How to Live Frugally and Save Money: My Favorite Methods


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
A few of my friends tell me that it’s harder to save money than it is to earn it. Granted, there are probably a few people who would be glad to have that problem instead of, say, not having any money in the first place. But what not everybody knows is that when you save money, you remove some pressure on your regular income. And as a thrifty, frugal person, I’m telling you that that’s a good thing, overall.

Making money is all about hard work and having the right amount of smarts. Saving money also takes some smarts. To help you save around the house, I’ll be giving you a list of frugal money saving tips. They require a bit of planning and some sacrifice, but these are great ways to get some frugal savings!

And my favorite methods are:

Dilute liquid soap

Liquid soap usually comes pretty thick in the bottle. I’ve discovered that by diluting a bottle of liquid soap and handwash, I get to get more mileage out of a single bottle. Not all brands of liquid soap are as thick as each other. But generally, I add around 50% water to a bottle of new liquid soap, then pour the batch into two bottles. Since quality liquid hand soap can get pricey, diluting the soap in water amounts to big savings!

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Get an Uber or Lyft instead of buying your own car

A lot of us look at cars as status symbols. Even as a college kid, my old beat-up Civic hatchback from the early 90s was a source of pride. But pride comes at a steep cost. Even when I splurged on a brand-new car, I discovered that the price of gas and maintenance, not to mention the hassle of traffic and parking, just wasn’t worth it anymore.

We still kept our car, since we go on weekend road trips to visit my mom. But on regular days, we just use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft (the kids take the school bus). It’s cheaper, and has already saved us so much money.

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Don’t overshop (especially with food)

This might be counterintuitive to shoppers who always buy in bulk. I can see the appeal of buying in bulk – bulk is cheaper, and I myself have recommended doing so a number of times. But if you’re going to buy food, you need to first consider if you can consume the food before it goes bad. It’s tempting to get that large bag of broccoli for cheap, but if you can’t finish it, you’ve pretty much wasted your money (not to mention the food).

We’re a household of 4. I can buy non-perishable food like canned soup or even some frozen foods, and they’ll last a long time. But bulk veggies and fresh meats are a no-no. It may look like I’m spending more by foregoing bulk, but the avoiding any food spoilage more than makes up for it.

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Avoid eating at restaurants

This one is a no-brainer. Eating out, unless you’re on a road trip or something, is usually a luxury. We may think it’s a necessity because it involves food, but we end up spending more than we should when eating out. So plan your day correctly and eat at home when possible.

I used to hate having to cook. But committing to eating more home-cooked meals forced me and my wife to learn how to cook, and we eventually grew fond of it. Now, eating at home feels like a treat, and eating at restaurants is boring.

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Pack lunches for work and school

Just because you’re out at work or school doesn’t mean you need to eat at restaurants. Packing food is a great way to save money. All it takes is some organizing to pull off. I like to get my family involved as well. I usually do the week’s meal prep on Sundays. The kids are free to pick whatever they want to eat at school. And since I’m doing so much hard work, they’re in charge of packing their week’s worth of meals. It sounds like a chore, and initially, it was, but we grew to enjoy this time together.

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Switch off anything that’s not in use

This one is so basic, it’s easy to take for granted. We all grew up getting scolded by our moms for leaving lights on, but my wife and I kind of forgot the keep that habit into adulthood. Funny thing was, it was my daughter who reminded us to turn off the lights when we leave the room. Gotta practice what you preach, right?

And this doesn’t just apply to lights either. I always remind the kids (okay, okay — the kids remind me) to switch off the PC, the television, the air conditioner, the reading lamp… pretty much anything that isn’t needed when nobody’s in the room. The savings may seem pretty small, but they really do add up in the long run.

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Upgrade to LED bulbs

Speaking of lights, we were also able to save lots more by ditching our old fluorescent bulbs (you can try taking them to a local recycling center — and a junk shop might even be willing to buy them from you) and a few incandescent bulb stragglers. LED bulbs might be pricey at first, but you’ll make up for it in the long run. LEDs consume much less energy than traditional bulbs, plus they tend to last longer. We’ve been using LEDs exclusively for almost 10 years, and we’ve only ever had to replace an LED bulb once. LEDs are life in our thrifty household!

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Don’t overload your toothbrush with toothpaste

Notice how toothpaste commercials show people putting huge amounts of toothpaste on their toothbrushes? And that’s because toothpaste makers want you to overspend and consume more toothpaste than you need. According to my dentist, you really only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for proper oral hygiene. And since there are 4 of us at home, lowering our consumption of toothpaste amounted to a substantial savings.

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Shampoo every other day

Like toothpaste, shampoo companies want us to use more shampoo and conditioner than is necessary. The truth is, you don’t need to use shampoo that often. Notable exceptions include factory personnel, construction workers, pro athletes, and any job that gets you sweaty and dirty.

If you work indoors or in an office, you can save a lot of money by using shampoo and conditioner sparingly. And you don’t have to shampoo every day. In fact, my stylist recommended shampooing every other day to let my hair replenish its moisture. And as someone who used to spend lots on hair treatments, that’s double savings!

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Do your laundry in bulk

Doing the laundry uses a lot of resources, from the laundry detergent to the electricity used to power the washing machine and dryer. To maximize your power and supply usage, do your laundry in bulk. Whenever you wash your clothes one at a time, you’re still using more than enough resources to wash a big load of clothes. But since you’re only washing one or two pieces, all that power is pretty much wasted.

So do your laundry in bulk. It isn’t too tough to schedule a single laundry day and have everyone commit to it.

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Hand-wash small laundry batches

Sometimes, having to wash single items of clothing is unavoidable. Maybe you need to clean that nice top for an important meeting, or your daughter spilled hot chocolate on her graduation clothes. When that happens, I recommend washing those clothes by hand. It doesn’t take up a whole lot of time and effort — on the contrary, having to set up the washing machine is more cumbersome than just filling a basin with water and detergent.

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Air-dry your clothes

In addition to using the washing machine, dryers also use a lot of electricity. A great way to cut down on energy consumption (and save on your electric bill) is by air-drying your clothes instead of using the dryer. Of course, you’ll need a secure, open-air area to do this. Trust me, you do not want to hang wet clothes in a musty basement. But the backyard is the perfect place to hang your wet laundry. Do this and notice your electric bill go down!

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