Do you want to save money to live better? We all want to squeeze a little bit more value out of each dollar, right? These are some relatively painless ways to save money without sacrificing your lifestyle or standard of living. In fact, some of these tips will actually IMPROVE your way of life! That’s what frugal living is all about, making wise decisions with your money.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Household Expenses
Go green! Studies have shown that using cash for everyday expenditures causes you to spend less overall than if you were to use plastic. Keep enough cash in your wallet and it will drive home exactly how much you spend.
Build up an emergency fund if you don’t have one already. You don’t ever want to put purchases on a credit card if you can’t pay them in full each month.
Go on a 21-Day Spending Freeze. There’s no better way to reinforce the difference between wants and needs than to do this. Plus, it doesn’t last too long, it’s do-able, and you’ll save a lot of money in the process!
Instead of buying more household goods, why not start selling it? Use resale sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, etc. to unload, declutter and earn money in the process.
If you haven’t re-evaluated car insurance policies lately, you could be paying too much. One quick way to save is to raise your deductible. If your deductible is set at $500 consider raising it to $1,000. Yes, you’ll have to pay more out-of-pocket if you’re in an accident, but you could save up to 30% on your rates throughout the year. Or, if your car is worth less than $2,000 you may want to drop collision insurance completely. Consider bundling your auto insurance with your homeowner’s insurance to save even more.
Negotiate lower credit card rates if you carry a balance.
If you have a good FICO score(720 or higher) you may be able to qualify for lower credit card rates. Make sure you call all your lenders to request one. Sometimes it’s as simple as making a phone call. Here’s a sample script: “Hello, this is (Your Name). I’ve been a good customer and have been getting offers in the mail from other credit card companies with lower APRs. I would like a lower rate, otherwise I will cancel my account with you and get another card. Is there anything you can do to help me out?” More than half the time, customers who call end up with lower rates. If you don’t get the answer you want the first time you call, try another day.
You can even get a second job outside the home if you’re really in a pinch. Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed can help connect you to available jobs in your area. Some of them are even available to do from home.
Reconsider what kind of vehicle you drive. You can trade in your car for a less-expensive model, pocketing the extra cash. Look for one that gets better gas mileage and is less costly to insure.
Families are typically over-scheduled in today’s day and age.
While extracurricular sports and activities are important, spending time as a family is more important. If your kids are in several extracurricular activities, you may want to consider dropping a couple. Instead, institute a family game night. Cutting back on 2 or 3 activities can help you save an extra $100 per month as well as strengthen your bond as a family.
Consider volunteering at places where your kids have activities – preschools, dance studios, martial arts centers and other places may consider giving you a price break if you volunteer your time.
Services like house-sitting, dog-walking can be swapped with neighbors, but other things can as well. Think outside of the box. Do you have any special skills, such as the ability to cut hair, teach basic piano lessons, or make freezer meals? Use them to get stuff for free!
No need to join a gym or buy fancy equipment to get a great workout. Work out in your own home and save the cost of the gym membership AND the commuting time! You can often find some great small-space, no-equipment needed videos on YouTube.
You can also find items for free via the Freecycle.org website. Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns.
Ditch cable. It’s easier than ever, with devices like AppleTV and Roku that allow you to connect to the internet on the big screen. Netflix and Hulu are MUCH more affordable options at around $10 per month – and give you access to TV shows, movies and original programming. Plus, if you are an Amazon Prime member, Prime Video has some high-quality offerings as well.
Sites like cardpool.com offer gift cards at less than face value. Most people think of using them for gift-giving, but think out of the box – you can also use them on your own household purchases.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Clothing
Instead of purchasing new clothing, get your clothes second hand at thrift stores. These days, it’s easier than ever to find on-trend gently used clothing for less. Shop resellers like Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor, look on sites like eBay, or use apps like Poshmark.
Repair clothing instead of replacing it. Learn simple fixes like sewing on buttons, or patching things that tear. For more complicated repairs, find an affordable alterationist in your community.
Shop the SALE section of online retailers for clothing. Sort items by price, from low to high, to find amazing deals. Make sure you check to see if there is a coupon code you can use for free shipping or an additional percentage off your purchase.
Bring your unwanted clothing to a consignment store or reseller. Often, they will give you the option to take your earnings in store credit. It’s a great way to declutter and get some new-to-you pieces you want more than what you had. For kids, check out Once Upon a Child – they pay cash on the spot!
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Gifts
Make your own gifts instead of buying them. They don’t have to take a long time to make, but they really express what gift-giving is all about… thinking of others. We have many blog posts devoted to quick, easy and thoughtful gift ideas for everyone on your list. View more of DIY Gifts you can make in less than an hour or our Homemade Gift Ideas
You can also make your own holiday decorations with things you have around the house. Wreaths can be made from pine branches in your yard, keepsake ornaments can be made from Dollar Tree supplies, etc.
