Who wouldn’t want to know a few new frugal hacks to save money?
After all, your money is often limited so being able to stretch it that bit further has got to be good right?
You don’t have to be a card carrying frugalista to take advantage of frugal hacks, wanting to save money is sensible right now for all of us.
This year money has been super tight for just about everyone, so you want to make your money work as hard as possible.
You can’t always make more money if you need it, so it makes sense to make your money work harder instead.
And some of the best frugal life hacks help you do exactly that.
Make your money work harder for you.
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Being frugal is about extracting every ounce of value out of the money you have, to spend on things that fit with your life and values.
If you are wondering how you can be frugal without being cheap, wonder no more. Being cheap is about saving money for the sake of it and often doing so at someone else’s expense.
We all know people who skip their round at the bar or take handfuls of sauce sachets from their local fast food restaurant all in the name of saving money.
If you want to do that then you are more like an extreme cheapskate that a frugal person.
Firstly, most frugal people are not in the habit of frequenting fast food places because they know they can make a far superior meal at a much cheaper price at home.
And secondly, in my book taking a handful of sauce sachets from a restaurant is not frugal or cheap, it’s stealing.
Always be mindful of your impact on others.
Frugal living is about living within your means and making your money work for you.
Rather than you forever working for your money and chasing more and more of it, just to keep still.
Frugal living tips vs. frugal hacks
There are hundreds of frugal living tips to help you save money and you might think that frugal hacks is just another name for these tips.
For me, hacks are about finding a way to achieve the same thing but in a simpler or easier way. You still save money which is the most important thing.
These days you can pay to save time in many different ways.
Rice is a classic example. You can cook rice the traditional way, 12 minutes on the stove top. Or you can buy microwavable rice which takes just 2 mins to cook.
Which one is more frugal? (The non-frugal option is to buy it as part of a takeout).
I worked out that cooking rice the traditional way was 5 times cheaper than buying microwavable rice. If you eat rice regularly then you are going to pay for that convenience every time.
And yes that difference might only be a dollar a meal, but 2 rice meals a week x 50 weeks a year = $100.
If you can save $100 for every time you don’t pay for convenience, think how much money you would save each year?
Cooking your food the traditional way is the basis for many frugal living tips. Frugal hacks are about finding new ways to those tips.
8 super frugal hacks to save money
1. ignore what others think
If you think about, or worry about, what others think, you’re going to end up spending more. The frugal hack of ignoring what others think frees you up from these negative thoughts. Spend only on what is important to you, not others.
2. be patient
As the saying goes “patience is a virtue” and none more so when trying to save money. Be patient when it comes to buying things. Don’t rush out to buy the latest gadget. Sit back and wait a while.
That gadget will come down in price and cost you less. Even better, you’ll be able to pick it up used/second hand for a fraction of the new price. Great frugal hack right?
3. use credit card hacks
You can hack your credit cards or debit card in order to gain cashback or free money. Taking out a new credit card will often give you the opportunity to score extra points in their loyalty system or extra air miles. Depending on the credit card company.
Cashback is a regular feature of credit cards and very useful for saving up and using at Christmas time.
Debit cards often come with a rewards program. My current debit card has at least 40 different rewards right now where I can get cashback if I use the card in those 40+ retailers.
Only use these hacks if you would be buying something anyway.
4. Invest Your Spare Change
The Acorns app is a great little app that helps you save and invest money almost without thinking. It rounds up your spending to the next dollar and invests the difference.
You can choose which transactions you want to be included in the rounding up it does or even just set a monthly amount. This is one of those unusual frugal tips that lets you save money without even thinking about it. Check out the Acorns app here.
5. pay cash – spend less but you can haggle too
Using the cash envelope budgeting method helps you to spend less and haggle more. All retailers like cash because they don’t have to pay the fees that the credit card companies charge them. Use this to your advantage and see what discount you can get.
6. Use a shopping App
Shopping apps can save you money and give you cash back. There are many different ones around but these are the 2 FREE ones I recommend.
7. ask for discount
Be bold – ask for a discount. This can be especially effective if you are paying with cash as the retailer won’t have to pay the credit card fee. Get 5% off and you’ve saved yourself 5% just by asking nicely.
8. Use a price checker
This is one of the unusual frugal tips I got from Amy Dazcycn and her book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, which is a treasure trove of frugal household hacks on everything from making do to repurposing to creating something out of almost nothing. For free of course!
A price checker, or price book, is something you can create to make sure you get the best, lowest price on everything you buy. You and I know that grocery stores discount certain products on a regular basis.
