How Have You Cut Your Expenses?

by Katy on October 13, 2016 · 61 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Finding little Finicky Frugal Maneuverings is all fine, dandy and super satisfying, but add a dollop of focused expense cutting? (And of course, figuring out ways to bring in more income, but that’s a post for another day.)

Pure heaven.

I ♥ figuring out ways to bring my monthly expenses down. I recently started sharing garbage service with the neighbors, have cancelled my home phone line and finally finished paying off my ridiculously expensive Honda mini-van, (which alone frees up an extra $450 per month!) We were able to get my older son out of a martial arts center contract, and Netflix? Buh-bye!

Next on my list is to go through our insurance plans, and see if the deal offered through our credit union would be a smart move. (I know from working in a personal injury law office that cheap insurance can bite you in the the ass, so I will not make this movie lightly.) I did call our agent a few years ago, and she was able to give us discounts for having bachelor’s degrees, for not driving too much, and we upped the deductible on our home owner’s insurance, which garnered significant savings.

I am always trying to figure out ways to bring in extra income, (without of course working any extra. 😉 )and I know there are more little hacks that we can all learn from one another.

So . . . How have you cut your expenses? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

anna October 13, 2016 at 2:46 pm

What did you find out about the credit union insurance? Was it worth it to switch? I keep getting the notices from my CU also for insurance savings, I have yet to call.


Diedra October 14, 2016 at 7:05 am

Incidentally I just got a quote through my cu in New York. If everything goes through it will be about half what we currently pay to another company. I knew we were paying too much but I had no clue it was more than a thousand too much!


K D October 13, 2016 at 2:51 pm

How Have We Cut Expenses:

1. Rarely eating out. When we do get food out we sometimes get it to go. Not only is tipping greatly reduced but it’s easier to split a meal. We also like to use a coupon whenever possible when eating out, and if possible using a discounted gift card (both COSTCO and SAM’S Club sell them).

2. We do not have cable but do have Netflix. When we watch network shows we stream them after the fact (generally fewer commercials) We watch series on Netflix or borrow them on DVD from the library.

3. We keep our cars for many years. I’ve had mine for almost 14 years. I walk when something is not too far away, and when I drive I batch errands.

4. We use Ting for our cell phone service, you pay for what you use.


Marilyn October 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Yep, it is the recurring expenses – month after month, year-in and year-out – which need the most attention. Here are a few I’ve paid attention to:
1. We cancelled a health club membership several years ago. Now I walk for exercise which is actually a lot more fun.
2. We paid off the mortgage several years ago.
3. Now that both our kids are working, we have stopped paying their cell phone bills and their health insurance premiums. ( For some reason, we continued to pay these two items even after they graduated and found jobs which allowed them to pay for their own rent, groceries,etc. ).
4. Had a water pipe leak repaired which was expensive, but it reduced our monthly water bill, so eventually, we will recoup this expense.
5. Cancelled Netflix, magazine subscriptions and Costco membership.
6. One thing I should cancel is the landline, but somehow I am reluctant to let go of that.


Gina October 13, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Marilyn, once you give up the landline phone you will ask yourself why you didn’t do it sooner. I decided to give mine up several years ago but my elderly mother was very upset saying she would never be able to call me because she wouldn’t remember my cell phone number. I assured her my cell phone was the number on her speed dial and the only number she ever called. But this gave her such anxiety that I kept the landline for 3 more years. Finally, after 3 years I cancelled and she never even knew. In all of those 3 years she never once called the landline! But she would always asked me about it. It was such a waste of money!


Bonnie October 14, 2016 at 5:54 am

Totally agree with this! It had gotten so that the only people who called our home phone were solicitors and political robocalls. Haven’t missed it one moment.


Marion October 15, 2016 at 12:07 am

Where I live cell phone coverage is problematic at best. Land line has to stay.


Kristen October 14, 2016 at 5:53 am

If you want to keep a home phone, consider Ooma! It’s SO cheap and then you have a line to talk on without using your cell phone minutes.

I wrote about Ooma here:

(Katy, hope it’s ok to share the link. Feel free to remove if it’s not!)


Jennifer October 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm

1. This may be obvious to most readers here but I call everyone that I get a bill from every few months to see any changes need to be made that can save me money.
2. Check your bank statement carefully each month. I have caught things coming out that I forgot to cancel such as subscriptions.
3. Shop thrift store off season. Right now my thrift store racks will soon be bulging with summer clothes because we are nearing fall. I have a difficult time finding clothes for myself but in the dead of winter, I usually find a nice summer wardrobe!
3. Use your change at the register. If you have to actually count out change for something you won’t buy much.
4. If you get a new roof installed or any home improvement, call your insurance company and let them know. Most will lower your premium. My went down almost $500!
5. Check out free movies and exercise DVD’s at the library. Most movies are current and you can get a new workout every week. My library hosts a free trick or treat with nachos and hotdogs!
6. Try to volunteer your time to different organizations. It has a way of coming back to you and lots of places will provide you a meal as a bonus for your help.
7. Use kitchen staples for self care. I use corn starch in my kids shoes to absorb moisture and for my hair between washes. I use olive oil, water, and oatmeal for my kids ezcema. It doesn’t burn their skin like the store bought lotions do because there are no added alcohol or stabilizers. Vinegar and baking soda will clean so many things and cost hardly anything.
8. Make home made decor for the holidays. Salt dough makes beautiful, meaningful Christmas ornaments and the ingredients are probably in your kitchen right now.
9. Try GoodRx if you don’t have medical insurance or if you are like me and only have a discount drug card. This allows you to price compare you drugs at the different pharmacies before you buy. This app has save me hundreds of dollars!
10. Only drink water! I think this is probably the best advice I can give.

