Life is expensive and learning how to live cheap doesn't get any better. Actually, it gets more and more expensive every single year.
It seems like everything is more expensive than what it should be. Buy a bottled water at the store and you'll easily pay $2.50. That's $2.50 for just water.
Before you know it, your paycheck is gone. You know what they say, that is, paycheck is like an onion. You begin to cry when you start chopping it off into smaller portions. Haha
I have been frugal since the day I can remember. Living cheaply or frugally is something I had to learn early on in life.
Good thing my wife has the same mentality as I have on frugality.
Over the years, I have adopted and found frugal money saving tips that help our family save thousands of dollars.
How To Live Cheap: 17 Ways To Save Money
Here are some things I do that show and speak of frugality (i.e., live cheap). I’ve been doing these things for a very long time, and I don’t see anything wrong with them.
Please take a note that this is an ongoing list. Come back from time to time to check for new information.
Note: When I refer “I” in this post, I mostly mean “my wife and me”. 🙂
1. Get paid for the things you do at your convenience.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Make money just by sharing your opinion
If you like giving opinions, then, get paid for doing just that, and use the money for your expenses.
My wife makes $300/mo on surveys, and that pays our monthly groceries and phone bill.
Websites like Survey Junkie will pay you money for completing mindless, super easy surveys.
Tia, a survey taker, sent me a screenshot of her Survey Junkie earning (above image). She said she made it in 10 days when on break from taking care of her little kiddos. That's $615.56 for a few minutes every day.
Many surveys pay between $3.00 and $4.00, many of which take less than a minute to do. Since Survey Junkie adds new surveys daily, you can make money faster than you think.
Over 6,000,000 people monthly use Survey Junkie – a proof of how popular this site is. Just log in with your email or Facebook account, answer 5 basic questions that last only for 30 seconds, and you are set.
Alternate: If you're looking for a steadier way to make money through surveys, check out Survey Club. One member made over $4,000/mo with using it.
2. Reduce food budget without being a cheapskate.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Reduce food expense
Food is life and expensive. Actually, it's the third biggest expense for Americans.
To save money on food, we only cook what we can eat and any leftover, if there's any, is used as my lunch food at work. This trick has saved us a ton of money.
We also follow PlateJoy plan.
PlateJoy is a service that sends a yummy meal plan and shopping list per week for just $7/mo with my coupon. Each meal costs around $2 or less a person.
It is one reason our grocery bill is just $150/mo for a family 6.
It has made a big impact on our food choices, food quality, and food savings. It could do the same for you, too.
Start your 100% risk-free trial membership here with the PlateJoy Plan.
Note: Subscription is as low as $8.00/mo for 12 months. With the exclusive discount code PRACTICAL10 I negotiated for my readers, it's even way less as you get $10 off. We end up paying $7.00/mo.
3. Use fee-free banks (and ditch your old ones, please).
How to live cheap and make extra money: Avoid bank fees and use interest money from banking with other banks to pay for other expenses
In 2017, Americans paid $329 in bank fees on average, which could easily go to other important expenses.
Let's face it. Bank makes money from you, and not the other way around. That's why the best place to start living cheap is switch to a fee-friendly bank.
A year ago, I ditched my Wells Fargo bank for CIT Bank and I couldn't be any happier.
CIT Bank offers a High Yield Savings Account with 1.55% APY – 21 times higher than the 0.06% national average. I don't pay monthly fees and meet bank's “do this or don't do that” ridiculous rules, and still get that high APR. It's a double win, if you ask me.
Now, I make over $1,550 a year on interest – enough for a year's worth of electric bill and, then, some more.
If you want to save money and make money as well with a small tweak, then, transferring to CIT Bank is just a great option to go for.
4. Cut your expenses without sacrificing your needs.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Cut unnecessary expenses and negotiate bills without sacrificing your needs
Tired of trying to cut down on your expenses and not getting anywhere? I feel you. I've been there several times.
I recently found a simple, FREE personal finance app called Trim – a great solution for cutting expenses without lifting your finger.
I say that it's one of those money saving tips I should have known before.
Once a bank account is linked, Trim will analyze your spending, find subscriptions to cancel, negotiate your bills, among others.
Trim cut our on-contract Verizon phone bill by $16.75/mo. That's $201/year. (see my bill's images below). Last month, subscribers saved over $1,000,000 with Trim.
If you're at the end of your rope, but still need to cut expenses to live cheap, Trim app is a must.
5. Stop paying off those credit card fees (the unheard way).
How to live cheap and make extra money: Save on credit card fees as such late fees, penalty, and interest
There are the interest, penalty, annual fees, and others that come with credit card debt. #mountainofdebt
Credit card debt is like a disease that doesn't go away easily. It is pure evil even in its simplest state.
