What’s Your Best Frugal Hack?

by Katy on February 24, 2024 · 155 comments

When I started writing this blog in 2008, my goal was to share “how my family works with the challenges of living on less, living less wastefully and the occasional obstacles that come up.” It didn’t occur to me how much of a two way street it would become. (Is “roundabout” a better metaphor, with all the cars circling the same center?) Either way, we’re all getting ideas and inspiration from one another.

Today I want you to share your very best frugal hacks, the ones that don’t show up on those useless “lose that latte habit” listicles. The creative, the extreme, the ones from your depression scarred grandparents. The ones we might be able to incorporate into our daily lives.

You’ve heard all my frugal hacks, now it’s your turn. What is your best frugal hack?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 155 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda February 24, 2024 at 12:18 pm

Thrift store clothing, or flea market clothing (the same). We purchase a lot which means second hand at our local flea market. Shopping for groceries at Aldi’s. Husband purchases second hand running sneakers on ebay. We use our local Library or if they don’t have what we are looking for, we purchase second hand. Cars are purchased used when we need them, not every couple of years. Eating out only very occasionally, not every week.


Katy February 24, 2024 at 12:29 pm

Oh how I wish we had Aldi here in Oregon! I love how your list of frugal hacks encompasses so many aspects of life!


Queen of Fifty Cents February 24, 2024 at 4:42 pm

But we have Winco – I’ve lived all over the country and never seen a better bulk section!


Dori February 25, 2024 at 8:57 am

Sure wish we had Aldi out here in Denver, too! Sadly, no Winco for us either. (sigh) Maybe someday . . .


Karen February 24, 2024 at 12:46 pm

Learning to cut my husband’s and my sons’ hair. I don’t know how much it’s saved us over the years, but with four boys and the average boys/teen haircut going for up to 15-20 bucks nowadays, my scissors and clipper set have paid for themselves many times over!


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:52 pm

I used to cut my kids’ and husband’s hair, but they no longer want my services. Perhaps I never got that good.


Karen February 24, 2024 at 6:03 pm

Ha, I don’t think it’s my skills. I don’t even use the clippers to cut the style, just to clean up edges. I have one haircut in my arsenal, and they all get the same treatment. I have learned how to do it slightly differently for those with wavy hair vs straight.

I’ve told my (now adult) sons that I would not be offended in any way if they wanted to go to a barber for their haircuts. But they cringe at the idea of going to a place to pay for a “stranger” to cut their hair! So they’d rather put up with my nonprofessional abilities to avoid that.


A. Marie February 25, 2024 at 3:08 am

Karen, your second paragraph made me think of the chorus to “The Haircut Song” by Ray Stevens: “When you get a haircut/You better go back home./When you get a haircut,/Get a barber you have known/Since you were a little bitty boy sittin’ in a booster chair/’Cause you might look like Larry, Mo, or Curly if a stranger cuts your hair!”


Bee February 25, 2024 at 5:20 am

After one try, I gave up the clippers. Once was enough! My poor son had yo Ho to school with that haircut. However, most of the time my husband did cut the boys hair when they were young. He also learned to groom our Spaniel.


Jiya February 24, 2024 at 12:49 pm

Volunteering at my local thrift shop – on the days I volunteer, I get half off my total, plus first choice of the items as they come in. My son has wanted a jersey from his favorite football team for years – last week I found him one that he loves, for $3 with my volunteer discount. I’ve found lots of toys for our new puppy, new rugs for our recently renovated bathrooms, an instant pot, hand weights and an exercise machine, and clothes for the whole family. I find the work there very fulfilling as well, and have made some nice friendships while volunteering.


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:51 pm

Great scores! My shuband and I have certainly been sent home with freebies are volunteer events.


Cathy February 24, 2024 at 3:38 pm

My top frugalities..
1. Cook from scratch, and soup twice a week
2. Home haircuts for my husband and myself
3. Home grooming for our poodle
4. Shop at the Franz Bakery Outlet every couple months
5. Make a budget and set goals. This includes having a 6 month emergency fund for peace of mind, paying credit cards in full each month, and gifts, vacation and entertainment in addition to the necessities. Always putting needs ahead of wants.
6. Take on extra jobs as needed to make ends meet. Yard work, babysitting pet care, etc.
7. Help your extended and neighbors whenever you can


Cathy February 24, 2024 at 3:41 pm

Sorry the above was meant to be a comment, not a reply. And the last was to be extended family and neighbors.


Cindy in the South February 25, 2024 at 9:18 am

Cheapest house possible, cheapest car that is in good condition and will last but without frills, dried beans and rice with dandelions from my yard is a standard weekly, sometimes daily meal, I also plant mustard greens in my front yard, so use available space for food, wash work shirts and delicates and jeans in sink and hang out to dry to make them last, no internet at house bc I have it at work but I do have prepaid IPhone with unlimited talk, text, and internet. I do not turn on heat or air unless I have to, and I sleep on top of bed in a ten degrees rated sleeping bag with wool army blanket tossed over it.


Cindy in the South February 25, 2024 at 9:21 am

I don’t know how my comment ended up being a reply but at any rate. I also live in a decidedly gruff and rough small town. My 25 k purchase price of my house during Recession (2012) has not increased in value but it has been invaluable to me for saving money and keeping my living expenses down.

MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:26 am

Jiya, I love that your volunteering has resulting in savings, fulfilling work and new friendships!


Joanie Ruppel February 24, 2024 at 12:53 pm

Two things come to mind: the hot water takes forever to reach my kitchen sink in my not-so-big house so I keep two empty Arizona tea gallon containers at the sink to fill until the warm water shows up. I then use the water to either fill my pool (not much difference but better than spending money twice) and water my outdoor potted plants. The other hack is cutting off the straps inside a blouse or dress and using them to tie around herbs when I dry them.


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:50 pm

This is an excellent tip for summer, as nature waters my outdoor plants 9-10 months of the year here in Portland, Oregon. maybe even keep a cute (curb picked?) watering can next to the sink?


Amy February 26, 2024 at 6:25 am

I love the watering can idea. I have a very nice metal one, but it leaks. I have been trying to figure out how to fit it.


Erin in ND February 26, 2024 at 6:43 pm

Look into JB Weld to fix your watering can. There are several formulas and it’s easy to use. We used some on a small oil tank and it’s holding up really well.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:28 am

Joanie, this is a great idea. I’m going to do this as soon as gardening starts up again.


Julia February 25, 2024 at 8:21 am

I save the water as well in juice containers. I water plants, put it in the dogs water bowl or take it out to water my chickens. There is so much wasted water. We live in the city and water is expensive.


Fru-gal Lisa February 26, 2024 at 6:22 pm

Julia and everyone,
I also live in the city. The city’s water not only tastes bad, but they recently said on the news that due to a power failure, hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage leaked into the lake. The lake is our city’s municipal water supply. We were told it wouldn’t hurt us — but who wants to drink potty water? Ick!!!
My frugal hack solves this problem. I work in another city that has its own water supply. Their water tastes better. So I take a big jug with me and fill it up at work; my worksite has special water fountains, that have filtered water and are designed for water bottles. (It’s a “green” thing: You’re supposed to bring your own individual Stanley Cup/refillable water bottle, fill it up, and therefore not have to buy a plastic water bottle, thus keeping plastic out of the landfill.) I just use a bigger jug, bring this water home and put it in the fridge for drinking water and to make coffee and tea with. I also cook with the “imported” water. Not only is it cleaner and filtered, but it’s free to do this!


