Manual Frugal Living: How to Save Money and Live On a Budget

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How can you feed your family well on the cheap and live well? Here are some ideas to help you save money on what you already.
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To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. Our opinions are our own. Back to top. Get to know your money with NerdWallet. Easily track your spending and find ways to save. Join — it's free. What's next? About the author. We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines , and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Now, I focus on games that can be played over and over and over again, and I focus on mastering the games that I buy.

Good targets include puzzle games and long, involved quest games — they maximize the value of your gaming dollar. Drink a big glass of water before each meal in order to stay fuller longer and ultimately eat less. Even better, drinking more water — whether in a refillable bottle or at restaurants — means spending less money on beverages like soda, juice, and tea.

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Instead of eating fast food or just nuking some prepackaged dinner when you get home, try making some simple and healthy replacements that you can take with you. If you want to add years to your life and save a boatload of money, the easiest thing to do is to stop smoking altogether.

General Simple Frugal Living Tips

You can quit cold turkey, try some of the many anti-smoking products that are out there, or switch to an electronic cigarette to buy some time. Whichever path you choose, you will be much better off.


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We all know that casseroles are nice, easy dishes to prepare. The next time you make a casserole, make four batches of it and put the other three in the freezer. Then, when you need a quick meal for the family, you can grab one of those ready-made casseroles and just heat it up. Keeping the lights on in your home may not be expensive on a per-watt basis, but it sure does cost money over time.

To save as much as you can, turn off lights any time you leave your house — or even when you leave the room. Turning off lights when you have plenty of natural sunlight can also help keep your electric bill down over time. Yard sales are a great place to score awesome deals on items you need anyway — think housewares, shoes, clothing, or even sports equipment. At your next garage sale, limit yourself to items that were already on your list of things to buy. Energy-efficient light bulbs might cost a bit more initially, but they have a much longer life than normal incandescent bulbs and use far less electricity.

Creative Ways To Save Money On A Tight Budget

CFLs , which use a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs and last for years, are the next cheapest option after traditional bulbs. But they also have some drawbacks: They take a while to warm up to full brightness, and they also contain a small amount of mercury.

When you need to buy an appliance, do research: Start with back issues of Consumer Reports at the library. Additionally, consider utilizing a professional to install appliances to ensure they are installed properly and will last in the long-run. If yours is beyond help, also consider changing it out for a new one. If you want to save money while also giving generously, creating your own homemade gifts is one way to accomplish both goals.

You can make food mixes, candles, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively. Even better — include a personal handwritten note with the gift. Look at the biggest sales, then plan recipes based on those ingredients and what you have on hand.

31 Ways to Be Frugal And Save Money

Just keep track of the 20 or so things you buy most often, then shop for these items at a variety of stores. Before I tried it myself, I thought making homemade bread would just be a complicated waste of time. But after I tried it, I found that it was pretty easy and it was actually much cheaper, healthier, and tastier than buying a loaf from the store.

We rarely ever buy bread at the store these days, mainly because the bread I make is not only cheaper, but much better too.

Our #1 Minimalist Budget Tip For Saving Money

Figuring out what you can make it home is a great way to save some money — and learn new skills along the way. Exercise is always a good option, as is meditation and even a good old-fashioned nap.


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  • This seems like an odd way to save money, but think about it. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to plan for it. Look behind the appliances, and use your vacuum to gently clear away dust. Check all of the vents, especially on refrigerators, dryers, and heating and cooling units. Are you paying dues at a club that you never use? Like, for instance, a gym membership or a country club membership?

    Remember, you can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it. You can often find the exact item you want with a bit of clever shopping at used equipment stores, used game stores, consignment shops, and so on. Just make these shops a part of your normal routine — go there first when looking for potential items and you will save money. Clothes, for example, often cost pennies on the dollar when bought used — even if they were only worn once. By buying used most of the time, you can save a ton of cash.

    It can be beneficial to shop around for a new car insurance or home insurance policy every few years to make sure you are getting that best deal. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the account. For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Offer up some lawn care as a gift to a new homeowner.

    Most people use this technique for Christmas , but it works for every holiday. Wait until about two days after a holiday, then go out shopping for items you need that are themed for that day. Get Easter egg decorating kits the day after Easter, and Halloween decorations on Nov.

    Get wrapping paper, cards, bows, and gift bags the day after Christmas. The discounts are tremendous, and you can just put this stuff in the closet until next year. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, get some exercise, and involve yourself in a positive project that can lift your spirit. It is hands-down the best thing I have ever done. Go into a room and go through every single item in it. Do you really need that item? If you can find stuff to get rid of, get rid of it — it just creates clutter and it might have some value to others. Instead of just picking up the ordinary brand of an item you buy, try out the store brand or generic version of the item.

    Even better, you can easily prepare meals in advance — even handy fast-food type meals. Repeat after me: insurance is not an investment. Universal and whole-life policies are much more expensive and offer a subpar investment opportunity. Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least companies to find the very best rate.

    A reliable and fuel-efficient car will save you thousands over the long haul. Reliability can pay the same dividends. Do the research: It will pay off for you. Learning some simple strategies for fuel-efficient driving can also help. The mall might be a fun place to people watch, but it can also be packed with temptation. Unburden yourself and find something else to do when you need some entertainment.

    A walk outdoors, a fun puzzle, or a good movie can easily replace your regular mall shopping adventures. This keeps me from making impulse buys on a regular basis. Rent it out on a site like Airbnb. If you live near a popular or tourist area, doing so could bring in a lot of extra money.

    Just make sure you know the risks and are willing to take the steps required to protect your family and your possessions. To put your debt into terms that are easy to understand, make a giant progress bar that starts with the amount of debt you have and ends with zero. Each time you pay down a little bit, fill in a little more of that progress bar.

    It can help keep your eye on the prize and lead you straight to debt freedom. Do you have a pile of unread magazines sitting around your house? We are all different, we all have foibles that mean what I might think is just normal money saving behavior, you might consider to be extreme frugality. When times are hard you can live cheaply , when times are less hard you can focus on saving money and achieving your financial goals. Wikipedia explains frugality as being: The quality of being frugal , sparing, thrifty , prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.


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    • To me frugal living simply means being thoughtful about your money. Depending on where you live and the lifestyle you choose, your ideas of frugal living and being frugal could be different to mine. But what we would all agree on is that we want to avoid waste and we make prudent decisions about our money. This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more here. What frugal living means in reality is having enough food, enough money, enough little luxuries. Without going into debt or wondering how YOU will pay your bills next month.