I love my frugal ways. I really do. Some people see being frugal as not having any fun, or being poor. I see it as a lifestyle that lets me enjoy the things I have and attain the things I want. It also comes pretty easily to me. I am not much of a shopper by nature and I love saving money and seeing it grow. If anything, sometimes being frugal can get in the way on vacations when it’s okay to be a little frivolous. I often have to remind myself that a meal out without a Groupon or buying something for full price isn’t going to derail the early retirement train.
Being frugal, however, I have picked up a few tricks here and there to help me save even more money as well as stash more in savings.
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- I only drink water. I like the way it tastes, I actually feel good after I drink it (unlike those Diet Cokes I used to drink), and it’s free (or close to it)
- I don’t eat meat or anything that comes from an animal. Meat is expensive, veggies aren’t. Our grocery budget is getting slimmer and slimmer (and so am I! ha!)
- I found this awesome store downtown called the Grocery Outlet. You should check and see if you have one around…it’s pretty awesome. They basically sell dented cans that they can’t sell in regular stores, as well as bulk items that stores can’t sell fast enough before their expiration date. You do have to keep an eye on expiration, but overall the savings are amazing. The produce is also on par with local grocery stores in quality but at a fraction of the price. The catch? It isn’t as pretty as what you might see at other stores. So my tomato isn’t perfectly round, who cares? Oh you’ll sell them to me for $.60/lb? Deal!
- I have a side job…kind of. I make and sell stuff on Etsy. It isn’t a constant income but I average a couple hundred dollars a month. That is a few thousand dollars a year I wouldn’t have otherwise.
- I blog. It is cheaper than therapy and I make some nice money on the side, too. (What to start your own blog but aren’t sure how? Check out The Frugal Way To Start A Blog)
- I make sure to do grocery shopping during snack time. It sounds dumb, because won’t my kids be crabby? Nope! Whole Foods, Costco, Market District and so many other stores offer free snacks to kids! It not only entertains them while I shop, but it costs me nothing!
- I try and make whatever I need before I buy it. Gifts, Halloween Costumes, tortillas, pizza crust, even almond milk…you name it, I make it. Not only is there pride in the ownership but it saves a bundle.
- I air dry my clothes. I hang it on a drying rack in our bedroom or on the patio. It saves money and our clothes stay nicer longer.
- I use credit cards for most of my purchases. (Say what?! That’s not frugal!) Yes it is!! You can get so much money back just by paying for every day purchases with rewards cards. Just don’t forget to pay it off at the end of the month! Right now I am loving the Southwest Card by Chase. You can earn 50,000 by only spending $2000 in the first few months. That was really easy for me, and 50,000 is 2 round trip flights to almost anywhere in the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico or the Caribbean.
- I use Digit to save money. Digit averages about $200 for us. That is an extra $200 that we would have frittered away on Chic-Fil-A and impulse buys.
- I rewash zip lock bags. Yep…I’m one of those. It’s not just about the money, though. I honestly hate single use items. They make me sad when they go into a landfill, so I try to keep them out as long as I can.
- I don’t buy single use items (or at least I try not to). We use cloth napkins and rags and pyrex for food. I do, however, by toilet paper…I just can’t get on that train.
- I cloth diaper my kids. Overall I estimate it has saved us a few thousand dollars. Not too shabby!
- I consign my kids’ clothes and then buy them new ones with the money. It’s like nothing has left my wallet, but my kids are always in style. I can get Gap Kids, Janie and Jack, Hanna Andersson and other major brands for a fraction of what they cost in the store.
- I unplug and turn off appliances when they are not in use. Every little bit helps, right?
- I DO NOT WASTE FOOD. It seriously hurts my heart to throw away food. It just seems so unethical to waste food, so I try my hardest to not throw away anything. Leftovers get frozen in individual portions for quick dinners and veggies get thrown in a bag in the freezer and get used in soups and rice dishes.
- I don’t buy clothes often. Don’t worry, I don’t look like a hobo, but I try to only buy what I need and buy quality items. I would much rather buy a sweater for $100 that lasts me 7 years than a sweater for $25 that falls apart in a week or two.
