When it comes down to it, if you want more money, you have two options: make more or spend less. If you’ve already done all you can to make more money (see a few suggestions here), then the next step is to find little ways to shave off areas of your existing budget.
Just like earning extra money, living frugally is all about the slow and steady race. But if you stick with it, you can easily save $5,000 or more a year! (The amount saved on bottled water and soup is mind-blowing – just saying.)
Check out the list below to see which things our family stopped buying to save money last year:
Paper Towels – This was one of the first things to go when we stopped using “disposable” products. We invested in a set of 30 cloth towels from Etsy and have never looked back. (I do keep one roll around for things like raw meat juice and sick toddlers because cooties.) Saves $52/year.
Antibacterial Clorox wipes – Have you ever read the back of the Clorox or Lysol wipes container? Unless you’re using enough wipes to leave the surface wet for 10 minutes, you’re not disinfecting anything. Not kidding – fact check me, y’all. Save yourselves $47/year and use a towel, soap, and hot water instead.
Hand soap – I make my own by refilling old foaming soap dispensers with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, water and essential oils. Saves $28/year.
Body lotion – I make my own with shea butter, coconut oil, and essential oils. It’s super moisturizing, doesn’t irritate my kiddo’s eczema, and saves about $29/year.
Stain remover – Hot water, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and a prayer are what we use around here. Saves $6/year.
Detangler – Get your hands wet, add the tiniest pea-sized amount of conditioner to your hands, run through your hair like you’re in a shampoo commercial. Saves $6/year.
Dryer sheets – I recommend these dryer balls or soaking a cloth in vinegar/essential oils to throw in the dryer with the wet clothes. Saves $10/year.
Individually-packaged foods – Did you know that one individually-packaged bag of goldfish crackers costs $.30 more than the same amount in bulk? Doesn’t sound like a lot until you start doing the math. If your kid has two snacks a day for a year, that’s $218/year savings just for goldfish crackers.
Juice – We buy half as much juice as most families. Why? We always cut our son’s juice with water. It allows us to use 50% less juice and cuts down on his sugar intake, too. Saves $78/year.
Small quantities of foods – This one is hard to quantify in terms of dollars, but buying in bulk is almost always cheaper. The fact that I have 12 cans of coconut milk in the bottom of our pantry is weird, yes, but the case of 12 cans on Amazon saved us $26. We shop at Costco once a month for bulk items. If you don’t have a warehouse membership, check Amazon Prime or ask your grocery store if they’ll give you a bulk discount for buying large quantities.
Cable – We broke up with cable when we moved to Florida. Even with Playstation Vue and Netflix, we still save about $500/year.
Candles – Diffusing essential oils is so, so, so much cheaper. We save at least $75/year by not buying them anymore.
Makeup removing wipes – I bought a cheap pack of Target washcloths that I keep in a basket on the bathroom counter. Even if you use a new one every single day (I do), you still won’t notice the extra bit of laundry each week. Saves $60/year.
Tampons – I use this menstrual cup. Stay calm. It’s nowhere near as gross as it sounds. Saves $65/year.
Conventional cleaners – I make my own with things like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. Check out my post on that here. Saves $50/year.
Swiffer mop refills – Y’all, soak a dish towel in your floor cleaner and stick it on the bottom of your Swiffer. Easy peasy. Saves $14/year.
Bug spray – Not many chemicals freak me out as much as the stuff in bug spray. I use this essential oil blend from Plant Therapy. It makes me smell like a citronella candle, but it works. Saves $20/year.
Spaghetti sauce – I try to make this from scratch and freeze it whenever possible. A really good jar of spaghetti sauce can be upwards of $8, but I can make it for about $1/jar if the ingredients are on sale. Saves around $75/year (we eat a lot of spaghetti, don’t judge).
Canned soup – Stop it. Just stop it. Make a big crock pot batch on Sunday and portion into mason jars for the week. On average, a batch of homemade soup/stew/chili is $7 cheaper than the same quantity from the store. Saves $168/year.
Our own Amazon Prime membership – Did you know you can share a membership with another family? Each person can have their own log-in/account/payment information, so none of that is shared. You simply add the other family’s accounts to yours when you renew the membership. We save $60/year by sharing with my parents.
Fast food lunches – Hubby packs a lunch from home every day. Even with the cost of the food from home, this easily saves us $1,200/year. Eating out is super expensive!
Makeup brush cleaner – I use olive oil and dish soap instead. Saves $10/year.
Drinks at restaurants – I almost always only order water at a restaurant, which helps keep our tab a bit lower. This adds up to about $108/year.
Medications at local pharmacy – Do you regularly buy over-the-counter medications at the pharmacy? Try your local warehouse store instead. We save $264/year just from buying Ibuprofen, Tylenol and Zyrtec at Costco instead of CVS.
Which of these do you think you can give up? Which items could you never live without? (Don’t worry – if there are things you can’t live without, stick around, I’ll be talking soon about how to coupon for most of these items, too!)