13 Ideas for Cheaper (and Better!) Living

by Miranda Marquit · 11 comments

We all know that small things that we do can, over time, add up to big savings. When you view frugality as a lifestyle, it becomes easier to find ways to save money every day. Here are 13 every day things you can do to save money and live more frugally:

  1. Use public transportation: If you have public transportation, use that instead of driving yourself in to work. You can get good exercise on your way to and from the stops, boosting your health and reducing those costs — on top of saving money on gas.
  2. Look for discounts: Clip coupons, find promo codes, and comparison shop, to get good discounts on a number of items that you normally buy.
  3. Avoid buying things you don’t need or want: Periodically go through your home and see what you have. Before you buy something, make sure that you really need or want it. Double check to make sure you don’t already have it stashed away somewhere, and then really think about whether you will use. You can also declutter and simplify your life by refusing to bring unnecessary items into your home.
  4. Use the library: Books, music, periodicals and movies can all be found at your local public library. A great way to entertain yourself without spending a lot of money.
  5. Go online: You can find free TV shows online, and you can watch streaming movies for cheap. Get rid of the cable or satellite subscription and get your entertainment for a low cost online with services such as Netflix.
  6. Switch to VoIP: If you’re getting high speed Internet for movies and TV anyway, get rid of your landline and use VoIP. You can get phone service for a low price, or you can use Skype and pay even less. I love Skype; it’s how I make international calls. Bonus: Get your friends and family on Skype, and you all talk for free.
  7. Plan around leftovers: My husband and I make enough for two dinners, and have leftovers. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can cook extras and freeze them for later. Meal planning will help you grocery shop more effectively, and reduce the panicked run for takeout because you didn’t plan for dinner. You can plan healthier meals as well.
  8. Stop using the dryer: Hang your clothes to dry. This can be done outside, or done using drying racks in your home. We have a large, seldom used bathroom downstairs near the laundry area just perfect for this purpose. You’ll save on utility costs, and your clothes will last longer.
  9. Put change into a savings jar: Then every couple of months, take it to bank, invest it, or just use it for a “fun night”. This can help you get into the habit of saving, and provide you with a little extra.
  10. Ask for stuff when you need it: Let people know when you are looking for something specific. You might end up getting something on second for free or really cheap, just by getting the word out.
  11. Learn to change your own oil: It doesn’t take that long, and it’s not that hard. You can save a lot when you do this. Check with your city’s waste department to learn how to discard the oil. Many towns have free drop offs that will take care of the oil for you.
  12. Plan family game nights: Instead of going out to dinner or the movies, consider having a family game night once a week. This is an inexpensive way to have a lot of fun, and spend quality time with your loved ones.
  13. Bring your lunch: Prepare your own lunch for work, and prepare your children’s lunches for school. This will save on buying lunch. Many offices have fridges and microwaves, so it is possible to bring leftovers for lunch. I did this frequently when I had an office job, and still do it now that I work from home. We make enough for two dinners, and there is usually some left for a lunch — which I enjoy the third day. Plus, the food you bring is often healthier than what you buy.

What tips do you have for frugal living?

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Slackerjo June 12, 2010 at 4:00 am

You get to a certain point in your life where you no longer have a accumulate stuff, so I follow the one in, one out rule. Only buy certain items to replace other items. If you buy a new pair of jeans or shoes , it’s because the original pair have completely worn out, not because you want another pair of jeans or shoes.

I am also a big fan of buying used. If a small appliance breaks and cannot be repaired, I usually go to a thrift shop first before buying it new.

Porttack November 11, 2010 at 9:18 am

If you live near a large metro area cancel the cable/sat/fios TV and install an antenna. Even at $29.95/mo that’s $360/yr … for $100 you can put up the old fashioned aluminum antenna.
I live near Tampa and get 30 HDTV digital channels over the air including the major networks. No, I don’t miss CNN or ESPN.
Fact is whether you have 30 channels or 230 there’s still nothing worth watching on.

opinionated November 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Lame article…most of these simply don’t work:
1. A ride on the bus/subway where I live costs $2.25 each way. Even with $3 gas, driving is way cheaper. And public transit often takes much longer. If you don’t value your time, fine by me.
3. Fine, but at the same time if you see something on super-sale which you will need in the future, you should probably grab it.
5. Once you pay for a netflix subscription, an xbox live profile (which I need to watch it on my tv instead of a laptop) and a fast enough internet connection to use it, you’re easily spending more than on cable. I do this, but I don’t pretend like I’m saving loads of cash.
6. …or just make your cell phone your primary number, which is what many people are starting to do.
8. Limits you to one load of laundry a day, and if you have cats, good luck getting the hair out of your clothes.
11. If I did that I would void the warranty on my car- and most cars are like that now.
13. I challenge anybody to re-create a footlong subway sandwich and spend less than five bucks.

Naga Parsa January 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

I agree with some of the tips.

You can’t think of saving all the time. You should also think of enjoying at sometime. So, you need to balance saving and enjoying.

My rule#1: List all that you are planning to buy. Then cross out that are just wants but not needs. Ex: cell ph is a need but IPone is want. Step2: go through the crossed out list to see if it’s something you really feel happy about and it’s not really bad to get one(ex: if you get an ipone (may be refurb) for $20), then just go for it.

* Cut down the once that you don’t need such as home ph. Use your mobile as home ph. Or get VOIP ph instead of tranditional ph line which is expensive.

Paula Lovell May 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Freecycle! It’s a great way to get rid of your junk and to pick up things you need. There are several Freecycle groups on Yahoo groups or you can try Craigslist Free and Barter.

Rebecca June 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Bringing your own lunch not only saves you money, but calories as well! I like to buy groceries in bulk, marathon cook and freeze a lot of my meals. It’s not only cost effective, but it’s easy to come home after a long, busy day and just pop something out of the freezer and into the oven. It’s also healthier because you know exactly what you’re putting into your meals and as a result you’ll save in the long-run on health care because maybe you won’t have to take drugs or need treatment related to obesity, diabetes or some other disease that a proper diet could prevent. Take it one step further and start a garden! My ex-inlaws used to save a bundle every year growing, harvesting and canning fruits and veggies from their garden. With food prices continuously increasing, I predict that this will become a common practice in the future.

Venkatesh Ramakrishnan July 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I work in a biology lab, and so I am not allowed to store, heat food in the lab. There are no other rooms in the building for dining.

What can I do ?

Debbie July 31, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Our cable company has a reduced option that is not advertised heavily. We can get NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and WB for $10/month. It took some adjustment but didn’t want that $55/month bill and get the shows I miss off the internet. We now pay cash (except cc for gas but still budgeted) and that has cut way down on extras but allows for needs. We use freecycle.com, netflix, cell phones only, and love those coupons (especially when I earn gas credit – of course, only if I need that item).

mary August 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

I do most of the recommendations but if we all do the back to basics, there will be little economy or jobs in this country. It only works if the others in the “haves” don’t live frugally which allow us to shop at thrift stores, life is full of irony.

bill October 31, 2011 at 9:39 am

My wife is slowly losing weight and a friend of hers is slowly gaining weight, due to several medications she is on. Over the past year, they have exchanged clothes several times.

George W November 29, 2011 at 8:39 am

Simple. Just think before you buy. Set a dollar limit on what you can buy on the spur of the moment. For instance, make yourself wait 24 hours before buying anything that would cost more than $25

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