Frugal living means being wise about how you spend your money, but it also means stretching every dollar to the extreme and living a life of extreme simplicity. If you want to really save money – extreme frugality may be for you! In this post we’ll cover some ways that go beyond simple budgeting:
– Extreme Frugality Tips To Save Money On Food
– Extreme Frugality Tips Around The Home
– Extreme Frugality in Personal Care, Gift Giving and more!
– How to Life a Frugal Lifestyle with these extreme frugal living tips
Let’s get to it!
How to Save Money Around the Home
Frugal living tip around the home: in order to reduce clutter, be more mindful of what you buy. Use limited space wisely by investing in furniture that has multiple functions! For example – stacking cubes or nesting tables allow for maximum storage while keeping things neat and tidy.
Here are some other amazing ways to save money on a tight budget around the home:
- Clean on hands and knees instead of using a Swiffer or other disposable mop system. My husband has always done this and I will admit, I thought it was strange at first, but it definitely saves us money vs. the Swiffer pads I used to buy!
- Going along with number one is to use reusable cleaning cloths instead of those Swiffer pads. When my hubs is ready to wipe down the floor he grabs one of our reusable wash cloths, gets it wet and puts dish soap on it (yep! No fancy cleaners here!) and gets on his hands and knees to do the floor. Then, the cloth gets thrown into the washer to be used again later. (Just be sure not to have too much dish soap on it… or your washer won’t like it!)
- If you don’t want to bother buying the reusable cleaning cloths, cut up some old t-shirts or other soft fabric and use those instead!
- Make your own cleaning solutions – or use one or two products for multiple purposes, like how my hubs uses the dish soap.
- One of the things we like to use for many purposes is the liquid castile soap. For a long time we used this to wash our kids (they have one for babies, too!), as hand soap, and to clean around the house.
- Buy an inexpensive foam soap pump and make your soap go farther! You can DIY foam soap by using one part soap to three parts water. With four little boys in our house we use a lot of hand soap, so this helps a lot!
- Get rid of dryer sheets. We used to use dryer sheets, then just to fabric softener and now we don’t use anything at all other than our homemade laundry soap and our clothes still look and feel great! If you really want something in your dryer, try wool dryer balls.
- Speaking of laundry soap, make your own! We love this recipe that lasts our family of six about 6 months and it’s way cheaper than the store brand we used to buy.
- While we are on the subject of laundry, use less detergent than called for if you choose to purchase detergent. We did this for a long time before we made our own, and the clothes still came out just as clean.
- Another laundry tip is to only wash towels once a week instead of after every use. We hang ours in the bathroom and wash them less often. After all, you’re clean when you use them, right?
- Use blackout curtains to keep electricity costs down. We’ve done this for years, and at first it was just to help the kiddos nap, but now we love them because they help keep it cool in summer and warm in winter, especially since our windows are not the best.
- Use plastic wrap to insulate your windows. Since our windows are totally builder-grade and we can’t afford to replace them all, we noticed a lot of cold air coming in during the winter. One of our kiddo’s beds was near the window and he was cold so we researched how to help. Turns out if you take plastic wrap and close the window on it and also use plastic wrap around the outer perimeter of the window it helps a lot – and it’s cheap!
- Try reusable paper towels. You can get some like these bamboo reusable towels, or you can do what we do and just get regular kitchen wash cloths and use those whenever you need to dry hands or clean up spills. They are the same ones the hubs uses to clean around the house, too! The only thing we still prefer paper towels for is catching bacon grease…
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper, too.
- Reuse plastic and glass food containers like large yogurt tubs and jelly jars. I remember growing up my mom would buy the smaller jelly jars and they made amazing drinking glasses!
- You can also wash and reuse aluminum foil and zip top bags. Obviously if they are really dirty it’s best to throw them away, but if they have been gently used you can reuse them.
- Wash and reuse plastic utensils. Whether you use them all the time or just for company, you can wash and save them to be used again.
- Use grocery bags and trash bags in small cans. We do this for the trash cans in the bathrooms and feel great that we are putting the bags to use and it saves us from having to buy bags for those trash cans.
- Keep the temperature up in the summer and down in the winter to reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home. Whether you are on gas or electric, this will help.
