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Frugal Living For Those With No Extra Time

Updated on March 30, 2011

No matter what we do, there will always only be 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week.  I don't know about you, but many days I need more than that to get everything on my "to do" list done.  So many people say they don't have time for frugal living.  They complain that they don't have the time to save money.  Well, they aren't alone.  Everyone would love more time in the day, but yet there are many, many people that do live frugal lives - even though they are pressed for time too.  That being said - I do get it.  So let's talk about ways to still live a frugal life, even when life is crazy and you have no extra time.

First, the chances are good that every single day of your life is not crazy.  So cut yourself some slack on the truly crazy days and on the calmer ones do what you can to get ahead of the game.  For me that means that some days I hang my laundry up to dry and some days I use my dryer.  Some days I cook a large dinner completely from scratch and some days we have frozen pizza or leftovers.  On your calmer days cook ahead so you will have something quick and easy on the crazy days.  Peel and chop veggies and package in individual bags to grab and go when you are hungry rather than hitting the drive through.  Keep water bottles handy as well and you will avoid soda or juice box purchases.

Second, figure out a way to overcome the inevitable.  This will vary from person to person, but you know your weaknesses.  Do you hit the snooze button three times most mornings and run out of time to make coffee so end up stopping at the drive through on your way to work?  Invest in a coffee pot with a timer.  The coffee will be ready for you when you walk downstairs.  Do you get home from work late every Tuesday night and end up stopping for take-out on your way home so you don't have to cook?  Plan for leftovers or come up with super easy and quick meals and keep the ingredients on hand.  I always keep a frozen pizza on hand.  It isn't as cheap as making my own, but it is much cheaper than ordering pizza.  On crazy nights when I don't have time to cook and ordering pizza tempts me, I pop one in the oven and that is dinner.  Think about your weak areas of frugality and come up with a plan to overcome them.

Third, use little snippets of time to be frugal.  I don't schedule a three hour block of time each day for frugal activities.  I do small things throughout the day as I have time.  When I am in the kitchen waiting on the kids to get their shoes and coats on, I wash some plastic bags to dry during the day.  When my youngest child is taking a bath, I use that time to hang the laundry so I can keep an eye on her at the same time.  When I have dinner in the oven, I spend five minutes making a quick batch of muffins for our breakfast the next day.  Use the little bits of time you have for frugal things.

Fourth, living a frugal life is frequently more about what you don't do, rather than what you do.  I don't spend a lot of time shopping.  We don't eat out (just a few times a year at most).  I don't get my nails manicured.  We don't go on expensive vacations.  We don't get snacks from the vending machines.  You get the idea.  You can be very frugal just by not doing expensive things.

Fifth, figure out how much time something takes and how much money it will save you.  We determined that hanging our laundry up to dry was not a huge money saver (we still try to do it for environmental reasons), so when we have no time it is one of the first frugal activities to go.  Packing lunches from home has the potential to save lots of money, so we keep doing that.  Once you know the things that save the most money you can make a better decision on what to keep doing and what to let go.  Once you realize how long something actually takes (it is frequently a lot less than people originally think) you can better squeeze it into your day.

Whenever you try something new it will take longer in the beginning.  But once you get good at it and it becomes a habit, things can be done pretty quickly.  For instance, when I first started making muffins from scratch I had to carefully read the instructions, hunt for ingredients, etc.  Now that I have a basic muffin recipe memorized I can whip up a batch of almost any flavor in about five minutes.  I can squeeze it in almost any time of day and we have a homemade, frugal breakfast or snack.  Use these tips to help you live a more frugal life - even when you don't really have the time to.


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    • howcurecancer profile image

      Elena@LessIsHealthy 6 years ago

      Great hub! One vote up.

    • tvpuram profile image

      tvpuram 6 years ago from India

      Purse strings in the hands of house-wives. They have to be good managers to make life happier by fixing up priorities. Savings is an important aspect as you cannot live on others' earning for ever. If all women hood thought this way, the nation's economy would also improve.

    • dablufox profile image

      dablufox 6 years ago from Australia

      Loved your hub. Really the key to being frugal and saving money is organization and better managing your time. I also love to look at ways to make money on the side, like designing websites for small business or fixing computers. There are not only countless ways to save money but also make money such as a clothes ironing service. You are really only limited to your imagination and motivation. Great hubpage on a topic I love!

    • onceuponatime66 profile image

      Jackie Paulson 6 years ago from USA IL

      I love your article and I live very frugal. I lost everything two years ago, which put me in a position to "change" my life for the simplified life style. I love it I love your advice and I am a resale shop lady. :)

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      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Thanks for this great advice. We live frugally and I am very close to becoming a minimalist. The more I get organized, the more money I save. We are now out of debt with the exception of our mortgage which will be paid off this year.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great hub and tips.

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      Annette Campbell 6 years ago

      Hi Jennifer! Like you I also wish I have at least an additional hour per day to practice frugal living. There are so many tips and ideas I would like to try. Given the time constraints, I decided to focus on practices that save me more money and time. My husband and I helped organize a group of friends and neighbors so we can buy supplies in bulk at cheaper prices and we split the items and the cost. It saves us money, time, gas, and storage space. For me, it is also important that I save money without sacrificing quality. I agree with you, acquiring a new habit like splitting was a bit difficult in the beginning, but it is part of our routine now. We are using an online tool called SplitStuff ( which makes splitting faster and easier.

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 6 years ago from Arizona

      Very good tips, some I already practice, others will be added to my practices. Nicely done hub!

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      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Jennifer, you are absolulutely right, little things do add up. We all need to find ways to make more time for ourselves. It seems like we need at least eight more hours everyday to get it all done.

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Practical suggestions that can fit into anyone's lifestyle. Good hub.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 6 years ago

      Thank you Jenny. My days are always too short for all the things I want and I have to do. My time is precious and I do not want work too much! At the same time life is expensive..... But... This is not true! Just live frugally and follow some simple advice. Then we can live with few money without feeling the desire to spend mere. It is a sort of challenge!

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      elizabeth 6 years ago from Buncombe County, NC

      You sound so busy and bless you for being such a good mommy. I look back now at calendars I kept when my kids were little and I cannot believe that I actually made all those meetings, got to work on time, cooked etc, etc, so I know what you are doing and it ain't easy.

    • Shona Venter profile image

      Shona Venter 6 years ago from South Africa

      Good ideas here, Jennifer. Often, people forget just how much can be done in 10 minutes, or even 5! it's all the small things that count and add up to being able to live more frugally.

      Voted up and shared on Twitter.

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      divasupermum antoinette 6 years ago

      great ideas

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      Anita Adams 6 years ago from Tennessee

      I like your post jennifer. I am glad to see someone else who likes taking frugal steps to save money and I also wash my ziplock bags. It is refreshing to see that some young mothers are choosing to cook more than eating out.

      You can save some serious money when you practice the steps in your post.

    • aprilajune profile image

      aprilajune 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Thanks Jennifer I really appreciated your post. I'm always interested on ways to keep more money in my pocket!

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      Melinda 6 years ago

      Hey, Jennifer! I read your blog and I wanted to say that I really appreciate what you say here (and there) about the little things adding up. Sometimes I feel that I am not doing enough, especially when I read a lot of blogs by people who seem to have it all together and are saving (what appears to be) buckets of money. Articles like this are very encouraging - reminding me what I do and don't do does matter and that each little choice makes a difference in my finances. Thanks too for reminding me that I do have time for doing things that count and to make good choices on days when I can't do it all.