Sharon H. February 24, 2024 at 12:56 pm

I wanted to completely re-vamp my beauty routine, after years of ill health. I wanted to look pretty again!

So I do research before buying anything, of course. But I prioritize tools that last a long time over lotions that are consumable. That one choice has been the thing that has made the biggest, most frugal difference, IMO. Then I choose multi-purpose products. For example, I chose a red-light device that is a flat surface, that I can use on any body part as opposed to a device that only fits on your face or your scalp (or your hands!). It improves the texture of my skin, thickened my hair, and helps my husband’s joint pain.

I tried a super expensive face cream that did exactly what it said it would do — I was very happy with the results — but chose not to buy it again. I prefer to go with the cheaper options for consumables. I watch dermatologists online for recommendations for inexpensive lotions and creams.


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:49 pm

Very interesting info here. I put 0% effort into beauty, so I’m unable to share any hacks with fellow non-consumers. Thank you!


mary in maryland February 24, 2024 at 2:27 pm

I also put zero effort into beauty, and I think it counts as a hack. No money spent of makeup, hair coloring, electrolysis, cute shoes. We’ve saved thousands over the years!


Liz B. February 24, 2024 at 7:32 pm

I’m very curious about the red light device you mention, and wonder if it’s something I would find helpful. Would you be able to provide more details on what you purchased? Thanks in advance!


Valerie in MN February 25, 2024 at 4:06 am

I am curious about this red light device as well! I have arthritic hands and wonder if this could be helpful. Please share info – thank you!


Vickey March 23, 2024 at 10:29 am

Infrared light devices do have proven health benefits beyond cosmetics/appearances. I’ve been looking into getting one for my mother-in-law to help her with some issues. Sorry I don’t have any specific devices to recommend – still in the searching and “how can I tell if this manufacturer’s product is legit?” phase.


A. Marie February 24, 2024 at 12:59 pm

As I mentioned in my Meet a Reader interview at The Frugal Girl a few years ago, my best frugal hack of all time isn’t really practical for other folks any more, because the cost of long-term care insurance (LTCI) premiums just passed Mars and is still climbing.

But having LTCI for DH was a life changer. No kidding, it’s made the difference between my having a modestly comfortable retirement and my being an almost destitute widow. Institutional care for DH–which he absolutely needed during the last two years of his Alzheimer’s–would have bled me dry except for what NYS Medicaid would have left me, which wouldn’t have been much.

So, folks, keep in mind that the unthinkable may happen to you, and sock away whatever you can however you can. And, as I always say, be sure you have advance directives and other end-of-life paperwork up to date.


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:47 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this, so many of us turn a blind end to end of life preparedness. Me included.


Trish February 24, 2024 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for that info – it’s really good to know. My husband and I have LTCI and it IS expensive but gives me peace of mine. Your comment added to that.


Liz B. February 24, 2024 at 7:39 pm

A. Marie, I wish my hubby and I had purchased LTCI a long time ago….at our ages (62 and 60), I’m not so sure we could afford it at this point. I can also say, my MIL paid $$$$ into her LTCI over many years, and then when she needed it, we found out she had some sort of policy that did not adjust with the exponential increases in LTC costs over the decades. They paid a pittance of the cost of care she needed in the last year of her life. Not something you want to find out that late in the game.


A. Marie February 25, 2024 at 3:06 am

Liz, you make some good points. DH and I bought our policies (from Genworth Life of NY, via AARP) about 15 years ago, when we were both still in our 50s and reasonably healthy; I had no pre-existing conditions at that time, and DH’s only one was clinical depression. (Also, the policies at that time were still relatively affordable, though certainly not cheap even then.) We also worked with a very good agent who made sure we got policies that were adjustable in the way you describe.


Liz B. February 25, 2024 at 10:06 am

A. Marie, you and DH were very smart to do that. Again, I wish my hubby and I had pulled the trigger on LTCI back then. My mom does have LTCI, and has a good agent and an excellent financial guy helping her.


Bee February 25, 2024 at 5:52 am

I am a proponent of planning for LTC. However, LTC insurance can be extremely expensive and many companies are making it more difficult to utilize your benefits. Be certain that you fully understand the terms of your policy agreement before purchasing a policy and make sure that you are working with a company with a high rating for financial stability.
I would also suggest two other things. First of all, if you have access to an HSA ( Health Savings Account) and you can afford it – even if you are fairly young — consider maximizing your contributions and investing these monies. They can be used down the road for LTC needs and give you some flexibility. Participating in an HSA also lowers your tax liability and if any funds remain in this account they can be passed to your heirs.
Secondly, if you have assets and/or a spouse make sure you see a good lawyer who specializes in estate planning and have your affairs in order. It will save lots of stress down the road. Sadly, I learned this from experience.


A. Marie February 25, 2024 at 8:20 am

Bee, your advice is excellent, as always. The last paragraph in particular applies to us all, regardless of how we end up financing end-0f-life care.


Liz B. February 25, 2024 at 10:08 am

Bee, I need to look into this. I’m uncertain as to how you can invest HSA funds? First I need to find out if I have access to an HSA. Thank you for this information.


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 10:23 am

You can only invest in HSA funds if you have certain types of health insurance. As you’ll quickly see when you start reading up on it, HSA and FSA funds have different rules for putting and taking out money.


Jean C February 25, 2024 at 4:07 pm

Roth IRA contributions for working children. I wish I had started this earlier. Once your children start having paid employment, you can set up Roth IRAs and contribute to them annually (up to the annual maximum or the amount of their gross income). Starting saving for retirement when they even have part-time or summer employment can build a nest egg.

Cooking/baking from scratch.

Having your possessions organized enough that you know what you have and can find it when you need to. Getting rid of items that no longer serve you at youe stage/season of life (which can be difficult to admit and act on).

Haunting upscale thrift shops for useful items but not getting carried away “‘going broke saving money”.

Squirreling away money for big ticket items instead of squandering it on small items or impulse purchases. If I could have just 25% of the money I wasted at Target when my kids were growing up (like on plastic crap) it would be so nice.

Deana February 26, 2024 at 3:43 pm

I agree with the estate planning. We went to a firm that specializes in elder care laws and estates. The firm did a free meeting in our area, and our family decided to take our mother to have her estate updated. Very wise decision, and I convinced my husband we needed to do that also. We have a small estate, but worth the peace of mind that all wills, finances, etc are taken care of for our children and surviving spouse. Their financial planner is also helping us with our retirement funds, investing the money and potentially saving us future taxes. He did say at our age (64) it is too late to buy Long Term Care insurance.


geri February 29, 2024 at 2:44 pm

I looked into some estate planning and discovered that my state is one which allows a Transfer on Death deed for the house and a Transfer on Death title for a vehicle. For less than $100, I was able to complete the paperwork for both, and don’t need a will. Better yet, the estate won’t have to go through probate, which will save thousands of dollars, even for a small estate like mine.


Kara February 24, 2024 at 1:01 pm

I’d say DIY is my best hack. From sewing to cooking to furniture, if I make something myself (or my husband can make it), we can save thousands. Today he is building me a seed starting rack, completely out of free wood, picked up as scrap here and there. I bought 2 bookcases on FB marketplace for $5 each. One got cut down to fit in the very small and precise space I needed shelves. The other got a quick shine and is listed on FB marketplace again for $40. I will have got the shelves I needed, and made a profit. I made my own GF birthday cake yesterday (anyone who is GF knows how expensive those are to buy ) that is every bit as good as a bakery cake.


