Friday, March 6, 2009

50 tips to a frugal lifestyle

These idea's are pretty simple and anyone can apply them to their lives.  Enjoy!

1. Go with 1 car.
Guilty of not doing this. But our cars are paid for. I have a large family and we cannot fit into cars. We drive a euro van. 1 car for commuting, 1 truck for hauling, and our van. We only drive the car. My husband rides his bike to work, I walk everywhere I can. Rarely do we drive.

Update:We have different cars/trucks now.  I ride my bike a lot, walk a lot and drive only when I have to. Doing all this means we don't put much mileage on any of our vehicles.  Plus this saves us money because we don't have to buy as much gas.  My husband still rides his bike to work a lot.

2. Go with a smaller house.
True in every level. Less to heat, less to take care of, and less is just plain good. We just moved into a smaller older home. I'm so happy that we did. I felt so guilty for having so much space.

Update: Still live in this smaller home and love everything about it.  I now have a very large garden, some chickens and a very kid friendly yard.  We update inside any chance we get but still have much work to do.  Kitchen is next!

3. Go with a smaller car.
This is true for the most part. As long as you take care of your car, it will take care of you. Less money for gas because you get better gas millage than a suv. Our Jetta tdi gets average of 45 miles per gallon. Amazing and that's why I commute with it.

Update: No longer have our VW Jetta.  We now have a BMW which is more dependable. 

4. Rent rather than own.
This is a big debate. I could go on and on about this one. I prefer to own. We are financially okay, we pay more than the mortgage bill ask for, and we never use credit cards to pay any of our bills. If you do not make much money (or enough to stay afloat) then just rent. Find a medium place. Not too expensive, not too cheap, and in a good neighborhood. A lot of places go by income. Then save your money for when you are financially in a better spot, and I'm sure the market will be a lot better by then.

5. Look for it used.
Get over your fears of germs, almost all things can wash. I grew up with 2nd hand stuff so I'm used of it and nothing bothers me anymore. But if you have never stepped foot into a thrift store, try it out. Once you see your money staying in your pocket, you will rethink the whole thing. Everything in my life (except undergarments) is bought used. Yep, all my name brand clothes, used. Those cool Uggs I wear, used. My cool Tupperware, used. So get over it and try it out. You will thank me.

Update:No TUPPERWARE in my home anymore! Woot! I still buy everything used and always will.  Only new under garments.  Be smart and buy (if you can) from Goodwill Outlets which sell by the pound.  The more you buy the less you pay. 

6. Eat out less
Before my kids, we used to eat out all the time. Drive through was my friend. Now, maybe 4 times a year we eat out. Seriously. Just cut your eating out in half. Instead of each weekend, try every other weekend.

7. Eat out frugal
If we do eat out, its where kids eat free, I have a gift card, or coupon for free food. Its more fun this way. Plus a lot of times we get to try out places we've never been to. Best yet, we keep our money in our pocket. Try looking up that popular meal you love from your favorite place to eat. There are tons of recipes on the net, just google it.

8. Brown bag it
Yep, you can do this. I like this because I know whats in my food because I put it there. I control how much I eat, what I eat, and my favorite foods are in there. Plus I save myself money.

Update:I pack 4 lunches for my kids each day.  When we hike I pack food.  My husband brings left overs for lunch.  Get the pattern here?

9. Adopt a minimalist wardrobe
I am again guilty of this one. You can have a big wardrobe if you buy 2nd hand. I have a huge selection of clothing because I buy from the goodwill outlet. It sells by the pound. You get things for literally pennies when you buy this way. But if you don't have one nearby, then stay with things that can go with anything. A few jeans, or pants. A few tops you can mix n match. And a few shoes that can go with anything. Need something fancy, borrow something from a friend or family member who is your size. There are ways to get around this rule.

10. Stop online impulse buys
Again guilty. But I have rules for myself. Only one clearance/sale, with free shipping, and or a sale code. Rarely do I spend over $10 online. You can sign up for their newsletter and they will send you deals. is a favorite for super good deals. EBay is another place you can find great deals. I can always find what I want for half the price retail stores ask for. So I do stay away from online purchases but there are a few exceptions.

Update: We try our best to buy from local business. Keeps money in Oregon where it needs it most.  Only time we buy online is if we cannot find it locally.  I do buy online through Azure Standard because they have the best deals for natural food and most products are from local farmers. 

11. Don't shop
I stay away from any retail store if I can help it. I live within 5 minutes from 2 shopping malls, and a mall. I will only go to these places if I have a free coupon for stuff. That's it. I refuse to pay retail prices for anything. Seriously, I will hold out for months till I find what I want on clearance. lol

Update: I don't shop there anymore unless its for gifts.  I stay out of the stores anymore because it seems like everything now days are made from plastic.  I spend my money in thrift shops now days.

