Win the War on Debt: 80 Ways to Be Frugal and Save Money

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 27, 2011 · 197 comments

in Money & Career

The manliness of frugality cannot be overstated. Frugality cultivates the manly qualities of independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, simplicity, and minimalism. It keeps a man free from the enslaving chains of debt and gives him an sense of manly pride and satisfaction. Frugality build a man’s immunity to the siren call of “stuff,” helps him learn to make do with less, and adds pleasure and happiness to his life by providing opportunities to practice delayed gratification. Frugality also fosters the DIY spirit and inspires a man to create, instead of consume.

We could wax long and poetic about the manliness of frugality but let’s get down to the brass tacks: how does a man become frugal? Some men, inspired to jump on the frugality wagon, set a drastic course for themselves and turn theirs live inside out. But inevitably, this man ends up chafing at the extreme constrictions he has set for himself, burns out on the program, and sets off on a shopping spree to compensate  for the months of rigid restraint. No, the better course is simply to make little changes throughout the different areas of your life. You will be surprised to see how fast these small changes can add up and leave you with extra moola in your pockets and in the bank. And you also might be surprised to find out how fun being frugal is–really! It becomes like a game where you’re always trying to figure out ways to cut costs.

We’ve created this list of 80 practical–and often pretty painless–ways to save money. Whether you’re looking to trim your debt, live more simply, start an emergency fund, or just need to find ways to offset the hole in your budget created by rising gas prices, there are guaranteed to be a few things here you can start implementing in your life right away. I recommend giving these ideas a look-0ver, making a list of ten of more things you can give a go, and putting them into practice as a new month begins.

Victory over debt is at hand!


1. Change your own oil.

2. Rotate your tires regularly. Tires are expensive. Make them last longer by rotating them regularly.

3. Buy your car used. And make sure you learn how to negotiate for one.

4. If you’re married, share a car with your wife. Kate and I have been sharing just one car since we’ve been married. Yeah, it can be a pain planning our schedules occasionally, but overall the experience hasn’t been bad at all and has become our normal. We’ve saved money on gas, maintenance, and insurance and the rides together provide us with time to talk and catch up with each other.

5. Pay auto insurance annually, instead of every six months. There’s usually a nice discount if you do this. Other ways to score discounts with car insurance include maintaining a safe driving record, shopping around for the best price, and staying with the same insurance company for an extended period of time.

6. Carpool. Dagwood does it. So can you.

7. Keep your tires properly inflated. Not only do properly inflated tires save you money on gas, they also cut down on tire wear and improve the handling and thus safety of your car.

8. Replace your car’s air filter regularly. It’s an easy car maintenance job you can do yourself, and it can save you money on gas.

9. Practice hypermiling. Hypermiling consists of using certain driving techniques to maximize your fuel efficiency. You do things like coast down hills in neutral and turn off your car when at a stop light.

10. Don’t speed. You use more gas when you do and you risk getting a costly ticket.

11. Plan trips where you have friends and family. During Kate and I’s poor college student days, this is how we were able to go on vacations. We’d hang out with Uncle Buzz in Vermont or go see Kate’s grandparents in Orlando.

12. Always negotiate for hotel rooms. Hotel rooms are like highly perishable food: if they’re not used that day, they’re wasted. You can almost always get a better deal just by asking. Anytime Kate and I are traveling by car and we’re ready to call it a day, we’ll Google nearby hotels on our phone as we approach the town we’re driving into and ask for their rates. Then we’ll start a bidding war between the different hotels: “Is that the absolute best price you can do? La Quinta has a room for $45 a night. Any chance you can go lower than that?” Using this tactic we had one hotel room go from $125 to $40. Boom.

13. When flying, bring your own snacks.

14. Skip on car rental insurance. Check your personal car insurance plan to see if they cover you for rental cars, too. Many plans do. Also, the credit card you use to rent the car probably offers rental insurance.

15. Travel after peak season. It might be hard if you have kids in school, but you can find some good deals on hotel rooms and flights if you travel during the off-season and time your trip for the middle of the week instead of on the weekend.

16. Camp. Kate and I went camping last week. Spent just $10 for the campground fee and $20 for food and supplies. But it felt like a true getaway. Just spending a day and a night in the outdoors completely refreshed us.

Dressing and Grooming

17. Shave with a safety razor. No more buying $20 multi-blade razors.

18. Better yet, shave with a straight razor. No more having to buy razors at all, for the rest of your life!

19. Best of all, grow a beard. No razors and no shaving cream either.

20. Extend the life of your safety razors by keeping them dry and stropping them on your arm. Dull blades are the result of imperfections in your blade. Water causes your blades to corrode, and consequently creates imperfections. So keep your blades dry. But a neat little hack to sharpen those blades up is to do to your disposable razors what you do with your straight razor: hone them. If you don’t have a leather strop handy, just use your forearm. Rub your razor on your forearm in the non-cutting direction for about 10 strokes. Disposable razor stropped and ready to go.

21. Wash and iron your own dress shirts. Even if your local dry cleaner charges the very inexpensive rate of $1 per shirt, at 20 shirts per month, you’re looking at spending $240 per year. This amount can easily balloon to $1000 if you’re paying anywhere near $4 to $6 a shirt. You can complete this easy chore yourself in just 15 minutes a week.

22. Get your current wardrobe altered if you lose/gain weight instead of buying a new wardrobe.

23. Buy your clothing at a thrift store.

24. Cut your own hair. I’m a big advocate of the barber shop, but many barbers are charging $15-$25 for a haircut these days. For me, what you get–a great haircut, a great experience, and the opportunity to take part in a manly tradition–makes going to the barber well worth the price. But if you’re really wanting to tighten the belt, give yourself a buzz cut.

Health and Fitness

25. Ditch the gym membership and create a DIY Gym. Also, rediscover the joy of the garage/basement weight set.

26. Bodyweight exercises. Check out our guide with 35+ different push-up exercises. We also have a burpee guide with different routines you can do.

27. High deductible insurance+ health savings account. If you and your family are healthy, you might consider switching to a high deductible insurance plan and opening up a health savings account along with it. While you have to pay more out-of-pocket before coverage kicks in, the premium you pay each month can be considerably less than regular plans. The health savings account you open along with your high deductible plan allows you to set aside money tax free that you can only use for medical expenses. You use the money in your health savings account to pay co-pays, deductible expenses, and medications. The lower premiums of a high deductible plan plus the tax savings of an health savings account can mean big time health insurance savings.

28. Get samples from your doctors. Most docs are happy to fill a bag for you with a bunch of samples of the medication you need.

29. Take care of yourself. The healthier you are, the less likely it is that you’ll have to make visits to the doctor and spend money on medications. Exercise and eating right are simple things you can do to stay healthy and reduce medical costs. Also, take care of your teeth. Dental corrections like fillings and root canals can cost an arm and a leg. Invest three minutes of your day, morning and night, to proper dental hygiene.

30. Stop smoking. Last time I checked a carton of cigs was going for $20+. Besides the money you save by not buying a carton every week, you’ll also save money on health costs in the long run.


31. Shop with a list. Studies show that when you shop with a list, you spend less than if you don’t, as it helps you concentrate on picking up only what you need.

32. Brown bag your lunch. It’s not only cheaper, it’s usually a heck of a lot more healthy than going out to a restaurant.

33. Cut back on packaged and convenience foods and learn how to make cheap meals yourself. Pasta. beans. Eat them.

34. Make leftover friendly food. Casseroles and crock pots are your best friends here.

35. Make your own coffee. Time to break-up with your favorite barista.

36. Drink more water. Water is free, and it’s good for you. Drink it instead of flavored beverages that cost money and pad your waistline.

37. Limit going out to eat to one time a week or less. And when you do go out, split America’s massively-sized portions in half and use a coupon.

38. Grow your own vegetables. Can’t do this right now because we live in apartment, but it’s a future goal. I have friend who has had tremendous success with growing his own vegetables. He saves money, and he says it makes him feel like a homesteader.

39. Buy store brands. Here’s a secret that brand name companies don’t want you to know: sometimes generic brands are made at the very same factory as the brand name product, they just put a different label on it. Sometimes this isn’t the case, and the generic really is inferior in quality. So just do some experimenting to see what works.