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:46 pm

I love that you are hacking one bookshelf and reselling the other. Such clever ingenuity!


Kara February 24, 2024 at 8:37 pm

Coming back to report that the bookcase sold the same day I listed it! I picked up a free kitchen island today to re-do and sell.


Cindy in the South February 25, 2024 at 4:10 pm

I just watched my neighbor trashed pick a desk from another neighbor’s trash pile (they moved out this weekend.) I saw neighbor oil this desk,! and take out the drawers and glue them. He turned a rough looking desk into something very nice, as I watched from my front porch. He did all of this in his front yard. We are just like that in this neighborhood! We grill in our front yard and work on our cars in the driveway. Most of us use the front yard as much as the back yard. I have noticed a few escaped roosters and chickens so someone has a flock near me! Love it!


SaraB February 24, 2024 at 1:44 pm

I would say that learning to preserve food has been a big frugal hack, from more complex -like canning, to easier- like freezing and dehydrating. It allows us to save a lot from our garden and also unexpected bounty like gifts of fresh produce or inexpensive finds (last score was 40 lbs of apples for $10!!). We also participate in a cashless barter market where everything is handmade/homemade and I loooove sharing our items and coming home with so many great items— food, plants, even clothing!


Katy February 24, 2024 at 1:45 pm

What did you end up doing to preserve 40 pounds of apples?


Jean C February 25, 2024 at 4:12 pm

I know someone who buys “seconds” from a local apple orchard after the season and cans a bunch of applesauce in the winter months (vs at harvest). She devotes a full day (often with a friend/family) doing the processing/canning. She has one of those nifty apple/spiral peelers which makes it go fast.


Ecoteri February 27, 2024 at 10:48 pm

I make a lot of applesauce, and if I am fast I can it up – my middle son loves it and will eat a quart in two or three days, so when there are apples in quantity from my trees, if I can find the energy to core/peel/slice with that wonder machine I do so. He has begun to work with me on that chore as my own apples are imperfect so there are som additional knife wielding requirements before the apples are ready to be sauced. I don’t add anything – no sugar, no cinnamon. just apples and enough water to get the consistency right.


Vickey March 23, 2024 at 10:57 am

In the days when we were canning applesauce, we just cut out the bad spots, cored them, and pureed them in the secondhand high-speed blender before cooking them down and canning them. Retaining the peel increases the nutrients, and turns the sauce a lovely pink color. We thought it enhanced the flavor and even made the texture creamier, too.

Becky February 25, 2024 at 9:59 am

Are there any good resources or websites for tips on freezing food? I’m not a canning person but am working on building up a stock of ingredients in my freezer. Thanks in advance!


Erin in ND February 26, 2024 at 7:07 pm

Try “Freeze Fresh,” by Crystal Schmidt. It has a lot of info on freezing produce and ways to use it after thawing. I’ve used a few of her techniques and recipes.


Mary February 24, 2024 at 1:45 pm

I make shopping lists and never buy à double of what I already have: it gets replaced when it is gone and if still needed. I am créative with leftovers and make sure not to let frozen items get forgotten. Overripe fruits make for good compotes and pie fillings.


Lindsey February 24, 2024 at 1:56 pm

1. Letting folks know that I am willing to take items they might throw out. Just this morning I was offered a bag of items a business acquaintance does not want to move. Husband picked up what turned out to be 8 bags of food and since this person eats high on the hog, as they say, at least $500 of food ended up in my cupboard. She also threw in a quart of fancy shampoo and one of conditioner, plus the smaller bottles they are meant to refill. This is a larger than normal score, but over the years I have thankfully accepted thousands in food or supplies or furniture or clothing. And to make it simple and more likely folks will call me instead of taking things to the dump, I tell people I will take it all and pass on what I cannot use.
2. Cutting husband’s hair and have him cut mine.
3. Making soup at least once a week and eating it for at least two meals, usually dinner and then lunch.
4. Planting a large vegetable garden. I keep track of the harvest and compare it to grocery prices for the stuff; most years I make about $1000 over my expenses. And it is good exercise.


Kara February 24, 2024 at 3:07 pm

I, too, am known and make it be known, that I am grateful for any free things. If it’s something I can use myself, wonderful. If I can’t, I check with my kids and their spouses. After that I offer it on buy nothing. Sometimes I feel my mission in life is to re-home useful things


A. Marie February 25, 2024 at 3:11 am

Lindsey, I do your #1 and your #3. And I used to do your #4 till the #@$!! deer sent me off the deep end and out of the veg-growing business.


Lindsey February 25, 2024 at 2:36 pm

The moose here come about the 24th of August, really I have notes that show me how often that was the exact date. They can jump our 6 foot fence, which is right on the river so they don’t really have room to make a run for it before jumping so I am in awe of their jumping abilities. I have had only one or two years where they came before late August and by then we have usually had a first frost so a lot of stuff is picked and the greenhouse door is shut so they cannot get in there. I also plant more of stuff they like, such as cabbage, so that even if they eat some, they won’t eat them all before I notice the next morning and can pick the rest that day. Of course, sometimes they decide to take a giant bit out of every single cabbage so then it is dog and chicken food. (Although we gave our chicken set up to the young neighbor, who is fine with going out at 40 below to collect eggs several times a day to make sure they don’t freeze, so now we will give her cabbage in exchange for eggs.)


Rachel R February 24, 2024 at 2:21 pm

First time poster after reading the site for years. This may be too icky for some but first off washable period pads. Got them after my 4 child, wish I had bought them earlier, I then upgraded to a silicon cup and have used that mainly instead. I have the kept the pads for in the future when I may “leak” when I laugh or sneeze. Another tip of mine and its not for all, is wee wipes. I don’t use toilet paper for when I do a wee. This has saved me hundreds of dollars, I use cut up t-shirts and they are just as effective. For number two’s or when I had my period I use toilet paper. My reasoning was that I used cloth nappies and face cloths to clean up my kids bottoms when they were babies, why should I be any different?

Another hack is similar to Lindsey’s, I have two work colleagues that pass on their clothes and shoes to me. All gently used and the shoes are usually nearly new but in the case of the shoes they have bought them and they now feel too small. The clothes they have just got tired of. Most people come to know that I will take most things they don’t want and I will take it for myself or pass on to others. A win win for myself, others and planet earth.

Thanks for the blog Katy, I have enjoyed years of reading and enjoying other peoples stories who have a very similar mindset to mine. By being frugal, I could take the kids on overseas holidays (they are adults now), could build my husbands dream house and give money to the kids when they needed it.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:32 am

Rachel, these are good ones! Not icky at all.


Kathy P March 2, 2024 at 10:39 am

Definitely not ick!! Wish I’d discovered washable pads years ago, so lucky now, after initial investment discovered that our councils will post them to you. Something great for living in Scotland, I have replaced some of mine that were wearing out and have some put away for my daughter(9) you can reapply every 4 months. Also used reusables for her nappies, used flat ones mostly, so I now have a selection of small towels to join what is left of the ones my mum used on me (45)!!!!! Like the idea of wee wipes, noone else is keen, but I bought a load of wipes during COVID (when everyone thought loo roll was vital for life) and used them for a bit but felt a bit lonely in a houseful of “not using that”.


