What Do You Do to Be Frugal?

Updated on June 19, 2015
A.B. asks from Simpsonville, SC
25 answers

My husband and I are on a very tight budget right now and I am having a hard time making ends meet. I am using coupons out of the Sunday paper, using cloth diapers, using a clothes line, etc. I have a few questions. First, any information on where to find more coupons? WHat are you ladies doing to be "frugal" and save money? Lastly, do you have any "frugal" recipes you would like to share or where could I find some good ones? Thanks for all of your help!

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answers from Miami on

There was a really good thread on saving money not to long ago. It's right here: http://www.mamapedia.com/questions/17549779198648844289

It has about 80 responses and definitely worth taking a look at.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I belong to a site called Freecycle. It keep things out of the landfill and helps people to share unwanted items. you can post to offer things you no longer need and ask for things you're looking for. Anything from cars to coupons.
Only catch is, everything must be free! I think everyone should join!

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answers from Los Angeles on

If you wants lots and lots of coupons find where the newspaper boys assemble the newspapers (put the insert into the news portion). There are usually dozens of extra inserts you can get for being nice and asking nice. When my kids threw newspapers I would get extra inserts if there were really good coupons in them. Ask your paperboy. For an extra $1 or $2 he may be willing to throw your paper and a roll of inserts. Its extra money for him and extra savings for you.

When your ads and coupons come in the mail, go down to the post office then next day and pull the "junk mail" out of the trash or off the counter. Throw away what you don't want and make sure you don't take anybody's thrown away mail addressed to them.

Plant a garden. I love home grown tomatoes. In the years I don't plant a big garden I always have time for a couple of tomato plants. Unless you live in the western hills of SC, you have a nice long growing season. Swiss Chard and spinach are easy to grow. Okra is nothing more than a domesticated weed. (I hate the taste of okra, but one or two plants usually feeds a family.) Plant blackberries, Boysenberries and Blueberries. Prime Jim and Jan are prolific black berries and have given me more than one crop per year.

Recipes. Go to estate sales. Find the cook books they have for sale. When you find a recipe book with dirty and smudged pages, buy that book and tear out the smudged pages (not in front of the family). Those are the recipes the family liked.

Cook frugally. Don't buy pre-mixed foods, like Rice-A-Roni. Buy the ingredients and mix it yourself. If you look at the ounces in a Rice-A-Roni box, you find you are paying $3 or more per pound for pasta and rice. I wait until the pasta and rice are on sale and buy in bulk. I pay no more than $.30 lb for rice and $.50 lb for pasta. Always check the sale ads before doing your meal planning. When there are really good sales use those meats for your meals. The first place I go in a grocery store is their mark down bin for canned goods. Then I go to the meat counter for their marked down meats. I change my meal list after I get the mark downs. I always buy the chicken broth and beef broth when it goes on sale. Last year a store put their chicken and beef broth on sale for $.25 can and I bought 3 or 4 cases of each. Now, when the price is in the $.60 to $.80 per can range, I really enjoy my $.25 chicken broth. Use chicken broth instead of water when you make rice or if you get mashed potatoes in boxes use chicken broth or beef broth instead of the water it asks for. Don't buy meats at Sams or Costco. I always beat their prices on meats by shopping the sales. I've done price comparisons at Sams and Costco. I had 9 items I was pricing for a church dinner. Sams was cheaper than Costco on 7 items, equal on one and more expensive on one. Don't be afraid to shop at more than one store for your groceries. I find the stores have their best sale prices on weeks that don't have a 1st or 15th in them. Why? Most people get their check and spend their wad for food on food when they get their check. Thanksgiving is the best time to buy turkeys, flour, and other baking items. I usually buy enough for the year. I buy extra corned beef at St Patricks Day and have it at other times of the year. I buy charcoal at Memorial day because it usually has the best sale price then.

Check past questions and answers in mamapedia for more suggestions on living frugally.

Good luck to you and yours and congratulations on you new frugality.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Really look at your budget and see if ANYthing can be cut back: phones, cable, car insurance bundles, etc.

Read Financial Peace or Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsay. Get it at the library.

Couponmom.com (free to join & use).

Shop ALDI.


