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How to Cut Costs-The Best Ideas for Frugal Living

Updated on September 5, 2012

Frugal Living does not mean 'cheap'

My father was a very frugal man. Born in 1930, he was a product of the Great Depression, and told stories of those memories; hence he never threw a thing away that could be used for future use. Growing up with him was infuriating at times; my siblings and me calling him cheap, and miserly. What do teenagers know?

Wake up people, the definition of frugal is not ‘cheap’, but ‘thrifty’. In our currently disappointing economy, it is the smart thing to re-evaluate our spending habits and apply new strategies to cut costs wherever we can. Frugal living is not about deprivation, it is about choice.

Here are some frugal living ideas to get you started:

Saving tips for automobiles

Shop around to get the best deal for auto insurance.

Maintain your vehicle properly. Also, drive carefully to avoid undue maintenance expenses; and speeding tickets that could raise your insurance.

Keep one car only and use public transport or car pooling.

Save on car wash fees by washing your own.

Save on gas by properly maintaining tire inflation and alignment.

Save on gas by limiting the number of trips to the store that you take.

Coordinate all of your trips in sequence to avoid driving back and forth.

Keep all appointments to one day, if possible, for another gas saving tip.

Do your own basic car services, such as oil and brake changes.


How to save money on utilities and insurance policies

Examine your mortgage payment to find out if you are eligible for refinancing.

Downsize your home, or consider renting instead of owning.

Evaluate your insurance policies: life, health, homeowners, etc. to note if there are any reductions you are eligible for; either stay with the same company or shop around for a better deal.

Review your utility bills. Can you remove a land line and use a family cell phone package?

Is it necessary to keep a television cable company? Some options for news are the National Public Radio program and newspaper coverage.

Lower your thermostat at nighttime to 68 and add more blankets to your bed for energy and monetary savings.

Keep lights and other electrical connections off when not in use. Evaluate the effectiveness of old appliances such as refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer and dishwasher and replace for energy efficient models.

If paying for your water, limit the use of water by taking less showers or baths. You can still freshen up using a sink full of water daily.

Don’t run the dishwasher if you have one. Opt instead for hand washing.

Hang your clothes up to dry instead of running the dryer.

Keep curtains and shades drawn and windows open during the summer to keep out the sun.


Frugal living tips for food

Buy in bulk whenever possible.

Limit the number of trips to the grocery store to avoid impulse shopping.

Use less desirable cuts of meat for stews, soups, or other dishes that would be less noticeable.

Utilize vegetarian recipes to supplement an all meat diet.

Substitute turkey for beef; it’s usually less expensive and healthier.

Make a conscious effort to cook at home, limiting your restaurant visits to monthly.

Buy 2% or skim milk in place of whole milk.

Coupons are essential cost cutters. Better yet, find the local store that doubles your coupons.

Look for freebies and follow the criteria for obtaining free food that you will use.

Monitor the amount of food ‘gone bad’ that occurs in your home and either utilize leftovers in a creative manner, or cook smaller portions so there is no left over toss out.

Drink water, instead of expensive beverages, and make it tap water. Keep a pitcher in the refrigerator for an instant cold glass.

When dining out, order one meal to share. Or, order an appetizer and entrée and split it.

When dining out, choose water as your drink instead of sodas or alcohol.

When dining out, eat a luncheon where the prices are reduced, instead of a dinner.

When dining with kids, check with your local restaurants; many offer free kids nights.

Check with restaurants to find out if they offer a free birthday meal.

Keep household cleansers to a few basic ones- discover the magic of vinegar and ammonia.

Keep over the counter medicine to two basics: pain reliever and anti-acid.

Fire any housecleaning service and use one day for a team family cleaning.

Use cloth napkins and place mats instead of paper.

Use plates and utensils instead of paper and plastic.

Reuse aluminum foil that has no sign of wear.

Use lidded storage containers to save on plastic wrap.

