75 [Somewhat Crazy] Ways to be More Frugal

This post was originally published 2 years ago. Since that time, we’ve found a few new (and yes, still somewhat crazy) ways to be even more frugal. I thought I’d share again while we recover from an almost non-stop 2-week adventure with our great niece. Enjoy!


A few days ago I was skimming a post in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to. The question posed was “What frugal things do you do that your friends consider crazy?” As I read a few of the comments, I got to thinking – with few exceptions, we do just about everything that was listed – so we must be crazy frugal after all!

From the comments and from our own brainstorming exercise, Angie and I compiled a list of 75 somewhat crazy ways to be more frugal. They are in no particular order. We put an asterisk (*) by the ones we currently do or have done in the past. How many do you do? What did we miss that should be added to the list?

  1. Split or share meals at restaurants*
  2. Drink water at restaurants instead of purchasing a drink*
  3. Use family cloth instead of toilet paper
  4. Stop wearing make-up*
  5. Learn how to give haircuts at home*
  6. Re-use baggies and containers (Ziploc, plastic grocery bags, bread bags, etc.)*
  7. Shower less often*
  8. Reuse bath towels for several days*
  9. Shred newspaper to use as cat litter
  10. Make your own cleaners and laundry soap*
  11. Use a wool dryer ball instead of dryer sheets*
  12. Wear clothes for multiple days*
  13. Hand wash dishes*
  14. Swap out your light bulbs for CFLs or LEDs*
  15. Borrow books, movies, and music from your local library*
  16. Dumpster dive*
  17. Hang clothes outside to dry
  18. Buy clothing and household goods from thrift stores (or garage sales)*
  19. Take extra condiments and/or napkins from fast food restaurants*
  20. Raise the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and lower it to 68 degrees in the winter*
  21. Open windows and use fans (when possible)*
  22. Couchsurf or tent camp (for vacations)*
  23. Use only prepaid, no-contract cell phones*
  24. Cut cable*
  25. Use newspaper or color-print ads for wrapping paper*
  26. Make your own gifts for the holidays*
  27. Use the backside of printed pages for scrap paper/post-it notes*
  28. Refill ink cartridges*
  29. Recycle birthday and/or Christmas cards into holiday postcards*
  30. Pick up change*
  31. Skip using deodorant or shampoo (or make your own)
  32. Walk, bike, take the bus or carpool
  33. Create a meal plan and shop your own pantry first*
  34. Cook at home*
  35. Grow your own food*
  36. Use veggie scraps to make your own broth*
  37. Turn bread scraps into breadcrumbs or croutons*
  38. Compost*
  39. Buy in bulk (when possible)*
  40. Join a CSA farm-share program*
  41. Visit a U-pick farm (not only are the fruits and veggies super fresh, they are usually cheaper)*
  42. Use coupons*
  43. Drive a used car*
  44. Use cloth menstrual pads or a menstrual cup
  45. Use the internet at free WiFi spots*
  46. Use cloth diapers
  47. Make your own toothpaste*
  48. Put an empty quart jar in your toilet tank to save water during flushes*
  49. Wear mismatched socks and gloves (ones that have lost their mates)
  50. Reuse tea bags or coffee grounds*
  51. Pay cash for all purchases
  52. Take your lunch to work*
  53. Ditch your microwave (and convenience foods)*
  54. Exercise at home (bonus points for using canned goods as hand weights)*
  55. Go for a hike or walk*
  56. Get a free pass to try out a local gym or YMCA
  57. Eat less meat*
  58. Shop the day-old rack for discounted breads and pastries*
  59. Barter with or borrow from your neighbor*
  60. Glean untended fruit trees or gardens in your neighborhood*
  61. Take water and snacks with you whenever you leave the house*
  62. Use the ice machine at hotels to refill water bottles or small coolers on road trips (even when you didn’t stay at the hotel)*
  63. Enjoy free entertainment in your community (festivals, concerts/movies in the park, etc.)*
  64. Upcycle mesh produce bags into pot scrubbers and bath puffs*
  65. Use reward apps like Shopkick to earn gift cards for gas or groceries*
  66. Learn to make simple home repairs on your own*
  67. Take advantage of free trials of entertainment apps (like Netflix, Hulu or CBS) to catch up on your favorite shows (don’t forget to cancel before the end of the trial though!)*
  68. Borrow e-books through Lendle*
  69. Pick up hobby and craft supplies at garage sales*
  70. Learn how to effectively hack your credit card reward programs*
  71. Buy gift cards to places you visit often when they are offering bonus offers (like Panera’s recent buy $50, get $10 free)*
  72. Change banks to earn new customer cash rewards*
  73. Freeze your credit report to discourage opening new accounts*
  74. Take advantage of free preventative health screenings and health fairs*
  75. Stop shopping online*