40. Have a weekly menu. I don’t know about you guys, but when Kate and I don’t have a menu planned out, when the question of “What are we going to eat tonight” rolls around, it’s pretty easy to respond with “Let’s go out.” A weekly menu can help you reduce the amount of times you go out to eat, thus saving you money on expensive restaurant food.


41. Cut the cable. Farewell Snooki.

42. Board games and like. Boggle. I love Boggle.

43. Matinee and Dollar movies. Movie theater experience without the movie theater prices. And in the case of matinees, without the interrupting teenagers.

44. Take advantage of your local college or university. Colleges often have free cultural events and lectures that are open to the public.

45. Trade and borrow with friends. If you need tools or other items to do a job around the house, instead of going out and buying them, check with your friends or neighbors to see if they have it and if you can borrow it. You can also do this with books, CDs, movies, and video games.

46. Use the library. Kate and I are total library hounds. We use it to score not only free books, but current CDs and DVDs as well. If you haven’t used the library in awhile, you really need to give it a try. With the Tulsa library system, you can look up a book online and no matter what library it is at in the city, you can request that it be delivered to the library closest to you. A few days letter, you saunter into the library down the road, and the books, CDs, and movies you wanted are waiting for you on the reserve shelf. It’s magical really.

47. Feed your mind online. The public library is not the only place you can get free mind-expanding materials. From university lectures from the country’s best professors to engrossing TED talks to classic books in the public domain, you can find enough free brain food on the internet to keep you occupied from here to eternity.

48. Keep an eye on subscription services. Netflix, magazine, and online subscriptions can add up fast if you’re not careful. Do a subscription audit to see if you’re using the service enough to warrant the cost and if you can find free alternatives to your current subscriptions. Did I mention the library?

49. Rethink your hobbies. Some hobbies cost a ton of money. Case in point: gun shooting. I’ve been getting into marksmanship and enjoy going to the range to pop off a few rounds with my Colt Python .357. But one of the things that surprised me about range shooting is how much ammo costs. Holy freaking cow! So I’m finding ways to make gun shooting cheaper, like practicing my dry firing at home. If you have a hobby that’s costing you a lot of money, find ways to make it cheaper. If you can’t do that, you might consider dropping it all together and finding a cheaper one, at least until your cash flow increases. Don’t know what to replace it with? Check out our list of manly hobbies.

Computer/Tech Stuff

50. Use free tools and software for all your computing needs. It’s amazing how many programs you can get these days that are completely free. Instead of forking over money for Microsoft Office, use OpenOffice or Google Docs. Wikipedia has a massive list of open source software that’s completely free. Check to see if there’s a free version of what you’re looking for before spending money.

51. Refill ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.

52. Print in draft mode. It uses less ink.

53. When you buy new computers or printers, keep the old cables. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

54. Buy refurbished. If you need a new computer, check the company’s website that you want to buy from to see if they have any deals on refurbished items. I know lots of Apple fanboys who can’t afford (or don’t want) to buy Apple products new, so they buy a gently used version of the product they’ve been lusting after.


55. Regularly clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator. A clean coil uses less energy.

56. Keep your freezer full. An empty freezer requires more energy to keep cold. If you don’t have anything to put in your freezer, fill up milk jugs with water and pack them in your freezer to take up space.

57. Kill the electricity phantom. Whenever you leave a device plugged into a wall socket, it continues to constantly draw a small amount of energy. All those plugged in appliances can take a toll on your electric bill.

58. Seal energy leaks. Energy leaks in your house make your heater and A/C work harder to maintain the temperature of your home. And the harder your central heating and cooling systems have to work, the more money you have to spend. Spend a weekend finding and sealing any energy leaks.

59. If you have a cell phone, get rid of your land line.

60. Put on a sweater or open up a window. Heaters and air conditioners can use a lot of energy to keep your house warm or cool respectively. If you’re feeling chilly, put on a sweater before you turn up the thermostat. If you’re feeling warm, open up a window. Fresh air makes you feel a lot happier too.

61. Turn off the lights. It’s a not a big thing, but every little bit helps. Follow your mom’s advice. Turn the lights off when you leave a room.

62. Use compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs. I include this suggestion rather begrudgingly. I’m not a fan of the light that CFLs or LEDs give off. It’s flat and reminds me of being in a hospital. Give me the warm glow of an incandescent bulb any day. But I can’t deny the energy savings of CFLs and LEDs. Although they cost a little more than regular bulbs, they last up to 10 times longer and use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

63. Plant shade trees. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 — 50 percent in energy used for heating.” If you can, plant some trees on the side of the house that gets the most sun.

64. Install aerating, low-flow faucets and shower heads to limit your water usage.

65. Lower the Water Heating Temperature. For each 10 degree reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%-5%. 120 degrees is probably hot enough for most homes.

66. Put an insulator around your water heater. If your water heater needs it, surround it with a water heater insulator. That move right there can save you around 4%-9% in water heating costs.

67. Winterize your home. Winterizing your home makes your place more energy efficient so you can keep your family warm and toasty in the cold weather months without breaking the bank on energy bills.

Gift Giving

68. Make your own gifts. Brew some beer, make a birdhouse, or create a secret book safe. Use your imagination and your craftsmanship.

69. Offer to give a service, like mowing someone’s lawn each week for the entire summer instead of buying stuff. You can also put together a coupon book for someone like your wife, with coupons redeemable for things like “one free back rub.”

The has many more cheap and free gift ideas for men, women, and children.

Miscellaneous Advice

70. Buy quality. Sometimes we get a little guff for promoting top-dollar products like Saddleback bags. Isn’t buying such expensive things incompatible with frugality? No, actually. Frugality isn’t about being cheap. It’s about getting the best value, and sometimes that means paying more to save more. It’s important to think about things in terms of cost-per-use as opposed to total cost. Let’s say you buy a pair of cheap boots for $50, and they’re neither comfortable nor particularly good looking, and so you only wear them when you have to which is once a week before they wear out in three years. The cost-per-wear on the “cheap” boots is thus 32 cents. Now, let’s say you spend $350 on a pair of top-quality, truly well-made boots.  They’re really handsome, and you wear them every chance you get, which is four times a week. And they last you 50 years (with maybe a re-soling here and there).  The cost per wear on the “expensive” boots is 3 cents. 3 cents! So which is the more frugal choice? This is a truth your grandpa knew well and why he actually had stuff to pass down to you.

71. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. It’s a creed your grandpa and grandma lived by to get through the Great Depression, and it’s just as applicable today.  I get a lot of satisfaction from trying to make my stuff last as long as possible. Particularly with clothes. Pants come open up at the seam? Sew them back up. T-shirts too ratty to wear in public? Turn them into dust rags.

72. Foster a DIY mentality. Before spending money on hiring somebody to do a job for you, see if you can figure out how to do it yourself. When money’s tight, you can always use your other stash of equity: your time. Not only will doing things yourself save you money, but there’s a satisfaction and pride you get from being self-reliant. Of course, be careful with this advice. If it looks like it’s a job you can’t do or if screwing it up would cost you more money to fix, hire somebody to do it.

73. Be your own man. A big reason people spend money is social pressure. Don’t let others dictate how you’re going to live your life or spend your money.

74. Read up on personal finance. Knowledge is power. I subscribe to several personal finance blogs. Many of them post tips on thrift and frugality. My two favorites? Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar. And I recommend checking these books out from the library: Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

75. Have a 30 day waiting period for big purchases. If you see something that you think you just have to have, before you hand over your credit card to buy it, put it on a “I’ll buy this in one month” list. If after one month you still think buying the item would be worth it, then get it. In my experience, after waiting a month you often realize you really don’t need it, so you save the money you would have spent. Score! And if you do end up getting it a month later, the power of delayed gratification makes the purchase more enjoyable than it would have been had you just bought it immediately. Score!

76. Use cash. In my experience, I tend to spend less when I use cash for most of my purchases. There’s just something about the tangibility of cash as opposed to debit cards that makes it hurt more to part with your money. When Kate and I were in hardcore debt repayment mode, we used the envelope budget system.

77. Learn to haggle. We’ve got a great post on this important skill coming next month.

78. Buy staples in bulk. Buying in bulk cuts down on the cost per usage. If there are items in your house that you use regularly, buy them in huge quantities. Diapers, baby wipes, trash bags, paper towels, soap, etc.

