How To Live Cheap: 17+ Ways To Save Money

This “ How To Live Cheap: 17+ Ways To Save Money “ post describes what I do that shows frugality. These tips do help my family, and we save a ton of money every year. This post contains affiliate links/ads. See disclosure policy

I have been frugal since the day I can remember. I think being cheap started when I was a little boy.

Living cheaply or frugally is something I had to learn early on in life. My family was poor. We didn’t have anything. My father earned less than a dollar a day to try to feed a family of 11.

The dollar was not enough to feed us all. Fortunately, we all survived and we were happy with what we had and didn’t have.

Up to now frugality is still in me.

It’s like ingrained in my overall being or I guess it is really who I am. Over the years, I have been able to differentiate being frugal from being cheap.

In general, it’s not easy to distinguish one from the other. But with experience, I have been able to define what is being frugal and what is being cheap.

Over the years, I have been able to adopt and find frugal money saving tips that help my family save thousands of money.

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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 it.

Frankly speaking, a lot of people around me really admire my strength I show how to live cheap regardless of what other people think.


1. Food

I bring food (i.e. snacks and lunch) to work every day.

I have a small pantry in my cube where I keep all the goodies. I never get hungry and I have never bought anything in our cafeteria ever. Bringing food from home to work especially the leftovers has helped my family and I save a lot of money.

If you are on the budget but still want to eat healthy, check out my post on “10 Heart-Healthy Foods For Tight Budget“. This post contains the foods you can eat that are healthy but cost a few dollars only.

If you want to be on a diet but don’t have a lot of money to allocate, I recommend you check out Mayo Clinic Diet. The diet is developed by outstanding doctors from the well-known institution Mayo Clinic.


2. Clothes

I live cheap by using the clothes and shoes I bought five to ten years ago.

Yes, I still wear the clothes and shoes I bought a long time ago. I take care of my clothes and shoes like they are new clothes. I stitch some of the clothes that need some repairs instead of throwing them of and buying new ones.

If you are looking into saving a lot of money in clothes, I highly recommend you check out Goodwill, Salvation, thrift stores, closeout/clearances, among others.

I also recommend you check out and be part these Facebook group communities. They are the frugal-type communities with people sharing their saving hacks and store glitches:

If I buy clothes online, I make sure that I go through eBates or Swagbucks first to get to the merchant’s website.

What it does is when I go through eBates or Swagbucks to go to a specific website, I am using their links, which in turns helps me get a certain % in savings, which I can redeem later on.

I recommend you check out both of them as you will save additional money by using their links. It’s free to sign-up.

Oh, if you sign up with Swagbucks, you instantly get $5 sign-up bonus and endless opportunities of earning additional money through watching videos, browsing the internet, etc.

Pro Tip: Use Swagbucks or eBates to get to the merchant’s links. This means you will earn savings. After this, make sure you Paribus account is activated so you can earn money back if the price of the product drops. Cha ching.

credit cards


3. Budget

To live cheap means to set a budget or set a goal. It’s too easy to set up one but it’s the execution part that’s the most difficult thing to do.

Setting up a goal and following through it is one of the best ways to live cheap. That’s is why it’s always important to stick with you budget down to the cents. That’s how my wife and I think.

Because of that, we are able to leave within our budget, have a comfortable life, and save  more than $200,000 in just under 4 years while living on one income. Click here for the full story.

If you want to be on a budget but don’t have the time or you think you cannot do it, try Qapital. It’s a FREE personal finance app that lets you set a goal and helps you achieve it.

It helps you save money by rounding your purchases and putting it towards your goal automatically.

For example, if you buy a coffee that costs $2.75, Qapital will round it up to $3.00, which you’ll see in your statement. The 25 cents difference would then be credited to your savings goal.

If you use your credit cards or bank accounts for paying bills, buying groceries, paying for unexpected expenses, among others and want to set aside a budget, then, Qapital is meant for you.

If you have a set budget per expense category and you go under budget, Qapital will take the difference between your actual expenses and budget and put it into your savings goal. Cha ching! Automatic saving.

We personally use Qapital to save money for things we want without us having to painstakingly set aside money for those wants.

Related: Personal Budget Categories to Start Your Budget


4. Time squeeze

I use the little time I have to blog. Instead of going out and spending money, I allot a few minutes here and there on blogging.