Tally analyzes your credit cards and credit history to ensure it's a fit for you. Consumers typically need a FICO score of 660+ to qualify.
If you qualify, you'll receive a Tally line of credit to pay off your cards with high APR balances – saving you significant amounts of cash by minimizing interest costs and eliminating all fees.
Tally takes all the burden from you since it makes the right payment to the right card at the right time – no more late fees.
Click here to start using Tally – your credit card debt concierge.
7. Make the right decisions.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Save money by making the right financial decisions and earn up to 45% cashback
While we sometimes need to find solutions on how to live cheap or within a tight budget, we may not always be comfortable talking about our finance to others because it's a sensitive matter.
I hear you on that because my family has been in that scenario before.
One great solution that works for us is by using a FREE personal finance app called Spentapp (plus get a $10 sign-up bonus). It could work for you as well.
Once an account is linked, Spentapp automatically analyzes your expenses, identifies money mistakes, and recommends financial decisions. It also gives you up to 45% cash back. If your yearly food bill is $10,000, and the cashback is 45%, you get $4,500 back.
It works both as your financial guru and cashback machine for FREE. It's really a double win, if you ask me.
With Spentapp, we paid off our $40K debt and saved $70K in 2.5 years. Spentapp helped us live off well under $31,000/year. How I wish we found this app a long time ago.
8. Get expensive clothes for cheap.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Get things at the lowest possible prices
Check out and be part these Facebook group communities. They are the frugal-type communities with people sharing their saving hacks and store glitches:
For children clothing, you can look at Amazon deals for Kids and Babies.
If you're an expecting parent, chances are you'd want to buy things for your bundle of joy.
Opening up an Amazon baby registry is good. It's FREE, and it gives you a ton of FREE stuff. As someone who tries to squeeze the most value from even a penny, FREE stuff, especially from Amazon, is divine.
My wife recently opened an account, and these are (see image below) what she got. She got swaddle, diapers, baby wipes, and a lot more. The value of these products is over $30.
They're all FREE. You'd want to get these before buying things in bulk so you don't waste spending money on things you may not like for your newborn.
Open a FREE Amazon Baby Registry and get FREE products.
9. Stop paying for cable.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Save money by cutting the cord
I once thought that having a ton of shows to watch is a dream come true. I realized that I was wasting money by having a cable subscription. Cable companies charge a whole lot.
What do I do if I want to watch TV shows? I go to Hulu, Netflix, and even TV/cable networks’ websites to watch the videos.
We have Hulu, and it satisfies my family needs for entertainment. For just $7.99/mo, we can watch the shows we want, replay them when we want to, pause them, etc. It's the perfect entertainment deal we've gotten so far.
That cost is a coffee fix at your favorite gas station.
For a limited time only, Hulu is offering a FREE trial. Click here to start using Hulu.
10. Use coupons to cut down grocery down to zero.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Get grocery food by using coupons
I use a lot of coupons. A lot of people call me the “King of Couponers.”
I was once addicted to couponing, but it has gone to a steady level now. But in all seriousness, I use coupons all the time. I get free products just by using coupons.
The best grocery shopping experience I had was when I bought almost $3,000 worth of grocery for $0.00. Yes, I got a lot for zero dollars.
I donated most of the goods, reserved some for my family, and gave the rest to my extended family. Everyone was happy.
11. Opt for the store brands.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Save money by choosing store brands, which are comparable in value with those of branded products
Most of the time, I go with the store brands when I go to the stores.
Whether I’m buying clothes or foods, I almost always end up buying the non-brand, store brands. They are as good as their branded counterparts, and they are cheaper, too.
For me, I don't need to buy branded ones because the cheaper, non-branded ones provide me the benefits I need.
12. Go back to the basic – use tap water.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Save money by avoiding bottled, store-bought water
I only drink tap water.
There have been a lot of studies, which indicate that tap water is healthier, better, or as good as the water products bought in-store.
Tap water is regulated by the EPA to be safe when it's coming from the tap. On the other hand, bottled water is governed by the FDA to be safe when bottled.
Plus, tap water is almost free. I say practically free because I still get charged for the water, which is included in the water and sewer fees I pay every month.
If you do prefer bottled water, make sure to buy the caseload instead of the individual ones because the individual ones cost a lot more.
13. Use one car even when having two cars is possible.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Stick with one car when possible
I have a car that’s almost ten years old but runs like a new car. My friends told me that I could easily buy a new car especially with my $30,000-monthly blog income, which I work on 5 hrs/mo, and my credit score.
But I chose to stick with what I have. My car runs well. My friends can’t tell if it’s a new or old car once they’re inside and riding in the car.
I make sure all the car maintenance are current and that I drive or whoever drives my car drives sensibly.
14. Do not waste food.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Eat all food that you buy
I live cheap by not wasting food.