The Grocery Game [Updated]

Originally published January 13, 2016. Updated July 11, 2018.

From extreme couponing to urban foraging, there are numerous ways to save money on groceries. Just Google it sometime, if you haven’t already. I did, and I found that a good many of the suggested options required a whole lot of effort to see even the most minimal results. Sure there are folks out there who can spend hours sourcing coupons and get an entire cart of groceries for $2. I, on the other hand, could spend hours sourcing coupons just to arrive at the store without them. Or worse, walk out with 3 bags of free mustard.

We play a different kind of grocery game. Simple shopping.

The basics of simple shopping are:

Make a Stock List: The single best way to improve grocery spending is to make a list of your favorite meals and snacks. From this selection of menu options, make a second list of all the ingredients and/or products required to create those meals. Only purchase the items on this list and always keep at least one of each of your most used stock item in your pantry reserves.

Shop Less Often: Keeping extras of your favorite items in the pantry means fewer trips to the store and fewer trips means fewer spending opportunities. Create a schedule for grocery shopping, one that fits the way you like to eat. We like to shop once a week, usually on Friday evening or Saturday morning. During the spring/summer season, we also visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.

Cut Down on Convenience Foods: In most cases, frozen convenience meals are significantly more expensive than making the same meal from scratch. And let’s face it, scratch meals taste better and are better for you. There is one caveat to this though; it’s not a bad idea to keep a frozen pizza or box of veggie burgers in the freezer for those times when you are just too tired (or too interested in doing something else) to cook.

Forego (Most) Couponing: Coupons often promote spending rather than helping to reduce grocery costs. A lot of coupons are for processed foods and many are offered to encourage you to try new items. Sometimes that new product is great but more often that item will just sit in the cabinet or fridge until it goes bad. By only buying from a list, it’s easier to resist the temptation to use coupons for the latest and greatest new food fad (and it also helps cut down on food waste). That being said, I do spend a few minutes each week checking the digital coupons for Kroger. Occasionally there’s one we can use (usually it’s just the Friday Freebie).

Shop Sales: Grocery stores have sales for a reason – to get you into the store. They know that the majority of folks who come in for those few bargain items will also do the remainder of their shopping there, making up their loss. The real discounts go to those who only buy the bargain items…the bargain items that are on their stock list. To supplement our regular grocery trips (and to pick up items at a better cost), Angie scans the weekly ads from Food Lion and Kroger. If an item that we have on our list is on sale at a greater savings than ALDI, then we’ll get it. If the item can be stored, we’ll get several of them.

Make it Fun: Grocery shopping really can be fun and there are a lot of different strategies to make it so. Set a target goal – like $50 – and see if you can get all the items on your list for that amount. Wager with your significant other (or child) to see who can find the best overall deal. Loser makes dinner. There are even a few side hustles that will pay you to mystery shop your favorite grocery store and last year, we discovered the Shopkick app, which is a great way to earn gift cards just by scanning items as you walk the grocery aisles.