Frugal Living Strategies & Skills



(adapted from collections from KEN POPE, SALLY DAVEY & MARK YOUNG)
DUMP YOUR LAND LINE! If you must have one change to Magic Jack (or similar set-up), total is $59.95 for the first year, which includes the phone, software and first year's service. Renewal is $35 per year, which includes all local and long distance calls, voicemail, call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, and keep your current phone number
2. FAX
DUMP YOUR FAX LINE.  Use phone apps or internet service, which saves not only telephone line charges, but paper, toner and the fax machine itself costs.
Fast Food
STOP eating FAST FOOD EVER. RARELY at most. Subway & similar are much healthier if you must eat out, but always get foot longs & save what you can't eat; 6" subs almost always cost significantly more per ounce. After saving this way, you can better afford to splurge at a nicer restaurant with friends or family occasionally.
Strive for ZERO Waste  & to Eat EVERYthing (of nutritional value)
Oldest leftovers and perishables first from fridge or pantry. Learn creative ways to make your leftovers and surplus appetizing. Leftover rice can be mixed in w/ scrambled eggs, added to soups and stews, fried up with veggies or meats, eaten with raisins and nuts like a cold or heated cereal. Opened cans of beans, pasta sauce, salsa and many other foods can actually stay edible for a long time in the fridge, but if you can't eat them soon, transfer to a ziploc bag or tupperware and freeze (write DATE on them!).
Sour cream and cheeses (esp. grated cheese) with not get mold nearly as fast if you never contaminate them with fingers, spoons, etc. that have any food, germs; they are like a petri dish!
Never buy water in plastic bottles. Get a Brita or Pur filtered water pitcher (buy replacement filters in bulk from Amazon or Costco). Your refrigerator might filter water for you. 
Garden/Grow Your Own!
Fresh tomatoes and apples are very expensive, esp. organic. But if you grow your own, they cost pennies, and are much healthier. You can freeze leftovers, give to friends who might reciprocate w/ food or favors, or if you learn to can your veggies, you'll have year round. 
Do the Math!
How much is the per pound price on the food item you are buying? Meats can cost $5-$15 / pound, whereas bananas and potatoes are well under $1/pound. Use your phone or calculator and figure out which package is the best deal. Usually the largest offers the best bulk deal, but not always. 
Walk or bike whenever possible. Carpool! Great way to make friends with coworkers, neighbors or classmates.
Quit!  If you can't or love it to much to quit, at least do the math on paper, and frequently think about how much you are spending monthly and annually.
Call your credit card companies and tell them you need them to lower interest rate and payments on accounts to avoid bankruptcy. 
Call your gas, electric, cable, internet companies and ask for their budget plan, which, if available, results in your entire year being averaged out so you pay the same set amount each month. Example, you might pay $150 a month to the gas company year round, rather than $500 a month during the winter and $9.00 a month during the summer. Same holds true for electric.  
Air Conditioning
Blinds & Curtains - keep them closed during hot sunny days, and wide open on cold sunny days (to harvest the sun). 
Fans - a fan by your bed is cheaper than cooling off the entire house or apartment. 
Whole-House Attic Fans - for under $300 will suck huge amounts of cool evening air into your hot house, quickly dropping the temp 10 degrees or more. 
Only heat the living spaces you need to; close off doors (or put a hanging shower curtain rod in halls and stairways to keep heat where you want it. Wear multiple layers of clothing can allow you to comfortable lower your room temperature several degrees or more. 
Can you go in on a "Unlimited Data Family Plan" with your cellular phone company? If so, you might be able to dump your internet provider and use your phone for a mobile hotspot for internet & TV streaming needs. 

