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31 Ways to Be Frugal And Save Money

By Erik Folgate

Lately, I’ve been hearing tips from friends about how they save money, reading articles about saving money, and trying to come up with ways to save some money around the house. So, I decided to put together a comprehensive list of ways that we save money around the house and in our daily lives. There are 31 suggestions, one for each day of the month.

  1. Buy and install a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat higher when you are gone during the day and cooler when you are at home at night.
  2. Use Coupons wisely. Only clip coupons for items that you consume on a regular basis.
  3. Cancel the ID theft protection on your credit cards. You don’t need it. If you didn’t pay for it, you’re not liable for it.
  4. Negotiate lower interest rates on your credit cards. It’s worth a shot, and some credit card companies might do it if you’ve been a faithful customer or you threaten to balance transfer to another card.Buy a texting plan for your cell phone. Texting has become unbelievably popular. I have no idea why, because it seems like a pain in the butt, but it’s typically 15 cents for every message you send and receive. This adds up, so better off paying $5 to $10 a month for the add-on plan if you’re addicted to texting.
  5. Plan out your dinners for the week. My wife and I always get trapped into going out to eat when we are stumped on what to cook for dinner.
  6. Prepare you lunch at night. If you’re like me, you typically don’t have much time in the morning to make lunch, so do it at night and put it in the refrigerator. It will help you to stop eating out for lunch so much.
  7. Try Out Redbox for renting movies. If you typically rent new release movies and you have a Mcdonald’s near you with a Redbox vending machine, give it a try. It’s a $1 per night for a decent selection of new movies.
  8. Dump the gym membership. If you want to never work out again, buy a gym membership. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I’ve had a gym membership, I’ve worked out less. You can jog, ride a bike, do push ups, pull ups, sit-ups, and various other exercises without ever stepping foot in a gym. This could save you up to $50 a person, per month.
  9. Replace the windows in your house. If you have an old house, you probably have a ton of air escaping through your old windows. The initial cost will be a good chunk of cash, but it will be worth it from years of energy savings to come.
  10. Increase your insurance deductibles. Build up an emergency fund and increase your auto and homeowner insurance premiums to $1,000. You’ll save hundreds per year in premium.
  11. Wash your car yourself. I now hate car wash places, because their sprayers chipped a piece of paint on our car. There was already a tiny chip there, so I couldn’t really argue with them about it. You car deserves personal attention. Don’t spend $10 for a machine that can’t get dirt in areas you can.
  12. Have your spouse cut your hair. Guys, if you keep your hair short, buy hair clippers with a set of clips and hand over the clippers to your spouse. You may have a couple of cuts that result in a buzzed head, but unless she’s got horribly unsteady nerves, she’ll figure it out.
  13. Wear your clothes more than once before washing or dry-cleaning. I wear jeans, khakis, and dress shirts at least 2 or 3 times before I wash them. They key with dress shirts is wearing an undershirt. Some of you may think it’s gross, but your clothes will not fade as quickly and you’ll spend less on detergent and dry-cleaning bills.
  14. Change your own oil. This is so easy whether your a guy or a girl. It’ll typically cost you $10 to change it, and you won’t have to wait at the mechanic for a few hours.
  15. Share a meal when you’re out to eat. Have you seen the portions that chain restaurants are serving up lately? There’s no secret why our society is so overweight. You’ll save your heart and your wallet by sharing a meal with your significant other. If you’re one of those people that feels bad doing it, make yourself feel better by tipping 25% to the server.
  16. Eat before you go to the movies. We all know that movie theaters make their money on their price-gouged food. Eat a filling meal before the movies, and it will help you pass by the concession stand.
  17. Avoid extended warranties. These are like pure profit for retailers, that’s why they push them so much. Best Buy and others will try scare tactics to get you to buy one, but don’t fall for it.
  18. Transfer your banking business to a free checking account. Washington Mutual Compass Bank, and many others offer completely free checking accounts. There’s no reason you should be paying maintenance and annual fees for a checking account.
  19. Buy electronics and computer peripherals online. Tigerdirect.com, Buy.com, NewEgg.com, and many others are always running deals for computer accessories and other electronics. Also, check out my favorite deal aggregator, Ben’s Bargains.
  20. Check craigslist for used furniture, used cars, and used electronics. You can find steals on lightly-used stuff at your local Craiglist.
  21. Buy clothes at consignment boutiques. Consignments such as Plato’s Closet are becoming really popular. They offer barely used, premium brand clothing for a fraction of the retail price. My wife has found great pairs of jeans, skirts, and tops at Plato’s.
  22. Get creative with your recreational activities. Go to the park, the beach, hike in the mountains, ride a bike, attend a festival or play a sport. Entertainment doesn’t always equal spending money.
  23. Buy motion-sensored exterior lights. It’s better than keeping your exterior lights on all night.
  24. Don’t play the lottery. You’ve got a better chance at getting struck by lightning.
  25. Quit Smoking. (I know, easier said than done) A pack a day at $4 per pack is $100 a month.
  26. Become a handyman or handywoman. Buy a book on minor repairs and have fun teaching yourself to do minor house repairs. Although, you might want to stay away from messing with plumbing and electrical if you aren’t gifted with being handy.
  27. Give the gift of time. For Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries, schedule quality time with a spouse, best friend, family member, or child. It’s more memorable and more special.
  28. Travel on off-peak times. Every vacation spot has a different peak time for travel to that destination, so research when their off-peak time is and you’ll save hundreds, maybe even thousands on your trip.
  29. Avoid gimmicky insurances like pet insurance, travel insurance, accident insurance (AFLAC), and rental car insurance. Add the rental car collision endorsement to your auto policy for about $6 to $10 per 6 months.
  30. Stick to a written budget. You know my thoughts about this. Stick to it, and you’ll feel like you gave yourself an instant raise.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to immediately start saving money around your house and in your life. Start documenting how much money each change saved you, and you’ll have a lot of fun seeing how much money you’re saving. Take the challenge, and start becoming a frugal Money Crasher.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • http://moneysocket.com Danny Tsang

