It’s not about being cheap – it’s about being frugal and making the most with what you have. There are plenty of reasons to consider a lifestyle of frugality. Most importantly, you’ll save money so that you can keep more cash in your wallet (or use it for things that matter most).
Plus, by living a frugal lifestyle, you’ll reduce your household waste and reduce your environmental impact – another win win!
Wondering what it takes to live a more frugal lifestyle? Two key elements to being truly frugal are:
Make it last longer and use it all up.
Use your things sparingly. See how you can stretch them to make them last even longer.
Here are some tips you can follow to be more frugal – my 55 extreme frugality tips for around the house, if you will.
1. Dilute Shampoo and Conditioner with Water
It’ll still work just as good and last twice as long! (Don’t try this on the cheapest brands though, it doesn’t work well on them.)
Another way you can stretch your shampoo and conditioner is to skip washing every day. Believe it or not, you don’t actually have to wash your hair every day. Washing every other day or even just two or three times per week can prevent moisture loss from your hair and help to prevent issues like dandruff.
2. Quit Using So Much Detergent
Use less than the recommended amount of detergent in the dishwasher and washing machine.
This is actually a tip that will help to extend the lifespan of your dishwasher and washing machine, too.
When I had a repairman come to my house not too long ago to fix the dishwasher, he told me that one of the most common reasons for equipment failure was people using too much detergent!
By cutting down on how much you use, you will help your machine run more efficiently. You may notice fewer issues to contend with, too, in the form of soap residue and scum build-up on your appliances.
3. Use Less Toothpaste
Only use a pea size amount of toothpaste instead of a whole glob! You don’t need that big glob of toothpaste, and you’re probably sitting most of it into the sink anyway.
For example: toothpaste is pretty expensive (in my frugal mind). So when we get low on toothpaste, and the tube has been squeezed as flat as it possibly can be squeezed, I don’t stop there.
Realizing that there is probably a little more paste still inside, I cut the tube down the side and… BEHOLD! There’s always a bunch of toothpaste still sticking around inside.
So, I just scrape some off onto the toothbrush, and put the cut tube into a Ziploc baggie to keep it fresh. It usually lasts for another week and a half!
4. Use Moisturizer Sparingly
Lightly dab on moisturizer instead of saturating your face with it. It will just make your skin greasy – which you definitely don’t need! And use it all up, completely.
5. Turn Down the Thermostat (or Turn it Up)
How many times have you meandered over to the thermostat, cranking it up (or down) a few degrees, rather than adding or ditching a layer of clothing? Probably too often, if you ask me.
Rather than meddling with the thermostat (a practice that always gets my husband’s goat!) ask yourself whether you can make yourself more comfortable simply by adding more clothing (or taking some off).
You can also do things like opening or closing windows, turning on a fan, or going outside. All of these can help make you more comfortable without increasing your heating and cooling bills.
Did you know that the ideal temperature for sleep is right around 60 degrees F (15 C)? Most people are keeping their homes a lot warmer than that.
Not only can too-warm temperatures make it hard for you to fall and stay asleep, but they can make you more susceptible to colds and other respiratory ailments too.
So, rather than keeping things toasty in the winter (and walking around in a tee-shirt most of the time), just add a sweater.
6. Hang Dry Your Clothes
Yes, you can hang dry your clothes at any time of the year – even in the winter. After all, how do you think the Amish do it?
Hang drying your clothes is a great way to embrace a lifestyle of frugality as you won’t have to worry about running the dryer, which can account for hundreds of dollars in energy expenditures every year. It’s also not the most eco-friendly practice.
Instead, toss your clothes on the line to dry. In the winter, they’ll simply freeze-dry (you can break the ice off later). Hang drying your clothes, in many cases, can also help them last quite a bit longer.
7. Don’t Wash Those Clothes As Often
If you can, make a laundry schedule to figure out how long you can go before you really need to wash your clothes. If you’re like me, you’re probably guilty of wearing a shirt once for a few hours, tossing it on the floor, and then assuming you need to wash it. That’s not the case!
