People choose a simple lifestyle for different reasons. You might want to save money, reduce debt, live more sustainably, or all of the above. Here are my 101+ tips to help you achieve living on less.
Frugality involves being mindful of expenses and prioritizing needs over wants. It can mean making your own meals instead of dining out, buying used items instead of new ones, and finding ways to save on everyday expenses.
More than 101 Ways to Live with Less
So you know: I’m not a financial advisor and don’t pretend to be one. I’m simply sharing ideas that I find work to inspire you along the way.
Take time, to plan, rethink decisions & ways to cut expenditure $$
Plan and rethink expenditure decisions you’ve made or are about to make. Are there more effective cost-cutting options for a more sustainable financial future?
Switch services and covers to get a better deal
Streamline your phone, internet, medical, and/or insurance plans etc. to match your current needs. Seek prices/quotes from your current or another provider or platform to see if you can get better deals than what you have already.
identify spending pits in your financial statements
Go over your financial statements and look for transactions and identify spending pits that you can reduce.
identify subscriptions you can do without
Look through your transactions and identify unnecessary subscriptions before letting go of a high-earning job.
Evaluate those you can do without. For example, do you really need that sample box subscription?
Follow up on automatic debits to lenders
Check automatic debit transactions to lenders which may have or are likely to continue after the loan has been fully paid off for technical or other reasons. Make a note in your calendar of the due dates for payments and the payout.
Consolidate debts into one with the lowest interest rate
Consolidate debts into one low-interest-rate loan and you’ll be surprised how much that will save you each month.
Choose a credit card without reward points – i.e., has no annual fees
A credit card without reward points usually means no annual fees and this can save you a few hundred dollars a year.
Cards with reward points often come with high annual fees.
The rewards earned from the card are often not worth the fees involved.
Have your credit card set to pay out in full each month
Pay your credit card in full each month means you avoid interest charges. Make sure to only spend what you can afford.
Instead of a credit card. Use a prepaid card to buy goods and services online or in person
Consider using prepaid cards which work by allowing you to pre-load money onto the card, which you can then use just like a credit card. This way you don’t overspend.
Install an option to generate own power (e.g. solar) so you no longer need to pay for electricity
Think about lowering power bills. An option is to install solar panels to eliminate or reduce electricity costs. There are also other ways with the advance in technology which might pay to research.
Cut back on bought coffees to save ~$X a day
By cutting out just one or two bought coffees a day, you could save anywhere from $3-$10 a day.
It helps the environment as you’ll use a reusable mug when making coffee at home.
Cut back on bought lunches. Make and take your own lunch
This is a simple but effective way to save extra dollars.
Pack your own lunch and you not only control your diet but also reduce your spending on eating out.
Repay home loan faster with savings made. Try a budget challenge
Use savings to make extra repayments to reduce the overall interest paid on the loan, allowing you to become debt-free sooner and increasing equity in your home for future financial security.
The above is a snapshot of what I wrote in my article on spending less and planning ahead to leave a high-paying job. You should find out more there.
Below are more money-saving ideas for everyday things…including in the kitchen, saving on cleaning products, personal care, gift giving, caring for the garden, and your mind, body, and soul.
Kitchen / Food savings
- Make soft bread crumbs from stale bread.
- Put stale bread in a slow oven for one hour, then crumble to make dry bread crumbs.
- Freeze any surplus fruit or vegetables, especially homegrown.
- Have a grocery list when shopping to limit impulse buying.
- Shift to some plant-based meals – reduce grocery bills by almost half.
- Plan meals in advance and consider use-by-dates of groceries.
- Access local markets for savings on organic fruit and vegetables.
- Use bicarbonate soda in a salt shaker to clean bench tops/sinks.
- Freeze bread loaves and break off slices as needed; save wasting leftovers.
- Using dinner leftovers for lunches the next day saves $$. Use leftovers from meals for meals the next day (there is help with apps
like ’Love Your Leftovers’ and books like Leftover Makeovers* or River Cottage Love Your Leftovers*).
- Buy in bulk where possible to save on household & food items.
- Use bicarbonate soda in a container for killing odours in the fridge or anywhere.
- For more on this, see my article on ways to save on groceries.
Home office and bedrooms
- Set printer properties to fast or draft quality to save on ink costs.
- Set printer properties to print both sides of the paper to save on paper.
- Recycle envelopes, old calendars, and backs of pamphlets for note paper.
- Use a tablet or laptop instead of a desktop computer to save on energy.
- Use natural lighting, but otherwise use energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Turn off lights and fans when the room is not in use.
- Use eucalyptus oil for removing sticky residue.
Home / Household goods / equipment
- Service and maintain equipment/appliances to lengthen their life.
- Use timers with air-conditioners to minimize energy costs.
- Use the dry mode with air-conditioners to reduce energy costs.
- Use sweaters, rugs, and blankets for warmth to reduce winter energy costs.
- Keep items away from sunlight, to ensure the longer life of the product.
- Share or swap equipment with others to help with capital outlay.
- Repair! Supa glue takes but a few minutes.
- Compare online and local retailers for best buys and negotiate prices.
- Commit to buying QUALITY products that will last the test of time.
- Pass over on CHEAP goods that will end up in landfill before long and cost more in the long run.
- Use water efficiency nozzles and shower heads to reduce water costs.