I have so many and some of them may seem silly but I truly believe that the combination of all the little things we do are life changing.


Carrie October 14, 2016 at 6:48 am

I second tip #1 here. Making a simple phone call to everyone you pay monthly, from internet to cellular to insurance companies to utilities, asking for ways to pay less, pays off big. I have done this many times.


Leah @ The Frugal South October 13, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Thinking of refinancing our mortgage to free up $350 each month AND not pay any more in interest. It would add three more years to our payoff (which is currently 12 years) but I doubt we will live here for more than 10 more years any way. It is such a hassle with the application process, appraisal, etc. but it would be so nice to have extra money in that monthly budget!


JD October 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

We paid off our mortgage earlier. I know some say that’s not the best plan but it was for us.
We cancelled cable and bought an antenna. That won’t work for everyone either but it does for us, again.
We share a Netflix account.
We are looking at Ooma to replace our monthly land line bills. We may one day go totally without a land line but we have too many relatives in their late eighties and nineties who can only remember to call our land line. Until they pass we will keep that number. I’m lucky to have such a long lived family but it means writing letters and using the land line. Lucky for me, I like to write letters.
I use those leftovers and rarely eat out.


AFS October 13, 2016 at 7:23 pm

People believe that keeping a mortgage is good because it gives them a tax deduction. They don’t take into account that they pay more in interest to the bank than the deduction they get from the IRS.
If getting a deduction is THAT important they can make charitable contributions.


Diane C October 14, 2016 at 2:49 am

Others understand that a low-interest mortgage on an affordable house is an excellent hedge against inflation. Then there is the even more important fact that people can over focus on “killing” the mortgage at the expense of retirement saving. First*, save an EF, then stuff full every single retirement vehicle available to you, and save for college if applicable. Then and only then, pay off your cheap, fixed rate mortgage. These days, solid investment returns easily outpace mortgage rates.

This is counterintuitive, but the miracle of compound interest means the earlier you save and invest, the fewer actual dollars you will need to invest to fund your retirement. Letting your investment returns and inflation pay off your mortgage is an excellent frugal strategy, especially if one plans to retire early.

*This assumes no CC debt. If you owe on cars, CCs or SLs, don’t even think about pre-paying the mortgage before vanquishing those monsters.

If you are missing out on even one penny of your employer’s match in order to accelerate mortgage payoff, you are literally throwing away money.

This concept is quite similar to delayed gratification. A little more difficult to understand and execute, but a much more effective concept to master.


JD October 14, 2016 at 6:23 am

Diane C, that’s how we did it — we were funding our 401K (and an IRA), had no credit card debt and paid for cars, furniture, etc., but we also threw extra money on to the mortgage and paid it down fast. The peace of mind of owning our home is worth it to us, especially since our years of being able to earn income are rapidly diminishing.


isabelle October 14, 2016 at 8:41 am

I agree with paying the mortgage faster, when possible. We did that one our first house, putting extra money whenever possible, and it ended up giving us close to 100 000$ to put down on the second house after selling the first, (which also enabled us to really choose that second house and get what we really wanted, because we had the cash flow to put into the new house). We are now working on paying the excedent of that new house and hopefully it will be paid in full in less than 10 years. Peace of mind of owning it, yes!!!

Stephanie October 14, 2016 at 6:49 am

Hi JD,
You can transfer your land line phone number to your cell phone & they will think they’re still calling the land line. My MIL did this & works great for them.


Bellen October 14, 2016 at 2:28 am

Background: both in our early 70s on limited income of SS & a small pension so money is very tight.

We check our electric meter weekly to see if we’re using more than we think we are – found that we have some of those ‘phantom’ uses from chargers.

We also check our water usage, on line, to make sure we have no leaks. To help with water usage, it’s really expensive in FL, we use rain water for the garden, AC condensate also, and cooking water too

We subscribe to the local paper on line for $4.25 per month as opposed to $15 for a real paper. Doesn’t include sales flyers so no tempations!

Our library offers Zinio, a digital magazine site, so we use that instead of getting subscriptions

We bought a Roku box and have paid subscriptions to Hulu and Acorn, at about 1/2 the price of cable, so we watch all kinds of TV shows and movies – an antenna really doesn’t work well here

I only shop for clothes at thrift stores – I do buy new bras, panties and shoes but only on sale and often at Amazon with free shipping to boot

We eat out 4 times a year, meeting our son half way between our homes – it’s an hour drive for each of us.

Only send cards, to immediate family, for birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter and buy them at Dollar Tree at 2/$1 or sometimes a multipack for $1. In that same vein I only buy birthday and Christmas gifts for the 3 grandkids and that will stop when they reach 18 which is quite a few years away

Cook from scratch including bread & soft tortillas, raise almost all our own vegetables exceptions being celery and usually peppers and tomatoes – FL is not the easiest place to garden

To landscape we buy shrubs on clearance and only those that we know will grow and thrive in FL – blue plumago, crotons, sea grape, loquats, acerola cherries, barbados cherries, viburnum, dracenas, arboricola, allamandas – why try to grow plants that need excessive care, excessive water, and only have a 50% chance of living. We do have some palms and a few citrus trees but they have diseases that are spreading to our area.


Bee October 14, 2016 at 11:53 am

I admire you for growing your own veggies in Florida. This is a skill that I have never acquired. It is difficult, but I do have a lovely herb garden!


