1. Never use an ATM, there is no need for it. Almost all chain stores and supermarkets will give you up to $100 if you use a debit card. Buy a roll of toilet tissue, or some other necessity that you'll have to buy anyway, and get cash back for free.
2. Never let food go to waste. Promise yourself you will never again throw out food that you have let go bad waiting for you to eat, or cook it. An enormous amount of money goes to waste by this manner.
3. Drink only pure filtered water. Not only is this frugal, but very healthy too. And don't buy bottled water, it is one of the biggest waste of money. A lot of bottled water is of a much lesser quality then the water that comes out of your tap, and some of it is outright unhealthy. Bottled water is also loaded with the dangerous chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) which leaks into the water from the plastic bottles--very unhealthy. While BPA has gotten a lot of press, there are other chemicals that leak into the water from the plastic bottles too. Check out the facts, and get yourself a good water filter and stainless steel, or glass bottles to fill to have the convenience of bottled water in a healthy inexpensive manner.
4. Make eating out a rare special occasion instead of a frequent occurrence. Not only is it good for the family dynamics, but it is healthier and much more frugal to cook, and eat meals at home together. If you ever knew what goes on in the kitchens of most restaurants you probably wouldn't be so anxious to eat out that much anyway. If cooking seems too much of a daily undertaking, make it a family affair where everyone cooks. Teach your children how to cook at a young age with your safe guidance--make it fun. Brown bag it for lunch too.
5. Get healthy so you can stop paying for medicines. Buy good but inexpensive healthy food. I don't know if anyone has ever said this before me, but I always say "pay the grocer now, or pay the doctor later".
6. Try half. Try up to half of the recommended amount for laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Usually manufacturers inflate the amount of their product needed to do the job. Experiment by starting with half to see how it works, you can always increase the amount. Laundry detergent is almost always too much, if you ever rinsed your clothes, or towels, after a completed cycle you would see how much soap is still in the clothes. Use just enough to get the job done, and save money.
7. Use it up. Make sure you use up all the product, or food in jars, containers, and bottles. Rubber spatulas are great for cleaning out every last bit, or add water to help remove it. Over the years every little bit adds up.
8. Let nothing go to waste. When you are done with clothing, or anything else, if it's in great shape sell it on ebay, Craigslist, Bonanza, or have a garage sale, and make some money. Craigslist is of course totally free with no fee. Bonanza has no limit on the amount of things you can list for free, and takes only a small percentage of about 3.5% for any items sold. Ebay, which gets the most traffic, and has the best chance of selling, lets you list 50 items a month for free, and takes about a 10% fee for any sold items.
If that isn't something you want to do, be generous and gift it to someone, by giving it to a friend who would enjoy it, or list it for free on Craigslist, or Freecycle. You'll bank good karma that way, which is priceless. If condition is beyond either, use any parts which are salvageable, and recycle the rest. For clothing, rip up for rags (I can't believe people actually buy rags) or become crafty and make something from it. Google it, and you will discover reusable shopping bags made from t-shirts, mittens and blankets from sweaters, hand puppets from socks, etc. the list is endless.
9. Turn off all energy drains when not in use. Start becoming aware of energy use, which is not only good for your pocket, but the environment as well. Turn off lights in rooms not is use. I'm amazed at how many people keep lights burning in rooms no one is in. It isn't difficult, or inconvenient to flip the switch if you need to use the room. Turn off the heat, and close the doors in guest rooms, and other rooms not in use for extended times, the same with air conditioning. Use timers on both heating, and air conditioning to use only when needed, and you will have it cooled, or heated for when you arise from bed, or arrive home. No need to unplug if you have all of your electronics on protective circuit breaker strips, which you should. Not only do they protect expensive units from costly power surges, but you can disconnect all phatom electric drainers by switching off the circuit breaker, or you can get a Smart Power Strip that does it for you.