- Use pallets for furniture. I made my day bed this way. Get ideas from Pinterest on Crafting with Wood Pallets Projects.
- Reduce the use of freezers, air-conditioners, fridges, and other energy ‘pits’.
- Revamp tired furniture and décor with an attractive throw and cushions to save $$ on refurnishing.
- Declutter: Do a garage sale / sell on online marketplaces for extra $$.
- If you accumulate reward points on store cards (e.g., FlyBuys) for everyday purchases, like groceries and fuel — use them! (we’re hit with hidden fees anyway – so why not make the most of it).
- Use reward points to buy replacement appliances.
- Use reward points to fund holidays.
- Refill empty spray bottles with diluted vinegar for a cleaning spray.
- Using equal parts vinegar and dishwashing liquid to clean shower screens, walls, and bathroom basins saves household cleaning costs.
- Use homemade furniture polish: beeswax + olive oil, softened and mixed.
- Make homemade hand wash from olive oil soap diluted in water and added to reusable dispenser bottles.
- Use leftover lemon peels for cleaning and shining stainless steel items (will keep 4 – 5 days in fridge).
- Use vinegar as a final rinse in the laundry for a cheap and eco softener.
- Use a dash of methylated spirits in 1/3 bucket of water to clean windows, then dry with an old towel – saves on household cleaners.
- Use vinegar as a rinse in the dishwasher for sparkling crockery & glass.
- Extend life of dishcloths by soaking them in vinegar to clean them.
- Use a good dash of methylated spirits mixed with water mixed and use with a spray mop for cleaning hard-covered floors.
- Use old pantyhose/sheer tights for cleaning, especially for showers.
- Upcycle frayed T-shirts and towels for cleaning and soaking up spills.
- Use bicarbonate soda as a carpet cleaner and freshener.
- Clean fabric lounge with bicarb soda: sprinkle on, leave and wipe off with a damp cloth.
- Use clove oil (1/2 teaspoon) in 500 ml water as a spray to deter mould.
- Use old toothbrushes as mini brushes for hard-to-clean places.
- Choose a drip-dry wash cycle to avoid ironing clothes to reduce energy costs.
- Use sunlight to dry clothes rather than a clothes dryer (+ it’s a sanitiser).
Personal care / Beauty
- Use olive oil as a homemade hair tonic (leave in o/night) for shiny healthy hair.
- Use sesame oil as a skin moisturiser.
- Using organic cacao powder as a bronzer saves on cosmetics (+health benefits) – see ’Zero Waste Home‘ (Amazon link) for more waste reduction ideas.
- Use leftover coffee grinds with coconut oil as a hand or body scrub.
- Use homemade toothpaste: 1 teaspoon bicarb, 2 drops of peppermint essential oil, and a little water, at times.
- Use cool water in the final rinse for a smooth, shiny finish to hair.
- Use clove bud oil* to soothe toothache.
- Add salt to cooled boiled water for low-budget and healthier-choice eye rinse/drops.
- Use sodium-chloride first-aid ampules from a chemist for inexpensive eye drops and the eye treatment option when travelling.
- Grow lemon balm for its calming benefits. See my article on how to use lemon balm.
- Re-use gift paper, old maps and gift bags when wrapping presents.
- Re-gift unwanted presents.
- Be creative with homemade gifts for presents, like cookies in a jar ideas, or homegrown herbs in a pot.
- Make your own special greeting cards from upcycled items.
- See my Gift Ideas on a Budget for more inspiration.
Clothes / Fashion
- Repair! Sew, patch or hem to extend garment life. If you don’t have the skills, you can learn these online.
- Upcycle or extend the use-by-date of last year’s wardrobe.
- When purchasing, choose clothes that don’t need ironing.
- Shop at charity shops for fashion, decor or garden items you can repurpose.
- Use veggie and fruit scraps in the compost to use as garden fertiliser.
- Use drip irrigation to reduce water bills.
- Grow trees to shade your hoe from the hot sun to help reduce energy costs.
- Plant fruit trees/vines, e.g. lemons, limes, papaws, bananas & passionfruit, to save on produce costs.
- Shred old documents/paper and lay clippings as garden mulch. After a good spray with water, the clippings make the best weed matting.
- Use lawn clippings for garden mulch or in compost.
- Repurpose handbags, shoes and boots as containers for growing herbs.
- Take cuttings from plants to expand the garden and save on costs.
- Plant seeds and shoots from veggie scraps to grow capsicums, chillies, sweet potatoes, shallots, leeks and tomatoes.
- Repurpose old frypans, saucepans, jugs and containers to grow succulents.
MIND AND BODY
- Stay healthy: exercise/stretch, relax, eat healthily; take supplements; to save on medical bills.
- Plan ahead with outings: taking own healthy food and drinks.
- Source magazines and books (digital or hardcopy) from public libraries or community book exchanges.
- Take advantage of natural environment (for beach/bushwalking, cycling, swimming) to exercise and save $$$ on gym subscriptions. Go barefoot and reap the benefits of grounding, connection to the Earth. During your walks in nature, make sure to hug a tree.
- Take advantage of paths to walk, cycle or skate to places. Admire the trees along the way -– see their magnificence and enjoy what trees provide.
“Waste not want not” was the slogan promoting frugal living ideas from the depressions days.
You can be thrifty at sixty or at any age. It’s hard living on an extreme budget when you are used to just buying what you want when you want it. But there are many joys in simplifying your life.