buy pre-chopped food
If you’re a regular meal planner and you’re busy, it might seem like a good idea to buy the prepared convenience ingredients at the grocery store like:
- shredded cheese
- pre-cut fruit
- bread crumbs
- bagged salads
- spice packets
The cost of this convenience adds up! For example, 300 grams of shredded cheese costs the same as a 400 gram block of the same cheese!
Sure there’s the time involved with shredding, but a little intentional meal prepping can go a long way.
For the shredded cheese, pre-cut fruit and bread crumbs, you can shred/cut/grind these foods quickly in a food processor.
I make everything from hummus to pesto sauce to veggie burgers with mine! It only takes a minute to both process the food and then clean the processor afterwards.
For the salads and spice packets, you more than likely have all of the ingredients in your fridge, pantry and spice rack.
24. Get the best price using Flipp
Flipp is an app that gives you access to all of the weekly flyers and you can search for items to view the best price!
For places that price match like Walmart, Flipp makes price matching easy! Flipp also has coupons!
Related: How to save money on groceries
Frugal Living Tips for Your House
Housing is often the largest expense on your budget. Whether you rent or own your accommodations, here are frugality tips on cutting your living expenses.
25. Downsize your house
There can be a lot of rooms or space in your house that serve no functional purpose.
For example, you might have that extra high ceiling with a big chandelier that serves no purpose other than looking nice. You could have an extra bedroom or bathroom in the house that’s hardly ever used.
All this extra space – it costs money in property taxes, maintenance and utilities.
If you downsize your house, it could mean massive savings.
26. Move further outside of the city
Moving further outside of the city often means both paying less for a house and getting more house for it. You’re likely also paying less property taxes. It’s a win-win.
You might be worried about the inconvenience of living further away from your workplace.
There are ways around this.
I can tell you we moved a couple towns away from the city and it actually took the same amount of time to get to work because we were now right off the highway.
You could probably do the same thing moving to a house that’s closer to more efficient public transit.
27. House hack
House hacking is when you rent out a portion of your house to generate an income. For example, you could get roommates or Airbnb a room or basement in your house.
If you live in a house that can be turned into multiple units, it’s all the easier to house hack.
28. Consider renting
This is a bit of a controversial frugal living tip.
I’m a house owner, but I used to be a renter.
I do think there are a lot of monetary benefits to being a renter vs. an owner.
If you can secure cheap rent in a basement unit that includes utilities and internet, you can save a lot of money each year. You don’t have to pay property taxes or house maintenance costs.
Of course, there is the argument that your rental payments are paying down another person’s mortgage. For individuals who are looking for a more mobile lifestyle, renting can be the solution.
Refinancing can have a lot of benefits like accessing better mortgage rates, having lower monthly payments, shortening your term etc. You could save a lot of money by refinancing.
30. Pay off more of your mortgage
Depending on your mortgage terms, there are many ways to lower your mortgage. For example, you can often:
- Make a lump sum payment to your principal each year
- Switch to accelerated weekly payments instead of monthly ones
- Make additional payments
Naturally, with extra savings, you’ll want to weigh if it makes more sense to pay off your mortgage or invest the money overall.
31. House sit
People need house sitters because they’re going on a vacation, have temporarily relocated for work etc.
Sometimes, the house comes with pet sitting. If you’re retired or have flexibility, house sitting can be a great way to get free accommodations.
If you use a service like Trusted Housesitters (connecting house owners with house sitters around the world), you can even house sit in a new city or country and experience a new lifestyle e.g. living on a beach, staying in a mansion etc.
My sisters-in-law have done this for people throughout Canada and the U.S. They’ve stayed in some incredible places!
Another similar service is Rover. Rover is the nation’s largest network connecting pet sitters/dog walkers and clients and often comes with house sitting.
The advantage of going with Rover is not only getting access to clients, but having the “Rover Guarantee”, which is insurance coverage for certain injuries or damages occurring during the visit. They also provide 24/7 vet assistance support team.
You have the flexibility of setting your own schedule, pricing and pet preferences.
Here’s an interview with a Rover Pet Sitter detailing her experience with Rover and tips to get started.
32. Rent out your garage, shed or land
Your garage and shed can be used as a storage space. Your land can be rented out to farmers.
My in-laws have acres of land up north that they rent out to a soy farmer. That rent money helps pay their property taxes.
33. Live with your parents
Living with your parents can allow you to save money quickly for your own house.
We lived with our parents for a short while. It did test our relationship. You have to go in with the mindset that it’s a short-term situation.
Frugal Living Tips for your Utilities
Here are ways to be thrifty everyday with your regular utilities bills like energy, gas, water, internet, and your cell phone.