79. Don’t enroll in your bank’s overdraft protection program. At first blush, it might seem like a good idea; overdraft protection means that if you go to make a purchase with your debit card, and you don’t have enough money in your account to complete the transaction, the bank will “loan” you the money…and charge you a $25-$35 fee for their generosity. But that’s a big price to pay to avoid the embarrassment or inconvenience of having your card declined. And these fees can add up fast, because here’s what many consumers don’t know: most banks will purposefully process your largest transactions first, and then your smaller transactions after that. So let’s say you have $285 in your checking account and you buy a coffee for $3.50 in the morning, a sandwich for $5 at noon, and then some college textbooks in the afternoon for $300. The banks will process the $300 transaction first, thus depleting your account, and then charge you another $35 fee for the coffee and for the sandwich, and bill you for $105 in overdraft fees. Banks used to automatically enroll their customers in overdraft protection programs, but a court ruling last year made that illegal. But it was a big money maker for banks, so they still aggressively try to get you to sign up. Every time I check my bank account online, I get a pop up that asks if I’m sure I don’t want to enroll in their overdraft protection program. You just have to say no and keep saying no.

80. Avoid other fees. Businesses these days seems to be nickel and diming consumers any way they can with extra fees. Banks, airlines, and credit card companies are the big culprits. Be a responsible and savvy consumer and you can avoid most of these fees. Use ATMs in your bank’s network to avoid ATM fees and pay your bills on time, always. And fly Southwest! No extortionist baggage fees, friendly service, and one of the best safety records in the biz (recent holes in the plane notwithstanding).

What are some more ways to save money and be frugal? Share your tips with us in the comments!


{ 197 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Big Ed April 29, 2011 at 1:36 am


Brett-Congrats on the Colt Python. The best of the best! If you really watch your costs (bullet casting, hand loading, ammo sales, etc.), you should be able to get the price down to pennies per shot with .38 specials. Thanks for one of the best AoM ever.

(I note, parenthetically, that marrying an accountant, can also be a huge benefit when it comes to saving. It has its price though. Like when you are trying to justify buying a Python!)

102 Chris April 29, 2011 at 3:57 am

You can grow a garden in your apartment, I am doing as we speak in a 400 square foot apt in South Korea, if I can do it, anyone can, unless you live in a shoebox

103 Bryan April 29, 2011 at 8:51 am

I’d like to second the advice to read (and follow) Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makover”. It gives a clear road map for getting out of debt and building wealth. Not only has it changed my habits and thoughts about money, but it is helping to build character in this child of the want-for-nothing, wait-for-nothing generation.

104 James April 29, 2011 at 9:12 am

50. Use free tools and software for all your computing needs.
Another good resorce is.

105 Erik April 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

Linux may be free and powerful, but the support is LACKING. If you’re not proficient with computers and don’t like figuring out computer problems by yourself, Linux is NOT for you. The Linux community completely overestimates how helpful they are. Remember, the most frequent advise you get from the Linux community is “code it yourself.” Not so useful if you are not or have no desire to be a programmer. I use it for certain project around the house, and I like tooling around computers. I have the patience to weed trough the cruft of Linux support. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Linux for my Parents if they just wanted a web surfing machine. Beyond that, I would steer them in other directions for their sanity and mine.

Linux is free. Your time is not.

106 Andrew April 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm

One thing I need to add about being frugal:

Don’t be too frugal, otherwise you or someone close to you will inevitably break down and go wild. Purchase your emotional needs wisely.

There is a massive difference between being frugal (good) and being cheap (bad).

An interesting point I heard the other day from a friend who works as a paramedic in Alberta oil camps: The site supers love it when a guy shows up from days off with a brand new jacked up truck, because it means they’ve got them for the next four years. Just a thought.

107 Bill April 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

This list is good, but watch out for #65, lowering the water heater temperature. According to the World Heath Organization, you want to avoid water temperatures between 77 deg F and 113 deg F in order to prevent colonization. The higher the temperature, the less time is needed to kill the Legionella organisms. Also keep in mind that certain plumbing codes may require you to provide hot water at a particular temperatures. In some cases, that temperature is within the above temperature range so it’s good practice to provide a higher temperature in the water heater and provide a mixing valve to reduce to the required temperature. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have a higher temperature in the water heater and you use a mixing valve to reach the desired hot water temperature, you will require less storage volume for the heater.

108 Rich April 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Great article! For number 45 (Trade and borrow with friends) there’s a ton of web sites out there that can help you facilitate trade, borrow or renting in your area or with your friends. I personally use and I highly recommend it. I found a OBD II code reader (tells you why your check engine light is on) in my area and borrowed it for free.

109 Evelyn in Iowa City, IA April 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Advanced water conservation advice, from a former dweller of the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona: 1. Line-dry all laundry. If you can’t have outdoor clotheslines where you live, create some indoor ones. Think: Collapsible drying racks; or eyelet hooks installed in your spare room to support indoor clotheslines; many other creative options are obvious. 2. Collect greywater in 2 or 3 buckets every time you take a shower. Easy to do while showering by having the buckets right in there with you, you can use this greywater two ways: a. Add greywater to your clothes washing machine while it is filling to do a load of laundry. b. Use it to flush your toilet in two stages. First, a larger amount of greywater, poured-in rather rapidly, executes the flush very well. About 2/3rds of an average bucket-full will do this. Next, a smaller amount of greywater, poured-in slower, provides the needed water in the toilet bowl for the next user. I average 2-1/2 to 3 “free” toilet flushes from each shower I take. Even if you have to finish the second stage of the last “free” flush by drawing a bit of water into your bucket from the bathtub faucet, you’ve still used far less water than you would have by not using any greywater at all. Toilet flushes are the single largest waste of perfectly good water in the American home. Furthermore, as any Arizona environmentalist will tell you, you can pee several times in the same toilet batch before flushing it. I live by these methods in my own home, and have saved hundreds of dollars per year by doing so, along with immeasurable amounts of precious clean water. 3. If you are a vegetable and/or flower gardener, in growing seasons you can collect all ‘clean’ kitchen wastewater into a bucket located in your kitchen, and use it to water some of your garden. I mean kitchen wastewater such as: rinse water from hand-cleaned dishes; rinse water from washing vegetables and fruits; rinse water from washing brown rice or beans prior to cooking them; and excess soak-water poured off beans prior to cooking them. Nothing in any of this wastewater will harm your growing plants. On the contrary!
4. For those of us who do our own oil changes (and I am one such), remember to bring the waste oil and waste oil filter to your town’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center. On no account should you place it into the ‘regular’ garbage for routine pick-up. If you do, it will eventually leach its way into the regional water table, poisoning all life forms that consume it later. This is critical!
Thank you for this interesting article.

110 Evelyn in Iowa City, IA April 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Regarding using the public library, you can borrow ANY LIBRARY ITEM even if your local library system does not possess it. Simply use their ‘Interlibrary Loan’ system. Literally any item that a library could ship, is available to you for free. I do this all the time. It’s fun to see where the item came from, when you finally check it out from your local library. It might be 20 miles away from you, or 2,000!

111 Jeff S. April 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Do you like soda but hate buying 2-liter bottles because it goes flat? Try this:

Buy a 2-liter bottle of your favorite soda. Then buy a six-pack of 16.9 oz. bottles of whatever you feel like. Drink the 16.9 oz. bottles of soda and rinse four bottles and caps when you’re done and keep them. Now fill the four bottles with the 2-liter soda (it will fill them perfectly to the top). Recap and put back in the fridge. Enjoy fresh soda whenever you want.

Using this method, I can get my soda down to 2.7 cents per ounce. I could get it even lower if I bought the generic soda. Best of all, since the 2-liter bottle was only opened one time, the soda in the four bottles will remain fizzy!


112 Jason April 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm

As for car purchases:

I use my ten cent rule. Buy ANY car you want, but you have to drive it one mike for every ten cents it costs (this excludes maintenance and insurance, and the has a zero dollar residual value). This does a couple of things:

1) reduces guilt over buying a more expensive car. If that car cost $30k, and you can afford it, great–but you are driving it 300k miles.
2) it makes you evaluate a cars life expectancy vs cost. Most modern cars can run to 200k miles without major repairs when properly maintained. So, a $10k car with 100k miles is a better buy than a $5k car with 175k miles.
3) it allows you to evaluate cars relative to your ‘driving budget’. You may be better off driving a $3k car than trying to be too frugal and buy a $500 car.
4) by assuming a zero final value, you are budgeting to donate the car

Additionally, if you drive lots of highway miles, use synthetic oil and run extended oil changes. I have logged over 500,000 miles on three vehicles with oil change intervals at 12-15k miles.

