Try these easy frugal living tips to help you save money and get out of debt! Trim unnecessary spending and you’ll be surprised how far your money goes!
11 Ways To Save Money – Frugal Living Tips
Frugal living is all about making the most with what you already have. Here are 11 frugal living tips from Penny Pinching Mama to help you get started:
Barter for services when possible. For example, we exchanged lawn mower repair from our neighbor for a table (garage sale find) that he was looking for.
Learn to fix things for yourself. These days, with the Internet making information so easily available, you can fix most things yourself. We do 95% of the repairs around our house and we aren’t that handy. We just keep looking for the information about how to do it and keep working until we get it fixed!
Stop eating out. This is one of the all time best frugal living tips. I know you hear it all the time but STOP!!! The “average” family spends $300-$500 a month just eating out! Eating out truly is one of the biggest causes of debt! I am always amazed how someone can be “totally broke” and can’t pay their bills but are still able to go to the drive-thru of their favorite restaurant.
Study nutrition information and find out what you need to eat to have a healthy and balanced diet. Then stop eating the junk and eat healthy inexpensive meals at home. We have a lot of menu ideas here at LivingOnADime.com that can help you get started.
If something breaks and you don’t have the money to fix or if you are out of something and you don’t have the money to buy more, figure out a way to live without it. If the lawn mower breaks, can you borrow a friend’s lawn mower? If your washer breaks, go to the laundromat. If you break your tea kettle, use a saucepan to heat water. In most instances, you can find a way to make do or do without something until you have the cash saved up.
Do things for free. Go to the library, have a picnic or read a book. Kids are just as happy playing with mom and dad in the backyard as they are going to the zoo. If you can’t pay cash for the “fun stuff” you can always have fun at home.
Buy items used. We buy 90% of the items for ourselves used. Going to yard sales and thrift stores does not take any longer than going to a retail store but you can save 90% off the retail price!
Just say no…to your kids. Let kids buy their own toys and extras! Our kids pay for all their own soda, candy, treats like nail polish, their own computers and extras. You are not the Bank of Mom so just say no!
Find a cheaper way to do things. Go to a beauty school to get your hair colored (or don’t have your hair colored at all it isn’t something you need to survive). Go to a mechanic school to get your car fixed. Hire a kid instead of a lawn service to mow your yard (only if you can’t do it yourself for medical reasons. :-) Paint your own house instead of hiring someone, cut the cable and the cell phone (gasp!), and have birthday parties at your house. There is almost always a cheaper way to do things so try to find the cheapest way and save some money!
Cut kids’ activities. Most kids are in way too many activities and they’re often expensive. I know families who pay $175 a month for gymnastics lessons but can’t pay the mortgage. There is a problem with this kind of thinking! Kids won’t die if you don’t give them all the lessons and activities you can’t afford.
Get it for free. When the landscapers were laying sod in our new neighborhood, I asked for the scraps and we were almost able to put in our entire backyard for free. When they were building houses, I asked for the 2×4’s that were going into the dumpster and got enough wood for our shed. When they were pouring concrete patios, I asked for the leftover concrete and they just poured our entire cement pad for our shed for free!! If friends have kids older than your kids, ask if you can have their hand me downs when they are done.
Frugal living is not about living cheaply. It is about choosing what is really important to you and saving your money for that!
Get as much as you can for free and you can save thousands of dollars!
grizzly bear mom
My frugal living tip is to just stop buying stuff. It’s amazing what we purchase and then have to take care of or and live around before we finally take it to the thrift store. I read today there is 7square feet of storage space for every American. That means we could all stand under it!
I recently rearranged my clothing by color instead of by blouse, jacket, etc. Before I stopped counting I was ashamed to realize that I had 36 items of dress clothing. No one needs that much clothing. I won’t have to purchase anything for the rest of my life!
And when someone is kind to you such as workers laying a concrete pad for you, do something like make an delicous lunch for them the next day. Because I have white carpet and a big dog, I tip the carpet cleaner $20 before he even starts telling him that “I KNOW he will get all those spots out.”
You can also shave like 3%+ off all your regular expenses just by using the right credit cards to pay for them.
The reward calculator at CreditCardTuneUp. com can find good cards and card combinations for your monthly expenses. It also calculates the % you’d save off your expenses with different card options.
Let me provoke your thinking a bit. :) I don’t think garage sales are the way to go!
Money has been very tight for us the past couple of years so I have been extremely thankful for “freecycling” websites and Yahoo groups like Freecycle & Kijiji (the “free” section). Within the last 6 or 8 months our laptop speakers, our computer mouse, our hair trimmer, our washing machine, our toaster, our phone, our coffee maker, our rice steamer and our DVD player all died (and that’s all I can remember at this moment — it’s been kind of crazy!!) :( Yikes!
I would have been VERY stressed out had I had to purchase even a few of these new. Thanks to these sites, all but one I have replaced for FREE from kind people who had an extra laying around and were willing to bless someone else and give it away rather than getting a few dollars for it.
The other — very important — side of this, of course, is that I choose to give away most of our things that we don’t need rather than sell them online or in a garage sale. I truly don’t give away our items so that others will give to us!! But I have come to realize that it does often work that way. Frequent users of the Freecycle group I’m a member of see my username showing up often with offer posts and so they tend to grant me favour when I request an item of theirs. So these sites are truly a great example of “what goes around comes around”. A tremendous blessing for those of us on really tight budgets!
Thanks for the heads up. We use and do recommend free cycling and have written about it too. There are still areas though who don’t have free cycling or it is not as “good” as in some areas which is why we try to cover many different ways to buy things. Another example of this is many people swear by farmers market and use them all the time. Where we live ours is not very good. The quality of things are really bad, prices are super high and they aren’t open but just every once in awhile in the summer so using a farmers market for us just doesn’t work.
Same here the farmers markets are very expensive.
yes recently i was bombarted with too much stuff i found a family who needed a bed and couch they loved it
I am 75, my adopted son is 16 and as items in our home become broken, worn out etc. I am being creative w/ what I have and not replacing w/ new. EXAMPLE- I am HomeSchooling and needed a desk in front of the tv for son to watch school DVD’s. On the back porch I had a long,low,leather covered item that I thought about using at the foot of my king size bed,w/ one small hole in it,that had been given to me some time ago but I never found a use for it until now.I cleaned it up.Spray painted the iron legs, covered it w/ a large towel,and viola- a good enough table for him to use. FREE
My den furniture broke and was thrown away. Rather tan buy new I had the love seat moved from the living room to the den,gathered a few odds and ends and the room is ready to go.FREE
I like your response. I just had a conversation with a neighbor to find out that we have families in need just on the next street. We are in a nice area of Kansas and sometimes we forget that at times..it’s the family that’s working 2 jobs that has a need.
Hi Karen, really enjoyed reading your post. I recently, lost my job working at a bank in town and it really devastated me. My husband is retired from the Army and I’m a veteran, however, his income is our main source of income. I try really hard to cut our living costs as much as possible. I am big on couponing and actually that’s really how much of our savings come about. I believe in helping others and people who I know are in need of a blessing. It does my heart good to be able to be a blessing to someone else. Now more than ever, I’m looking for new and better ways to save money and cut our utilities. I could use some suggestions. Our main income was threatened with the government shutdown, so I am in need of some suggestions. Thanks in advance and many blessings!