- Invest in a rain barrel for watering the lawn and garden. This can help with water costs, although depending upon where you live this may not save a lot (where I live water is pennies on the gallon, but every penny helps, right?).
- Flush less often. The old saying is “if it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”. Not sure who started that but you can try it.
- Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. The dryer uses a lot of electricity, so this can help shave off some of the cost.
- Speaking of electricity, the old advice to turn off the lights when you aren’t in a room is still good!
- Get rid of cable. We did that when we moved into our current house (11 years ago!) and never looked back. With services like Netflix and Hulu and even YouTube on the newer TV’s, you don’t need to spend on cable to have great things to watch.
- Cut your landline. One of the things people keep, especially when they have a “bundle” with the cable company, is a landline. There’s no need for this when we all have cell phones now.
- Don’t go for unlimited data on your cell phone. Check to see how much you are actually using and find a plan that matches that. Very rarely do people need the unlimited plan (unless you have a lot of teenagers at home!) so see if you can reduce some spending on your cell phone bill.
- Unplug appliances when not in use. This may not seem like it will help much, but experts say that appliances can still pull electricity even when they are not on, so unplug.
- Do your own repairs. Wow, this has helped us out so much. Luckily my husband is pretty handy, so he can figure out how to fix something or watch a YouTube video and he has fixed our washing machine, dish washer, dryer, etc. himself.
- Rent out part of your home as an Air BNB. This may sound crazy, but renting out a room could really help pay the bills.
- You could even go a bit farther than this and get a roommate to help cut living costs.
- Or go even farther and live in an RV or your car for a while! Although I’m not sure I would go so far as to live in my car…
- If possible, downsize your home. This will help with utility bills AND you’ll spend less time cleaning and organizing the home. We have just under 1200 square feet with six of us, and I love it.
- Do your own landscaping. Getting your grass cut and having someone take care of your yard is expensive! Do it yourself if you can.
- Use old carpet or cardboard boxes as weed tarp. This works well, especially if you cover it with rocks or mulch after.
- Buy energy efficient appliances. When you need to replace what you already have, look for ones that will help save money on electricity.
- Once you have those energy efficient appliances (or even if you don’t!), only run them when full to save on electricity and water.
Whew, that’s a lot of extreme frugality tips to save money around the home!
How to Save Money on Food
Looking for frugal food ideas? These money saving tips will help keep you from living paycheck to paycheck and still feed your family for less.
- Keep the freezer stocked with meat and vegetables that you can eat on a budget. If you use some, then just add more to make sure there is always something for dinner!
- Buy produce when they are in season locally so that you get them at their most affordable prices. I am fortunate enough to have an organic farm near my house where there are great deals during certain times of the year (and even CSA boxes!)
- Grow your own herbs indoors using pots or window sills as this will help keep costs down. You could also plant fruit trees if you have room outside or start plants from seedlings in containers – these would be much less expensive than buying mature plants already growing!
- Look for reduced food at the grocery store. This is often in the back of store and usually on a shelf. I know where they put the reduced meat, bread and dairy items in my local stores (and you can even ask what day they discount to get there first!)
- Do not throw away your produce before it spoils.. If fruit develops an ugly spot or is moldy, then I just cut that section off before eating what’s good!
- Eat your produce before it goes bad. It’s best to eat it before it even gets to the point of having a moldy spot, so be sure to check out what you have often.
- Use coupons when possible for things like paper products and cleaning supplies at the grocery store as these will help keep costs down too.
- Make your own coffee. Let’s face it, those name-brand coffee shops can be expensive, so skip the drive thru line and make your own!
- While you’re at it, invest in reusable coffee filters to keep from having to buy filters all the time.
- Save and use to-go condiments. We do this a lot. I don’t mean grab them by the handfuls when you are out, but just ask for them at the drive thru or grab two or three when you see them and save them for later.
- Plant a garden! We love having fresh produce around and having a garden full of vegetables not only helps us keep costs down, it’s an activity we enjoy as a family.
- Plant fruit trees and berry bushes. We did this years ago and now they produce a lot of fruit every year!
- While you’re growing your own, learn to compost. It will save you from throwing so much into the trash AND help your garden. Win-win.