10. Keep snacks in the car. Put your, and your kid's, favorite snacks in your car's glove compartment. How many times do you stop to buy convenience foods when you, or the kids, are hungry. Not only is this a waste of money, but usually results in unhealthy choices. To save even more money buy in bulk, and put in single serving sizes in small containers, or bags. Good choices are raisins, or other dried fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy energy bars, granola, etc. Not only are these tasty, and easy to eat on the run, but they keep for a long time, and don't forget to bring the filled reusable water bottles.
11. Don't use your dryer. Hang your clothes up outside to dry. If you don't, or can't have a clothesline put a portable clothes drying rack outside. When the weather isn't nice, bring the drying rack inside. In the winter it is great because the heat in the house helps them dry faster, and it adds humidity to the house since the heat often leads to a dry environment. Not only will you save a lot of money on electricity since the dryer is expensive to run, but your clothes will last longer since the dryer wears them out.
12. Gather and use coupons. Be on the lookout for coupons in stores, and ask friends, and family for their extras. These save so much money. The one drawback is that many coupons are for unhealthy products. But there are more and more coupons being produced for healthier products. Coupons save so much money that you should even consider paying for them. I'll explain. You can't "buy" coupons of course, but you can pay someone for their service of gathering them, clipping, and mailing to you. There are many places online that you can get them, including ebay. Even if you have to pay $0.25 for a $1 coupon you are still ahead $0.75 for each coupon that you use. I avail myself of this occasionally.
14. Buy generic. If you buy generic items you can save a lot over the brand names. Usually they are comparable, and all you are paying for in a popular brand is their advertising. At the very least, try a generic item in every brand name you use. See if you can live with the generic. If there is only a small difference, why bother with the expense of the brand name? After a while you will forget about the small difference, if there is any. Sometimes you will find you prefer the generic to the brand name! I challenge you to substitute a generic item, and put it in the brand name box, and see if your family can really tell the difference without the container on display. Often times we buy the brands out of habit, or because it is what we grew up with.
15. Buy seasonally. Buy fruits and vegetables in season, not only are they cheaper, but usually taste better too. If you can buy seasonally, and locally you can really score a low price. Don't forget to check out the Farmer's Markets. I don't recommend buying commerically canned food, but frozen is an option if you must have something not in season, especially if on sale. And speaking of frozen, if you can score a big sale on produce consider buying a lot, and freezing it yourself. Strawberries are much cheaper in the summer when in season, and wouldn't they taste great in the following months to be able to pull them out of the freezer at the summer sale price.
16. Buy sale items. Have your food preferences match the sales; I adjust my tastes to sale items. Stock up as much as you can whenever there is a sale. Just be certain that what you buy you will be able to consume before it expires. You can usually buy a lot more of the staples, and non-food items, but some fresh fruits and vegetables will last a long time if stored properly. Add coupons to the sale, and save even more. Lastly, make sure you make room for items you buy on sale. You need to have a designated space for them. Clean out what you no longer need, and list it on ebay, or sell it at a garage sale, or flea market to make room for your stockpile of sale items.
17. Eat less. This is a tough one, but let's face it, most of us would be a lot healthier if we ate less. Less food to buy is money saved. For most of us, food is the one place where we can cut back, and if you are really struggling, and have already reduced various costs as much as you can, food is often the only place you can cut back. Please remember, eating less is not eating poorly. Buy healthy, but inexpensive food, and just eat less of it.
18. Pay Bills Online. This is a great way to save. The savings add up over the years. If you have even just 5 monthly bills to pay every month, and instead of sending a check you paid online, the savings alone in stamps, if you figure a $.45 cent stamp, would be $27.00 in one year. And if you are paying for checks--I hope you're not--it would be even more. Speaking of paying for checks, I still can't understand why anyone would pay for checks, or even worse a checking account fee per check, when there are banks that don't charge for that, and some even give you free checks. Which brings me to my next tip.
19. Change to a bank with free checking. I know it is easy to just stay with one bank, and I know personally of people who have stayed with a bank even with all the fees that have been added over the years. This makes no sense. With only a little effort you can find a bank that will not cost you a cent, and if you are one of the ones whose bank starts adding fees--switch banks.