Most clothing items can go quite some time without needing to be laundered. Set up a clothing schedule and stick to it. This will not only save you some money, but it will save your clothes – they’ll wear out faster – and your sanity (because you’ll have a clear schedule to stick to).
Try to get at least two days of wear out of each clothing item. As long as you aren’t sweating buckets into your clothes, you probably are washing them too much.
8. Skip the Daily Shower
You might be showering too often – there, I said it.
If you’re showering once a day – or perhaps even twice a day – it might be time to reduce the amount of time you spend there to save some money. It will also help save your skin, as excessive showering can rob your skin of essential oils that it needs to remain vibrant.
Consider switching to an every other day routine. If you just can’t bear the thought – or if you truly do need to shower every day, either for your sake or the sake of those around you – try shortening the time you spend sudsing up each day.
9. Ride A Bike
Do you rely heavily on your car to get you to wherever you need to go? It might be time to ditch that habit. Driving everywhere is not only terrible for the planet, but it’s bad for your bottom line (and your waistline).
Consider riding a bike on shorter jaunts. You can add a basket, or wear a backpack if you have errands to run.
10. Just Have One Car
If your family has multiple vehicles, evaluate whether you really need them both, or if you can slash your vehicle payments by eliminating one. Can you and your spouse carpool to work? Does one of you work from home? Is public transportation an option?
If you must have multiple vehicles, try not to have a payment on more than one at a time. Buy used whenever possible and teach yourself how to do the basic repairs (like oil changes and wheel bearings) yourself.
11. Run Appliances Only When Full
If you run the dishwasher after every meal, you might have a clean, tidy kitchen, but you’re not doing your wallet any favors.
Wait to run the washer, dryer, or dishwasher until they’re full, and you can save quite a bit of money. It’s also better when it comes to extending the lifespan of these appliances.
12. Turn Lights Off
As a kid, my dad used to go crazy when one of us kids would leave a room without shutting the lights off behind us. As an adult, I finally understand why.
Those light bills add up! Switch lights off when you enter a room and evaluate whether they need to be turned on at all. By utilizing natural lighting as well as low-energy fixtures, you might be able to save a bit on your overall energy bill.
13. Ditch Cable
Are you still paying for costly cable services? A few years ago, my husband and I cut the cord and now only pay our cable company for the Internet (a necessity for both work and relaxation). We use streaming services like Netflix, which are less than a quarter of the cost of other subscription cable plans.
14. Consider DIYing Your Cleaning Supplies
Most commercial cleaning supplies are not only expensive, but they’re also made out of dangerous, caustic materials that can damage the surfaces in your home and even make you and your loved ones ill. Instead of relying on these to get your home sparkly clean, consider making your own cleaning supplies.
You can easily DIY your own supplies with materials like vinegar, baking soda, and bleach. Add some essential oils for the fragrance, and you’ll have everything you need to whip your home into shape.
15. Still Have a Landline? Get Rid of It!
I don’t know anybody who still has a landline, but if you do, it’s time to ditch it. As long as you have cell phone service where you live, it’s almost always going to be less expensive to use a cell phone for all your calling needs.
Even if you don’t have cell service, it may be worth your time to investigate the feasibility of buying and installing a booster box that will allow you to extend the reach of the cell phone coverage into your home.
16. Brown Bag Your Lunch
A few years ago, before I worked exclusively from home, I got into the habit of buying lunch almost every day of the week. Big mistake – for several reasons.
By eating out most days of the week, I was not only wasting at least $10 a day, but I also wasn’t making the healthiest choices.
When I brown bag my lunch, I am forced to pack it in the morning, which is usually when I’m feeling the most virtuous in regards to my dietary choices. That means a much healthier lunch, and a much healthier me!
17. Make Meals From Scratch – and Plan Them Out!
Similar to the last tip, you may want to teach yourself how to cook so that you can make your own meals from scratch.
