The Top 10 Most Frugal Things I Do

The Top 10 Most Frugal Things I Do

I’ve been doing this whole frugal living thing for awhile now.  Some things have become so ingrained in me that I do them without even thinking–not realizing that they may seem strange to others!

 

Just the other day I was chatting with a friend while rinsing out a plastic baggie.  She looked at me in confusion and then asked, “Do you always reuse those?”  I laughed and told her yes.  I can generally get 4-5 uses out of one bag, so why spend the $4 on a new box when I can wash the ones I already have!

 

That experience inspired me to share the Top 10 Most Frugal Things That I Do:

 

1. Reuse Plastic Baggies

I even tell my six-year-old to always bring back his baggies from lunch.  We have reusable containers (I love these stainless steel ones!), but there always seems to be need of plastic bags as well.

 

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2. Take My Lunch to Work Each Day

I can’t remember the last time that I bought my lunch.  Each evening after supper I make quickly make my lunch using leftovers.   I’ll add a piece of fruit or some yogurt, and voila!  Instant lunch.

 

3. Cut Dryer Sheets in Half

This might seem totally silly, but it saves some money!  I always cut each dryer sheet in half (or even thirds if I’m feeling especially cheap–I mean frugal).  It still does the job, but I’ll spend half as much on dryer sheets over the course of the year.  Score!

 

4. Wash Laundry in Cold Water

A few years back I read that most clothes don’t need to be washed in warm water.  I thought, “That sounds good to me!  Less work sorting clothing for laundry!”  I still wash our whites and bedding in hot water, but I do everything else on the cold cycle.

 

Vegetables Final

 

5. Make Homemade Vegetable Stock

This may go down as the cheapest thing that I do.  I save all of my vegetable scraps (carrot peels, onion peels, etc.) in a bag in the freezer.  Once the bag is full, I make homemade vegetable stock in the crock pot.  You can read my tutorial HERE.

 

6. Rinse Out the Laundry Detergent from the Bottom of the Bottle

My grandmother taught me to always rinse a bottle to get that last little bit of soap out.  I do this with laundry detergent, bath soap, shampoo, and more.  I’ll even take the top off of a bottle of lotion with a pump to scrape the sides.

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7. Use Tea Bags Twice

I love having a hot cup of tea in the evenings.  If I use bagged tea, I’ll use it twice in an attempt to stretch its usefulness.  (One side note:  Brewing loose leaf tea can be even more frugal!  I used to be scared of the entire process–and of getting leaves in my mouth–but now I thrive on the ritual of it.  I love this pretty little turquoise pot!)

 

8. Only Buy Meat on Clearance

Each time I’m at the grocery store, I take a quick look in the discounted meat section.  I can often find amazing deals on meat that is nearing its expiration date.  I’ve gotten whole chickens for $3, chicken thighs for $2, and many other great bargains.  I just stick the meat in the freezer when I get home, and pull it out when I’m ready to use it.  No one has to know it only cost a fraction of the original price!

 

9. Own a Non-Smart Phone

I am probably the last person in America to have a non-smart phone.  (I know that is an exaggeration, but a very slight one!)  However, I really don’t want one.  I enjoy feeling slightly disconnected from the harried pace of our technological word.  Plus, I save on our phone bill and am not tempted to buy upgrades whenever something new comes out.

 

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10. Clean Just About Everything with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar have to be the most effective, most environmentally-friendly, and most inexpensive cleaning products anywhere.  I just add some lemon juice or oils to the mixture and get cleaning!

 

Bonus Frugal Tip:  I also go through Ebates before I make any purchase online.  Ebates is a cash-back site that will give you cash back on any item that you purchase online.  I’ve made over $300 this year just by buying things I was going to buy anyway!  Sign up HERE to receive $10 just for signing up.

 

Please know that I’m not advocating any or all of these things.  I’m sure that some of them are a bit extreme 🙂  Also know that frugality is not a competition.  We all do what works best for our family in our circumstances.  These are just a few things that help me save a little money (and get some strange looks from friends in the process!)

 

I’d love to hear your tips!  What is the most frugal thing that you do?  Tell us about it in the comments!

(Linked to Small Victories Sunday, Tips and Tricks, Share the Wealth, Frugal Friday)

(This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my disclosure policy for more information.)