Speed up old phones - factory resets often make your older phone as fast as when it was new years ago, and the clean installation usually results in your battery charge lasting much longer. 
Some Internet providers offer promotional rates that existing subscribers can get by calling and asking. This might be phasing out, but is worth asking customer service. If you live close to your neighbors, you might negotiate to share internet wifi.
Cancel it and buy a ROKU or Amazon FIRESTICK which require internet, but allow you to stream thousands of free movies and TV shows; if you have Amazon Prime, you get countless movies and shows without ads. 
Multiply your cable TV bill  x 12 months and see how much you would save!
Shop around - prices vary; go for longer periods of time between cuts. Swap haircuts w/ a friend - you can buy an inexpensive hair trimmer with accessories for under $20. You can find YouTube videos showing how to cut hair (at your own risk!). 
Shower less, and instead bath at the sink. Often called a 'French Bath' (no ethnic insult intended), with varied definitions, but usually a quick, thorough washing of face, underarms, shoulders, and privates/genitalia with washcloth. You can quickly wash just your hair in the tub (esp. if you have a handheld sprayer). You'll save countless hours, lower your hot water expenses, and if done right, you will smell and look just as clean! Shower at the gym if you belong to one. 
Launder LESS and do only FULL LOADS
Despite fabric warnings, most clothing can safely be washed together, even brights and darks, once the colors no longer bleed. Wear most clothing that isn't visibly soiled or noticeably smelly multiple times before washing; if dirty or sweaty, by all means, wash them (or use them for a workout first), but if you can't tell the difference from a just laundered shirt, no one else can either! Wearing undershirts beneath a dress shirt or sweater keeps sweat and dead skin cells away from the outer garment, so you can wear it multiple times.
Shirts and slacks have wrinkles? Shirt tail wrinkles are inevitable if  you tuck your shirts in, but hang wrinkled clothing on clothes hangers and spray on & beneath wrinkled areas generously with water and hang to dry. The water on the wrinkle softens and loosens up the wrinkled fabric, while the weight of the water also pulls/stretches the fabric downward, so the fabric dries flatter.
Hang Dry!
Clothesline polls are great, but you can buy portable and temporary lines to hang in your yard or apartment. Running a rope between trees, or even hanging shirts on hangers from tree branches works great. On rainy days and during winter, I have a cheap drying rack from Amazon that set up in the living room, often with a woodstove throwing hot air toward the rack, humidifying my dry air. Sweatshirts, towels and linen take a lot of energy to dry. You'll save even more if you rely on coin operated laundromat dryers. 
Shop as seldom as possible. Compile shopping lists for grocery, hardware, etc. Buy bulk (go in on super sizes with friends or neighbors if you don't have enough $ or storage space). Use a smart assistant (Alexa/Echo, Google Home, Siri) to put items on your shopping list or remind you of upcoming sales events and deadlines.
Pet Food
Bulk, highly rated, and less than the $1 per pound is a good measure of an economical pet food. Your local farm co-op probably carries a highly rated Diamond brand dog food, maybe cat food also in large economy sized bags. Highly rated inexpensive pet foods include Costco's Kirkland, Tractor Supply's "4 Health", and Diamond's Lamb & Rice or Chicken & Rice 40 pound bags (available at farm co-op stores). These keep a long time and are a fraction of the price of a 10# bag. Cut off 3-5 inches of one corner of the bag; re-seal by rolling this corner up tightly, and securing with a 4 inch piece of packaging tape.
Even if you don't care about the environment, you'll save lots of money by not buying paper plates, plastic cutlery or cups. Doing dishes is not nearly as unpleasant and annoying if you always rinse and soak dishes (w/ a drop of added dish soap is even better) that don't easily rinse clean. The hand scrubbing wands w/ soap stored in the handle costs a couple bucks - they're a game-changer and really speed up dishwashing! 

EVERNOTE - an amazing free app (iOS, Android, Windows) that makes it easy to create highly organized NOTES for all your shopping, academic, parenting, self-improvement & other life management needs. Notes can be organized into "Notebooks" (like 'folders' in Windows) with Tags (keywords) and they area searchable. You can "clip" web pages while browsing into new 'Evernotes' for later reading or research. 
GOOGLE KEEP is a great program (can install on unlimited devices) but not as feature-rich. Others include MicroSoft OneNote and others.

16. SMART ASSISTANTS - Alexa, Google Home, Siri  
They can perform many tasks while you are busy doing other things: put appointments & events into your Google or Outlook calendar, set timers for cooking or studying, set reminders to remember things, give you the latest news and forecast so you dress for the weather, let you know how late a store is open, look up phone numbers or call your contacts, acting as a speaker phone.