100 Ways To Be Frugal And Free

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You might be thrust into a new situation where you have to live on less. How to make ends meet? Here are some tried and tested tips on saving money, for making ends meet, for before and after you downsize.

Live frugally, aim for simple living, it’s all similar and people choose this lifestyle for different reasons. But for many, it means freedom from feeling trapped in a life where they can’t be themselves and gaining one of harmony and balance and away from unhealthy stress levels.

My list of money saving/cost cutting ideas has grown to over 100. The first list is to do with money management and if you can, it’s a good idea to start doing this before you downsize.

Money management

  1. Repay home loan faster with surplus money from savings.
  2. Align service providers, e.g., insurance, phone/IT, with current needs.
  3. Check bank transactions to identify and manage spending pits.
  4. Check bank transactions to identify subscriptions no longer needed.
  5. Follow up on automatic debits to lenders when debt has been paid in full.
  6. Consolidate debts, where possible, into one with the lowest interest rate.
  7. Review all of the above on a regular basis.
  8. Choose a credit card without reward points – i.e., has no annual fees, since I found rewards earned didn’t offset the fees.
  9. Pay off credit card in full each month – otherwise avoid credit cards.
  10. 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).
  11. Use reward points to buy replacement appliances.
  12. Use reward points to fund holidays.
  13. Cut back on purchasing coffees to save ~$5 a day.
  14. Shift to some plant-based meals – reduce grocery bills by almost half.
  15. Shop at Op-shops for items you can upcycle for fashion, decor or garden.
  16. Declutter: Do a garage sale / sell on online market places for extra $$.
  17. Generate own power (e.g. solar) – no longer need to pay for electricity.
  18. Use sweaters, rugs & blankets for warmth to reduce winter energy costs.
  19. Take time, to plan and rethink, to avoid poor decisions and $$ wastage.

Cleaning

  1. Clean: refill commercial spray bottles with vinegar for a cleaning spray.
  2. Clean: use equal parts vinegar & dishwashing liquid to clean shower screens, walls and bathroom basins saves household cleaning costs.
  3. Use homemade furniture polish: bees wax + olive oil, softened and mixed.
  4. Make homemade hand wash from olive oil soap diluted in water and added to reusable dispenser bottles.
  5. Use left over lemon peels for cleaning and shining stainless steel items (will keep 4 – 5 days in fridge).
  6. Use vinegar as a final rinse in the laundry for a cheap and eco softener.
  7. 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.
  8. Use vinegar as a rinse in the dishwasher for sparkling crockery & glass.
  9. Extend life of dishcloths by soaking in vinegar to clean.
  10. Use vinegar spray with a swish mop for cleaning hard covered floors.
  11. Clean: refill commercial spray bottles with vinegar for a cleaning spray.
  12. Clean: use equal parts vinegar & dishwashing liquid to clean shower screens, walls and bathroom basins saves household cleaning costs.
  13. Use homemade furniture polish: bees wax + olive oil, softened and mixed.
  14. Make homemade hand wash from olive oil soap diluted in water and added to reusable dispenser bottles.
  15. Use left over lemon peels for cleaning and shining stainless steel items (will keep 4 – 5 days in fridge).
  16. Use vinegar as a final rinse in the laundry for a cheap and eco softener.
  17. 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.
  18. Use vinegar as a rinse in the dishwasher for sparkling crockery & glass.
  19. Extend life of dishcloths by soaking in vinegar to clean.
  20. Use vinegar spray with a swish mop for cleaning hard covered floors.
  21. Use old pantyhose/sheer tights for cleaning, especially for showers.
  22. Upcycle frayed T-shirts and towels for cleaning and soaking up spills.
  23. Use bicarbonate soda as a carpet cleaner and freshener.
  24. Clean fabric lounge with bicarb soda: sprinkle on, leave and wipe off with damp cloth.

Kitchen / Food

  1. Make soft bread crumbs from stale bread.
  2. Put stale bread in a slow oven for one hour, then crumble to make dry bread crumbs.
  3. Freeze any surplus fruit or vegetables, especially homegrown.
  4. Have a grocery list when shopping to limit impulse buying.
  5. Plan meals in advance and consider use-by-dates of groceries.
  6. Access local markets for savings on organic fruit and vegetables.
  7. Use bicarbonate soda in salt shaker to clean bench tops/sinks.
  8. Freeze bread loaves and break off slices as needed; save wasting leftovers.
  9. Use dinner leftovers for lunches the next day saves $$.
  10. Use leftovers from meals for meals next day (there is help with apps
    like ​’Love Your Leftovers’​ and books like ​Leftover Makeovers*​ or ​River Cottage Love Your Leftovers​*).
  11. Buy in bulk where possible to save on household & food items.
  12. Use bicarbonate soda in a container for killing odours in fridge or anywhere.

