Life is expensive and learning how to live cheap doesn't get any better. Actually, it gets more and more expensive every single year.
Here's a good example:
Buy a bottled water at the store and you'll easily pay $2.50. That's $2.50 for just water.
But life shouldn't always be expensive. It shouldn't be at all.
Over the past couple of years, I've researched and have adopted some strategies to live cheap and still live rich. These are what I've found and they're here in this post:
…. how one made $615.56 in 10 days by putting in a few minutes every day
…. how this meal plan brought down our food budget to $150/mo for a family of 6
…. or how switching to another bank makes me $1,800/year without me working hard for it
This post details the things my family has done to live like rich without going overboard.
How To Live Cheap: 20 Ways To Save Money
Here are some things I do that show and speak of frugality (i.e., live cheap).
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. Make easy money from your opinions.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Make money just by sharing your opinion
If you have an extra time or have nothing else to do, you can share your opinions and get paid for that.
Depending on the survey sites, you can get paid to take surveys, watch online, browse the web, etc.
Remember that even a few dollars a week can pay big dividends when done for a month or longer.
There's a proof for that:
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.
My wife makes $300/mo on surveys alone, and that pays our monthly groceries and phone bill.
Pro tip: Use both Survey Junkie and Survey Club – a site where a man made over $4,000 in a month (see below) – and you could make boatloads.
2. Cut down your food budget and save boatloads.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Reduce food expense
Living cheap starts with saving money on food – food is the third biggest expense for Americans. It's easier to do that when you plan your meals in advance. It's the
How do you save, then?
You can browse the weekly ads for coupons. You can plan your meals based on sale items, and be flexible with what you eat.
You can also follow meal planning services, like PlateJoy plan, which can save you a lot of time and money. It is a service that sends a 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.
3. Let these apps run in the background to make you money.
If you like to go online and do just about anything, there's a way for you to squeeze some money out of what you're doing.
Believe it or not:
Now, there are four apps that let you earn money and rewards without you doing anything. Just download the apps and let the run on the background.
Granted you're not going to make $10,000 or $100,000 every single month. If you don't win, then, it's fine because you didn't exert any effort. If you do win, then, it's beyond great.
Imagine winning $100,000 after 15 months of not getting and doing anything, would you feel great? I bet you would.
You literally are not doing anything out of what you normally do. So, you've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Here are the three money-making and rewards apps you can use now:
- Neilsen Computer and Mobile Panel <— Gives $10,000 per month
- MobileExpression <– Literally, you get a gift card after one week of being an active member
- Opinion Square <–Someone made $100,000 from this
- Survey Savvy <– get $5/mo
4. When shopping, spend as little by scoring cash back automatically
If you are going to spend money to buy your needs but want to save as much as possible, then, might as well make money doing it, right?
The heck? What? I know it sounds contradictory, but it's not.
Cash back apps like Ebates can help you get the products you need at the lowest possible prices and make you extra money, too.
The best part?
You'll get cash back for almost any purchases you've made online and offline.
Here are the FREE cash back apps that offer free money, rewards, and so much more:
- Drop: Get cash rewards for whatever you spend on every day online and offline. You never have to look which sites have coupons and deals.
- EBates: Get up to 40% in cash back online plus $10 sign-up bonus
- Affinity: Get up to 30% – 40% in cash back online plus $20 sign-up bonus
Moneymaker tip: You could make more money than what you paid for when you use a combination of these apps. For example, you could get cash back from Ebates or Affinity plus Drop when you shop at Walmart.
5. Work on your daily tasks and earn money (I made $1,500 with this app).
How to live cheap and make extra money: Get paid by working on your daily tasks
Would it be nice to do your daily routine and get paid for that? It turns out, there's one app that does that.
Swagbucks is a great site to make money fast with what you already do. There are so many ways you can earn money (including a $5 bonus just for signing up) and cut your expenses for good.
Other ways you can earn with Swagbucks include:
- watching YouTube videos (includes $5 bonus)
- searching the web (includes $5 bonus)
- making purchases online (includes $5 bonus)
- using discounts/coupons (includes $5 bonus)
I have made over 155,162 SB equal to $1,500 with Swagbucks in 5 months (see image above).
6. Get a free 401(k) audit (It's a must for those with retirement funds).
How to live cheap and make extra money: Get savings by reducing fees
So, you are on your way to saving money for your retirement. But do you know how much fees your retirement fund is getting charged?
If you're trying to live cheap, one lesson is to never overlook at your retirement funds.
Why does it matter? Here's the answer.
Believe it or not, a slight increase in fees could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
A friend of mine introduced me to Blooom. It is a product that analyzes your retirement accounts and shows you how much you pay and how much it will cost you in the long run.
Let's say, I saved $3,000 in the first year of using it, and the compounding savings I will get in the future is big (potentially close to $350,000 in 30 years).
7. Switch bank for crying out loud and make 1.55% (not 0.00000006%).
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
Let's face it. The bank fees most of us pay are more than what we earn on bank interest. If this is you, then, it's time to switch banks.
It's the 21st century and online banks are in… for good reasons.
I switched from my Wells Fargo to CIT Bank last year. Now, I earn $1,800/yr on interest alone. It's money I don't have to work hard for.
Granted, I'm not going to be rich off saving money in the bank, but it's still free money that's good enough for a year's worth of grocery. Since there are no monthly fees, CIT Bank is a double win for me.
8. 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
Don't know where to start living cheap? Start by getting rid of the things you no longer need or use. Believe me, it can be done easily. But how?
I recently found a simple, FREE personal finance app called Trim. I don't want to call it magic, but it kinda is one.
Here's how it works:
Trim will analyze your spending, find subscriptions to cancel, negotiate your bills, finds cash back deals, among others.
To date, Trim cut our Verizon phone bill by $16.75/mo. That's $201/year. Now, it's finding me a better rate for my car insurance.
Trim is a must for those who want to save money fast and still get the same level of benefit from their service providers.
9. 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.
10. Get paid to go into your favorite stores.
How to live cheap and make extra money: Get rewarded for stopping by your favorite stores
Whether you stop by the stores to buy groceries or for something else and whether it's by purpose or accident, you can be rewarded to go there.
Just recently, I stumbled on an app called Shopkick, and it's easy to use.
Every time you walk into a Shopkick partner store (like Walmart and Target), you get kicks AKA points.
You can redeem your points for gift cards or merchandise (see image above for samples). You can also earn extra points by scanning products and shopping in-store and online.
The best part?
If you are like me who goes to stores to buy groceries and other things, you are going to make some good rewards from Shopkick. #cutyourbill
11. 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 of 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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:
- Pyrex Prepware 3-Piece Glass Mixing Bowl 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.
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