This will help you meal prep, too, and plan in advance so you can use every last bit of the week’s groceries (rather than leaving that unopened bag of lettuce to wilt and rot in the refrigerator because you totally forgot about it).
Learn how to cook, and you’ll be able to make all kinds of meals for your family from scratch. Make a plan for what you’re going to cook for the week (include all meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) and stick to it.
18. Unplug Unused Appliances
It may not make sense for you to unplug some appliances when they aren’t in use (I don’t know about you, but crawling behind my stove to unplug it does not sound like a good time) but for those that are within easy reach, go ahead and unplug them between uses.
For example, you don’t need to leave your television plugged in all the time. The same goes for your laptop.
Doing so not only creates an “energy vampire,” an appliance that will suck energy and add to your electricity bill, but it can pose a fire hazard, too.
19. Eat Leftovers
Don’t like leftovers? You might want to learn to love them. Eating your leftovers will reduce your food waste, and can also save you a ton of time each week, since you don’t have to make multiple dishes for every meal of the week.
20. Use Cloth Napkins and Other Paper Products
If you’re still using paper towels and paper napkins, it’s time to make the switch to cloth. Simply toss them in the wash after you’re done using them, and you won’t have to ever worry about running out. It’s also better for the environment!
21. Grow Your Own
Grow your own garden. This is an easy way to save money, and it’s also a great way to get some exercise and improve your diet. You’re much more likely to eat a varied, healthy diet if you’re eating produce that you grew in your own garden.
For bonus points, use natural amendments like compost (rather than store bought fertilizers) and save seeds between growing seasons. You’ll save so much money!
22. Stop Mowing the Lawn
This is one that I struggle with, because I really do like the look of a nice, neat lawn. However, if you’re still dedicating several hours a week to lawn care, you might want to rethink this practice – and or several reasons.
First, there’s no need to maintain an immaculate lawn (unless, of course, you’re part of a homeowner’s association that requires it, but if you’re reading this article, my guess is that you are not).
You can easily dedicate your open lawn space to more productive pursuits, like growing an edible landscape with all the fruits and vegetables you can possibly imagine.
Can you repurpose part of your lawn space for a hardscape, complete with pavers and perhaps a rock garden? What about a perennial garden? Flower beds? By eliminating the constant need to tend to your lawn, you can save a lot of money on things like fertilizers and fuel for the mower.
23. Save Your Spare Change
Quit letting your spare change take up permanent residence inside your dryer! Instead, make sure you go through your pants’ pockets (and those couch cushions, too!) to find every last cent. Put it in a jar and save it up for unforeseen expenses.
24. DIY Your Repairs
It can be tough to find the money to hire out a handyman. If you find yourself scouring the Yellow Pages and phoning a plumber every time the slightest thing goes wrong, consider learning how to make the fix yourself.
We have a phenomenal resource at our service when it comes to learning these skills – the Internet! Take advantage of it and you’ll find that there are so many ways to save money on home repairs.
25. Downsize the House (and What’s In It)
There are far too many of us that are living in homes that are much bigger than what we actually need. If that’s the case with you, consider downsizing.
Not only will you save money on your mortgage or rent, but you’ll also save money in maintenance. Plus, there’s less house to clean -another bonus!
Don’t forget about everything that’s inside your house, either. Take the time, at least on a monthly or annual basis, to go through each and every room and declutter.
Not only will you feel a lot better by getting rid of some of the excess, but you can sell the extra items to make a bit of cash, too.
26. Use Up Old T-Shirts
…and other garments, too, for that matter. Any scraps of fabric you have hanging around the house can easily be repurposed to help you save a bit of money.
If you have a few bits and pieces, consider using them as cleaning rags. If you have quite a few, you may want to consider making a quilt or blanket. All are great options!
27. Buy Used
If you can get by with the used version of an item, buy it. Don’t waste the money on a new one that’s going to wear out over time. This is especially true for cars, which tend depreciate in value as soon as you drive them off the lot.
