Frugal Living Ideas
Coming up with frugal living ideas can be really hard for some folks. Whenever I find something that makes a difference in the bottom line that seems a little out of the ordinary (to some people anyway) – I get all happy. Especially when it’s a small enough change that we don’t feel deprived.
Being frugal does require a different mindset and sometimes it requires sacrifices. But unless your situation is very dire – the less deprived you feel the more likely that you’ll stick to your new game plan.
And since I like to share – below you’ll find 10 easy frugal living ideas that have made a difference to our family!
The frugal living ideas in this article aren’t all feasible for every family. Pick and choose those ideas that are right for your individual situation!
1. Give Up Satellite or Cable TV
Satellite and cable TV are ridiculously expensive (in my humble opinion). All those channels and it still seems like there is nothing on. We had cable for years because that’s just what you did back in the day.
During one of our tougher financial times, we were coming up with frugal living ideas. I thought TV would be easier to give up than some other areas and my husband agreed. So we decided to try no cable for a few months and see what would happen.
That was a few years ago…as you can tell we didn’t really miss it. We’re definitely not TV-free, we just use a combination of Netflix (which we stream through our Sony Playstation 3) and an antenna to pick up local channels. One of the biggest positive side effects has been the massive drop in commercials my kids are watching.
I am a HUGE fan of Netflix. It’s not always first run stuff, but there is nearly always something I enjoy watching and the kids’ selection of shows is awesome. Plus, it’s ridiculously cheap for all that entertainment.
If you need to see TV shows as they come along – check out Hulu (Hulu Plus is their premium service which does still contain commercials, but allows you a more flexible timeframe and bigger selection.) The commercials are shorter and less frequent and the service is comparable in price to Netflix.
2. Make Your Own Homemade Cleaning Supplies
Homemade cleaning supplies are truly an amazing thing. I always thought that making your own cleaners would be a time-consuming process that I just didn’t want to deal with. And I sort of assumed that they simply wouldn’t work as well. Aren’t modern chemicals the product of science after all?
But after getting a look at my cleaning cupboard I realized just how much money and space I was using with a zillion different store-bought cleaners. I felt like I was always picking up a bottle of this or a bottle of that when I went to the store.
Little by little I’ve discovered that with some super inexpensive ingredients (water, baking soda, vinegar, etc) you can make some awesome cleaning products that work better! My only sunk cost was investing in some cheap (really cheap – like $1.67 a bottle) spray bottles that I can reuse (although you could always recycle the old store-bought bottles).
3. Make Your Own Personal Care Items
I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with homemade personal care products (makeup, makeup remover, shampoo, shaving cream, deodorant, etc) in order to better control ingredients and costs. I went into it thinking that the store bought stuff would most likely be better, but thought it was definitely worth a shot.
I can honestly say that so far – I was dead wrong. Cool huh?
Everything I’ve made to date I’ve liked better. And it’s cheaper. I will say that there is a “start-up” investment – I needed to accumulate things like cocoa butter, shea butter, essential oils, and containers to put things in (mason jars are your friend). But most items keep for a long time so multiple batches of products can be made. And storage containers last forever (as long as you don’t drop your glass jars…ha!)
I think that making your own personal care items is one of the best frugal living ideas out there.
4. Buy Used Clothing or Score Hand-Me-Downs
Clothes are expensive. But since most of us aren’t walking around naked – I’m guessing we all buy them. And when you have kids – the cost just goes up.
A super simple frugal living idea is to ask around your circle of friends and find out who you can get hand-me-downs from. I am probably the world’s biggest proponent of hand-me-downs. I love giving them and I love receiving them. My kids’ wardrobes have been mainly composed of hand-me-downs. It just feels like good karma.
Of course, hand-me-downs won’t always fill the entire bill (no winter coat or only 2 T-shirts and you need 5 or something). There are a lot of kid’s resale and consignment shops – use them! They are simply awesome ways of buying (and selling) gently used kid’s clothing with dramatic price cuts. There’s even online versions nowadays (try ebay.com or thredup.com).
5. Shop For Cheaper Insurance
Insurance is completely necessary. I never would recommend going without. And it can be expensive – between house, car, renter’s, life, medical, etc. There’s a lot of insurance that most of us need/use. And notice I said ‘cheaper’ NOT ‘crappier’. Quality is very important.
But it’s one of those things that can nearly always be tweaked a bit. And I’m not saying opt for less coverage (although sometimes that might be appropriate – for example an older model car with other than collision coverage that hasn’t been changed since the car was new).
My frugal living idea is to spend a few hours once a year or so making sure you’ve got the best deals out there (via bundling, going online versus using an agent, etc) just might be worth your while.
6. Stop Buying Books/DVD’s/Blu-Ray’s/CD’s
One of the easiest frugal living ideas I’ve ever utilitized is this – use the library. I can’t stress this enough. Let me say it again. Use The Library.
You’ll be amazed at what is available to you via your local public library. You might end up waiting a little while versus having it in your hot little hand immediately, but anticipation just makes watching or listening to the item that much sweeter! Besides if you borrow from the library versus purchasing it, that’s one less thing you have to store in your home. Bonus!
7. Swap Goods or Services
We needed some yard work done that we just didn’t want to deal with (think digging out a tree stump). So we asked one of the local landscaper types if he’d trade us for the work and he said yes! We got the stump dug up and some bush trimming done and we parted ways with our old lawnmower and crib.
I’m always surprised at how easy it is to swap for things, but how often it doesn’t even occur to me to do it. We’ve turned into such a cash for items/services society that people have forgotten all about the good old fashioned swap.
But I bet you have swapped at one point or another – trading your time for beer and pizza to help a friend move, swapping babysitting with another family, having a friend help you color your hair and paying her with homemade cookies are just a few examples that come to mind.
8. Borrow If Possible
This one comes up all the time in my neighborhood. And it makes me very grateful to live in a place where people are comfortable enough to ask to borrow things and comfortable enough to loan things out. It is perhaps one of the easiest frugal living ideas out there.
Borrowing things works best when it’s something you need to use every once in a while. It can save you rental fees or the purchase price of something (and also save you the hassle of storing a rarely used item.)
Have a friend with a rototiller? Need to use it once a year? I’d be willing to bet he or she would let you use it if you asked nicely. You can always return the favor with something you have that he or she needs.
9. Buy Less Food
I think most people buy too much food. There can be a cost savings when it comes to buying certain items in bulk, but not if the food is then tossed into the trash can. I keep reading statistics that say that Americans waste up to 40% of the food they purchase! That’s a lot of money down the drain (not to mention the wastefulness of it all).
My frugal living idea is to buy less food. Easy right? Write out a specific list of items that you will eat in a specific time period (week, month, etc) and shop for ONLY those items.
I’ve been working on this lately and in truth I’m finding it very satisfying. At first I hated seeing a nearly empty fridge. I even tried to trick myself by placing all kinds of bins for storage in my fridge so it looked more full than it really was.
But suddenly I’ve started to LIKE seeing my fridge emptied out each week. At the grocery store, I’ve been automatically reaching for things and then intentionally stopping and asking myself if I would realistically use the item that week. And honestly? Most of the time I put it back. Because my eyes are nearly always bigger than my stomach.
10. Ditch the Land Line
We realized we were paying $75 a month for unlimited long distance for a landline and another $125 a month in cell phone bills (that contain free long distance!) So we discontinued the land line and only have our cell phones. Instant $75 savings. Instant awesome.
What frugal living ideas work for your family? I’d love to hear them!