Yeah for our military. My dad retired from the military so I am a little partial to them. Patricia you might wander around our website a bit because we have literally hundreds of ideas on saving in different ways and often ways most have never thought about. I joke a lot about couponing. I do use coupons some but there are so many other ways to save that are easier and sometimes can help save more. A couple of quick ways to save is to drink more water and less of things like juice, milk, pop etc. If you look at the average family’s food bill you will find that 1/3 of it goes for things to drink alone like tea, coffee, sugar and cream for those, pop, milk, juice and even things like lemon to put in your drinks. Another fast way to save is to be sure to use the food you do buy. It is not a stretch at all to say that most families throw out 50% of what they buy. I tell everyone if you don’t think that is true then watch for a few days your eating habits. Do you toss out a 1/2 pot of leftover coffee or tea that didn’t get drank. How often do kids leave a half eaten sandwich or apple on their plate that gets tossed and what about those chips or cookies that were left open and went stale. Not even to mention things that get freezer burn and leftovers. Like I said look around the site. We have many more tips like this not only for groceries but utilities, gifts and all kinds of things.
fiona van Deventer
What a very sensible website I am from the UK and will be following this brilliant site from now on. Agree we all have far too much junk though one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Good luck
if i buy foods i dont like i figure someway to add spices or put in something i like or use it in my compost pile
I also use a freecycling website. But I would like to remind everyone that those sites are supposed to be a two-way street. Too many times we are seeing a wave of people joining who list their myriad wants, but we never see their name with an item available to be picked up. My friends and I are starting to call it freeloadering. The groups were originally formed to keep good things out of landfills. I encourage people to use these websites – just keep reciprocation in mind.
Freecycle can be good but after having bad experience after bad experience I won’t use or recommend it.
Tawra, I’ve also had a few disappointments on Freecycle, but now I mostly ‘lurk’, reading the wants and offers but very rarely listing anything myself. I do speak up when something is offered I want, or if a want is something I have available. I finally got rid of my old computer and all the old parts when a ‘want’ was for a preteen who’s learning about computers. (Yes, I made sure the hard drives were reformatted.) A broken bird bath is now a favorite plant stand on my patio. I’ve gotten a few very nice clothes from freecycle as well.
I love our Freecycle. I recently got an artificial Christmas tree in very good shape (not with lights) and came with a tree stand as well. I also was given some golf items I’m going to give my brother for his b-day.
what i did was placed a ad on kiji giving the furniture away i would never give away things that were garbage these items were in great shape
I had a problem or two with freecycling, so now I am more likely to go to the Habitstore. We donate unused household items, and buy much of the materials for our house (plumbing, electrical, doors, windows, furniture) cheaply there. It benefits Habitat for Humanity while saving us money. We also use Craig’s List, although you need to be careful and follow their anti-scamming advice, but we have made some really good trades and found many bargains through that site. I especially like my beautiful wicker patio set…2 arm chairs and a table for $25.00!
I think a good frugal living tip is to form a bartering “club”. Notify members of the club of goods or services you are willing to barter! Chances are good you’ll not only make several good exchanges, you’ll make several good friends as well!!
I moved last March into a new neighborhood in my same city. Boy, what a difference! I have met so many friendly and caring people. We all have our own issues and concerns, but we help each other as often as we can. Quite often we gather in a neighbor’s yard to catch up. If someone is sick, others bring food over. Quite often someone will have “extras” of some food-this week it was oranges that a friend had bought in large quantity on sale. She had us all take 4-5. Another friend had lots of leftover candy from Christmas, and brought it all in a big bag. People just took what they could use. One sweet lady loves to bake cookies, and she will give everyone a half dozen, or so. We also get together for spur of the moment potluck dinners. They are really fun, even though we will have lots of different things. Food always gets eaten, when it might have been tossed otherwise. The big bonus is the fellowship, and sharing of hearts. I always feel renewed and encouraged!!
Barb, my old neighborhood was the same way. None of us were wealthy, (ok, we all live well below poverty level)but the generosity was always there, and we always shared what we had. When one of my co-worker’s daughter was pregnant, we all gave her a few items, and they had to buy very little for the baby. We all lived by “What comes around goes around.” It’s heartening to see that. Now that I live in a “wealthier” area with my boyfriend, everyone keeps to themselves. I don’t even know the neighbors, and I’ve been here for about nine months now. Thankfully we’re moving soon, and I can only hope that my new neighborhood will be the same way. There’s something to be said about “poor” people. They always seem to be more generous and willing to share than “wealthy” people.
Marie I have to agree with you and Barb. I am a single mom of 4 who is currently disabled. So yep we are poor. We were blessed with a housing voucher right before I had my back surgery and somehow ended up in the rich neighborhood of our town. (a lot of landlords did not want to take the voucher) Despite people seeing that I had surgery and several being told (i have kids who will talk to anyone!) Not one person has come over to offer their help with yard work or anything. We have a huge yard and my 11 yr old son was mowing it. Now we have a ton of leaves and due to him having an emergency appendectomy and my oldest daughter getting hit by a car (she’s okay but sore and bruised) the yard just sits there. My other two are just little bitty kids. My neighbors spend hours and that’s not an exaggeration mowing, leaf blowing and vacuuming etc yet not one has offered any assistance. I’m not one to ask for help so I guess we’ll stay leafy! But I”m just shocked that noone has offered. I’ve lived in the poor neighborhoods where everyone helped everyone and I think we picked the wrong neighborhood to move to.
sorry to hear that when my husband had cancer he was in Halifax and i was home alone with the kids i also work full time my neigbours were fantastic actually they did more for me then most of both of our families so there are good neighbours out there sometimes we have to make the first move and show them how to act
I feel your pain but could u make a cake,cookies and let the 11 yr old offer to your neighbor? This would open the door to becoming a neighbor.
In my local it seems people want to be left alone.We speak, visit on FB, trade flowers, but do not visit. I am not one to loan or borrow items. But one neighbor has cancer and I belong to FREE magazine group and share w/ her. She and her daughter seem to enjoy. I also give the coupons that I do not use. I have flowers blooming most of the time,brought vases for $.25 ea and share them. I share w/ the mail lady,credit union person at the window, the utility person when I pay my bill. Every one enjoys a freebie!
good luck. Would also be nice if u had a swap clothing local group. Maybe u could start one. Try to find a gardener to share left over vegs this year. Would u baby sit one for exchange for yard work or vegs.??
They may be wealthy, but it sounds like you are the rich ones. I hope you find a new neighborhood that better suits the way you choose to live.
I read on our freecycle that a woman needed professional clothing for a new job and since I had just retired I gave her a complete wardrobe. She seemed very unappreciative and in a hurry when she picked the clothes up. She looked familiar but I couldn’t place her. Several months later I stopped at a garage sale and there she was. Guess whose clothes were hanging up for sale. Yep, and I’m usually pretty laid back but I saw red. I told her off but she said she lost the job so didn’t need the clothes after all. The reason I thought she looked familiar is because I’d been to her sales before. I contacted freeserve and they said that they have no control over what people do with the things they get. I watch and she is still on there taking and taking. At my age, I don’t need much so I do a lot more giving and feel good about it. I wouldn’t feel that way if I was taking to make money. Like you said, You reap what you sow, karma or what goes around comes around. Every religion has a name for it. I’d rather pay ahead.
I would put up a post on the website so others using that website would know what this woman is doing. People should know not to do business with this person, money exchanged or not. The only way to stop people from abusing these “free” websites is to start publicly “outing” them for the theives that they are.
I am so sorry this happened to u. Did u report her to your FREECYCLE GROUP so she will not do others like this. This is not what FC is about.
I put 3 different items on my front porch for FC members to pick up and guess what? One person took all 3. I reported this.
Thank you. It really does seem to be that way. We’re happy, and even though there are things that we want, we know that we don’t NEED them, and by the time we have the money saved up for whatever it is, we usually forget about it. So far the neighborhood that we’re looking at seems to be very nice. But even if it doesn’t work out, lo and behold, there’s a home for sale in my old neighborhood. :)
Super good point Marie. I have that happen all the time. I will save and save and by the time I get the money for something I often don’t even want it any more.
I live on a military base, and as the houses are so close together, once we make friends with neighbor’s it’s always “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” We throw bbq’s every week, and no one family is put out for groceries, since we all help out with the meat, sides, and drinks. We also joke about having the “community garage” where we can put a vehicle in to have all the mechanics around (my husband, the garage owner etc) work on the vehicle to fix it. When my husband deploys, we know that our toddler and I will be taken care of when I go to have our second baby, since we all help each other out in times of stress or even in the good times.
You are very very lucky! As a former military wife not all bases work like that. You are very fortunate to have been blessed with one like that.