Bee October 14, 2016 at 2:51 am

Everyone has such great ideas! I find that cutting expense requires constant diligence and discipline. It also requires compromise. My husband and I each have a couple of non-negotiables. There are also a few things that we could do that are not practical for us at this time. But here is my list:
1) Since life is constantly changing, I review my home and auto policies at least once a year. This serves two purposes. It keeps my costs down, but most importantly I understand the limits of my coverage. If insurance is like Greek to you, call your agent or the customer service line. They will go over it with you.
2) Maintenance. This costs more money up front, but it saves money and headaches in the long run. I make sure regular service is done on my vehicles. Change HVAC filters and clean drainage lines. Trim trees. Check irrigation systems. If possible, I do these things myself.
3) I excercise, eat right, try to get enough sleep, and learned to deal with stress. I know this is easier said than done. Life gets in the way, but good health is a good investment.
4) I know the NCA community talks about this often. I buy secondhand hand when possible. There are so many resources thrift stores, Craigslist, auctions, estate sales, garage sales, and church rummage sales. I use them all.
5) I make phone calls. I check with the phone company, the wi-fi provider, and the credit card company to make sure that we are getting the best deal for our household. I also am not embarrassed to ask for the sale price. This can be done nicely and I never argue.
6) I am loyal to the people who take care of our family. Once I find someone who provides excellent service at a good price, I stick with them. The dentist, my hair stylist, my doctor, the landscaper ( a non-negotiable for my husband), eye doctor, contractor, and others have been part of my life for many, many years. I don’t look constantly for the bigger better deal. I know this is counter intuitive, but it works. For example, I have had the same vet for 20 years. When I take in one of my pets, I always am given a 10 percent loyalty discount. Because I am loyal, I also get great service.
7) I really do use it up and wear it out.


Lindsey October 14, 2016 at 9:18 am

The other thing about being loyal is that the service provider will bend over backwards to help. Case in point: we have used the same vet for years. A few years ago my husband was out of town for a family funeral and my dog got very sick. I was in the middle of an illness so severe I had daily nursing care. I called the vet to see if there was some home remedy to try since I could not leave the house. He told me he would call me back and an hour later he rang my doorbell and took care of my dog—and did not charge extra for the house call!


Bee October 14, 2016 at 11:44 am

What a great vet! Loyalty begets loyalty. I always expect the best in people and usually find it. Glad you are back on your feet!


Amy K. October 14, 2016 at 3:20 am

I do all of my own primping. Hair, nails, eyebrows, all that stuff. Can’t get over how much that all costs. I like to tally up what I’ve done based on a local salon’s prices (plus the tips) and tell my husband what I just saved us that month. He replies with a compliment on my looks and frugality. 😀 We used to shop at Costco, and in some ways I miss it. But I think we’re doing better money-wise without it. It involves a bit more detective work, and a bit more schlepping to different stores on my part, but since I always combine car trips, I’m making it work.


Linda H. October 14, 2016 at 7:25 am

I have decided to start trying to trim my own hair. This decision was made after just paying $40 for a very bad haircut. This could turn out to be a great or an epically bad decision. Any home hairdressers have tips? I do have hair scissors.


Jennifer October 15, 2016 at 4:49 am

I recommend finding a friend or family member to trim it. It’s just hard to cut the back of your hair. My husband can cut a straight line and that’s good enough for me. Of course, some styles are more complicated.


Cheryl October 17, 2016 at 7:55 am

My husband is the family barber/stylist. He cuts my hair, my children’s hair, and now my best friend’s hair after she had a really bad haircut at the salon. His advice is to get the proper tools. Sharp hair scissors, rat tail comb, a cape and hair clips. He uses wahl clippers as well doing my boys’ haircuts, but unless you are going to be doing your husband’s hair you probablyy wont need them. The best tip is good planning by knowing what you are going to do in advance. Watch a few YouTube videos from someone who knows what they are doing, not a couple people goofing around. Here is a good one for trimming a woman’s hair.
Getting your husband or a friend to help and communicating exactly what you want before they pick up the scissors is a must. My husband knows exactly what I want, so I don’t need to keep telling him, but if you want a 1/2″ trim, don’t let your home stylist think it’s ok to hack off six inches like the salon does. When my husband does my hair, he combs it out, sections it and pins up the top layers and then lets my hair down to trim the next layer, he doesn’t just cut across the whole length. Having your hair trimmed a small amount more often helps. I get my ends dusted every 6-8 weeks just to keep the ends even and remove split ends. Waiting a year between haircuts and then asking for six or more inches off is pretty drastic and you probably won’t be happy with the result. And going that long lets the splits and breakage get pretty bad. I don’t know what type of scissors you have, but they work best when sharp, use them only for hair and if they are hollow ground, you need to take them to be sharpened, but if they are regular blades, my husband uses a lasky sharpening kit on knives and scissors. I fired the salon several years back after a really bad haircut I paid $60 for left me in tears, I cried as I drove all the way home, so I know how you feel. My husband offered to trim my hair shortly after we started dating, and he has been doing it ever since. Never a bad haircut and the price is right. That is why my best friend asked him to trim her hair and she will not anyone else near her with the shears now. She gets compliments on her hair and she has agreed not to give out my husband’s phone number. I did have one friend I saw a couple weekends ago compliment her hair while we were with her and when she found out my husband cut it, she asked him if he could give her a haircut, it had been over a year since her last haircut, which was a bad one. Seems there is a lot of thatbgoing around. I wish you the best in going salon free.