    Man this post is awesome. Great ideas. I love the haircutting one. I joked with my girlfriend whether or not it’ll be worthwhile if we both went to barber school and cut each others hair for the rest of our lives lol. She didn’t like the idea of me cutting her hair one bit, but I wouldn’t mind.

    Planning out the dinners is a great tip too. Nice blog btw. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.thewriterscoin.com Writer’s Coin

    Good point on RedBox. You can also find codes online all the time to get free rentals so you don’t even have to pay $1 anymore.

  • Jacquelyn Hart-McCoy

    Good ideas. Something else Shawn and I do is if we are craving a meal out we may order part of a meal out. For instance, I will sautee some veggies and buy a bottle of wine, set a nice table with the good dishes and order some pad thai. Its a nice meal that feels like dining out without the pricey beverages, sides, and tips.

    Shawn is not okay with me giving him a hair cut though! :-)

  • author

    haha, yeah like I said, the haircut thing only works if you’ve got a simple haircut.

    Jacqui, you’re so romantic!

  • Steph

    These are all good ideas – we’re going to have to check out the Red Box one. I remember the first time I tried to give my husband a haircut – he ended up bald! He’s never going to let me live that down. But he still lets me cut his hair…

  • Bob

    On the haircuts… I have done this for some time. There’s no way someone should end up bald (as mentioned up-thread). Just buy a cheap set of attachments with the clippers – it’s not even possible to screw it up. Snap on the 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch attachment and buzz away. We ordered a DVD made by an old barber who shows you more than you’ll ever need to know.

    BTW, a pack of cigarettes a day at $4 per pack is NOT $100 a month – it’s $121.67 per month (365 days/year x $4 divided by 12 months = $121.67 per month).

  • author

    Bob, you are right. It’s very easy. I actually cut the first part of it, and my wife fades it for me. I use a 1/2 inch on the sides, and then I run a 3/4 inch on top and she blends it in with two fade clips that I have.

    And you’re also right, it’s $120 a month, I was just running rough numbers in my head and I was thinking $25 a week. Thanks for catching me!

  • http://marketersynergy.wordpress.com Michael Lombardi

    Use insurance wisely. To use the word “gimmicky” is deceiving. For some people, pet insurance is great. My realtor rescues greyhounds from the track and it has come in very handy for her. Aflac can be a smart buy too depending on one’s situation. If you’re a cab driver and break your right ankle, health insurance will cover your medical bills, but Aflac will help replace the money you miss out on because you can’t work.

    Most of these are great ideas, but insurance isn’t gimmicky. You get what you pay for. You bet you’ll need the money and the insurance company bets you won’t. If you do you win. If you don’t you have peace of mind.