Why buy at the higher price when you know it’s going to be cheaper in a few weeks? With a price book you list out all the items you usually buy and then note down their usual price per kg and their sale price per kg.
Keep that book with you when you go shopping so you can check whether the sale price on offer is really the lowest price that product will be reduced to.
When a product is at it’s lowest price, that’s the time to stock up and buy plenty of it. Ideally enough to see you through until the next time it’s reduced in price.
2 best frugal life hacks to buy less
1. Change your spending habits to include no spend days
NSDs are No Spend Days. Make these a normal part of your week.
If you already have a couple of days that you just don’t spend money e.g. a Sunday, then add in another couple of days.
No spend days are exactly as described, days where you spend nothing.
Get used to not spending every day and over time you will find you have more and more zero spend days, without even planning them.
These posts have more information on no spend days and other no spend challenges:
2. Pause your impulses
We are all guilty of impulse purchases. It doesn’t help when we are surround by subtle and not-so subtle advertising. We see something and we want it.
If you don’t buy it straight away, you might well find that you don’t actually want it enough the following week.
This frugal hack is to create a system where you don’t give in to all your impulses. Press pause for a week or more and see whether you still actively want the item you were coveting.
Chances are you won’t.
Related post: The 30 Day Rule: How To Save (More) Money
3 top frugal hacks for life
1. free entertainment – local activities
There are so many activities you can do that are free it almost seems silly to pay for something. That’s the frugal hack you want to learn, enjoy doing stuff that is free. Activities like:
- Investigate free activities in your local area
- Play some traditional board games with your partner
- Get everyone in the garden for some outdoor games
- Take a walk round your local neighborhood
- Have a movie night or make pizzas together
2. exercise for free
Exercise can be done in a gym, at home or outside. The frugal hack here is that you don’t need to pay to exercise. There are so many free work out regimes to suit everyone on Youtube that the idea of paying for a gym feels positively old-fashioned!
The pandemic led to an explosion of online workout programs and long may it continue. My favorite exercise is a stretching, calming version of yoga run by the most fantastic person – Cheryl. You can find her YouTube channel here (not an affiliate link I’m just a fan).
3. needs and wants list
We all have needs and wants that invariable pop up. The frugal hack here is to be flexible on both. You might need something, but maybe you can make do with something you already have, just for a while?
When you really want something, put it on your birthday wish list for someone to buy for you. They’ll thank you for the idea!
3 Frugal clothing hacks
There are plenty of frugal hacks to save money on clothing. The first thing to consider is, do you actually need to buy any new clothes? Do your clothes have holes in or are you just wanting something new to wear?
1. go thrifting
If you need something new to wear, start in your local thrift stores and charity shops. They often have good quality clothing at a fraction of the new price. They also have a lot of tat so you need to sift through to find the good items.
2. Organize your closet
How many times have you pulled everything out of your closet, wardrobe and drawers in order to organize what you have? Take the time to do this and you’ll discover clothes you haven’t seen or worn.
These can then become your ‘new’ clothes. It also helps to rotate what you wear, that way you aren’t wearing the same few pieces time and again.
3. Declutter and sell
Too many clothes can stop you from making best use of what you actually have. Be honest, if you haven’t worn it in the past 12 months then why not get rid? Selling your clothes is pretty easy with Decluttr, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace.
Selling items you haven’t worn gives you some money to replace them, or extra savings. Your choice. Alternatively you could donate to your local thrift store so another frugalista can buy at a great discount. Paying it forward.
5 frugal household hacks for your laundry
There are so many frugal household hacks you can do with your laundry. If you can save a few pennies doing either the same thing or something slightly different then why not? Especially helpful when money is tight. You get to have control over saving money.
1. Use The Sniff Test
The sniff test is one of the best frugal hacks you can use to both save money and time. Don’t presume a piece of clothing is dirty, if it doesn’t look dirty then it probably isn’t.
The sniff test will help you determine if it needs a freshen up. If it doesn’t look dirty and doesn’t smell dirty then hey, it isn’t dirty. It can be worn again, and possibly again before it fails either the look test or the sniff test.
2. Wash Clothes On A Short 30c Cycle
Most of our washing machines have a short 30c cycle that saves you water, energy and therefore money. Clothes don’t need hours of washing each time unless they are very dirty. A short, cool wash is usually sufficient.
3. Ignore Recommended Dosages
Recommended detergent dosages are just that, recommendations. And let’s be honest, the manufacturers want you to buy their product again and again, so perhaps they might be a little over generous on the dosage?
Find out what works best for you. In our current house we have very soft water so half the normal dose is plenty. In our previous house we had very hard water so 1/2 was too little and 3/4 worked out just right.
