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 }

1 liam o'malley April 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm

A big one I don’t see up here is bartering. I work in a large town/small city with a lot of locally owned small businesses. I work in a cigar shop and I get a certain value in free cigars every day, and a sizeable discount. I keep track of what customers work where, and what they smoke, by doing that I get free haircuts, food, alcohol, and entertainment (comedy clubs mainly) by putting cigars I didn’t pay for into the hand of someone who particularly likes them.
Its applicable to nearly any business, and you can get lots of discounts or free stuff by having a hookup for anything, no matter how inconsequential, that people may want.

2 Eddie April 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

With your hobby of shooting, and using a .357 mag there are several ways to make this one cheaper in the long run anyway; you can safely fire 38 special in a 357 mag, reload your own bullets, or get a similar 22lr. Granted there are disadvantages to each one of them; if your main use for the weapon is self defence, not be used to the recoil is one and you need to clean it alittle differently than if you just fired 357 mags in there, and with reloading or getting a 22lr the start up cost can be higher than you want to think about.
I will disagee with your idea of getting rid of your land line if you have a cell phone. Yes, it does save you money, however that land line is less likely to go out when the problems happen and you need it, There are places where a cell phone is touch and go at best. plus what about all the add on that are aviable for a cell phone nowdays, those add up but are they needed.

3 Erik April 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Don’t try hypermiling on the streets. It’s NOT safe. These are techniques built on closed courses, and for darn sure will get you in an accident.

4 Dene April 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Skincare. Lately I’ve been using items I already have around the house to moisturize and scrub. Use extra virgin olive and coconut oils for night moisturizing on face and also great for body. Brown sugar is great for face and body scrub. Also plain baking soda used as scrub and then let dry as a mask. Crushed up aspirin and plain yogurt mixed together as a mask is awesome. Use honey to wash your face and dab onto blemishes. There is so much info on the net about natural skincare. You save money, tons actually. AND your not using weird chemicals on your face.

5 Andrew April 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Great post.

Cigarettes in Canada are about $80 per carton last time I checked.

Some other hints:

– Purchase meat via “discard” animals, like bull calves at a dairy farm or used egg hens sold for stewing. Or acquire confiscated game from conservation offices.

– The “Ethnic” isle in a supermarket will often have sweet deals and high quality.

– Cheaper booze isn’t always nasty. Shop around. One good pint is better than two bad pints.

– Learn to hunt and fish locally.

– In your garden, don’t waste time growing cheap veggies — potatoes are $.50 per lb. Grow expensive stuff where you can sell the excess.

– Learn to forage, again for stuff that can be sold: mushrooms, nopales, etc.

– If you’re on a coast, find out ways of purchasing by-catch for pennies: octopus during prawn season, etc. Then learn to eat it.

– As a general rule, money is a great substitute for skill and vice versa.

6 Ryan April 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm

What’s striking to me about this post is how easily it connects with advertisements from, what I think are, the mid-20th century. I can’t help thinking that there’s a link between a generation that lived through, or immediately after, the depression and spending wisely.

7 Carter April 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm

This is one I’m going to have to spend some time with. Lots of good tips. Growing your own food is a big one as long as you don’t put too much money into it up front. Compost your leaves and grass clippings to save on fertilizer for your garden.

And I can’t wait to read the upcoming ‘haggle’ post. I got hooked on haggling in China where almost nothing has price tags as it does here in the US. Nearly everything is negotiable there and once you start thinking about it, many more things are negotiable here than you think.

8 Audie April 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

On item 20: Check out

The arm strop sounds like bad advice to me.

9 Brian April 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I’m about to graduate from university, but I intend to milk this frugal trick as long as possible. For magazines like Bloomberg Businessweek and The Economist, find a student (if you aren’t one) who can get you access to the discounted subscription price. For example, the student subscription to The Economist is 50% cheaper than the normal subscription price.

10 Darcy April 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I installed a 3 barrel rain water system, free barrels, free water for the garden and yard. We also line dry our clothes until almost dry, then put them in the dryer.

11 Erik April 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Sure, if you like the lack of depth and cliche business solutions without examining the data that is The Economist, go right ahead. The Economist would flunk most Economics classes.

12 Ed Bear April 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Re: gun shooting expense. You can resize and reload the brass cartridges for substantial savings. Back when I was still shooting regularly, I saved a bundle on .45 brass etc. that way.

13 Morris April 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Some more cost savings things that we do.

1. Don’t flush toilet unless you do #2. Saves water and the septic tank.
2. Don’t buy paper towels. Use newspaper to clean windows, as a blotter for oil when frying, etc.
3. Buy terry cloth hand towels at thrift store for drying hands and dishes, for misc. cleaning, etc.
4. Don’t buy paper napkins, use cloth. Cloth cleans better and you can reuse the same cloth napkin for breakfast, lunch and supper before washing.
5. Use a clothes line. – saves electricity and wear and tear on dryer
6. Park the car on Friday and don’t get in it until Monday. Get to know your neighbors and have a card game at your house.
7. Don’t buy trash bags, reuse the plastic grocery bags, compost all veggie scraps, and recycle everything you can.
8. Use only 1/2 the amount of detergent in the dish washer that it calls for. The dishes will come out clean with 1/2 the amount of detergent.
9. Measure carefully or use less detergent in your washing machine too. Make sure to pre-treat stains.

14 Chris April 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Andrew is way right on the “ethnic” aisle at the grocery. Salsa in the chip section will cost double than salsa in the Mexican section. Curry powder in a bottle in the spice section will cost upwards of 5x that in the big bags in the Indian section.

You have to pay attention!

15 Mark April 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Great post, Brett! Lots of good tips and great tie-in with the old war posters!