12. Use a 30 day list
If you need something that isn't a "have to have" item, I put it on a list with the date on it. I cannot buy it until 30 days later. You will see how your "have to have" item turns into "don't need it" list.

13. Cut out cable
yep I did this one. Partially because we were moving but we turned it off 1 month before we even moved. The only thing I actually missed was the pause button. I do miss that. Other than that, I don't miss my shows like I thought I would. And we get our $50 back in our pocket each month.

Update: Still going strong! No cable! Its been 3 years now and we don't miss it one bit.  Sometimes we do rent a movie from Redbox. 

14. Use the library
You can find any book you want, movie, or magazine. All for free!!! Plus most library's have "free" pass to local museums and galleries.

15. Find free entertainment
Go for a walk and make it a treasure hunt. Kids can bring a bag and make art work when they get home. Maybe try out a new local park. Have a play date. Go hiking, biking, or walking. There are tons of things you can do for free. If your indoors, try out a board game. There are tons of online free games. There are options, you just have to be open to try them out.

16. Frugal exercise
Jog while the kids are in school. Go for a walk. Do push ups. Run up and down the stairs. Jump up and down the stairs. There are lots of things you can do. I walk my 2 girls to school pushing my 2 other girls in a stroller. On the way home I jog. I enjoy jogging and don't use "kids" as an excuse not to do it. When they are young, you can still jog. When they get older, take turns with a neighbor or family and members watching kids. There are options.

Update: My kids are older and in school now. I still continue to jog. 

17. Stay healthy
Yeah sounds simple, well it is. Eat healthy, get exercise and you wont have to go to the doctors. Saving you money.

18. Commute by bike
Yep, the hubby does this everyday. Its actually the reason we bought our house. So he could ride his bike and I can walk to the stores. No money wasted on gas. You get exercise. Need I say more? Oh yeah and don't use the weather as another excuse. They make shoe protectors, rain jackets, etc. If you don't have the money, just get some weather proofing spray to spray a jacket you already have. It will work until you save up for a rain jacket.

19. Carpool or ride the bus
We ride the max (rail system) to the zoo. Just its only a 20 minute trip, id rather not worry about traffic or wear to park the car. Its pretty cheap too. There are also plenty of bus's to ride as well. Or if your neighbor/family member wants to car pool, split the gas. Did this at our last home that was 45 minutes away from everything. Saved us money on gas.

20. Walk
Do I need to go on about it? Just do it

21. Sell your clutter
We did this before we moved. Try out places like eBay, Craigslist, or just hold a garage sale. Your junk is another persons treasure no matter what it is. You would be surprised. We sold our table set, rolling island, and even tires so we didn't have to when we moved. Plus we used the money to rent a truck.

22. Frugal gifting
What I do is buy things year round. If I find something at 90% off, I will get it if its a good gift. Lotions sets, etc. That way when the hubby tells you there is a birthday party tomorrow and we need to go, you say "no problem". Just go in your stash and pull something out. Or you can make your own gift. Epsom salt and oils make great bathroom salts. Melt down your candles to make a new one. Melt down crayons and make new cool ones with ice cube trays. (use petroleum jelly to get them out easy)

Update: We sort still do this.  Instead of lotions and what not we just give gift cards from book stores.  I try my best to make gifts or buy as ECO friendly as possible.  Always try to buy local.

23. Quit smoking
Seriously, do it. Save other peoples lungs, your lungs and your overall health. Its a nasty habit that you can quit. There are tons of help groups out there. Most are free. There is no reason why you cannot smoke. Oh yeah, you also save hundreds of dollars each year by quitting.

24. Alcohol in moderation
Instead of buying that favorite beer you like, try out a inexpensive wine out. One glass will do you. Sometimes stores have wine tasting for free, just bring ID. Hit those up. Try cutting your entertaining in half, you will save a bundle. A lot of stores like grocery outlet have wine 50% off retail. Try that out.

Update: No longer drink wine due to allergies. We do enjoy a good local beer.  If you have no money for food then you have no money for alcohol. 

25. Sweets in moderation
We don't buy sweets unless its from the bulk section and I cook them. Muffins, cookies, and things like that. Whole wheat flour, flax seed, and half the sugar is cut out replaced by applesauce. Then the kids choose what extras they want in it. Dried fruit, small chocolate chips, and sometimes nothing. They love these muffins.

26. Drink water
I wont go on and on. Just drink it. Water from your tap. Cheap and its there always. Try only drinking 1 cup of coffee in the morning and water for the rest of the day. I used to buy crystal light all the time. No more. I make homemade lemonade , buy milk and nothing else. Water is usually what they choose.