34. Use a rain barrel
If you have a yard and water your grass, plants or garden regularly, a rain barrel can save you money on water.
If you’re DIYing your rain barrel and using a trash can or a large bucket, you can get this highly reviewed brass spigot for easier access to the rain barrel water. All you have to do is turn the handle.
It also allows you to hook it up to your garden hose.
To install this particular brass spigot, you’ll need to have access to the inside of the container to install the nut.
35. Use a smart thermostat
Getting the Nest has reduced our energy bill by at least 10%!
Even though my husband and I are not handy or tech saavy, installation of the Nest was easy.
We use the schedule to set temperatures. I love how you can also just use the app on your phone to make temperature adjustments on the go.
I’ve noticed that if you turn down the heat in the winter and the air conditioner in the summer – even just a ½ degree change makes a difference to your energy costs.
Even if you don’t set temperatures, the Nest is a smart device. It learns your habits including using your phone’s location to detect when you’re away to set temperatures that save energy.
The monthly reports they send are also a great reminder to save energy.
36. Check out local energy savings rebate programs
It’s worth checking with your energy provider or googling your area + energy programs to see if there are any savings you qualify for.
If you’re in Canada, once you’ve purchased the Nest, you might be eligible to receive a government rebate.
In Ontario, there’s also the AffordAbility Fund which gives Ontario residents free energy savings upgrades. All we did was fill out some contact information online.
We received a call asking us to confirm our household income and average electricity bill.
Within a few weeks, we received a FREE Home Energy Savings kit which included energy star light bulbs, a power bar, a night light and a fridge/freezer thermometer.
37. Use portable fans and heaters
This is not only a quick way to cool down or warm up only the room you’re occupying, but it’s cheaper too. You don’t have to use the thermostat that impacts the entire house.
I’ve found the closest way to mimic air conditioning in a room is using high velocity tools like this high performance fan.
It’s loud too and drowns out noise if you like some white noise while you sleep.
Here’s a highly reviewed portable space heater on Amazon.
On a side note, one way around not getting a portable heater is just adding layers of clothes.
38. Seal areas
Did you know there are many unsealed areas around your house that could be increasing your energy bill?
You can apply weatherstripping to seal gaps around windows and doors and prevent air leaks.
During the winter, you can use a plastic window film on windows you won’t open and insulate your windows.
Another frugal tip is to keep your curtains closed to keep the heat in during the winter. In the summer, close your windows and curtains during the day to keep the sun out. You can always open the windows at night to let the cold air in.
39. Use LED light bulbs
LED Iight bulbs use significantly less electricity than incandescent bulbs and don’t contain mercury like compact fluorescent bulbs.
LED light bulbs are versatile and can be used for lighting around the house as well as for outdoors for the holidays.
If you have areas in your house where you don’t need such bright light, get lower wattage LED light bulbs instead.
If you combine it with a dimmer switch that’s compatible with LED lights, you’re compounding your savings.
The dimmer switch has come in particularly handy when my daughter says she’s hungry late at night. She can have her snack in a dimmed environment and more easily transition to bedtime.
We also use an LED motion sensor light in one of our bathrooms. It’s plugged into the wall. It’s great for when we need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Since this bathroom doesn’t have a window, we actually often just use it as a light in general.
40. Use a portable light
Using a portable light instead of the room’s light will save money on energy.
When you’re studying or working late at your desk or reading a book, you don’t necessarily need to light up the whole room.
In fact, if you’re reading a bedtime story to your little one, you probably don’t want to have too bright of a light on anyways!
This LED portable light has a touch switch with 3 levels of brightness to accommodate the different scenarios above. It has a built in rechargeable battery.
You can easily rotate it to where you need it to be placed.
It has a clip base so it can save you space on your table.
41. Use smaller appliances
If you use the toaster, microwave or Instant Pot instead of the oven or stove to heat up, toast or cook small amounts of food, it’s not only faster, it’s also more energy efficient.
The same applies to an electric kettle for boiling water instead of a pot on the stove.
Of course, you probably want to use only as much water as you need each time to not waste heat on excess water that will not be used.
42. Use the oven and stove efficiently
If you have to use the oven or stove, you can incorporate these frugal tips to save you more money:
- Cook with lids on or slightly ajar (if you need the air circulation) to speed up cooking time
- Turn the stove and oven off a bit early and let the built up heat finish the job
- Use the correct size pan for the burner or heating element i.e. if you’re using a small pan, use a small burner on the stove
43. Use the fridge efficiently
There are many frugal energy hacks for the fridge too:
- Don’t overfill the fridge as the cold air within the fridge needs space to be able to circulate. If the fridge is full, the unit needs to work harder to ensure proper air circulation to keep the fridge cold.