I’d be careful about the stropping the disposable razor on your arm. Aside from the obvious, stropping works on a straight-edge because you can align both sides of the blade to be straight again. You only get one side of the blade on a disposable or cartridge. You might get some more mileage out of stropping one side of the blades on a disposable, but I wouldn’t chance it.

Besides, there’s plenty of savings to be had by going to a safety razor. In metro DC, safety razor blades are (at the most) $4 for 10 blades. That’s a ton more shaves per dollar than a disposable or cartridge.

16 John April 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Great post, I really liked part about growing your own; and it also never occurred to me about filling your freezer. But it is so obvious! I made a tab for all the interesting links that you posted and will start going through them.

P.S. Rediscovering AoM after first stumbling upon it 8 months ago; not sure why I haven’t been coming to read since then. But I think I’m back on the bandwagon! :)

@Erik – Hypermilling is safe on the streets (I rarely off-road in my car) if you put time into learning the proper method, the proper place, and proper time. Practise the techniques and perfect them before you hop onto a highway or drive around your city.

17 roo2 April 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Here’s the best advise I’ve ever heard on money: A dollar isn’t worth anything if it isn’t worth anything. Meaning, a dollar is an absolutely terrible vehicle of savings and there is no reason to have any more of it than absolutely necessary. It loses value everyday and has been since 1913 (around 95% of it’s purchasing power).

Obviously, I don’t spend frivolously either, so I change my dollars into something that is actually worth something. After I pay my bills and take my petty cash for the pay period, I have a substantial percentage left that I convert to silver or gold. I know that an ounce of gold will always buy me the same amount of goods no matter what time period, and in inflationary times (such as these) its purchasing power actually increases. Don’t believe me? You can check food, gas, housing, college tuition and more all priced in gold here:

Fiat currency is decidedly NOT manly.

18 Jay April 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Buy some webcams and place them in critical locations around your house. Get some free/cheap motion detection software and set it up to alert you and play alarm sounds. Voila, cheap home security system!

19 Chad April 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Here are a few more…

* Hunt and forage. I usually have enough meat in the freezer to last my family most of the year. I use a long bow to hunt, and past the initial investment, it is cheap to shoot and a great hobby.

* Buy local food. What I do not grow myself I buy locally. If a farmer has a bumper crop of a particular item, they will part with it in bulk for cheep. Buying local is also good on many other levels.

* Learn to can food. Buy in bulk when something is available and preserve all you can manage. Even cheaper if you grow your own.

* Learn to brew. If you like beer (like I do) it is way cheaper (and taste better) to brew your own. Ingredients are about $35 and makes 2 cases (48 bottles, or 5 gallons in a keg). That is $0.73 cents a bottle/glass. It taste way better than anything remotely that cheep at the store.

* Make your own laundry detergent. This is easy and saves my family several hundred dollars every year.

20 L.J. Acker April 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

This is a great article full of good ideas and suggestions for saving money! My husband and I decided to live without cars since we left the States and it saved us thousands. I’m going to repost this on twitter. Thank you :)

21 Jared April 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm

On the cigs, I live in the great state of Alabama and it was about $40 a carton here. I’m sure glad I quit 4 months ago.

Another thing on the saving front is just to have a jar where you put your change. That $0.35 that otherwise would’ve disappeared seems to reproduce in the old water jug in my house.

22 Vincent Barr April 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm

While this may not be a way to save money, it is a way of generating it, however tedious:

Basically, use a rewards card to purchase US coin from the government mint with no shipping fees. Then, deposit it to your bank account and use turn the rewards into cash.


23 David Lingle April 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Get a copy of “No second Place Winner”, by Bill Jordan. He show how to use wax to make bullets that you can use inside. He used them when doing exhibitions.

I tried them and they work.


24 jg April 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Save water, shower with your wife.

25 Peregrin April 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I really agree that the DIY attitude can save a lot of money. I’m not much of a handyman, but I attempt to do something myself whenever possible. Our clothes dryer kept making a strange noise and shutting off midway though the cycle, so we first asked a repairman if it was even worth it getting it fixed. He said it’d be overall cheaper to buy a new one than for him to work on ours (though we both agreed that it was the motor having worn out, thus overheating and shutting off). Other repairmen said the same thing. We then priced a real barebones clothes dryer (new) at a local appliance store for like $278 ($100 cheaper than the exact same dryer at Lowes – side note: shop around). Finally, before shelling out that amount of money, I decided to price buying this exact dryer motor online, and I found it selling for less than $120 shipped. Turns out that it was quite simple to take the dryer apart and replace the motor. It took about 1 hour total to repair. We saved over $150 ($250 if we had bought the first one we saw at Lowes). The dryer works like new, and the wife was both happy and proud (which makes one feel manly). DIY is the way to go.

26 Logan Butler April 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Something to be said about home energy usage would be to buy a tankless water heater. You don’t have to worry near as much about insulation, you use only the water you need when you need it, plus you actually get a tax break for owning one.

27 Michelle April 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm

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

Or print to PDF using free software like CutePDF! I’m a big fan of this, especially at work. I’ve probably saved reams and reams of paper this way.

28 Strong Man April 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

What about probably the #1 expense? Your house.

Living in a house that is smaller and less expensive than you can afford. With some skills, determination, and grit, you can buy a fixer-upper and move in quite cheaply–especially with so many bargains on the market still.

Further, if you haven’t refinanced in the past year or so, you probably should–you can save a boatload by lowering your rates.

Hobbies like backpacking, hiking, gardening can be a blast and are literally dirt cheap.

29 Stewart Scott April 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Hi Buddeh,

Awesome list – looking to apply a number, thought I’d add:

1 Skype – why pay any phonebills at all? Do not know about US pricing, but I (with international calls) went from £300/month (Just under $500) to £10/month. Calls between Skype users are free, works on Smart-Phones so long as you’ve got Wifi Access, totally free.