- Buy in bulk. This is not always the best deal, but if it is something your family will use and is cheaper – go for it.
- Meal plan cheap meals. There are a LOT of frugal meals out there, and meal planning to make them is one way to save a lot.
- When you are planning your meals, shop from your own freezer and pantry first. SO many people don’t do this! See what you have and fill in from there.
- Eat your leftovers. We used to be really bad about this and let our leftovers go to waste. One idea I love is to have one night a week devoted to leftovers and have like a buffet that the family can choose from, even down to cutting a single piece of pizza into pieces. I’m going to try this one!
- Take home leftovers from events, work, parties, etc to eat later. I have seen families bring to-go containers to high school events that have free dinner, then they take what’s left home for later. That way the food gets used and you get another free meal or two.
- Take your lunch with you to work. Eating out every day gets expensive, even if you can still find a $5 deal.
- When you do eat out, save half the meal for later. Restaurants often give large portions, so you’ll be saving money and your waistline.
- Buy generic. It’s often the same quality for a much cheaper price. Why pay for the other guy’s advertising? There have only been a couple of items that I didn’t like the generic as much.
- Learn to bake. You can make baked goods at home for SO much less than the same store-bought items.
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat or go meatless. Meat is skyrocketing in price these days, so we are having to do with less.
- Drink water. The other drinks add up and water is pretty darn near free if you drink it from home with a filtered pitcher or your fridge water.
- Buy when on sale and freeze. Here is a great list of things that freeze well.
- Water down whole milk or juice. I do this all the time to juice. It started out because I didn’t want the kids to have so much sugar, but now it helps it go farther. One container of OJ doesn’t go far enough for our family of six, so I add water to it and the kids are none the wiser.
- Use powdered milk for baking. It’s not the best tasting, but I use it a lot in baking because it’s cheaper and it works perfectly.
- Save bacon grease to cook with later. We love bacon in our house and my hubs always saves the grease. Later, he cooks eggs, green beans and other items in it for extra flavor.
- Reuse tea bags. Who says that tea bags can only be used once? I set them aside in another mug and use them again. Just make sure to use them within a day or two or they could mold. Yuck.
- Attend free events that offer food. There are lots of functions that offer to feed you if you come to their event, especially if you are in college. Check out some of these for a free meal.
How to Save Money on Personal Care and Clothing
Now let’s check out how to save money on personal care such as grooming, clothing, personal care items and more.
- Use bar soap as shaving gel. I used to always buy the name brand shave gel for my legs but I’ve found that using soap works just as well for me. We still do buy an inexpensive shave cream for my husband’s face, though!
- Color your own hair. You can buy a box of hair color for way less than a salon will charge to do it for you. You can also buy really nice quality hair color at a beauty supply store if you don’t want to use a drugstore brand.
- Cut your own hair. While I haven’t yet let me hubs try cutting my hair, we do cut our kids’ hair thanks to being in quarantine last year and I even learned how to cut my husband’s hair during that time. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be!
- Cut your hair more often. It saves you time in the morning and from spending all that money at the salon.
- Do your own nails. I’ve gotten to where I just paint mine with a clear coat of polish and I like that it’s simple, cheap and I don’t spend a lot of time on it.
- Buy cheap shampoo/conditioner. We use generic brands without a problem. We often get them at the Dollar Tree, but keep in mind they are not always the best price so know what the retail prices are at other stores, too.
- Or you can join the no-poo movement, where people are giving up shampoo altogether. You have to go through an adjustment period for several weeks, but then your hair should be good to go. I tried this and didn’t make it past the adjustment time, but it could be worth another shot.
- Buy reusable makeup sponges instead of disposable ones.
- Use wash cloths or homemade cleaning pads to clean your face instead of disposable make up wipes.
- Use handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
- Try reusable menstrual products.
- Use hotel or sample bath and shower products.
- Cut open the ends of your toothpaste and shampoo to get out the last of it.
- Collect the ends of your soap until you have enough to melt down into a new bar of soap.
- Workout at home. There are SO many good videos on YouTube now that you really don’t have to pay to workout anywhere else.
- Buy used clothes instead of new. I rarely buy new clothes anymore because there are so many ways of buying used. Check out this article on frugal fashion.