- The freezer should be full. The less space available in the freezer, the less energy the freezer uses to keep the temperature down.
- Clean the door seal so that it closes tightly.
- When going away for extended periods, consider setting your fridge and freezer to the highest manufacturer recommended settings or emptying it and unplugging it.
44. Air dry dishes
I air dry my dishes 90% of the time because you save so much money from not using the dishwasher.
As we mostly cook at home, dirty dishes and utensils build up fast!
45. Frugal Dishwasher Tips
If I have to use the dishwasher, which is usually for parties, here are a few frugal dishwasher tips:
- Pack it to the brim when you do use it
- Scrape excess food off dishes, but don’t pre-rinse dishes
- Set it to the light soil cycle
- Turn off the manual heat dry setting and let the dishes air dry
- Don’t put any large pots or pans in the dishwasher – just hand wash these
46. Don’t use the dryer
One frugal trick is to hang dry clothes on an indoor rack near a sunny window or outside.
Initially, I thought it would be too much work to use an indoor rack.
Now that I’ve been using it for a while, I’ve realized you can hang clothes quite quickly. Here’s how I hang up my clothes in less than 7 minutes:
- I put matching socks and underwear along the small perimeter slots.
- Large items (e.g. towels, jeans) go on the outer horizontal rods on the top tier.
- Smaller pieces (e.g. shirts, shorts, and babies’ clothing) go on the bottom tier.
- When everything’s dry, I fold and organize them in the laundry bin before placing them in the closet.
47. Frugal Washer and Dryer Hacks
If you have to use the dryer, you can make it as energy efficient as possible by adding a dry towel to the dryer to help absorb the moisture and reduce drying time.
Here are other frugal washer and dryer tips:
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water
- Wash full as opposed to partial loads
- Use half the amount of detergent recommended if you have loads that have relatively unsoiled clothes. This not only increases the lifespan of your washing machine, but also your clothes.
- Clean the lint trap of your dryer after every load and ensure the vent isn’t blocked
- Avoid putting very wet clothes in the dryer and instead, wring the clothes out by hand
- If drying more than one load, do the second load right away so the dryer doesn’t cool down
Related: Here are the best shopping tips and tricks for frugal female fashion.
48. Install a low flow shower head
Having a low flow shower head can decrease your water consumption significantly.
Low flow doesn’t necessarily mean low pressure for a less satisfying shower experience.
There are low flow, high pressure shower heads available.
Another frugal living tip is to avoid taking showers everyday. There could be negative health consequences for taking showers everyday like having drier and itchier skin.
Taking shorter showers also helps save money on water.
49. Frugal Hot Water Heater Tips
There are also many frugal ways you can lower your hot water use to save money:
- Lower the temperature of the hot water heater. 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most.
- Wrap the tank with an insulated blanket or sleeves, especially if it’s in an unheated space. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on where not to cover which might include the top, bottom, thermostat and burner compartment.
- Insulate the first 6 feet of hot and cold water pipes connected to the hot water heater
- If you will be out of town for more than a few days, consider turning off your hot water heater
- Drain the water at least once a year to remove sediment
- Bleed trapped air from the hot water radiators at least once a year to clear its normal flow.
If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here’s a video summary of these frugal living tips with a big impact:
50. Unplug electronic items
Unplugging your unused electronics can minimize phantom power and lower your energy bill.
To make it easier on yourself to unplug devices, you can get an autoswitching energy bar.
51. Maintain your appliances
To stretch the lifespan of your appliances and ensure they’re optimally working, you’ll want to read the manuals and do all of the recommended maintenance.
For example, you’ll want to:
- defrost your fridge
- clean your oven
- clean your dishwasher filter
- clean the debris from the air conditioner coolant coils
You want to address anything that could possibly make the unit work harder and use more energy.
52. Cut the landline
If you have a cell phone, ditch the landline.
Unless you live in an area with poor cell coverage and significantly more expensive cell plans, there’s no financial reason to have a landline.
With apps like Whatsapp, you can talk and text on your cell around the world for free.
If you want to take it one step further, we experimented with using 1 cell phone between 2 people for a year when we were abroad.
It actually worked well. Unintentionally, it made us more productive because we weren’t constantly checking the phone notifications.
53. Combine your policies
Depending on your situation and providers, you can often combine your policies to get a bigger overall discount.
For example, you can often combine your home internet and phone or your house and auto insurance policies.
Alternatively, you can get family plans where several households in your family are under the same plan (e.g. phone plan).
54. Buy your modem and router
You might not even realize you’re renting your modem. I was renting my modem and router for $10/month for years!
When you buy a modem, you don’t even need to get the modem from that particular provider. You can get a no name brand modem.