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62 thoughts on “The Top 10 Most Frugal Things I Do

  1. Thank you for the vegetable stock recipe! I always feel so guilty throwing away food, but I never know how to use my vegetable scraps! Also, great idea on cutting dryer sheets in half. I try to use them as little as possible (I don’t use them on the kids’ clothes or towels), but my husband will sometimes use two on his farm clothes! I’ll have to cut them and stick them back in the box to see if he notices!

    Another laundry tip is using the correct amount of detergent. I used to always fill the detergent to the “2” line because I tend to wash large batches, but I read that the fill line you use doesn’t actually make a difference (the lines are for the dirtiness, not the size of the load). I cut back on the amount of detergent for all loads except my husband’s super dirty farm clothes and we haven’t noticed a difference.
    Alison @ Tickling the Wheat recently posted…5 Ways to Raise Healthy Little GermaphobesMy Profile

  2. Wow, Sarah, you and I must be frugal kindred spirits, because I already do 7 of these things! I totally agree with reusing tea bags, usually they are good for at least 2 cups. And don’t worry, I have a non-smart phone too, for the same reason! It’s a good way my husband and I can cut back a bit because he needs a smart phone for his business.
    I actually don’t even use dryer sheets anymore but I use reusable dryer balls that do the job just as well! You should look into them. There are rubber ones and also wool ones that cut down on static in the winter.
    Hannah@SeeingtheLovely recently posted…Books I’m Into: November 2015My Profile

  3. I quit using dryer sheets years ago, grew up washing plastic bags (and still do. I was shocked as an adult to find out that most people don’t do that! I also reuse aluminum foil if it’s not too yucky), I hang our laundry on the line, use a minimal amount of laundry detergent, switched to norwex microfiber cloths a few years ago (cleaned with vinegar before that), grow all of our own meat and can lots of garden produce! We do tons of other things, too and it’s such second nature we don’t even think about it 🙂

    • I refuse to use the dryer sheets because that filmy residue causes dryers fires A LOT (ours was one of them). One thing I’ve noticed though I’d that when I switched to those soap powder pods, they work great without fabric softener. I like them because the kids don’t make messes while pouring, they’re premeasured, and portable for my husband to take in the semi truck. If it’s a really dirty load, I throw in a 2nd one. At first they seemed more expensive, but considering no softener to buy and that the kids aren’t using too much, it’s actually cheaper in the long run. We hang our clothes out and I don’t miss the softener.

  4. Great great tips, I already do a bunch of those myself as well. My husband makes fun of me for ripping dryer sheets in half (I do that with cotton balls for my face, too), but HECK you get twice the product for the same amount of money! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, found you at Tips and Tricks!
    Katie recently posted…Happiness Is Homemade Linky Party #98My Profile

  5. It’s always fun to read what other people do to live frugally. 🙂 Loved this list and I do most of them too.

    I do love my smartphone though and actually feel like mine has been a money saver. I got a used one inexpensively on Ebay- only cost about $40 more than the non-smart phone I bought for my husband- and then we signed up with Ting, which that in itself saved us a LOT of money. (I wrote about it on my blog.) The thing is, having a smartphone has allowed me to take advantage of money saving apps that I wouldn’t be able to use otherwise (like Ibotta and Mobisave). The other thing that has been nice is that I was able to set up an Instagram account, which was key for my blog since a lot of companies want you to have one if they partner with you.

    I don’t use my smartphone much other than those things and the usual phone calls/texts, but I do love it.
    Lydia @ Thrifty Frugal Mom recently posted…$200/MONTH MENU PLAN FOR OUR FAMILY OF 5 (POST #19)My Profile

  6. Lol, I thought I was frugal this week reusing dryer sheets, glad to see you cut them in thirds. I usually get 3 cycles out of one sheet so I guess it amounts to the same. I hardly ever buy plastic sandwich bags, I probably go through one every 6 months, maybe more. We have tons of small storage containers and the Easy lunchboxes my 4 boys take for lunch have compartments. The other thing I do to be frugal and eco-friendly is I bought a pack of inexpensive washcloths that we use instead of paper napkins. Fancy cloth napkins don’t really clean messy little boys well so we have dedicated dinner washcloths I wash with the kitchen towels and tablecloths.

    Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you found some great posts to visit this week!
    Tanya @ Mom’s Small Victories recently posted…Weekly Menu Plan For a Perfect ThanksgivingMy Profile

  7. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has said “I can see your friend ____________ doing this”. He’s talking about always seeing a bottle on the kitchen counter as one little dab is emptying into the fuller bottle of the same thing. I just have a zillion attachments that screw on the bottles to make sure they don’t drip. AND, I run my finger around the inside of those attachments to get every drop out before I wash them. I use this technique for oil or shampoo or liquid soap or conditioner or body lotion…..if its liquid in a bottle, it gets drained.

    Every tube of anything in my house has a tiny black “bulldog” clip on the bottom. As its used up, you roll the bottom up and attach the clip Those “made for this” project don’t see to be tight enough to get all the goodie.

    You used that paperplate for toast this morning? Brush it off and turn it upside down and lay it on the papertowel on the counter. It will be ready for your sandwich at lunch time. Still clean? Save it. You’ll know when its time for it to go.

    Plastic utensils are convenient but don’t have to be thrown away after one use. They wash up just fine.

    You know those “tidy wipes” that always dry out before you use them? Mix up a little baking soda and water and pour it in to the container for as many times as you need it so you can use every sheet.

    I love to do flower arranging. I wash out food containers or all sized and use them as a “vase”. A pretty bow tied around the top of the container with some silk flowers arranged in them makes a great donation to places like nursing homes. All the tables at my church display one of these when we have a dinner in the gathering room.

    There are a million saving tips out there and I was happy to find this one. You know the old saying….waste not, want not. I’m living proof.

  8. Love these!
    Some of them I knew/do others I don’t do yet.
    I think I’m going to start washing in cold water and compare bills. I’d rather have my house heated more than my clothes! I think I’m just used to thinking that hot water is the only thing that cleans stuff but it’s true not all clothes really need that! Thanks for the post!

    • We haven’t really noticed any difference in the cleanliness of our clothing after the switch. The cycle also goes more quickly, which helps make doing laundry go a bit faster!

  9. Wow, you’re right; I do many of these and have forgotten that they aren’t “normal” for everyone else, lol! I need to start making the veggie stock, though. I think I started saving for a batch once and then forgot why when I found the bag of ends and peels in the freezer — so I threw it out! DUH! Thanks for linking up at Frugal Fridays! 🙂
    Ann recently posted…And Here We Are Again at Frugal Friday — Week 6!!My Profile

  10. I’ve started making my own laundry detergent this year, and I switched to dryer balls. I’m not sure how they’ll hold up to static during the winter though. I also started using baking soda & apple cider vinegar on my hair, and so far so good. And I just made my own deodorant recently and its working really well. I use tote bags for our groceries, I’m really trying to reduce plastic in our home. We also recycle and compost. On the flip side, my older daughter loves take out, so we throw out too much trash (food containers) for my liking and she buys her own detergent as she doesn’t want to use my homemade one.

  11. Great ldeas! I do some of which is on your list! I also cut dish sponges in half and make my own detergent which really saves us money and it works the same as any other.

  12. Thanks for sharing your tips. I am the “older generation” so I grew up watching my mother and grandmother living frugal. It used to be just the way of life and it is sad to see so much waste today. However, I am definitely glad to see a whole new generation conserving. Having said that, lol, I have done my laundry in cold water for more years than I care to tell ;-). I make my own laundry soap and it takes 1 Tbsp. per load. I make my own pre-treating solution and clean with soda and/or vinegar (along with peroxide). I make our shaving lotion too. Just recently discovered homemade poo-pourri so I don’t spend on bathroom spray anymore. I am like one of the other commenters about the smart phone though, it allows me access to many money saving (and money earning) apps that I might not have otherwise.
    Here is a tip for your towels, I wash mine in cold water also. To the wash cycle add 1 cup of baking soda, to the rinse cycle add 1 cup of AC vinegar. In a pinch in your dryer you can use a wadded up ball of aluminum foil. It is reusable until it gets to small to use. I would imagine the store bought dryer balls are better because aluminum foil is so expensive. I do buy the Dollar Tree brand for this purpose though. You can also make your own dryer sheets which are re-usable over and over. The main thing about dryer sheets is that I read everywhere they are not good for your dryer. Cutting them in half is money saving and I’m sure better on the dryer. I really didn’t mean to keep going on and on lol but I really really enjoyed your article and it reminded me that I am doing a few things right ;-). Buying marked down meat has to be my favorite because my husband loves steak and we couldn’t have it otherwise. 🙂

  13. Great list. Thank you. I also rinse out the last of bottles and have a non-smart phone (I thought I was the last person). Maybe twice has it ever been an inconvenience having a regular phone.