We used to have the same approach in our area, but eventually too many of ours became theirs permanently, and we had to replace way too many expensive items…anvil, chain saw, 25 ft extension ladder, shovels, etc. Seems like if it is a tool, the men just assume that it must be theirs and can’t possible really belong to this household of women. So, now we either paint (in bright pink) or engrave our names on everything, and politely ask for a date on which it will be returned. Prevention!
Brilliant idea, Ann. This really ade me laugh. Even the most forgetful of tool borrowing men will not convince himself that he ever bought a bright pink chain saw.
This is so true Magdalen. I was teasing my grandsons the other day over my pink tools. My husband got me pink tools many years ago. Tons of my tools “disappear or get lost” but 3 generations later my pink tools are still around. Most guys wouldn’t dream of run off with my pink tools and are always sure to put them back.
pink is just a lighter shade of red
Paying too much for auto insurance? Here’s a frugal idea suggested to me by MY insurance agent.
My policy runs for a six-month period. For the time of the current policy, I’m odometer-tracking. I write down the odometer reading when I leave and when I arrive (easily charted with paper and pencil, and transferred to computer). We’ll see what happens with my policy this fall.
Commenting on #8…my kids will buy themselves treats (i.e. box of snack cakes),etc and then sell some of them to their siblings for a profit (but less than the individual item would cost at a convienience store).They often pay for their purchases this way and have some of the snacks for themselves.
Heidi…that is a great way for them to see how the real world works. When I was was a kid we would do this…and I learned that if I was willing to skip eating the “junk” I could make a bit of profit. I have always liked the profit…today, my husband and I own our own business. More people in this country should learn this instead of asking for handouts.
some schools have offers to trade for yearly cost of sports. you need to check with athletic director. i sold tickets at games two nights and it covered cost of my 1 son playing 3 sports that school year.
I am with you Tara Freecycle people make me mad when they want something you offer set a time and do not show
One thing I found out that really bothers me is the “community supplies” in our son’s school! They have the kids put all their like supplies in a bucket or tub. Ex: all the glue together, all the pencils together, etc. My son is very particular with his supplies (because I taught him to be responsible for them!) and when he goes to get a pencil from the bucket, either a lot of them have been chewed on, broken in half, or the eraser is chewed off because the teachers aren’t making the students be responsible for them. His box of colored markers were missing half of the markers because they were taken by the other students, then he had no red, or green (or whatever other colors) he needed. Supplies cost a lot, even at the beginning-of-the-school-year sales. Usually, in the middle of the year, teachers are then asking for more pencils, markers, etc. I’ve talked to teachers until I’m blue in the face that letting the kids “share” the supplies is really teaching them to be irresponsible because some aren’t taking care of their own supplies when they know they can get from others. I’ve told the teachers, “You can count on me to help however needed, but when it comes to resupplying the class with school supplies, I won’t do it. My son takes care of his supplies, and they last him all year, if no one else uses them.” I may be a hard person about that, but it’s just not right when we are struggling with job layoffs and being asked to send extra supplies. Also, I have a day care and in the past have used his extra school supplies in the summer for my day care kids. I haven’t been able to the past 3 years due to the “community supplies” because there is nothing left at the end of the school year.
We have covered this same subject a few times in the past. For anyone interested here is the page which links you to several articles and comments on this same subject.
Hi! I am new to this site. As a teacher I must say I have seen it all when it comes to use of supplies. And just as some kids want their own items–others feel it is their job to supply everyone else or “hold” friends supplies/HW until the friend needs it. My class students are encouraged to keep their own; if they need a place to keep stuff I try to come up with something for them. There is a shared bucket (the school provides limited supplies), I’ve seen kids deliberately break items (I hold them accountable). Most kids truly do not understand the concept of sharing–they think sharing is taking. I have posted Return Items In The Same or Better Condition Than You Found Them. There is a learning curve for each one of us. I want to say thank you to all who teach their children at home and ask for patience with kids still learning this.
liz . when my son was little, he didnt like others touching his stuff .. and if he pikd out his fav colors for his notebooks (those little flimsy ones with the little prongs in middle, they were normally paper/soft cardboard type ones) .. i used ot get his fav colors and put his name on them with a permanent marker .. same thing with the crayons and markers too .. and then put them in one of those pencil boxes .. with his little supplies ..
and then i would get some stuff for the other kids too .. not everything on that list .. some things i would donate later on in the year (like toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer) ..
but this stuff was very cheap .. and i could afford to do it this way ..
some of his teachers didnt like that idea and i told them he gets very upset if someone touches his stuff that he picked out and wanted .. its his stuff .. and the rest that i brought in was for the class ..
i can truthfully say only one of his teachers got super upset over this and i ended up having a meeting with the teacher and hte principle at the same time .. the principle agreed with me ..
some kids are like that and the fact that i bought stuff for the other students too was a good thing .
not everyone likes to share every single things ..
my son was like ur son esp wiht the pencils .. it would be one thing if he chewed on them but its another to have the “community” supply of pencils all with teeth marks ..
every summer b4 school starts those school supplies can be very very cheap and if u go early enuff u can stock up each week ..
even tho my kids are out of school now (one is 22 and the other is 30), i still buy stuff at this time of year ..
Rose, I too, would buy extra things for his class. I was/am usually the room mom, so for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s, I would always give the kids pencils, etc. At Christmas, I would give everyone a new box of crayons in their goody bag. I just don’t think it’s teaching kids to be responsible when others take something that is someone else’s, specifically. This is more an issue now that one of us has been unemployed for basically 2 1/2 years. Kids just aren’t responsibility at school with regards to supplies, or each kid would have their own supplies. If my son truely used up all of his supplies, I would purchase more (or get from my stash of pre-school sales). I just don’t think I need to be purchasing school supplies because some kids are hard on their supplies because they know they can take from others. I don’t expect other parents to purchase supplies for my child if he abuses them, just as I don’t feel like I should purchase supplies for other kids when they are disrespectful of others’ supplies.
Oh, I suspect that there are some generous wealthy people. Some just don’t want their names publicized.
Yes there are. It is like any other group of people – you have some really sweet, generous nice ones and then you have the not so nice, kind or generous ones.
I used to work with a group, all with grown kids, all with good jobs, that entertained ourselves by shopping for school supplies to donate. It is really fun to stuff backpacks! Many of us had struggled when our kids were school age and had not been able to get our own kids cool stuff, so we had a blast finding nifty things for the new generation of kids. I think this is pretty common where I live. Most kids do get the supplies they need. Sad that it is apparently not universally true.
I take a little offense about wealthy people and stinginess. We ate so much macaroni and cheese one year I cannot stand the sight of the blue boxes in the store. OUr church has a monthly mission project that we contribute to and our church is where the food pantry is based for our small town. Both projects get donations from my weekly shopping trips. We had student loans and I had to build a business. I have been there and don’t mind contributing a hand up. We also have always tried to buy what we need not what we want and pass that philosphy to our 2 20somethings. It took alot of years to impress upon them the sayings “Big hat, no cattle” and “we don’t wear our money” I love your website keep it up. Oh, I still use a lot of paper towels but am trying to cut back Thanks Susan
When my daughter wanted to continue in gymnastics and we could no longer afford it, I offered to man the phones and books while she was in class for the amount of payment. It helped free up the owner so she could supervise the children with the instructors and I enjoyed doing what I normally do in my regular job (answer phones, and book-keeping.) It was a win/win for all of us!
This may be hard to believe but our home is entirely furnished with things we bought from charitable organizations, garage sales, and things that other people had left on the curb. We paid $35Cdn for a perfectly good living room couch for example and my husband one day found an as good as new leather armchair on the curb. Our daughter is going to college next fall and we have found so many useful items at garage sales and the other day when my husband was out he found two very nice living room tables, a dresser, a piano bench etc. all in good condition that our daughter, who is money smart, can use in her new apartment. Our daughter is turning 17 this fall and I still have her flannel diapers that are excellent for window cleaning.
I totally believe it. The only new furniture we have purchased is our bed. Otherwise our entire house has been furnished for less than $350 and I might be overestimating that price. :-)
Hi, I’m an elementary school teacher and I totally agree with the comments regarding NOT having “community supplies” in the classroom. I ask the parents to label their child’s supplies. I also don’t allow my students to give away any of their things. Especially in Kindergarten, some children love to “share” their things. I tell them their parents bought it for them, not to give away. I do have a stash of supplies for students who need them.