It just has to be compatible with your provider and match your plan (e.g. download speed) and situation (e.g. square footage of space covered, consider number of devices using it).
55. Negotiate contracts for regular expenses
You might think that rates at big companies are not negotiable. You can negotiate everything from your cell phone and Internet to your home and car insurance policy.
Here are best practices I’ve used to successfully negotiate contracts:
- Negotiate 2 months before your contract ends
- Speak with the customer loyalty/retention department (they can give you better rates)
- Check your current provider’s promotions
- Mention the competitor’s rates (make sure you’re noting competitors that actually apply to your area and consider any initial sign up fees)
- Check with your employer or membership association for group discounts
If you are uncomfortable with negotiating, learn from a negotiation book.
Frugal Living Tips to Save on Transportation
Transportation, especially cars, can bleed your budget dry. Here are basic frugality tips on how to save money on all forms of transportation.
56. Become a 1 car household
This is ideal if one partner is a stay at home parent or works from home.
It might seem like an impossible task for others, but schedules can be moved around. There are other ways of getting from place to place other than driving.
You can carpool with your spouse, your neighbors or your co-workers. I’ve carpooled with all 3.
It might be a bit inconvenient to arrange, but it can save you so much money because everyone splits the gas bill.
My husband and I used to carpool to work. Carpooling for us meant I had to wait an extra 30 minutes for him after work everyday, but I just used the time to read or talk to my family.
58. Maintain your car
Do the routine oil changes and other recommended maintenance. If you maintain your car well, it will last longer.
59. Buy a good used car
You’ve likely heard about how cars lose half their value within the first few years so it doesn’t make sense to buy a new car.
60. Combine your errands
For example, if you’re going to the bank, go to the grocery store as well so you’re not making separate trips and wasting money on gas. It’s also better for the environment!
61. Walk when you can
You can walk to do your errands. If you’re driving and you have errands within the same plaza or just next door, you can walk from errand to errand.
When I was on maternity leave, I used to walk to the grocery store all the time.
By walking, I know it means you likely can’t buy as much as you would like. You can always add storage like using a bag or stroller (if applicable) to be able to come back with more.
Walking is also just great exercise and you save money on gas.
62. Bike or rollerblade
Depending on how far away you live, walking to get your errands done can take a lot of time.
Biking or rollerblading is faster than walking. It can be a fun way to get your tasks done in the summer.
63. Take public transportation
If you can’t walk, bike or rollerblade, you can take public transportation.
You can also do a hybrid of walking there and taking public transportation on the way back. Of course, you want to do the calculations to understand if taking public transit is actually cheaper than driving.
64. Wash your own car
It’s cheaper than going through a car wash and a nice way to spend time on a hot day.
You also don’t run the risk of getting scratches from the automatic car washes at gas stations.
65. Get free oil changes
You can actually do this through getting paid to mystery shop.
BestMark is a company offering mystery shops in the U.S. and Canada.
They pay cash for doing a mystery shop in person or over the phone or online.
Some of their mystery shops involve getting your car’s oil changed or having a meal at a restaurant – things you would normally do anyways.
You don’t need any experience. BestMark doesn’t require you to take a minimum number of shops each month.
66. Raise your deductible
Raising your deductible to $500 or $1000 can lower your auto insurance policy.
Of course, you’ll want to do the math to ensure it makes sense for your situation.
If you can’t afford to raise your deductible in the event of an accident, you might not want to do this.
If you have a lot of accidents, you’ll want to have a lower deductible. If you have a low value vehicle, you might want to consider lowering your coverage.
67. Clean out your car
Excess weight means you need more gas to drive it.
Remove the car stroller you often don’t use from the trunk. Consider taking out the extra speakers if you have them.
68. Work from home
Working from home even 1 or 2 days a week can make a difference on your gas bill and prolong the life of your vehicle.
69. Drive economically
For example, accelerate gently, don’t break quickly, don’t speed etc.
You’ll also want to keep your tires at the right pressure so you’re not unnecessarily wasting gas.
70. Avoid traveling on toll roads
While toll roads often get you to your destination faster, you can sometimes make a few adjustments like drive at a different time of day and travel inroads to avoid paying toll fees.
If this significantly increases your commute time, it might not be worth it.
71. Drive your car until it breaks down
What I mean is when the replacement parts cost more than the car’s worth.
While you often need a car to get to and from, they’re the biggest money guzzlers. Make sure you’re squeezing every last mile or km you can from the car you own.
Frugal Living Tips for Shopping
Here are modern frugality tips for shopping for goods.
72. Use Honey
Honey is an application that looks at the items in your cart and helps you search for coupon codes. If it finds relevant codes, it enters them AUTOMATICALLY! You never have to search for coupon codes online again!