113 Derek April 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm

” Last time I checked a carton of cigs was going for $20+.”

HAHA Where I live, it’s $60-80 for a carton. We get tourists up from the city that say we’re cheap.

114 Michael M April 30, 2011 at 7:41 am

Planting shade trees is a great idea but make sure not to plant anything too close to your house so that animals cannot get onto your roof and cause damage or move in with you.

115 Robert Bushaw April 30, 2011 at 9:18 am

$20 for a carton of cigarettes ? Was this article written in 1978 ???

116 Tom April 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

My partner and I have only one car but we are planning to purchase a 100% neighborhood electric as our second car.
There is a lot of good advice on here from the comments.
Overall, I like the list. I do however, take issue with and kind of resent the use of military pictures in the article, considering this is one thing that has drained the US economy, both emotionally and financially. Do you believe that being in the military is manly these days? Yeah, OK.
It’s OK to grow a beard if you don’t work for corporate America. So who doesn’t nowadays.

117 Joe April 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm

One thing I’ve started doing is taking the train. If you book far enough in advance depending on your starting point/destination, the tickets are fairly inexpensive and you can bring up to five bags with you. Better yet, if you’re visiting an area where you have friends or family, you don’t have to pay for a hotel or rent a car. The only downside I’ve found is the travel time (on par with driving).

118 Matthew April 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm

One thing to keep in mind when cutting costs – that gym membership can be far more valuable than one thinks. We belong to the Y, which means that we have built-in day care while we work out, can take the kid to the pool after for some bonding time, and have lots of built-in activities for the family. Also, never underestimate the power of locker room networking.

Working out at home is a great option, and belonging to a health club/YMCA/gym is a pretty fair chunk of change for a fairly luxury item, but there are a lot more benefits than just the surface.

119 Josh Knowles April 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm

So many good suggestions here.

I especially like #75, the 30 day waiting period for big purchases. I think that even the best of us are more affected by shiny displays in stores and flashy ads on TV than we like to think. I keep a list of things I would like to buy on my computer. I review it periodically and realize that some of them don’t seem nearly as important as they did a few weeks ago. Also, if I see something in a store that I just have to have, I always try to compare it with what’s already on my list. Is it more important? Less important? Not even important?

Gardening is also a huge thing for my wife and I. We just have an apartment, but one of my former professors (and his wife) have been kind enough to let us share their garden. We get plenty of vegetables to last well into the winter. Also they have fruit trees and so we make our own jam and apple sauce. It tastes way better than what you buy in the store, and you know exactly what’s in it too.

120 John April 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Commuting by motorcycle can be a great way to save money. I bought a 2009 Yamaha V Star 250 in September 2010. That bike is good for any roadway with a 65MPH or lower speed limit and routinely gets 70MPG while doing 55MPH on my 22 mile commute to class. The insurance is less than $100 per year and Yamaha offers a 5 year, unlimited-mileage warranty for $400 (if you’re not keen to fixing things yourself). As an added bonus, most businesses will let you park in the “unused” portions of the parking lot. My university doesn’t even require motorcycles to have parking decals so I routinely park next to the faculty.

121 Clint May 1, 2011 at 3:30 am

One thing I would disagree on is the rental car insurance. The damage waiver on the rental car might be worth it. Check YOUR policy. I used to work at a large rental car company, and no, I didn’t drink the kool-aid. If you have a $500 deductible and its your collision that transfers to the car, you’ll pay the first $500 of damage, just like you owned the car. For a 2-3 day rental, that $15/day coverage might be worth it. But if you need the car for 2-3 weeks… probably not worth it.

122 Josh May 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

Hey Tom, you tell me if the military is “manly” or not. These men and women willfully spend years of their lives serving their country. If sacrifice, duty, and honor aren’t manly, I don’t know what is. Maybe you don’t understand the context of the posters. It was World War 2 and most of the nation’s resources were needed for the war effort. Back then, it was everyone’s duty to contribute to the war, not just the soldier and their families.

In closing, is serving in the military manly? Yes. Is “taking issue and resenting” anything, anything at all, manly? No. Grow up, grow a pair, and take some time to appreciate the history of those posters.

123 Markus May 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Great List.
Just one comment on the light-bulb thing though: The European Union so beloved by me and my countrymen has actually out-lawed the sale of regular light-bulbs, in an attempt to force “green” behavior on Europeans. It turned out that light bulbs significantly contributed to the heating of a room in winter. The result: Half-dark rooms and higher heating costs.

God bless America.

Best wishes from Germany!


124 Michael May 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

A tank-less on demand water heater to replace your current one. I have now had three over the last ten years (different houses) up front is an ouch factor on the wallet, but each has paid for itself within two years. They heat the water only when you use them, both gas and electric. I just install a new larger gas one three months ago and my wife loves it (Me TOO!!) she can have a hot bath without running out of hot water and I a hot shower after the bath and all while doing the dishwasher and wash-machine.

*import note for those with teens, this is a bad idea as it will NOT run out of hot water! Get that glass of ice water ready!

125 Maria May 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm

For making marksmanship more affordable: have you looked into reloading equipment? The equipment is pricey to start with, but seeing as I paid about $30 for my last box of purchased ammo, it makes up for it quickly. You might even be able to find a setup on craigslist or at an estate sale or something.

126 The Hud May 2, 2011 at 3:29 am

Another way to save a little money is to store rain water in a custom water tower, I made mine from a clean 50 gallon plastic barrel and atached it to my gutter downspouts.
I use the water in the tower to water my veggie garden, and to water potted plants.

127 chad May 2, 2011 at 4:44 am

Overall great article. Do be careful on #51 though; refilled ink cartridges reduces the amount of pages each cartridge can print and will also shorten the life of a printer. When it comes to frugality when printing, you should talk to the sales associate at whatever store you’re buying from to figure out which printer is best for you. There are huge differences between desk jet, office jet, and all the other styles.

128 Pipp May 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

Watch your paper products, papertowels, kleenex and the like. You can just some nice dish towels (nice meaning good at sucking up liquids, but be prepared to get them stained and have to oxy them or bleach) and cloth hankies and you never have to buy these things again.. and gain a fair bit of green cred!

129 Weston May 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I have to wholeheartedly second your endorsement of Your Money or Your Life. One of only a handful of books that I have read that was truly life changing for me. However, if you read the original edition do not follow Joe Dominguez’s advice on investing. He wrote that book back when government bonds gave an outstanding return. You would get slaughtered if you followed that advice today.

On the other hand I strongly, strongly disagree with your endorsement of A Simple Dollar. In a relatively short period of time Trent posted two articles. One dealt with a topic I know quite a bit about and the other I’m an expert at. His comments and suggestions were so completely inaccurate that I came the conclusion that he must just make a lot of his stuff up. A 10 year old with a basic knowledge of Google could have done a more factually accurate posting.

130 The Informer May 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Perhaps this was already said……….

Set a daily budget (apart from rent/mortgage and car payment) above which you will not spend. For me, it’s $30/day….roughly $900/month including: food, entertainment, travel/gas, etc. If I go 5 days without spending, that’s $150 I can use toward a bigger expense later in the month, or I can save the money.

Think about your daily income and expenses as if you’re running a business.

Then see if you can stick to that and enjoy those days when you don’t spend anything and live below your expense line making your business more profitable!

131 Peace Keeper May 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Ok so I loved the article, all these things are great to keep in mind even for people who don’t choose a frugal life. However one comment I didn’t agree with was “Can’t do this right now because we live in apartment,” This is far from true! lol I would venture to guess that your apartment has some sort of balcony or such. These are great places to grow potted plants or even gutter gardens. Something like this:

Would be great for a small garden. I have a tomato plant in a large pot in the back yard. Would also fit on a small balcony. I’m new to gardening so not sure how many plants you’d be able to plant for veggies and such in a gutter garden but I know the strawberries I have out back would grow well in them. Just some food for thought!

132 Ryan Latvaitis May 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm
133 Jason May 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Be careful when managing your money and consider consulting a professional. All the frugality in the world isn’t going to help you if your savings evaporate in the stock market. I still haven’t made back all the money lost in 2008.