Thank you Melva. I always say teachers and nurses will get special crowds in heaven.
I think it depends somewhat on how the wealthy became wealthy as Susan said if you have eaten boxed macaroni and cheese when you were getting your start toward “more money than most”, then you don’t forget and maybe are more willing to be generous than others. But then I have a millionaire friend who says ‘she worked for hers, others can to’ not stopping to think that some have and always will have more opportunities to gain wealth than others-not to mention the knowledge or intelligence on how to gain it. The Bible tells us that “the poor we will have with us always”.
I love your website and read it every time it comes into my inbox.
Some people remember how they started, Julia, and will cheerfully help others.
In fact, the Bible commands in 1 Timothy that those who have much help those who have little. It also warns those who are idle to get busy and do something productive (1 Thessalonians 5). 8-)
I think that some poor people are more willing to give openly. We are recently unemployed (after being as my mother would say well off) and if we are careful with our rainy day savings, we are ok for 1 year, maybe longer – due to careful saving on our part. I would detest someone giving me things just assuming that now I am poor I need them. Really I would. I just wanted to say that there is more than 1 way to help others – some feel comfortable giving of themselves and others would rather donate money or items. Some prefer to be in the spotlight and others in the shadows. Sure the person who hands out food at the pantry is important, but behind them are people who donated the food, people who pay for the rent and utilities of the building, etc. And that can be said for most of these charity type things. Neighbors helping neighbors is great, but for the most part neighborhoods are divided by income, so in reality (in a middle class or higher neighborhood) you think – the people who live here make as much as I do, so if they need help they can pay for it. And in some poorer neighborhoods they will assume the opposite. I’ve had friends who live on the edge of poverty and none of them have neighbors who would help even if their house was burning down. In this case I feel generalizing about one group of people is making assumptions that are not necessarily true. No matter what income I have or what neighborhood I live in, I would rather work behind the scenes than be a spotlight girl and I don’t see what is wrong with that. Most of the people I know are like that. Sure if I had a skill someone needed I would be more than willing to donate my time, but I’d rather knit nice warm scarves for the local homeless instead of teaching a group of girls to knit those scarves. I’m just not that public of a person. And I also detest taking help from others. I like to do for myself and my family and if I have to have help – well previously I would pay for it…now I just do without. It is amazing the stuff you really don’t need :)
I can really relate to much of what you have written. My mom was a single Mom of 4 kids so we didn’thave a lot of the extras. She worked in a sewing factory so she made most of our clothes from remnants – especially when we were litte. We also did the hand-me-downs from her co-workers.
I spent 2 years working in a sewing factory after high school, then spent 4 years in the Army. GI bill benefits helped me work my way through college to become a teacher.
I have more money than my Mom did, but am not wealthy by some of today’s standards. Sad to say I may not have done that great of a job teaching my kids they need to work for some of the extras. We were busy pushing the after school activities the world says is important. Being a “giving” person can have its drawbacks. I definitely am one who likes to give in the shadows. The money does run out. We’ve struggled to send our kids to a private school. Good option where we live. My son’s best friend from school is the son of a doctor. His mom is VERY generous. She is such a sweetheart. She did not have money as a kid. My concern is that my son is learning to take when we can’t afford to give the way they can. I never want my son to be friends with her son beacause he gets stuff.
I am now retired. Daughter in college. Son has one more year of private school, then he will need to attend a public high school. This year I am NOT buying all the cute back to school suplies. I will buy the things he needs – NOT all the stuffthe doctor’s kids have.
Love this sight. Bummer that I wasted so much money when I was teaching. It can be an exhausting job. I used to spend so much money money on classroom supplies and for supplies for kids who could not afford them. Fast food (ouch) seemed necessary when I was working. Why did I ever drink soda and buy it for my kids. So bad for you and such a waste of money.
I work at the clothes closet in my town. And I see children’s school supplies come in all the time, by this I mean the teacher is giving them to us after school is over.How do I know ? The kids names are on them. I always wonder why they weren’t given to the kids to take home. I haven’t had a child in school in 19 years, but it still amazes me about this !
Pat, I taught 4th grade for many years. I always had the kids keep their own supplies in plastic shoe boxes I supplied for them. At the end of the year, I encouraged them to take their unused supplies home. You’d be surprised how many said their moms didn’t want it around the house and they’d just get new stuff next year. I told them not to throw them away, I’d save it for kids who ran out next year. I always had a large “community supply” from the “throw aways” from the years before. It really helped out kids whose families couldn’t afford to buy new.
I never heard of freecycling but thanks for pointing it out. I live on a very limited income and clothing is a luxury for me. I’m lucky to have a very sweet best friend and I traded a week of me staying with her children for clothes.I’m trying to get into an apartment and have no household items. I will definately try theses sites.
Julie our Craig’s List also has a free section and a section where you can post things you need and often people will have things they will give you for nothing if you post under Wanted section.
I have adopted the minimalist lifestyle recently. I am not embracing the whole thing but the idea of living on less has been a great stress reducer for me. I am in the middle of switching jobs and just clearing out extra stuff I don’t need has greatly reduced stress for me! I don’t have to spend hours cleaning just a quick pick up and cleaning has really been wonderful!!! Getting rid of extra stuff is very freeing!!!! NOT spending has been great especially this time of year when everyone is out spending on back to school clothes! It’s like another holiday! I feel blessed that I don’t have to spend money on stuff for back to school and at Christmas we will NOT be spending just to have gifts to give. We have already agreed that we have enough actually too much and we will be reducing instead of adding to our load!!! It is a wonderful way of freeing yourself by unburdening yourself of stuff!
I understand that reducing the stuff can be freeing. I am so sentimental so it can be tough. I need to be in the right mood. Working on getting in the right mood now. My Mom lived through the depression so I think she helped me develop the “you might need it someday” attitude. It doesn’t help if you re-buy the article because you can’t find the one you have. There are many more thrift stores than there use to be. I love them. I am learning to NOT buy things there unless I need it and know exactly what I will the item for. I also donate lots of things to them, because it is easy to drive by and drop things off. If I attempt to have a yard sale- I might get sentimental and decide to keep the stuff.
I make the laundry liquid too with a slight receipe variation. It saves so much money and you dont run out as fast. It costs me $2-$2.50 for 15 litres and lasts about 55 washes!
Little things I do to save money #1 I don’t buy cleaning products. I make grandmother’s ” house crack” cleaner. Lol . I use it for everything except scouring ( baking soda). 1 bottle of alcohol , 1 cup of ammonia, a Gallon jug. Mix the ammonia and alcohol in the jug and fill the rest with water. I clean everything with it( except wood of course) cleans and disinfects bathrooms and kitchens and your floors have never sparkled so well. Cleans glass like a charm and it cost me about $1.50 for a gallon. Just pour what you want in a squirt bottled (recycled of course).
I went “junkin’ as my daughter and I call it, and bought cloth napkins. I have t bought paper napkins in well over 5 years. No I don’t make an extra load if laundry, I buy white ones and throw them in with my other whites. I use hand towels and not paper towels…. I do draw the line at cloth toilet paper:)
I breast fed my babies not only was it free, no bottles to buy or wash. No extra electric bill, no bottles to heat in the middle if the night . And it’s not like you can forget them at home or have one cut loose on the car on a hot summer day:)
Cloth diapers… Yep took more time with folding and washing, but I spent $120 up front for a weeks worth and I never bought another diaper. Who knew about landfill mess back then, all I knew was I couldn’t afford $35 a week in diapers . No my kids never yep I said never had a diaper rash. And ohh the ease potty training was… Right to cloth under pants no pull up baby pants.
For your teens if they have to have a cell phone or they will just drop dead. Buy a cheapie prepaid and make them earn their minutes . They want a fancy smancy phone have them get a job . Sounds tough, but the lesson you are teaching will come in handy when they are older.
We have basic cable movie night is a Redbox or Netflix for $8. The kids watch about 20 movies a month so I am saving money there.