Bee October 14, 2016 at 11:50 am

I let my Costco membership go too. For me, the membership fee and the cost of the gas offset any savings that I would realize. However, I go with a friend every once and a while to make sure nothing has changed.


Tonya Tawana October 15, 2016 at 10:18 am

We don’t have a Costco nearby but I let my Sam’s Club go… I like that I can get tomatoes, maple syrup, pine nuts, and salad greens very cheaply there, but I do tend to over buy when I go there.

Maybe I will borrow a friend’s card and go just on occasion.


Patricia October 14, 2016 at 4:39 am

Cutting out landlines is a great idea for most people but I can not cut mine out as my child has a medication dispenser and emergency alert system that requires the landline.


Isabelle October 14, 2016 at 5:11 am

* We don’t have cable (we have Netflix). We also have a pay-as-you-go basic cell phone (100$/year) kept for emergencies only.
* We don’t go to hairdressers for anyone in the family. I cut hubby’s hair. Myself and the girls have long hairs, zero maintenance there.
* I don’t use creams or makeup (too lazy. I do use lipstick, but I already have a big stash)., or anything like that. I use stuff on sale for deodorant, shampoo, body wash.
* I do price match at the grocery store and stock up when stuff is on sale.
* We have a 2004 small car and we maintain it.
* We hand clothes on the line whenever possible
* I thrift shop for clothes (for myself and the kids) when I can
* We make more payments on the mortgage whenever possible
* We contribute fully to our pension plans
* We borrow books from the library instead of buying them. And we buy toys/gifts for the kids on birthdays and Christmas only (usually… maybe a little bit here and there outside of this, but not much)
* We entertain ourselves with a lot of free events (I’m really good at finding them too!)
* I don’t drink. I mean, I drink water and milk, but apart from this I don’t enjoy drinking alcohol, coffee, etc, so I save a lot right there.



Ethel October 14, 2016 at 6:24 am

Lots of great ideas in the comments!

Sometimes I push myself not to grocery shop, but to go home and eat what I have in my fridge, freezer, or pantry instead. It’s amazing how many “free” meals I already have at home.


Bonnie October 14, 2016 at 6:49 am

I can’t hold a candle to many of the pros here, but:

We have never had cable, Netflix, Hulu, Roku, or Sling
We have never had high-speed internet
We eat out once a week–Sunday lunch after church with our son and his fiancée
We have a garden
I have never had a mani-pedi, eyebrows done, eyelash extensions
I am presently not going to the salon for my hair
Cancelled our home phone years ago
Cancelled the large city newspaper (I miss it) Still subscribe to local paper
I grocery shop at Aldi as much as possible
We buy our vehicles very used and drive them until they are used up
We don’t turn on our window unit AC until it is very hot and turn it off as soon as possible (windows are open now even though afternoon highs are high 80s and may hit 90)


Lindsey October 14, 2016 at 9:23 am

I relented and reordered the daily paper–I am frugal partly so I have money to spend on things I really enjoy. For me that is books and newspapers. Life just is less pleasurable without those indulgences.


maddie October 14, 2016 at 7:18 am

We don’t have the option of sharing garbage service — it’s added to your utility bill and the rates (for both) keep going higher and higher.


Mrs. Picky Pincher October 14, 2016 at 7:38 am

Oooh good question!

Here are a few things we’ve done to cut our own expenses:

Cutting our own hair

Getting rid of one car payment in favor of a paid-off car we paid cash for

Living in a cheaper apartment for a year (to the tune of $400 a month!)

We started cooking more homemade meals. This includes making our own staples like bread and sauces.

We became loyal members of our local library, which we use mostly for free cookbooks and DVD rentals.

We dramatically changed our grocery shopping habits. We only shop on Saturday mornings for discounted meats/produce, use coupons on packaged goods, shop at the bulk foods aisle, etc.


Vickie October 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

I’ve been doing the same and I have managed to save more, mainly by cutting my lunch expenses – finally!
*We obtained better home insurance, so that went up, but we’re working on lowering our mortgage payment so that should balance it out in the near future. And the same company now has our auto insurance, which saves us $20 per month.
*I have a medical savings account, which I plan to put more money in this next year, so that will cover our medical insurance deductible and if we don’t use it, the money just keeps adding up. No more yearly cafeteria plan to worry about!
*Although, it would be nice to get a professional pedicure occasionally, I have not done that in over a year. I just do my own at home and it works out fine.
*I quit going to the Thrift store, unless I need something specific. Then I stick to my list and leave if I can’t find it. Shopping around causes me to spend money on things I don’t really need and it also causes more clutter and I’m doing my best to de-clutter my house.
*I allow myself about 3-4 haircuts per year. My hair grows fast and becomes long and thick. My hairdresser is a friend and she knows exactly how to cut it and thin it out some, so it’s easier to manage. However, I don’t feel the need to get it cut more than every 3-4 months – so not a big expense at all.
*I’ve found ways to save on groceries and waste less food. Hubby doesn’t eat dinner at home except maybe 2 nights per week, so I only buy enough food for those meals and the little bit I eat after I get home. I can snack on cheese and veggies, or fix myself a sandwich wrap and I’m fine. I spend less than $50 per week on food now.
*I started carefully measuring out the dog and cat food during feeding time. That way the outside farm dogs and cat only get what they’ll eat at each feed time. Otherwise we have issues with wildlife (raccoons, opossums, squirrels etc) getting into it. It saves money on their food and my sanity.
*I set the temp lower on the heater. That should save propane and, now that it’s Fall, no more AC needed!
*I used to allow myself a Cappuccino and a breakfast biscuit out once a week, but now I only do that about once a month.
Every little bit helps!


