Five Practical Ways to Save Money at Home


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Aside from being frugal, I also aspire to be a practical hubby and dad in any way I can. See, there’s a big difference between being thrifty that it’s almost impractical. I know some people who are like that, actually. They are the ones who will hardly spend any money to the point of almost-starvation or looking decrepit. Or, they are the ones who will hoard so much food or merchandise just because there is a sale (thus subjecting these items to expiration or cluttering up their homes).

I’m glad there are practical ways to save money at home without being extremely frugal (or, as my lovely wife likes to put it bluntly – cheap). We make sure to strike a right balance between knowing when and what to spend on, and when to apply the brakes on purchasing. I have a personal list of effective practices at home, and here are five of the ones my family and I swear by.

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Do some batch meal prepping in advance

I’m fully aware that I have mentioned the importance of advanced meal planning in this forum several times already. But the fact is, food will always make it to my top 10 ways to save money as a frugal family guy. I think it might be the most essential item on my frugality “bible,” actually. At any rate, food is vital, and there is no way that I will subject my family to starvation or unhealthy eating habits for the sake of being thrifty.

My favorite method when it comes to food and saving money is doing batch meal preparations. My family and I usually do these every Sunday, when we are free to do barbecues in the backyard and have more time to create pasta and salad dishes for the week ahead. As I detailed in a previous post about five practical tips for family meal planning, the primary reason for this practice is to avoid ordering food delivery and eating fast food. It takes some time and effort, but we now enjoy healthy, tasty meals we prepared from scratch – and we manage to save hundreds of dollars in the process.

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Organize or participate in a community swap meet

We live in an area with several strip malls and arcades, so it’s tempting for school-age kids to hang out and play video games or generally spend their pocket money on little wasteful items in the shops. When my family was going through a bit of a rough financial patch, my wife and I had to be creative about getting our kids' toys and other fun stuff so they won’t feel left out when interacting with the other neighborhood kids.

Then we got the brilliant idea of organizing a yearly swap meet where the neighbors can put up usable items for barter or for meager prices to sell. We usually hold these swap meets in the springtime when most of the homeowners declutter and do general spring cleaning. These yearly community gatherings yield surprising finds such as vintage clothes, unopened games and toys, one of a kind decorative items, and other things that would typically just gather dust in basements and attics (but are still in excellent condition). Best of all, our kids enjoy getting gently-used or still mint-condition items with the other kids for pre-loved stuff of their own. As parents, we love the fact that very little to no money is involved in these fun transactions!

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Reuse and recycle whatever you can

In addition to our swap meet method, we make sure we reuse whatever can be utilized over and over again in our home. As a result, my kids’ leftover notebooks, pens, and paper for school are now my and my wife's home-office and kitchen stationery. Our local grocery store and weekend market also charge for paper and plastic bag purchases, so we make sure to bring as many canvas bags as we can when shopping for food. My wife also uses some of my old button-down shirts for rags, or as aprons for kitchen and garden work. She was quite shocked at how much those “artisanal” aprons cost at the mall, especially since we can come up with something as creative with old clothing minus the cost! That was when I realized that to be “frugal, fashionable, and fun,” all it takes is a bit of imagination, some old clothes, and motivation.

And I keep a list of contact information for all our appliances and furniture that are still covered by the warranty at the ready. There’s no point in shelling out extra cash for services that can still come free, right?

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Sell unused or gently-used items online

When I first discovered eBay , I had no idea what to do with it first. It seemed like an intimidating online selling platform with a lot of rules to follow. However, once I got the hang of it, it became my go-to method to earn some extra income without worrying about capital or spending too much time on tasks. For instance, when our kids were still in their infant and toddler phases, we had lots of family and friends gift them with all manner of baby clothes and toys. A lot of these were still in pristine condition, had tags on them, and were still neatly packaged, so they’re nearly brand-new. eBay proved to be a great e-commerce site to sell all these and make some money on the side without us leaving the house.

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Grow (or preserve) your own food

This is something that I learned directly from my mom – she of the green thumb and even more frugal ways! But having a small pocket garden prevented me from going all-out with raised garden beds and harvesting the kind of produce that will keep us from buying fruits and vegetables forever. However, she taught me how to make a trellis-style vegetable garden on our balcony, and a small kitchen ledge herb garden where we can just pick rosemary, basil, and cilantro whenever I need them. It’s working out great, so far. I did a quick computation of how much I actually spent on herbs and small leafy veggies, and the expenses do pile up over the months!

Now, I would like to hear all about your own practical ways to save money at home. Share some of your favorite ones in the comment section below – I would love to learn from them.

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