2 Loved the Open-Source idea; if you need to set up a number of computers – try Linux, free and largely better. (Losing MS office stung me too much, but it’s probably on computers in the library? (is here…usually… do not know about US)

3. If smoking is too hard to give up, either roll your own (UK – £6/20 vs £5 (counting papers, filters) for 40-60 diameter dependant)

4. Pita-Breads with salad – lunch for under a dollar (£0.20 per filled-pita – max)

5. Under-Clock your CPU, GPU and anything else possible – less power usage (99% certain) and most apps don’t exactly need to gun either of the components

6. Furthering you suggestion about unplugging appliances – here we have a device that plugs into the mains, and prevents this issue, could prolly build your own out of base components if you wanted.

7. Don’t buy pre-mixed sauces (for meats, etc) – Cream, onions, mushrooms and maybe a pot of garlic + whatever herbs fit (herbs are very hard to get wrong, practically anything works so long as you use your nose)

8. Abuse thermodynamics where you can. My dad has a shed full of servers, when back from holiday – I get my personal space out there. Poor and far too specific example I know – but I’m sure you bright chaps will think of something.

That’s all for now – hope this helps.

Ps. Been following this for a while, half-expected it to fizzle; damned good work – will aim to contribute more.

30 Matthew Shea April 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm

LibreOffice is a better choice than OpenOffice. It has a much more active development team, so it will be updated more frequently. LibreOffice is a branch of OpenOffice.

The story:
Oracle acquired rights to OpenOffice, development team jumped ship, took the open source code and started LibreOffice.
OpenOffice’s dev team is gone.
Oracle gives OpenOffice back. No one wants it because they have LibreOffice

31 Kris April 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm

A great video about what used car frugality can get you, from Dave Ramsey:

32 Mike M. April 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm

With regard to saving money shooting, there are several approaches.

First, reload centerfire cartridges. If you shoot a lot, buy a bullet mold and melting pot, make your own.

Second, buy ammunition in bulk…and usually online. Targets, too.

Third, switch to .22s. Or black powder. Or air rifle/pistol. You can buy a tin of 500 match-grade pellets (by which I mean good enough for the Olympics) for $11 if you buy in bulk.

Fourth, work on accuracy. A lot of people simply blaze away, turning money into noise. Hone your skills to make one perfect shot. It’s cheaper.

33 Joe @ Not Your Average Joe April 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Awesome post, as usual. My tip, as always, is live “old school”. Live and spend like your grandparents used to. Supplement that with resisting the pressure of advertising and the modern American lifestyle. ‘Nuff said.

34 Sue J April 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

You don’t even mention looking for cheaper alternatives to a car, such as a bicycle or mass, for some trips. Methinks that for all the *talk* about consuming less, the idea of working the body to get places is “beneath” the manly man, eh??? Oh, but bicycling also provides that non-gym exercise…

35 Kyle April 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm

You advice is to quit smoking, but not coffee? Folks I know spend way more than they’d like to admit on their daily coffee or energy drinks (usually the big cans of Monster). Cutting that habit and substituting water will improve your health and leave you with quite a bit of extra cash at the end of the week.

36 Smerf April 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm

My secret for big ticket items that I want, but don’t necessarily need? Before I can buy it, I have to save up double the cost, then shuffle half of it over to my long-term savings; additionally, I have to have enough money on top of that in my checking account to fully pay my bills through at least the next paycheck.

When it comes to the credit card, I pay it every paycheck. When it comes to student loads, I pay some each check, as well.

37 Stephanie April 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Cloth Diaper your babies! If you start out early with your little one, you will save thousands over disposables. Cloth diapered babies also toilet train faster overall, and have far fewer episodes of diaper rash. Check into the advances – it’s really quite easy! Besides, after you’re done with the diapers, the pre-folds make excellent dust and shop rags. My grandmother just wore her last one out (dusting and cleaning) 58 years, and diapering four boys.

38 ced April 27, 2011 at 10:59 pm

make your own laundry/ dishwasher detergent

39 Calvin April 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I definitely have to agree with the idea of using cash/envelope system. I tried doing a virtual envelope system where I just kept track of my expendatures on my phone… and it was just too easy to spend money. Spending cash can hurt more which means you will think twice about spending it. Another thing with the envelope system, leave the envelopes at home and take only the cash with you that you are going to need, that way you will be less inclined to impulse spend.

Also… definitely read Dave Ramsey’s book, or take his Financial Peace University course (many churches offer this course).

40 Brandon April 28, 2011 at 12:05 am

The only thing I don’t really do on this list is the bulbs…I use to buy CFL until I found out that they all contain high levels of mercury and require special methods of disposal as not to harm the environment, not to mention that no CFL bulb is produced in America. So I just think to normal bulbs, warmer glow, and environmentally friendly.

41 J Richard MB April 28, 2011 at 12:18 am

One word. Torrenting. Get movies, music, books on tape, or programs free of charge. I use utorrent and This will save you a small fortune in your entertainment budget.

42 Andrew April 28, 2011 at 12:44 am

I was in Wal-Mart a few weeks ago looking for a water bottle for work, but I opted against it since the plastic Evian bottle I paid $1 made more sense. It will never break, it’s easy to clean and fits into my bag better than one of those 750 ml metal containers. If I had put that bottle into recycling a business will clean it and resell it to the next person, which is eventually you. That’s what they do with beer bottles. Cut out that process and reuse it yourself.

You can reuse yogurt and margarine containers, jars and cookie tins too.