We dont buy box cereal …because teenagers blow throw cereal and the milk that goes with it. It’s cheaper to make them an omelette and I come across as the cool mom…
For extra income I bake cakes from my house.
Buy produce from a local farmer road side stand or farm market way cheaper and fresher than the super market.( the back of a pick up even better).
For those of you who need it the same cleaning product recipe is in Dining on a Dime. We listed it under window cleaner because it does work great for that. We do have the book on sale this week for our Christmas sale and it has a huge section on other cleaning products just like that if you need them.
I used cotton diapers that I laundered myself for both of my daughters and they never had diaper rash; I always changed them as soon as they needed and we saved a bundle of money. I can really recommend cloth diapers to anyone, they are far superior to the expensive store bought diapers.
cloth diapers can be recycle into all kind of cleaning cloth
Please tell me where I can find the recipe for the laundry detergent.
Here is the link forhomemade laundry detergent and if you misplace it we have it listed on our home page too. Also it might help to watch our video on how to make it too.
Thanks a lot Tawra for sending the link to the laundry detergent; I am very eager to try it, if I can figure out where to buy the soap.
Susanne it usually is pretty easy to find if you don’t live out in the boonies. Most grocery stores and Walmart carries the things and many small hardware stores do too. If you don’t find the exact bar soap you can replace it with something else. We have just found the Fels Napa works the best.
newb. Love the tips. Have done so many for years and am constantly trying to add new habits. A few things I learned
Kids activities- try the free/nearly free activities–scouts, schools and groups like PAL & church groups (no you don’t have to be that faith or even any faith). All of these use small budgets, organize the kids to raise their own money, work off volunteerism and donations.
Groceries: DIY your own mixes for boxed meals & envelope dressings/sauces. Tons of recipes on the net, save big money, reduce your carbon foot print, gain better health & most times lose weight.
Upcycle: Most of my canister type containers are upcycled food container (big pretzel or ice cream tubs, clear plastic restaurant size food items, etc)I use them for everything from DIY hot cocoa mix to dog bones to DIY laundry detergent to planters.
Repairs: We do most of our own but when a professional is required he/she only gets the part of the project we can’t do. e.g. When our water main broke-My husband broke up the concrete and dug the trenches. The plumber did the plumbing parts (he had to because old code meets new code requirements–gets very messy). I was on photography (for insurance purposes-cannot stress the importance enough) and clean up/disposal due to the basement flooding. It helped us because we didn’t feel so useless. Additionally, when the insurance adjuster came he had no trouble authorizing all the money needed. We had a check in 48 hours. When we hire a professional we always get the hourly figure and supplies listed separately, and a completion time frame. Payment always 1/3 upfront, 1/3 when half the job is complete and 1/3 when satisfied the job is complete.
Sorry so long winded-hope this helps someone out there.
For those of you who are new to our site be sure to check it out. We have many articles covering all the above things Fay mentioned plus our Dining on a Dime Cook book has a whole section on making your own mixes including dressings and sauces.
Must disagree with doing without a washer. Our local coin laundry is $2.25 per load to wash. Eight loads a week (sometimes more for our family of 5, one dog) is $72 a month. A new HE washer $450- major chains always compete for appliance sales so there is always one offering 0% interest for 1 year. The washer would come out to $37 a month. That’s a savings of $35 a month. Even if you finance at 19% it is $42 per month for a year you still save $30 per month. My suggestion-place a piggy bank by the washer and do not wash unless you pay, this way you will be able to meet/exceed your monthly payment. Takes discipline nothing more.
This can depend on your circumstances and where you live too. For example for my family of 4 I only did 3 loads of laundry a week and it cost $1.00 to do a load. So at $3.00 a week it was much less expensive to do that then charge a washer. The interest alone would have cost more for me. The main point is to try to see if you can’t make do without. We now a day have the problem of thinking that so many modern conveniences are needs instead of realizing we maybe could do without them for a time and make do with something else or doing it another way.
Got a good LG front loader at Habitstore for $100. It was donated by some folks who were remodeling, and we were fortunate to be standing there when they delivered it. We have very few clothes, so it gets used a whole lot. After 3 years it is still getting our clothes beautifully clean. Laundromat would have cost a fortune by now.
I agree. It is time to know your wants and needs. Easy rule of thumb.
“If you want it and you cant eat it, you don’t need it. ” This the best way to live. A lot of cuts can be made and you can lighten the load on yourself. A stress free person is a happy one productive one. Set the timer on the TV and trade in your cable for netflix or something. Think about it, just those two things will save you 100 bucks a month. How many others can you cut. Even if you had a date night, which is better then cable, you still got 50 bucks to put back. Live, Love and Dream.
we have a antenna which has some station but it free after you buy the antenna beside there not much on just read more
My Dad was a child during the depression and died a few years ago at 91. That generation knows about minimalist lifestyle and how to live on a dime for sure. he always told me you must decide between your wants and your needs. Lets hope that as future generations come along we will go back to those fundamentals instead of everyone having everything NOW!
I had a friend with little money coming in and many kids and they could not afford a washer and dryer. I told her what I did when I was newlywed and in our first house. Buying the house took all we had and I decided that since I not work in the work place that I would contribute my time by saving as I could. I washed the clothes in the tub. Yep, the bathtub and just stomp on the clothes with my feet; rinsing was the same process. Wringing was the hard part. Wringing out blue jeans by hand was the hardest of all. Clothes were hung on the line. With the money I saved by not going to the Laundromat, we were able to save money for a washer first then a dryer later. She did the same thing but it was her kids stomping the clothes clean. It was play for the kids. My mom decided to stop smoking when she was in her twenties and with the money saved from that she bought a refrigerator. Doing it by hand yourself for a short time or giving up a bad habit for good might give you the money you need to make your life easier in the long.
In the 1960’s my Mother’s washer died and there was NO money to buy another one. So, we did the same thing, washed the laundry in the bath tub. We filled the tub with hot water, added detergent, then let them soak for a couple of hours. We let the wash water out of the tub then added clean rinse water. The hard part was wringing out the wet clothes before hanging on the line outside. My younger sister and I did this for over a year until our parents could save up enough money to buy a used washer. My Mother was physically handicapped from having had polio as a child so she was not able to wash the clothes in our bath tub. My sister and I were so proud that we could help our family by taking over the washing even though we were only eight and ten years old!
I love Aldi’s too, but my next favorite money saver is the “as seen on TV” forever bags. They extend produce life by 2-3 weeks easily!! Now its a very rare event for me to have to throw out spoiled produce. You can sometimes get them “free” from Menard’s on their 100% rebate with store credit-that’s how I got mine. Also you can wash and reuse them many many times. I wash with hot soapy water, rinse inside and out with hot water and dry them with inside out-then turn it back inside when it is dry. PS I have no monied interest in your trying these!! lol
Yes Mary-Dawn those do work great. Another way to get them is Jo Ann Fabrics is starting to have many of the “as seen on TV” things too. You can take one of their 50% off coupons and use for them. Also it is more expensive but HSN carries Debbie Meyers green bags and containers which do the same thing. If you find you are throwing food out a bunch even though it may cost some at first this is one of those things that would save you money in the long run.
One thing that I have found works well is keeping things in their original plastic bags or packages they come in. I had some radishes I bought almost 3 weeks ago and I left them in their original bag and they are still good. I do this with iceberg lettuce. I tear off what I need and then re wrap in it’s plastic wrapper and it can last me at least 2 weeks.
I’ve found I have a lot less fresh produce spoilage since the money has gotten so insanely tight here. I cook from fresh produce nearly every night, and only get things I know I will use before they spoil. Since there is so much less in the fridge, I can see what needs to be used first so much easier. To keep the freezer full I keep empty juice bottles filled with water in all the empty spaces. When we get a chance to stock up, I just pull out some of the bottles of ice and let them melt. Meat is more of a side dish now, with fresh produce and either brown rice or baked potatoes for the major part of dinner. When we do get steak, we will splurge on a smaller piece of higher quality meat when it is on sale. Otherwise it’s smaller pieces of chicken, fish, pork, or ground beef. Our sons are vegetarian or pescaterian (vegetarian who eats fish), and they are trying to influence our food choices (somewhat successfully). I won’t let them ‘guilt’ me into changing, but they are more frugal and healthier ways to eat.