28. Work Out at Home
Do you have a gym membership? If the answer to that question is, “yes,” how often do you actually use it? If you’re like most people, it’s probably not very often. In that case, you may want to consider just working out at home.
You’ll save money, and you’ll also be more likely to work out, since you don’t have to drive somewhere in order to break a sweat.
Not sure what kinds of workouts to do? You’ll want to pick something that interests you, but a few good options include jogging, walking, weightlifting, and Pilates.
29. Scour the Thrift Stores & Want Ads
The next time you have something you need to buy, consider checking at your local thrift store whether or not they want ads (or the modern-day version – Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace!) to see what you can find.
You can often find great deals by shopping here instead, and you’ll also be doing the planet a favor by giving new life to something that was used.
30. Make a Budget – and a Grocery List
Before heading out to the grocery store, be sure to check your cupboards, and make a detailed list of what you actually need. Make a budget and stick to it, too, not just at the grocery store but for every other aspect of your finances.
You can always revise and revisit the budget later on, but it’s a good idea to get started with this sooner rather than later so you know what you are spending and how much money you are saving each month.
31. YouTube is Your Friend
You can learn just about anything by scouring the Internet, and YouTube is one of the best resources when you’re first getting started.
Consider checking YouTube for tutorials on how to do just about anything, from sewing to changing the oil in your car to cooking a five-course meal. You’ll be amazed at what you can teach yourself to do!
32. Stay Home to Celebrate and Relax
Rather than going out every time there’s a special occasion, consider staying in instead. You can make your own food, rent a movie, or do something else that’s special and unique to mark the event. There’s no reason to head out to dinner several times a week, either, when you have ways to unwind at home.
33. Go Generic
When you head to the grocery store, don’t spring for the pricy name-brand goods. Instead, go generic. These tend to be just as high-quality as the name-brand counterparts, but without the lofty price tag.
If you’re hesitant, start with basics like canned goods and cleaning supplies. They offer a more gentle introduction to the world of generic!
34. Weatherstrip Your Windows & Doors
Chances are, you’re losing a ton of heat from your home, and it’s escaping around your doors and windows. Plus, a lack of good weatherproofing around doors and windows is a good way to let in pests, too.
You’ll save money on both your pest control expenses, and heating and cooling costs by upgrading your weatherstripping.
35. Avoid Waiting Until the Last Minute – for Anything
Are you the kind of person who waits until Christmas Eve to do all of her holiday shopping? Perhaps you’re constantly getting dinged with late fees by paying your credit card bill late by mistake.
If that’s the case, it’s time to get organized. Waiting until the last minute will end up costing you a lot more money. Not only do stores tend to charge more for items during peak times, but late fees add up fast.
Set up services to help you out, like direct deposit, and get organized by making lists and putting events on your calendar to help you keep track of important to-dos and “to-buy”s.
36. Make the Most of Free Classes
From online learning platforms like Udemy to free classes at your local library, there are plenty of ways and plenty of places where you can learn about anything you’d like – for free.
Consider signing up for one of these platforms or keep an eye out for classes in your local area. That way, you’ll be able to learn about anything you’d like without having to pay the high cost of course registrations or college tuition.
37. Learn the Power of “No”
How many times have you been conned into buying something just because you have a hard time saying no? For many of us, being able to say no is not something that comes naturally.
From the Girl Scout peddling Thin Mints to the neighbor that keeps trying to hook you into her multi-level marketing business, learn how to say no and you’ll find that you save tons of money as a result.
38. Teach Yourself How to Sew – and How to Use Basic Household Tools
Sewing is an important skill to have in your arsenal if you want to be able to save money on clothing repairs. There are so many of us who will throw out a tee shirt with a rip in it rather than just stitching it up ourselves. While some of this might be attributed to laziness, more often than not, it’s a lack of skill that drives this decision.
Teach yourself how to sew, either by learning from a trusted friend or family member of checking out an online resource.
You can also teach yourself how to use basic household tools, which will help making basic repairs around the home a whole lot easier. And no, these roles are not gender-specific, so be sure to explore both sides if you want to live a more frugal lifestyle.