Frugal Living Poll

Do you feel you use cost saving tips to help your budget?

See results
Source

How to save money and have fun, too!

Get library membership cards for family members and use the great free services they offer.

Inquire whether your library participates in the free museum pass project.

Have your child participate in story hour and summer reading programs for freebies.

Check Barnes & Noble; Borders; and Chuckie Cheese for more summer reading awards.

Watch for free movie coupons through products from the Kellogg’s company.

Check online for free summer movie festival offered through Regal, Carmike, and AMC.

Know when the discount shows are such as early bird, midweek, or matinees.

For plays or symphonies, check if there is an ‘open to the public’ rehearsal policy.

Support local community theatre or high school theatre and Christmas productions.

Eliminate the gym membership and exercise at home via walking and hand weights.

Exercise as a family and buy bikes and helmets for a daily ride around the neighborhood.

Have a family ‘fun night’ and bring out the jigsaw puzzles or board games.

Take the kids to the local nature center; science museum; zoo; or aquarium. Watch for special day discounts or check with your employer for a company discount.

Check into the local craft and sewing stores, like Michaels’ and Joanne Fabrics, along with the Lowe’s store which offer free projects for kids. At Lowe’s kids get a free work apron, goggles and project kit when they sign up. Go online to get registration details.

Access free books from online sites such as: Kindle’s out of copyright books, Project Gutenberg which claims to have over 33,000 public domain eBooks; and www.manybooks.net.

Find free music from online sites such as: www.pandora.com; www.spinner.com; www.jango.com; and www.npr.com

A free weekend get-away can be snagged with a time share company in exchange for your consideration of purchase into their company.


How to budget and save for clothes

Pay for nothing full price. Watch sales, use in-store or online coupons; check clearance racks.

Shop at consignment stores; second hand shops, garage sales and charity organizations for savings on clothes and household items.

Swap with other moms for more clothes savings; or Google ‘mom to mom' and find an event in your area.

Eliminate dry cleaning bills by buying clothing that does not require this service.

Avoid shopping malls, the QVC or other televised shopping programs, or online impulse buying.

Repair and mend when possible. Take clothing to a tailor for repair when needed.

Sell your unused items on EBay or www.Craigslist.org

Look for free items at www.freecycle.org

Easy gift giving savings

Encourage simplicity in gift giving, allowing for children to create gifts from their own talents.

Re-gift an unused gift you’ve received.

Go online to buy discounted gift cards at www.giftcards.com and www.plasticjungle.com Plastic jungle will also buy or trade gift cards you are not interested in.

Open an account for your child at TD Bank and teach them the value of finance and literacy. By participating in their summer reading program, TD will add $10 to their account.

Create coupon books for family and friends offering services in lieu of a tangible gift.






















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    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi FrugalFatCouple-love your hubber name, LOL Thanks for reading and commenting. I just finished reading your hubs as well and love the enthusiastic suggestions. In today's economy it just doesn't make sense to throw money out the window.

    • FrugalFatCouple profile image

      FrugalFatCouple 5 years ago from California

      Wow. That's a whole lotta money saving info. Love it! We are definitely following you Denise. Frugal is 'in' right now. You're right. It's not about being cheap. It's about being smart. Thanks again! We love the idea of keeping more of the money we work so hard to get!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Awww, thanks for the vote up tipstoretireearly. I love your hubber name and will have to check your tips out...that would be a lovely goal! And, I like your idea of what separates the thrifty from cheap.

