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paper money on a scale


"Getting money is like digging with a needle;
spending it is like water soaking into sand."

Japanese Proverb


Tips for Living Frugally

How to save money without really trying

Save Money on Vacations and Travel

  • If possible, travel off season when the rates are lower.

  • For vacations, go camping instead of staying at hotels.

  • Buy airlines tickets in advance. If you delay, the price will usually increase the closer it gets to your trip time.

  • Shop online for deals before you arrive in your destination city. Many theme parks and museums offer special passes in conjunction with other attractions.


  grocery bags filled with food
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Many holistic health experts think it is not only less expensive but better for your health to eat in harmony with both the environment and climate.

  • Plan your meals in advance and try not to go to the grocery store without a shopping list.

  • Avoid buying nonfood items such as detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, napkins, and facial tissues at the grocery store. Usually you can get these items much cheaper at discount or warehouse stores.

  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat and cook them in a crock pot to make them tender and flavorful. Crock pots are also great for chili, stews and soups.

  • Use up leftovers to make soup. Make soup broth from leftover meat, bones and vegetable scraps. Freeze any excess.
  • Go out to eat for lunch instead of dinner. The menus are often the same, only with much lower prices for lunch time.

  • Avoid buying packaged and processed foods. Make foods from scratch using preservative free ingredients. You'll save money and be healthier for it, too.

  • Look for coupons in the paper each week for restaurants and save them in a folder for future use. I keep my coupons and carry out menus in plastic cover sheets in a big binder so I can find them easy for busy nights.

  • For more tips see my section on Saving Money on Groceries

Save Money on Healthcare

  • One of the best investments in time and money you can make is in your health. One way to consider improving your health is to develop inexpensive hobbies that allow you to get both exercise and fresh air. My favorites free things to do are riding my bike and going for hikes. My one splurge recently has been to get a nice mountain bike from a bike store, but of course I got it on sale!

  • Invest in your own gym equipment. You can often pick up gently used sets of weights, exercise bikes, rowing machines and similar equipment at garage sales. I have a set of resistance bands at home. They are cheaper than weights and easier to store.

  • Buy home exercise videos instead of joining an expensive gym. Or, if you want the faculties of a gym, consider joining the local Y.

  • For exercise as well as stress relief, try a yoga class. You can often find yoga classes at the Y or through inexpensive community adult education classes. Once you become familiar with how to do the postures, you can practice at home with just a book or video. Yoga is a great stress reducer, too, and perfect for times like these when the economy is doing poorly and many people are under stress from job losses and tight finances.

  • Also see my section on saving money on dental care.


  shopping carts
  • Plan purchases in advance. Shopping with a list is a good idea not only for groceries but for clothing and other household goods purchases as well. Avoid impulse buys. Many stores will hold merchandise for 24 hours at no charge. If you aren't 100% sure something is a good buy, put it on hold overnight while you sleep on it. Make sure it is something you really need and the price is right before you buy it. That way you won't have to deal with buyer's remorse.

  • Studies show people tend to spend less when they pay cash instead of using a charge card. If you are a careful shopper, instead of paying cash you can save money by charging your purchases and using a rebate card. This only saves money in the long run for people who are very disciplined and careful shoppers. If that isn't you, then you may be better off sticking with cash.

  • If you have the storage space, stock up on staples when they are on sale or a regularly scheduled trip to a warehouse club.

  • Keep a notebook of prices for items you regularly buy so you'll know when you see a sale whether or not the price is really a good deal.

  • When shopping for gifts, consider inexpensive calendars. They make great, low cost gifts. For example, if you have a friend from Phoenix, a calendar with pictures of that city could make a cute gift. Or if you know someone who is a mom with a busy family, you can buy a calendar that is a mom's planner and organizer calendar.

  • The Frugal shopper has more frugal tips.

  • To save money on mileage as well as your time, when possible, pick one day a week to do all of your shopping and errands. Keep a running list during the week of every errand you need to do, and then use Mapquest or Google maps to plan out the most gas saving route.


  board games
  • See movies in the afternoon at matinee prices.

  • If you belong to the American Automobile Association (AAA), many museums, zoos and other attractions offer discounts to AAA members.

  • For family fun, have a board game night. Play classics like Monopoly, Life or chess. One of our family traditions is to play Trivial Pursuit on holiday get togethers. There is a new version of Trivial Pursuit available for kids ages 12 and up, that is a bit easier than the original verison of the game. Try stocking up on board games at after Christmas sales when many of the toys are marked down.

  • Put together a complicated jig saw puzzle and have the whole family work on it over several evenings.

  • Plan a picnic in a scenic area like a park or the beach for a low cost day out.

  • Visit the library and borrow books and videos for free. Many libraries also have free special activities for children.

  • Many museums and zoos have free year long passes in exchange for one an annual membership fee. In our area these memberships are often less than the cost of two visits a year. As an added bous, some of the membership fees are tax deductible and include free admission, while admission tickets bought alone are not tax deductible.

  • Join clubs with free or nominal memberships. If you are interested in the environment or outdoors, consider joining the Sierra Club. In our area they have many free outings, especially hikes.

  • See my section on inexpensive restaurant entertainment ideas for more tips.

    roller coaster ride at theme park
      Order an Entertainment book for the city you are visiting in advance of your trip at www.entertainment.com. Using the coupons in the book will often get you half off at many restaurants, hotels, attractions, etc.


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