Frugal Living Ideas

These frugal living ideas are an easy way to start living more cheaply, or frugally. These ideas are grouped below by living expense category.  Some items fall into a general category because they apply to several categories.

Apply these frugal living ideas when they fit with your life.  Some may seem severe.  Others are just common sense.  They are here to help you think about how you want to change your life for the better.  If you find 1 or 2 items useful, then your reading of this page has been worthwhile.

You may think of additional strategies and activities to improve your frugal living.  Please Contact Us to add additional useful items to these lists.

Expense Categories with Frugal Living Ideas

Food - food in home and out, drink

  • Make your own meals. Eat out only rarely. Try some cheap traditional meals like beans & rice, corn & beans, grain & greens.
  • Ask at groceries if they sell past-date food at a discount. Clip or print coupons before grocery shopping. 
  • Buy food that is nutritious.  Avoid junk food.  Cut back on sugary drinks.  Make filtered water your drink of choice.
  • Grow your own vegetables in a garden.  Greens can be grown free of pesticides in window pots or a small garden.
  • Use coupons to get food discounts.

Housing - includes your dwelling and other related expenses

  • Look for student-like accommodations, such as a shared house, inexpensive apartments, etc.
  • Consider moving to a smaller or a less expensive city or area of your country, or even overseas.
  • Rent out a part of your dwelling.  You will save on rent or mortgage money and may also enjoy the companionship.
  • If you are handy, fix the furnace, the plumbing, and dwelling hardware (such as locks and hinges).
  • Care for mechanical items, appliances and your dwelling by keeping them clean, changing filters, and handling them with care so they will last.
  • Look in “clean” dumpsters to find furniture and items to sell.
  • Make your own furniture, cleaning materials, and other items.
  • Use a TV antenna instead of subscribing to a cable service.  You can probably put an antenna in your attic.
  • Don’t waste utilities.  Turn off the water and the lights.  Set the thermostat low in cold weather and high in hot weather.

Clothing - apparel and accessories

  • Shop at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, thrift shops and garage sales for clothes.
  • Repair clothing yourself, to increase the useful life of a garment or accessory.

Transportation - your vehicle(s), fuel, etc.: some of the most effective frugal living ideas

  • Ride a bicycle and/or use public transportation, if possible.
  • Learn to repair your auto.  Buy the shop manual for it.  Acquire tools or use a shop that rents you space and tools.

Entertainment - cinema, pets, toys, hobbies, reading

  • Don’t buy what you can easily borrow, such as library books and other media.
  • Use resources that are “free”, such as Wi-Fi at restaurants and libraries, free movies, TV programs, give-away maps and literature.
  • Attend free events, such as concerts in a public park or a mall.
  • Attend free open houses.  Museums, botanical gardens, and other institutions have days that are free or low cost.
  • Go to the cinema, the movies, at times of the day or week that are less than full price.
  • Consider using a tablet computer or smartphone and Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or other location instead of buying monthly internet service.
  • Shop at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores for computer equipment, and entertainment items such as books.

Health - fitness, personal care, doctors, medicine, insurance

  • Keep your body weight and height proportional. See
  • Do fitness exercising that does not require paying for, and driving to, a gym. Exercises such as running, sit-ups, push-ups and others do not require special equipment.
  • Eat well and skip snacks and “junk” food.
  • Get the best health insurance you can afford. Have annual check-ups. See a doctor when you need to.
  • Be kind to yourself and others.  Avoid risky behavior, such as driving dangerously.

Savings - building liquid assets, a key frugal living idea

  • Know your income and expenses, what’s coming in and going out.  List all income, fixed expenses, and variable expenses.  It is the variable expenses that often get out of control
  • Make a spending plan, otherwise known as a budget, and track your expenses. You can use the free budget tracking service of  
  • Cut down on expenses.  Common expenses that can be avoided include gym memberships, hair and nail salons, cable TV, and shopping trips.  Also, go thru your bills and cancel any service you don’t use frequently.
  • Separate your wants and needs. If something is a “want”, then before buying wait 2 days and then decide.
  • Don’t try to match the spending of friends and neighbors.
  • Keep an emergency fund.  Save up 3 to 6 months of expenses.
  • Pay in cash.  Avoid loans or other borrowing. Save up before making a purchase.
  • Boost your income.  Ask for a raise and /or look for a better-paying job.
  • Live within your means, but not to the point of deprivation.  Think about what you really enjoy and then find a way to do it for less.

General - applies to all categories of frugal living ideas above

  • Use up all of the contents of containers, including food, cosmetics, office supplies, and other materials.
  • Don’t buy what you don’t really need.  Purchase of that wall hanging probably can be skipped.  Send emails or letters instead of buying $4-dollar greeting cards.
  • Don’t waste precious time by watching TV shows unless they are teaching you a useful lesson.
  • Reuse, re-purpose or recycle everything you can.  Plastic containers can be cut up to make cleaning or painting bowls, scoops, funnels, etc.
  • Save money wherever possible. Don’t pay retail: look at Dealnews Skip designer coffee. Buy secondhand at garage sales and thrift shops.
  • Collect coins and bills around the house in less-used places, such as behind furniture, in closets, in the basement, under car seats, etc.
  • Return past purchases you haven’t used. Major stores accept returns over 30 days and without purchase slips.
  • Take metal scrap to a scrap yard or other purchaser. Brass, aluminum, copper and exotic metals are worth more per weight than iron and steel. 
  • Sell unwanted gift cards on Gift Card Rescue
  • Sell old cell phones, tablet computers and other gadgets to Gazelle
  • Find any unclaimed money the US government owes you at Treasury Hunt (

Frugal living ideas are all around you.  Many people have thrifty or frugal practices.  You can decide to make some changes that are easy to live with, and will help you get started on a home business.

Go from Frugal Living Ideas (this page) to Cheap Living (main cheap living page).