It also has other money saving features like cash back, price drop notifications, and a price history. It’s FREE to use.
Here’s my detailed review on Honey here.
73. Use a cash back site
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) pays you cash back for shopping at any of their partnered companies, which includes Amazon, eBay and Target in the U.S.!
In the U.S., you can even get $10 for FREE if you sign up at Rakuten now.
You have to spend $25 within 90 days of signing which should be a breeze since Rakuten is affiliated with over 2500 stores.
In Canada, there is a $5 sign up offer.
Check out my full review on Rakuten.
74. Buy discount gift cards
There are online gift card marketplaces where you can buy discounted gift cards including grocery store gift cards that other people are selling.
I’ve also seen discounted gift cards for IGA, Safeway, Longo’s, Sobeys and Fortino’s.
75. Use the dollar store
There are many dollar stores where you can get huge savings for everyday products.
Dollar Tree is one of my favorite dollar stores because
- Everything there is actually $1 or less (not $2, $3 or $4 like other “Dollar” stores)
- They have FREE shipping to store
Not everything at the Dollar Tree is worth it. Sometimes you get what you pay for. For example, I would stay away from anything electronic.
There are some great bargains. Pieces you’ll find at other retailers for $3-10!
Here’s what I like to buy at Dollar Tree:
- Organization containers and bins
- Candles (we bought our wedding candles here)
- Pregnancy tests (and yes they were accurate both times!)
- Hair elastics
- Party and gift supplies
76. Consider buying it used
You can buy almost new items at thrift stores, yard sales or online marketplaces (e.g. Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, eBay and VarageSale).
Prices are better. You can often wash or sanitize the item before bringing it into your home.
77. Cut your costs on non-essentials
There are a lot of things you don’t need that can feel like they’re essential.
For example, yoga classes or Starbucks coffee.
When you’re about to purchase something, you should always ask yourself:
- Do I really need this item?
- Do I have something that already fulfills this need?
- What is buying this item costing me in time, money, and what I could have otherwise used the money towards?
It can be helpful to think about what you’re really giving up to understand if the purchase is worth it.
78. Reuse items
For example, you can often reuse gift bags, tissue paper and wrapping paper if it’s not too wrinkled.
You can reuse ziplock bags. Just wash them out and hang dry them.
You can also buy more reusable items. For example, instead of buying paper towels, you can use microfiber cloths.
79. Do a no spend challenge
What’s a no buy challenge?
It’s when you don’t spend money over a specific period of time like a weekend, week or a month.
It might seem impossible to do this, but you can give yourself rules and allowances like being able to spend on groceries.
The benefits of doing a no spend challenge are often that you learn to make the most out of what you have and learn new skills to avoid going shopping.
Here is my complete guide on the no buy challenge.
80. Borrow for special occasion outfits
If you’re going to a formal event where you’ll need a very fancy dress, you should consider borrowing instead of buying this outfit.
Ask your family and friends if they have any clothing that fits the bill.
You can also rent dresses from Rent the Runway.
You don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for an outfit you’ll potentially only wear once or twice.
81. Swap goods
A fun frugal living tip is to attend a swap party.
What’s a swap party?
It’s an event for a group of friends to get together to trade items like clothes, baby items, household goods etc. There are rules so that it’s fair and fun for everyone.
Since you know where the goods are coming from, you can feel comfortable knowing you’re getting things in good condition.
This is one of my favorite ways to shop for things on a budget because:
- It’s FREE – you don’t have to spend any money.
- You can clean out your house!
You can turn your unused goods into new things you actually need!
Related: Tips on how to Host a Swap Party
82. Build a capsule wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is a great way to save money.
You have everything you need in your capsule wardrobe. You don’t need to shop for any more clothing.
Having a minimalist wardrobe also makes getting ready in the morning efficient because you have less choices to consider.
What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?
It’s often when:
- You have around 1-5 of each type of clothing in your closet.
- Every piece is one you LOVE and makes you feel happy and confident!
- The pieces don’t go out of style.
- Ideally each piece goes well together so you can mix and match to create a lot of combinations.
You don’t have to limit yourself to these rules. You can adapt this concept to your lifestyle and preferences.
Read more about how to build a capsule wardrobe here.
Frugal Entertainment Tips
Entertainment often feels like the area on your budget where you can splurge a little. While that can be the case, there are many frugal ways you can cut your costs, while still enjoying yourself.
83. Use the library
The library has so many free resources other than books and magazines.
I often rent movies and TV shows from the library. You might think that it just has older movies, but I get new releases on DVD there all the time.
You could also rent music and video games from the library and attend events with free admission.
Some of our favorite events at the local library are baby circle time and sensory play, farmer’s markets and their annual Halloween event for kids.