134 Elle May 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm

As for the ink cartridges, our local Office Depot offers $2 for every empty ink cartridge returned. You don’t even have to buy anything. Ink cartridges are the new aluminum can for reimbursement – plus, it’s beneficial to Office Depot and the environment. Think of setting up a recycling bin for ink cartridges at work.

135 tahrey May 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

And they also contributed to the heating in summer as well. If you’re in a cold environment, then that’s probably an overall benefit. In a hotter climate, you then have to turn your aircon up.

And if it’s in a place with lots of lights, potentially lots of people, and less than brilliant ventilation, every last watt of heat going in there counts.

I prefer to use good quality energy saver bulbs (e.g. with a high CRI and a high-frequency, dimmable inverter) and add plenty of insulation… which significantly reduces the amount of heating required in winter (say you use the equivalent of 1000w continuous, and cut your requirement by 20%… that’s an awful lot of incandescents you need to make up the same amount of waste heat) and also the amount of cooling required in summer.

Additionally, electricity is generally the least efficient heating method (both environmentally and economically), and an incandescent bulb is itself less efficient than an electric space heater, fan heater, halogen strip thingy, economy-tariff storage heater, etc. The “lightbulbs made the room much warmer” argument is a bit silly all round, unless your room is massively over-lit. In which case, it’s little wonder that energy savers seem dim.

I prefer to just mellow in the ambience instead, and buy less-than-the-maximum wattage bulbs for that reason. However, a few 60w daylight “craft light” incandescents are kept in reserve for use in a portable or desk lamp should stronger illumination actually be required for some reason…. like waking up in winter ;-)

136 tahrey May 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

The Informer: I think that’s actually quite an important point and potentially a very powerful one. Or at least, I hope it is/will be… as I was thinking about it independently on the way to work this morning! I’m soon to be living solo for the first time in a long time, and I figure my daily discretionary budget is going to be about £12.50 (or, say, $20) once mortgage, property tax, utilities, phone bills, insurance, fuel etc is all covered. £10 if I force myself to save 20% of the leftover. That’s for food, clothing, entertainments, vacations, vehicle replacements/repair, etc. A bit of a squeeze. Keeping a constant tab on how much is being spent, identifying things that need to be saved towards and adjusting the amount available each day is pretty much going to be the only way to keep it under control.
(Fuel is an enormous spend right now – commuting 35+ miles round trip every day in the UK… trying to use my motorcycle as much as possible instead of the car, but it seems to be jinxed. Every unusual, protracted problem that a biker may experience once or twice in their career, I’ve had packed into 2 years! But if the law of averages plays out, I’ll now end up with 10+ years of it paying for itself once a year, every year…)

137 Ian May 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Lots of great and handy tips, and more awesome knowledge from the other users.

But what’s up with # 28 !!! Can anyone elaborate or clarify it for me please? This must just be an American thing.

138 Swa May 7, 2011 at 4:52 am

Great list, but, as a former employee of the hotel industry, most haggling has been undercut by a computerized check-in system. Beyond that, your average hotel desk clerk could give a damn whether you take a room or not. They’re making $8 bucks an hour, and there is little incentive to actually make a sell.

139 Walter the Transformer May 8, 2011 at 12:25 am

FOOD: Maybe I’m late to this, but in my new town I just noticed at the grocery store chain here (Safeway) that the price per ounce is listed on each tag. Take advantage if your store does the same. They do the math for you, and the results are often surprising.

CAR: No idling! If you’re car is going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds, turn it off. I don’t always practice this at busy traffic lights, because I don’t want to cause a delay, but it’s a wise idea in parking lots, overlooks or even slow fast-food lines. National Parks even advise visitors to do so (and USPS drivers do) because it wastes gas, is bad for your engine and causes more pollution. A car also warms up by driving it, not sitting idle.

HAIR: Yep, just caught on to cutting my own, or letting my lady do it. Turns out it’s not as difficult as it seems, and I save $20.

CABLE: Cut that sh^t. Don’t need it. But admittedly, my lady and I are like junkies falling off the wagon when we get to a hotel with a nice TV.

BEER: I love it. But I only buy discounted beer at the grocery store. I can often get a high-quality six-pack for $6 or $7, or a 12-pack of watery/domestic for the same. Doesn’t seem like that great of a difference, but many men will notice beer prices have gone up tremendously over the past few years. In response to the recession, Coors charged more to counter lower demand and ended up making MORE money. Thanks!

That’s all.

140 Evelyn in Iowa City, IA May 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm

For Ian who asked what #28 was: Ian, the insidious American branches of the global drug-making companies have sales reps who dispense all manner of free goods (bribes) to physicians, when they visit them to promote their company’s drugs. Everything from catered meals for the whole office, taking the whole office out to lunch at swanky restaurants, free samples of drugs, pens, memo pads, to [fill-in your fantasy answer]. Some doctors will give handfuls of sample drugs, which are in little individual packets, to patients who request them. It never hurts to ask your doctor is she/he has any free samples that you can have.

141 Jacob May 9, 2011 at 5:49 am

Unless you need web access at all times for work, don’t bother with getting a smartphone. If you’re under contract, see if you can reduce your data plan without penalties. Your kids do not need iPhones or Android devices or Blackberries. Facebook is not a necessity 24/7. Just don’t tell my boss I’m saying this here, because I am supposed to say the opposite at work.

Alternatives: Prepaid plans are becoming cheaper, with unlimited talk and text nationwide at competitive rates. You can buy kits, or get the phone you want direct from the manufacturer, or buy second-hand off e-Bay and at local second-hand phone stores. If you get a smartphone this way, you may still have access to unlimited wifi web at home or public hotspots without springing for a cellular data plan depending on the device. Some major carriers offer a lower rate on no-contract plans structured just like the contract plans as well if you buy your phone new through them, or provide your own via the aforementioned means.

142 Shane May 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm not only did I score a free fridge for my homebrew (doubley frugal) I gave away an old A/C and a TV that I was going to have pay the county to dispose of, pless a bunch of lesser scores:fill dit, kid’s bike, etc.

143 Brandon May 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Another great book to get is The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. Saving even small amounts and automating your bills and purchases simplifies everything, gets rid of human error and it builds up slowly over time.

144 Steve May 13, 2011 at 12:00 am

One thing very few people are aware of, and one of the reasons why I think incandescent bulbs should never be banned, is that CFL bulbs effect photosensitive people very similarly to the sun. This mean any photosensitive person, like myself, has extreme difficulty functioning in an environment with any form of fluorescent lighting.

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146 Rich May 21, 2011 at 2:08 am

No one mentioned moving to a lower property taxed state. Or finding someone who wants to carry a note on a cheap piece of land to get out of the rental racket and start building equity in something that will take care of you for a lifetime.

147 Will May 21, 2011 at 4:29 am

Shower and shave using free water! If you must have a gym membership, plan your shower/shave there. Most gyms are open early so have a morning workout and do your grooming there. Even blowdry and brushing teeth. Make this a daily routine before work. I live in an apt complex that has a gym and I use their facilities every morning! This saves electricity expenses as well (hot water).

148 belle May 21, 2011 at 7:58 am

Excellent list but I must take issue with #59 – Give up your land line. I have had a land line for years even though I also have a cell phone. I live in NYC and when 9/11 happened, the land lines were the only phones that worked. Because I was in the WTC when the planes hit, no one knew if I was dead or alive. All cell phones were knocked out and I could only reach my sister by land line. Granted, this is an unusual (to say the least) circumstance, but I gladly pay the extra cost per month for the peace of mind. I scrimp on a lot of things, but not this.

149 Bob May 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

Toilet paper. Use both sides. Ha, ha.

150 wons May 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

Lucky for me my workplace is quite casual when it comes to attire, No Tie No Problems! I don’t iron my shirts, I just wear a nice expensive looking merino v neck sweater to hide the shirt. I only wear merino because it resists odour, I probably wash my merino clothing every 6 months, the time and money saved from not washing it every week more than offsets the high cost of it. I wear ex-officio underwear, they are expensive but more than offset by the fact that they are more comfortable and will outlast 10 cotton equivalents. My entire underwear collection consists of 2 ex-officio briefs – yeap that’s it. I wash them in the shower and they are very quick drying.

