keep calm and save money

16 Frugal Living Tips with a Big Impact

Looking for ways to save? Here are 16 frugal living tips with a big impact.  Try doing these if you haven’t already.

1. Buy store brands

Store brands are way cheaper than name brands, especially when it comes to medicine. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in a store brand, go with a different generic brand instead.

I do quite a bit a bit of shopping at Walmart, and I buy almost everything in the Great Value store brand. However, if I need something that is not offered in the store brand, I go with Equate.  Worse case scenario, just buy the cheapest thing they have, that way you’re always saving something by avoiding the name brand options.

2. Shop the clearance section

Every store has a clearance section, or at least a clearance rack.  It’s always a good idea to shop whatever you’re looking for in the clearance section first to ensure that you don’t overspend.

This still holds true if you are already shopping a “cheaper” store to begin with, like Target, for example.  Target is reasonably priced as it is, so if you find something in their clearance section, you are sure to save even more.

Pro tip:  There are especially good deals on kids’ clothes.  I find stuff for my daughter all the time on clearance at Target.  Most of the time, I can find complete outfits for just a couple dollars.

3. Meal prep

Some people get real crazy with this one, but you don’t have to do that. When I say meal prep, I really just mean planning your meals (knowing what you are going to eat for the entire week).

You don’t have to cook a week’s worth of food and portion it out in containers in your fridge.  Not only can that be dangerous (to let cooked food sit in the fridge for a few days), it’s also a lot of work.

All you need to do is know what you are eating on a weekly basis and buy those meals once a week at the grocery store.

You can even prep your meals on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis. Who says you have to do it on Sunday for an entire week? There’s no need for that.

Pro tip:  Eat the same thing everyday; that makes life super easy.  Not everybody can do this, but if you can, I would highly recommend it.

I can go months eating the same thing everyday; it’s no problem for me. In fact, it’s better that way.  You know exactly what to get at the store, and you know exactly what it costs. You can always change it up for cheaper options or for variety if you get burnt out.

4. Cut back on fast food

Fast food is a joke!  Not only is it more expensive, it’s not very healthy either.  I suppose it’s okay every now and then (assuming it’s in your budget), but I definitely wouldn’t make a habit out of it.  You’ll be broke and out of shape in a week! And you’ll probably feel like crap.

Perhaps you can do it once a week, or the weekends or something, but I wouldn’t do it any more than that.  If you are, it’s probably time to cut back.

5. Drink water at restaurants

Bingo!  You’re probably already doing this one (you frugal guru, you).  I don’t blame you!  Some restaurants charge $3 for a glass of tea.  Ridiculous.

It’s best to pass on the drinks.  Focus on the meal!  That’s really what you’re after anyway.  Why not wash it down with a hearty glass of free water?

6. Skip restaurants where you tip

I usually do this for lunches.  Once or twice a week, my wife and I will “splurge” by going out for lunch, usually to Chipotle or something.

If you want to “dine-in” without having to worry about “tipping,” I would do something like Chipotle (there are other options, too, obviously). Panda Express is another one that comes to mind.  These are fast food joints that are a step above your typical fast food joint; you might call ’em “gourmet fast food restaurants.”

7. Save leftovers

You better be saving leftovers!  What’s the alternative?  To throw them away?  I hope that’ not what you’re doing!

Leftovers are best when brought to work the next day for lunch.  Or if you’re off work, you can have them for lunch the next day at home.

When you save leftovers, it keeps you from eating foods that you would have eaten the following day.  That causes you to save money because you don’t have to buy those foods the next time you go to the store.  You get the idea.

8. Use the library

Yes, use the library.  It’s free, right?  Well, not exactly.  You actually pay for the library through your tax dollars.  So really, you’ve already paid to use the library, so use it!

Whether it’s for books, the internet, a quiet space, DVDs, what have you, the library is the place to go.  Why not take advantage of it?

9. Use coupons for oil changes

This is a big one for me.  To put very simply:  I will never get my oil changed without a coupon.  Here’s why.

Most places charge $50-$60 for an oil change these days; that’s ridiculous.

For years, I would take my car to NTB for oil changes; I would use their online coupon. It was $19.99 for a conventional oil change.

However, all the NTBs in our area got bought out by Big O Tires. The good news is that Big O has similar deals online as well. Yes, you have to go online and print the coupon, which is kind of dumb, but it’s worth it.

When I would get my oil changed at NTB, it would also cover topping off the fluids and rotating the tires. It would also include a 21 point inspection. Well worth the $20.