After reading some of the “conversation” on people in neighborhoods helping or giving, I felt compelled to make a comment. There are many valid comments above. And it’s true some people think that people need to work for what they get. I worked my hiney off for many years and was always a day late and a dollar short. A lot of that was spending habits. Not that I ever was a shop aholic. I just didn’t know the best ways to shop back then. I often would find some good deals, but now am a way better buyer. Some of the people in the wealthier neighborhoods may just be getting by themselves. Along with the higher mortgages, insurance, home owners fees etc. comes the higher priced lifestyle and the debt. I have a feeling that a lot of those people are in way over their heads and really can’t afford what they have. Sure their are some who can afford it, but a lot probably can’t. Whenever I see a homeless person I throw cash their way, usually not a lot (since I don’t carry a lot) but enough for a meal at least. I know a lot of people have attitudes about people like that, but the way I think is “be Christ like”. We are “entertaining Christ” when we do unto the least of these. Whether that person makes a profession out of pan handling or not, I have done what is right in my heart. Anytime we give, it should come from the heart. God loves a cheerful giver. Sure there are some who take advantage, but what about the ones that don’t? And we shouldn’t assume anyone needs our help just because they lost a job, some are better money managers than others. But I think asking them if there is something we can do to help or if they need anything is okay.
I am learning that I have made some “big” money mistakes in my life. I had a friend that replied to me in a frugal manner, and here I am trying to find ways to be frugal.
So here’s my tip for kids activities. Find activies that have a flat fee. My son once took guitar lessons @ $60/month. That was an 1/2 hour lesson, once a week. Once he broke his guitar, that was it, and I’m glad. Now my kids participate in sports that last a whole season for the price of a month of guitar lessons. I found a 6 week day camp for $140 for both kids versus the $160/week camp that their school offered. The quality was just as great. They swim twice a week, have themed activites, and outside resources from local college volunteers to teach them theater, dance, and art.
So, instead of spending $1090, I am spending $240 for sports and aummer day camp. Check your community centers and community parks for deals like this.
There are places where kids can learn guitar and other things for little or no cost. You just have to look around. There might even be a parent in your neighborhood who would be willing to teach a skill to a group if others did the same thing. I wonder if you son would have broken his guitar if he had paid for it. My kids all got allowances from the age of 2. (NO tantrums in the store because if they didn’t have the money it was their own fault. Also I paid for my guitar and my lessons with money I earned (I started working paid jobs at 11, you can make money by sweeping sidewalks, walking dogs, cleaning up dog poop…etc).
Gayla and others who wish to donate clothes (or need them), please consider Dress for Success. They collect clothing donations for women who are trying to come out of bad circumstances like shelters, abusive situations, prison or whatever. You have to be dressed appropriately for a job interview and many women can’t afford to go wardrobe shopping from a shelter. DFS lets you pick out all the pieces for a few nice outfits including shoes, handbags and jewelry for FREE. They have meetings for encouragement and help to teach basic office skills to women who want to repair their lives and take care of their kids without relying on public assistance. Find your nearest DFS location on www.dressforsuccess.org. When we help one another, it will always come back to us.
I am honestly proud of myself today! We did not eat out – even though I was in the car and all ready to go. A few thoughts on the matter caused me to rethink the expense it would have been, and despite the late hour, I went inside and made a quick dinner. Thanks for your post.
Way to go mama goose. the more you do it the easier it will get. Sometimes when you start something like this is is fun to keep track of how much you saved for a month. It often shocks many people because they had no idea they were spending that much.
I watched that how to fold a fitted sheet, several times, spent 30 minutes trying it…still have not a clue. I just folded it back up, my old way, fairly neatly, and put it away!!!!!
One thing I do is keep a box of brownie or cake mix on hand, esp when they are on sale. When there is a pitch-in, I can bake cupcakes and frost them for about $2 because I bought on sale. For Christmas, I like beautiful, expensive paper, but what we do is this: Wrap the box in the beautiful paper but before using the scotch tape, lay it on your arm then remove it. It weakens the tape a bit. We tie a bow around the box one way. After the present is opened, we place the bow I the box and re-wrap it. I have a “holiday” room in my basement that is full of lovely pre-wrapped boxes. Often, I will spend $10 on a roll of beautiful paper, but I re-use it so often by being careful, it ends up being normally-priced in the long run. Also, since I don’t like to cook, I will usually stick to recipes that have 5 or fewer ingredients. My mom subscribes to the newspaper, so I dropped my subscription and share hers (she lives across the street.) We donate our clothes to a home that helps women transition from prison to jobs. One lovely lady took a photo of herself and the director mailed it to my sister. She was wearing one of my sister’s suits and looked great in it.
In our family, we all try to share food before throwing it out. For example, we will split a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, or 5 pounds of potatoes. We are all trying to drink more water because diet coke (which we all love) weakens bones and we’re all over 60! I’m a pretty good knitter, so I often knit sweaters for my family for Christmas (I actually taught myself when I was about 9 by reading a book with illustrations.) Instead of vegetation killer in areas that I don’t want any growth (the side of my house used to be a real mess) I sprinkle salt that I bought at Aldi’s for 39 cents instead of $17 for Round-UP at Lowe’s. Don’t forget to dry out coffee grounds and put them in your garden. It will turn your hydrangeas a lovely shade of blue!
This may sound really awful, but when I purchase a large item, like new pillows for my bed, I make sure the clerk puts them in a large bag. I use the bag for a trash bag once I remove the pillows. I have dozens of kitchen towels, and usually only buy ONE roll of paper towels a year. I use the kitchen towels instead of paper. My friends are amazed when I tell them this but it just makes sense. 100 years ago, they didn’t have paper towels.
We have a facebook group for giving things away. We also have a 25$ and under, 10$ and under and then just a regular site for clothing and other garagesale items. I bought 63 pieces of clothing for my 2 year old for $20. We aren’t allowed to sale clothes that are torn or spotted in anyway, unless its stated that they are. I have boughten her shoes for $1 even. I was so lucky to fall into these groups. They have even started a farm and ranch site so people can get eggs and meat, veggies and even the live animals.
The sad thing is, we already do all most of these tips and still need to find ways to save. We eat out very little, I cook from scratch for the most part, we don’t have cable (never had) buy second hand when we can’t get it for free, etc. We waste very little food, and we hardly go anywhere. I know there are a few more tips we can try, such as using Ivory soap for dishes. I just grate some into my hot water to dissolve. It is natural and very cheap.
Dawn there is a small percentage of people who just need to make more money or need to consider moving some place less expensive. This isn’t the norm and there are very few who fall into this category and that may be what you need to do. But first really look careful at where your money is going. I don’t know how many times I have people tell me they are being so careful -not going out to eat, cutting cable, watching utility bills etc. – but they don’t notice many places they are still spending their money on.
For example I have had people tell me they can’t cut back one more place on their bills but the next week they got a manicure and pedicure for $50. Another one keeps a $12 bag of candy on their desk to munch on or they refuse to wear the same pair of jeans twice so they spend a lot on doing the laundry. I know people in my quilt guild who think nothing of paying $40 for a class plus $100 in material to take to the class or they will go on a shop hop and spend $1000 without batting an eye. These same people are so worried because they have lost their job and their husband maybe losing his. I know others who will say the only money I spend is on second hand books for only $4 a book. They still can’t figure out where to save.
The biggest way most can save is using less, buying less of everything and finding ways to start new habits to do that. For example I have been to people’s homes for dinner. They cook a meal and use 6 very very large pans for this meal. I would have cooked the exact same meal using 2 small pans. That means less clean up so less soap and hot water used and it also means I can get by with less pans. This is not the way most people think. Because of that thinking when I had kids at home I had 1 grocery sack of trash a day and now on my own I have 1 1/2 sacks (small grocery sacks) a week. I don’t even buy trash bags because I don’t need them – more savings.
I’m just saying look in the less obvious places to start saving. Everyone knows about saving on going out to eat or utilities but they sometimes over look other things.