Ava February 24, 2024 at 2:22 pm

1. The most consistent money saving practice I know is cooking at home. Unfortunately, right now that is my biggest failing. My husband wants lunch out most of the time and to keep him happy, I go along. Of course we go to inexpensive local places and take home the left overs. But we could do much better.
2. I dress almost exclusively from thrift stores and my children grew up wearing thrifted clothing .
3. Using the library might not be a big savings for people who don’t read . But I am always reading something. Occasionally I pick up thrift store books but most of my reading and listening entertainment comes free from the library.


Lindsey February 24, 2024 at 4:17 pm

How could I forget to put the library on my list??!! We have a book library, a seed library, and tool/equipment library in our town. Another place I and my hobby woodworker husband have saved thousands over the years.


Jann in Maine February 24, 2024 at 2:39 pm

My biggest money saving is marry someone who shares your financial ways and goals. Life will be much easier and far fewer skirmishes!


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 10:42 am

This is my situation as well! When I met his parents and siblings, it was pretty clear through subtle and obvious ways that we were of similar mindsets.
Eldest brother always held high-paying jobs and was willing to share with family in trouble. I went shopping once with his wife and had never seen anyone that laser focused on the quality of the children’s clothing she was looking at. Taught me something I would use later.
Sister and parents didn’t have much money but generously shared time.
Mother-in-law had a refrigerator full of leftovers in margarine and well-used rubbermaid containers. They had an ancient van for transporting grandchildren. Family joke was that father-in-law could come to a rolling stop while mother-in-law would open the side door and jump out at yard sales, where she got many toys and clothes for grandchildren. Their house was worn, clean, and comfortable. Education was important, as was church.
They said “thank you” sincerely when we got them a treat of some sort, as we did in return.


Lindsey February 25, 2024 at 2:38 pm

I, too, lucked out with wonderful in-laws. When I hear mother in law jokes I feel compelled to defend mother in laws!


Trish February 24, 2024 at 3:27 pm

I do so many things to save money, a lot of them have already been mentioned, and I think that being diligent in this pursuit is perhaps my biggest frugal hack. But I wanted to mention another thing I do – I used to listen to Car Talk on NPR, the show hosted by the MIT -educated Magliozzi brothers. On one show they said accelerating and decelerating slowly are the two driving habits that will most contribute to the longevity of your car. So there it is. I live in a rural area, so I drive way more than I wish I did.


Lindsey February 24, 2024 at 4:18 pm

Loved Click and Clack!


Maryann February 25, 2024 at 6:49 am

Loved Click and Clack too!
Thinking of Car Talk brings a smile to my face.


BettafrmdaVille February 25, 2024 at 8:39 am

I waited on “Click and Clack” for Doug Berman’s 40th birthday party dinner. They were just as fun in person as they were on the radio…


Ruby February 24, 2024 at 4:26 pm

• 1. Know the difference between a want and a need and act accordingly. Modern life makes this surprisingly tricky because we are bombarded all day with clever advertising aimed at getting us to constantly spend money for a dopamine boost disguised as a need. It’s not one.
• 2. Develop practical skills that save money, such as learning to mend your clothes or cook for yourself.
• 3. Take care of what you own. It takes less than ten minutes for me to wipe down all my leather shoes, handbag and wallet with leather conditioner and they look great afterward. It takes only about 20 minutes to vacuum out and wipe down the interior of my car, still going strong at 14 years old. You love stuff more when it looks nice and still works well.
• 4. Use up what you have creatively. Katy excels at this and sets a great example. It took me forever to get this organized, but there’s now a written inventory on the door of our small upright freezer of what’s on each shelf. Today my husband ate the last of the sandwich fixings on an enormous sandwich for lunch. I consulted the inventory and the produce drawer in the fridge. Lunch tomorrow will be a pork pot roast with carrots, thyme and red onion. A bowl of cherries no one was eating (what is wrong with these people?) went into a pan of baked oatmeal with the last of some blueberries and raspberries — yum.

5. Just own less stuff. Ain’t no Uhauls headed to the graveyard with any of us. A judicious amount of minimalism is frugal.


Denise February 25, 2024 at 12:49 am

“Ain’t no u-hauls heading to the graveyard with any of us.” Brilliant and funny. One other I heard: “Coffins don’t have pockets.”

Admittedly, it was said by an oil-rich sheikh to explain his multi-million pound car collection. He didn’t seem to think that he should spend the money on the poverty stricken in his country.


Bee February 25, 2024 at 6:08 am

What a wonderful list, Ruby. I am having a harder time finding shoe polish lately though. I think you are super creative in your approach to frugality.


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 10:47 am

Bee, I’ll go one step more– Try to find a shoe horn! I got a new pair of my favorite shoes and they were just barely snug and I didn’t want to break down the backs. Finally ordered one.


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 10:51 am

Ruby: As you wrote, this is SUCH an important distinction: “Know the difference between a want and a need and act accordingly.”

What you called “acting accordingly” includes wants some of the time. But that means some thought was put into the consequences of the purchase or experience or action.


Ann February 24, 2024 at 4:32 pm

We make a weekly menu and shop for the items needed to prepare each of the meals. We also stock up items that are on sale and save for a later menu.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:37 am

Ann, this “just-in-time” approach makes a difference for us, too. The meal decisions have already been made and no wasted food!


Tiffany February 24, 2024 at 5:01 pm

Asking for a CAA membership discount everywhere. My motto is that you don’t know if you don’t ask! For instance, if booking a hotel or B&B and the competition offers the discount, you can bet I am going to ask if they honor it as well. Many restaurants offer 15% off or a free appetizer, and just do not advertise that they do so.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:35 am

Tiffany, this sounds cool! What is a CAA membership?


Tina February 25, 2024 at 8:57 am

Canadian AAA


Mary Ann February 24, 2024 at 5:25 pm

My two sound paradoxical:

1. I am willing to be weird even though it is often uncomfortable. Through the various stages of learning what is worth my time ( time versus money) I have dug into dumpsters for coupons. ( this was way back before computer coupons and the tv show Extreme couponing ruined coupons.) I got caught by my niece who said, “Aunt Mary Ann, what are you doing in the trash can?” I have had water when friends ordered meals out on a girl’s weekend. I made bread for gifts with old baking soda ( didn’t know) and was laughed at by the whole family. To this day I struggle with embarrassment cooking for others. to cook for others.I was just willing to try different strategies and then keep the ones that made sense and were comfortable. No more dumpster diving and I eat out so seldomly it is not really and issue. But all of my peers in my little town are at the expensive supermarkets and I haunt grocery outlet. Who cares? I have a tool box of saving strategies that allow me to live like a queen.

2. Putting in an effort to look my best.
As an obese teenager in the 70s I held a tremendous amount of shame. Not only did I spend a huge amount on binge food, I spent nothing on clothes. I had no idea how to look attractive. One time a choir member ( tenor) told me in college “For God’s Sake, Mary Ann, don’t you know you are supposed to groom your curly eyebrows? ” No, I didn’t. Over years I have learned to dress myself with flattering clothes. I made expensive mistakes. Now I am quite talented, keeping a well curated small wardrobe for work and play with everything becoming. it is all about the fit. I basically only have things now that people say “That looks great on you.” Now that I know exactly what i am looking for, I use Poshmark, Ebay, etc. . .; raid friends closet; give them things and have really cut down on expenses. Expensive Labels don’t necessarily make you look better. They just draw attention. I get a good haircut for a reasonable price and use good products that work for my hair and last forever. I researched a skin routine that saves on what can be saved and splurges on the most important products. I don’t wear any makeup except lipstick. I am blessed with good skin. When I know I look my best, I am more outgoing, eat less and think of others more. I am to the point where dressing in the morning takes minutes and I know I am showing the best version of myself. So worth it.


