I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try, it's still impossible to save money. I actively plan to spend less but something always comes up, and whether I'm aware of it or not, my account balance remains the same after yet another month.
Also, as economists, CEOs, Wall Street, and Main Street are sounding the recession alarm bell, I think it's a good time to look at some tips that might help save a few extra bucks. After all, they all add up. Luckily, there's an online discussion that offers exactly that.
Recently, Reddit user 88r0b1nh00d88 asked the members of the platform's 'Frugal' community to share everyday "hacks" that have helped them save the most cash, and they delivered! Here are some of the best replies.
#1Cutting my sponges in half. There’s nothing a whole sponge can do that a half one can’t. It’s easily the most simple frugal thing I’ve done that literally doubled my life of a product.
Image credits: Lopsidedlopside
#2I am dying my black clothes black, its great. The stuff looks like new, even though i had those short pants for 14 years
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#3Definitely growing our own veggies and herbs! I dry the herbs and use all winter!
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#4Having spares. Took me a long time to get my wife to do this. You have a toothpaste, or a tin of coffee or whatever. The next time it goes on sale, you buy it, even if it's next week. Then once you finish the first and open the second you watch for sales again.
Image credits: Exekiel
#5It's not a hack of any sorts, but learning how to cook really well has been my best money saver. I almost never want to go out, because I can generally cook better food at home.
Today's dinner (egg roll in a bowl made with marinaded chicken thighs) came out to less than $2 per portion and was within my veggie-heavy diet.
Image credits: OneFingerIn
#6This is more environmental than frugal, but I started using kitchen towels instead of paper towels for most tasks. A roll of paper towels used to last me two weeks. Now I buy a three pack once a year.
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#7Budgeting with cash envelopes. Having a budget for everything has been the ultimate frugal hack. Do I want to spend my $60 food budget on a takeout dinner or go wild at an outlet store and get two weeks worth of food?
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#8Put stuff in a virtual cart. Leave it. Mull it over for a few days. The urge usually passes, and that's when I realize it wasn't a real need and something else — boredom, insidious advertising, etc.
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#9Selling my car and using a bicycle instead. Made me richer, fitter, and happier in one fell swoop!
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#10Buy good quality clothes, learned basic sewing and hemming to tailor them and look good. I air dry them and they look good for a long time.
Sometimes there are great sales on jeans that are too long for my size. I learned to sew a French hem to keep the original hem.
Image credits: Neither-Welder5001
Menstrual cup a one time expense that may last for up to 10 years. I've had mine for 5 years and I really I had known about these since my early 20s.
Safety razor, I think I paid like $15 bucks for it and a 250 pack replacement razors. It's been 5 years and still haven't had to buy more.
Bonus is less stuff going to landfills.
Image credits: _-Mayday-_
#12Being environmentally conscious. You’d be surprised with how much overlap there is between frugal and sustainable living. It’s the mindset more than anything else that cuts down my expenses.
I buy second hand. Catch public transport. Gone vegetarian. Bring my own package free snacks. Learned to repair clothes. Compost to feed the garden that feeds me. I use reusable hygiene products (cups and safety razors). I use tea towels instead of paper towels. I use soap bars rather than liquid soaps that come in plastic containers (they last waaay longer). I buy quality clothes/electronics that last longer. I use my library rather than buying physical books. And most importantly, I’ve stopped buying plastic garbage I don’t need.
Image credits: PuffinStuffinMuffins
#13Some of these are kinda weird but here we go:
1) Get a bidet: it takes a little bit to get used to, but once you do, you'll never feel cleaner. That and your TP will go a lot longer.
2) Get a bunch of old rags and wash & reuse them instead of paper towels or anything to wash your hands. You can usually find these cheap if you look around and will save you a ton of money in the long run compared to paper towels.
3) Costco Membership: costco is extremely brand conscious and their products are really high quality and depending on what you buy, can last you a considerable amount of time. More so, the buying in bulk helps out, their gas is noticeably cheaper than anywhere else, and their customer service and the way they treat their employees is light years ahead of any other retailer i ever dealt with.
4) Switch to LED bulbs - they last longer, are cost effective now to other lightbulbs and use a fraction of the energy so you save more money too.
5) Make sure you keep your tire pressure right and to also change air filters yourself. These seem like easy things to gloss over but will save you a ton of money on getting better gas mileage and also just saving you maintenance costs as well. Also, the air filter replacements at most garages cost for some reason way more than they should. Go on YouTube and you'll find videos of how to do it, and you'll be more well-rounded. It's pretty dang easy.