43 Adam Welker April 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

#62.) I’m an architecture grad student, and we recently finished up some lighting research so I thought I’d chime in on this one… Soon, the US will be joining the rest of the world and outlawing the production of highly inefficient incandescent lightbulbs. Did you know that around 60-80% of the electricity used to light an incandescent is lost as heat? They don’t call them “hot-wire-in-a-bottle” for nothing!

You can get the same “warm glow” from CFL and LED bulbs, you just have to know what to buy. Look for bulbs with a lower K rating-this is the color temperature of the bulb. Higher numbers (5000K) are cool colored lights. You’d normally find these in places with a more modern architecture style. They give you bright light, but with a cold, blue colored, sterile feeling. Look for CFLs with a lower K rating to get the warm glow light for your home (2700-3300K is equivalent to incandescent).

The average consumer usually isn’t aware of this, and they just buy whatever’s cheapest. Then when they get home, they’re annoyed by the blue light and that’s how CFLs get the bad rap. I know GE is working on this-they color code their packaging in reds, oranges, yellows, greens and blues.

44 David Alston April 28, 2011 at 1:11 am

Point 56: Fill milk bottles 85% with water ;)

45 Brian April 28, 2011 at 1:36 am

Great article. I am currently repaying many a student loan, and even though I already practice many of these methods already, it’s great to see other ideas and confirm that what I’m doing is the right step toward quick debt repayment.

I did want to comment on home gardening though – it’s not impossible in an apartment. As long as you have a window that gets sunlight more than a couple hours a day, you should be able to grow a small garden. I have seen methods for growing potatoes indoors and I have personally grown many herbs that can be used fresh or dried. Have you seen the price of spices in the grocery? The good stuff is around $5.00 for a small jar of basil or thyme. Also imagine the satisfaction of filling jars with your own organic, homegrown and dried herbs.

I would also advise that if you have the ability to put small planter boxes on a balcony or porch that gets a bit of light – do it! Even if you’re in an apartment! My wife and I have a small 12×12 plot in a community garden in our apartment complex and we are consistently picking produce from our plot, day in and day out. What really makes a difference here is knowing what grows well in your area. Stick with those fruits and vegetables and get creative using them. You’ll have more produce and the return on your investment will be greater.

Thanks again for the great article!

46 Leo April 28, 2011 at 2:38 am

Just a quick note on the part about overdraft protection. I have an excellent bank, Ally Bank, which is online-only but has the best rates and fees I’ve seen anywhere and really good 24/7 customer service online and off to boot. A lot of banks will do as you said and charge money as a “transfer fee” if you have overdraft protection from your savings account or even sometimes to get the line of credit for overdraft protection. Ally only lets you do the transfer from savings, and they don’t charge a thing for that and the MAXIMUM daily fee they charge if you go overdraft is $9. After being with BofA for so long, they made me a very happy customer.

Of course the best solution to what I just mentioned is what I’m working for in my post-college life working at a new-ish job and building up financial stability: Pay off all manageable debt as soon as possible, live frugally, and build a good savings up because you never know when you’ll need it.

47 Stan April 28, 2011 at 2:59 am

Great post Brett & Kate, and it really applies your “best of the old days” theme. I have a few ideas to add:
*If your laser printer is starting to fade, you can stretch the toner by pulling out the cartridge and knocking/shaking it. That’ll make it print dark awhile longer.
*Craigslist is a great resource for all sorts of discretionary, durable goods if you don’t mind buying used and have the knowledge to distinguish a bargain from a scam.
*Keeping my “play dough” in a cash envelope helps me keep track of what I have left and helps me control my spending.
*Recipes abound for simple and inexpensive alternatives to brand-name cleaning products. Most of them involve vinegar, baking soda, or ammonia which can be purchased cheap in bulk at the hardware store.

48 Britalian April 28, 2011 at 5:29 am


Cannot agree with ditching the landline. You wouldn’t want to be at the behest of cellphone reception or battery life when your Mum has fallen down the stairs.

Also, you underestimate the cost and ease of running a straight razor. The razor itself is expensive, the sharpening stones are expensive and after two years of returning to mine on and off, I have never got it sharp enough to actually use, despite paying extra for it to be sharpened professionally.

Not to mention the time cost of all the sharpening.

Having said that, a lot of these are down to a little planning and spending a little time to do things properly.

Which is always good advice.

49 Joey April 28, 2011 at 5:31 am

I dont know if anyone mentioned this or not, but in regards to ATM fees, you can always go to a Walgreens/CVS, buy a pack of gum for 60 cents, and click the cash back option. This trick has saved me so much in ATM fees. A lot of liquor and other stores open late have this option, too, so it works when you’re heading out for a night on the town. And the gum wont hurt, either.

50 N April 28, 2011 at 5:35 am

Stopping subscription to newspapers and magazines works pretty well. The small expense for newspapers adds up to quite a lot for a full year. You can easily set up google alerts for the news *you* want.

51 Nick April 28, 2011 at 6:03 am

Another big saver in transportation is to ride a bike to work if you can. It is great exercise and saves a ton of money. If you cannot ride to work, ride it to the grocery store or elsewhere. Just make sure you are aware of the bicycle traffic laws in your city.

52 Daveareeno April 28, 2011 at 6:18 am

Cutting your car off at stop lights is not economical. It takes more gas to restart than to let idle.

53 Steven Sugerman April 28, 2011 at 6:23 am

Great article but when was it written? A carton of cigarettes are $20 +? Maybe when I was a teenager about 25 years ago…………

54 Ron April 28, 2011 at 6:45 am

Good tips for saving, but how about an article on how to make that savings grow? It’s useless to live frugally and save $1000/year only to stick it in a regular savings account drawing 1% interest (if you’re lucky). Warren Buffet didn’t make billions by carpooling and wrapping his water heater. He figured out how to make his money grow and work for him!