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      I especially like your idea for saving money and having fun too. That's what separates the thrifty from the cheap. Voted up!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi pbsandwichofdoom-while I did read and approve your comment last night during my lunch break there seemed to be a glitch that prevented me from actually responding to your comment, so I apologize for that delay.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. My dad was a master at being frugal, much to my mother's dismay and, at times, rebellion! haha. But, there is much to be said about living frugally, especially with today's economy. Thanks for the votes. :)

    • pbsandwichofdoom profile image

      Kathryn Lamoreux 5 years ago

      Some great ideas. Voting up and useful!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi theframjak-thanks for reading and sharing your input here. Good luck with testing the thermostat theory. :)

    • theframjak profile image

      theframjak 5 years ago from East Coast

      Great advice. Thanks for sharing the information. I have heard that it's best to keep the thermostat constant throughout the day as it takes a lot of energy to reheat or cool the walls and furniture and you avoid these usage surges by keeping the temperature constant. I have never done a study to prove or disprove, but I may have to give it a test to find out.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for the Tweet, Stephanie...that was very sweet, LOL

      Glad you found the hub useful. I've just checked into my account and will check my work schedule today and get back to you.

      Take care, Denise

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Don't know how I missed this before, but these are great money saving ideas to start off the New Year! Your tips for saving money are sensible and easy to follow. Tweeted and voted up and useful!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for reading phdast7. I'm glad that you have found this hub helpful. Best wishes in your endeavors to save money. Let it be the year 2012

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Excellent and very thorough Hub. You have covered all the bases. Many of these I have practiced or implemented, but some of your ideas were new to me and I will adopt them and share them with family and friends.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Jason-thanks for your comments. Needs vs Wants is an important concept to learn in all areas of life. :)

    • Jason Lim profile image

      Jason Lim 5 years ago from Singapore

      It really comes down to three words when trying to live frugally:

      Need Versus Want.

      When you learn to control your urges to buy Wants, you naturally cut down on excessive spending.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Senderwollas-thanks for reading-glad it was of some use to you. Good luck with saving money. I do have a couple of hubs on goal setting and staying with goals if you are interested.

    • senderwollas profile image

      senderwollas 5 years ago from Earth :)

      Hey, thanks a lot for sharing! I'm also trying to save my money, so it's an extremely useful hub for me!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi WhiteOak-thanks for reading and commenting. It's wonderful hearing the affirmation from someone who has actually implemented these tips. :)

    • WhiteOak profile image

      Eva Thomas 5 years ago from Georgia

      You have listed a lot of good suggests. When my husband and I were preparing to homestead; we put a lot of the same suggests to work and believe it or not, it not only helps with saving money, but it brings you closer together as a family.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Ubanichijioke. I'm glad I've offered some helpful tips.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 6 years ago from Lagos

      Being frugal in this era of economic downturn is a noble man's wisdom. I take from your house of wisdom with high regards. Be blessed. Voted useful, beautiful and interesting

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Nelma-nice to meet you. Glad it was useful to you. :)

    • Nelma profile image

      Nelma 6 years ago from Brazil

      Great Hub. Voted up!

      learned a lot.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi carozy-thanks for reading. I love San Francisco-used to work in Berkely. Welcome to Hubpages.

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Lots of good ideas here!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for your comments Bud. I try to coupon shop, but frequently forget them. Just tonight I decided I will keep them in my glove compartment.

    • Bud Gallant profile image

      Bud Gallant 6 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Some good advice here. I agree that living frugally has a lot of benefits. I've found coupons are a huge money saver, as long as you're using them for things you actually need. Thanks for these great suggestions.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Carolyn for your comments. Glad they were of some help. I know we can all use economical tips these days.

    • Carolyn Moe profile image

      Carolyn Moe 6 years ago

      Thanks for all your money saving tips!

      Carolyn

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks, Ms. Chievous--I appreciate it and love your avatar.

    • Ms Chievous profile image

      Tina 6 years ago from Wv

      Book marked! Great Hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Audrey--I love your new 'vivacious' avatar. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have fun saving, LOL

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      You are my kind of girl! :) Oh, how I wish I had learned to be frugal years ago. I would be rich today! But...as they say, better late then never. So, I am known as ms.frugal around the neighborhood now. Love all your tips - they are excellent! Voted a big thumbs up and thank you so much! :)vc

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Alicia-thanks! I couldn't believe how many things I found after I started 'hunting'. Some I may never use, but others I've passed on.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These are wonderful ideas, Denise! I enjoy thinking of ways to be frugal and still be happy, especially in today's economy. You've given lots of great suggestions for frugal living.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi upal9-thanks for reading and commenting. It's important these days to live within our means, I believe. Nothing wrong with frugal.