katie October 14, 2016 at 9:29 am

I challenge myself each month to beat the last month’s expenses. Here are my top money savers.
1. Not owning an electric clothes dryer. My husband built me an awesome indoor drying area using old pipes he removed when he replaced our natural gas system. I use this area when the weather is not cooperating.
2. I save bath/shower water to flush toilets. This may be icky to some but we’re in a drought with no sign of relief and that’s literally $ down the drain.
3. Garden! We started with just a small patio garden because we had no clue. Now we expand our garden each year and preserve lots of food for the winter months.
4. I only shop the perimeter of the grocery store, produce, dairy, meats. I only buy what is deeply discounted. Kroger’s markdowns are awesome but if I hit an off day I’ll swing by Aldi.
5. We only eat meat 2 0r 3 times a week max. This helps me stretch the budget and allows me to fill the freezer when I find a good deal.


Tami October 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

1. We do not have telephone plans. No landline, my cell is free through work-it’s a flip phone, but works for short texts and phone calls, and my husband is on the family plan for a flip phone with his family.

2. We do not have tv service or internet service. We borrow dvds for free from the library, including tv series. I have an IPad through work and use whatever internet service is available, if any, from home. Or I use my work computer and internet on breaks (like right now).

3. We cook and eat at home the majority of the time. Even if it’s a quick bowl of oatmeal and a piece of fruit, it’s healthier and less expensive than going through a drive-thru.

4. I make a grocery list and go to the local farm stand first, then Aldi’s, and only our major grocery shop for anything I can’t get from the other places. The local farm stand is fresh, local, and generally inexpensive.

5. I make many of my own household and personal care products. For example, coconut oil as a deodorant and face/body moisturizer, cloth hankies from an old t-shirt as tissues, rags as paper towels, etc.

6. My new habit has been to no longer carry a credit or debit card or cash daily. I have an emergency $20 for gas in my wallet and only bring enough cash for planned purchases.

7. I contribute the full maximum match to my companies retirement program and don’t lose out on *free* money.

8. I sell stuff from around the house on on-line yard sales and put the money away for vacation spending.

9. For fun, we hike, kayak, play cards, watch library movies, talk, read, play with the dog.

10. We don’t have AC, just a couple of ceiling fans and box fans, but we have a relatively short hot season. We don’t put our furnace above 60 and we have a long cold season. We use heavy socks, slippers, sweatshirts, sometimes leggings under sweatpants under blankets on the couch when we are just hanging out. Lol.

11. I’ve drastically reduced my alcohol. I’m drinking a lot more herbal teas instead. Iced lavender tea is refreshing and relaxing…not exactly like a cold beer after work, but I’m getting used to it.

12. My husband drives a very old, reliable car that we keep maintained. I have a newer car, but it is a small economy car and suits my needs perfectly. 38.4 mpg.

13. If we go out for a meal, we usually split an appetizer and entrée. Plenty of food.

14. We are not opposed to anything second hand. I’ve shared this before, but our current dishwasher was a find on the side of the road and it works great.

It’s a way of life. I learn new and better ideas from this site just about every day. The freedom of control over our spending is incredible. We are planning to buy our first home very soon and we have a big down payment saved, a great credit score, and know what is a reasonable amount for a home that will suit our needs, as opposed to how much we qualify for.


janine October 14, 2016 at 10:57 am

Wants versus needs and what to do with discretionary funds is always a topic of conversation. We compromise a lot!
Here are some of our cost-cutting measures although there are many more that we could/ should introduce into our household.
-husband has spent some time cutting firewood from the dead wood on our property. No need to buy it at the store!
-had decided not to change trash haulers because it looked like our city would institute a policy of one hauler per neighborhood. Now property taxes are due to take a steep hike in order to maintain current services. They may not add another assessment to an already hefty tax hike. I will look again into a less expensive company.
-no car payments, low mortgage and no other debt is always helpful.
-love to eat out – however it is an added expense. We have addressed this by using more take-out and deli treats – not a perfect solution .
-cook mostly from scratch – always looking for new recipes that are frugal, healthful and delicious.
-landline continues but we have the cheapest pay- as- you go cell service.
– trying to decide the level of support we offer to our children is always an ongoing topic. We help them, but we want them to observe a measure of frugality too.
-Use it up is a good axiom for holiday décor – always love the new stuff but I have an attic stuffed with decent holiday decorations that look great.
club membership – have lowered our tier since husband no longer uses it for business purposes – may decide to give it up altogether.
-husband is big library user – the rest of us should get into this habit.
– check and evaluate a number of services such as health care provider, veterinary services and banking. I agree that long term relationships are sometimes valuable, but the other side is that they may not be giving you as good service as you might get at a better price. I have looked into this on occasion and need to do it again.


LisaC October 14, 2016 at 11:59 am

1. Get together with friends is almost always byob and potluck, with a theme, so the food goes together. We group text each other to find out what we already have (i.e. taco night: I have cheese, who has onions, who has tortillas, etc), so we don’t make a special trip and use what we already bought on sale.
2. I take advantage of free events put on by local businesses and chamber of commerce, its a free way to network, and networking pays off in interesting ways. Plus there’s usually food, and sometimes a beverage for free.
3. Wardrobe pretty much all goes together, I buy (mainly from thrift stores) things that will go with a lot of different outfits, and can be dressed up or down. I resist trendy pieces, sticking to neutral colors with a few scarves for color.
4. I am open with my friends and colleagues that I am thrifty. They end up bringing me things they no longer need, because they know I won’t be offended and will be grateful.
5. I hold on to gift cards given to me until I need them. For example, my coffee gift card is saved for when someone wants to meet for coffee.