- I have a capsule wardrobe. What is that? Basically it’s Ger-animals for adults. I only have 33 items in my wardrobe (including coats and shoes and purses). But everything matches. I can quickly make an outfit and never have to say “I have nothing to wear” while staring at a full closet.
- I resole my shoes. High heels are the worst. When the little stopper falls off and you are walking on the nail it’s really easy to justify throwing them away. But don’t!! You can get rubber tips on Amazon or a cobbler can fix them for less than the cost of a new pair of shoes. And if you are buying quality they should last a long long time.
- I clean with vinegar and lemon essential oil. Pretty much anything you want to clean can be cleaned with vinegar and water. Add a few drops of essential oils and the vinegar smell goes away and you are left with a clean smelling home.
- I cut my whole family’s hair. I learned how to a long time ago and I am sure we have saved thousands so far.
- If I buy something I make sure I have a coupon or a Groupon. Dance lessons, clothes, hair cuts…you name it. I’m not paying full price without a fight.
- I pay cash for everything (or I put it on my credit card for the points and pay it off immediately). Financing something, in my opinion, only means that you can’t afford it. Plus, who wants to pay interest? That is simply throwing money down the drain.
- I invest through low fee brokers like Vanguard. Why pay $20 a trade when you can be $10 or less? (What to learn more about how we trade and earn passive income? Check out this article)
- I have my phone through Republic Wireless. Our bill for two smart phones is $35/mo. Boom
- It goes without saying, but we don’t have cable. We did for a while, but we realized we were watching Netflix the most anyway. Now I am not a slave to Comcast and my Frasier addiction is still intact.
- I enjoy free entertainment. We usually can score free movies, free bowling, and other awesome activities as well as enjoy the library, national parks, and so much more without breaking the bank. (Check out my article about free activities and how to score free movie tickets)
- I don’t turn on the lights between sun up and sun down. I also turn the air conditioning on at 80 and the heat on at 72. No one has died or complained yet
- I buy a lot of our food and household products in bulk. Just make sure you will eat it all before it goes bad or invest in a deep freezer!
- I drive a hybrid car and batch my errands. I can usually go about 6 weeks on one tank of gas!
- I grow my own produce. We built a few planters this past spring and planted a bunch of yummy veggies that we got to eat over the summer.
- I am content with my life. When you are content with what you have, and you stop comparing yourself with the Jones you don’t want to spend money. It’s pretty great.
Here are some other tips I’ve read on other blogs but that I don’t implement because I either value my sanity or it just isn’t something that would really save us much money.
- Grind your own wheat. You can get a wheat grinder on Amazon and have fresh flour for a fraction of what it costs at the store.
- Buy a meat slicer and slice your own deli meat. If you are a big meat eater or buy lots of meat this might be good for you. Its almost the holiday season when you can snag some pretty awesome deals on whole turkeys and giant hams (I’ve seen some as low as $.50/lb). If you roast it yourself and slice it you can save a pretty penny.
- Turn off your water heater while you are gone during the day. This one I would do, except we are home most of the day , but if you work or are out of the house a lot, this one could save you some money.
- Use cloth toilet paper. I just can’t but if you are super frugal this might be a good way to save some cash.
- Dumpster dive. I have heard awesome stories of people finding untouched food (sad) and awesome stuff in dumpster. I may actually consider doing this this spring. We live very close to about 4 different colleges, a i Know first hand how many carpets, mini fridges, chairs and whatnot get tossed by kids who cant take them home. I’m more than happy to rescue them, clean them up and resell them to incoming students in the fall!
- Have a clothing swap party. Bring all your clothes and your kids clothes that are too small and have a party with friends. Take home new clothes for your family while getting rid of your own.
So there you have it: my frugal nature in a nutshell. Some of it is common sense, but overall I am happy with our lives right now. We are still saving a good chunk of our income, which in turn makes us that close to retirement. Right now we are set to retire at 45 (although our daughter will be done with college at 47 so we may hold on a bit longer). Imagine being able to travel more than 2 weeks a year, wake up whenever you want, and never have to worry about your “job” again? Sounds pretty awesome…especially when you don’t have to look forward to it when you might be too old to enjoy it!
How are you frugal? What are you frugal for?