  • Kenny

    Great ideas……Coming from Asia, I can tell you that we practice these and many more. Examples are:

    1. We opened a Chase account with $100 deposit in free checking, and will get back $125. That is a lot of RedBox movies!
    2. Getting the BEST credit card recommended on Blog sites that pays 10K ThankYou Points which will buy $100 of free gasoline. Sure as you order more cards from various banks your score dips, but it will pick up within a year when you stop ordering new cards.
    3. Borrow money from Credit Cards when you see a $29 Transaction Fee and a 1 Year 0% APR. Put reminders galore to pay it off from the CD that you opened with the money borrowed from the credit card.
    4. Never buy a Coke drink (been practicing for 15 years) – Get water. This old Asian tradition is just being practiced commonly in the US.
    5. Don’t opt for those expensive water bottles. Take a bottle with you even if you got to moderate to low end restaurants (keep 2-3 it in the car).
    6. Get ALL of the freebies from Walgreens if you have one near you, and opt for a check from them (100% money back comes VERY promptly).
    7. Avoid shopping before dinner since you will BUY 4X more than normal.
    8. Create some space in your closets and start ‘hoarding’ things that are at 50% to 80% off normal price (determine and build a normal price database in your mind). For example if you can get Colgate Toothpaste for $1.50 with a free toothbrush (9.2 oz), then buy 10 of them, since you will NEVER get that again. I have bought it for $0.99 for the same, and put 20 of them away. They do NOT expire.
    9. Shop Till You Drop for electronics ONLY on Black Friday – Wait until then (if you can, and most of you can). Those prices are NOT repeated for another 6 to 9 months in a constant price-reduction market-era.
    10. Buy Fully Warranted Dell PCs from their Outlet Shop; One that is returnable; But, always pick a PC that is NOT the latest, and not even the Oldest (middle of range). Bought a Pentium Duo 2 Core 2 2.2GHz/2GB Ram/160GB drive/DVD-RW/Slim-tower etc for $309.00. Repeat every 3 years.
    11. I am sure I can add a LOT more but the author did not ask for the list, but I loved his list so much that I felt like adding some more.

    Thanks.

    Kenny

    ps: Thanks for RedBox + comments, since I did not know, and we’re on it now.

  • fiddlehead

    You forgot one: Start walking more. Going for groceries, to mail a letter, to work, to get a newspaper, etc.
    Too much driving around anymore. People are either lazy or want to show off their big new SUV. Sell it and get a Prius. Or walk!

  • http://www.richerbytheday.com Mike

    Very good list with lots of helpful suggestions. I would take AFLAC off of your gimmicky insurance list though. They offer short term disability insurance which is arguably more important for young workers to have than life insurance. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an illness or accident will keep 1 in 5 workers out of work for at least a year during their working careers. Obviously, you may want life insurance too, but disability insurance really should be high on young worker’s priorities.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    For us, #6 – plan your dinners for the week, is huge. It seems to happen often, where dinner comes out of nowhere and we have no food ready to go. Then it’s either an unhealthy pizza (tasty) or we’re going out again.

    And #12 – washing your own car, is dangerous for me. Last time I tried that, I scratched up my new Prius (since sold to save on the monthly bill). Guess my sponge had a small rock in it or something. So now I pay to have my car washed at gas stations, but I rarely get it washed so it ends up not costing too much…and definitely saves some time.

  • http://www.waystosavemoney.tv John @ Ways to Save Money

    Point number is really good for this time of year. I’m improving the insulation in my house this year and using space heaters for certain of the areas of the house that are more used. I’m hoping to overall reduce my energy bill by 50% from last year.

  • http://businesstips.ph Vic @ Business Tips Blog

    Great tips. Most of us can really save money by being not lazy to do some things that we can really do it ourselves. This will also keep our body moving and keep us in shape.

  • http://www.makemoneyideeas.webatu.com/ Krissa Alexya

    I read all your tips.Some of them I already applied them.I don’t agree with one tip: to change the oil ourselves.In my opinion if you are not a mechanic don’t do it.You might do something wrong and your car will not work properly anymore.

  • Sweetapplechick

    All good suggestions except the travel insurance! , it’s a must have if you travel over seas. You could lose your home and life savings on medical and repatriation cost , let alone the cover for your belongings , all to save a hundred bucks on a holiday that cost thousands. No good money sense at all.

  • Victoria

    I’ve heard from home energy experts in my neck of the woods that you lose more heat out your walls than the windows, and money would be better spent on insulating walls and the roof rather than the windows. Heat rises and goes out the roof–that’s why a poorly insulated house has melted snow on top.

  • amy

    I agree with everything except the Wear your clothes more than once before washing or dry-cleaning.

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