    • I’m so glad to find another non-smart phone user! I actually have a friend who has made the conscious decision not to have a cell phone at all. She and her husband and two boys live in DC and live life cell-phone free. Pretty impressive!

  14. Get rid of dryer sheets completely. They are full of nasty chemicals according to my dermatologist. I use wool dryer balls instead. You can add a drop of an essential oil to them if you want to add a scent.

    • Thanks for the tip, Brooke. I actually need to update this post. Based on several readers’ comments, I have stopped using dryer sheets. Right now I’m actually not using anything at all, and I can’t tell a difference!

  15. I use olive oil instead of eye make-up remover. Only need such a small amount on a cotton wall ball and removes every trace far better than standard eye make-up remover (even on waterproof). Can also use as a full make-up remover. Very gentle on the skin.

  16. I do 8 items on your list. I do have a smartphone and it saves me money. I scan my Walmart receipts for xtra savings, scan upc labels to make sure I’m getting the lowest price and a whole lot more with my phone to save money. My carrier is Cricket-$40 a month. Dryer sheets are long gone. I make my own laundry softener using vinegar. Homemade laundry soap is just the best! I make citrus/pine cleaner from citrus peals and pine needles along with vinegar. I never buy trash bags! I sort my plastic bags and keep the ones that fit my trash cans and the rest I turn into plarn and crochet with them. I use recycle bags for my groceries but collect bags from friends and neighbors! (Last night I arrived home to find a bag of bags on my door step!) I use my homemade scratchies/sponges for cleaning and sell some to help with the cost of my homemade cleaning products. All electronics are on bars. My electric bill is on a budget plan-$26 a month! Since June, 2015 I have $10.59 credit. No paper towels! From work I bring home the plastic bags Styro and Coke cups come in. I use them to clean up after my dog! I use public transit all the time! They pick me up at my door and take me right to where I want to go! And the best is I live in a rent-controlled apartment! I live a very rich life. Some people think I must be poor and some wonder how I have such a great rich life. Very few people know what is in my bank account. If you met me you would never know how frugal I am!

  17. My grandmother always cut tissues in half. She would say half is all you really need. She was right. She also cut her worn bed sheets in half lengthwise and sewed the outside edges into a new middle seam. She taught me to use each stocking leg as stuffing for a quilt square. My first doll quilt was made from these quilt squares. Grandma always had a rubber band ball. Clothes were hung outside to dry. Grass was cut with a push mower. Windows were cleaned with vinegar and newspaper. As a ten year old I learned to make the week’s menu from the specials listed in the grocery stores adds. I learned everything has a use and reuse. I compost and recycle everything I can. Frugality is a way of life.

    • I love your suggestions. Isn’t it incredible the wealth of knowledge that our grandparents have when it comes to frugal living? I’m so glad that your grandmother passed that way of life on to you. I think it is sad that much of their wisdom is being lost now.

  18. From living on my own and my foray into first time motherhood I learned so many frugal tips. I stopped using sponges completely for dishes and cleaning and now I use the kitchen washcloths that have a scrubby side. I think I bought them from Walmart for $5-6 and they’ve lasted me 4 years so far. Also, rather than using disposable plastic baggies for lunch we use reusable sandwich and snack bags made by Planetwise that can be washed the same way you’d wash dishes (I prop them upside down on a coffee cup to dry). I’ve only ever washed on cold and make sure to change my washer settings based on the load, unlike some people who just use the preset setting. Also, we cloth diapered and saved a ton of money. The electric and water bill changes were negligible and my daughter looked so cute! The key is to find a brand you like and invest but not overbuy!