84. Cancel cable
You no longer need cable with the many streaming services available like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.
I use Netflix and Amazon Prime primarily.
What I love about Amazon Prime is that it not only gives you access to movies and TV shows, the membership also includes access to music, books, and 2 day shipping.
You can also get 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions through Amazon.
If you want to try it out, get the Amazon 30 day FREE trial here, which you can cancel at anytime.
You can also share both your Netflix and Amazon accounts with others so you pay a cheaper individual price.
85. Get free audiobooks
While the library often has free audiobooks, it might not always have the selection.
Audible, an Amazon company, has the world’s largest selection of digital audiobooks.
Audible has a 30 day trial where you can get 2 books for FREE. Even if you cancel within the free trial period, the books are yours to keep!
A neat feature I love about Audible is that you can increase the speed of the narration. That way you get to listen to more books!
86. Go to free local events
In addition to library events, there are also likely many free local events in your town or city.
In my town, there are always festivals happening to celebrate the seasons or special occasions. New stores are opening and having grand openings for the public to be able to test out the product.
87. Go to the park or on a hike
This is a fun, free way to get some exercise as well. If you bring a snack or lunch, you can make it into a picnic.
88. Cancel magazine and newspaper subscriptions
Between the internet and the library, you don’t need any magazine or newspaper subscriptions.
89. Do a paint night
I did a paint night with my husband on Valentine’s Day. We went to a restaurant that was hosting the event. With the guidance of a professional painter, we tried to duplicate this one painting.
It was such a special and memorable event. A great way to break the routine and create something.
After this experience, I realized you can easily DIY a paint night at a fraction of the cost.
When you’re ready to start, you can YouTube “Paint Night” or “Painting Tutorial” and follow along.
If you’re feeling creative, you can paint whatever you want without assistance.
This activity is cheap entertainment for a few hours, and you’ll have a keepsake you can hang up!
If you want to have a paint night every month or two, you’ll only have to buy the canvasses.
90. Sign up for birthday freebies
Instead of spending a lot on your birthday, take advantage of the many birthday freebies that are available.
On this list, there are freebies for dinner, desserts, drinks, makeup and more! There’s stuff for adults and kids!
Here are a few examples:
- Join Denny’s rewards program and get a free original grand slam including 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 bacon strips and 2 sausage links! You need a valid picture ID and it’s only valid on your actual birthday. That’s a full free entree!
- Join the Baskin Robbins birthday club and get a coupon for a free 2.5 oz scoop and $3 off an ice cream cake on your birthday!
- Sign up to the Dunkin Donuts Perks program and get a free beverage on your birthday.
- Join the Banana Republic/Old Navy/Gap U.S. email list or Canada email list and get an instant 25% off gift. Make sure you sign up with their birthday club so you can get a free gift on your birthday.
- Sign up with the American Eagle/Aerie rewards program and get 15% off the month of your birthday.
- Sign up to Michaels rewards and get a great coupon on your birthday.
91. Play a board game
Board games only have the one time cost and you can play them for hours of entertainment.
I really like this Codenames game I played at a staff party earlier this year.
It’s a word association strategy game. I was pleasantly surprised to see they have a 2 player version available if you have a smaller family!
92. Do a puzzle
Puzzles are both challenging and relaxing.
You can pick one that can be finished in a night. Or do one that can extend over a weekend.
When you’re finished, you can trade puzzles with family and friends so it doesn’t just sit on your shelf and you get a new puzzle to try.
93. Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill can be both entertaining and useful.
You can do it frugally through Skillshare. There are free courses.
There are also premium courses available at a cost. However, you can sign up here and get the first 2 months of Skillshare premium for FREE.
Skillshare’s topics are varied from music to photography to film & video to interior design to productivity to business. Yes – they even have juggling and salsa dancing classes available.
94. Learn to say no
If your circle of friends goes out to dinner and drinks all the time, it can get really expensive.
While it’s nice to go out for dinner every now and then, it’s also okay to say no. They’re your friends and will understand that you’re trying to stick to a budget.
Alternatively, you could make a more affordable suggestion like having a potluck or meeting after dinner for some light snacks at someone’s house instead.
95. DIY your manicure
It’s so much cheaper than going to a nail salon.
Frugal Living Tips on Health and Wellness
Here are frugal living tips for maintaining your health and wellness.
96. Cut your own hair
My husband used to get haircuts once every 2-3 months at $20/visit. For me, it was every 4 months at $40/visit. It would be roughly $220/year.
Then he heard about the idea of getting clippers to cut his own hair. Clippers usually cost less than $50.
He can cut his own hair with the clippers and this hair cutting cloak we got (to help with easy cleaning), but I usually do it for him.
