Frugal Household Tips

Mary Gormandy White
cleaning up money

Everyone approaches frugal living differently, simply because no two families are alike. What works for you might not be the best money-saving approach for your neighbor. However, what those who succeed with living frugally have in common is a resourceful attitude that helps them eliminate waste in all aspects of their lives.

Budget-Minded Cleaning

  • Homemade cleaning supplies: It's not necessary to spend a fortune on commercial cleaning supplies to keep your home clean. Making your own cleaning supplies is one easy way to cut household expenses while also helping to protect the environment. See How to Make Natural Cleaning Products to learn budget-friendly ways to make your own floor cleaner, window cleaner, furniture polish, bathroom cleaner and more.
  • Proper cleaning: Knowing how to properly clean and care for various items in your home is another way to save money, since you won't need to replace items as frequently if they are properly maintained. LoveToKnow Cleaning has tips on everything from laundry stain removal to cleaning hardwood floors.
  • Follow laundry instructions: Read the care instructions on your family's clothing carefully. Proper washing and drying will help keep your clothes looking new as long as possible.
  • Repurpose: There's no reason to purchase special cleaning cloths to use for household chores. Worn out t-shirts and other soft cotton clothing items can be cut up and repurposed for use as dust rags and dish cloths.

Clothing Purchase Savings

  • Secondhand buying and selling: Shop at thrift and consignment stores for clothing items. Sell clothing items that are rarely worn or that no longer fit at consignment shops. eBay can also be a great resource for buying and selling attire.
  • Comparison shop: Spend some time comparison shopping when you need to buy a purse, a coat, or other items you'll use on a daily basis. This tip really applies to all household purchases, not just clothing. Always look around to make sure that you're getting the best deal.
  • Be picky: No matter how cheap a clothing item is, it isn't a bargain if it won't get worn. Instead of buying 10 pairs of jeans that really don't fit, find three pairs that flatter your figure. Even if you pay a little more for the pairs you really like, you'll save money in the long run.
  • Mix and match colors: Pick a few of your favorite colors, then try to coordinate the majority of your wardrobe around these shades so you can easily mix and match different outfits.
  • Clothing swap: If you're lucky enough to have friends who wear the same size - or who have children in the same age group as yours - organize a clothing swap to update your closets without spending a dime.

Low-Cost Entertainment

  • Potluck celebrations: Instead of bearing the full cost of dinner parties and family gatherings on your hold, throw potluck events. Consider starting a supper club with your group of friends that involves rotating monthly dinners from house to house, with the host setting the theme and providing the main course and everyone else bringing a dish.
  • Family game night: Spending an evening playing board or trivia games with your family can be even more fun than going out to the movies as a group, and will cost quite a bit less.
  • Crafting activities: Crafting can be a terrific family entertainment activity that can contribute to additional frugal living goals. That's because finished items can be given as handmade gifts or sold at local craft shows to earn a bit of extra money.

Frugal Meal Tips

  • Brown bag lunches: Packing lunches for your children to take to school or for the adults in the household to take to work can be less expensive than purchasing prepared meals.
  • Scratch cooking: Convenience foods tend to be more expensive than items that are prepared from scratch. Avoiding boxed mixes and cooking scratch meals can result in significant savings.
  • Master frugal cooking techniques: Learning to cook with a slow cooker or pressure cooker can help you make delicious meals using the least expensive cuts of meats, dried beans, pasta and other low-cost foods.
  • Use what you have: Be mindful of what is in your kitchen so that you can use it wisely. If you have fruit that is getting over-ripe, use it in a recipe. For example, bananas that are too ripe to eat are ideal for banana cake and apples that are bruised are perfect for crisp recipes. Bread that is starting to go stale can become bread crumbs. Make cereal bars with slightly stale cereal.
  • Dilute beverages: If you're kids love juice, consider diluting it just a bit before serving. Adding water to pre-made juice or making juice from frozen concentrate using more water than is called for can help you save money and reduce sugar consumption. Do this gradually, adding just a bit of water in the beginning - adjusting over time as your family members get used to the taste.
  • Meatless Mondays: While it doesn't actually have to be on Monday, you can save money by setting aside one night per week for a meatless dinner. Doing so can help boost your family's fiber consumption while helping cut down on supermarket spending.
  • Meal planning: Watch supermarket circulars for great deals and plan your meals around those items that are on sale when you do your shopping for the week.
  • Restaurant coupons: For special celebrations and other occasions when you really want to eat out, watch for special deals and coupons that can make it more affordable to do so. Sign up for email coupons from your favorite restaurants, keep an eye out for special discounts from Restaurant.com and learn who offers "kids eat free" events. Schools also often sell restaurant coupon books packed with buy-one-get-one free offers that can help make it more affordable to dine out.

Organization Saves Money

  • A place for everything: Knowing what you own and where it is saves you money because you can avoid purchasing new items that are similar to what you own, and you can find things when you need them.
  • Budget friendly storage: You don't have to purchase expensive storage containers to get organized. Instead, cover sturdy cardboard boxes with pretty wrapping paper to create storage containers for magazines, children's boxes, or extra table linens. Empty baby wipe boxes can be used to store children's game pieces or small plastic toys. Glass jars from spaghetti sauce, baby food, and jams or jellies are great storage solutions for small items like craft supplies or extra batteries.
  • Maintenance head-start: Taking the time to organize your home means you might also see things that need small repairs or other maintenance. This helps save money because you can head off a potentially expensive problem before it snowballs into a major issue.
  • Stress reduction: Feeling good about your home and household can reduce stress and boost your mood, helping you stay home and spend less on entertainment, or skip shopping binges that make you feel better in the short term but drive you further into debt.
  • Identify items to sell: Doing some home organization also helps you by finding some hidden cash in your home. When you get organized, you are likely to find plenty of things that are in good condition but never or rarely used. If so, consider hosting a large garage sale or consigning the items. Plan a sweep of your home once or twice a year to help keep clutter at bay, stay organized and earn you a little extra cash.

Live Below Your Means

Mastering frugality is a process that takes time, experience and a little education. Following some simple frugal tips is a way to save money and get ahead. Once you are debt-free, or if you are currently debt-free, it is important to live below your means. Managing your money well and practicing frugality involves not spending more than you make--a key to living life without fear from debt.

Frugal Household Tips