I dedicate most of my time with my family. The smallest amount of time I have left is dedicated to blogging.

Of course, I do take a break. I use blogging to keep my mind out of temptation, that is, temptation to buy things I should not be buying.

Luckily, this blogging has helped me earn a ton of money. In less than a year, I managed to earn at least $34,000. I spend an hour or so a day on blogging.

Be one of the few who can start a blog for a special price of $2.95/month instead of the regular price of $7.99/month. That’s 50% off of the original price.

This is a special price I negotiated with Bluehost just for my readers. You will get a FREE domain and a great customer service.

Really, you are saving money when you use my link even before you publish your first post. That’s a best a way to start your blogging journey.

My tutorial will help you establish a blog in 15 minutes or less. You can also sign up for a FREE Blogging course, which is valued over $400.

Read: How To Start A Blog in 15 Minutes Or Less


5. Phones

We live cheap because we only pay at most $25 per month on two phones. That’s the combined amount not individual amount.

My wife and I both have smartphones but we don’t use a lot of data but we still get 4G mobile broadband internet. We barely use our minutes from our plan.

At times, we pay nothing on our bill because our data and minutes consumption, many times, falls under the free monthly plan.

So far (i.e. less than a year), we have not paid a dime for the past 7 months because we were able to stay within the limit set for the free monthly plan. Cha ching.

If you are like us who don’t use a lot of data, minutes, and/or texts or someone who wants to seriously and dramatically cut their phone bill, I recommend FreedomPop. We have had it for almost a year now and we are so happy with it.

You can get the FREE monthly plan without being in a contract. As a matter of fact, there’s no contract with FreedomPop.

If you want to add more data, don’t worry because you won’t get charged arm and leg for that. Here’s how the pricing works:

  •  Basic 500  – FREE every month, 200 minutes, 500 text, and 500 MB Data
  • Premium 500  – $10.99 month, unlimited talk and text, and 500 MB Data
  • Premium 1GB  – $19.99 month, unlimited talk and text, and 1GB Data
  • Premium 2GB  – $24.99 month, unlimited talk and text, and 2GB Data
  • Premium 3GB  – $29.99 month, unlimited talk and text, and 3GB Data
  • Premium 4GB  – $19.99 month, unlimited talk and text, and 4GB Data


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6. Food Waste

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 $5 meal 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 food 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 just take a mountain full of food and not finish all of it.

My wife and the rest of my family echos the same perception on not wasting food.

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 are can no longer be re-created into something else, think again. I suggest you grab any of these leftover recipes and start re-inveting your food and elevate your palate to a new level:


7. Bike

I live cheap by biking to work.

I like being active and I am a very active person. I like to exercise and keep my blood flowing. I always work out, and one of the things I do is biking. I bike to work every day. I bike from work to home every day. It’s my way of staying active and saving money by not consuming gas.

There are places you can get bikes for dirt cheap price. Amazon has the Roadmaster 26″ Men’s Granite Peak Men’s Bike (Black and Red).

It’s a great bike. My wife and I bought bike. She uses it for recreation and I use mine for work purposes. It’s one of the best investments we’ve made… that I can tell you with certainty.

To save money even after you’ve made your purchase, I recommend you check out Paribus. It makes a reimbursement request when the price of the product you just purchased decrease.

Yes, you don’t have to do anything else to get your savings back. Paribus does everything for you.

Pro Tip: Use Swagbucks or eBates to get to the merchant’s links. This means you will earn savings. After this, make sure you Paribus account is activated so you can earn money back if the price of the product drops. Cha ching. 


8. Tap 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 regulated by the FDA to be safe when it’s bottled.

Plus, tap water is almost free. I say almost 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.


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9. Kids Clothes

My wife and I have bought one or two clothes for our daughter in the past four years. We don’t need to buy clothes for our daughter.

All her clothes come from my sister and friends. Some of them are new, unused ones but most are used. But that’s ok. They look new anyway.

Like what I said earlier,  I also recommend you check out and be part these Facebook group communities. They are the frugal-type communities with people sharing their saving hacks and store glitches:

You can also look at Amazon deals for Kids and Babies. This is where my sister bought her daughter’s stuff.

Read: 9 Ways To Save Money On Children’s Clothes


10. 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. DIY

I live cheap because I make my stuff.