55 Sean Grogan April 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

Want a new computer and have patience? Sometimes its cheaper to build your own.

56 Jon April 28, 2011 at 7:33 am

My wife an I have practiced many of these suggestions for years. Also, we took the Dave Ramsay Financial Peace course and that just clarified things for us. We are very frugal and it has paid off. I am a teacher and she is a nurse, so we are not exactly filthy rich. However, because we practice frugality, we have been able to travel quite a bit, establish an emergency fund, and live quite comfortably. Who needs a big screen TV, brand new car, etc? We live in a nice house that we have renovated over a few years (again very frugally), and our mortgage is about half of what it could be because we have refinanced and consolidated loans at the right times. All great advice, Bret. Thanks.

57 carl April 28, 2011 at 7:34 am


58 Zach April 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

This was a truly excellent post! You can save money on your handgun hobby by buying ammunition in bulk, just like soap. Since you’ve purchased a .357 magnum (it’s good to buy guns chambered in popular cartridges so you can find a wide variety of ammunition at various prices) you can shoot .38 wadcutters out of it at the range as well. At places like Sportsman’s Guide, you can get 1,000 rounds of .38 Special for roughly $350. Another alternative is to invest in a basic reloading kit and start making your own ammo. If you’re serious about the hobby and shoot a lot, then a reloading kit will pay for itself over time and will significantly reduce your “per use” cost of shooting.

Another option would be to buy a pistol chambered in .22 rimfire. You can build the marksmanship skills you need with a .22 LR, and the ammo is SO much cheaper! 2,500 rounds for $100. A Browning Buckmark, Ruger Mark III, or even a single action Ruger Single Six are all affordable options. You can find them for less than $300 if you shop around.

59 Will April 28, 2011 at 9:17 am

One small caveat: people in my IT department point out that a new printer cartridge is cheaper than a new printer, which is what you’ll need if a refilled cartridge leaks.

…and another thought: focus on the big things. Getting a cheaper place is a lot better for the budget than eating out less, because rent is a relatively large expense. Using the clothesline is a better power saver than unplugging the cell phone charger, because the charger eats up a trickle of power but the dryer is a real hog. Get a sense of what’s biggest, and work to reduce that first.

Also, what I did: married someone who knows about sales! We went to Sam’s Club and she said, “This would be a good deal if you didn’t find things on sale. But we’d spend *more* money for the same things if we came here.”

60 Heath Holden April 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

I wish cigarettes were $20 a carton. Double that for me & quadruple it for large cities.

61 Curt April 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

Great post! I am happy to see I already do most of these. I am sad to say that I do have a leased vehicle. Once I get myself out of that mess, I will never get back in! If anyone is looking into leasing a vehicle….stop now! Check into it a bit more and maybe look at the Dave Ramsey video on how to drive free cars for life! Great advice though, thanks for all you do.

62 Michael Martel April 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

Lot’s of great suggestions. If you are looking for a system to manage your money and create less stress for yourself and your family I would recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course. It isn’t easy but will eliminate debt.

63 John McLaughlin April 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

Personal Experience on the entertainment front:

Cable+Internet: $135/mo
Internet+Netflix Instant: $45+$8=$53

Plus, if you really need the current shows, you can opt for Hulu+ which is another $8.

Also, one thing I didn’t see in your Utilities list is a Programmable Thermostat. At about $30, this gem of a product can significantly reduce your utilities by reducing your electricity usage when you aren’t home. And if paying $30 isn’t your cup of tea, you can just turn the thermostat up when you leave and down when you get back (or vice versa in the winter).

64 William April 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

Hey im from Tulsa to! Nice to see some classy people for good ol oklahoma

65 Trevor April 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

Putting your vehicle in neutral while moving is illegal in California. Chances are it’s illegal in your state too, make sure you’re aware of the consequences before you do it. Plus, it really doesn’t save you that much fuel.

66 Nathan April 28, 2011 at 10:55 am

I really like this post! If I could add one more thing to the list, it would be to give generously. This may seem counterintuitive, but giving generously is the ultimate way to prove that you control your money, instead of it controlling you. If you can be a cheerful giver, you demonstrate you have far more self-discipline than if you’re simply good at delaying gratification. Giving is also a great way to keep frugality from becoming miserly and cheap.

Thanks again for the post, Brett. I hope the younger generations of this country make frugality a priority!

67 Nobody April 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

I think it’s been said already, but buy a 22LR pistol that’s similar in weight or style to your .357. Buying a pellet version isn’t nearly as effective, partly because the CO2 system on pellet pistols is usually inefficient.

An overarching rule for money is just to know how much you make, and how much you’re spending. Be aware and don’t be stupid. You don’t need a $200 dollar pair of jeans, and that $40 steak can wait till you get a raise.

Try this experiment: go an entire day without making a single purchase.

68 Alex C. April 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

I second the notion of saving old computer / peripheral cables. I do it all the time, and I’m saving a good bit of money on my newest computer build, because I’m able to buy OEM parts (without the extra cables and packaging, on the cheap) and use the old but perfectly functioning cables.

Also, you’ll never know when your family or friends might need a spare cable, and you’re the guy who has it. Never gets old, that one!

69 Nicholas F April 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

These are some great points.

With regard to 79 and 80, saving on bank fees, my wife and I have been long-time users of ING Direct. And at least in Canada, they just started offering a no-fee checking account that pays you interest. We opened one right away and Bam, $15 savings a month just like that! $200 a year! Plus the ATM is right across the street, which is a double bonus.

They have a promotion going in Canada where if you open any account with them (savings, chequing, unmortgage, RRSP) with a $100 bonus, using Orange Key 17100653S1, you will get a $25 bonus (and full disclosure: I get a bonus for referring you too). How’s that for ROI? 25% in the first day!

