Your Frugal Ideas?

Updated on April 16, 2012
❤.M. asks from Santa Monica, CA
15 answers

Since we've had to scale way back, I've found ways to save money.
Like I no longer can buy expensive sunglasses & am always misplacing them now anyway.
So I got a bight idea to buy several cheap ones at the Dollar Store so I can have a pair in the jog stroller, each car, purse etc.

I always look for deals, savings etc., but how DO YOU save $, cut corners, buy on the "cheap" etc.

We got the cheapest cable available, are considering getting rid of our home phone line etc.

Need some new ideas!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

IMO, the single biggest thing we can do is to IGNORE the media circus barraging us with what we "need"! You know--The ones that fuel the "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.
We know what we need.
No O. else knows what you need!

-steps off of soapbox

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

Don't buy beverages. Instead, bring a thermos of tea, coffee, juice, water, whatever.
Reduce the amount of meat you eat.
Reduce the amount of paper goods you use (paper towels, plates, napkins, cups etc). A sponge and a rag can do most of your clean up jobs. (don't buy swiffers, disposable dusters, etc.
Don't buy cleaning chemicals (most things can be cleaned with soap, water, a bit of vinegar, some bleach, or baking soda).
Buy bulk, or buy a lot of a thing if its running at a great price.
Re-think your wardrobe so that you've got some quality pieces that can readily mix and match.
Get a library membership (for your books, movies, e-books and for kiddie entertainment).
turn off the lights, work your window coverings to your best advantage, turn up/down your thermostat.
bundle your errands so you don't have to do multiple car outings.
Cancel your magazine subscriptions.
Cancel subscriptions to online shopping sources (if you don't get the notice about the sale, you might not be inclined to go shopping for stuff you really don't need).
Find pleasure in something that is good and inexpensive (Don't turn your back on that pleasure). I enjoy having a glass of red wine with french bread topped with cheese, or bruscetta, or olive tapenade, or some other such thing as the mood may strike me. I make a point of having one after DS has gone to bed and before I tackle the rest of my day.
Take pleasure in the money you are saving.
Tally the savings, and allocate it prudently.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I got rid of cable completely.

I am going to start making my own laundry detergent.

Found this great blog with lots of goodies:

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answers from New York on

For kids entertainment, check your local library. Mine has lots of free (well, we pay for it in our property taxes)programs for kids (adults too) and passes for local museums etc. that can be checked out for the weekend.

If you like to landscape around your house, ask your neighbors if they have any plants they are splitting and arrange a plant swap. Everyone gets new plants for thier yards at no cost.

I use a lot of coupons, and buy in larger quantities when no perishables are on sale. Sales are somewhat cyclical so keep track for awhile and you will get the hang of it. Check out the differnt rewards programs that the stores have (if any). The store I shop at has a Gas rewards program and during the months that I stock up on bulk items I have saved as much as $1 off per gallon of gas (savings of about $16 or so on a fill up).

TJ Maxx & Marshalls have gerat buys on clothing - while I agree that 2nd hand shops have better prices I get the heebee jeebees thinking about wearing someone else's clothes. Not entirely rational, but there it is...

Costco or BJ's (or your local bulk store what ever it is called) will have great prices, but see if you can split the membership cost with a friend and then go shopping together. Note - watch the prices though, carefuly monitorin of regular store sales / coupon combinations can get you a better price on a lot of items.

That is all that comes to mind at the moment...

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I buy meat on sale - then I separate it into manageable quantities (say, 1 lb baggies) and freeze it. I don't buy any ground meat (even before "pink slime") - I just buy whole cuts of meat and then grind it myself in the food processor. Likewise, instead of buying boneless/skinless chicken breasts, I buy the whole chicken and cut it up myself - price per pound is WAY cheaper that way, and only takes a few minutes.