The best of all scenarios is to get a free checking account where there is no minimum balance required, and includes a free Debit/Credit card that comes with the checking account. Preferably also one that gives a free reward just for opening the account. I recently switched banks to Santander, and the checking account is totally free with no minimum balance, and only requires a small monthly direct deposit of at least $250. Here is a link where you can get a free $50 for opening an account. You just have to have the monthly direct deposit, and use the free debit card 5 times, and keep the account open for only 60 days. I will also get $50 for a referral fee, and then you can also refer others as well.
20. Try to get it for free. If you need something, before buying it, try to get it for free. It probably won't be new, but there is a possibility you could score something used, but in good condition. The first thing you should do is get the word out; tell family, and friends what you need. Maybe one of them is willing to give you theirs, especially if they are getting a new one. Another possibility is to check out the freecycle.org website. You should sign up for your local one if you haven't already. If no one is offering the item you need, you can post a request. You should also check out the free category on your local craigslist.org. Again, someone might be offering what you need. You usually have to act quickly to be the lucky recipient. Make sure you write a nice note explaining why you want it, don't just say "I want it", because you will definitely not be chosen if you do. Again, you can also post an appeal for what you need. There are a few other "free" websites. You can google to find others, and check them out. I'm not that familiar with the others. I do know of one more, where you can exchange "credits" for free items, but I don't know anything else about it. That website is listia.com.
21. Buy Used. If you can't get it for free, purchase pre-owned. Remember you are also helping the environment by recycling items. Help change our disposable society into a frugal, recycling, repurposing, efficient greener environment. You can buy almost anything used from a car to clothing, and pay a fraction of the price of new. There are a few things, I believe, that you should never buy used, such as any upholstered furniture, mattresses, and underwear. I would also add socks, and shoes, but I know many people do buy those items used. I'd say go by your own ick factor, lol, but remember if you buy, or take something such as a sofa, or mattress that ends up having bed bugs, or some other critters, it will end up costing you in more ways than one.
Having said that, most other things are really a savings if you can get them used. Check out flea markets (bad expression, lol) garage sales, thrift stores, and family and friends cast-offs, etc. ebay was built on buying pre-owned, and you can still find great bargains there, as well as finding just about anything you need. And don't forget Craigslist for larger items such as furniture, and with local items, no shipping fee is involved. You can really save a lot buying used furniture. Just be wary of any upholstered items, but wooden furniture is usually a real bargain. Also, don't be afraid, or embarrassed, to pick through curb side cast-offs. I, and many people I know, have scored some great items that way. Most items can be washed, or cleaned back to like new condition. All glass, ceramic, and similar items once washed can look like new, so never disregard buying used. It never hurts to check out used items first, because you can always decide it isn't for you, and buy new if that is what you feel best about.
22. Cancel the Cable TV. I know a lot of you have the first thought, "How can I live without TV"? I'm not suggesting living without TV, although it seems a lot of us would be healthier without it. Studies show higher death rates of those that watch TV, and not just TV, but computer work, or anything that keeps us sitting (read inactive) for extended periods of time. That's is sobering news, isn't it? But back to the cable TV. Many people spend upwards of $100 a month on cable TV alone. The cost seems to run anywhere from about $20 to $200 a month. Most people seem to spend around $100 in my area. Stop spending that money for something you really don't need, and probably wouldn't miss very much.
You can still watch TV without paying for the cable. You can get an antenna and watch it for free, and you can also watch it over the internet. Most of the major channels let you watch their programs online the following day, or you can get Hulu for free. Hulu Plus costs about $15 a month, and I personally didn't like it, because they didn't have a lot of current programs I watch, but some people like it. Also, some of the offerings are very old programs, and you still have to wait until the following day to watch the current programs they do carry. But you can try it out for free the first month to see if it works for you.