Bathroom

  1. Use clove oil (1/2 teaspoon) in 500 ml water as a spray to deter mould.
  2. Use old toothbrushes as mini brushes for hard to clean places.

Laundry

  1. Choose drip-dry wash cycle to avoid ironing clothes to reduce energy costs.
  2. Use sunlight to dry clothes rather than a clothes dryer (+ it’s a sanitiser).

Home office and bedrooms

  1. Set printer properties to fast or draft quality to save on ink costs.
  2. Set printer properties to print both sides of paper to save on paper.
  3. Recycle envelopes, old calendars and backs of pamphlets for note paper.
  4. Use a tablet or laptop instead of desktop computer to save on energy.
  5. Use natural lighting, but otherwise use energy efficient light bulbs.
  6. Turn off lights and fans when room not in use.
  7. Use eucalyptus oil for removing sticky residue.

Home / Household goods / equipment

  1. Service and maintain equipment/appliances to lengthen their life.
  2. Use timers with air-conditioners to minimise energy costs.
  3. Use the dry mode with air-conditioners to reduce energy costs.
  4. Keep items away from sunlight, to ensure longer life of the product.
  5. Share or swap equipment with others to help with capital outlay.
  6. Repair! Supa glue takes but a few minutes.
  7. Compare online and local retailers for best buys and negotiate prices.
  8. Commit to buy QUALITY products that will last the test of time.
  9. Pass over on CHEAP goods that will end up in landfill before long and cost more in the long run.
  10. Use water efficiency nozzles and shower heads to reduce water costs.
  11. Use pallets for furniture. I made my day bed this way. Get ideas from Crafting with Wood Pallets Projects​.
  12. Reduce use of freezers, air-conditioners, fridges and other energy ‘pits’.
  13. Revamp tired furniture and décor with an attractive throw and cushions to save $$ on refurnishings.

Personal care

  1. Use olive oil as a hair tonic (leave in o/night) for shiny healthy hair.
  2. Use sesame oil as a skin moisturiser.
  3. Use organic cacao powder as a bronzer saves on cosmetics (+health benefits) – see ​Zero Waste Home​ for more waste reduction ideas.
  4. Use left over coffee grinds with coconut oil as a hand or body scrub, like ​this.
  5. Use a homemade toothpaste: 1 teaspoon bicarb, 2 drops of peppermint essential oil, and a little water, at times.
  6. Use cool (not warm) water in final rinse for a smooth, shiny finish to hair.
  7. Use ​clove bud oil* ​to sooth toothache.
  8. Add salt to cooled boiled water for low-budget and healthier-choice eye rinse/drops.
  9. Use sodium-chloride first-aid ampules from chemist for inexpensive eye drops, great option when travelling.
  10. Grow lemon balm for its calming benefits. See my article on how to use lemon balm.

Gifts

  1. Re-use gift paper, old maps and gift bags when wrapping presents.
  2. Re-gift unwanted presents.
  3. Be creative with homemade gifts for presents, like​ cookies in a jar ideas, homegrown herbs in a pot.
  4. Make your own special greeting cards from upcycled items.
  5. See my Gift Ideas on a Budget.

Clothes / Fashion

  1. Repair! Sew, patch or hem to extend garment life. If you don’t have the skills, you can ​learn these online​.
  2. Upcycle or extend the use-by-date of last year’s wardrobe.
  3. When purchasing, choosing clothes that don’t need ironing.

Garden

  1. Use veggie and fruit scraps in the compost to use as garden fertiliser.
  2. Use drip irrigation to reduce water bills.
  3. Grow trees to shade house from the hot sun to help reduce energy costs.
  4. Plant fruit trees/vines, e.g. lemons, limes, papaws, bananas & passionfruit, to save on produce costs.
  5. Shred old documents/paper and lay clippings as garden mulch. After a good spray with water, the clippings make the best weed matting.
  6. Use lawn clippings for garden mulch or in compost.
  7. Repurpose handbags, shoes and boots as containers for growing herbs.
  8. ​Take cuttings​ from plants to expand garden and save on costs.
  9. Plant seeds and shoots from veggie scraps to grow capsicums, chillies, sweet potatoes, shallots, leeks and tomatoes.
  10. Repurpose old frypans, saucepans, jugs and containers to grow succulents.

Physical and mental maintenance

  1. Stay healthy: exercise/stretch, relax, eat healthily; take supplements; to save on medical bills.
  2. Plan ahead with outings: taking own healthy food and drinks.
  3. Source magazines and books (digital or hardcopy) from public libraries or community book exchanges.
  4. Take advantage of natural environment (for beach/bushwalking, cycling, swimming) to exercise and save $$$ on gym subscriptions.
  5. Take advantage of paths to walk, cycle or skate to places.

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