  19. Love this list, doing a lot on it already! For tea, I use a teapot. I can put one bag (and if I’m lazy, my milk and sugar) right in the pot, steeping it evenly over 2 or 3 cups! My mother taught me the plastic baggie/cutlery reusable trick too 🙂 Also, instead of buying new individual bottles of things like ketchup and mustard each time, she would buy a big jar and simply refill her existing individual bottle, costing about half as much. She is the queen of frugal in my life – she’s even price matched produce that was on the clearance (slightly bruised/ripe) rack!

  20. Loving all these ideas! I use microfiber cloths on my swiffer sweeper. They work better and wash clean every time! I also get every bit of detergent/soap/lotion out of all my bottles. I use half a cotton ball for whatever I need it for. But I think the best thing I do, is for my makeup remover wipes, I pull them all out of the package and cut them into quarters. I only use them to take off my eye makeup anyway since I’m already washing my whole face, why use an entire wipe just for my eyes? Saves me a ton! Also I just started using these glycolic pads for my face and neck (wrinkles) and realized that if I cut them in half, and use only half a pad each time, it was still plenty big to do the job and my container lasts twice as long. My husband laughs but doesn’t complain when things last longer and I shop less! Who’s laughing now?

  21. Years ago I started mixing my shampoo 50/50 with water and don’t notice a difference. I also set my dishwasher on quick wash so it washes but doesn’t have a dry cycle so I save energy not running a heat cycle for an hour and a half and just pull the racks out and let them air dry for ten minutes and put away

  22. Great ideas! We started using the Green Wash laundry ball last year instead of laundry detergent. Wash mostly in cold and it cleans our clothes great. We haven’t noticed a difference. It costs under $20 and has saved us a huge amount of money. I remove my makeup with the Makeup Eraser cloth. It removes make including waterproof mascara with water only. I use mine 2-3 days the throw in the washing machine. So far my $25 investment has lasted 3 years.

    • That is definitely a great investment! I hadn’t heard of the Makeup Eraser cloth. I’ve been using coconut oil lately, though, and have really been pleased with it.

  23. I got really tired of kid gogurt wrappers all over my house. And they are pretty much liquid candy. I bought reusable food pouches, Yummi Pouch, and started making gallons of milk into yogurt where I could cut the sugar in half. I buy a clearance yogurt as my culture starter and get a huge amount of yogurt from a gallon of whole milk. The pouches are good for applesauce and frozen smoothies and can also act as a cold pack.

    • I totally need to do this! I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making my own yogurt, but so many people have encouraged me to try it. Do you have a particular recipe or method that you follow?

  24. Saw you pinned onto Pin Worthy Posts and wanted to congratulate you on the fine job you do to live frugally. A long time ago I stopped using those dryer sheets that you mention. It saves money, natural resources, and our planet. Try taking clothes out of the dryer right away and shaking them. That works well for me. I am going to re-pin you to my frugal living board. Way to go girl! Nancy Andres

  25. I always thought it strange that people wash in warm water; in Australia most people wash in cold and most washing powders are designed for cold water washing (marketing!). I lived in the UK for a time and my flat mates thought me crazy and even ‘dirty’ for washing in cold. A strange stigma.
    At home to save money now I use flanelette wash cloths in the kitchen to replace paper towel, I bought hankies to cut down on tissue usage, I bring a water bottle and Keep Cup wherever I go (filled so I don’t buy a coffee at the shop) I freeze bananas for cakes and smoothies before they go bad, I cook whole chickens in the slow cooker then save the stock it produces for other meals, I’m currently using up all those little samples and gift bottles of body wash and hand creams before I get new soap (this could take a while!) and yesterday we added draught excluders to our doors to keep the heat in. Already made a huge difference!

    Oh and lastly I don’t buy my son hats and slippers- I make them from my scrap yarn. This year he is big enough to choose the colours himself 🙂

    • I had heard that people in Australia use cold water, but I hadn’t been able to confirm that before. It makes total sense to me! I also love the idea of using real hankies. Things that our grandmothers knew, right?

  26. I love these tips and reading through all the other helpful tips in the comments, it’s amazing how people are returning to frugal living. I still get a lot of tips from my grandma (although she gave me heck for washing my clothes all together in cold water).
    A big way I started getting more out of what I use this year, is I started a compost bin out of an old plastic barrel. I only take out trash once every few days now (did you know you can compost dryer lint, old newspapers, and even cardboard?). I love being able to reuse all those bits and pieces that I used to throw out.

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