35 Easy Frugal Budgeting Tune-Ups

by Merissa on February 13, 2013

in Budgeting, Featured, Frugal Living Tips

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Since becoming a homemaker, it has been my passion and duty to figure out the best ways to stretch every dollar that my dear husband brings home. It has been an extremely long and tedious process, and I am still learning, but we have discovered tons of ways to live on one income.

At times it has felt completely impossible, and with baby #3 on the way-a tad bit scary-but it is definitely doable. Here is a extensive list of quirky ideas my family uses or tips I've learned from others, so that frugal budgeting doesn't seem too hard to handle.

1. Switching from cable to Netflix saved us $40 a month.

2. Couponing (big or small) can really help.

3. Stockpiling items when they go on sale. (I haven't had to purchase deodorant in over a year!)

4. We went down to one car for over two years to get caught up on bills. We now have two paid off vehicles.

5. Go meatless two nights a week.

6. Make freezer meals to curb the desire to eat out.

7. Use cloth towels over paper.

8. Make your own laundry detergent. (My recipe is about a penny per load while I believe Tide is around 10 cent per load)

9. Make your own house cleaners (vinegar, anyone?)

10.  Check second hand stores for clothing and household items.

11. A can of spray paint can change the look of any home decor item!

12. Cut your family's hair.

13. Consignment. We take our kids clothes to a consignment shop, and when we get credit we just use it to purchase items they need as they grow. It's like constant recycling!

14. Make your own baby food.

15. Get rid of home phone and just use cell. I wish we could do this. Unfortunately, where we live-we have horrible cell service, so we have to have the home phone.

16. Learn canning! This saves  BIG BUCKS in the long run!

17. Pay with cash. It's a whole lot more painful than using a card.

18. Cut out bad habits. Calculate how much those cigarettes, energy drinks, or lattes are really costing you each month.

19. Use envelope system budgeting. Separate your spending into categories, (grocery, gas, rent, etc.) Place your money in each envelope and once it's empty-you must wait until the next month to spend in that category.

20. Check out DVDs from the library instead or renting or purchasing.

21. Barter with people you know for services.

22. Sell unwanted items that are in good condition.

23. Mend your own clothing.

24. Carpool.

25. Bring your own bags to the grocery stores, many will give a small discount for doing so.

26. Wash clothes in cold water.

27. Line dry clothes when you can. (We aren't allowed to have a clothes line in our neighborhood...this makes me super sad)

28. Check out GasBuddy.com to find the cheapest gas in your area BEFORE you leave the house.

29. Unplug appliances that are not in use. Especially cell phone chargers, irons, and toasters.

30. Need a date night? Restaurant.com has sales constantly where you can get $25 gift cards for 2 bucks!

31. Are you a student, senior, or in the military? Ask everywhere you go if they give discounts-you may be surprised!

32. Check your bank for hidden fees regularly. Many are charging a 5-7 dollar fee just to hold your money.

33. Sign your kids up for birthday clubs! (just Google, there are tons!) We get free ice cream, little gift cards and much more each time their birthdays come around!

34. Ask your utility company if they offer a lower rate during off-peak hours. This is when you want to do laundry or wash dishes.

35. Check out couponing and freebie sites for awesome freebies. These sample size items are great donations for homeless shelters, but also for stocking stuffers or basket fillers for gifts!

Find even more frugal budgeting tips and ways to save money!

So here is my list! I'd love to hear some of the ways you stretch your budget!

dombio

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny February 13, 2013 at 11:54 am

Even if you don’t have a clothesline, you can still air dry your clothes. You can either go all-out with indoor drying racks, or just take the large stuff out of your loads, hang it around, then dry the smaller things in the dryer. You can hang laundry on kitchen chairs, doors, edge of the washer, stair railing, exercise equipment, on hangers on the shower rod, etc. I have a piece of bedframe in my hallway that I use to hang a bunch of my laundry on.

The smaller stuff in the dryer will take much less time to dry, saving energy and money. Even if you just take a few heavy items out of a load, say jeans and sweatshirts, it will still cut some drying time, and not take much time or energy for you. I then like to take the hanging laundry and toss it in the dryer for 5-10 minutes to soften if it is stiff from air drying.

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2 Dominque February 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

You are so right! Those are some awesome ideas. Right now, we are putting our house up, so I can’t have any clothes hanging about. Uggh!!! Our next house-I’m DEFINITELY having a clothes line!!!

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3 Carole Edminson June 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Put a big dry towel in the dryer with your wet laundry and it will dry in almost half the time it usually takes.

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4 Cheryl February 13, 2013 at 4:46 pm

About clotheslines-my mom put nails above the doorways in our apartment and ran clothesline across the room. The nails stay up and the line comes down after the wash dries. I use wooden drying racks. I have thought about running a clothesline. I will have to ask first if they will allow it.
About electricity-be careful if you are on a budget plan with your electric company and you decide to switch to a third party carrier. Even though you are paying your electric company, they will bounce you off your budget payment, because they say you are not dealing directly with them.

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5 Dominque February 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I never thought about the electric company! And your mom had a pretty sweet idea for a clothes line! I may have to try that!

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6 Umble Wife February 13, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Befriend local gardeners, and let them know that you are always happy to get fresh produce, if they have extra. Then learn 100 ways to prepare squash and zucchini, because you’ll be inundated with it all summer.

Also, learn to cook from scratch. Even condiments can be made at home, and they’ll be healthier than store bought.

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7 Dominque February 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I actually just pinned a recipe for ketchup! My hubby goes through it like crazy, and the organic kind is pretty expensive for a small bottle.

We don’t know anyone around here that has a garden anymore, but we are getting ready to move and plant (or attempt!) one ourselves!

