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Top 10 Money Management Tips From A Frugal Dad

Updated on March 26, 2015

Saving money is a big deal right now.

In today's uncertain economic climate, just about everyone is looking to save some dough. Everywhere you look, there are articles and videos on ways to save money. Many of them are not very good, and some are just plain old common sense. Hopefully, this one will be a list worth reading by the time I am done with it. My experiences in life have inspired me to find a lot ways to save money, and I plan to help you stretch your money further with what I have learned. This hub will cover a wide variety of potential areas to reduce your monthly expenses, as well as a few options in each area to help you pick and choose a set of scenarios that will work well in your life. If you have something that I miss, please do me the favor of leaving it in the comments section. My writing is a work in progress, and I will gladly improve it with your help.


Let's start with the different areas that we can save money in.

  1. Utilities
  2. Insurance
  3. Interest
  4. Clothing
  5. Automobiles
  6. Furniture
  7. Groceries
  8. Mortgages/Rent
  9. Entertainment
  10. Hygiene Products

Now let's discuss each one a little bit.

  1. Utilities are a recurring expense that cause trouble for many families, and the problem is only getting worse. With the cost of petroleum on the rise again, you can expect the price of electricity to attempt to keep pace. The coming months will provide those in the know a valuable opportunity to prepare. A few really good ways to cut expense on utilities are to make sure your home is sealed up properly, keep your thermostat set at an optimum level (around 70 degrees), and invest in energy efficient light bulbs. There are a lot of other ways as well. I wrote an entire hub on this topic and you can find advice on energy efficiency, which you can find in my profile.
  2. Insurance is a necessary evil that everyone loves to hate. The premiums have become insanely high in many cases, and and they not showing any signs of going back down. The best ways to save money when dealing with the insurance companies are to adjust your deductibles, shop around, and be a safe driver. They have also introduced programs recently designed to give additional incentives such as the OBDII from Progressive which tracks driving habits for a discounted rate if you drive safely, and the shrinking deductible from Allstate.
  3. Interest is a quiet destroyer of household finances. The "American Dream" today consists of going a few hundred thousand dollars in debt, and then spending the majority of your life paying for it. A few of the higher income families do not experience it, but this situation is all to common throughout middle and lower class America. In my opinion, limiting the amount of interest you pay out is one of the most important aspects of household finances. The methods I suggest you use to curve this expense are to shop around for the best rates, never sign anything with a variable interest rate, make substantial down payments to reduce the principal, keep your credit score as high as possible, and use your credit responsibly. The later will save you from paying $1200 for that $600 TV that you had to have.
  4. Clothing is a real tricky situation. This is one of the areas that bring a person's pride into the equation, so this one will really be take what you want and leave the rest. If you are not driven to buy high fashion, there are quality clothes available at reasonable rates. All of the big box stores now offer a clothing line of decent quality that are available at a fair price. Clearance racks at the nicer department stores and mall boutiques often offer quality merchandise at 1/3 or better off of the retail value. Finally, for the extra frugal, there's always the local thrift stores and Ebay. Where I live, you can find many near new items at prices ranging from $2-5 at the thrift stores, and Ebay is over stocked with new and used clothing of all shapes and sizes. Take your pick of these options and you can easily save a few hundred to a few thousand over a few years depending on how frequently you shop.
  5. Automobiles are big business in the world today. The competition for business is high, and that will provide opportunities for those who seek them. Saving money on vehicle purchases is mostly about doing your research, and never making an impulse buy. You will find the deals always get better once you are off of the lot and they are trying to give you incentive to come back and do business with a particular dealership. Once you establish a fair value on your intended purchase, you will be able to make a good investment as opposed to signing paper work that leaves you upside down in your loan from day one. This tip can be a life saver when it comes time to make a trade in. If you are interested in the new Nissan Sentra, I recently wrote a review on it which you can find here.