Bee February 25, 2024 at 6:22 am

Frugality does require you to be comfortable in your own skin. Sometimes you have to have the ability to shrug off societal norms – to go against the flow. You eventually find your own groove.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:38 am

Mary Ann, so smart!


A. Marie February 25, 2024 at 12:56 pm

Mary Ann, your two don’t sound paradoxical at all to me. I too am “willing to be weird even though it is often uncomfortable,” and I too was an obese teenager in the early 1970s. You go, girl!


Lindsey February 25, 2024 at 2:45 pm

Another fat 70’s girl here. When I got so very ill, I became quite skeletal over that year. I actually had a hospital visitor tell me that she wished she could get a catastrophic illness “for a little while” so she could lose some weight. I did not have the strength to get up out of the bed so had to content myself with picturing myself pushing her down a long flight of stairs.


Amy February 26, 2024 at 6:49 am

This reminded me of a tip my mom shared. To test a box of baking soda, put a 1/4 t of soda in a dish and add 2 t of vinegar. If it doesn’t bubble or is barely bubbly don’t bake with it.

As for the message I completely agree. I am so comfortable being weird.


Mae Strychun February 26, 2024 at 11:26 am

I absolutely love that you have learned strategies to feel and look beautiful! I’m a 70s child, too, and totally relate.


chrisMD February 24, 2024 at 5:50 pm

Baking is my secret weapon. Cheaper, healthier, and tastes a lot better than what is sold in the grocery store. I’ll make almost anything.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:57 am

ChrisMD, I wish I could master baking my own bread. It would save so much money. You’ve inspired me to try a couple more recipes!


Lindsey February 25, 2024 at 2:47 pm

Try the blog https://alexandracooks.com. She has a no-fail peasant bread recipe that might help.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 3:42 pm

Lindsey, thank you! This looks like a good one to try.


Ecoteri February 27, 2024 at 10:54 pm

that peasant bread is how my daughter is learning how to make bread – successfully. if you up the recipe by 1/2, it can be put into two (glass preferred, IMHO) loaf pans and you get almost regular type bread. Depending on your house, you may need to let it rise longer – patience is key.

Stephanie February 24, 2024 at 6:34 pm

We all have our own frugal hacks, the greatest of which is to live below your means to the extent that you can.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 8:04 am

Stephanie, that reminds me of the useful phrase “live below your means and within your seams.”


Li February 24, 2024 at 7:58 pm

An unintentional frugal hack: I lived with an extremely small kitchen for a few years. Seriously tiny. There was no room for things like boxes of cookies or cereal or cake mixes. There was room for ingredients only, and I had to be efficient and I knew exactly what I had in my tiny cabinet. I ended up saving so much money! I think there are a lot of people who have pantries full of crap and a lot of it gets forgotten and ultimately gets thrown out.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 8:00 am

Li, you’re so right! Although I have a larger kitchen now with more storage, I try to follow the same principles from when I had a much smaller space. The fewer processed foods the better for both health and wealth.


Li February 25, 2024 at 10:00 pm

We are building a house now, and I’m saving money on kitchen cabinets because I’m leaving out most of the uppers. I’ve grown accustomed to running a lean kitchen. 🙂


Kathy G February 24, 2024 at 9:51 pm

Reading through the comments I can second so many of them-thrift shopping, cutting Hubby’s hair, cooking from scratch or choosing inexpensive restaurants when we go out, but the one that works the best for me is to pause when I think I “need” something. Usually after a cooling off period the urge to buy is gone.


lizg February 25, 2024 at 2:16 am

This is a small thing: my family likes foaming hand soap, but it’s stupid expensive for what you get. I saved the empty bottle from the last foaming hand soap we bought and refill it with a little “regular” hand soap and water. Shake it a little to mix and now you have foaming hand soap for pennies.

A 56 oz hand soap refill at my grocery is $3.99 vs the 8 oz “foaming” hand soap bottle for $3. The big refill easily lasts 6 months at my house.


Paige February 25, 2024 at 6:27 pm

Liz, I do the same thing with the foaming hand soap bottle. You can also use up the last bit of dish soap that clings to the side of the bottle to make foaming hand soap.


LizG February 26, 2024 at 10:41 pm

I just realized that I could get big bottles of handsoap at Dollar Tree, so this will save a little more money!


Valerie in MN February 25, 2024 at 4:25 am

I think one of the most consistent frugal hacks I have used and ultimately became a regular way of shopping is buying store brand labels. I started way back in the 80’s when GENERIC food started coming out. The black and white packaging stood out like a sore thumb and people commented that only poor people bought those products… my haven’t we come a long way.

And I usually only purchase discounted meat. Save $7 on a chuck roast that you have to use or freeze that day? Sign me up! I have a well-stocked freezer and have yet to get food poisoning. 😉


A. Marie February 25, 2024 at 12:59 pm

Valerie, I too am a fan of Reduced for Quick Sale meat; in fact, it’s about the only way I buy poultry and pork these days. (Up to now, I have been buying beef at an amazing price from a friend of my late DH’s who raises his own, but this deal may be coming to an end this year.) And I too am still alive to tell the tales.


Bee February 25, 2024 at 4:34 am

I have been trying to determine what my best frugal hack might be. I think that it would actually be easier to tell everyone the few things that I do that are not frugal. When you have been frugal for a long time, it just becomes a way of life. However, I think that I have three helpful things.

* Of course, like so many who read this blog, I buy as much as I can secondhand. Where I live, the best source for these items is the estate sale. Most people think of an estate sale for furniture, antiques, clothing and collectibles. However, these sales are wonderful sources for secondhand items that are hard to get elsewhere – tools, lawn care equipment, craft and office supplies, and like-new kitchen items as well as other household supplies. I have purchased orchid fertilizer, paint brushes, canvas drop cloths, shovels, rakes, hammers, drill bits, picture hangers, toilet bowl cleaner, decorative moss, tape, stationery, books, unopened gourmet foods, and so much more for pennies on the dollar.
Some people feel strange about entering someone’s home and looking through their garage or kitchen. However, you are actually helping the beneficiaries of the sale and making an overwhelming job much easier for the individual or family. It can take months to clean out a home. The cost of movers, dumpsters, dump fees, packers and so forth can be difficult for some to manage. The monies they make from the estate sale may also help with expenses. Estate sales are win-win situations.
* At least twice a year, I go through my budget, bank statements and credit card bills and question everything. Are their subscription that can be cancelled? Do some bills seem too high? Why did I spend so much on ___ ? Am I making the most of my benefits?
* Food preferences, dietary restrictions and nutritional needs vary greatly from person to person. I have found that menu planning, pantry inventories, bulk buying and the use of a price comparisons have helped me in nearly all circumstances. These lesson came straight from the Tightwad Gazette 35 years ago. I think these are especially important now as food prices are higher than ever.
I can’t wait to read everyone else’s idea. Wishing all peace and prosperity.


Liz B. February 25, 2024 at 10:14 am

“Making the most of my benefits”….yes! I just found out that my health insurance offers discounts to a local gym, on hearing aids (hubby needs them), and some other things (Disney World tickets, for example….we will not be using that one, but nice for anyone who’s planning to go!).