I like your website. I got a promotion a year ago with a very large increase in pay and I’m still broke so why!?!? Probably because I haven’t been paying attention to food waste and over spending. I used to throw out a ton of food and now I really focus on portion control and freezing what I can for leftovers. I’m paying much more attention now to recycling/re-using and waiting to purchase new items. It’s not just a lifestyle change but a total change of my attitude and perception towards money, items and my future. It’s working out pretty well so far and I’m starting to see results! Hopefully I can keep the momentum going forward!
Sounds like you are on the right track Louisa and doing great. You are so right it is all about changing your attitude and perception and because you understand that I think you will be able to keep up the momentum. What happens most of the time is people try to change what they are physically doing and fix things but don’t change their attitude and way of thinking. They are putting the cart before the horse and setting themselves up for failure but you have it in the right order so I think you will do fine.
Just to encourage you if some days you find things a little hard don’t give up. If you can keep going in the direction you are for a few months you will find these things become habits and the stuff you had to work at or think about become second nature to you and you will start automatically doing them. Holler if you need a word of encouragement or have any questions.
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE…I usually put it out there to my friends and FB family…I explain what and why. They are all great and have been for years. They now know I am the go to lady to connect one with what they need. The other day I was looking on Kijiji for a dress form for my sister in law for a xmas gift and wow found it right away, brand new, very reasonable. So when I went to pick it up I found out there were moving 3 provinces away and had sold their beautiful home. I just mentioned if they are stuck at the end with more than they could take that I had a new tenant that has nothing. She is only 17 and is sleeping on an air mattress of mine. The lady was thrilled and said she will keep my number for closer to moving day with anything they cannot sell before leaving….See just put it out there. This is not for me but I may be able to connect two peoples needs….
I find this article and the entire site very helpful. I just found this site a few months ago and I come back here very often to look for new articles, ideas and hints.
Living in Germany, not all of the advices do apply for me, but the general idea does. I have a job that is paid quite good, but nevertheless I am broke at the end of every month. I have no debts but also no savings and sometimes it makes me feel bad. I want to change that.
So I thought about where my money goes. The largest item of expenditure I can’t do much about it. I pay about 530 dollars/month for gas. Gas is expensive here in Germany, you pay 1,60 Euro per litre which makes about 8 dollar per gallon. My car needs 11 litres per 100km (21 mpg). But I have to drive to work, we live in a quite rural area and despite public transport is quite good here in Germany it would be way too time consuming to drive to the next railway station and then travel to work by train and bus. The good thing is I live in an appartment in my parent’s house. So I don’t need to pay an expensive monthly rent. I give about 100 dollars to them every month (if I can) as kind of compensation for the additional costs (electricity, heating, water, internet, etc.), though. Then I need to pay for taxes/insurance of my car, cell phone and a few other things. But it should be left enough to save a little money every month. But I can’t, there are days at the end of the month sometimes, when I have to ask my parents for a small credit for gas and lunch at work, which annoys me.
So what is wrong? I came to the conclusion that I spend way too much money for things I don’t really need and that I don’t care about prices as much as I should, especially at the beginning of a month, when I have (relatively) much money. A few examples: I don’t buy gas when it’s cheapest but then when I need it. It would be much better to get more gas when it’s – kind of – cheap (here it is in the evening hours) and not in the morning on my way to work just because I forgot that my tank is nearly empty. I use to buy snacks at the gas station just because I want to eat a chocolate bar now. It would be much cheaper at a grocery store but I am too lazy to drive there. Last time I went to a party I bought beer at the gas station for the double price just because of laziness. It’s crazy, when you think about it.
Then I buy too much things I don’t need. Clothes for example: I bought a pair of jeans in july – about 100 dollar, only because it was on sale, original price 185 dollars. Well, it was on sale, but I have enough jeans, 3 pairs for work, 4 pairs for at home and gardening and so on. So I don’t need more jeans. I bought brand label shoes for about 85 dollars, what also was not needed. First I have a few pairs of shoes in good condition, second I could have bought shoes that look like the ones I got for about 13 dollars. I also buy a lot of stuff at electronic stores, stuff that I use a few times only. I buy DVDs instead of borrowing them from friends/collegues who also have the same DVDs. The same with groceries: when I want to have a coke I buy one or two cans at the supermarket I’m just in (or worse at the gas station) instead of buying a sixpack of 1 litre bottles at a discounter from time to time. And so it goes on.
I want to change all this and live more frugal and also more simple. It is not so easy for me because I’m not good in changing habits but I will try. I did the first step last month in not buying a new computer as mine broke down which I couldn’t afford anyway (about 1000 dollars) but getting a used notebook for about 200 dollars. It is a few years old but a very good business class model, so I am really satisfied.
Speaking of simple living, I just want to get rid of much of the stuff I have. My appartment often is a mess and when I clean up my living room from time to time, I have problems storing my things in closets and shelves. And when I think about when I have used this or that the last time, I often really can’t remember. So I think I will throw away or sell or give away much of my things. It just makes no sense to keep all the stuff I have, it only clutters my appartment without being of any use.
Your site very much helped me in thinking about my style of living and I’m really looking forward to new articles and hints. :-)
Keep up the good work!
Klaus I always say you are 50% there if you realize you have a problem and need to change so I think it is great that you realize things maybe could change a little. : ) a lot??? : ) Actually I would start with one or two small things for a week or so and then move on to something else. If you can try to keep track of how much you saved that day. For example put the money you would have spent on a candy bar or jeans you didn’t need in a jar you will be pleasantly surprised at the end of the week how much you have saved and will be encouraged to keep going on.
You are so right it is all about changing habits. One thing when changing habits it helps to replace the bad habit with something good. For example instead of buying expensive candy bars where you get gas buy some less expensive ones and each day put one in with your lunch, pocket or some where to carry with you when you have an urge for one.
Once you start it will get easier and easier. Can’t wait to hear from and see how it goes. It sounds to me like you really want to do it and that is half the battle.
Klaus, Grüß dich. I too used to live in Germany so I understand the costs. You might try putting all your money into envelopes. One for your rent (after all your parents should get paid for your staying there), another for savings, one for gas, one for food, one for snacks, one for luxuries, one for clothing etc). The money is divided into the envelops according to your budget. There are tons of site telling you how to set up a budget. Usually if I have money left in one envelope or another I put that money in the savings envelope and either bank it or put it away. You’ll find as time goes on it becomes easier. As for the extras sell what you can and then give to charity what is left. Good luck
Eating out doesn’t have to break the bank. And as a disabled person eating out is one of the few pleasures I get in life. But we use coupons to make it less expensive and we always get a 2nd meal out of what we order. I have no qualms at all at putting the free chips and salsa into a plastic bag to take home (we never eat them all). That becomes Taco Pizza. Pizza take out usually gives us 3 or 4 meals. Most of the time I cook from scratch but we do eat out on what I save out of the grocery budget.
Great post. My wife and I definitely struggle when it comes to saying no to our kids, but we’re getting better with it because we really don’t have a choice at this point. Definitely going to try out some of these other tips!
what I find help me out tremendously is that I do not use a credit card. If I have cash I will consider buying something, but if I do not have the cash, then it don’t get bought.
I have seen to many friends go under with credit buying. Although I do not have everything, at least I am solvent. (the truth is that I do have everything I NEED, maybe not everything in the store is what I NEED but rather just a WANT)
@ Larry….my husband and I got rid of our credit cards about 12 years ago. Before we did, we had about 8 and were deeply in debt, thinking we could NOT live without them.
Needless to say, we found out we CAN live without them, and I am so thankful we aren’t saddled with that debt any longer.
My mother and daddy and their parents came thru the depression, and they knew how to use up, make do or do without.
I have found out that we do not need new clothes every 6 months, nor do we need that expensive toy! We are both on SS and regardless of what the news items say, we DO NOT make $1200 each per month…more like $1400 with BOTH of our checks. So, yes we must live frugally.
I cook from scratch, we don’t eat meat, and we drive only when necessary. I do sell a few hand made items occasionally which helps.
