frugal tips

Paul is finishing his Master’s degree project on the virtue of frugality and thrift, and the subject has intrigued me. I feel inspired to learn more how to save money, be creative, and re-use items. 

I’ve been gleaning tips from various online sources, so I thought I would gather what I’ve learned here. Here are some philosophies, as well as, practical ideas in regards to frugality:

  • Time is more important than money. 
  • Value experiences rather than things. 
  • Money & things that cost money do not equate to happiness. 
  • Grow your own food as much as possible. Grow things you want to eat. Start from seeds if possible, or join a plant swap. 
  • Save and re-use your spaghetti jars for organizing containers
  • Learn to make homemade gifts. They are cherished more than store-bought, and allow you to be creative.
  • Buy dry beans instead of canned, and cook them in your crockpot.
  • Be aware of your debt, and pay on it regularly. Set goals.
  • Make your own cleaning products. 
  • Use your local library to check out magazines, books, movies.
  • Wash your own car.
  • When you need to buy something, look for coupons before buying. Don’t let coupons push you to buy something you wouldn’t have bought in the first place without the coupon.
  • Budget, especially your food costs. Find recipes you love that are cheap.
  • Save fabric scraps, and make coasters or other gifts out of them. 
  • Wash your hair every other day or less. Shampoo strips your natural oils that keep your hair healthy. You can also dilute your hair products with water.
  • Use a clothes line to dry your clothes.
  • Save any cute greeting cards you receive. You can glue cardstock over the inside and re-use it for others. 
  • Save any unused condiments you receive from fast food. 
  • Save soap and shampoos when traveling.
  • Ride your bike instead of driving around town when possible.
  • I haven’t tried this, but some people make their own laundry detergent, which great success. 
  • Pay your bills online to avoid the costs of postage and envelopes. 
  • Check craigslist for furniture. Think ahead about the resale value of the furniture you buy. 
  • Cut your cable and use “rabbit ears” for TV instead. 
  • Make your own oatmeal face scrub. 
  • Buy for quality & value, not because of the price. 
  • Pop your own popcorn. It’s very easy!
  • Limit AC and heating use when possible. Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Entertain yourself by learning a new skill, rather than buying stuff. Learn how to DIY. The experience of learning brings more fun than buying a completed product does. 
  • Fashion: buy classic versatile pieces. Solid colors are safest, as certain prints can go out of style quickly. 
  • Fashion: buy only clothes that you LOVE. It’s better to spend $75 on a pair of pants you love that you will wear for the next 5+ years than $20 on a pair that you end up wearing only when everything else is dirty. Same goes for shoes — buy for quality and how much you love them. 
  • Use gift cards whenever possible for purchasing needs. 
  • Always pay credit cards bills in full every month. Never be late. 
  • Make big purchases on your credit card to earn points/rewards. Examples: rent, plane tickets, car repairs.
  • Drive the speed limit or under. Going over 50 mph wastes gas.
  • Be conservative on produce purchases. Be aware on how much fresh fruit/vegetables go to waste if you don’t eat them quick enough. 


I think the big take-home idea for me is that doing things yourself and learning new ways of saving money and developing new skills can actually be fun and rewarding if you have the right attitude. You will become more creative, and you will become more environmental, and you may even become a more thoughtful gift-giver. 

By doing these things, it makes you more self-sufficient, and if ever you do hit hard financial times, since you are already living on the cheap, you won’t freak out. Homemade, handmade, gardening, etc. gives you more power. Power to choose which ingredients are in your products, power of pocketing the extra saved money, power of developing new skills, power of your own self-esteem and feeling of accomplishment. 

I’d love to hear any tips you guys have for living frugally. I’m on a quest to learn, and I’d love some help!



The Cheapskate Next Door


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