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answers from Seattle on

Our budget almost can't be trimmed any further than it is. Our only bills are mort., elect, H20/sewer/garbage, netflix, phone & computer + Student Loans. No subscriptions, no tv, etc. We trimmed over $500 dollars a month just by getting rid of gym memberships, magazine subs, tossing the cable (not even basic), and lowering the phones. Right now, except for keeping the lights on, we pay $85 a month for our phones, computer, & netflix. Which, if push came to shove could go away along with our personal $ of 50 per week, and we'd be saving another almost $500.

We get a set amount of money for personal use (clothes, hair cuts, lunch out, gas, etc.). ALL our personal expenditures come out of that. For us it's $50 a week. REALLY helped cutting down on things. My DH would buy lunch every day (for $8-10), and then be buying clothes, drinks after work, etc all on top of that even when we were supposed to be "tight". Lunch alone was coming out to $100 every 2 weeks. The adding on drinks after work, at least one new article of clothing -more like 2 or 3 (but it's just _____ aka teeshirts, socks, underwear, shorts for summer, whatever)- every month, and before we even entered what HE considered to be "personal" money... he was already spending $500- $600+ a month. When you added on what he considered "personal" expenditures (hair cuts, iTunes, show tickets and other music stuff)... he was spending well over $1000 a month.

He was really funny, actually, when we went to the $200 a month personal money. "Oh that'll be MORE than enough," to "But I can't buy anything but LUNCH." Well, then, don't buy lunch! "But I can't get what I need." No... you can't get what you want. My bras cost over $100 each (36dddd). So I have to save for them. Ditto my jeans (I have a 37" inseam) To buy any clothes that actually FIT I have to save for them. But he felt that as long as it was only "one" item that we should be able to just buy it. Sheesh. Budgeting honey, budgeting.

He kept trying to cut back on our groceries... but our grocery bill was less than 1/3 of what he was spending on "incidentals" that he considered to be "necessary". So I'd strongly advise, in addition to groceries to look at where you're being nickel & dimed to death.

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answers from Atlanta on

You can clean a lot of surfaces with vinegar and water in a spray bottle or a paste made from baking soda and water. Super cheap and effective.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Roanoke on

Try shortcuts.com for more coupons. You can download/upload them directly to your store card. Also try using more than one coupon for one product. Many stores accept up to 3 coupons per one product. For example I had 3 $5 off coupons for a windex outdoor window cleaner. It cost 15.99 which I would never pay but, I used all three coupons and only paid 99 cents. You can also try coupon mom.com(if that isn't right google coupon mom). She was on Oprah and really has great tips/ideas and coupons for saving. I am obsessed with coupons haha. You can even buy an extra Sunday paper to get more coupons. I also swap coupons with my friends. I give them baby coupons and they give me ones they don't use. My mom also gives me her extras. I don't buy things that aren't on sale or that I don't need. For example, if I want blueberries but, strawberries are on sale-I get the strawberries and buy the blueberries next time they are on sale. I am getting ready to have a big yard sale to bring in some extra cash. We don't eat out often and it is a real treat when we do. How are the cloth diapers going? I hope to try that next go round but, don't know for sure. You can try cleaning with vinegar and water instead of buying as many cleaning products. You can really cut your power bill down by making sure everything is turned off when you aren't using it,using power strips for things like computers etc, they call them phantoms because they are using electricity even when you aren't using them. We have also really tried to cut back on our water use. We are hoping to get a rain barrel eventually. We do have a composter. We made our own soil for the garden this year. Another thing we did this year was plant a garden. You could do that next year and really save on your veggies/fruit whatever you decide to grow! Good luck hon and hang in there! I think we are all feeling the pinch these days. My heart goes out to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Very specific meal planning (including snacks) so you buy exactly what you will use (I am still working on this one, but it help).

I make my own laundry soap. I can't even remember what it was like to spend $2.50 to $3.99 on a bottle of laundry detergent. There was a question here the other day about detergent with recipes for answers if you're interested--I love it, it works great, and it is super-cheap. I also clean a lot with baking soda, vinegar, and bleach, all inexpensive, but cleaning supplies is not a huge expense for us.

