100 Frugal Habits to Live By, If You’re Trying to Save Money

updated Dec 6, 2019
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

There are many methods for saving money. You can find big ways to save big bucks (like dramatically downsizing to a smaller house or one car), or take on some smaller temporary changes (like trying a no-spend challenge). There’s a penny-pinching strategy to match any personality style or savings goal.

But the most impactful way to improve your financial outlook isn’t a one-time, band-aid type solution. It’s the slow fix of adopting more frugal lifestyle habits. You’re not going to save a fortune—at least not right away—but if you take on a few small changes, you’ll rack up a snowball of savings that will set you up for life.

Here is a mega list of specific, actionable changes you can put into practice when you’re committed to saving even the cents that add up over time:

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

In the Kitchen

  • Cook a meal instead of going out.
  • Double a meal you’re cooking and freeze half.
  • Save chicken scraps and vegetable scraps so you can make your own chicken stock.
  • Make your own salad dressing.
  • Make your own iced tea.
  • Make your own lemonade.
  • Make your own popsicles.
  • Don’t buy pre-packaged snacks; apportion them yourself.
  • Use a reusable lunch box rather than plastic baggies.
  • Invest in a quality water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Swirl out the extra sauce with a bit of water to get out every last drop when you’re cooking.
  • Go through your fridge weekly to use up or freeze anything that might be going bad.
  • Get comfortable with inexpensive vegetarian meals to save on the cost of meat.
  • Meal plan.
  • Grow your own herbs.
  • Grow your own vegetables.
  • Bake and decorate your own cakes or cupcakes for celebrations.
  • Wash your own lettuce (rather than buying pre-washed).
  • Cut your own veggies (rather than buying pre-cut).
  • Cook whole chickens rather than buying chicken parts.
  • Stretch meat by making soups, pastas, and bowls with it.
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Crafty Fixes

  • Protect your phone with a good case.
  • Mend your socks.
  • Sew the button back on.
  • Refinish leather purses, wallets, shoes, etc.
  • Repair the broken shoes.
  • Deep clean the carpet you’re ready to toss.
  • Re-cover the upholstery.
  • Use a de-piller to make clothes look new.
  • Clean out your drains to avoid costly plumbing issues.
  • Refinish your ruined table.
  • Polish and clean your leather shoes.
  • Re-sole your worn shoes.
  • Buy new inserts for your shoes.
  • Dye faded or stained clothing rather than tossing it.
  • Learn new skills so you can do your own simple car and home repairs and maintenance tasks.
(Image credit: Amelia Lawrence)

Recycle & Repurpose

  • Use boxes (shoe, cereal, etc.) for storage rather than buying containers.
  • Use water from washing the lettuce to water your plants.
  • Repurpose sauce or condiment jars for storage.
  • Save leftover coffee for making iced coffee.
  • Compost to make your own fertile soil.
  • Use coffee grounds as fertilizer.
  • Use distilled white vinegar to clean.
  • Use baking soda to clean.
  • Use dish soap to clean.
  • Use rags—made from old clothes or linens—rather than paper towels.

Find Frugal Alternatives

  • Use the library for books, movies, e-books, and audio books.
  • Make wall art out of book pages.
  • Make plant babies instead of buying new plants.
  • Make plant babies as gifts.
  • Use spray paint to change the color of your frames/lamps/small furniture/plant pots.
  • Give yourself a pedicure rather than going to the salon.
  • Swap babysitting with a friend rather than paying for child care.
  • Make your own glass cleaner.
  • Plan a staycation rather than a vacation this year.
  • Take your own “school pictures” rather than paying for the package.
  • Take a road trip instead of flying.
  • Split a meal rather than buying two entrees when eating out.
  • Don’t order drinks if you’re eating out.
  • Always find a “kids eat free” promotion when dining out with your children.
  • Start your plants from seed.
  • Save seeds from your flowers for planting next year.
  • Wash the car at home.
  • Exercise at home rather than the gym.
  • Make friends with your neighbors and help each other by lending and borrowing tools, watching each other’s pets when you’re out of town, etc.
  • Take advantage of free community programs such as outdoor movie nights, library book clubs, etc.
  • Consider a capsule wardrobe.
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Conscious Consumption

  • Turn off the lights.
  • Unplug unused appliances.
  • Turn down the heat.
  • Turn down the A/C.
  • Run your appliances at night.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Use a turbo cycle on your washer whenever you can.
  • Hang dry as much as possible to avoid dryer costs.
  • Set a timer for your showers.
  • Hand wash delicates to preserve their life.
  • Cut the tubes of sunscreen, makeup, and lotion in order to use every single bit.
  • Drive the speed limit to save on fuel and avoid costly speeding tickets.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated to maximize fuel efficiency.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs.
  • Make sure your home is energy efficient by checking the air seals around windows and doors.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Spend and Shop Smart

  • Shop only when you have a list of things in mind and don’t stray from the list.
  • Buy used clothing when possible.
  • Use shopping portals to accrue extra mileage points.
  • Always pay off the balance on your credit cards.
  • Budget, budget, budget.
  • Cancel all unnecessary subscriptions, digital and physical.
  • Check rotating cash back categories on your credit cards.
  • Use the cash envelope system.
  • Make your returns ASAP so you don’t forget about them.
  • Always ask for a price match, when applicable.
  • Check for coupons before buying something.
  • Bundle your errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.
  • Buy used cars.
  • Whenever possible, invest in quality products that last.
  • Consider buying refurbished items. For example, a refurbished laptop, stand mixer, coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, etc.
  • Buy in bulk when it makes sense (sales, cost is actually cheaper, you have the storage space, etc.)
  • Use cash back companies like Ebates or Ibotta.
  • Have and maintain an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.