27. Batch your errands
Plan your day. Get it all done in one trip. Saves you on gas money and time.

28. Stay home
Yep, its true. If I'm getting broke, I don't travel anywhere. Only to see family or friends. If I do travel, I pack a lunch for the kids. This way I'm not out any money from my pocket. Why go somewhere and wish you could get this or that. Don't tempt yourself .

29.Stop using credit cards
We only have one and its almost paid off. I don't use them. I pretend they are not even there. We have it only in case of emergency. We have yet to have one but that's okay. It was good to have one when I was younger to get my credit up. but now I have excellent credit and don't use them. Funny how these things work out.

30. Cancel subscriptions
You don't need them. Now days you can find any magazine online.  You can also find any information you want on the web.  I have 2 magazine subscriptions-Taproot and Mother Earth News. I get so much information from them and pass them onto friends when I'm done with them.

31. Make your own
I could go on and on about this one. Use it in every aspect of your life. Like yesterday. I didn't want to go spend $10 on a curtain rod. I needed a small one for my mud room door. So I used the brackets that were already on the door, bought a $1 dowel, painted it black with my acrylic paint, and put it up. Done! Could of used a twig but I don't have one. Then I cut up a pillow case and turned it into a curtain. See what I mean? You like something, think how you can make it yourself.

32. Do it yourself
Yep, just do it. We have standing water in our back yard, so we knew we needed some system to get it out of there. Could of hired a landscaper to do it but we don't have the money. So instead my husband is installing pipe(with holes) under the ground leading down to the street. Cover it with gravel then dirt and grass. Instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, were spending less than $100 bucks. Research it and try it out. Electrical work is a DON'T! Be smart.

Update: We have now replaced our fence, gates, retaining wall, landscaping, and etc. All by yourselves! Feels pretty damn good to do it yourself and save money.

33. Stop paying interest
This is why you should not have credit cards. You pay interest. Look for interest free. There are so many things you can buy now that are interest free. Just look around and research before you purchase anything.

34. Reduce convenience foods
Junk food, frozen food, etc. Try hitting up your bulk section and make your own food. Why buy popcorn for the microwave when you can buy 1 lb of popcorn for 50 cents and make 10 times the amount for half the price. We no longer buy anything prepackaged if we can get it in bulk. If we do buy packaged, its recycled. Less packaging means less money. Plus most items are super healthy. Just don't go near the candy area. lol

35. Travel frugally
Try traveling local. Instead of going out of state each year, hit up places within your state. We do this all year round. We just research a "must see" place in our state like were tourist. Then we plan it out and go there. There are so many places, you just need to research it. Try looking at your states tourist site. Great place to find idea's. Pack your own food, camp or get a cabin instead of a hotel room. Or try sleeping in your vehicle(works well if you don't have kids). This saves you a bundle. Or have relatives? Ask to stay with them. Then when they want to travel, then can stay with you.

36. Cut the cell phone.
Guilty. We did the opposite. We cut the land line. Hubby was able to get a good cell phone deal through his work so we pay less. I never go over on my minutes or text. Use it only when needed. I mostly email. But if you cant get your cell under control, cut it out. Get a land line. You can get one for as cheap as $10 a month .

Update: We now have a land line again.  Now that my kids are older and can stay home, its a must have.  This way they can call us anytime. Still have our cell's through his work at a cut rate. 

37. Cut your own hair. This works out great if you can get someone else to help you out. No way would I let my husband cut my hair. I love him but no. So I choose to wait out until a sale comes around. I will only get it cut if its $6.99 or less. I will wash my hair before I go in and while its still wet, go get it cut. My girls I can trim so they don't get cuts that often. Every other year or so they will get it cut pretty short then let it grow again. Invest in a trimmer/cutter for your husband or boys. Easy directions and you will never go pay for a cut again. My husband bought his 10 yrs ago and has not step foot into a salon since. Worth every penny.

Update: Stopped going to Great Clips because we have had too many issues with them.  Once for the hair stylist telling me my hair was a wreck (which it wasn't and wasn't her business) and once for cutting my 14 year old daughters bangs so short they couldn't be fixed.  It didn't matter which location either.  Looking for a alternative so message me if you know of a good priced place in the Portland area. Thanks!

38. Maintain stuff
Yes. Take care of your car. Change your oil, and make sure air in your tire is correct. This goes for anything you own. Take care of it and it will last a long time. All else fails....GOOGLE IT!

39. Save energy
There are hundreds of tips on the net to lower your energy bill. Use cold water when washing clothes, hang dry clothes, keep lights off during the day, and unplug everything. Those are just a few. The more you do, the more you will save. More money in your pocket.

40. Save gas
Walk anywhere within 2 miles of your home. Drive the car that gets the best gas mileage. Fuel goes up and down in price so you cannot always depend on the prices helping you out. Coast down hills, brake less, gas less or just walk.