Try to make every trip in the car (except for work) count for more than one need. If you can, run errands to and from work, too. We never have extra services to cut, so when people tell me to stop eating out and get rid of my cable I laugh--we've never had cable and we don't eat out. :)

Shop around for car insurance. If you can find a better quote you might be able to talk your normal insurer down. Also, make sure you are getting every discount you qualify for. There are often discounts for good driving records, age, car features like daytime running lights, etc. I think even in a poor economy there is something to be said for loyalty, but it never hurts to ask for a better deal.

I am (barely) expecting another little one and had given away all my maternity clothes. They would not fit me now anyway, but I'm looking on CraigsList and there are lots of women selling inexpensive wardrobes with little wear to them. Try to find things that way, either treats for your family (I bought an exercise step so I could work out in the house) or see if anyone you know has kids staggered with yours so you can swap clothes. Sometimes those crazy growth spurts and unexpected sneaker purchases do not fall on a sale weekend.

I am trying to remember to completely turn off all of our appliances--I have read that even a phone charger left plugged in drains as much electricity as it does when charging. I have not verified that, but it doesn't hurt me any to unplug it. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Yeah, do the Angel Food - it is suppose to feed a family of four for a week on about $30. The website will let you know if there is a church or center that supports the program. If not, then find out if your church will.

Lots of churches do their own food banks too or know of locations that do food banks... check those out for donated foods.

There are several websites that I like to look at that has lots of tips on being frugal, I also included personal financial calculators since it's nice to see how to maximize your current dollars:




http://www.usaaedfoundation.org/default.asp (they will send free literature to your house and not put you on a mailing list)

http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/ (you can look up recipes that fit your budget)

Turn down your water heater - that alone sucks up so much electricity. Since it's summer right now, you do not need extra hot water.

Skype is free for people that also have it. Both ends have to have Skype in order to use it for free. Get rid of long distance and try to use that.

Here is my collection of cheap recipes called "We're broke, what's for dinner?"

All natural cleaners can save money:

Do vegetarian dishes about twice a week since beans and rice are so darn cheap!

Beans the musical fruit: http://www.recipezaar.com/cookbook/Beans-the-Musical-Frui...

You might qualify for WIC, unemployment, food stamps... so make sure you are looking into those programs as well. I'm not sure of your situation, but those are always something to look at and at least ask if you qualify.

I love that Freecycle idea. Good one :) I actually got a free chair from a lady that posted it on the site!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Couponmom.com can be a great resource for where to find coupons, how to match up coupons to weekly sales for grocery, discount and drug stores, where to find rebates. The members of the forum share their tips and great finds. All You magazine has a ton of coupons every month. You can buy it at Walmart or through subscription. Before subscribing buy a copy and see if the coupons are ones you would use. I think the Better Budgeting website has frugal recipes. I also like to check ou the half-price websites for deals on entertainment and eating out. Many of our local tv and radio stations offer half-off deals. Also check out groupon, offermint, woot and others.

Otherwise we try to spend wisely, cut out thngs that aen't necessities, look for deals. We have a basic cable package - less than $10 per month. My cell phone is pay as you go with no monthly fees (I don't use it much). I look for free or low cost family activities such as library programs, local theater groups, community programs, free bowling at AMF centers, summer reading programs (Half Price Books offers a $3 shopping card every week to kids who read 15 minutes a day for 5 days a week thorugh the end of July). I also take my kids clothing/toys to consignment sales to make a few extra bucks. What doesn't sell I donate and save the receipt for tax deductions. I shop online at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noblefor presents. They regularly offer free shipping for purcahses over $25 on many items. Other websites require you to purchase $50 or more. Some of these ideas seems insignificant, but IMO it all adds up. Best wishes to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

You really need to make a budget and see where your money is going, and where you can make cuts. There should be a certain amount of $$ allocated to each item, including personal use.

If you want to save money, don't eat out, except for maybe once or twice a month. It is usually where people spend the most.

Shop second hand stores, consignment sales, garage sales. Check out Craigslist and Freecycle. I bought lots of books, toys and clothes for a fraction of the price.

If there are certain stores you shop, make sure to sign up for their weekly emails, or whatever they have, so they send you coupons and such.

