What does being frugal living even mean? I used to think that it meant “being cheap” or “tight”. Now, however, I see it as a minimalism tool. A way of life where I only spend money on items or services that are purposeful and truly valuable.
In an effort to cut down on my expenses this year, I’ve sought out how to decrease spending on bigger ticket items. Read closely, these tips don’t save just pennies, it saves hundreds of dollars/month.
Frugal Living Tips:
(1) DIY Laundry soap
This is something I’ve literally wanted to try for YEARS. I don’t know why I didn’t sooner. I was talking about it one day at work and my co-worker handed me this piece of paper. A guide to how she makes her laundry soap!
She is a single mom and has 4 kids. She uses this recipe because it saves her a TON of money.
4 INGREDIENT LAUNDRY SOAP:
*All of this can be found in the laundry aisle or on Amazon. I will link to Amazon in this post.*
- 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap $.88
- 1 box Borax (this is for 4, if you want to make a Wal-Mart run, you can purchase 1 at a time for about $6.50)
- 5 gallon bucket with lid
- 1 box sodium carbonate (Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda) $4.12
Total Cost to get started: ~$11.50
Total Cost of one 5 GALLON BUCKET of Laundry Detergent= $1.98 that lasts on average 180 loads.
$.88 (Fels-Naptha), + $.69 (Arm and Hammer), + $.41 (Borax) = $1.98
I made my first batch of laundry detergent in December of 2019. I have a top load washer and have about 1/3 of the bucket left still. So I’m anticipating it lasted me about 5 months.
Let’s say you purchase a mid-grade laundry detergent like Purex that is $6.97 for 71 loads (lasting approximately 1.75 months). You would spend about $51.15/year using Purex. Using your DIY laundry detergent, you will only spend $4.95/year.
If you have a front load washer, you could potentially only need one $2, 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent for the ENTIRE YEAR.…
Plus, there are several environmental benefits that come from making your own soap. These include: decreasing the amount of fillers and thus decreasing the amount of residue in your clothes.
I feel like my life is changed forever, I will NEVER buy laundry detergent from the store again.
(2) DIY Laundry Softener
Mix 3 cups of white vinegar, 1 – 32oz bottle conditioner, and 6 cups of hot water. Makes 3 quarts.
- Add water and hair conditioner to a large bowl and stir to combine until conditioner is completely dissolved. You may need to heat water on stove previously for it to mix in better.
- Add vinegar and mix well.
- Store in airtight container.
Use 2T DIY softener per load directly in softener area or 1/4 cup for larger loads.
SAVINGS: 3 quarts lasts roughly 48 loads for large loads or 96 loads for smaller loads. Snuggle costs $7.99/96oz. Let’s say each last 2 months. The DIY Fabric Softener would save $20/year.
(3) DIY Shout
So simple a monkey could do it.
- Mix 2/3 cup original Dawn Liquid Soap, with 2/3 cup ammonia, and 6 T baking soda with 2 cups of water until the baking soda is completely dissolved.
- Pour into a spray bottle, or squeeze bottle
- Use just like the real Shout! TADA!
Cost per 1 batch: 2/3 C Ammonia ($.08) + 2/3 C Dawn Dish Soap ($.63) + 6 T baking soda ($.15) = $0.86 that fills a bottle of Shout plus some!
SAVINGS: 22oz of Shout at the store is $2.97, let’s say you purchase 1 bottle of Shout every month and are now using your DIY Shout, you’ll save $25 a year. Plus you won’t have to make repeat visits to the store to pick it up!
**PRO-TIP** – DO NOT MIX YOUR DIY SHOUT WITH BLEACH. Bleach and Ammonia cause a reaction when mixed together.
FRUGAL LIVING WITH DIY LAUNDRY PRODUCTS:
Making my own laundry products saves me about $100/year.
This may not seem like much, however, $100 could grow to be $6400 if invested at 10% for 20 years.
I could use that extra $100 a year to pay for a sport that my child wants to play or to pay for a pair of sneakers I want.
(4) Shop at Aldi or other low cost grocery store
My go to grocery shopping spot is Aldi’s.
The reason I love Aldi’s so much is because I can purchase products consistently at a lower cost.
For example, 8oz bars of cheese usually cost $2-$2.50 at other stores. I can get them everyday at Aldi’s for $1.79. The same is true for MANY other products like chicken, frozen shrimp, and even WINE.
I find it very easy to stay within my $75/week grocery budget shopping at Aldi’s.
I’m planning to create a post about my weekly grocery budget shortly, stay tuned for that!
You can even have Aldi’s delivered using Instacart. Instacart make grocery shopping convenient as they deliver and helpful for staying within your budget (because you see your total before you check out).
However, I noticed that the prices of items on Instacart are higher than they are in store. So watch out for that. They also charge a delivery fee if you don’t have a monthly membership.
(5) Buy Used Clothing
Another way I’ve tried to live frugally is to purchase used clothing. There are SEVERAL places to find used clothing. Whether its at your local 2nd hand store or using an online service like Thredup or Poshmark.
You could also try looking for specific items on your local buy, sell, and trade Facebook Group.
Wearing gently used clothing is a great way to support environmentally friendly efforts as well and save you $$$.
(6) JOIN A MOM SWAP GROUP (OR START ONE)
These Facebook groups are perfect for finding gently used items instead of purchasing new. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on new baby clothes and toys that I probably could’ve saved buying a used version.
My area did not have a Mom Swap Facebook group so I decided to create one for my area.
It was pretty easy and the group had 60 members within 4 hours of creating it and 2 people had already posted things they wanted to sell.
Now, when I’m looking for a specific piece of clothing or toy for my son, I can simply post an ISO in this group!
(7) SHOP AT DOLLAR TREE
The Dollar Tree is the perfect place to go if you really need something and you’re budget is getting a little tight for the week or the month.
Because you can DEPEND on EVERYTHING being $1 (with tax)
I purchased some food items here (items I know I can’t get at Aldi’s) for cheaper like canned olives.
Some other useful items I’ve found at Dollar Tree include: shower curtains, cleaning supplies, tooth paste, simple toys, and party decorations.
(8) USE A SPREADSHEET
I created a spreadsheet to help track my expenses and stay within my monthly budget limits.
The spreadsheet helps me visualize my expenses and buy with intention in the future. I do recommend to start by creating a budget first though and I explain how to do that in my “Creating a Budget for Beginners” post HERE.
(9) MAKE KIDS CLOTHES
For some reason, I think my child has to have a special shirt or onesie for every holiday. Like I just want that one special picture to share on social media.
Recently, I wanted to get him a St Patrick’s Day shirt, however, my “baby” budget for the month was dwindling.
It’s so easy to spend $20 on a shirt or outfit that they will sadly only wear one time!
Since I’m trying to be frugal, I set my creative mind in action and decided to make his shirt instead!
(1) I purchased a blank T-shirt and some fabric paint from Hobby Lobby (total $5).
(2) Used Canva (free) to make a template of what I wanted the shirt to say. (you could use word to do this also)
(3) Printed and cut out the template.
(4) Traced around the template with fabric paint. Removed paper template.
(5) Let it dry and then painted in the template.
**PRO-TIP** – If you want to give it a wash before your child wears it, be sure to turn it inside out so it doesn’t mess up the design.
These are currently the 9 things I’m doing to reduce my spending.
I’d love to hear what you are doing to save money and live frugally or if this post helped you in any way!
Please leave feedback in the comments if you wish.
My new GOAL is to pay off my student loan debt by 2022.
My PLAN is to follow frugal living principles like the ones I’ve laid out here to help me reach that goal!
What are you goals and plans for the future? Drop a comment below!