Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: 11 Tips for Frugal Living (Guest Article)

Some of you know I really like Living on a Dime. If not, they are a great resource for frugal living. And sometimes I get guest articles to post on my blog.
     This is one of those guest posts. You may already do one, do or all of these. You may not care to easy. Not all advice is for everyone. But, take it as you will, here are 11 tips for frugal living.

Article by Tawra Kellam

Frugal living is all about making the most with what you already have. Here are 11 tips from the e-book Penny Pinching Mama to help you get started:
  1. Barter for services when possible. For example, we exchanged lawn mower repair from our neighbor for a table (garage sale find) that he was looking for.
  2. Learn to fix things for yourself. These days, with the Internet making information so easily available, you can fix most things yourself. We do 95% of the repairs around our house and we aren't that handy. We just keep looking for the information about how to do it and keep working until we get it fixed!
  3. Stop eating out. I know you hear it all the time but STOP!!! The "average" family spends $300-$500 a month just eating out! Eating out truly is one of the biggest causes of debt! I am always amazed how someone can be "totally broke" and can't pay their bills but are still able to go to the drive-thru of their favorite restaurant.
  4. Study nutrition information and find out what you need to eat to have a healthy and balanced diet. Then stop eating the junk and eat healthy inexpensive meals at home. We have a lot of menu ideas here at that can help you get started.
  5. If something breaks and you don't have the money to fix or if you are out of something and you don't have the money to buy more, figure out a way to live without it. If the lawn mower breaks, can you borrow a friend's lawn mower? If your washer breaks, go to the laundromat. If you break your tea kettle, use a saucepan to heat water. In most instances, you can find a way to make do or do without something until you have the cash saved up.
  6. Do things for free. Go to the library, have a picnic or read a book. Kids are just as happy playing with mom and dad in the backyard as they are going to the zoo. If you can't pay cash for the "fun stuff" you can always have fun at home.
  7. Buy items used. We buy 90% of the items for ourselves used. Going to yard sales and thrift stores does not take any longer than going to a retail store but you can save 90% off the retail price!
  8. Just say your kids. Let kids buy their own toys and extras! Our kids pay for all their own soda, candy, treats like nail polish, their own computers and extras. You are not the Bank of Mom so just say no!
  9. Find a cheaper way to do things. Go to a beauty school to get your hair colored (or don't have your hair colored at all it isn't something you need to survive). Go to a mechanic school to get your car fixed. Hire a kid instead of a lawn service to mow your yard (only if you can't do it yourself for medical reasons. :-) Paint your own house instead of hiring someone, cut the cable and the cell phone (gasp!), and have birthday parties at your house. There is almost always a cheaper way to do things so try to find the cheapest way and save some money!
  10. Cut kids' activities. Most kids are in way too many activities and they're often expensive. I know families who pay $175 a month for gymnastics lessons but can't pay the mortgage. There is a problem with this kind of thinking! Kids won't die if you don't give them all the lessons and activities you can't afford.
  11. Get it for free. When the landscapers were laying sod in our new neighborhood, I asked for the scraps and we were almost able to put in our entire backyard for free. When they were building houses, I asked for the 2x4's that were going into the dumpster and got enough wood for our shed. When they were pouring concrete patios, I asked for the leftover concrete and they just poured our entire cement pad for our shed for free!! If friends have kids older than your kids, ask if you can have their hand me downs when they are done.

Get as much as you can for free and you can save thousands of dollars!

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!


  1. These are sensible tips. I only agree partially with #3 and #10.

    Yes, I believe that the mortgage/rent takes precedent over eating out and gymnastics classes, but I really see value in these activities.

    While spending $300-$500 a month dining out sense excessive, our family usually finds about $100-$120 a month in our budget to eat out once a week or every other week, because frankly we need the break! My husband cooks on the weekends, which helps, but sometimes we both get in a rut.

    As for gymnastics, one of the reasons I started blogging, besides the fact that I just love it, is to earn additional money for kids' activities. I also started selling stuff on ebay and craigslist. I feel these activities are an important part of kid's development. I do think parents can go overboard with kids activities. Sports and music lessons aren't necessary for kids under 3, and kids of any age shouldn't be involved in more than one activity at a time.

    I met a parent at my daughter's gymnastics class who gets her kids' classes covered under their health insurance! We should all be so lucky!

    1. Ha! I can't even get maternity coverage under our insurance. I think what the author is trying to say is people spend money on these things without realizing it. If you figure out your own budget and these are important to you, making room for them is great. But i know how easy it is to get out of hand with the eating out, especially if you use credit cards a lot! I know there are a few extremely disciplined people who eat out hardly ever, but I don't think there are many!

  2. In short, I hear you saying to readjust your expectations.

    This is what gets us in trouble...our expectations. We need so far less than what we think to have a decent life.

    1. Yes, it's a good idea to tep back and think about when we think we have it too hard.

  3. We never go out to eat except when it's planned with friends. Lately my husband has been hosting an open mic at my Brother's bar restaurant on exchange for free meals. A nice treat and we don't spend any $$. Thanks for the tips!

    1. That's great that you can stick to it! That it one of our biggest pitfalls we are always struggling with--we both love eating out!