I leave my hair long and tie it back to a pony tail. I haven’t been to the barbers for nearly 18 months. I don’t use shampoo, just water and a good massage of the scalp, does wonders and leaves your natural oils in tact. I shave without shaving cream, again just water – your face will get use to it. I find the slightly more expensive disposable razor blades will last longer than the cheaper ones, combined with the stropping I can make it last ten times longer as well. Work provides tea and coffee so I never go out of my way to buy it. I’ve learnt to live without added sugar, the amazing thing is after a little while you became really sensitive to sweetness. I now find milk a sweet drink. I cook and have big dinners however I prefer small lunches. I’ve found various eateries near work that can serve a healthy lunch meal for around $6. For the amount of time I’ll save as compared to making my own lunch, it’s cheaper to just buy lunch. Because I skip breakfast I tend to snack on fruit throughout the day. I prefer to use a thick walled non stick pot to cook my rice, the rice comes out just as good as a conventional rice cooker, I save money because its cheaper to cook the rice with gas and one less appliance in the kitchen. I made all the furniture myself using discarded wood pallets. Every man should have a power saw, tool belt, electric planer and nail gun. With my method you can build all the furniture you need in one weekend.

It takes me 30 minutes to walk to work. This is intentional so I don’t have to join a gym. Instead of a car I have a bike. I found the bike at a dump, I could probably sell it for profit when I need to get rid of it. I find I can get to most places with my bike within a 45 minute ride. Again this is exercise I don’t have to pay the gym for. If I do need a car to get somewhere I rely on friends to give me a lift, this is where it’s important to develop and maintain good friendships.

I look out for credit card promo’s where they give a stash of flyer points if you join. I only apply if the card has no annual fee. I’ve applied for 3 and I already have 100,000 points, enough for 2 return international trips.

Here’s the biggie. If you structure your tax affairs properly you can save a motza in your lifetime, more so than all the things I’ve said previously combined. If you don’t believe me just do a simple budget forecast on a spreadsheet. You’ll be amazed.

151 David Dillon May 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

“During Kate and I’s poor college student days” …. gak! I believe you mean “During Kate’s and my college student days….” Unless you are Rastafarian, the latter is correct.

152 Chris May 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

1. Gym memberships are not needed. If you want exercise just start a garden. I recommend “Square foot gardening” by Mel Bartholomew
Food Incomes are going to be important as currency inflation hits the U.S harder.
2. Always check prices on the internet as your going to save currency.
3. BB guns/rifles are a cheep way to practice shooting.
4. Dehydrate all food you don’t eat. Once dehydrated it will last for thirty years.
5. Brew your own beer. It doesn’t cost much for a brew kit off ebay and you will only need a mini fridge. Warning don’t get so hooked you get two, three and four kits, I have seen this happen
I am sure I have more but I am out of time.

153 t t May 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm

avoid ca fe’s, frozen tv dinners, etc. prep food at home, carry it for lunch etc

154 Brian May 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Old technology. This year’s “must have” consumer electronics will be hitting the curbside 10 years from now. My VCR and collection of VHS movies will provide hours of entertainment…and save on a cable or satellite TV service. I got most of the VHS movies free through Craig’s List, and my DVD collection was purchased a bit at a time through a local discount store that features “liquidated” movie titles. Everything from Ben Stein’s documentary “Expelled”, to the director’s cut of “Chronicles of Riddick”…all for less than 2$ per title. My kids and I also collect old Nintendo Game Consoles and gear. We’ve probably thrift-ed what would have been over 2000$ worth of gear for pennies on the dollar. Again, Craig’s List and thrift stores are a Godsend.

155 Jean Hodge May 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Comment re “Money Saving Tips”

Thrift stores – NOT advisable currently, due to – as you could probably guess: bedbugs. A nightmare no one wants to risk. At the least, if one does purchase there, item should go immediately in to dryer with high heat setting.

156 Dray May 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Great post and very informative.

Thanks for the wonderful info.!

157 LaTosha May 23, 2011 at 7:53 am

Excellent post.

As to living in an apartment and growing your own food? I came across a local church down the street from where I live (also an apartment dwelling) that has a community garden that I joined. Nothing beats fresh tomatoes and all the extra food that you don’t want to take home, goes in a community barrel for anyone to take. Frugal, better food, and it gets spread around. I daresay there are more community gardens than people know about.

158 Nate May 23, 2011 at 11:43 am

I would add to this: consider fasting. Skipping a meal or two every day is actually healthy and it saves money, especially at lunch when you will be tempted to eat out. You will over-compensate somewhat at dinner but your body will be in fat-burning mode. There is lots of information on this: google “fast 5″, “lean gains” or “warrior diet”.

159 Pat Yates May 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Be very selective when choosing fresh fruits and vegetables. It is way too easy to get some that are not fresh enough therefore do not keep long as well as getting too many of them and having to discard some because you did not get a chance to eat them. Yes, keep the freezer full but not the refrigerator. Those things do not last long enough. If you are not buying as many fresh fruits and vegetables as before then perhaps you can afford the organic ones which are much better for you.

160 TrishaD May 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Do your own yardwork. If you have been hiring someone to mow your lawn, edge etc. do it yourself. It is not only very great therapy, it gives you another chance to be outside in the fresh air soaking up some good old Vitamin D!

READ: If you took Brett’s suggestion and got rid of your cable then consider reading! What kind of reading do you like? My favorite choices are self improvement books and things like Mortgage Free Facts for Life: SECRETS Banks & Lenders Don’t Want You to Know! that give me other ideas on how to save a buck…or several thousand.

Bored? Get involved in politics…discover what YOU really think instead of waiting for a politician to tell you what to think. One great website is…see what you think of that! It is very easy to get involved from there.

Long Distance eating your lunch? If you have high speed Internet, I highly recommend Magic Jack…. $20 a YEAR…and you can talk as long as you like all over the country. Just remember that when you turn your computer off…your phone is off too…and sometimes that is a BLESSING.

Ways to save money are everywhere you look, you just have to start thinking like a frugal person and ideas weill just come to you. Good Luck.

161 Steve Durfee May 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Rob a Bank! – that’s were the money is

Buy a $25 box of pennies. Keep the real copper pennies, about 500 per box, recycle the fake zinc pennies. Buy another box – Repeat the process – triple your money. You will own pennies that are worth 3 cents each (at $4.50 per pound copper) a 200% improvement in your wealth. Ben Franklin said it best – “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Memo: Ask Steve how he converts copper bullion into real silver dollars.

Steve Durfee, founder Bank Robbers Wanted Home Office: 417-368-1584

162 Marcus Wolfe May 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I’m pretty sure dry firing your gun is bad. You can shoot .38′s in a .357. Might want to consider reloading them yourself, or you could buy from Shotgun News.

163 Paul May 24, 2011 at 12:46 am

There’s no problem dry firing, unless it’s a rimfire .22LR or similar. If you’re not comfortable dry firing, take spent casings & load them into your revolver & “fire” those. the firing pin won’t hit anything since the primer is already dimpled. and yes, .38 is way less expensive than .357. You can also re-load your own. Not much more satisfaction than eating an animal you killed with a round you loaded yourself, gutted, quartered, butchered, cooked yourself.

164 Tommy May 24, 2011 at 11:57 am

Coupons! There are coupons for everything online. Every time I go out to eat, find a coupon first. Entertainment book sells around march at half price and around this time of year for about 10 bucks. There’s tons of values in there from sporting events to pizza places etc.

Know your price for staples. Make a list of what you typically buy and the best price to pay for it, then watch for it on sale.

Grocery stores during the mornings or evenings will mark down their meat and bakery sections. I buy 4 packs of muffins for $2 once a week.

I rent movies from the library for free, or go online for redbox codes. I haven’t spent money on rentals in years. Most libraries have Blu Rays too. I bought a blue ray player off ebay with the intention of never buying any, but only renting from the library. It’s been great. Netflix streaming has tons of good stuff for $8 a month. Especially series like Dexter, Macgyver, and exceptional Documentaries. It’s what the Discovery Channel & History Channel should be!

165 Win May 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Man I love this blog. Though I consider myself 100% man, each article convinces me that there is yet more work to do. I shall strive to be more manly.

166 warbaby May 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

To Chris How do you dehydrate food??

167 wray edwards May 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Cigs are now 50 to 100 dollars a carton. Also, if you are going to garden, do it in an airtight greenhouse…unless, of course, you want your food to glo in the dark from Fukushima rads. Seriously, you can’t avoid all radiation, but that will helpto reduce it. Also take potassium iodide and curcummen.