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 wonderful pieces of art that my family uses inside the house.

If I can get away with re-purposing old stuff, then, I would do it. I just don’t feel like buying new stuff when I still have those things in my possession that can be re-used for something else.

If you are looking for ideas for your new project, I recommend you check out another blog of mine.

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.


12. Surveys

My wife and I take surveys for money and for FREE products. Yes, there are survey sites out there that will not only pay you money but will also give you FREE items to try.

Most of the time, these items are not in the market yet.

What the companies are trying to do is get opinions from people like me to get an idea what people like and don’t like about the products. This way, they can make adjustments in their products, on the way they market them, etc.

To date, my wife and I have received over $1,000 worth of FREE products. I got a blender, mixer, and crock pot for FREE.

The best part of trying these products is that we got to keep all of them. We use some of them at home. This means we don’t have to buy them.

Since we don’t use a lot of them in our daily lives, we give them out as gifts to our loved ones. See, there’s triple benefit there. We get paid to assess their products, use them, and give some away for FREE.

Not all of the companies will allow you to give the products away. So, if you receive one, make sure you ask them if you can give the product away.

I recommend you check out MyPointsMySurveyOpinion OutpostVindale Research, and One Opinion.

Sign-up for as many as you can. This way, when a survey site doesn’t work for you, you have other platforms to choose from.

Read: Paid Surveys: 25 Sites To Add $600/Month Or More

mysurvey panel


13. Shower

I live cheap because I take a bath at the gym.

It may sound cheapskate, but it’s all about practicality. I don’t pay anything for a gym membership because it is one of the perks at my work. I use a lot of hot water, and if I do 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.


14. Cooking

My family lives frugally or smart because we cook from scratch.

I don’t like eating out and so does my family. Why would be 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. in addition, when we eat from home, we exactly know what the ingredients are in the food.

That I can’t say the same thing with the food from the restaurants, and fast foods.

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:


15. Cable

I live a smart life because I don’t have cable. I cut my cable subscription a long time ago.

I once thought that having a ton of shows to watch is a dream come true. I realized that I was just wasting money by having 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.


16. Baking

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 like the idea of making our own bread, pastry, cakes, among others. Just like cooking, baking my own food allows me to control the ingredients, the taste, and the flavor.

I also like baking because food tastes better.

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 exactly the same thing with the manual ones.

I highly recommend you consider buy the following things. For less than $30, you can buy your baking set:


17. Store Brands

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.

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18. Investment Advisors

I don’t use investment advisors. Whatever I do with my investments is based on my own research and recommendations. I don’t hire advisors to tell me what I need to invest on or where to spend my money.

I do modest rates of return to the tune of at least 16% annually. That’s on average. There were a year or two when I had bad rates of return. May be in the future I will hire an advisor but for now, I’m ok with managing my own investment portfolio.

For those who don’t have much to invest, I highly recommend Acorns. You can invest as little as $0.01 through Acorns. Acorns will roundup your purchase and invest your spare change. For example, you purchased an item for $9.59.

Acorns will round it up to $10.00 and invest the difference, $0.41, to various ETFs? It invests your spare change automatically. If you sign up via this link, you will get $5 BONUS. With Acorns, who says investing is difficult and costly? Not me.

I’ve only been using Acorns for a couple of months but I have already invested close to $400 and have received dividends from my investment.

Just imagine how much dividends I would get by continuously investing using just my cents.

The best thing about this is that I don’t feel like I have invested this much money because Acorns only get cents at a time from my account to invest. The cents that Acorns invested on my behalf really add up.

acorns app

Read: 7 Perfect Jobs For Stay-Home Parents To Earn Money


19. Car

I have a car that’s almost 10 years old but runs like a new car. My friends told me that I could easily buy a new car with my credit score and money in the bank.

But I chose to stick with what I have. My car runs really good. 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 drive sensibly.


20. Time

I don’t waste time to get a couple of dollars or cents back. This may sound not frugal but it is. I always value my time. I put a big tag price on my time.

Rather than fighting with the customer representative to get cents back, I’d just let it go and take it as a loss and move on. I rather spend my time with my family than fight with people for just a couple of dollars or cents.

Now, it’s different if we are talking about hundreds of dollars.

Final thoughts on frugal living:

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 frugal living tips do you know that help you save and/or make money?

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