Updated on 09.18.14

Frugal Living: 10 Ways To Save Money This Week

Trent Hamm

I’ve written a ton about frugality on this site and how much money it can really save you, but many of these suggestions seem like major lifestyle changes. “I don’t want to do that!” is a common reaction that people give as they imagine a life of pinching every penny.

The truth is that it’s not about pinching every penny, it’s about freedom. It’s about simply trying different activities and seeing which ones leave you feeling the most fulfilled – and often, those choices happen to be the ones that leave me with the most money in my checking account at the end of the day. Why? I don’t have to worry about making ends meet, and after a while I have the freedom to do whatever I want to do.

Still, trying out frugal living seems overwhelming to some, so here’s a suggestion: try out some frugal activities for one week and see if any of them mesh well with your life.

Here’s a list of ten frugal things you can try this week. All of these are proven ways to save money. Give them all a try and see which ones mesh well with your life. At the end of the week, you might have discovered a few things that can really save you some cash without altering your life in a way you don’t like!

1. Prepare and eat every meal you can at home.
Instead of getting take out, spend this week preparing and eating meals at home. They don’t have to be anything complex, just foods you know how to prepare. You can prepare them in advance if you’d like or simply toss something together when you get home, but prepare them and eat them at home all week long.

2. Drive the speed limit.
Instead of dropping the pedal to the floor to save a few minutes, set your car’s cruise control and go the speed limit. You’ll cut down on your gas mileage a significant amount.

3. Buy generics at the grocery store.
Most people instinctively choose the non-generic name brand item, even though in many cases they’re roughly equivalent in quality. This week, buy the cheaper generics to make a point of seeing which ones you like and which ones you don’t. You’ll have a nice low grocery bill this time – and perhaps a lower bill every time in the future.

4. Entertain yourself with things you already own.
Instead of buying a DVD or a book or renting a movie, find something already on your shelf and enjoy it instead. Got a hobby? Spend some time maintaining what you already have instead of buying more.

5. Leftovers!
Remember those meals you prepared? Use these leftover tricks to make them palatable, even if you are very averse to the whole leftover concept.

6. Check out your community calendar.
Stop by town hall and get a copy of the local community calendar. See if there are any free events worth attending in your town. When I first did this, I was blown away by the variety and quality of free events and things going on around town.

7. Skip the incidentals.
Do you stop every day for a latte on your way into work? Do you pick up a quick snack for the evening commute? For a week, throw them out (or find cheap replacements). Drink coffee at work, or eat a simple snack at home instead.

8. Adjust the temperature by two degrees.
If you’re in a warm climate, raise your indoor temperature by two degrees; if it’s cold, lower it by two degrees. See if you notice much. If you don’t, you’re saving energy – and you’ll have a lower electric bill.

9. Turn on only the lights and devices you need.
My parents have a tendency to turn on things and just leave them on whether they’re being used or not. Hence, they have huge electric bills. Make it a point to only turn on the things you’re using and turn them off when you’re done with them, from light bulbs to computers.

10. Look constantly for less expensive ways to do things.
Instead of using a paper towel to wipe up a small spill, use a dish cloth. Instead of getting your nails done this week, wait a week or learn how to do it yourself. Instead of taking your car in for an oil change, ask someone you know to show you how to do it yourself. There are countless ways to save a little money here and a little money there, and if you make it a conscious part of your life, it adds up to a lot.

Good luck.

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  1. If trying all ten in one week seems overwhelming or unpleasant, try doing just one or two a week.

  2. Clever Dude says:

    For the “Speed Limit” one, I’d also suggest that the legal costs of speeding tickets are substantial.

    For example, in Virginia, if you happen to speed more than 20mph over the speed limit, then it’s automatically a reckless driving ticket PLUS a speeding ticket. The fine from speeding is a couple hundred, but the biggest cost is hiring an attorney ($800-$2000 or more) to get you off the hook.

    Not that I would know.

  3. laura k says:

    I’ve wondered about the “turning off” part of #9. A friend of mine in college, who was an electrical engineering major, said that turning a light on takes as much energy as leaving it on for 30 minutes. I don’t know if it’s true, but I always think about it when I’m tempted to turn a light off, knowing that I’ll be turning it back on again the next time I walk in the room.

  4. Gordon says:

    Great list, but #2 works better in theory than practice. While your gas bill goes down, it will be more than offset with body shop bills, not to mention hospital bills as speeders rear-end you.

    If you can drive the speed limit safely, do it. Just don’t try it someplace like Atlanta. You’ll endanger yourself and everyone around you on the road.

  5. em says:

    Always turn off the light. Your friend should have his degree revoked :) … There is no ‘surge’ when turning on a light, and it will always save electricity to turn them off, even if it is just for 5 seconds.

  6. fasteddie says:

    2 words – Public Library. The books are FREE and you don’t have to store them. Ours has CDs also – classical, jazz, blues – all free. Kids DVDs and Nonfiction DVDs (documentaries,etc ) are free. Fiction DVD (non-kid) are $1 for seven days. And I can choose my items and put them on hold online, at midnight in my jammies. Granted, it’s not great for new releases, but for free, you really can’t complain.

  7. Ron says:

    On #2–“You’ll cut down on your gas mileage a significant amount.”

    Gas mileage is something we want to increase, not cut down on.

  8. kim says:

    3 years ago my car dealer ran a special $60 for oil changes for the life of your car as long as you own it. So I bought. I put on 12,000 a year, I am making out like a bandit. When I purchase my new car my son is getting use of this old one, and I’ll still be getting the free oil changes!

  9. Cindy Lindblom says:

    my husband and I spend about 60.00 a week on groceries and we eat great! We both love to cook and don’t use so called convenience foods. We eat fish, beef, chicken, pasta and fruit and veggies. It’s amazing how much you can save by not eating out and after awhile the restaurant food becomes unappetizing.
    Each week we buy pretty much the same staples, changing up the menu a little for variety, we don’t buy snack foods or very many sweets. We make popcorn or make a treat at home.It’s fun to see how well we can eat on just a small amount of money. Frugal is fun!

  10. Cindy Lindblom says:

    Regarding tip #2
    I grew up in So. California where the Hwy speed limit is 55 mph.(“55 Saves lives”)was the slogan. Where I live now the limit goes up to 70 in many areas. I just get in the slow lane where the minimum limit is 40. and go 55. It’s a lot safer and saves gas.

  11. cherie says:

    I saw on mythbusters that their is in fact no electrical surge when you turn a light on or off, it just wastes energy when they are on….so keep the lights off when your not using them!

  12. Judy says:

    I have read on a goverment energy website that it does not cost more to turn a light off and then on again. This is a well repeated false belief. I too heard this as a child by my conservative adults. Maybe this was originally spread by electric companies to get us to use more electric! Unfortunately, our parents wasted a lot of money following this money saving rule.

  13. Judy says:

    On libraries, check with your local library, ours has a website that you can download movies and talking books and text books. Don’t have to put miles on your car or use gas. They also automatically expire, no late fees.

  14. always a lady says:

    We have grown a garden this year and even though it is hard work. It is so worth the savings and it will last us through the winter.

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