Lindsey October 14, 2016 at 4:34 pm

My husband was invited out for coffee and used a gift card I was given three years ago! (We never, ever buy fancy coffees so I was beginning to think we should give the card away!)


LisaC October 15, 2016 at 3:59 am

Lindsey, you know what? There’s a coffee gift certificate in my car to a shop I never go to. I think I will suggest it to my husband, he is closer to that area during the day. 🙂


Ella October 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm

I have been pretty frugal for quite a long time, so my list could be very long… but I still recently found a few things to cut:
1) I learned how to cut my own hair using the ponytail method. It works for me and gives me nice, long layers.
2) I stopped buying face wash and moisturizer and use the oil method now. Even cheaper than buying drugstore brands on sale/with a coupon/both.
3) I don’t have any outdoor space, so no clothesline. I always air dry my clothing, but recently I started hanging all my laundry up indoors, wherever I can find space. I do have a drying rack and one of those clippy hangers for small items. This actually made a noticeable difference in my electric bill.
4) I switched to bar soap at the sinks. Bar soap lasts forever, and for the past year I’ve been using hotel soaps that ended up in my stash.
5) I started requesting DVDs from the library instead of paying to rent them. It often takes months for popular movies to become available (LA County), but I can wait, and they’re free. I try to put in a request right when they come out on DVD.


Ruby October 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I also use bar soap at the sinks for that same reason.


Farhana October 20, 2016 at 8:45 am

Hi Ella,
Do you mind sharing the ponytail method for layers please?


Cheryl October 21, 2016 at 4:23 am

Here is a link for the DIY ponytail trim for layers. It gives a much better result.

Avoid the single ponytail hack where you pull it all forward to your forehead and saw it off, it cuts the front layers too short and looks ragged. Hair should be cut in smaller sections, cut the hair blunt rather than point cut, that causes split ends. Hope your DIY trim goes well. I don’t touch the scissors, I just tell my husband I need a trim and he cuts it for me. That is the method I prefer and recommend, but if you don’t have a husband, boyfriend, trusted friend to ask, you DIY.


Suzanne October 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm

My family of 5 is a one car family. My husband bikes to work. Both my husband and I use flip phones which saves on data. I get my hair cut twice a year. It’s 15 dollars for a dry cut, not styled. We garden and barter. We trade baby- sitting services with friends. This year I booked yurts at state parks instead of hotels for vacation. They are about half the price.


Alion October 14, 2016 at 2:56 pm

For those of you who don’t want to pay for a landline, but hate the idea of giving up a number that your elderly relatives have memorized, try Google Voice. For a one-time $20 porting fee, you can port your home number to a virtual and free Google Voice number that can be forwarded to any other phone number that you select. The person calling you will never know that it’s being forwarded, either. I did this when we moved out of state, and it allows some folks who still call from landlines to call me on my old “local” number and not pay for a long distance call.


Mand01 October 14, 2016 at 4:39 pm

About four years ago we decided to save for a house. The main area I cut was groceries. I cut our budget by 25%, freeing up $400 a month so that we could save $1800 a month toward our house. It was really hard to adjust at first but now it is fine. I was able to reduce the budget by really strict meal planning, cooking from scratch, baking often, and shopping sales.

Other places we cut:
1. Reduced eating out to once per month with a defined budget. The kids know that we have a takeaway night and don’t ask for it at other times.
2. We actually increased our kids’ pocket money but made them responsible for more from it. For example, if they want additional takeaway, toys, or junk food, they know not to pester us because the answer will be no – they have a budget. This has eliminated the ‘Can I haves?’ My youngest has turned into an excellent saver and budgets herself a small amount of fun money- the rest she is saving for a house!! The way Aussie house prices are going that is the only way the next generation will be able to afford one!
3. We were able to reduce our petrol expenditure when my husband switched to a desk job and by me negotiating to work from as often as I can. We have reduced it by $80 per month.
4. I buy almost all our clothing secondhand, and budget for any others.
5. I save for Xmas from January to November, so that there is no stress. Whatever is in that account is what we have to spend. No winging it and no debt.
6. We negotiated with our families to do a Kris Kringle so that our gift exchange had been reduced to only two gifts per family (excluding kids). It’s a huge saving and everyone was relieved.
7. We have a garden and grow all our own perennial herbs and some vegetables.
8. Even after we reached our goal of buying our own home we save half my income and live a much simpler life than others in our income bracket. We also bought a cheaper house.
9. We don’t drink alcohol.