Instead of buying gifts for your entire extended family, draw names. Or, agree just to buy them just for the kids.
Shop clearance racks throughout the year, and if you see a gift idea for someone on your list, buy it now and stash it away for later. Keep a box in a closet or rubbermaid container in a guest room closet to store such items.
Leverage Black Friday sales. However, resist the urge to buy items for yourself. That’s where most people go wrong. So much is on sale, it’s easy to find things you have wanted for yourself on sale, but hard to resist them. When it comes to gift-shopping, put on your blinders and commit to only buying for people on your list.
Pay attention to online sales for Christmas gifts. It’s not just Cyber Monday anymore. Some retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart are even offering sales before Black Friday, to beat their competition to the punch. Start looking for deals online a week or two before Thanksgiving. You can view the ads on blackfriday.com.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money at Major Retailers
Shop at stores that will match prices. Walmart is one such store. As long as the price is in another sales circular from another local retailer, they’ll match the price for you. It saves a lot of running around time.
If you are shopping for clothing and don’t see the size you need, they will often order it online for you and ship it FREE. For example, you will see kiosks set up all over Kohl’s. If you don’t find an item in the store, you can purchase it online right there. Only at a kiosk can you get FREE shipping all the time with no minimum purchase.
Sign up for text alerts from your favorite stores. For example, when you text 6046 to 653-689 Old Navy will send you their weekly deals.
Target Fans: Did you know their clearance items that don’t sell are sold to Goodwill Industries? Shop at Goodwill to get amazing buys on BRAND NEW Target items!
Investigate Store Cards that give you a significant discount. For example, Target shoppers with the RedCard get an additional 5% off their purchases, including sale and clearance items. If you are a regular Target shopper like I am, this adds up quickly!
When shopping at warehouse club retailers like BJs, Costco and Sam’s Club, bring a buddy. Not only can you split the cost of a yearly membership, you can divide up some of the big portions of food items bought in bulk.
When shopping at Sam’s Club, look for items ending in a 1 (such as 3.91) which indicates that the price is the final markdown.
Sign up for Amazon Prime if you haven’t already.
Not only do a large majority of their items ship free with 2-Day shipping, Prime members also gain access to movies and programs via Amazon Prime videos, as well as other “perks”. Another perk is “Prime Wardrobe” which lets you try on and return clothing items before you buy, many at great prices already.
Check out the Amazon Deal of the Day and Lightning Deals pages. These are limited-time offers that can help you save anywhere from 15-75% on gifts, household items, clothing and more.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
Instead of going on a big “back to school” shopping spree, shop all year long. Instead of buying your child’s school wardrobe all at once, update as you find the best bargains. Stores like Target and Old Navy are continually marking clothes down by 50-90%. By shopping clearance racks all year long, you will be replacing worn-out items at rock bottom prices.
Do a “Back to School” swap with friends and family where everybody brings a certain number of no-longer needed items to exchange for items that they do need, all for free.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Baby Gear and Toys
Don’t overbuy toys for your kids. Most kids simply have way too many, which means more work for parents to organize and store them. Instead, let the grandparents treat the kids while you teach them that less is more.
When you do purchase them, shop garage sales, thrift shops and resale stores for kids’ books and gently used toys. You can find some awesome deals for a fraction of the price
Look around your home to create things you can use to keep toys neat and organized. No need to spend a lot on fancy storage solutions. View our list of ways to organize toys for under $10.
If you have a baby, consider cloth diapering to save money. You can also make your own baby wipes at home.
Breastfeed your baby if you can. Formula can be expensive! If you do opt to go the formula route, know that all formulas have to meet guidelines set by the FDA for quality and safety. For that reason, it pays to consider store brands and generic formulas, which can cost up to 40% less than name-brands.
Borrow what you can in terms of baby gear like jumpers, playpens, swings, and other bulky items. They take up a lot of space and chances are your friends will be happy to loan them out.
Check your local Goodwill store when shopping for baby clothes and shoes. Many of them have half price days where baby items are on sale. Since babies don’t wear clothing very long, most things are still in great condition.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Heating, Electricity and Home Maintenance
Install a programmable thermostat so that you’re not paying for heat when you really don’t need it. Adjust heat down during the day when the family is at work and school, as well as at night when you’re in bed. Sleeping in cooler temps? Just add extra layers of blankets to your bed!
Switch to using all LED or CFL lights in the lamps you have at home if you haven’t already. They may cost a little bit more initially, but in the long run they last longer and consume less energy.
Turn your hot water heater temperature down. Your hot water doesn’t have to be heated to scalding hot. Turning it down saves money and also prevents accidental burns.
Run a full dishwasher. Don’t run your dishwasher unless it’s full. Wash what you can in the sink to save money.