  6. Furniture is a lot like clothing to me. The need for furniture is not a question. How much to spend on which furniture is a matter for some debate. Those who use their furniture for a status symbol will be repulsed by the thought of pre owned furniture, unless it is an antique or heirloom. Otherwise, there are literally millions of pieces of pre owned furniture for sale all over the world. Thrift stores can provide a great find here and there, but Craig's list always has plenty available. IF you really want to save, and are not too proud, visit the nearest college town next spring. When classes let out for summer, wealthy students leave behind a multitude of good finds. I know someone who furnished an entire house for free by picking up items during one such season.
  7. Groceries are getting expensive, very expensive. As oil prices climb, so will the cost of the food that it transports. That will translate to a crunch on many family's budgets. The coming months may be a good time to inspect your diet, and make choices that will provide the best substance for the best value. For instance, I save hundreds of dollars a year just by buying a large bag of rice and eating it as a substitute for bread and potatoes as a side dish. We still eat the other starches, just not as frequently as we used to. You can also purchase meat from the clearance section. Whe meat is ready to pass it's sell by date, the prices are reduced tremendously. If you buy this meat and freeze it promptly, it will be perfect for consumption for a long time to come. Clipping coupons is another way to go, even if it is a common sense suggestion. However, with the right information, you can get a ton of good stuff for free or close to it. There are several websites that act as online schools for learning the tricks to this craft.
  8. Mortgages and rent are the biggest expense that most people face. I'd estimate that the "average" American family spends from $6000-10,000 annually on one of the two. Rent is difficult to control, other than choosing the property you live in carefully. There are deals available, but there always seems to be a catch. As for mortgages, there is quite a bit you can do. We already discussed the interest rate, but did you haggle when you bought your home? Most people don't realize it, but your real estate agent wants you to buy the house at the higher price, because that inflates their commission. Always use an independent appraiser and inspector, that alone can save you thousands. Also, do not be scared to put in a low offer. Your agent will tell you otherwise, but DO NOT LISTEN. This is your future that you are arranging, make sure negotiate the terms to your liking. Otherwise, you will find out later that you wish you had!
  9. Entertainment is another area of waste for a lot of Americans. We spend billions annually on Hollywood, video games, eating out, and other hobbies. There is a lot of money to be saved here. Dining out usually costs about 3-5 times as much as dining in. You can save a lot in a single year with that one alone. Also, why spend $20-40 going to the movies when the film will be available for a dollar in 3 months? I find the prices at the theater preposterous. Cable is a nice convenience, but is it really worth $75-125 a month? I think not. This could go on and on. To sum it up, I'll just say that what ever you enjoy doing for recreation, there is likely a cheaper way to do it. If you are an entertainment buff, here is a link to Hollywood's 5 highest paid actors of 2011.
  10. Hygiene products are my final suggestion, and this one does not apply to men as much as women. Even though men do buy these items, the frequency and expenses involved appear to be very one sided. There are a few guys who spend a lot on hygiene products, but they are the exception, not the rule. Women on the other hand can spend a pile on this stuff. Plain and simple, if you want nice skin and hair, take care of it. All the moisturizer in the world won't help your skin if you are not drinking enough water. All the acne cream in the world won't help you in if you don't keep your skin clean. This is another one that can go on and on. I'm sure you can figure out which area of life you can apply this logic to better than I can. Although, if you want to save money, I would suggest using it in at least one. One specific area for an example is shampoo. I find the $.99 stuff to be just as good as the 5 dollar bottle 9 times out of 10. Unless you absolutely must have a special ingredient, the generic version can save an average family considerably over a ten or twenty year term.



I will conclude all of this by saying that we are a wasteful society as a whole. These ideas are just the tips of the ice burg and leave plenty of space for suggestions. Again, I urge you to leave them, so that I may improve this hub. Otherwise, I think it is high time for America to start using it's resources wisely. We have access to just about anything in the world, yet our national coffers are going broke. Buy American when you can. Keep your money inside of your community as often as possible. Make educated decisions about your finances and say a prayer. With the way things are looking right now, you just might need it. Thank you for reading my hub.

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