Check out the info here:

And I agree, I definitely have to change my own air filter next time. I was tempted to change my own battery on my ’02 Toyota Echo. Would that have been a difficult job? In the end the mechanic did it, but I’m wondering if shelling out the extra $40 was worth it for that job…

70 Will April 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thanks for the list, Brett. A few addenda:

* To save money, it’s better to focus where more money goes. That is, eating out less won’t save nearly as much as getting a place with cheaper rent. Unplugging your cell phone charger won’t hurt, but if you really want to cut your power bill, use less heating and cooling and run the dryer less, because that’s where most of it goes.

* Caveat: IT people tell me that a new printer cartridge is cheaper than the new printer you’ll need when your refilled cartridge leaks.

* We can’t all, but … I married someone who knows the sales! We went to a visit to Sam’s Club. Her thought: this would probably save you money if you didn’t know how to find sales, but we would spend *more* at Sam’s on the things we usually buy.

71 Jordan April 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

All great tips! “Sharing” is another good thing to do to save money. My friend in college started this website, where basically groups of friends put all the stuff their willing to share with each other; tools, movies, books, games, camera equipment, etc. It ends up being a terrific resource and once you’re in a routine of using it, you never have to buy anything anymore!

72 David April 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

Some good ideas, but don’t become so focused on saving & conserving, that you miss opportunities to earn more and increase personal wealth. Doing without is fine (if you’re a struggling college student or just getting started raising a family), but real manliness begins when you become an outstanding provider for your family, which is how we truely protect our family & love ones in a modern world.

73 Ken April 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

BIg NO on coasting your car in neutral to save gas.
If you have an automatic transmission, being in drive powers the transmission cooling pump.
If you coast down hills and pop back into drive to ascend, you will melt your transmission.
It happened to my super-frugal brother when he was driving through northern California. It cost a months time and $800 to fix. Not a good way to save money.

74 FairTaxFanBoy April 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

When it comes to taking money out. I avoid ATM’s like a plague. Most larger retailers like Super Markets will allow you the option to take cash out when you pay with a debit card. If you plan ahead for when you need cash, avoid ATM’s and take it out when you grocery shop. Use this free service from the Grocery Store.

75 Tim April 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Ride a motorcycle! The insurance is obscenely cheap and they generally run at 50 miles per gallon or better. I’m not talking about a Harley or superbike, here. Buy a simple touring bike or even a small dual sport or scooter. Better yet, buy a vintage bike for less than $3,000 and learn how to keep it running.

Take a safety course (usually about $100), as motorcycles are tricky at first. Ride safely (no wheelies, speeding, or weaving), just as you would drive your car. Most motorcycle wrecks are old dudes who have lost their balance or young idiots doing something idiotic.

I’ve been commuting by motorcycle year-round for several years. My first was a 1982 Japanese sport bike. I know ride a Suzuki dual sport. I’ve ridden in torrential rain, sub-freezing temperatures, and even on ice. Once you have experience and the right gear and clothing, not much can stop you. It’s fun, adventurous, and very, very cheap.

76 Gary Morris April 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Major savings on vehicle insurance!
Here is one that I think (at this time) only Texans can take advantage of.

In Texas, we have an insurance company that will cover your vehicle by the mile, kind of like pre-paid phones. You buy 1000 miles of coverage and it is good for 6 months or 1000 miles, which ever come first. If you need more miles you just buy more (1000 at a time).

For my 1994 Honda Accord Coupe I pay $35.90 for 1000 miles and six months of coverage.

They do not offer full coverage for vehicles older than 15 years but if your vehicle is less than 15 years you can full coverage very cheap.

This is only a savings if you do not drive a lot. If you drive more than (I would say) 800 miles per month (you can get a quote and do the math for your situation), you would be better of with traditional insurance.

In my experience, 1000 miles of coverage has been about the same as what I would pay for one month of coverage with a traditional insurance company.

So, if you don’t put a lot of miles on your vehicle, this will save you potentially thousands per year.

Now, with all that money you save, you could send me a nice thank you $ Benjamin $ for the tip. LOL Too bad I don’t get referral money for this. :)

77 Stuart April 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm

A warning on newspapers: most commercial inks are toxic.
In addition, recycled paper is composed of shorter strands that will break off more easily making it more likely that the ink will be transferred to whatever you are doing.

78 Gary Morris April 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Sorry, I forgot to include a link for the Mile meter insurance.

79 Jordan April 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

How about “Sharing” to save money and reduce waste?

80 Kris April 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Some more hints and tips for dad’s like me.

1. We use cloth diapers. You can double-team with your wife in cleaning them, and in the long run, using cloth could save you upwards of $3,000 in diapers.
2. Coupon! My wife just bought 2 seasons of Everbody Loves Ray, an $80 car seat for our son, several DVD’s for him, and a $39 book with kid’s stories in it for .83 cents on! You saw right, .83 cents! You have to know where the deals are…this was all done by combining promo codes! I was also able to buy some pretty good tactical pants (I suggest you guys do a blog post on tactical clothing/travel clothing, start with 5.11 Tactical or ScottEVest! Seriously!) by looking around online for promo codes to use and applied it at checkout.
3. Enroll in an interest-free credit card that has a good rewards system (like Chase) and pay for gas and groceries using the card, but YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY PAY IT OFF when you get home. You get the points to redeem for other purchases (like $10 giftcards or cash-back in your account) without actually accumulating debt.
4. Shop-around for deals. A local pharmacy at the grocery store was offering %20 off on filling subscriptions if you switched from your current pharmacy to theirs. Same service, better price.
5. Buy produce from a farmer’s market. Where my wife is from in Erie, PA there is a local farmer’s market where you can buy chicken for $5-10 dollars less than at your Wal-Mart’s or Kroger’s. Produce and meat are much cheaper here because the farmer’s negotiate prices with the market, or they sell directly which means that the extra profit-margin that your reseller like Wal-Mart has is completely cut out.
6. See if you qualify for discounts. Oftentimes cell-phone service providers like Verizon have discounts for employees who work with certain companies. For example, employees of CVS Pharmacy qualify for a %22 discount on cell-phones and cell phone service through Verizon in our area. See if your cell phone provider has a service discount through your employer.