For me, the temptation is always huge to order out (I really dislike cooking), so to try and avoid that, I'll have a backup meal in the freezer pretty much always. For instance, I'll make a huge pot of chili every now and then - that feeds the family dinner, plus then I have enough for 2 more dinners to freeze! Then all I have to do is thaw and reheat.

My kids take their lunch every day to school - not necessarily to save money, but because school lunches are gross - so I bought a bunch of reusable containers from Laptop Lunches. I figure, it saves on having to buy Ziploc baggies, and at the same time, we are being a little more "green."

I kind of took the opposite tactic as you with the sunglasses - I bought nice ones (I like them because they are polarized, so I get fewer headaches now due to glare). Anyway, because they were kind of expensive, I take really good care of them, always put them in their glasses case when I'm not wearing them, etc. My daughter doesn't take good care of her reading glasses, so we buy hers in bulk at WalMart! lol

Let's see, what else? I buy a lot of things at Costco. It makes me crazy to shop there, but their prices are so cheap it's worth the hassle, IMO - as long as you can refrain from buying the things you don't need! Things like cereal, milk, eggs, butter, toilet paper, canned goods, toothpaste, bagels, bread, coffee - all very inexpensive at Costco, and many things (butter, bread) you can freeze and thaw as you need them. You do kind of need a lot of storage space to shop like that, though.

Lastly, a big money saver is carpooling, especially with gas prices being what they are. I am forever driving the kids to their activities, and the cost of gas and parking really adds up. We found a few other families in our area whose kids do the same activities, and we are making an effort to carpool now. As an added bonus, we don't ALL have to go and spend hours waiting for ballet class to end - just one mom at a time has to do it. Saving money, time AND sanity is a good thing! lol

Looking forward to reading all the responses!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I won't buy cheap shoes, I end up tossing them or never wearing them. Instead choose to own a few great quality pairs.
I do buy cheap Target clothes now that I no longer have an office job.
My furniture is a mix of investments and flee market finds. My sofa and chairs were not cheap, but I love to get area rugs from crags list (because they are so size specific they often don't move well to a new house). Most of my case goods are flee market finds as are many of my accessories. On food we eat a lot of rice and beans and a mostly vegetarian diet, then splurge on occasional organic and or high quality cuts of meat.
We drive and don't fly, but we love to upgrade on hotel rooms!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Definitely work from a budget for groceries. That's our biggest expense next to the mortgage.

We don't go out to eat more than once/month (or even less). Family dinner is a wonderful time together and low $! : ) And this makes going out to eat -even if we are just going to DQ to get icecream- a HUGE treat. We try to cook creatively and engage the kids - they learn to cook, eat better, and have a great time.

We have grown our own food in the past and will do more of that soon!

We play family game and do crafts (you don't need $ for TONS of craft activities - plenty of stuff you'd otherwise throw away is good for kid's crafts).

We turned off DVR and Direct TV. We kept network and Netflix. My husband and I watch *way* too much TV now because of it! Seriously - you can consume a lot of Netflix on demand in one sitting!

We have multi-car discounts on our insurance, but I take the bus to work as much as possible (saves gas, gets me some excercise I wouldn't get otherwise). We work out at home or with our feet abd bikes. : )

We make sure we turn everything off when not in use.

My sons wear a lot of hand-me-downs and I get my "new" clothes for work at thrift stores. We save the clothing $ for things like shoes, but the kids have been able to wear a lot of those handed down too.

We *did* keep our landline -we want our sons to have one # to memorize and know to use that phone for 911. I was unwilling to give up my cell phone but I am using an old one until our provider offers us a nice new one for free.

We get museum and zoo memberships at the beginning of the year - we save the "extra $" for that easily by year's end and go on those outings as schedules allow. We go on picnics (which we pack) at playgrounds and call it a day out.

We use our local rec center and after-school clubs for extracuricular activities - so no private organization fees there.

I also love the $ Tree but I don't go too often - because then I don't really save $! LOL! I *do* get Christmas cards there and wrapping paper. I usually get Easter candy and trinkets to help the bunny there too.