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8 Heather @ My Kansas Life February 14, 2013 at 7:48 am

Great advice! I think cutting my hubby’s hair is an often-overlooked way to save. When I was in the military, some of my coworkers would spend $10-15 every two weeks to have their hair cut. That adds up to $260-390 a year! A set of clippers costs about $25 and lasts for several years. Getting a chance for some one-on-one time with my hubby is an added bonus :-)

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9 Dominque February 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

You’re SOOOO right! I cut my hubby’s hair too! My dad was Special Forces and mom my learned how to do a pretty good fade over the years :) Military families should definitely consider cutting their own hair, since that’s a must-have expense!

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10 Wendy February 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

RE: #15 We also get terrible cell reception at home. We kept our land-line phone, which is what we use most of the time. We got prepaid cell phones just to use when someone needs to reach us away from home. We pay $15/mo ($30 every 60 days, Net 10) It’s the cheapest option I’ve found.

RE: #27 When drying clothes outside isn’t possible, put things on hangers and hang on the shower curtain rod in the bathroom.

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11 Dominque February 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I so wish our cell plan wasn’t so expensive! I do a lot of work from my phone, so I have to have a smartphone. We pay WAY too much for it…but I’ve heard of people doing pre-paid smartphone. I might try that once our contract is up!

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12 Carole Edminson June 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Check your local services for your land line. I got a call wanting me to switch and the deal offered was great almost half of what I was paying fot the same service. I called my service and asked if they would match the deal and they did but it required an equiptment change. The other company offered free instalation and free equiptment. My company was going to charge me for that until I mentioned it was free from the other guys. Well being such a good customer suddenly I got everything free. To sum up I save $65 a month on my landline with internet included. One other thing if you have a special deal on internet say $20 a mth for 6 mths be sure you get another special deal after the 6 months or you will be paying the higher price without even realizing it.

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13 Becky February 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Love the off peak hours tip! I will have to check that one our with our provider.

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14 Jeanne February 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Bonus when you dry clothes indoors during winter months: adding humidity! Moist air feels warmer than dry air … so you might be able turn down the thermostat a touch.

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15 Kimberley. F. March 3, 2013 at 7:31 am

In order to save some money, I would put a good sized line on my back porch. From there , I would gather together what ever hanger,s that where available. I would do my laundry like normal, and once done I would hang my clothes on the hanger and place the hanger,s on the actual line. Doing this saves space , time, and money. You can do many loads of laundry all at once, and be done for the day. Once all clothes are dry….just put them in the closet. ( if u have one )

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16 Cynthia L April 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm

What a great article! I do many of the things you talk about. I also live where we can’t have a clothesline, but I do as others and have a drying rack! I love it.

I also love canning and will do more this year. I have a Joann Fabrics close to me and they sell Ball canning jars. I am building my supply by using the 40 or 50% off coupons!

I would love it if you would link this list up to my Living Big on Less Money Series. It is at http://FeedingBig.com I have a list up about free or almost free entertainment!

I am so glad you shared all of this great information!

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17 Michele June 2, 2013 at 7:58 am

Instead of bringing my own bags to the store I want to have the stores give me bags. These are FREE bags that I don’t have to buy to line my trashcans…they don’t have to fit perfectly or look pretty in the trashcan…they are holding trash. I just keep a stockpile of bags under the sink and never run out and have to spend money on them.

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18 teresa June 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Savings… i keep a list of groc shopping needs… then before shopping… i make my meal menu… and create my shopping list. Sticking to my list saved me big bucks! If you clip coupons thst helps! And using the sales ads too!

PS eat before shopping!

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19 Mandy October 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Cloth diaper your babies. And I mean REALLY cloth diaper them. Not the fancy expensive diapers. Buy good quality prefolds and sturdy adjustable sized covers. I use Flip covers on my grandson. No pins needed. Just trickle the diaper on and snap it on. Cottons Babies sells flip seconds for 7 dollars each and always have free shipping. I have spent about 150 dollars and have never put a disposable on him. And hes 17 months old. Imagine the savings by the time hes potty trained.

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20 Nancy October 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Thanks for all the great ideas! We do some of them already and will definitely start incorporating more. I have been using Magic Jack and a prepaid smartphone for over a year. I pay $20 a year for my home phone and $20 every 3 month for 180 cell minutes. I don’t cut my own hair, I buy vouchers at my Great Clips when they have their annual $8 sale. I also get my facials at a beauty school where I only pay $100 for a pack of 4 facials which is all I need once a year since I only go every 12 weeks. I clip a lot of coupons and combine them with sales, saving tons of money!

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21 Merissa October 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Which pre-paid phone plan do you use Nancy? We are looking for one after the beginning of the year and I’m not sure which one to go with.

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22 Jeanne October 18, 2013 at 3:08 am

I do all this anyway I make all my food from scratch
don’t have tv no dryer grow all my food and in winter
I have a greenhouse
I always buy clothes at goodwill or consignment shops
I only buy locally and I am lucky I live on a farm and
all my very faraway neighbors r farmers
So I am very lucky

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23 Brenda October 18, 2013 at 4:46 am

We also have an antenna that we paid $59 and change for. We get local news channels and metv, which has old tv shows on it. So after the initial $59 our tv viewing is free. It paid for itself in one month. Plus we use the Netflix like you said. You can also watch lots of movies on youtube for free.
As for phones, we can’t go with a cell phone either due to no service in our area. So we use Vonage which costs us about $35 per month but that’s with unlimited calling, caller id, call waiting, voice mail etc. With our local phone company that would have cost us triple (including any long distance and the services like voice mail, caller id etc)
As for our internet service we cut it down to $39 per month and that’s fast enough.
Thanks for other great ideas!!

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