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16 Ways to Save Money That Don’t Cost Any Money at All

I find that the cheapest way to save money is with new habits because habits are FREE!

I like free.

Free is good. 

Free habits are also the easiest way to unintentionally spend more money if you break them. Or in my case, I tell myself the ol’ Oh not doing that frugal thing this one time won’t hurt – which sometimes gets me out of my good habit until I double check a utility bill. Oops!

Save this list of frugal living ideas to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

This is a list of ideas, not money saving absolutes. Some you might already do. Others may not apply to you. You might do something that is even better than what I have here and if you do, please share it with us in the comments below!


1. Try not to run 2 hot water hogging appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, etc.)  at the same  or shower while a water hogging device is running. Your water heater will need more energy to heat the extra loads of hot water needed for the job and cost you extra money. The increased load may also negatively affect your water bill.


Any time the natural gas bill is a little higher than normal, 9 times out of 10 it is because I showered while running a water hogging appliance or got out of the habit or running one water hogging appliance at a time.
Some of the photos in this post are courtesy of my DIY blog Condo Blues

2.  Wash full loads of laundry and dishes in your washing machine and dishwasher and use the lowest water temperature you can that will still get the job done. I use a sorting clothes hamper similar to this one to make the job easier (also, I am lazy about sorting dirty clothes if all of it is in one hamper.) If we need something immediately and don’t have enough items for a full load we hand wash it in the sink instead of wasting a ton of water, electricity, and detergent to run the washing machine for one or two items. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)

3. Periodically shuffle the items stored in cupboards to find “hidden” food, health and beauty items, etc.  and use it! I learned the hard way my family suffers from Out of Sight Out of Mind Disease. If we can’t see it plainly on a shelf, we forget we have it and we don’t eat it or use it. Fortunately, the free fix is to regularly clean out or rearrange the items in cupboards and store like with like (or stick a note as to where the back up item is currently stored.) The stuff in house was organized how we arbitrarily shoved it in the kitchen/bathroom/etc. when we moved in. It wasn’t until a cupboard clean out that I realized some of my organizing tools weren’t working for us anymore and costing us money.

Also my tiny linen closet is a black hole of stuff hidden by towels, apparently. That’s the only explanation for thinking we were out of band aid and ending  up with 4 open boxes of band aids during a clean out and reorganization. Who knew?

4As soon as we ran out of the family favorites and staples, I didn’t poke around for alternatives I had on hand first. On the face of it this seems like a no brainer but because of our other budget busters like being too busy and relying on favorite recipes or not grouping like items in the kitchen/linen closet/bathroom/garage it makes substitutions harder and an extra trip to the store “necessary.”

5. Alter clothing you don’t wear into something you or your kids will.  You don’t need to be seamstress to cut pants into shorts and hem them with iron on hem tape similar to the pair I did in the photo below.  Best of all this way you can control how long or short you want them to be! This tip also works for adults!


I ripped a hole in a pair of khakis I cut into shorts the first time I wore them in a bicycling accident (of course.) Instead of throwing them away I fixed the hole with an iron on patch.


6. Shop seasonally, with a list, and  according to store sales. Sometimes my husband or I made an arbitrary meal plan without a quick check of the online store flyer (I use the Flipp app)  to see what fresh produce, fish, and meat is on sale. Most of the time if a food item is on sale, it is in season (either locally or nationally) and cheaper to buy.  Any time I go with a list in my head instead of written down the final bill gets to oops bigger than I expected level and I usually have to make another trip to the store because I forgot something important like butter which means I’m probably going to pick up an extra thing or 5 and my grocery bill gets bigger than the price of butter.

7. Find the cheaper size or item to buy by comparing the Unit Price not the price on the store shelf! The store price divided by the size (ounces, etc.) = the unit price. Sometimes the store shelf price is misleading as to what item is actually cheaper. Sometimes when I’ve calculated the unit price between two items I find that they have the exact same unit price the only difference is the size of the package – which is why one looks more expensive than the other.

8.  Go through your subscription services and items and cancel the the things you aren’t using anymore. There is no frugal law that says you have to get rid of all of the memberships you like and use regularly. For example, my husband regularly uses his gym membership and has done so for years. No matter how many people say to get rid of it and workout at home (which he does that too)  that’s just not going to happen because it is something he uses constantly and well worth the price.

On the flip side, check to see if buying a subscription or upgrading it will save money because you are using it more often than you originally thought.   For example, based the fees after my free trial ended, I should consider buying a Instacart subscription because unfortunately I don’t see us being able to safely shop for groceries in person at the store during this difficult time.

9. Try to use what you have on hand first – whether it be spices or ingredients for dinner or craft and DIY projects. It isn’t always possible but it is a free way to get your creative juices flowing and make room in your house.

10. Ditch disposable plastic wrap that never sticks to anything but itself or use significantly less by putting leftovers in a container with a lid you probably already have on hand. You don’t need to buy fancy containers. You can probably clean and repurpose butter bowls, take out containers, etc. if you need to or better yet, put a plate on top of a bowl and put it in the refrigerator just like Grandma used to do.

11. Check your local library for books, movies, audio books before buying them. You can decide weather it is worth buying after you’ve returned it to the library.  I generally stick to borrowing ebooks from my library because they “return” themselves when they are due and I don’t end up paying late fees!

12. Consider trying the One Light Per Person in the Room rule when possible. Or at least try one overhead light and one task light instead of lighting up every single overhead, task, and ambient lamp in the room when the situation permits to save money on electricity.

13. Shutdown and unplug electronics when not in use. If you have a small appliance that has a clock or a light that glows when it is off, consider unplugging it when it is not in use because it is still using electricity (commonly called vampire power.) This may not be possible for everything but if you look around, I’m sure there will be something you can unplug to save electricity. Honestly this was the hardest habit for me to break because I was famous for turning on the TV and leaving the room to start another project in the house. It was also one of the top ways my family was driving up our electric bill – by using electricity we weren’t actively using! Argh!

14. Use thermometers in the refrigerator, freezer, and electric oven to learn if the real temperature settings match what you set on the device. I kick it old school with this exact refrigerator and freezer thermometer (I toss one in our cooler during the summer when we’re out and about too) and this oven thermometer to find out why I had to bake cookies in my electric much longer than all of my recipes suggested.  Turns out the settings on the appliance dial rarely match the actual temperature of the device and allow me to change it or keep it that way to get the most bang for my buck.

And speaking of temperatures, using a temperature and humidity monitor like this one on my allergist’s recommendation, made me realize that the indoor air temperature doesn’t always match the number on the thermostat and to adjust or change to more temperature appropriate clothing if needed. In other words  it it is cold, put on a sweater before jacking the heat!
 
15. Use lids on pots to make liquid boil faster while using less energy (with science! Convection!) You can keep the liquid from from boiling over with pot watcher like mine (more sciencing with displacement!)
 
 
16. Get a coin bank and save spare change. It doesn't have to be fancy, mine is just a jar in my laundry room. What was embarrassing is adding up the random coins I found in the bottom of purses, drawers, etc. and realizing I had 10 bucks languishing around the house when I didn’t have any change for a parking meter the previous week.
 

I repurposed an empty jar and decorated it with random things found in a junk drawer = instant piggy bank!
 
Would you rather buy than DIY? Check out the following frugal and money saving ideas – and more! – below!


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Comments

These tips will be very helpful to many families during this time.
Thanks for sharing this week at our Encouraging Hearts & Home blog hop.
Richella Parham said…
Some great tips here! And I like the fact that they can all be employed without spending any money to use them.

Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party. I'm featuring you this week!