Santa gives old toys to elves to give to younger kids and older "elves" do the same for us.

Whenever our church has a family event, we go to it. That's a night out for the family at no cost.

Husband and I go out to art openings (free), we go to free concerts in the park.

All pretty normal stuff, I think, except maybe the thrift store shopping for work clothes and toy-recycling for Christmas (which *always* end up being the favorite toys, by the way!)

Other things people do - laundry in the evening apparently costs less. We have too many people in our family for that so I haven't tred it!

You can make lots of cleaning supplies at home too (you'll probably get recipes in comments here:) but my husband is a SAHD and he has *strong* feelings about "his" brands, so I try not to have feelings about that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Dinner was our mire when it came to blowing money easily. We never go out unless we HAVE to meet someone for dinner. If we HAVE to go out, we are HUGE cheapskates, meaning, our son gets a kid's meal and my DH and I split another...and we all get ice water. Down here, a glass of ice tea can run you $2-3, so that could mean almost $10 in just drinks alone!

tbh sunglasses have come a long way. I look at them at the dollar store and I could never guess they weren't designer. I'm sure with a cute updo and really shiny lipgloss, no one will ever know the truth behind your new shades :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I love thrift stores. I wash the items twice to assure my mind on any lingering bacteria.

Secondly, I pack my own lunch to work and refill my water bottle at the job (even for the ride home) rather than using my bottled water from home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

If something non-perishable is on sale stock up. For example, if our supermarket has a detergent on sale for $1.99, I am all over five of them! Ditto on toiletries etc.

Like your sunglasses scenario, I go to the Dollar Store (or equivalent) for stuff like cleaning solutions, sponges, wipes, aluminum foil and wipes.

I've scaled way back on clothes for myself, mostly because I'm unemployed!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

There's really a store called BJ's???!!!!! lolololololol!!!! Ok, sorry...

I dont buy anything unless its on sale at the store. Like today I stopped at Walgreens and they had Granola bars that were normally $4.89 marked down to 1.79. So I bought all of them. Once, they had body washes marked down to .45 each (normally 1.99) so I bought all of them, over 40 total, but I have 3 kids and they go thru crazy amounts so it was worth it to load up on sales when I find them.

Also, shop around your home/auto insurance. If you have a company like State Farm or Farmers, find a local independent agent that can get quotes from many companies and you will likely save at least $100 per month for the same coverage's you currently have. State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, etc can't do this for you, they can only quote you their company rates.

Good luck!!!



answers from Colorado Springs on

Ha! I have never bought fancy sunglasses, exactly for the same reason: they get lost anyhow! (But I get quality prescription glasses - and use them for several years. Eyes are worth taking care of.)

We won't lose our land line, because we're in a sort of "pocket" area where cell phones just don't work well, and my husband works frequently from home. However, I'm sparing in my cell phone use to make up for it.

I do a whole lot of second-hand shopping, especially for clothing and furniture. I always have - my children practically grew up in second-hand clothes, and they looked just like their friends. You might see what thrift stores you have near you. If they're good ones, look for good quality items and use your imagination and creativity with them. Go for a more classic look rather than a trendy one. (There is a technique for thrift-store shopping; you're likely to find winter clothes during the summer, and that wonderful lamp when you're not looking for it. Make a list of what you'd like to find and give yourself time to fine those things.)

Do the sensible things like turning lights off, not letting the water run, adjusting your thermostat as much as you can stand it.

Cheapest isn't always the most frugal! You want to evaluate how much use you can get out of an item or service and come up with a "cost per use" estimate.

We go out to eat much less now, dining instead at "Chez Home" where the ambiance is free.

We drive older model cars and keep them in good shape. They're basically fuel-efficient, anyhow. I plan my driving schedule so I don't use up gas I don't need to.