Fru-gal Lisa February 26, 2024 at 6:55 pm

Liz B., your Disney World remark brought to mind a good one.
For anyone going to Disney World during the winter, here is a tip for you: secondhand winter clothes are very, very cheap in Florida so take advantage of this!
I used to live in Central Florida in the Orlando area. Every winter, the thrift stores fill up with heavy sweaters, winter coats, wool pants, etc.
Usually what happens is that people move there from “Up Nawth,” (North), and bring their winter clothes they think they’ll need. After a year or so, they realize they don’t need them or brought too many winter woolens, and they donate them. The thrift stores practically have to give them away since no one needs winter clothing. The prices are dirt cheap.
I knew retirees who would go scoop up a lot of kiddie clothes and send or take them to their grandchildren who lived in colder climates. They were able to really help their families for not a lot of money.
I would tell my friends who were visiting at Christmas to bring large, mostly empty, suitcases with them. We’d make the rounds to the thrift stores and some consignment stores and those suitcases were filled to the brim for the return trip.
A friend who was due to start a job in the Midwest got a really nice overcoat and a professional wardrobe for not very much money. This helped them look really sharp for le$$ when they were fresh out of college and needing to budget for that first career position.
So my frugal tip is to shop for secondhand winter clothes in Florida!


Jill A February 25, 2024 at 5:31 am

All of my frugal hacks are the same as everyone else. I also read the Tightwad Gazette and used many of Amy’s stategies. I spend very little on the things that don’t matter to me. I don’t think I do anything particularly special. Living below my means and living debt free is the most helpful. My husband and his father built our house and we paid it off in eight years. We have bought our cars used and paid cash. My current vehicle is 14 years old. My husband bought it from his employer They offered their end of lease vehicles to employees at the cost of purchasing from the dealership. I think my favorite frugal hacks are the ones where I can get something I want for substantially less with no impact on my standard of living – books from the library instead of the book store, streaming TV and antenna vs. cable, family phone plan with my adult children, auto pay discounts with some recurring payments, paying for everything with a credit card for the rewards points and paying in full every month, etc.


Jill A February 25, 2024 at 5:35 am

Also I should add buying used as often as possible. I find beautiful clothing and just about anything I could want eventually can be found. Like Bee I also like estate sales. I like to buy my cleaning products, sometimes pantry items. a few weeks ago I bought a bottle of dessert wine for $1. Often times the items are new or barely used.


Bee February 25, 2024 at 6:33 am

I think it’s amazing that your husband built your house and you paid it off just 8 years! Way to go!


Jean C February 25, 2024 at 4:31 pm

Yes to paying auto and/or home insurance annually and getting “paid in full discount”. Bundling home/auto insurance with the same carrier to get a discount. Calling insurance agent to question policy changes and make adjustments if necessary. If you are going to be taking a long trip or not using a vehicle for an extended period, call to have insurance reduced (you aren’t going to need collision if a vehicle is sitting in the garage).


Jessica February 25, 2024 at 6:12 am

Crafting on the cheap if you’re a serial craft hopper:
Look for crafts that are adjacent to things you already do. Do you do cross stitch? Well why not try a different type of embroidery? You’ve already got the floss and the hoops/scroll frames, and needles. Like to crochet? Well all that yarn can also be knit. A lot of it might be good for nålbinding too. If you’ve done a yarn hobby and cross stitch, you can combine those two and try needlepoint.
Try crafts that involve local natural materials. Basketry is a pretty good one. You can make a basket out of lots of things you’ll find on a walk. If you’re really slick and not opposed to doing some yardwork, you might even get folks to PAY you to harvest things from their yards. Cordage is another cheap thing you can do with a little foraging/yardwork. (I even used some banana skins to make cordage, so some foraging can be done in your kitchen lol) And with cordage, you can make a basket too, so that’s like 2 hobbies for the price of one, and that price was pretty cheap anyway!
Interested in quilting? Maybe start small. Make friends with a quilter who only works on big things, and ask what they do with their scraps. The answer a lot of times is “throw them out”. Offer to take those little pieces off their hands, and take up “crumb quilting”. You can use scraps as little as about .75 of an inch for that. (I don’t know that I’d ever try to make something bed sized with pieces that small, but you can turn most quilt blocks into pot holders and table runners pretty easily.)


Vickey March 23, 2024 at 3:27 pm

Jessica, I love that you brought this fresh take on being creatively (pun intended) thrifty!


Laura February 25, 2024 at 6:50 am

Use your library. I read about 100 books a year and don’t want to think about what that would cost if I’m buying them all. Ours also started carrying video games you can borrow. Those have been great to see if my son likes the game before he or we buy it.

Check out free TV options like Tubi. If you must have a streaming service get the cheaper option with ads.

If your car is dependable, you don’t need a new one. One of my family’s vehicles is 20 years old. It’s showing its age cosmetically but still runs great. We don’t live in an area with good public transportation so a car is a must.


MB in MN February 25, 2024 at 7:24 am

Like A. Marie, I’m mentioning what I wrote in my Meet a Reader interview on The Frugal Girl. The frugalities that have had the most impact:
1. keeping our vehicles running until they run out
2. being vegetarian which we believe allows us to save money on both groceries and health care. Because of our diet, we’ve found that recent inflation has not had a noticeable impact on our grocery budget.
3. borrowing other people’s children (nieces and nephews) instead of having our own!


Blue Gate Farmgirl February 25, 2024 at 8:07 am

Barter. Learn basic auto care. Grow a big garden. Can, preserve, dehydrate. Glean. Make a list of needs and shop thrift stores & estate sales first – it takes patience. Cooking from scratch, buying in bulk, we have a family and friends co-op for flours, sugars (honey and cane sugar), beans and rice. Taking classes to learn a new needed skill. I cannot say this enough – ask an older neighbor, friend or family to teach you a needed skill! Organize your life – don’t buy something twice.


Pat February 25, 2024 at 9:31 am

Not sure if this counts as frugal anymore.
When my kids were home & my husband was alive,we used to check the grocery fliers for roasts on sale that didn’t stipulate sold as roasts only and have the butchers ground them up into hamburger meat,it saved a few bucks back then, I don’t spend any time looking at roasts anymore,I’d have to get a bank loan.


Marybeth from NY February 25, 2024 at 10:09 am

1. The library has saved me thousands of dollars. Besides borrowing books and magazines, we have all taken dozens of classes. When my kids were little I did all the classes we could because I was a SAHM. I didn’t have the money to go to Gymboree. Now that we have an empty nest, I do craft classes with friends. We use museum passes, borrow movies, yard games, a record player, a telescope. A nearby library has free seeds that I get.
2. We borrow where we can. The amount of clothes over the years that my sister’s and I share is crazy. Have a wedding or funeral, borrow dress, shoes, purse, jewelry, hair accessories. Hubby borrows tools from his dad and brother all the time and they borrow from us. We are close to a few neighbors and share tools too.
3. My sister and I dog sit for each other. She travels for work a lot so it saves her more but I get lots of dog kisses.
4. We buy used when we can. Cars are always used. I love the thrift store too much. Facebook market place is wonderful. Spending the day at yards sales is wonderful.
5. Growing a garden, cooking at home, composting, canning, dehydrating and avoiding food waste.


Bee February 25, 2024 at 3:34 pm

I would love to share clothes with my sister, but she is over 6’ tall. If I stand on my tiptoes, I am 5’4.” She special orders her size 12 shoes. I wear a 7N. We weigh the same, however. Aren’t genetics interesting?