41. Only buy bargain clothing (if you need them)
Kids need shoe's? Hit up clearance aisles. My daughter has indoor soccer coming in 1 month so I'm on the hunt for those shoes at a good price. Research, shop around, and look for the deals. Don't forget to pass on clothes to your younger kids!  Also accept anything friends or family give you!

42. Telecommute
Not only does this mean you get to work in pj's, but it saves you money on gas, wear and tear on your car, and your food bill. Worth looking into if you can.

43. Plan ahead
I research everything I do. I think ahead of things I need to do, or need to get. I prepare food for my kids in a lunch box when I'm out doing errands. This way I cut out any excess food spending. I spend a good amount of time looking at store ad's comparing and planning my next day shopping . This way I cut back on stress, gas, and money.

Update: No longer sit through ad's before shopping.  Also no longer use coupons if I can.  I buy whats in season, on sale, organic, fair trade and local.  Yes you can shop at Whole Foods on a budget and I prove it each month. Let's not forget New Season's!

44. Cook ahead
A lot of people I know cook meals ahead of time and freeze them. I cannot due to my small freezer in this new home (will get larger one later). So I freeze things I get on sale or clearance. Large piece of meat are cut down into meal size's and froze. Red peppers on sale, take home and slice, lay flat on cookie sheet in freezer, taken out and then put in a ziplock bag into the freezer.

Update: We own a large freezer now!

45. Wash clothes less
I don't wash my sweatshirts every time I wear them. Same with pj pants, and things like that. Jackets, sweaters, and shoes are only washed when needed. Less water wasted, less energy used from your bill and you.

46. Sun dry clothes
I just love the smell of my clothes when I hang dry them. You just cannot explain it. If you cannot have a clothes line, invest (or buy used) in a fold able one. I will be using both this summer. This saved me a ton of money when my twins were babies. We did so much laundry and I hung everything outside. I did dry my jeans 50% then hung dry the rest of the time. I don't like scratchy jeans and this eliminated. Try it out, I promise you will love it. This alone saves the most energy in a average household.

47. Eat less meat
We eat 3 meatless meals a week. And you know what, my family doesn't even notice it. That's 3 lbs less meat a week I have to buy. Saving me about $50 a month or even more. There are so many things you can make without meat. Substitute with beans. We eat every type of bean you can think of. I buy them dried in the bulk section. Cook them in my crock pot, and then freeze them into 1 cup bags. My daughter is a vegetarian and this helps out when I'm cooking meals. I just thaw out some beans for her and done. This alone saves so much money on our food budget. You can get protein in many other places. Google it , I dare you. 

Update:We still don't eat much meat.  If we eat meat at all its only half a pound.  We also still eat a ton of beans but don't use plastic bags.  I make my beans and freeze them in wide mouth mason jars. 

48. Save on groceries
Clip coupons for things you do buy on a regular basis. Look for seasonal sales for produce. Cook yourself, no premade anything, and hit up the markdowns on meat and dairy. This is how I keep my budget of $500 for a family of 6. Actually its less than that because I buy all clothing, cleaning products, etc. It can happen, I do it all the time. Find your local food outlets, or savings stores. Hit up the bulk section for everything. Less packaging, less money. Rethink your spending habits.

Update: No longer use coupons unless its a product I always buy.  Sunshine Dairy makes my favorite sour cream and has coupons often.  LOVE THEM because of the quality of products and they are LOCAL to me!

49. Frugal holidays
How about using nature to decorate instead of spending money on decorations you use once a year. Fall is great for this. Use leaves for decorating plates with candles. Christmas time use clippings from a holly tree to make a wreath. Try looking to nature to decorate, how do you think our ancestors did it? There wasn't a Target or Walmart back then. Rethink it. 

50. Eat cheap breakfast
One way I cut back on sugar with my kids is to buy whole grain cereal like Cheerios's or bran flakes. Then I will buy a box of not so healthy cereal . My kids know they have to mix the two. Its either that, or nothing. They are used to it and don't put up a fight. They are eating half the sugar. Or I will make my own oatmeal. Instead of buying those boxed ones, I will make plain oatmeal and add fruit to it. Or a tiny bit of brown sugar. Sometimes even a spoonful of homemade jelly. Its not cutting out sugar completely but its cutting it back 50%. Eat a homemade muffin, pancakes, oatmeal, English muffin, etc. There are plenty of things you can eat that doesn't cost much.

Update: NO MORE CEREAL!!!! I'm happy to report we no longer eat cereal in our home unless its organic and at a good price.  Since this doesn't happen often we usually eat other things.  Bagels, english muffins, fruit, yogurts, etc. 

Okay I just gave you plenty of idea's that are free to you to use. Try at least 20 of these and you will save money. Promise!

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