They’re easy to use! The cut looks great. We still use these clippers today. It’s been 5 years.
He also cuts my hair! For my hair, we just watched a couple of YouTube videos.
97. Buy your eyeglasses online
I used to purchase my glasses in a physical store until I stumbled across online glasses shopping. I haven’t looked back.
It’s cheaper and the glasses are just as good in terms of quality and comfort.
I know that buying your glasses online might seem impractical because you don’t get to see and feel the glasses on your face.
Nowadays, there’s technology that allows you to automatically see the glasses on your face in a picture like with EyeBuyDirect. You no longer have to worry about the glasses not fitting your face.
EyeBuyDirect has the most frugal prices available. I’ve purchased 2 pairs of eyeglasses with a prescription, UV protection AND BLUE LIGHT FILTERS for $121.
Here’s my review on EyeBuyDirect including what I liked and disliked.
98. Practice self-care
You know that self-care is important.
Somehow it’s often just a thought in the back of your mind. It’s not a priority until…
You crash and you have to do that much more self-care to mentally and physically rebalance yourself.
Before you get to that breaking point, it’s good to practice self-care as part of your routine.
Self-care can be seen as an expensive habit that takes a lot of time. For example, going to the spa or getting a massage or facial.
99. Don’t pay for exercise
I used to think that I needed to sign up for fitness classes to get a good workout.
Then my husband got me Just Dance for our Wii. After 3 songs, I was sweating buckets!
I realized I don’t need to go to these classes – I can exercise at home!
I started Youtubing workout videos. You can find all types of fitness classes from beginner to advanced levels for FREE on Youtube!
100. Use an electric shaver
I used to think that the only way you could shave is through disposable razors and shaving gel.
Then I met my husband. One day, I used his Philips electric shaver – the one he uses to shave his beard.
At first, I thought there might be an important difference between the men’s and women’s versions, but there wasn’t.
A shaver is a shaver. Now we share the same shaver!
I love it! It’s quick and easy to use. You don’t need shaving gel. The blades don’t need to be changed or sharpened.
He’s had this shaver for over 15 years! Fingers crossed – we’ll never have to buy anything in this category ever again.
If you calculate the cost of disposable razors, shaving gel x 2 people over a lifetime = $ hundreds of dollars worth of savings!
101. Cut or minimize your unhealthy habits
Unhealthy habits include smoking, drinking alcohol and eating junk food.
I know this is often easier said than done.
You can take little steps if you need to. Start by making small changes like smoking less, drinking more water and eating more varieties of nuts.
It also helps to lessen how often you see people who are regularly smoking, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy food. You are often the sum of the 5 people you’re closest to.
102. Don’t use disposable panty liners, tampons or pads
I’m sorry to exclude my male readers.
These reusable cloth pads are too practical to not share with my female readers! Not only do they help you live more frugally, they’re more comfortable than disposables and environmentally friendly.
As the cloth pad wraps around the underwear and snaps to itself, it might slide around.
I highly recommend using tight underwear, it will prevent the cloth pad from moving.
I use period underwear because I’m a heavy bleeder and the fit is snug. I put the reusable cloth pad on the period underwear during the day.
This might seem excessive, but I hate cleaning stained sheets and blankets so it’s well worth it for me to have the extra layers.
On my first or second heavier flow nights, I sometimes go past the underwear layer and reach the shorts layer, but the bed pad always saves the day!
If you use tampons, you might want to also consider the Diva cup. It’s a reusable menstrual cup that collects rather than absorbs. It’s made of 100% healthcare grade silicone. It offers up to 12 hours of leak free protection.
I, however, am not a Diva cup user. I did try the Diva Cup and it got lost up there! I couldn’t get it out. My husband had to come help me retrieve it. It was a horrific and traumatic experience!
If you’re thinking of trying the Diva cup out, I recommend having a trusted partner or friend around for the first time just in case!
103. Consider going “No Poo”
This might seem a bit extreme, but I no longer buy shampoo.
I don’t buy it for myself. I’ve never bought it for my 2 year old. Yes – you read that right. She’s never had shampoo on her hair.
How do I clean our hair?
I just use water and this boar bristle brush to make the scritching and preening process faster.
Scritching is when you massage your head, loosen the dead skin cells and oil and transfer your scalp oils to the pads of your fingers.
Preening is running the pads of your fingers down the length of your hair to distribute the oils throughout, particularly at the ends.
If you’re interested in trying this, here’s my complete no poo guide.
When I wrote this guide, I hadn’t started no poo for myself yet. I had only done it with my toddler. I’m happy to report it worked well with my hair too.
My hair is healthier and stronger than it’s ever been.
Additional Frugal Living Tips
Here are extra frugal living tips to improve your finances and other aspects of your life.