6) Get sleep (and a good mattress if you can). I found i spend more money or dont function as good and spend more time on needless stuff/redoing things if im sleep deprived. Getting that good sleep is free and you're health and happiness.....health is wealth!
Image credits: ThatChicagoDuder
#14Sharing streaming services with friends/library card (so easy to get, please just do yourself a favor and check out your library's requirements).
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#15Gaming the Kroger gas points program to save on gas. Before the massive price jump, I regularly paid less than 50 cents a gallon, and was proud to show anyone who'd listen that I had, more than once, paid less than 10 cents a gallon.
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#16Pet insurance. Hands down has saved me thousands of dollars
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#17Hang drying clothes helps them last longer
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#18About 1x a year I go through all of our monthly expenditures and see if I can get a better deal on anything - like cell phones, internet, insurance, etc. Also if there are any monthly memberships of any sort I cancel whatever we don't use regularly. I usually end up saving at least a hundred dollars a month!
Also I joined the local "Buy Nothing" groups on Facebook and I have gotten so much free stuff - for example, my daughter wanted to try piano lessons but I doubted she would stick with it, so I put an ISO for a free keyboard - and someone gave us one! Also I've even received for free small things like painting supplies and an A/C filter. And I've given away a lot of things too.
Image credits: Dogzmomma
#19- Taking advantage of residual heat when cooking saves me on gas and electricity.
- Learning how to make sauces (mostly for Asian dishes) and dressings from scratch.
- Not buying cleaning products for every part of the house. If you have bleach, dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda, you're pretty much set for any mess in the house.
- Making a list of the dishes you most frequently make
- Setting a time limit for certain appliances. For instance, I'll only turn on the TV after 7pm and I'll try to towel dry my hair to keep hair dryer use at a minimum.
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#20I can't stress this enough. Porridge for breakfast. It's roughly €0.06 per person if you only added water and salt. With a little milk, fruit, and other toppings it can still be as little as €0.50 per person. Plus oats keep you full for a long time and are amazing for your health.
Here in Ireland a 1.5kg bag of rolled oats is €3. You don't need to spring for expensive brand names. Any rolled oats will do.
Mix 0.5 cups of dry oats with 1.5 cups of any preferred liquid per person. Leave this mixture in a saucepan on medium heat and walk away for 15 to 20 minutes. Go take a shower. Get dressed, etc. Cooking oats slow gives them their creaminess. When you come back, give it a couple of stirs and add more liquid if you like a creamier consistency. Add your desired topping. And that's it. Even plain salted porridge with a little bit of milk can be really delicious and very easy on the stomach. It's actually really great hangover food.
Image credits: GiveMeThePeatBoys
#21Eating vegan has saved me a ton of money. I don’t eat a lot of specialty 'vegan' products. The majority of my diet is beans, rice, vegetables, fruits, oats, peanut butter, etc.
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#22Using curbside pickup through my local grocery store app. My account is connected, so I get points and can apply discounts from the ad. But the main takeaway is that I have removed all temptation to buy things I don’t need! It probably cut my grocery bill at least in half at this point.
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#23We keep two 5L bottles by the shower and fill them up before taking a shower so we aren't wasting the running water while waiting for the water to be hot enough to shower. We then use this water to mop the floor and water plants. It has actually reduced our water bill quite a bit and helps us save water.
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#24Any meds that are out of pocket, I asked the doc to prescribe the generic ones
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#25I buy all my furniture and clothes (except underwear) in thrift stores.
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#26Taking care of my body, exercising, going to the dentist proactively to avoid future costs.
#27Growing my own vegetables from seeds, in my own little patch of land. And then canning those.
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#28Switching to pay-per-mile car insurance
#29I've saved myself thousands by doing my own car maintenance and repairs. Started with 0 knowledge and was driven by pure spite.
Similarly, buying used electronics on eBay rather than new.
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#30If you’re in need of kitchen items, check out public estate sales. Items like dishes, coffee mugs, cooking utensils, flatware, etc. are often sold in box lots, which frequently can be picked up for $1–$2 per box. Plus, you often get older items that are much better quality. I pick out what I want and donate the rest. They’re perfect for someone setting up a new apartment.
#31Marry a frugal person. If you are Frugal and your partner is not, it can be a lifetime of pain. Partner up with a frugal person though and you can encourage each other on the journey and revel in the savings.
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#32APS. always pack snacks. bonus points if you cut up fruit rather than toss an orange in your bag as you’re much more likely to eat it. i made like 3 dozen muffins at a time and freeze it.
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#33Live in a small place. Buy (or rent) the smallest, cheapest place in the nicest neighborhood you can afford- especially if you have kids. Always drive your used car into the ground. You can get a gabillion repairs for the same amount most people spend on car payments. Understand that eating out comes from the entertainment budget, NOT the food budget.