- Shower less often. Now, I know you might think this is gross but do you really need to shower every day? Maybe down to every other day? Obviously if you smell or have a job where you get dirty then it’s not an option, but most people can go a day between baths.
- Take cold showers to save on hot water.
- Learn how to sew simple repairs, such as replacing buttons and mending seams.
- Use shoe glue to fix shoes. We especially need this for our second child. He is SO hard on shoes!!
- If your shoes or boots are too big, try wearing extra socks instead of getting new shoes.
- Use garbage bags as ponchos or plastic grocery bags to cover shoes.
How to Save Money on Kids and Pets Needs
Now let’s discuss how to save money on kids and pets needs. If you’re a frugal mom or dad these frugal living ideas are for you!
- Buy store brand over name brands for your children if you can get away with it. I know Target has some great options in their Up & Up line, but also try grocery stores like Walmart or Aldi too.
- Supervise what your child eats when he/she is out of the house so they don’t eat junk food that costs a lot more than healthy snacks from home.
- Look for free kid’s classes and activities such as at home improvement stores, the library, etc.
- Look for discount days at nearby museums, theme parks, etc. Our local symphony has a day for kiddos to come for free and even has an “instrument petting zoo” which is totally cool.
- Use cloth diapers. Bonus if you can make them yourself!
- Make your own wipes. There are a lot of great tutorials out there for making reusable baby wipes.
- Save boxes to be reused as crafts. My kids adore turning a box of any size into a craft.
- Hand down clothes, backpacks, toys and anything else you can. With four boys in our house you know there are a lot of hand me downs.
- Don’t buy toys. We get a lot as gifts from friends and grandparents, so we don’t buy toys often at all.
- If you do buy toys, but them used and resell on eBay or craigslist when the kids have outgrown them.
- Groom pets yourself.
- Buy generic brand pet food.
- Potty train your cat. You’ll save money on litter and you won’t have to clean a litterbox.
Other Extreme Frugality Tips
- Camp when you go on vacation. We all want to go somewhere sometimes, but it can be hard to do it on the cheap. Camping is almost always a cheaper option, plus it’s super simple to bring food with you to cut down on food costs, too!
- Save and reuse gift bags and wrapping paper. You can even use paper grocery bags as brown wrapping paper.
- Go dumpster diving. Now, don’t do anything illegal, but there is often perfectly good stuff being thrown away.
- Host potluck dinner parties to have friends over and cut down on food costs.
- Have no spend weekends or even months and challenge yourself to see how little you can spend.
- Use the envelope system. This is what helped us reign in our spending.
- Stay home! Unless you’re ordering things online it’s a lot harder to spend money when you stay at home.
- Save all coins in a jar. When we started using the envelope system we had change from the cash we were spending. We started putting all the coins in a jar and it added up!
- Go down to one car. Cars are expensive to keep up with maintenance and then you might find yourself driving more if you have two.
- Ride, walk or take public transit to cut down on gas and car maintenance costs.
- Don’t spend $5 bills. Whenever you get one, save it. This can save up fast!
- Barter services and goods with others so you both get what you need without spending money.
- Look through lost and found for needed items. Often these things are never claimed.
- Shop discount stores, thrift stores and consignment shops.
- Find free stuff on Craigslist, marketplace, freecycle, etc.
- Save and use coupons.
- Make DIY gifts (you can check out this Pinterest board for inspiration!)
After all this talk about saving money – let’s remember that you can only cut back and save so much. You need to think about ways to increase your income, too.
You can do a bit by earning extra cash back on your purchases through sites like Rakuten (formerly eBates) and survey sites.
This blog post has covered a lot of ground, but there are still more frugal tips that we haven’t yet talked about. You don’t have to spend all your time and energy focusing on just one or two areas of extreme frugality. It’s best if you can incorporate as many tips into your daily routine as possible for the highest return on investment with the least amount of work (and cost). Turn these into frugal habits!
So whether you are in the camp of frugal living beginners, dream of becoming a frugal millionaire, love living frugal or are just an extremely frugal person, I hope you’ve found a great tip or two in these frugal ideas!
I started a frugal living blog to help curb my own spending and share some fun frugal hacks. It can help you, too! See how to start your own blog here.