Wash your clothes in cold water. Unless you are washing towels, dishcloths, or rags, it’s ok to wash your clothes in cold water.
Use an energy-efficient heater for small spaces in the winter time. If the entire family is hanging out in one room for the evening, no reason to heat the entire house. Invest is a small energy efficient space heater to heat one room.
When it’s cold outside, crack your oven after you use it. Don’t let all of that good heat go to waste. Crack your oven open when it’s warm to continue heating your kitchen.
Make sure you change your HVAC filters twice a year.
That way, your unit won’t have to work so hard and ultimately consume less energy. The filters are cheap, and more than pay for themselves in energy savings!
Flush your hot water heater twice a year. This prevents hard water sediment from building up, which is the number one factor in corrosion, which will ultimately lead to you having to replace it sooner… and those units aren’t cheap!
You can also get an insulator jacket for your hot water heater so it doesn’t have to consume so much energy to stay warm!
Use energy-efficient ceiling fans to circulate air. This can help you save some money on air conditioning in the summer, as well as heating in the winter (reverse the blades).
Seal off leaky doors and windows in the winter so warm air doesn’t escape. Invest in some caulk, weather stripping or a window insulator kit and you’ll end up saving money over time.
In the winter, keep your curtains and blinds up during sunny days, and in the summer close them.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Groceries
Learn to cook with simple, healthy, frugal ingredients like oatmeal, potatoes, carrots, and whole chicken/turkey. It’s simply not true that healthy food has to cost a lot, especially when some basic ingredients like apples, pumpkin, spinach, and frozen veggies are so affordable. You simply need to know what to do with them! Experiment with recipes you like and new cooking techniques.
Don’t waste your money on expensive juices, soda and drinks with excess sugar or little nutritional value. Instead, learn to drink simple H20. You can easily infuse your water with flavors to make it taste great! Plus, it often makes you feel fuller and helps minimize cravings… helping you eat less food as well.
Learn to become a master at using up leftovers. Too much food goes to waste, that’s like throwing away money! Brown bananas can be frozen for use in smoothies and banana bread later, vegetables can be frozen in a gallon ziplock to make vegetable stock, and fruit can be juiced.
When grocery shopping, purchase store brands whenever possible. Most are manufactured at the same facilities as their more-expensive counterparts anyway, the only real difference is the price!
Create a menu plan and stick to it.
When you create your plan, use up the produce you have already to minimize waste, and prep as much as you can ahead of time. Doing this will help you avoid mindless food expenditures and last-minute restaurant and take-out runs.
Focus on foods that offer the most nutrition for your buck. There are lots of cheap, healthy foods out there! Things like oatmeal, beans, lentils, apples, frozen veggies are all good for you and extremely affordable.
It’s great to clip coupons if you have time, but the real savings comes into play when you combine in-store sales with coupons to DOUBLE your savings. You don’t even need to get the Sunday paper. Look online for coupons on sites like coupons.com.
Shop the perimeter of the store, where the “real” food is. Avoid pre-packaged, overly processed foods. The more processed it is, generally the more expensive it is. Plus, the closer to nature you get, the healthier foods are!
Shop your local farmer’s markets or join a CSA (Community-supported agriculture) co-op. You can often get great deals on local produce that is fresh, healthy, and a great value.
Use home delivery services if your grocery store offers them. Most have a minimum purchase, but if you plan it right – you can avoid spending money on gas AND avoid impulse purchases. Plus, most of these online shopping services will help you match online coupons to in-store sales.
Make sure you download your favorite supermarket’s app.
For example, for me it’s the My Cub Rewards card. With most cards like this, you can download the app, pair your Rewards Card number, and use it to explore in-store savings as well as check out online coupons you can use. Add savings to your card by logging into your rewards account and adding coupons from the weekly ad, coupon book or the coupon section of the site. No clipping or snipping coupons. You can also use the app to order groceries and create shopping lists.
Shop the sale or discounted racks if your grocery store has them. You’ll often find them in the very back corner of the store. Buy marked down meat and freeze it for future meals. Shop the day-old bakery racks at Walmart yet. Many of these deals can be frozen for later.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Holidays and Special Occasions
When planning a party, check out napkins, cups, plates, and other paraphernalia at The Dollar Tree. It’s often similar to what you’d get at big party store chains, but a fraction of the price, sometimes up to 2/3 less.
Purchase birthday, anniversary, sympathy and other greeting cards at The Dollar Tree. They have a line of 2/$1 greeting cards made by Hallmark.
Instead of purchasing an entire Halloween costume, build your ensemble around a single prop. They usually cost less, and can be made to look like an entire costume using what you have at home already.