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#34Honestly, one of the things that made a huge difference for me is weighing my food - mostly meats and seafoods. By eating proper portion sizes I'm saving a TON of money. Turns out one chicken breast is like 2-4 servings depending on size. A bag of frozen shrimp would get eaten in 2 or 3 meals but sticking to 100g portions I'm stretching that a lot further.
#35Joining local Buy Nothing and secondhand groups. I've basically outfitted most of my house and garden for free or very cheap thanks to them. Furniture, kids clothes, plants, etc. The quality is actually better than most newer bargain c**p and plus it's better for the environment. As a bonus, when I am done with something I just pass it on and it stays out of landfill. Win win really.
#361. Bartering. I exchanged dog walking services (not daily, maybe once every month), with my neighbor in exchange for her wifi password. Technically illegal? Maybe? but I wasn't downloading anything or watching movies - I just needed to check my email.
2. Installing a woodstove and collecting free firewood in the summer. I was able to go 10 years without turning on the heat in my 2 story house. I'd search on Craigslist for free wood, especially after storms. I did need them to be cut to size (thank you, kind neighbor with a chain saw and pickup truck), but I split them myself with a maul and sledgehammer. This also meant I didn't need to join a gym. lol
3. Working PT at my gym (when I broke down and joined when home workouts lost their appeal.) I greeted gym members 3 hours a week, so in addition to my small paycheck, I got free membership.
4. Only buying used Honda Civics (off Craigslist). I've done this since 1992, so I can pretty much tell by ear if something is wrong. I now know by heart and experience their recommended maintenance schedule for service. Once I hit 60K miles, the timing belt gets replaced (although my current Civic has a serpentine belt instead). 120K - I get the head gasket replaced. Overkill? Probably. I'm okay with that. At 200K, I re-sell them (average $2500). That mileage seems to be the sweet spot between "It's just now broken in" and a lemon.
5. Never paying full price for clothing/shoes. Things like undergarments and socks excluded. :) Normally, I only go through the sales racks without even looking at the regular racks.
Disclaimer: It can be very hard at times to live a frugal lifestyle, because the time and research needed to live frugally can be a limiting factor. Also, I am now older (but not "old" lol), no kids, retired, and live on my own. I still gravitate to the clearance racks, but, dangit...if I see something that screams "me", I buy it now.
#37This is common sense to me, but I know a lot of people around here who don’t live this way: in the cold months I wear long sleeves/enough long sleeved clothing. I avoid turning the heat on unless I’m actually cold instead of cranking up the heat so I can wear a t-shirt and shorts
#38I don't know about other countries but here in the Netherlands we have this drugstore called Die Grenze. They sell snacks and other goods for really cheap. A while ago they had small applesauce pots (~200g) 6 for €1. I once bought high quality protein bars for €0,25 a piece. I couldn't believe my eyes, I thought this store owner is insane, because normally they're €2 a piece. Other than that mostly sodas and candy. I'd look if there's anything similar in your area.
Other than that buying frozen fruit/veggies helps a lot. Very easy to use for smoothies. Also buy meat that's 1 day off from expiration date, it's perfectly edible but most stores here put a ~35% discount on it.
#39Before buying anything, seeing it 3 times.
#40For our family it was scaling down our food consumption to actual serving sizes and making that amount. I was cooking way too much food and we were all way overeating.
#41Every bill, expense or purchase I make gets rounded up and transferred to a High Interest Savings account (online, no fees). That ice cream that you might buy at $3.50 looks way different after you round it up to $10. If you go ahead and splurge any ways, $6.50 into savings and you won't miss it. When I get to a certain amount, I buy a savings bond or similar. I've managed to buy off all debt and working on that nest egg... on minimum wage.
#42Paying extra off your mortgage you would not believe what a difference it makes long term like even $20 per month. And when you get a windfall make an extra payment.
#43Stop getting gas on Friday or over the weekend. Prices ALWAYS go up for the weekend.
#44Do chores when the electricity rate is lower. It costs me almost five times less during off-peak hours. Look up when your off-peak times are. It varies by time of year
#45>shopping grocery sales
Purchasing a decent sized freezer to put all the 'sale' stuff into so we don't have to eat it in one week!
Yesterday, my favourite frozen pies were 40% off. So I bought 5 packs. We probably only eat them once a fortnight, but they can just sit in the freezer.
Our supermarkets tend to have different types of meat on sale each week. So, if chicken is on sale, I buy chicken only. Next week will be pork, etc.
After a few weeks, there is a nice selection of meats in the freezer.
Bulk buys and freeze also.