4. Line dry clothes
Line drying your washing saves you money because you don’t need to use your dryer. It saves you time because you are not having to iron everything that comes out of the dryer (they seem to crease everything).
I haven’t had a dryer for nearly 10 years now. Dryers tend to last about 5 years, if you are lucky. So I have saved myself the price of 2 new dryers, plus all the electricity they would have used.
5. Use dryer balls
I know large families can’t manage without their dryer but you can reduce your costs by using reusable dryer wool balls. They’re also kinder on the environment.
3 frugal home hacks to increase your saving potential
1. DIY your beauty regime
Doing your own beauty treatments is a fast way to save money.
You can find all sorts of frugal beauty hacks on YouTube and Pinterest if you worry about being able to get a great result.
Over the years my beauty regime has got more and more frugal. I used to wear make-up, I used to have my nails done occasionally.
But the frugal beauty hack that I have always done is to cut my own hair. With long, fine hair it’s never made sense to me to visit a salon and have a wash and cut.
My ends are nowhere near my head so why wash? I also am in the habit of washing my hair every morning as part of my ‘haul myself out of bed’ routine.
The idea of not washing my hair in order for someone else to do so is a non-starter for me.
Why not get your partner to cut your hair (hubby does mine now) or get friends round to have a pampering session? It’s much easier to paint someone else’s nails than it is your own.
2. frugal gifts
For birthdays and Christmas, make your own homemade gifts. Instead of spending $20 on one gift, you could make one for $5, or even less.
One of my favorite frugal hacks for Christmas gifts is the gift of time. This will cost you nothing at all except your time in the future. Create homemade gift cards which detail the gift of time you are giving.
3. DIY your Home improvements
Home improvements can be expensive yet necessary. We like our homes looking nice so we want to make improvements. Going the DIY route is one of those essential frugal decorating hacks you want to do successfully because of the money saved.
YouTube can be your friend here to learn new skills, to repair and fix things. When you do it yourself you don’t need to pay a contractor or repair person to do it for you.
DIY painting and decorating means brushes and some paint. Instead of paying for a skilled persons time and their overheads.
4 frugal kitchen hacks
1. Buy eco friendly appliances
I’m not advocating rushing out and replacing perfectly good working appliances, even if they aren’t the top grade of eco friendliness.
But when your appliances need replacing then it is worth paying a little more money and getting one that is as eco friendly as possible. You’ll save more money in the long run as they use less energy.
2. Avoid pre-packaged foods
Pre-packaged foods and individual food portions like cheese chunks, small packs of raisins, bagged salads all cost much more per kg than their unpackaged, larger counter parts.
You are paying for someone else to cut and wrap your food. Save your money, cut and wrap them yourself instead.
Leftovers aren’t second rate food not worthy or safe to eat. They make great quick dinners for another day and are perfect to take to work for a tasty, free lunch.
4. drink water but dont buy it
Bottled water costs you money you don’t need to spend. Drinking water is good for you, buying water is bad for your pocket. Use a reusable water bottle and fill it up at home. This is the one I like, big enough to keep me hydrated.
5 frugal food hacks to cut your grocery bill
1. Batch cook for meal planning
I’ll be the first person to admit I don’t enjoy cooking every night, I’m not adventurous or creative and repeatedly cooking day after day is just plain boring. For me.
One of the most basic of frugal living tips is to cook from scratch, the frugal hack to add to this is to batch cook your homemade food.
Cook once, eat twice.
It saves time and money.
Your oven is on for almost the same amount of time if you are meal prepping and make a big batch of burritos rather than just enough for tonight’s dinner.
Reheating doesn’t take as long so you save a little energy right there.
Meal Planning On A Budget: 9 Tips For Success
7 Meal Planning Strategies All Beginners Should Know
2. cook your own dinners
Nothing tastes better than good home cooked food. But it also saves you a lot of money. Great tasting home cooked dinners can cost you as little as a $1 a portion. Can’t get that in a restaurant can you?
If you can never decide on what to cook then $5 meal plans will suit you perfectly. They offer 4 specialty plans or you can use the drag and drop meal plan build to customize your family meals. $5 meal plans will send you your chosen meal plan and a shopping list every week.
All you have to is buy the ingredients listed on the shopping list and follow the recipe instructions. What’s more, all the meals are nice and frugal at $2 a portion or less.
3. Start in your pantry
Meal planning helps you save money by identifying the exact ingredients you need for the meals you plan.
Take this one step further and meal plan around what you have in your pantry. Your pantry is full of your money. Money you have already spent buying the products in there.