104. Track your expenses
Budgeting can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before.
However, you need to know how money is flowing out of your account – where you’re spending your money.
You could be overpaying for something or overspending in a category you could be saving money on.
If you’re looking for a budget template:
Related Article: Simple Budgeting Tips for Beginners
105. Use a no-fee bank
There are many no-fee banks that operate mostly online and don’t have physical locations.
If you’re in Canada, I use Tangerine Bank. It might seem as though not having traditional bank locations would make banking more difficult, but this hasn’t been my experience.
This is particularly because Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank so Tangerine customers can access all Scotiabank ATMs in Canada at no cost.
There are many benefits to using Tangerine. Here’s my complete Tangerine review.
When you sign up for a new Tangerine account and enter a valid orange key (here’s mine: 35762624S1), you can qualify for up to $200 in bonus cash.
106. Pay your insurance policies in advance
Insurance policies include home, auto or life insurance.
If you pay an insurance policy at the beginning of the term, you can usually charge it over credit card and get the credit card points! You might also qualify for a discount.
107. Make gifts
For example, you can make crafts, knit clothing, bake cookies or grow your plants.
I’ve given aloe vera plants to several people as gifts.
Related: Here are the best frugal Christmas ideas to save money during the holidays!
108. DIY what you need
For example, my husband repurposed a broken rain barrel as a composter.
Here’s another example. We wanted to get a large cat litter box so we used a clear plastic bin, removed the lid and cut a hole down one of the sides to make it easier for the cat to jump into the bin.
You can also attend a Home Depot workshop. Your local Home Depot likely has weekly workshops where you can learn all types of useful skills about how to DIY things around the house.
109. Try to fix things yourself
If something breaks, try to fix it first.
Nowadays, you can YouTube all types of solutions.
We have no plumbing knowledge.
Our kitchen sink got clogged. Instead of paying for a plumber, we were able to fix it ourselves.
We initially tried using boiling water and taking apart the pipes to clean them out, but it didn’t work. We bought a plumber’s snake to try to dislodge the clog and that also didn’t work.
Then we tried a sink plunger and that cleared the clog! It must have been quite far down as it took around 50 plunges.
Tip if you have a double sink: You have to put the cap on one sink to keep the air pressure inside the tubes. As the plunger is strong, the cap will likely lift up itself. I had to put my foot down on the cap to stop it from lifting upwards.
Not only were we able to save money on a plumbing fee, we can now fix this problem when it happens again in the future!
110. Use less of each product
Less toothpaste. Less mouthwash. Less lotion.
You’d be surprised, but you can likely use much less product than you’re using and achieve the same result.
111. Use every last drop
It’s frugal and less wasteful to use every last drop of a product from toothpaste to ketchup.
If you can’t reach the last few drops, cut the tube or bottle.
If it’s a liquid, you can also balance the bottle upside down over the opening of the new bottle so you can let the remainder run down.
If it’s shampoo, you can add a little bit of water to it, shake the bottle and get a few more uses out of it.
112. Never pay credit card debt
Credit cards usually have the highest interest rates (20%+) while line of credits are usually around 5%.
You should never be paying credit card interest. Instead, open up a line of credit and transfer the debt.
113. Learn from frugal living personal finance experts
Learning from people who have achieved what you aim for (e.g. early retirement) is the fastest way to achieve your financial goals.
My favorite personal finance book is Your Money or Your Life. It has a great section on frugal living.
Here’s a list of other personal finance books I recommend.
If you have a lot of things in your house and not much of an organization system, it’s time to declutter.
If you don’t clean up, you run the risk of buying duplicates of what you already own.
Understandably, decluttering can be a big task so take it slowly. Give yourself a little to do each day. When you look through your things, think about its usefulness now and in the future.
The book Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is helpful for starting your decluttering journey. It focuses on only keeping possessions that “spark joy”.
Getting rid of the things in your life that you don’t like or use anymore – that’s just making more space for other things that do.
Final Thoughts on Frugal Living Tips
Thanks for reading this long list of frugal living tips! As you can see, some might seem more extreme than others.
Apply the ones that you feel comfortable with. You can always bookmark this page and come back to try more!
If you’re looking for more tips on frugal living, here’s a list of the best frugal living books – packed with real experiences and effective frugality strategies.
Related Ideas for Saving Money
- No Spend Challenge: How to Not Spend Money for 30 days or More
- Honey Review: How to get the Best Prices Available
- Ebates Review: How to Make and Save Money Fast
- Best Money Saving Tips to Save You $1000’s
- 18 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money Every Day
- 11 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- EyeBuyDirect Review: How to Get Glasses for Cheap Prices
- Easy Budgeting Tips for Beginners
Enjoyed this post?