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The Ultimate Frugal Living Guide: 18 Tips for Extreme Penny-Pinching

The Ultimate Frugal Living Guide: 18 Tips for Extreme Penny-Pinching

When it comes to spending less and saving more, there are many ways to get financially fit, but some are much easier to accomplish than others. We’ve put together the ultimate frugal guide for people who are excited about saving money and really want to do whatever it takes to whip their finances into shape. Check it out below.

1. Dry your clothes on a line.

I know, I know. There’s this thing called a dryer that someone invented. Lucky us! However, you can save around $100 a year or more if you hang your clothes up to dry on a line. If you don’t have a yard, you can hang them up in your apartment too.

2. Wash dishes by hand using one sink-full of water.

Some people say washing dishes by hand costs just as much as running the dish washer, but if you use just a minimal amount of water, you’d be surprised at how much you save.

3. Make your own laundry detergent.

Did you know that you can actually make your own laundry detergent? It’s really awesome because you can see exactly what goes into it, which creates a healthier environment in your home.

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4. Take public transportation.

Gas and parking passes get so expensive, especially if you use your vehicle every single day. Do some research to find out how much your local bus or subway costs. You might be surprised at how much you save. Also, ask around your work to see who might want to share a ride with you.

5. Make every gift you give.

With the popularity of websites like Pinterest, there is no shortage of ideas for handmade gifts. All you have to do is search for crafts or gift ideas, and you’ll have hundreds of awesome tutorials and ideas at your disposal.

6. Travel in-state.

Everyone always travels to different states or countries, but I bet you’d be surprised at how much fun you can have within a 200-mile radius from where you live. That way, you can save on hotel costs and maybe learn something new about your community along the way.

7. Give up your smart phone.

I know—these days, smart phones might seem like a necessity, but I lived without one for almost two years and I was amazed at how relaxed and rejuvenated I felt after giving it up. You can also save hundreds of dollars a month on your cell phone bill. If you really, really want to save money and penny-pinch, this is the way to do it.

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8. Become a coupon expert.

You’ve probably seen the TV shows about extreme couponers, and that can be you too! All it takes it a little bit of time and practice to learn about couponing. You can save hundreds of dollars on groceries this way, so it’s definitely worth the time you put into learning about it!

9. Get a roommate.

Maybe you didn’t have a good experience with roommates in the past, but you can’t deny that having one cuts down on costs dramatically. For the most benefit, ask your roommate to split all bills with you, including electricity and water, so that they will be respectful about their usage.

10. Grow your own food.

Think of how much money you’ll save if you grow your own tomatoes or herbs. Plus, you’ll have awesome, fresh-tasting veggies to put in your dinner, which is great for both your wallet and your waistline.

11. Patch up your own clothes.

You don’t have to buy a sewing machine to do this: all you need is a few pieces of scrap fabric and a needle and thread. It will only cost you a few dollars. Plus, you can watch tutorials like this one on YouTube that explain the process in just a few minutes.

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12. Use the Internet from your local library.

If you are really strapped for cash, you can use your local library for Internet access. They are usually open every day, and the librarians are so helpful if you have any questions.

13. Give up cable.

Today, you can catch all of your favorite shows on your computer, so there is no reason to pay $100 a month for cable. Plus, watching TV takes up valuable time that you could be using to hustle and make some money.

14. Use cards or board games as your main entertainment.

You don’t have to spend $20 per person to go see a movie. Playing board games with a handful of friends actually makes for a really fun night—just try it and see. I think you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive and how fun a game night in can be.

15. Cook more meals at home.

Eating out is definitely a drain on your budget. If you start to cook in more, you can save hundreds of dollars a month.

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16. Shop at thrift stores.

You can buy all your clothes and furniture from a thrift store. I always say that it’s amazing what people will give away! You can definitely find designer duds if you look hard enough. Also, be sure to go on 50% off days if your local store has them!

17. Clean with vinegar.

Vinegar can be used to clean just about anything. You don’t have to spend any more money on expensive products. All you need is an old rag and a vinegar/water mix to make your house sparkle.

18. Unplug everything when you leave the house.

Our very last tip is to unplug all electronic devices when you leave the house. Although it might take up some time and only save you a few dollars, this is a must for those of you who want to live the ultimate frugal living.

Of course, these aren’t the only ways that you can save money and live better, so please share your tips with us in the comment section below!

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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