39. Buy in Bulk
I’ve always been amazed at the people who head to the grocery store on a weekly (or worse, daily!) basis. To me, that seems like a monumental waste of time. Why head to the store weekly when you could go every other week or even better, once a month? At the peak of my thriftiness, I only went to the grocery store about once every other month.
There are lots of benefits to this. First, if you live in a rural area, it might be tough for you to find the time to get to the grocery store more often than once a month. It could very well take you several hours to drive to town, so it’s definitely not economical or time-savvy to go more often than once every few weeks.
Plus, you can often get major discounts by buying in bulk. Sure, there are lots of goods that you simply can’t buy in bulk, like fresh produce and dairy products. But many can be purchased in large quantities and either canned or frozen for later use. Whenever it makes sense to buy in bulk, do so, as you’ll likely score major discounts in the process.
40. Start Composting
If you have a garden and you aren’t already composting, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Consider composting your leftover kitchen scraps, chicken manure, paper products, and any other compostable materials you might have. That way, you can build your own nutrient-dense humus to use as a fertilizer in your garden.
This will save you money in two ways – you won’t have to worry about paying as much for trash disposal, and you’ll also be able to skip the fertilizers when it comes time to feed your plants.
41. Buy Local
If you can, buy local rather than having something shipped to you from halfway across the country. Buying local keeps money – you guessed it – local, and it also saves money since you won’t be paying shipping surcharges.
A great way to improve both your physical and financial health, in fact, is to buy local produce when it’s in season. That way, you can preserve all the excess, and eat food at the peak of freshness (when it’s also the highest in nutrients).
42. Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances And Low Flow Fixtures
Although I always advocate for buying used rather than new gear in most cases, there is one situation in which you should make an exception – when it comes to buying appliances.
Consider investing in energy-efficient appliances when it’s time for an upgrade. The same goes for low flow fixtures, like toilets. You’ll save a ton of money on your utility bills each month.
43. Borrow or Rent (But Only When It’s Sensible)
When it makes sense to do so, consider borrowing or renting inside of purchasing items you might need. You don’t always need to go new, particularly when you only need to use something once. For example, if there’s a tool you need for one specific odd project, consider checking with a neighbor rather than shelling out the cash for something you’ll only use one time.
44. Replace Your Light Bulbs with LEDs
Just as you may want to consider swapping out your appliances for more energy-efficient ones, you might also want to make the switch with your lightbulbs. Replace your incandescent bulbs with LEDs – you’ll be amazed at how much less money they cost as well as how much longer they last, too.
45. Drink More Water
Drinking water is great for your health, but it’s also great for your finances, too. By spending less money on things like soda, coffee, and juice, you can free up some money to be used for something else that’s more important.
Water, in most cases, is free! Even if you can’t drink the water in your home due to poor quality, there are ways to make it cheaper. For instance, you can invest in a filtration system so you don’t have to keep buying bottled water.
46. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Did you know that there’s no such thing as a bad cut of meat – just a poor chef?
It’s true. You can easily make lemonade out of lemons by purchasing cheaper cuts of meat and then working with them to make them more delicious. How to do this? You have a few options.
You might consider using a meat tenderizer to unleash the juices in the meat, or you could use a marinade. Cooking tougher cuts of meat in the slow cooker is also an option.
47. Make Your Own Gifts
When the holidays approach, how much money do you spend on gifts for loved ones? Probably more than you’d like. Even if you’re not the slightest bit crafty, there are plenty of ways you can save money on your Christmas shopping expenses.
You can make homemade candles, offer “service”-based gifts (like babysitting) or gift some other specialty. Homemade gifts are not only more economical, but they also tend to be more thoughtful.
48. Put Cash in Envelopes
If you have a hard time spending money that you can’t see – many of us do, and that’s why so many of us struggle with credit card debt! – you may want to ditch the plastic and instead, pay for things by putting cash in dedicated envelopes.