168 richard May 25, 2011 at 11:50 am

When you go on vacation, put you house on vacation. Unplug all unnecessary electronics, lower thermostats, water heater, timers on lights, and most importantly gaming systems, vcrs, dvrs, cable boxes, TV’s, home PC’s. I unplug washer/dryer. Huge savings here.

169 Richiemagoo May 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm


Where you live can be the single biggest determinant in your cost of living. I grew up in the Long Island/NYC area where property taxes alone are often one’s single biggest expense- not to mention the absurd cost of housing. My first order of business was to move to a very rural area 1000 miles away, where property taxes are hundreds…not thousands of dollars and where the cost of housing is literally a tenth of what it is in NY. Sure, you may not make as much money- but your money goes so much further and the quality of life increases so much…. I made $50K a year in NY and lived like a pauper in a studio apartment- sleeping on the floor. I now have a used mobile home on 28 acres + another MH for my elderly mother, and am debt-free. I only make $20K a year now…but I have a pool and live like a king- living the lifestyle I’ve always wanted and having the time to do the things I love.

All the little things can add up and make a difference…but tackle the big things first: Housing costs; Taxes; Transportation. (You pay WAY less in taxes making $20K vs, $50K too- Your quality of life can go UP by reducing your income!

And stop living on your cell phone. I use a Tracfone- just carry it for emergencies and don’t turn it on unless I need to make a call. Cost? About $6 a month with a yearly airtime card. Plus it’s nice not being bothered all the time- live like we used to before all this technology…it feels good!

170 Paul Chesterworth May 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Dry your clother outside or in an empty garage until 90% dry. Then use dryer to finish drying, which eliminates wrinkles as well. You will use much less electricity or gas on your dryer.

Recycle everything possible, use vegatable scraps for compost, freeze meat scraps until garbage day. You will use much less garbage bags.

Learn to cook popcorn the old fashioned way. It tastes better and is cheaper.

Learn to cook gourmet meals instead of going out to eat.

Drop long distance service on your land line. Use a phone card for long distance calls.

171 rachel May 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I have an few ideas,
1 Buy your gas as early as possible, it expands as the day warms hence why all fuel deliveries are done in the wee hours of the morning. It has been said the the difference between buying cold gas and warm gas is significant.
2 Also, regular unleaded is more expensive than than super. Super last longer, goes further and is actually good for your vehicle. Reg unleaded is dirty, gets less miles and although seemingly cheaper, it is much more expensive to maintain the wear it puts on a vehicle. (Better yet go to Vegas and get some high octane)
3 Hand wash clothes, 4 save rainwater, 5 turn the sheets and pillow cases in side out and extend that time you need to wash them. lol I like this blog
6 brew your own beer, it can also be used as barter.

Anyone have any ideas on how to make home made toilet paper?

172 Daniel May 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

* Buy bar mops and cloth napkins instead of paper towels and paper napkins.
* Make your own chicken / beef / vegetable stock (it tastes better, too)
* Buy beans, grains, etc. in bulk at a health foods store
* Stock up on dry goods like pasta when they go on sale
* Barter: Trade your talents and / or stuff you don’t use anymore in exchange for what you need currently (bonus: it’s much more social than just buying goods & services)

173 Daniel May 26, 2011 at 11:14 am

Another one — take highways instead of interstates whenever practical: the lower speed limits mean better gas mileage (plus better scenery and fewer semi-trucks to boot)

174 Tasha May 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

Wow! So many good ideas here. I’m only going to add a couple of things. For one, I’m really fond of using mason jars for lots of different purposes such as vases, storing office supplies (I store thumbtacks, staples, rubberbands, and paperclips in them), and of course, they are good for canning, but unfortunately, I’m not there just yet!

Another thing, I only shower every other day. I have an office job and unless I do strenuous exercise or a lot of gardening, I’m fine to shower every other day. I also try to spend no more than fifteen minutes in the shower in order to conserve water.

I don’t know that this next suggestion applies to guys, but I have long hair and instead of drying it all the way (which uses lots of electricity) I only dry my hair halfway and then let it air dry. It works for me.

Thanks, again, for all these great suggestions. Keep ‘em coming!

175 Doug May 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I belong to a gym a few blocks from work. I shower at the gym on the way to work, even on mornings when I don’t have time to exercise. Showers at home add to my power bill. Showers at the gym do not add to my gym fee.

176 Alan Taylor November 20, 2012 at 12:52 am

Regarding #38 (growing your own vegetables) – you *can* grow things in an apartment!

You can even re-use a pallet from a local store, and do a vertical garden. Great manly DIY as well.

As for shooting – the saying goes “If you re-load/handload, you don’t save any money, but you can shoot twice as much!”

- Alan

177 George November 25, 2012 at 9:58 am

First clear your loans. From my experience I can say, there are smart financial calculators which show you in detail how to payoff any type of loan early. The calculator which I use is ” Smart Loan Calculator Pro ” which is available for iPhone / iPad. It is awesome. It is not for one time. It is life time use smart calculator. Give it a try. I guarantee, you would thank me after you download and check it. After checking it, I realized how easy to payoff any type of loan early.

178 michele January 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Great post and wonderful ideas! I would like to add, about buying things like diapers and wipes in bulk to save…which is a great idea…that you can make your own wipes…all kinds. I make baby wipes, glass cleaning, bleach, and hand sanitizing ones. A quick for instance: Baby Wipes: Cut a roll of quality paper towels in half in the middle of the roll (to make 2 short rolls). IT is important to use something like Viva or Pro Shop towels (for garages and such) for wipes as the cheaper ones disintegrate). In a clean Folger’s coffee tub, add 2 cups hot water, 2 TBS baby oil, baby lotion, or coconut oil, 2 TBS baby wash….stir with whisk or add lid and shake. Place 1 of the half rolls of paper towel cut side down into tub…allow to soak up solution. Remove cardbaord and pull end of middle most roll to ‘start’ the roll. Cut an X in top of the Folger’s tub and feed the first end of the towel through. Pull out like other ‘store bought’ wipes. Look online for bleach, glass, and hand sanitizing versions of this!!

179 Rob February 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I absolutely love shooting, and used to shoot competitively. As previously mentioned, rimfire (.22 LR, in this instance) will save you money at the range. My rule of thumb when shooting is to hit the local range on a “date night” deal which essentially gives me a free lane rental and free dinner for what I would pay for the box of .45 ammo I would shoot, and once I’ve finished that box I switch to .22 LR. I bought a Ruger Mark III a couple years back, and within three months I had saved more in ammunition costs than I spent on the gun, all while being able to do more shooting when at the range, and the cheap .22 LR ammo has allowed me to improve as a shot in the process. From those I’ve talked to, the Ruger Mark III 22/45 and the Browning Buckmark are both affordable and almost all owners are more than pleased with them.

The other thing I will do with major purchases is research them obsessively before buying. In so doing, I often learn what other people do and don’t like with them, learn more about what features may be worth the money and what features may be nothing more than a gimmick to attract buyers. Furthermore, I find that more often than not I will find a good deal on the object if I am patient enough. Case in point, the last two firearms that I have purchased have been described as ranging from, “a great deal” to “you stole that thing!” because I researched obsessively, which meant that when I saw that deal, I was confident enough to jump on it.

If you decide to garden, consider buying seeds for plants such as tomato and sprouting them yourself. One of my professors in college did genetics research on plants, so she would sprout tomato and watermelon plants, among others, under the lights with her research plants. She saved a ton of money, as did all the other faculty she gave sprouted plants.

Here’s another great one, especially in the South. Get up early on Friday and hit up a couple yard sales on the way to work. Between a couch a family member gave me, a chair I bought, an end table, a coffee table, and a TV stand, my entire living room in my apartment was furnished for under $50. On top of that, my great-grandmother’s dining room table was gathering dust in a storage building, so I got it, stripped the paint, and stained it myself. Between the table and six chairs (totaling roughly $20 in expenditures), I have a dining room set that looks to have cost $600 and will probably outlast me.

Another manly money saver my Dad employs is a wood stove. He cuts, hauls, and splits his own firewood. Mom suggested he switch to a wood pellet stove and he answered that cutting the wood was “the best exercise I get!”