Joanna February 25, 2024 at 10:44 am

A little late to the party, but I’ll play too!

Procrastination is my greatest frugal weapon. Countless times I’ve procrastinated purchasing a want, only to have a free or cheaper solution present itself. Sometimes I’ll have a stroke of genius to solve a problem with items I already have. Sometimes the problem will resolve itself. Sometimes I’ll be chatting with someone and they know another person getting rid of that thing. Or I find it in a thrift store 2 months later. If you can procrastinate a purchase – do it. It will save thousands.


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 11:21 am

Along with the many things I do that people have listed, I will add that where you put your time and attention influences what you do and what is important to you.
I rarely shop, either online or in stores, and thus don’t know (or care) what I am missing. The exception is grocery stores, because I know our local one so well that I can quickly find the bargain shelves. And when my son was little, I spent time shopping at yard sales often, saving tons of money. I am content with “enough”; I don’t need “much.”
I follow this blog and two others regularly, putting my attention on using my resources wisely. I am very grateful for the work of the host-ers and to the commenters! I don’t do many of the things that are mentioned, (I don’t cook much and consider beans a vile food, for instance). But I do read to be supported in my values of wise use of money and resources and creating a good life for my family and community.


Chris February 25, 2024 at 4:06 pm

If you don’t mind sharing, what are the other two websites you follow?
I also follow The Frugal Girl and The Prudent Homemaker as well as NCA, but always looking for new quality blogs


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 6:06 pm

Those are also the other two I read faithfully. They have slightly different audiences, which I appreciate, and some overlap in commenters.

I occasionally look in on The Bluebirds Are Nesting On the Farm with Annabelle, (most sadly, her husband died suddenly last month), though that is more food, gardening, and sewing than I do. The Australian seasons are opposite of the U.S., meaning she helps me think far ahead.

Na Na Pinches Her Pennies doesn’t have a regular schedule; Anita lives on an extremely tight budget and uses a lot of old-time solutions. I found her first when looking for something about how to keep a house cool without AC and read her post about which windows to open when.


Kathleen February 25, 2024 at 11:40 am

When my husband died young I used the small amount I got from his life insurance to pay off my mortgage. Because the student loan people don’t count your house equity against you when determining how much financial aid students qualify for, all three of my children got very generous aid packages to the colleges they attended. They all went to private schools because the aid was more from those schools making them less expensive that the public universities. They all worked in college and minimized the amount of money they needed in loans. They all graduated and have good jobs.
Now that I am retired I appreciate not having a mortgage payment and I also made sure I had paid off all other debts before I retired. I am lucky to get both a pension and Social Security and can put away quite a bit automatically each month so I always have the cash to pay for unexpected expenses.


Heidi Louise February 25, 2024 at 6:13 pm

What good use you put your husband’s life insurance to, to help you out directly and indirectly!
(And I appreciate you mentioning that private schools may provide enough financial aid to be comparable in cost to public ones. I guess another financial guideline is to never presume you can, or can’t, afford something without asking).


Fru-gal Lisa February 26, 2024 at 7:06 pm

Our pastor sent his children out of state to Arkansas for college. I’m not sure of all the details, but he said Arkansas offers in-state tuition to some out-of-state students, making their state universities more affordable. His kids graduated a couple of years ago, so it may or may not still be in effect. Not sure if this applies to all states or just to states close to Arkansas. But you might want to check it out to see if this is a thing for your kids.


Julianne in MN February 27, 2024 at 1:48 pm

Reducing college costs is my family’s most frugal hack. Many universities offer automatic merit scholarships based on a combination of GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Many states also offer free concurrent enrollment to earn college credit while still in high school. Both our daughters were able to earn college credit in high school and full-tuition college scholarships. We found the scholarship opportunities simply by searching “Automatic Merit Scholarships.”


Rachel February 25, 2024 at 12:36 pm

My latest frugal hack is going vegan. I know it’s not for everyone, but it has definitely saved me a bunch of money on weekly groceries, as long as I stay closer to whole foods and stay away from things like plant-based chicken patties (which are good when I have no time). Lentils, beans, tofu and nuts are my main sources of protein and i eat plenty of spinach, whole grain pasta and chickpea pasta, too. Also, i expect that this eating style will also provide me with some health benefits, as my A1C(blood sugar) has gone down (i was pre-diabetic), and I lost 8 pounds in less than a year without even trying (not bad for a menopausal woman, lol).


Danielle February 25, 2024 at 1:30 pm

It’s not doable for everyone, but not having a car. Cycling, public transportation and walking are significantly cheaper. There are some challenges (especially with a baby/toddler), but the benefits outweigh them, and we can always rent a car for those times when we really do need one (rarely). People think we’re nuts and ask us questions like how do we get things to our house, but our regular everyday shopping is within walking distance, so we just buy what we can use in a week, and most bigger things can be delivered (and we spend significantly less on delivery fees than we would on a car).
I think if I had to have a car because I didn’t have any alternatives, I’d still try to figure out how to drive less by consolidating errands or carpooling, and even see if we could get by with just one family car. But where we live, we don’t need even one.


mary in maryland February 26, 2024 at 6:45 am

We’ve been a one car family for the last 27 years and only drive about 4K miles per year. We live within walking distance of most of the places we go–library, groceries, hardware store, local school. I’m sure that owning a car is way more expensive than the money we save at Aldi’s, but the Mister is adamant about not being carless. Since the car is a 19-yr-old (paid for) Prius, I see no need to argue with him.


Teri February 25, 2024 at 3:13 pm

The only thing I can think of that hasn’t already been mentioned is only eating 2 meals a day . We combine intermittent fasting with this for a healthy diet and saving money . We eat a late breakfast ( around 10am ) and dinner at about 5-5:30 then nothing after 7 pm.


texasilver February 25, 2024 at 4:45 pm

My biggest frugal win was going to college. I went to community college for 3 years. Then I went to a university for 1.5 years to earn my degree. I have always had a good paying job w/ benefits due to my education. I paid my way thru school (which I know is very difficult to do nowadays). My father died when I was very young & the SS $ helped me pay bills when I was a poor student. I am always grateful I could get a university education.


Li February 25, 2024 at 9:55 pm

One of my unintentional frugal hacks was getting a college degree in Texas when the tuition was still $4 per semester hour!


Kristen | The Frugal Girl February 25, 2024 at 5:23 pm

One thing I mentioned on my blog recently, which is sort of a cleaning/frugal hack: boil washcloths/dishcloths for 10 minutes in a pot of water, and it kills all the bacteria and leaves them fresh-smelling, with no bleach required.

And we all know reusable kitchen linens beat paper towels. 🙂


Katy February 25, 2024 at 6:17 pm

Ooh . . . I need to do this!


Mary Ann February 26, 2024 at 6:44 am

I microwave them to do the same- less time.


Megan February 25, 2024 at 5:33 pm

Hot take: Multi-generational living. My partner and I live with his son, my mom, and my uncle who is disabled. We renovated the upstairs for our space and built a garage apartment for my uncle. This has saved so so so much money for us all and we all contribute monthly to bills, property taxes, house upgrades and groceries since the house is paid off. I manage the budget and am able to invest in things for sustainability because of this. We just installed a reverse osmosis system and are getting solar panels.