Shop thrift stores or second hand stores for Halloween costumes. There are so many fun, creative thrift store costume ideas that one of them is sure to please your child. By shopping for your costume secondhand, you’re not only saving money but you’re “going green” by using something that’s already been manufactured. Plus, because most costumes are worn briefly they’re probably in excellent condition.
Swap or trade Halloween costumes with friends.
We’ve let friends borrow our costumes so they don’t have to spend money on a new one. Even if you don’t know a lot of people you can trade with, don’t count this tip out just yet. There are many trading and bartering groups on Facebook.
When it comes to buying Halloween candy, wait until Halloween morning to buy. Some stores have started their Halloween clearance sales at that point already. Or, buy in bulk at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club.
Instead of buying Halloween decorations, buy (or make!) general fall seasonal decorations that can be displayed through Thanksgiving as well.
Thanksgiving Turkeys are often amazing loss-leaders at supermarkets in November. When you shop, get a big one and freeze any extra meat later for use in soups, stews and casseroles.
It’s really easy to go over budget at Christmas time if you don’t track what you’re spending.
Create a holiday budgeting spreadsheet. Don’t just include gifts, but remember to include hostess gifts, the tree, holiday cards, special occasion clothing, food, and travel expenses.
Shop after Christmas sales! When you do, think outside of the box. For example, do you use envelopes? Snag some of those holiday cards on extreme clearance – 75% or more – toss the cards, and just use the envelopes!
Do your Christmas shopping in July to save time, money and stress! The month of July is the in-between month of summer when things aren’t quite so busy, so it makes the perfect time to start hitting the stores. Plus, a lot of the retail stores have their summer items on clearance to make room for back-to-school supplies. You can find items for as much as 90% off regular prices.
When you’re doing your Christmas shopping, find creative ways to find extra cash to avoid big credit card bills in January. Bring your loose change to a Coinstar kiosk, use up partially-used gift cards, and take advantage of rebates and rewards.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Toiletries and Cleaners
Cut the bottom of your toothpaste tube, conditioner, shampoo, or other products open and escape out another use or two.
Shampoo is available in BAR form. It’s great to prevent overuse, especially with kids that can get overzealous pouring it out! Our favorite brand is LUSH.
Save the soaps, shampoos, body washes and conditioners you get at hotels and use them at home.
You can even make your own toiletries at home. With some shea butter, coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch and essential oils you can make your own deodorant.
Simply use LESS of the products you need. Transfer shampoos and conditioners to PUMP bottles to prevent overuse. Or, foaming pumps are great to extend the life of liquid hand soap bottles.
You can learn to make your own laundry detergent at home.
You can make your own homemade stove top cleaner with baking soda and liquid dish soap. It works like a charm!
A 1/4 cup of baking soda mixed with a quart of warm water can be used to clean your drains if done regularly. The same mixture also makes a good inexpensive oven cleaner.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Vacations and Travel
You don’t have to spend a lot, or even anything to see local tourist highlights. Take advantage of free days at local museums, national parks and tourist sites.
Use a credit card like the Delta Skymiles American Express Card if you’re a frequent flier. You’ll get free tickets when you enroll, but you’ll also get two pieces of free checked luggage for everyone in your party when you book your Delta flight. Other airlines have similar offers. Be sure to check with the one you use most often.
If you can be flexible with your travel dates, use an app like Hopper that will notify you when your flights are in the “buy now” zone. They track prices for you, and will notify you when it’s an optimal time to buy.
Instead of booking a traditional hotel, consider staying at a vacation rental via VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or AirBNB. You can be confident in your selection by thoroughly reading the rental description and existing customer reviews.
When you book a hotel, consider bidding sites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com. They allow you to name your price, which can result in some incredible deals if you’re open-minded to your hotel’s location within the city.
You can also save money on hotels by calling the hotel directly and asking if they are offering any deals or promotions.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Gas
If you take your kids to school, consider joining or creating a carpool. It doesn’t just help you save money on gas, it helps you save loads of time as well. And, when you can, let them take the bus.
When running errands, map out your shortest route. Put off buying things that you don’t need immediately, and plan certain stops for when you’re out in that direction anyway.
Use an app that tells you the price per gallon of gas at stations in a certain geographic area.
Save Money Live Better: How to Save Money on Furniture
Shop Facebook Marketplace for local, gently-used furniture. You can often negotiate your price, too, especially if the item has not sold right away. Other places to find quality gently used furniture include Craigslist, thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales and auctions.
When purchasing pre-owned furniture, think creatively. Will a new coat of paint, new hardware or new upholstery make the item look better? Some fixes are definitely easier than others, which you should take into consideration when shopping for used items.
Frugal Living Tips
Perhaps the best frugal-living tip is to live more minimally, and don’t buy what you don’t need. In today’s culture, we’re programmed to want more, to fill our homes with material things that don’t always enhance our lives.