180 Alex April 6, 2013 at 2:33 am

I would add using a clothesline to washing your own clothes. Leaving your wet clothes on a cheap paracord string leaves them very fresh. Living in Los Angeles, I am amazed at the amount of people who can afford cars, and when I mean cars, I mean slow city gas mileage, high gas prices, high insurance, etc. I’m fortunate to live near Santa Monica and commuting on bicycle is SO cheap. I bought a geared bicycle that can last a lifetime with care for 400$. Its good exercise and I can listen to NPR while on the go. Id like to see a well researched chart showing the things we spend most money on that aren’t nessesary

181 Bruce Williamson April 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Lot’s of good advice except it is illegal in some states to cost your car in neutral. Not saying don’t do it as you’ll probably not get caught. I sometimes do since I drive only manual transmission vehicles. Just be aware that’s it’s not always legal.

182 Marcus April 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I save cash on buying the Tupperware type food storage containers by saving my glass jars with the lids and storing food in them. Plastic leaches chemicals into the food and when they get old you have to throw them away. Glass never wears out and no chemicals get into my food and if I need to store large amounts of something like marinnara sauce, I get the large pyrex bowls.

183 Ed M April 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Change your own car lights (headlights, brake lights, etc.)! I just went to the mechanic for a few repairs on my car and he quoted me $100 to replace 2 brake lights. I drove down the street, bought the two bulbs for $3.99 and spent 5 minutes replacing them myself (I’m no car expert, it’s really easy)!

184 Casey April 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

1. Get a CapitalOne 360 Checking account (Formerly ING)
This account is online-only banking and has no fees and no minimum balance. If you overdraft your account by $3, and you put the money back the next day, you will pay 12% APR (about 1 cent). I use this account as my primary bank for paying bills and doing majority of my transactions. I also have a Bank of America account (due to their ubiquity) that I keep $300 in for spending money, and for when I need to deposit cash.

2) Pay off your debt. Its so expensive and a complete waste of money to pay interest on a depreciating asset.

3) Hypermiling is stupid, and you’re going to put more wear and tear on your car restarting the engine every traffic light. Fuel-injection engines completely shut off fuel delivery when you remove your foot from the gas, so shifting into neutral will use MORE gas than keeping it in drive. If you have a very old carbureted engine, your suggestion would be correct.

4) Use CFLs over LEDs when it makes sense (use either over incandescents). CFLs have a much faster payback period than LEDs. You save roughly $5/month in electric costs for every 60 Watt light bulb you replace with a 13-Watt CFL (assuming the light is on for 12 hours/day).

185 bunnygrrly April 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

For me, one of the best things I can do to help my budget (and reduce my environmental impact!) is to produce my own food- not just as in gardening, but as in meat! Store meat is expensive, and is usually full of all kinds of garbage chemicals. Plus, 90% of the meat Americans consume is factory farmed- bad for our health, horrid for animal husbandry, detrimental to the environment.

Responsible hunting is a great source of ethical, sustainable, healthy meat- and not just deer! Squirrels are everywhere, healthy, tasty. In the absence of adequate predator populations, hunting actually helps the surviving prey animals have longer, healthier lives- less overpopulation, more food to go around.

Also, if you have the space, it is not that hard and doesn’t take a majorly huge investment to get started on raising some smaller food animals yourself. Even people in cities now are raising backyard chickens, pygmy goats and rabbits (check your local ordinances.) I *highly* recommend breeding meat rabbits. The investment and space required are modest, and the return on investment is fantastic! Not only do rabbits reproduce profusely and grow to butchering weight in only 2-3 months, but the feed conversion rate is great- for the exact same amount of feed, a rabbit will produce 6 lbs of meat to every 1 pound a steer produces. Their meat is all-white, delicately flavored and can be cooked similarly to pork/chicken/turkey. Plus WAY less fat and more protein than beef, pork or chicken! Plus you get the added benefit of a rewarding hobby. You can even breed pedigreed, show-quality rabbits as I do.

186 Brian April 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm

$20 a carton? When they were that price there was no such thing as the internet…more like $70/carton now. Wish my wife would quit…

187 Kim July 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I use the cellophane from cereal boxes to put my lunch in for work instead of buying baggies you can also use them to bake with.

188 Marios August 10, 2013 at 4:54 am

Cut your mobile Internet monthly fee right away! Most places nowadays offer free Wi-Fi with much higher speed than the 3G networks. It will save you A LOT of money, guaranteed!

189 Deanna Okuley August 24, 2013 at 1:26 am

I am a keen letter writer, and would like to know if there is anyhow of creating a letter writing community through this. Creative letter writers writing to creative letter writers the world over. I’ll reply to all those who wish to write and not just receive. 51 Lavender Sweep, London SW11 1DY. England

190 ZDP August 27, 2013 at 12:04 am

Use dish soap to wash clothes. Regular laundry detergent is ridiculously overpriced considering you can get 30 or more loads out of a 99 cent bottle of Ajax. I use about a half tablespoon per load. Your clothes might not smell “April fresh” afterward, but they’ll get clean.

191 Gerarde September 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

On point 12 about the hotel rooms, and related to the point about reducing the cost of your hobbies. I purchased my ski pass for this season just past (I’m in the southern hemisphere) during a promotional period that added a free night to a hotel stay within limitations.

I had the astounding luck of convincing the lady on the other end of the phone to allow me to use my free night as the only night. This meant nobody was out of pocket for accomodation or fuel costs for coming back to ski the next day.

Needless to say, this came back on me a hundred fold. My drinks all got paid for and my dinner was shouted at an all you can eat buffet.

192 Lanell Boldt December 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

You can stop impulse shopping. You can eat meals at home…Stop bottled water. Cut out all frivolous spending. Take faster showers. Don’t let water run when you’re using it intermittently. Cut off cable and house phone. Don’t buy a new house if you owe only 4 more years on one you have….Don’t buy new car.

193 Rick December 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm

This is a great list of ideas for saving money! If everyone did this we wouldn’t be a country full of debt.

194 Paul January 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm

A lot of good info here. Does everything work for everybody all the time? Of course not. Use what you can or want, and then move on. The important thing is to develop the mindset. One thing I do in the winter is plug up the shower drain and let the water release it’s heat into the house instead of warming the sewer. Then drain when room temp. Another is, if it is at all possible, ride a bicycle. A bicycle is probably the best thing you can do for your budget/environment. Get one off CraigsList for $50-$75 and learn to do the simple maintenance yourself. Learn to cook! A homemade pizza and a store bought bottle of wine will cost $8-$15 instead of $50-$75 and almost guaranteed to get you laid. I ask you, is there a better deal than THAT??

195 Global Village Idiot January 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

A wealth of money-saving tips can be found in the book “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dasczyzyn. You can probably find it through your community’s library system.

More important than the tips, however, is the THINKING. Her advice is “Save money on the things you MUST buy, so you’ll have more for the things you WANT to buy.” It’s an inversion in the normal way of doing things.

I find some cheaper alternatives in unlikely places. For example, Chinatown in Chicago is on my way home from my Reserve drills. I’ve begun to start cooking Chinese meals for my daughter and me (she got me a wok for Christmas out of enlightened self-interest). I can get many of the ingredients at the grocery store in Chinatown for much less than at my local supermarket, if they even carry the thing at all.

I’ve also found that stores which cater to largely non-native communities have some everyday items much cheaper. For example, olive oil bought by the 3-liter jerrycan is much less than even “cheap” vegetable oil at a grocery store.

I like tea, and I’ve found that buying it in bulk – as opposed to bags – makes better-tasting tea for less per-ounce than the bags. has vendors who sell by the kilogram.

Lastly, I make my own “Gatorade.” It’s basically Kool-Aid, salt, “lite-salt” and a bit of lemon juice. I’ve gone from more than a dollar-a-quart to under 20c a quart (supermarkets discount Kool-aid packets in winter). There are many recipes online.

196 James Shaffer February 3, 2014 at 5:51 pm

While I understand the value and necessity of saving for retirement/rainy days, etc. I feel like everyone is losing sight that the future is guaranteed to no one. I’m not advocating running up copious amounts of debt with no intention of paying it back, but denying yourself joys in life while you are young and vibrant, in order to potentially have “fun” when you are in your later years, really seems like a lot to trade off.

197 James Abel March 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm

James Shaffer – I don’t believe the point of this article is to be spartan in your existence. I think it was meant to keep people as independant as possible, not being eaten alive by debt (credit cards, loans, etc…) That way, when you do want to have fun or buy something you really want, you don’t have to worry about stressing out about being able to afford it.

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