I have Chronic Refractory Migraine and my monthly medication is about $1,300. I have a job I love that makes okay money, but has amazing health insurance. We put my paycheck towards my medical expenses and just view it as covering my health care.

I just invested in rain harvesting troughs and we have noticed a difference in our water bills by using the rain water. We live in Oklahoma and the weather is so hot so this makes a huge difference.


Nancy from mass February 25, 2024 at 5:40 pm

My biggest frugal hack is, don’t forget your library! At some libraries, you can borrow specialty baking pans or musical instrument. libraries in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have museum passes and zoo passes. There’s a wealth of things you can get from your local library.


Angela R February 25, 2024 at 5:40 pm

Preventing food waste is one of the most frugal things you can do. A couple days a week I eat an “odd” lunch of leftover vegetables, dinner leftovers and anything else that looks like it’s aging in the fridge. I started doing this about fifteen years ago and barely have any food waste. It’s become a badge of honor for me.


Jennifer February 25, 2024 at 6:16 pm

When I had 4 kids in 6 years we helped start a baby sitting coop with about a dozen families from our church. It was official and everything was based on points. If you wanted to use points you had to watch other children to earn points. I did not pay for childcare for 3 years of being in it. We moved out of state and I never had a good childcare system in place again. We never really used it for dates, but more for middle of the day stuff where I didn’t want to take all 4 kids. But others used it mostly for evening stuff. It was amazing for all the families.


Heidi Louise February 26, 2024 at 7:04 am

I like stories like this so much!


Paige February 25, 2024 at 6:40 pm

I use YNAB (you need a budget app).

Before I buy anything, I check the app to see how much money is “available” in that category. It really makes me so much more mindful of my spending.

Many times I’ll end up not buying “it” because pausing for a moment is enough to make me reconsider.


Loretta February 25, 2024 at 7:39 pm

Not exactly a hack: some friends and I started a regular produce and plant swap in our little town. People bring their excess home grown produce, eggs, jams, pickles, seedlings, flowers, seeds and put them on a communal table for other participants to take. We have a volunteer roster for set up and pack up so people without produce can contribute their time to join in. Have made so many new friends and the range of food the town gardens can grow is astounding! And it is all FREE!!


Grammy's Grub February 29, 2024 at 10:57 am

I love this idea so much! I’m new to my area so I don’t know many people yet. I wonder how one might get the ball rolling on this?


Laurie Despres February 26, 2024 at 5:02 am

If you can’t get home for a meal pack it.
Instant Pot everything you can – avoid process foods. Fast food is only an option if your more than 30 miles from home. ( Dunk in is never an option. If it is not a food group – Mom is not buying. San underwear+ sock buy only second hand.
Library is my weekly treat. Book + bath is a spa treatment. If the recipient is 0 to 6 or or 25 to 100 make the


Amy February 26, 2024 at 6:22 am

Rummage sales and organization which in fact go together. I have an ongoing list of things that I need or need to replace, or fix. I like rummage sales at schools and churches. The prices seem to be lower and everything that gets donated is out and available 9no one went through it and threw away.) No emotional pricing either way. I have mending supplies for the rest of my life and I am sure these wouldn’t have shown up at a yard sale because they look like junk. I have untangled so much thread and yarn. But these things keep us going.


KT February 26, 2024 at 6:45 am

Cooking at home and cutting my family’s hair are probably the lowest-hanging frugal fruit for me, and offer short-term satisfaction. But thinking about the long game, mortgage prepayments are absolutely the highest impact thing I’ve done. We bought our house when I was 27, forking over the down payment with a mid-five-figure inheritance from my mother (I feel fortunate to have received this, but I’d rather my mom had lived to a ripe old age, so it’s bittersweet). Anytime we’ve had extra cash, our income has grown, etc., we’ve made prepayments against our principal – our lender allows this up to 15% of the original loan annually. I live in Canada, where we can’t deduct mortgage interest from our taxes, so there is no advantage to carrying the loan longer than necessary. Fast forward to now: I’m turning 40 this year and the mortgage will be gone within 12 months, making it a 14-year commitment instead of a 25-year ball and chain. It’s going to feel so sweet to make that final payment.


Marie February 26, 2024 at 4:32 pm

Congratulations on paying off your mortgage soon. I’m about 3 1\2 years from paying off mine.


Selena February 26, 2024 at 5:31 pm

We started doubling up payments (2nd to principle only). Do make sure those principle only got applied as such. Despite a note AND “principle payment” on memo line, some did not. Poor banker had to reverse and reapply almost a year’s worth of payments. I started verifying every six months. We paid ours off in 16 years. Since then both house “payments” go straight to savings. Some with the one $10K vehicle loan. It was paid off 6 years ago but that “payment” kept going to savings too. A healthy emergency fund is such peace of mind.


Valerie in MN February 27, 2024 at 2:37 am

We have recently committed to paying off our mortgage in 5 years or less. We have made bulk payments in the past but now are throwing money at it monthly. I CANNOT WAIT TO PAY THIS OFF!! I feel like this is paramount to us being able to retire comfortably and before 67 years old.


chrisMD February 27, 2024 at 9:45 am

I’m not that good at bread, but muffins and Irish soda bread are delicious too, it all gets eaten.


Dicey March 1, 2024 at 12:25 am

Nancy, I’ll see you and raise you one. I joined the Friends of the Library so I could help out at their book sales. In return, I get my choice of books for $1. Anything that remains on take down day is free. That was 16 years ago. Now I’m the president of the group!

I also volunteer at a great thrift shop near my house. These days, I don’t buy much of anything new. Somehow, whatever I need eventually turns up.


Melinda March 2, 2024 at 3:12 pm

Eat less meat


Meg March 3, 2024 at 3:23 am

No “TV” – we watch reruns on YouTube and PBS, but nothing else. The savings on cable might be impressive, BUT the savings by not seeing the commercials is AMAZING. Every time we watch regular TV, we are amazed by the ways to spend money that we forget existed… Applebees – I am looking at you.


Vickey March 23, 2024 at 4:11 pm

Most of the items on my list have been covered by other here, including going plant-based for health and economic savings, but these might be worth mentioning:
– Practice “geo-arbitrage”. We moved to one of the then-cheapest areas in the country, before geo-arbitrage was a thing. And frequently thank our non-existent lucky stars that we wound up in a beautiful region where housing is well below the national average, and in a progressive state.
– If you can garden but space is limited, concentrate on growing the things that are the most expensive to buy, and are the most nutritious. We grow some things like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and summer squash to have those fabulous fresh-from-the-garden flavors, but those are also very cheap around here in season. Our main focus is on berries, greens, and herbs. More nutritious, and more grocery dollars saved.
– Make resisting the siren call of consumerism a game. Do the mental work of finding ways to content oneself with “enough”. We’re driving a 17 yo. hybrid purchased secondhand, and just replaced DH’s could-no-longer-be-repaired 24 y.o. truck (purchased secondhand from a family member for a dollar) with an also-secondhand 11 y.o. truck, all paid for in cash. Our cars, our clothes, our things, are not *us*.

Thanks for hosting this labor of love, Katy, and to all who shared their frugal hacks.


Katy March 23, 2024 at 5:58 pm

I agree about gardening the pricier produce. I hardly grow food, (deeply shady backyard) but I used to try and it was certainly never for potatoes!

I do always grow a big pot of basil, which I start from a $3.99 pot at Trader Joes. each pot has at least twenty plants, which do great when spread into a larger container and pruned thoughtfully.


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