Kim October 14, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Lots of great ideas shared here already!
Some ways that we have cut out expenses-
1. Volunteer- I volunteer to help with a twice a year clothing giveaway at a sister church. We sort donations and set up on Friday night and after we’re done all volunteers can “shop.” I purge items we no longer need and get things we do. Last week I got some nice polos for my husband who has lost 45 lbs. in the past 9 months, 2 much needed throw rugs for DS#2’s campus apt., some books including the Kondo Tidying Up book and some papercrafting supplies. I also volunteer to cook for many events at church and normally come home with leftover food.
2. Put it out there- Let people know what you need and that you’re happy to help them find a home for what they no longer need. We built a beautiful retaining wall with landscaping bricks our neighbors no longer wanted that they offered to us before he took them to the landfill. Another neighbor and I swap plants, seeds, produce and coupons. Several years ago I mentioned to a friend that our fridge seemed to be dying and that we were going to have to find the money to buy a new one. Two hours later she called to say that they had an extra one that we could have. We still have it!
3. Procrastinate- We pay “Time Use Rates” through our electric company. There are peak, mid and low rates based on the time of day. I put off running the dishwasher or doing laundry until it’s low rates.
4. Herd mentality- I’ve been part of Freecycle for 12 years. I’ve made several very good friends which I met through Freecycle. By far they are the best thing I’ve gained but I’ve also gotten so much through the years that helped us cut our expenses. Produce, furniture, fabric, books and tools are just some of the things I’ve gotten from fellow freecyclers. I’ve also gotten several items from our community FB group.
5. Food for thought- We eat seasonally and I practice the Pantry Principle. I can and preserve food. I shop at Aldi. I check clearance shelves when I’m doing my mystery shops where I’ve bought hair color free with coupons, large canisters of Quaker oatmeal for 75% off, Off! Mosquito repellent for $1.29, etc. I use store programs to cut grocery costs- digital coupons, Plenti points, For U at Safeway, Staples Rewards, etc. I used Staples Rewards to stock up on TP for free last month. I fill prescriptions where I will earn gift cards. Yesterday at Target I bought 3 pork loins and 4 Parmesan chicken breasts for $5.99. Pork loins were on sale for $6 and 3 had $4 off coupons on them, the chicken was $9.99 with a $5 coupon. I also used a $5/20 on meat or seafood digital coupon. $6+6+6+9.99=27.99-5-5-4-4-4=$5.99!


Julie C October 15, 2016 at 7:19 am

For additional savings use Targets cartwheel. They seem to be putting more food items on there lately,which is fine with me! I have been getting tons of savings (on food items) there.
P.S. Great deals you got on the food.


Kim October 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Thanks! I always check Cartwheel before I check out by scanning each UPC. That way I don’t miss a deal.


cathy October 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Some of the ways we’ve saved on recurring expenses:
* Earlier this year, we refinanced our house lowering our already-good interest rate, to a great one. Our loan to balance ratio is really good, so no PMI.
* We switched from a long-time insurance carrier to the one that partners with the university where my husband works. Because so many people participate, they offer really good rates on both homeowners and auto, which is much appreciated as we have a teen boy on the policy. For his part, he gets good grades and is a super careful driver, so he earns us a discount.
* We changed internet carriers. Less money and way faster internet.
* Another benefit of working for the university is inexpensive health insurance. It’s low to begin with, but we save an additional $40/month because my husband participates in the WellU program. The requirements are minimal too and include things like getting an annual physical, getting a flu shot, etc. We always see in-network providers, which saves more money.
* We live in a very arid state so we took out the always-struggling front lawn and I xeriscaped the whole front yard. Most of the plants are drought-tolerant perennials, shrubs, and trees, most were purchased on end-of-season clearance, and I do all the gardening myself. Many also freely self-seed, which I’m happy to accommodate. (I love free plants!) Though we still water it a little bit, our water usage has gone way down.
* When our city offered garbage cans in two smaller sizes than the 90 gallon can they’d always had, we decided to try the smallest, which is also the lowest monthly charge. It’s plenty big, and with curbside recycling and a yard waste/compost can as well, we seldom even put the cans out every week.
* Smart grocery shopping. Just by changing up where we shop, I’ve cut our grocery spending by ~50% . Now I’m taking a cue from The Frugal Girl and tallying up my grocery spending at the end of each week. It seems to be helping me keep costs down, and I’m hoping will help me reach my budget goal (without compromising on organic produce and dairy, humanely-raised meat, local products, etc).
* After several years of not being able to have a veg garden, I had a great one this year. I grow my own herbs and garlic, and dry as much as possible to use when fresh isn’t available. I also try to grow food we like that’s more expensive at the store, and this extends into how I preserve it. Right now I have a big cache of slow-roasted tomatoes and diced San Marzano tomatoes in the freezer. I’ll be making pesto to freeze, and harvesting my Italian plums.
* The electronics are all on power strips, which makes it easy to shut them off and avoid phantom power.
* We haven’t had cable in 25 years (when we realized we could save $350/year), though we do have Netflix. My husband and I just had an interesting conversation. Most of the network TV our family watches is PBS, and I said we needed to make a pledge next time there was a fund drive. He said that Netflix costs ~$100/year and we agreed that PBS was worth at least that. I think it’s an interesting perspective and I like that our frugality allows us to support public TV and radio, which I view as an investment in community.
This was interesting to contemplate. Thanks!


Bee October 15, 2016 at 4:56 am

I love the fact that you support PBS. I also watch this station more than any other. My neighbor recently purchased a high powered digital antenna and receives 5 PBS stations! I am hoping my husband will eventually agree to go this route and cut the cord.


cathy October 15, 2016 at 8:41 am

We’re really fortunate that our region has two PBS stations and a local educational TV channel plus two public radio stations and three community radio stations. We have an antenna, but it’s just enough to get clean reception. In terms of cutting the cable cord, we sat down one day and went through the TV listings and circled (y’know back when it was in print form) the programs we watched regularly. That helped us to see how little we watched on cable. Now network+Netflix+streaming online gives us more than enough choice. My husband watches a lot of sports by streaming it online and hooking up his computer to the TV so he has the big screen view.