Netflix is another popular choice, and it is only about $8 a month. It's a great choice if you like movies, and it will really save you a lot if you go to the movie theater frequently. I haven't tried this yet, but I do plan on trying it. You can also try Netflix out for free for the first month to see if you like it.
What I've settled for is an antenna (read totally free TV) I've gotten a flat antenna, and I would give it mixed reviews. It works the best for me, compared to cheaper antennas, but it is tricky because it is sometimes difficult get a signal with some channels, and sometimes I lose the picture when a car goes by, on some channels. It all depends on how good of a signal you can get. I can't use an outside antenna, but if you can, you should have much less trouble with receiving signals.
I also like to watch the programs when they are occurring in live time. So the antenna works for me, and if I miss a program I wanted to see, I can usually catch it online the following day.
If watching online for free is appealing to you, but you dislike the idea of watching on a small screen computer, simply get a HDMI cable to connect your PC, or laptop, to the TV, and watch it on television for free. You would need to have one of the newer flat panel TVs to do that, but most people are switching to the flat panel since the prices have come down so much. I also like having a TV I can actually lift. The old TVs, even a small 19", was so heavy I needed to wait for help to move it.
If you only have an old style analog TV, you can still use the antenna, but don't forget you will also need a converter for it. We all were able to get two free from the government via the coupons, when the switch to digital occurred, but if you missed out for some reason, you can still buy the converters. You could get one really cheap from ebay. I sold one of mine on ebay when I bought my flat panel TV. That's another way to help you pay for the antenna, by selling your converter on ebay.
Anyway, try it, and see how your life goes without paying for TV. You can always go back if you feel you can't live without it, but if you find you really don't miss it all that much, think of the money you can save in just one year alone without that awful cable TV bill.
23. Get a Rewards Credit Card, and Use It. Find the best rewards card you can and get it, but make sure you pay it off in full every month. If you do that you can earn some great rewards, including cash back, just for paying your bills, and buying what you would anyway, like groceries, and gas.
24. Do It Yourself. Whether it's fixing something, making something, or creating something--Do It Yourself!
Almost everything is cheaper if you do it yourself. Sew the hem, clean the house, walk the dog, change the oil, cut your hair, do your nails, make it yourself, or repair it yourself. I could go on, and on, but you get the picture. You can pay someone to do almost anything, but think of the money you'll save by doing it yourself (read paying yourself).
If you don't feel competent enough, just google it, and you will find instructions on how to do almost anything. You will find instructions in print, or videos. Youtube is great for videos on how to do it. I personally learned how to open a coconut by watching a couple of youtube videos.
I have a couple of beautiful lamps that I just love, but when they would no longer light I knew they had to be fixed. I could have brought them in to be fixed, but I decided to learn how to rewire a lamp myself. I read a couple of instructions, and watched a couple of youtube videos, and was able to do both of them easily. I was very proud of it, and it costs me nothing since I didn't even buy new wiring for them.
I found someone on freecycle who was giving away a pair of large ugly lamps that were about the same size as mine. I was lucky enough to get them, and since they were working lamps, all I had to do was remove the wiring from them, and install it into my lamps, and presto, my lamps were like new again--for free.
Whatever it is that you want to tackle, just make your mind up that you're going to do it, whatever it takes. Just know that if someone else can do it, so can you! If cutting your own hair still seems a little tricky, what about asking a friend over, and you can each do each other's hair. With haircut costs skyrocketing into the triple digits sometimes, just think of the savings. If you still feel you need a professional, certainly a trim is not worth the professional cost in between hair cuts. And if you keep a simple blunt cut hairstyle you can definitely forgo the professional. At home hair coloring is very simple now too. You can also find safer hair coloring if you do it yourself. I personally like Naturcolor.
The list is endless from making your own cleaning products, to doing the cleaning yourself. Not only do you forgo the toxic chemicals, but you get the much needed exercise. And if you need a few dollars, you can be the "expert" others are looking for, and make money by doing the job for someone else. People are willing to pay to have almost anything done for their convenience. From preparing their dinners, to doing their laundry, or shopping.