After Big O acquired NTB, the price went up to $24.99, but that’s because it’s a “synthetic blend.”  This allows you to run 5000 miles as opposed to 3000 miles each oil change, so it’s probably still cheaper.

Regardless, If you’re paying much more than $20 for an oil change, it’s time to start printing some coupons.

Pro tip:  If you get oil changes at Big O, keep in mind that they will also do an inspection on your vehicle, meaning they will tell you if anything else needs fixed. After they inspect everything and tell you it will only be $500 for them to fix it today, politely tell them “no,” and be on your way.

Once you verify that they were telling the truth about said repairs, go to the parts store and buy what you need to fix it yourself. Or have someone else do it. It’s way cheaper that way.

Over the years, I have made this a habit of mine, and it has saved me literally thousands of dollars.

10. Wash clothes in cold water

Yes, washing your clothes in cold water will save you money.  It saves your hot water, causing you to save on electricity (or gas).

It will also save your clothes.  There’s a reason why you’re supposed to wash “delicates” in cold water, and that’s so they don’t get damaged by the hot water.  Cold water will make your clothes last longer, so you save in electricity and longevity.

11. Take a shorter shower

An average shower uses about 5 gallons of water per minute.  If you were to shorten your shower by only 2 minutes, you would save 10 gallons of water.  That’s insane.  I’m pretty sure you can cut 2 minutes out of a shower (just don’t forget to wash your butt).

Pro tip:  Take cold showers.  Not only will you save on the hot water, you will also save on the amount of water (remember, 2 minutes saves 10 gallons).

If you take a cold shower, I guarantee it will be a short one (you’ll want to get out of there as soon as possible).  Not only will this save you money, but it also comes with some sweet health benefits:

  • boost testosterone
  • burn fat
  • improve skin and hair
  • regulate body temperature
  • improve circulation

12. Ditch cable

Yep!  You don’t need it; you probably don’t even watch it.  I guarantee the more channels you have, the harder it is for you to find something to watch, anyway.

Why pay $200 a month for that crap?  There are so many cheaper alternatives (SlingTV, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube). $200 a month is insane; it equates to $1.5M if invested over a 30-40 year period. Don’t believe me?  Ask Dave Ramsey.

13. Use an antenna

Speaking of ditching cable for cheaper alternatives, why not pass on subscriptions all together? You can literally buy an antenna and get free channels in HD!  Even if you have internet TV of some kind, why not have this option, too? They only cost about $20-$40, and it’s a one-time purchase.

14. Use free WiFi

No matter where I go, I am always using WiFi.  Whether it’s at home, work, coffee shop, Target, friend’s house, what have you, I am always using WiFi.  This saves me from using my phone’s data.  Moreover, it allows me to carry the cheapest plan available (true story). Use WiFi whenever you can.

15. Buy a used cell phone

Full disclosure:  I’m an iPhone guy, but I’m not your typical iPhone guy (I don’t spend $1000 on the latest and greatest phone available).  I buy refurbished iPhones from Amazon or Ebay and save hundreds of dollars.

The iPhone I currently have can probably be found on Amazon for $100-$150, and it’s only a couple of years old.  There’s a price to pay for the “latest and greatest,” and I’m not willing to pay that price.

Refurbished phones are just like new, with the exception of the price.  They’re way cheaper.  Not to mention, they come with warranties, new parts, and work like new.  They’ve been tested and inspected.  If you ask me, buying refurbished is the way to go.  It also allows you to buy your phone outright, so you can take it to whatever service provider you want.  That brings me to my final tip.

apple iphone and air pods

16. Buy cheaper cell service

Speaking of cheap cell service, have you heard of MintMobile? That’s what I have, and it’s dirt cheap.  It works great.  I believe it uses the same network as T-Mobile.

I have had Mint Mobile for about 4 months now, and I’m a huge fan.  But nothing makes me happier than the savings.

I paid $180 for a year’s worth of service. So technically, I don’t even have a cell phone bill right now (not for another 8 months, anyway).

my mint mobile plan

Remember when I told you to use WiFi whenever you can, so you can avoid using you data?  Yeah, that’s why I am able to get by with the cheapest plan they offer (some months I don’t even come close to using it all).

Pro tip:  When you use WiFi and buy used phones outright, it allows you to take your phone wherever you want (that includes the cheapest provider on the market).

That’s it

16 frugal living tips with a big impact. Some of these may not seem significant, but it all adds up, especially when you do them on a regular basis.

I shared these tips because these are the ones that I do on a regular basis. I can tell you that they work.  They’ve helped me save, and they can help you, too.