Check the internet for coupons.

Don't buy stuff you don't need, even if they are on sale.

Pasta, rice and bean dishes are good for the money. If you have any Asian stores around, they usually sell rice and vegetable items for very cheap.

Good luck saving money!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Kraftfoods.com has a thing where you can meal plan for a week using 1 paper bag that has simple and low cost recipes. I just made one last night called Chesseburger mac (velveta cheese, hamburger, elbow mac, garlic powder, ketchup and water)

Meal planning has helped us out greatly. Moneysavingmom.com has some different printable ones you can use and other great money saving ideas.

Southernsavers.com is great for deals by store in the southern region.

If you can get the Savannah Sunday paper (I'm down in Beaufort so I don't know how far out that one goes), get it! It has double coupons every week (2 Proctor and Gamble when it comes out!!)

Coupons.com is a great site to print from. Walgreens puts special coupons you can print only online to use in store and a lot of people say CVS is getting to be better than walagreens cause you can scan your rewards card and get instant coupons in the store which can be stacked with manufacture coupons too.

Good luck!



answers from Augusta on

I didn't see this in the rest of the supplies but setting your A/C to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter will reduce your electric/ gas bill. turning off and unplugging things like the microwave and coffee maker when you aren't using them, also save money.


answers from Lancaster on

It's great to save money and there are many ways to do that. But sometimes it's a good idea to ADD some money too.
Here are two ways to earn some extra cash. Check it out for yourself. Both together take about 10 - 15 minutes a day I'm just starting and it adds up fairly quickly. It certainly isn't a huge income, but in my case, I plan for it to be my "fun money"! :) Just a thought!
Read News For Cash: http://questofnews.com/p114058
Watch videos for Cash: http://whosurvey.com/?ref=1172669



answers from Atlanta on

This is a great resource! www.miserlymoms.com

Library, parks and recreation services, Aldi shopping, limit grocery/etc. shopping to 1x or 2x/mo to save more. No cable, Netflix, maybe internet at the library if you can, magicjack phone, open your windows when you can and change out your lightbulbs. Basically anything that's "variable" up for grabs, and still leave a little for fun or you'll go mad.

I'm there and GOOD LUCK!



answers from Las Cruces on

depending on your community look up local wic (women, infant and children) program. http://www.yellowpages.com/boiling-springs-sc/wic-office Because your income is either limited or non existent you will qualify. They provide help with giving you free formula, baby food, cheese, milk or Lactose(depending), cereal, beans, bread, fruits and vegetables. I hope this helps you out. http://www.wicprograms.org/ci/sc-boiling_springs ALSO check out this web site http://south-carolina-department-of-social-services-famil... GOOD LUCK!! If i was able to get an email address I have a lot of baby food I would be glad to give you!! if you have a computer that pics up wifi and If you have a smart phone android download the app "foxfi" and it gives you free internet on your computer... I use it! if your cell phone bill is over 45.00's switch to straight talk if you have a current verizon phone that has a sims card you can buy a straight talk sims card online for 15.00..



answers from Rapid City on

I belong to a site called thredup. They have EVERYTHING there, brand name clothing, costumes, and school uniforms for consignor prices. It is a consign web site of sorts, you are able to send clothing into the site with a bag provided by them, and recieve money from them for either clothes on the site, or through paypal. The clothing is inspected very closely and is always in new or almost new condition when I receive it. The shipping is also very fast on these items, I usually have my order within a week, and shipping right now is free for any order over 40.00. Also new members can use this code (TU10) on their first orders and receive ten percent off of their entire order. Lastly if you use my code when you sign up, you get a free 5$ right away off your first order. http://www.thredup.com/77545 you can also refer friends and get the same deal.



answers from Los Angeles on

Try turning all that stuff they've outgrown into money at stores you always shop at, like Target and Walmart. Check out www.Zearly.com. You can have them come get your hand-me-downs and they'll give you points for anything that is still in good condition. You can use your points to buy other cloths or save them to get gift certificates to other great stores!