81 Joshua April 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Some very good ideas. I do have one biggie that I take strong issue with, though: Don’t plant shade trees near your house. Or any kind of tree for that matter. The first time a hurricane (for those of us in the South) or truly strong thunderstorm comes through, you’ll have enough damage (and possible injuries) to more than outweigh a lifetime of energy savings. I know this from bitter experience, as do most of the other people living in my part of the country.

82 w. adam mandelbaum esq. April 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Excellent article. On the other side of the coin however, one may want to up the income so one can up the lifestyle. No dichotomy, we can choose our luxuries and bare necessities as things change for us. This blog has a ton of classic advice on the art of manliness, and is something I always look forward to reading. Bravo!

83 Brian April 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

If you can’t stand the light coming from CFL bulbs, you’re probably doing it wrong. You’re must be using bulbs with a color temperature of 5400K which are bright and glaring. Look for bulbs with a color temperature of 2700K which is more similar to the classic incandescent.

Also, buy your spices bulk. I can fill up a spice jar of garlic powder for pennies via bulk.

84 David Vega April 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

My biggest money saver…..MAKING A BUDGET! I never did it before because I don’t have time to sit down and plug in all of my transactions on a day to day basis.

Then I started using MINT.COM, it changed my life! It scrapes your bank accounts, credit cards, assets, etc. and organizes every transacation for you. It is phenomenal!!! And it is free!!!

85 Ian April 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

My three cents:

1. Don’t go to a private college unless it affords obvious connections to a big, lucrative job (as in, my family all went here and now they work in Grandpa’s firm). Don’t go to an expensive state school either. A degree is a degree in most job environments and the work you have to show matters more. Also: any time a school says you’ll get a job through them, you’re better off trying to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. Spend your time and hope investing in your portfolio instead. Experience trumps the degree even if many institutions still expect it based on whatever irrational assumptions they make when they see it on paper.

2. Get a Costco or Sam’s Club membership and buy items you use frequently. I buy milk for less than $2/gallon, yogurt, eggs, chicken, and other regular items. My Cub Foods bill (normal grocery store) is usually higher than my Costco bill and I get much less.

3. Put away the beer until the weekend. Or put it away until somebody else buys it for you. Going out costs.

86 Greg April 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Most parks (national, state and local) have free or very inexpensive entrance fees ($1 per person for the state parks where I live). In addition to hiking, boating, etc., many of them also have guided hikes, bird watching, programs for kids, and things like that the rangers do for no additional cost. It’s a great way to spend part of a day for next to nothing. And you get some fresh air and exercise!

87 Bryce April 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

#81: Open a “Christmas Club” account. I’ve had mine for 5 years, and love it. It helps in several ways: first, I have money saved up for the holiday season, which means not having to resort to credit cards; second, it makes budgeting a set amount easier (I save $100 a month, which makes for $1200 a year, but I only spend half of that on gifts, and use the rest for, among other things, snow tires, a new laptop to replace my broken one, and to pay off a credit card); and it also keeps you from touching it until it pays out.

Although many of the big-name banks no longer offer it (it’s not a big money-maker for them), smaller local banks and credit unions have them.

88 Kevin April 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Great article!

One advantage of using cash is saving up all your change. I’ve been doing this recently and I already have about $90 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

89 Bruce April 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Any way you an expound on #59 – close down the land line at home and use only the cellphone? I’m QUITE reluctant to discard a phone number that has been with the house for 54 years – and I’m not sure that going totally cellular is prudent. Help!

90 cwnidog April 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Interesting aside – the gas rationing during WWII wasn’t so much to save gasoline, there was no real shortage of that, but to save rubber by reducing wear on tires. Rubber was in very short supply, most rubber plantations were in Japanese hands, and there just wasn’t enough synthetic rubber to go around.

91 Tony April 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm

This is just the time for a refresher course on frugality101. Really good job on this article: I remember one particularly tight year – I wrote my wife a coupon book and she LOVED it. It was good for things like 2 bed changing, 2 full body massages, 2 car washings, 2 toenail paintings, etc., she really got a kick out of it and enjoyed redeeming whenever she wanted. Excellent.

92 Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Wow, what a mind-blowing post – a triumphant summary of manliness that had me shedding tears all the way down to my beard, AND an almost unbeatable summary of frugality itself. The only thing I’d have to add is to hammer more on vehicle and fuel spending – get a Toyota Matrix instead of an SUV (just as useful, save thousands per year).. and even more pertinent to manliness: LEARN TO DRIVE A MANUAL TRANSMISSION! It has MAN right in its name and it saves you a grand off of the new purchase price, about 80 pounds in dead vehicle weight and many dollars in fuel use if you become good at using it. I’m writing about such things on my own little blog, which aspires to bring a more manly approach to the specific topic of becoming rich.

93 Greg K., PA April 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I always forget how inexpensive cigarettes can be in the South and Midwest. In Central Pennsylvania a carton of Camels goes for about $60, but 10 packs a week is also a pretty wicked smoking habit.

94 Mark April 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

A very good set of tips. Here are my small additions:

Re #5 above: Many insurers offer multi-line discounts, so if you can get, for example, homeowners or renters insurance from your auto insurance provider, you may be able to save money over having coverage with multiple providers. Plus, you have one point of contact, which can save time, which is as valuable as money.