Diane October 15, 2016 at 3:21 am

I am a senior living on a very limited income. Most of it goes to rent as staying in my apartment home is my top priority. I have reduced my monthly bills down to just 4. Having free Google Fiber for my internet and no cable TV service is a huge plus. Since my car is 16 years old I have just liability insurance which is inexpensive. I don’t shop for recreation at all any more even at thrift stores which is a great savings. I do buy good food: produce, meat and basic staples, no convenience food at all. I make everything by scratch.

The one thing I do miss is traveling to visit friends and family.. But, the cost of plane fares, lodging etc is just not in my budget any more. I am very thankful to live in Austin where I feel like I am on a permanent vacation most of the time.


Ruby October 15, 2016 at 6:38 am

1. We’re in our sixth year without cable/satellite, which we replaced with a Roku box, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, which my husband had anyhow for the free shipping.
2. We live a really simple life: shop first at thrift stores, don’t buy much to start with, keep the place decluttered, make do and mend lots of things, do our own house-keeping, yard work, pet grooming.
3. The only “service” we pay for is The Mister’s yoga class, for which he gets both the senior citizen discount and frequent user discount.
4. So many things related to keeping grocery costs low: we keep a small pantry, have a small chest freezer, research stores for the best prices, use coupons wisely, shop at the bread outlet, eat very little meat, have almost all of our meals at home and brown-bag our lunches. (The Mister and I have a cheap date night for tacos and a beer once a week, which is great for mental health.)
5. Now that our son is old enough that his car insurance rate has gone down, we transferred the car into his name and made him responsible for the insurance. He’s in college, works part-time and still lives at home, but is also responsible for many of his expenses and repays us for paying his health insurance.


Tonya Tawana October 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

We don’t go out much. We’ve never been “going out” people and are less so even in our 40’s. We have never really went to bars like our peers seeing it as a waste of money.

We use the library a lot. Both the local and university library where we work.

We have cable– largely because there are some things that we just enjoy watching when they air (GoT, Walking Dead, Project Runway, Shark Tank) and we figure since we HAVE to have internet for work the cable isn’t so much more. When we lived in Memphis we didn’t have cable and went to the movies about twice a week on average. But here, the movies don’t have a cheap theater and the places are just substandard– so we just compromised and got cable and we almost never go out to the movies now.

I strive to cook things from scratch like beans, broth, and soups. I do keep some cans of beans so that if I am out of dried I can quickly use those.

I mow my own yard.

I quit my gym in favor of walking and doing yoga at home,

We didn’t get subscriptions to various different “surprise boxes” and opted instead to make boxes for each other that were at maximum half the cost. Those are fun and interesting.

I, too, am loyal to good providers of family services– my dentist, vet, and eye doctor are all people I have seen regularly for years, My vet is amazing and he’s always very understanding and patient with me, (I ask A LOT of questions.)

We have a rack to dry our clothes on where we put everything but towels and sheets.

We cut our own hair. (Well, the missus cuts her hair and mine and I trim the back of hers.)

There are plenty of other ways I need to cut costs– I should grow my own tomatoes and herbs (sometimes I do but I didn’t this last year). I should waste less food (I’m a terrible over buyer!) I should eat out less, And, most importantly, I need to make decisions based not on what I want (TV or take a walk? Pizza from Domino’s or beans and rice?) based on more than just want gratifies me in the moment–I should take into account long term savings like my health.


Laura October 15, 2016 at 11:45 am

1. I no longer get my hair coloured. I still pay for a cut and a conditioning treatment every 6 weeks or so – don’t want to look like a wild bush woman just yet!
2. I drive an 18 year old car but I have it maintained twice a year. I intend driving it until it (or I) drop.
3. I have a VOIP phone/internet plan – no landline costs and no cold callers.
4. have a dirt cheap mobile plan for my very limited personal use – mostly texts.
5. I have always paid extra on mortgage (paid off now) and into retirement savings – I am aiming to be a rich old lady!


Isabelle October 16, 2016 at 6:26 am

* We won a free buffet for one person. We will go today. It will be 17$+tip and taxes for the 4 of us, since we have only one paying adult and it’s free for kids. Talk about a cheap outing!
* Going out with friends next Friday. Got a Groupon for a magic show (12$) and will go eat at this restaurant where every plate is 4,95$. They count on people buying expensive booze to compensate, but I don’t even drink so….
* Brought my kids to the pool using my membership. At least I’m using it…
* Got a bunch of stuff at the thrift store, where everything was 50% off. So I got scrafs, mits, hats, vhs tapes, a lamp, Halloween costume, vase, lunch boxes, pencils cases, wool throw, etc, all for 30$. And all things I truly needed too.
* Groceries have been on the smaller side lately, since I am trying to use what we already have (I tend to buy too much).
* Received a 2$ coupon for the corner store. Will use to buy milk.
* Got clothes from a friend for my daughter. Giving her unused extra diapers as a thank you.
* Picked up lots of hours at work for upcoming week (I’m on call so I get to choose).
* Daughter is invited to 2 birthday party next week. Got a bunch of fun stuff on sale as gifts: Cotton candy, princesses glass, stickers, fruit lather, chalks to draw in the driveway. Comes to 10$ per gift. It’s about what I aim usually (10-15$). Hubby thinks it’s cheap…. oh well.

Have a great frugal day!


Jen@FrugalSteppingStones October 17, 2016 at 1:22 pm

I just convinced my husband to switch to Google Fi- well convinced him to let me switch. We pay a ridiculous, absurd, insane $100/month for two phones. I work part time and telecommute when I work, so I am nearly always on our home wireless. He does not do social media period and really only uses his phone for navigation. I should be spending about $23/month instead of $50, and will hopefully get him to change too, saving us a total of $54/month.


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