I never waste food not even the tiniest grain of rice on my plate. That's what I learned from the PlateJoy plan.
My plate is always clean, and I like it that way. I learned from my parents to not waste food. As a result, every single meal I have gets devoured completely.
When it comes to parties, I only take what I think I can finish. If I finish the food and my stomach needs some more, then, I would go back. I don’t take a mountain full of food and not finish all of it.
My father-in-law who is absolutely a great chef would re-invent our leftovers into something. Good thing everyone is open to new food and new taste.
As for me, I like to re-invent dessert leftovers.
If you think leftovers can no longer be re-created into something else, think again. I suggest you grab any of these leftover recipes and start re-inventing your food and elevate your palate to a new level:
- Beef Recipes From Leftovers: Cookbook full of beef recipes cooked from leftovers
- The Guide to Leftovers: The Ultimate Leftover Cookbook to Help You Make Delicious Leftover Meals You Won’t Be Able to Resist
- Leftover Love: 52 Creative Recipes for Using Your Leftovers
15. Resurrect old things.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Re-use or repurpose old, worn out things
I live cheap because I make my stuff. It's one of those money savings tips that work like a magic.
I love to DIY. I create things out of other people’s trash (although they’re not trash). I put my creative mind to use and create beautiful pieces of art that my family uses in the house.
If I can get away with re-purposing old stuff, then, I would do it. I don't feel like buying new stuff when I still have those things in my possession that can be re-used for something else.
A couple of months ago, I created a food and DIY blog called The Handy Foodie to showcase all the things DIY-related that I do. The DIY projects and frugal recipes are growing in numbers week by week.
Check it out when you have time.
16. Shower at the gym.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Take advantage of your gym subscription
I live cheap because I take showers at the gym. It's one of the money saving tips people don't really take seriously, but they should.
It may sound cheapskate, but it’s all about practicality. I don’t pay anything for a gym membership because it is one of my work perks. I use a lot of hot water, and if I did that at home, I’d be paying a lot of money.
Plus, going to the gym has another benefit than having to take a shower, that is, I can work out and keep myself active.
17. Bake, bake, and bake.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Stop buying baked goods. Create them from scratch
We live cheap because I bake from scratch.
There are a ton of cake mixes and easy to prepare foods out there. I stay away from them.
I also like baking because food tastes better when done at home.
To start your baking journey (as what my wife called it before), you only need a couple of tools and equipment. No need to buy the fancy ones because you can do the same thing with the manual ones.
I highly recommend you consider buying the following things. For less than $30, you can buy your baking set:
- AmazonBasics 3-Piece Baking Sheet Set
- Muffin tins
- Baking utensils
Pro Tip: Use Swagbucks to get to the merchant's links. This means you will earn savings. Once in merchant's site, activate Gumdrop to get coupons automatically. After this, make sure you Paribus account is activated so you can earn money back if the price of the product drops. Cha ching.
18. Eat at home and eat healthy.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Save money by cooking from home and eating healthy foods
My family lives frugally or smart because we cook from scratch.
I don’t like eating out. My family feels the same way, too. Why would we when we have my father-in-law who is a retired chef from a 5-star restaurant in Dubai. I'm not bragging here. 🙂
We don't like eating out because it costs too much to do that. Also, when we eat at home, we exactly know what the ingredients are in the food.
I like cooking at home because I know what the ingredients are and how to control the flavor.
For me, home cooked food is always the best-tasting food.
You only need a couple of equipment or tools to cook from home. For starter, you only need to buy pans, pots, cooking utensils, and that's about it. You can buy a set of these for under $100. If on sale, you can buy them under $50.
As with flavors and recipes, you only need to buy the ingredients when you do your grocery shopping.
One note though is to invest in spices and condiments as they will bring your foods to life. As a starter, buy salt and pepper as those are the main ingredients that elevate any kind of dish to a whole new level.
If you are not a foodie person or don't know where to start, I highly recommend you check out my The Handy Foodie website for frugal recipes and these recipe books:
- Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
- Slow Cooker Recipes Cookbook: Easy, Healthy and Delicious Recipes
- Instant Pot Recipes: Over 250 Quick and Easy Recipes For Delicious & Healthy Meals
Final thoughts on money savings tips:
Way back in the days, my family had to be frugal on just about anything because even a small mistake could mean a big impact to and for our family financially.
Though my father and mother didn’t prevent us from doing what we wanted and needed to do, we learned how to be mindful of our situation and learned what we could and could not do.
I carry that lesson even up to this day. Frugal living is doable though it may be difficult for some people. Frugal living is a way of life and it is a choice.
These are the things I have adopted for a very long time. These save my family a lot of money, sometimes, thousands of money every year. What money saving tips do you know that help you save and/or make money?