answers from Cleveland on

Here's what we do. Cloth diapering, including wipes. Take your cable TV down to "lifeline" cable (ours is $10/mo. for local channels and good reception). Get your movies through the library free (request online, pick up 1 day/wk), have movie night or drive-in movie night (put a sheet on your garage door and rent a projector once or pick up a cheapie for $99!). Make your cleaning products (email me for recipes ____@____.com). I still buy dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent from Costco really inexpensively, so not worth making. Camping on the local islands for vacations. Canoeing or biking for fun with kids.



answers from Boston on

The coupon code TAKE15% will save you 15% off any order at diapers.com on formula, clothes, diapers, etc ...



answers from Atlanta on

Check out sale ads from your local grocery store, then plan a menu based around the ads. Make a shopping list to cover your menu, and ONLY buy what is on your list. (This makes it easier to use your coupons, too, since you know what you are going to be buying.) It also keeps you from standing in front of the fridge/pantry staring blankly trying to decide what to have for dinner.

If you have it, get rid of your cable television. My grandparents have an antenna in their attic, and they receive around 45 channels (all in HD) with no cable. (They live in the middle of nowhere TX.) I think the antenna costs around $80, but the savings would cover that cost in a few months, depending on what you have now. If you have cell phones, remove long distance coverage on your home phone and make those calls from your cell. (You may not even need a home phone line, so you could compare the cost of increasing cellular minutes to the cost of keeping a home phone; if most of the people you talk to have the same service provider, then chances are it won't use minutes to talk to them.)

Hope this helps!



answers from Atlanta on

Hello A.: I am a disabled senior citizen from WV and I understand exactly where you are coming from. I get coupons off the internet. Within the last hour, I have printed out about $10.00 worth of coupons I'll use this week. I try not to print off things I don't need. This usually ends up wasting my printer ink if the coupons expire before I use them....I do have a nice recipe you may be interested in. First I'll let you know that I do not measure anything so you are pretty much on your own for that part of the recipe. Please let me know if this is what you are seeking.

*Chicken breast (may use any deboned chicken)
*Frozen Pearl Onions (or chopped onions)
*Frozen green peas (can peas can be used or fresh from garden)
"Minute Rice (may use regular white rice - just cook before adding to chicken).
*Flour (all purpose)
*Milk or canned milk

*Cook chicken and reserve broth
*Debone chicken
*Cut chicken into bite size pieces
*Cook the rice in chicken broth. (I use 1cup rice to one cup chicken broth)
* Debone chicken
*Add together the chicken & rice, pearl onions & frozen peas
*Mix well together. (If using regular onions- cook in small amount of water first..or cook in microwave..if using canned peas...drain and add at this step)

Milk/Cream Gravy:

In a skillet:
Melt butter/margarine

Place all-purpose flour & enough milk/can cream to make a gravy. This requires constant stirring over low heat. Stir until bubbly and desired thickness. Pour over other ingredients and stir well. This is fully cooked and can be eaten as is or maybe put into a casserole pan and heated in oven until hot. I prefer cooling this dish in recipe and eating it cold.

Very delicious..... God bless you. Hope you like~
Barb (The ____@____.com)



answers from Atlanta on

Wash everything on cold water. Don't eat out. Make sure you don't have huge finance rates on your credit cards. You can also refinance your home right now for great rates. And literally, seek abundance and put it out there repeatedly that you need financial freedom. Believe in it...things will improve.


Wash everything on cold water. Don't eat out. Make sure you don't have huge finance rates on your credit cards. You can also refinance your home right now for great rates. And literally, seek abundance and put it out there repeatedly that you need financial freedom. Believe in it...things will improve.



answers from New York on

I use store brands when I can. We plant a garden in the summer so we have some savings on veggies and fresh herbs. You can make money saving meals by using beans/lentils as your main protein. They are much cheaper than meat, healthy and very filling - if you family would miss the meat entirely, you can use much less of it. Your clothes will still get clean if you use only 2/3 the amount of detergent the package recommends, so you can make that bottle last 30% longer and cut the softener if you use it, by half
Good luck!



answers from Austin on

I keep busy and avoid the shopping temptation :) Making things as much as possible from scratch is one of the main things we do to save money, plus my husband likes it better than pre made food. Will update this later with recipes...sorry mommy time is over the kids are interrupting.

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