Re #20 above: disposable razors can also be stropped using a pair of blue jeans. I’ve tried it and it works. I usually do 20 strokes (pushing, not pulling the razor) Also, I’ve found a good lather with regular bar soap works as well as shaving cream from a can. Electric shavers are probably cheaper over the long run, though.

95 TonyT April 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I normally support buying a used car, but right now the market is LOUSY for that! 2-3 years ago you COULD buy a 2-4 year old car for half of new. Now, the differential between buying new vs used and bargaining on both is so small is frequently not worth it. 2-4 year old cars are hard to find since there were fewer made 2008-2010 vs. historic norms. Those that are out there are much more $$ and in worse shape. And rental companies who used to dump cars at 10-15k miles are frequently keeping them much longer- in my travels I’ve had several recent rentals with > 30k miles.

96 prufock April 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Daveareeno is wrong about restarting your car taking more gas than idling, at least to a degree. The amount of gas it takes a modern car to start is about the same as idling for 7 or 8 seconds. So if you are going to be idling for longer than that, it’s best to disengage and then restart.

97 Ian L. April 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm

You should do an article about manly DIY computer stuff, especially open source things and linux! It’s free and you can learn a thing or two too.

98 Vince Brandolini April 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Ditto on the car shutdown/restart. But you also need to take into account wear on the starter (and costs of premature replacement)… so it becomes a bit more complicated.

Having one car saves on insurance – but maintenance (which is mostly mileage and not time driven)? Not so much. And having 2 cars DOES make things a lot easier when one goes south for the winter – you’re in a much better position to figure out the most frugal way of repairing or replacing it because you’re not as desperate to get working wheels again.

Target practice? Some air pistols are useful as firearms trainers, the Beeman P1 comes to mind. It’s a bit pricey, but the ammo is really cheap (no CO2) and you can practice at home. It requires a similar hold and trigger technique as, say, a 1911.

On modern vehicles the air filter does not have nearly the effect on economy as it did 30 years ago. Changing it unnecessarily often will quickly wipe out any fuel savings.

Changing oil – with the cost of crude going up it may be more economical to go synthetic and leave it in longer, since the price differential between them and normal oils has closed considerably. Not true if your car uses oil, but if oil consumption is very low it’s worth looking into. Doing it less often also means less hassle.

One more thing – CFL bulbs do NOT last very long in some applications. If a fixture allows the bulb to get too hot it’ll burn out way too soon – and you’ll lose money.

99 Mike April 29, 2011 at 12:31 am

I might add: oatmeal.

It takes mere minutes to make. It’s super-healthy. It’s super-versatile, meaning that you can experiment as much as you like with different things so as not to get bored; and, could it be cheaper?

100 Nusy April 29, 2011 at 1:06 am

We use most of these practices, and a few more.
About saving on cars: just ditch it. We ride bikes for commuting, and if we need a car for some reason (bike breaks down, big grocery trip, road trip, etc.), we just borrow my in-laws’ car. Not to mention that even a 3-miles-each-way commute, which you can comfortably do in 20-25 minutes without sweating all over everything gives you a decent workout too. If you have mass transit in your area, that’s a pretty good solution too. No car – no gas spending, no insurance to pay, no repairs, not even lease/loan payments.
Haircuts: look around for a training studio in your area. I found a local Supercuts that does “advanced cutting techniques” trainings, and gives free cuts for their “test subjects”. I got a couple of amazing cuts there, completely free.
Food: I probably don’t even recall the last time we ate out, probably a couple of months ago. We’re fortunate to be working in the hospitality industry, and sometimes we can skate by for days without eating at home, as most of the banquets have loads of leftover plates that we’re free to take. I also started only eating one full meal and one small meal a day – helps on the budget as well as the waistline! Also, buy bulk. Some grocery stores carry items like flour, sugar, pastas, beans, nuts, dried fruits, cereal, dog food, etc. in bulk, where you just bag your own, and it’s a lot cheaper. All you need is the initial investment of a couple of airtight containers, and you’ll save! Buy the meat in big packs, butcher it up or portion it up, bag it and freeze it. Savings and portion control, all bundled in. I also like to make HUGE portions of stuff like beans, rice, stuffed cabbage or onion rings, then portion them and freeze them for work lunches or TV dinners. (The onion rings I bread, freeze on a cookie sheet and bag – then just toss them in the fryer when ready to eat) Rework leftovers. You may not wanna eat the same roast chicken carcass the second day – but you can make coconut chicken soup with a $1 can of coconut juice.
Shopping: dollar store. What’s more: DOLLAR STORE. They often carry name brands, too, and it’s a lot cheaper on several things! I only buy soap there anymore: they carry the name brand soaps we both like, for $1 a huge bar or 4 small bars (they tend to run 3-4 bucks a big bar at drug stores). Coupons, coupons. Oh, and a lot of stores (most pharmacies, and a few other stores, too) have a return customer card that often comes with keychain tags. These often entitle you to lower prices or extra coupons – and they’re FREE.
Unfortunately, a lot of the bills savings don’t apply to us – our area comes with a flat-rate water, we don’t have access to our water heater, and the only way to get internet in our apartment complex is via cable. However, we only get the internet there, and watch movies on Netflix. No cell phones at all – whoever wants to reach as can completely do it on our cheap landline; and if we’re not at home, there’s always the answering machine
Computers: Linux. Free, well-supported OS, and unless you need some crazy specialty softwares, you can find a free, open-source alternative to almost every important thing (even Photoshop – GiMP), most of them accessible directly from your menu bar. If you’re not quite ready to ditch Mr Gates, you can just split your hard drive and choose upon startup.

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