I stopped looking at ads years ago. That means I have to ask my friends where the good deals are when I need to buy something specific, but ignoring all the "Buy me!" plugs has saved me a whole lot of money.

Whenever possible, we use generic medications instead of brand-name ones, if the doctor approves.

We don't take trendy vacations. (My friends say, "What! You've NEVER been on a cruise?") We do some traveling, and my husband is a nut about finding good deals on transportation and lodging. Sometimes he gets too economical but, generally speaking, he does well. When we go out of town, we always have plans to do things, and we don't need a fancy hotel room because we just use it as a base to touch down at night.

Some people are great at getting good deals with coupons. I don't do that
very much, because coupons seem to make me buy things I don't need. But you'd do well to see if it will work for you.

One thing I've found helpful is realizing that if I'm frugal about things that can be "frugalized," I may be able to do some things that might otherwise be impossible. We'll be doing some major work in the yard this summer, because I've saved up cash for it. Yay!

One of the best frugal ideas - and one that makes all the other ideas work - is to be happy with what you have and not go around envying your friends and neighbors. If you start to feel very poor and deprived, count your blessings, and schedule something fun that's within your budget.


answers from Asheville on

I'm trying to figure this out too. We have zero home phone, even though my cell only has reception upstairs. We have zero television, no satellite, but we do watch the same dvds and videos over and over and the girls never seem to tire of them (yet). We have no internet (it's killing me). I have a very fuel efficient car (Toyota Matrix 38mpg). I don't know where else to cut corners, the ones I have cut are painful. I sure hope someone else has some good answers and thanks for asking this question!



answers from Washington DC on

There's a lot of things you can do. Watch the grocery budget, for one. Use more coupons, buy more sales. I find that when I use the scanner as I go (Giant has it) I spend less. I see the total and realize I don't really need x right now. Today I will go to the thrift store to see about kid jeans for my DD - and Mondays is 25% off day. I also do freecycle and trade kid items with family and friends. I also look on Freecycle for things we need around the house. We do a lot of free or low cost family things, like going to a park vs going to the store to buy something new.



answers from New York on

I don't know what happend to my answer. I wanted to see what other mamas said. These are some of the things I do.

We never take out and rarely eat out. We bring lunches to work. The kids bring lunches to school.

Know your prices. Stores often advertise to make you think your getting a great deal, a big thing in our area is buy one get one free on meat. Well, if chicken is on sale every other week for $1.99, but when it's buy one/get one, they mark it up to $3.99 so there's no real savings.

Buy on sale, buy in bulk - I never pay full price for pasta, when it's on sale for $.88, I buy 20 boxes which lasts until the next sale. Bulk is not always cheaper (know your prices).

Try store or off brands - remember when Pepsodent and Aqua Fresh were the brands of toothpaste, now they're less than 1/2 price of the name brands.

Shop at more than one store - I went to 2 grocery stores today, Shop Rite for the weekly shop, but stopped at Aldi on the way home (a mile out of the way) for 3 items (produce). All 3 items were less than 1/2 of the price at Shop Rite, saved $4.50.

Reusable water bottles - never leave home with out it.

Drink water - the cost of beverages really adds up, and water is much healthier. Order water when you go out to eat, sometimes we'll treat ourselves, but we so used to water with dinner it's what we order.

Keep snacks easily ready, if possible in the car or diaper bag - if you have snacks with you when your out and about doing errands, kids activities, etc, you'll be less likely to pick up something by going thru a drive thru or purchasing from the snack bar.

When my kids were little, other than presents, 90% of the toys came from yard sales. Buy plastic items and scrub them or run them thru the dishwasher.

Cut back on paper towels, use rags instead.

Hang clothes to dry.

Cloths - Buy play clothes at Good Will, consignment shops or yard sales. When shopping in stores always check out the clearence racks.

Grow your own veggies and herbs.

Shop for Christmas year round - I bought some items on super clearance at the end of the last season, they're stashed away for next year.

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