Love this blog and others like it…We Americans are so spoiled and have raised a generation of spoiled children…I think we are about to ALL learn some hard lessons!
I enjoyed the tips and I also enjoyed reading all the comments.
Sometimes, it can help to keep track of every penny for three months, and then multiply the result by four to figure out what one might be spending, and on what, in a year’s time. This can be a little tedious, especially when including such seemingly trivial items as the occasional use of snack vending machines at work (they are in all the hallways in my building); putting a little money in an envelope being passed around for somebody’s retirement gift or for an occasion that calls for flowers and a card; putting coins in a parking meter; you get the idea. I tried this, and found that if I knew exactly how much money I left home with in the morning and counted it again when I got home in the evening, even if I did not have a receipt for every cash purchase I could usually remember what I spent the money on.
Getting, recording, and saving receipts certainly helps. A little joke I share with the gal at the cash register in the company canteen, on the infrequent occasions when I buy something there, is that I like to add up the amounts on all the receipts at the end of year so that I can give myself a fright, and say, “I ate all THAT?”
There’s no point in being grim and serious about it, and one certainly would not want to talk about it all the time for fear of being a bore, but to make a habit of keeping track will produce eye-opening results for many people at the end of three months’ time.
We have stopped going out to eat and have prepared great meals at home for next to nothing. I work with people who are alwyays broke but are going out to eat or hitting Happy Hour after work. It is a blessing for our family living on a tight buget that our Happy Hour is home together with a great meal in front of us! Last night it was home made fried chicken, corn bread stuffing and potatoe salad! I couldn’t get that kind of comfort from a resturaunt!
After I started reading this newsletter I started a savings account. For the past several years I’ve used coupons, especially for things like toilet paper & laundry detergent, things I need & absolutely will be used. I am a regular at the beauty school for several years, where I get excellent service without paying full price at a salon. I also inventoried things so I didn’t buy anything I already had, like body wash & shampoo. I don’t do the food shopping until we are have eaten almost everything, so food doesn’t get buried in the fridge & wasted. I stop at the store on the way home from work so I don’t have to make a special trip & waste more gas.
Still, I was living paycheck to paycheck. So I opened a savings account & put money away every check, paying myself first. After several months I had a few thousand dollars saved. Once the money was in the savings account I never touched it. I’m saving to buy a good used car, instead of financing a new car. I have a goal, & I remind myself of this every day, every time I spend on anything.
Margaret Mary Myers
I grew up with many of these frugal concepts…except for buying used, but fortunately my older sister taught me that one after she grew up and left home. But it’s so good and helpful to have the reinforcement and encouragement of your website!
I was sorry to read in the comments that some people have had bad experiences with Freecycling. Having downsized from a large house to an apartment, my family has used Freecycle a lot, for the past 7 years, to find good homes for stuff we no longer need. I have had nothing but good experiences with it.
I found a large tall leafy green plant on the side of the road, transplanted it to a kitty litter container and then worried about the cost of painting the container. Problem solved w/ I remember a beautiful fabric that I had gotten from Freecycle and just wrapped it around the container and have it in my LR. All was FREE,
When we eat out at fast food sites, have a 16 yr old, I always do the survey listed on the charge ticket getting BOGO free, or free curly fries, one offers a key pad and u get a cup of ice cream ea time u use, plus u are registering for cash prize.
Lisa @ Fun Money Mom
These are all such great tips! I am totally with you on saying no to the kids! I tell my kids they can have whatever they want if they use their own money and it’s amazing how much shorter their list of must-have items becomes! We’ve also saved a lot by cutting down on going out to eat…that adds up so fast!
I believe one way to save is not to compare yourself with what others have. One way I save on eating out is places like Denny’s and IHOP give you a free meal for your Birthday. One question I have is how does a person go about saving when it comes to buying organic. I like Kroger Simple Truth brand but some of the Simple Truth Organic is high. I love the insight.
If you can buy things like oranges, bananas etc. that are not organically grown and then put your money on things like cauliflower, broccoli etc. that have no peel or don’t need to be peeled. This will help some.
I personally don’t buy organic.
Most people don’t realizes how important synthetic fertilizers are and that they have saved billions of lives.They are actually considered the #1 thing that has been invented in saving the most lives. The same goes with things like pasteurized milk. So many awful diseases were transmitted through milk and children were especially at risk before we had pasteurized milk. The generation that remembers family members and friends dying from malnourishment or awful illnesses have mostly passed away so we now have a generation who wants to do away with all of the things that really saved so many lives. We need to be careful in getting rid of so many things that were invented to help save lives and keep them around until we have something that is equally as good or better to replace them.
Thanks for the insight. I love this website. You have great insight.
i started using the library again for dvds. I look up the catalog on my computer and I place a hold on the items that I would like to borrow. My library has a hoopla player that we can download and stream movies. I consider the library as a return on my investment since I pay property tax, I reap one of the benefits.
My frugal living tip is to spend less on shopping. This will help you to save a lot of money for your future.
I got in the horrible habit of running to the store every day when we’d just need one thing. Usually that one item was small and could have waited, but I was newly back to work and was in town and it became immediate gratification. We all know you rarely can go into the store for 1 item. My 1 $2 item frequently became a basket full and would cost $50 or more. Money was running out a lot faster than before when I wasn’t working. I had a reality check. I stopped running to the store for 1 item over my lunch hour or right after work…because you always need a snack during those times. I make a list…one for the grocery store and one for Wal-Mart. I have discovered that I tend to go to Walmart once, maybe twice a month now. I usually go to the grocery store for a big stock up once a month and then fill in weekly for milk, bread, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and occasionally chicken or pork if it is on a really good sale. We butcher our own beef and my sons hunt so we also have deer meat. I am now able to save over half of my earnings every month to pay off debt rather than just throwing it away. Now the point of me going back to work to pay off our debt and to get insurance is really beginning to work. Saving money and living within our means is really a mind set, “Do I need this now, or can it wait a bit?” I have found most days I really can wait. Last year my family even took a big vacation that I paid cash for because of all my saving. Granted, I did have to book the condo with a credit card, but I went on to the credit card website and paid it off the day after I booked it. Off subject…if you are able to get a condo for vacation, I highly recommend it. We saved tons of money by cooking and packing lunches. My kids loved going to the local farmer’s market and picking out local produce to cook with. We were on the ocean, so they also fished every day and we grilled/bake/fried fish for supper just about every night. Peaches were in season so we bought a big basket for snacks, grilled them for dessert, had sliced peaches (and other fruits) for breakfast with eggs and toast. We went site-seeing at a lot of state and federal parks (Pensacola/Orange Beach area) and most things we did were either free or for a very nominal fee. I always packed a cooler for lunch and the kids loved getting to pick where we ate lunch. Peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches always taste better by the beach or some other scenic site. Plus the kids had a blast feeding the birds pieces of crust. It was nice to not be worried about money and having to pay off more debt when we got back from vacation. It made our nightly trip to the ice cream shop and evening walk on the beach that much sweeter.
Yes this is all true Brenda. We try to tell everyone to take food with them and to fix their own on vacation or at least part of it. So things people don’t think about too is that in the summer when it is hot to have to stand in line at places to wait for your food is so tiring and time wasting when you could pack a lunch and stop at a rest area or park some place. The kids get to run around and let off a little steam instead of having to sit in a fast foods place with all the noise and crowd.
Another thing when you talked about going to the store everyday to pick up one item what people don’t realize is the time you waste besides money. By the time you go there, find what you need, stand in line it can sometimes waste 45 mins or more. That means you waste around 5 hrs a week picking up 1 item and that is a conservative amount of time. For me I had 3 jobs and I could have spent that 5 hrs working extra at one of my jobs making money so it really would have been a money waster. On top of that many moms holler they don’t have time to get the laundry and things like that done when they work- do you know how much laundry, meals fixed and house cleaning could get done in that amount of time. Just something to think about.
I like these tips. I appreciate all you do.
I have followed some of the tips on this page especially about not eating out. I like cooking at home because I do get more than one meal from a bag of french fries and a box of fish fillets. I do buy a lot of frozen food to make cooking easier.