Use your money, use your pantry to determine what meals you are going to make. This super frugal hack ensures you don’t waste food and keeps your shopping list to a minimum.
4. visit clearance section first
You can grab yourself a bargain by checking out the clearance section of your local store. Don’t confine to just the grocery store, many stores have clearance aisles for end of line products. People who choose to live stingy pride themselves on eating mainly reduced and clearance food items.
5. Top frugal grocery shopping hack that’s not just for groceries – buy generic
Buying generic is not just about groceries. You can buy generic medicines, clothing ranges, garden implements.
You name it, there is a generic or store’s own brand to basically match the big brand name you know so well.
One of the top frugal grocery shopping hacks that many frugalistas talk about is buying the store brand, the value brand or the generic brand of whatever food product is on your shopping list.
Buying generic can save you a lot of money every month and every year. It’s where many frugal people find their biggest grocery list savings.
One of my best frugal hacks at the grocery store is to not only drop down to the generic brand or store brand. But to keep dropping down to the value brand.
For most products, stores will offer a variety of brands:
- premium big brand
- another brand
- generic store brand
- value brand
The value brand could be the store’s own value brand. For instance Walmart/Asda have their own value brand.
Other times it’s an unknown brand. But you know it’s the value brand due to the price – it’s the cheapest!
Sometimes the value brand is not great, toilet paper is a good example. Other times, you’ll be hard pressed to notice a difference.
And even if you notice a difference, that doesn’t make it inferior to the more expensive brands, it’s just a little different.
5 Extreme frugal living hacks to free up more money
You can go more extreme if you need to. I have a whole post on extreme frugality tips but here are a few extreme frugal living hacks you might want to try.
1. No poo
There is a whole movement dedicated to not using shampoo or other commercial hair products. Certainly the process does seem to work.
But the extreme part of this hack is that you have to get through the transition phase. And this is the phase I cannot bring myself to do.
Your hair is used to having the natural oils striped out by your shampoo, as a result it over-compensates and produces more. Which makes you want to wash your hair more.
This is totally me. I wash my hair every day without fail. The transition phase would require me to not wash my hair AND for it to look super greasy, for about 3 months or so.
After the transition phase, your hair will balance out and it will apparently look extremely shiny and in great health. I just cannot bring myself to have that greasy look for so long.
2. No toilet paper
Toilet paper is a relatively modern product, invented in 1857, before which we humans used whatever we could lay our hands on.
If you want to go extreme you could forgo the toilet paper and use washable cloths instead. More eco friendly and over time, more money saving. Too extreme for me though.
3. No internet or cable
In some ways this isn’t so extreme, there are many people who still do not have internet or cable at home. But once you have them, it can feel like deprivation to go without.
Especially internet and Wi-Fi. With cable there are a variety of alternatives depending on what you watch and where you live.
For us, we still have cable because it makes sense for where we live and how we live our lives. But no internet? That’s extreme.
Think about it though, if you live in town there are plenty of places that offer free Wi-Fi, even buses have it these days. Along with almost every coffee shop and retail store.
If you were super organized you could get rid of Wi-Fi and use the freely available ones in town.
Just a thought!
4. No commercial cleaning products
The cost of cleaning products can run up pretty quickly if you buy both branded products, and a different product for every cleaning job.
If you want to embrace all the extreme frugal hacks then why not make your own? Washing powder, hob cleaner, toilet cleaner, even dishwasher tablets can be homemade.
This post has a list of recipes for the most common homemade cleaning products if you fancy having a go:
5. no car
A vehicle costs thousands every year, regardless of how much driving you do. Go without one and you can a lot of money.
But having no car can be extreme if you don’t live in the centre of town.
I once knew someone who had no car, they walked 3 miles across fields every day to get to the train station. And back again.
In summer time that doesn’t sound too bad, in winter it sounds pretty hard core. He walked in the pitch dark (no street lights in a farmers field) both morning and evening.
A torch only shows so much.
I would happily go without a car if I was within walking distance of most places I visited or on a regular bus route.
Right now the nearest bus stop is about 5 miles from my home so I’m keeping my car!
Making the most of your money with frugal family hacks
Living frugally is all about making the most of your money. And frugal hacks help you save money in very easy and simple ways.
If a hack makes my life easier you can bet I’ll be doing it. I’ve gone past the point of worrying what other people might think about the unusual frugal tips I employ to save more money.
I don’t have any dangerous extreme frugal habits you need worry about, I just might be a bit more extreme than you sometimes!
For more frugal hacks and saving money tips join the frugal foundations bootcamp today
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Last Updated on 5th January 2022 by Emma