    • upal19 profile image

      Ashraf Mir 6 years ago from Dhaka

      Nice advices tend to be frugal but not miser. Thank you.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi CJames-thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

    • CJamesIII profile image

      CJamesIII 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Great hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi 6hotfingers3-nice to meet you and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comments. :)

    • 6hotfingers3 profile image

      6hotfingers3 6 years ago

      Great hub! I agree frugal living is not living cheaply as the word cheap means. It means stretching your options to work to your personal advantage. Great and easy suggestions to consider. Good read!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Travel Man-you and I have both been busy, I see. Thanks for popping in. Nice to see you again.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Sound advices and the links are endless. Thanks, Ms. Denise. :D

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Credence for reading and commenting. I know, it isn't easy sticking to a budget. OUr emotional states often get in the way...good luck.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Thanks for the info, Denise. As we are retired and on a fixed income, I have to get my significant other to pay more attention to these common sense ideas than when properly put in place are not draconian.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi BMarlin-I bet our dads were from the same era. I like frugal, it works for me. LOL Thanks for the comments.

      Hi Gail-Oh yes, I can remember times when teachers called me frugal. I grew up that way-6 kids in our family. I was thrilled to discover freecycle when I researched the article. Good luck with the rest. Thanks for reading.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      My husband and I have been called frugal by friends who were careful to add that they admired our ability to stretch a dollar. We already follow most of the tips you've listed in this hub, but I was thrilled to find some additional suggestions I was not aware of, such as the website, www.freecycle.org, the possibility of obtaining a free museum pass through our library and possibility of attending an open rehersal for a play. I will check into those suggestions.

      With today's economy, this hub is really timely and I've rated it up, useful, awesome and beautiful.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      My father too I was a very frugal man...sometimes, as a child, I thought "cheap". But as I grew older, married, had a family of my own, I understood. I am a "bargain shopper". I would never pay full price for anything, if he can be discounted. Thanks for a good, timely Hub on this subject.

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi perfectperception. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I appreciate it. Hope all is going well with you. I've neglected so many hubbers in trying to finish the hubchallenge on time. :)

    • perfectperception profile image

      perfectperception 6 years ago from USA

      Well written and very informative!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree, Danette, it is challenging to downsize both groc. and meals. I remember mom struggling with that until the end of her life. She always had the mentality of cooking for a crowd. Thanks for the feedback. I know, it's way too long again! LOL

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Lot of useful tips here, Denise, you did a thorough job of hitting all areas. I agree eating at home saves a lot of money plus it's healthier. What I struggle with is going from cooking for 3 or 4 to just two of us. Gauging how much to cook so we have some leftovers but not so much that food gets wasted has been challenging!

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      LOL De Greek, you are NEVER a lost cause in my book. Any man who can make me laugh the way you do gets 'brownie' points and mercy just for having a great sense of humor. Thanks for visiting the hub.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Denise, on the basis of your list, I am a lost cause and heading for destitution :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile image
      Author

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Marie-I love eating out too. What saves me in this small, rural town is the lack of decent restaurants. Thanks for commenting.

      Hi Karanda, it's amazing how much money we can spend eating out...and how much is saved cooking at home. Thanks for commenting.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      When my husband and I first got together we spent a lot of money on eating out. It was the first luxury to go once we started saving a deposit for a house. We still go out once a month and now it is something special. Nice Hub Denise.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Timely and well written hub, Denise. I am looking into saving money this year, but... still have a spending pattern, I must address, and its eating out, I love to eat out, and this is my main weakness, so once a month should be okay.