In this system, you could have one envelope dedicated to the mortgage, one for groceries, and one for the car payment. Whatever’s left is yours to spend, but make sure you set aside some for your savings, too.
49. Preserve Your Harvest
At the end of the gardening season, don’t let all the extra produce just sit in the garden and rot. Preserve it! There are ways to preserve just about any kind of fruit or vegetable, including canning, freezing, and dehydrating. If you don’t know how to do these tasks, you’ll find plenty of tutorials online.
50. Reuse Containers and Rinse Out Bottles to Get the Last Drop
Stop leaving money in the bottom of your shampoo bottle! When it seems like you’re getting down to the very bottom of your bottle, whether it’s shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, or anything else, fill it with water and rinse it out to get the very last drop.
And when the container is truly empty, consider whether you might be able to use it for some other household purpose. For example, old jelly jars are great for holding small bits and pieces like screws and nails.
51. Drive Better
This tip always makes me giggle a bit, but it’s a good one (and it’s not a personal dig at your driving habits, either). The fact of the matter is that, by being a more conscientious driver, you can save some serious money.
Know when it’s appropriate to use cruise control and when it will cost you more in fuel expenses (hint – hilly terrain is awful for cruise control) and consider teaching yourself how to drive a manual transmission, as this can often be better for your fuel savings, too.
52. Take the Bus
Is public transportation an option? If you can, rely on the bus, train, or subway to get where you need to go. This is a great option when you’re traveling and want to get around car rental fees, too.
53. Learn a Money-Making Hobby
Ok, so if it’s making you money it might not necessarily be a hobby – but you get the idea! Consider learning a new craft or trade that can make you some extra cash on the side.
Are you good at sewing? Offer to tailor suits and alter dresses for your friends. Do you love to garden? Sell some of your extra produce at the farmer’s market. There are plenty of ways to profit off something you already love doing.
54. Switch to a Safety Razor
Rather than spend all that extra money on disposable razors, consider switching to a safety razor. You’ll want to teach yourself how to use one first, as it’s not necessarily intuitive (and that’s a super sharp object near your jugular!) but you can save a lot of money and get a gorgeous, close shave in the process, too.
55. Get on the Same Page
To live a lifestyle of extreme frugality, you have to be on the same page with everyone in your family. If your spouse refuses to turn off the lights or really doesn’t want to downsize to just one vehicle, you’re going to run into problems.
Make sure you communicate your goals and that everybody is in agreement before you set off on this journey.
Other Extreme Frugality Tips – Perhaps Some to Avoid?
While the tips above can serve as some great ways to save money, there are some examples that might be taking it a bit too far.
Being frugal is great if you want to save some money, but when your frugality starts to interfere with normal aspects of life, you might want to rethink your habits.
What are some extreme frugality tips to avoid? Dumpster diving is one. Sure, a lot of fresh food gets thrown out every day, but scouring the dumpsters behind restaurants is a great way to get yourself into hot water with the authorities – and to pick up a ton of nasty diseases, too.
I’ve even heard of people washing and reusing things like dental floss. Remember, being frugal is one thing, but having poor hygiene is another.
There are all kinds of extreme frugality tips that are up for debate, too, like using a Family Cloth rather than toilet paper, taking cold showers (I’m a fan of this one!) and eating roadkill (no thank you).
Ultimately, you should incorporate the frugality tips that are easiest to manage for you and your lifestyle. While some may be easy to adopt without much thought, others may be less critical of your current situation.
Use the Last Drop!
What else can you squeeze the last drop out of?
Swish water around in containers like shampoo/conditioner, liquid laundry detergent, dish detergent and such. Shake up your empty chocolate syrup container with a little milk, to get the very last bit of chocolate out before you toss the bottle. Cut open tubes of products, and be amazed at how much more stuff is hiding inside!
So, before you throw something away, see if there might be at least one more usage out of it. The savings really add up!
How do you make things last longer around your home? I’m betting some of you are doing something I haven’t thought of yet!
updated 11/16/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.