Miscellaneous Frugal Tips

We recently realized that we have quite a few frugal ideas that don't fit any of our categories. Here are all the ideas (both our own and those sent by our readers) that just don't fit in!


Avoid buying a brand new car. In addition to the higher price you will also pay higher insurance, sales tax and excise tax.

With the price of gas as high as it is it's a good idea to combine trips to the stores so that you get everything at once rather than going back and forth several times a week. You can also car pool with somebody else who is going the same way. If you live in a city, use public transportation. It saves on gas, parking fees and the aggravation of driving in traffic.

Wash your car in the driveway with a bucket of soapy water and rinse with the garden hose. This saves on the cost of the carwash and keeping your car clean prevents rusting from the salt they use on the roads in the winter. Of course if you live in sunny California or Arizona you don't need to worry about that!

Electricity and Fuel

In summer keep the blinds closed on the sunny side of the house and in winter keep them open.

Use fans instead of air conditioners if the weather is not too humid.

In hot weather open the windows at night to let in the cooler air and close them during the day.

Wait until your dishwasher is full to run it.

If you do small loads of laundry be sure to adjust the water level in the washing machine. It's best to wait until you have a big load though because you're using the same amount of electricity either way (except for the amount of hot water).

Ideas Sent by Our Website Visitors

From Marnie: Whenever I go to the Hairdresser she always gives me samples of shampoo, conditioner and hair gel. I always save them for when my husband and I travel. It eliminates having to pack full size containers. I was given this tip from a friend a few years ago and I have been doing it ever since. I love scented powders. Depending on the fragrance, the scented powder can cost as much as the fragrance. Go to the fragrance counter and ask for a sample of fragrance (or use some of your own if you already have it) saturate a cotton ball and place it in a sealed container with baby powder. Let it sit for a few days and you have your scented powder.

From Morin: I go to the thrift store for clothes for quilting. Cut them up for patches and get a big, almost new sheet to back, or even just cover an old comforter. I made a queen size quilt in plaid and denim for under 20 Canadian inc. the comforter I recovered and the money I did spend went to the local hospital!

From Nikii Murtaugh, 2/03: I almost always get my notions from thrift stores in my area. Usually, I can get exactly the color that I need for a fraction of the price. For example, I made a reversible, mid-thigh length winter jacket from polar fleece this year. The fabric was on sale for 50% off ($25.00). I added (not in the pattern) four hidden pockets (one each behind a patch pocket), and found matching zippers at the thrift store for 10 cents each (yes, I had to do some digging), found bulkly craft yarn on a large spool - originally 99 cents a yard, but now 50 cents for the whole thing to use for the insert in piping (a quick run through the washer told me it wouldn't shrink and it was much softer too!) - also at the thrift store, and in my stash had silver elastic cording, which I used for button loops. The only thing I paid full price for was 4 buttons; I a coupon for 40% off the other buttons. I already had matching thread. Total price of the coat - around $35.00.

From CLBGrow: I have a few tips that I have tried recently and seem to work great:

From Gail Milligan: I wanted to share a couple of tips with you that I used last week. First of all I took a look at the calling plans for our cell phone. Since we rarely use our cell phone, but want it for travel safety, I decided to change plans from our 40 free minutes for 19.95 plan to the 0 free minutes for 9.95 with unlimited extra minutes at .35 per minute. Now, originally we signed on for 2 years at 14.95 but that offer had expired. We originally used our phone for many long distance calls within our calling area because these calls could be made for free. However, at .35 per minute we could theoretically still make 28 minutes of calls and pay no more than we did before. We rarely had this many minutes however. Also, I am eliminating stamps and time for bill paying on the cell phone and another utility. Now all of my utility bills are subtracted from my checking account when due. I figured that my day off work last Friday saved us $134.88. Not bad!

From Helen: My husband will use all the dishes in the cabinet before washing one he just used so...there are only 2 people who live in my house so I only keep 2 plates, 2 cups, 2 bowls available in the cabinet, and even 2 sets of silverware. The others are but out of immediate use but are readily available in case of company. This way I don't have alot of dishes to do when I get home and it has helped with saving water (I don't have a dishwasher)

I my area (Phila, PA) you can pay your utility bills right in the supermarket and even in the check cashing places . You can save the stamps and even the checks you would have written. Get a receipt

Hold on to your empty water bottles and refill them at work . I don't mean 10 at one time but enough to take home with you.

Ask your employer if you could have or buy the empty toner cartridges from the printer & copier. You can recycle them and get $5-$10 sometimes more. Your employee may just be happy to get them out of his/her hair.

Some frugal ideas from college student Misti K.: As a college student, I've learned to save money a few ways. For those students who live off campus, ask someone on campus if you can come over to dolaundry....most campuses provide free washer and dryers to their residents. Find out when "move out" day is for a local state or private college. I've seen perfectly good shelving units, brand new rugs, and refrigerators galore being thrown away, especially at the girl's dorms!! I've gotten two perfectly fine area rugs that now decorate my apartment! The same goes for moving in; people realize they don't have room for their entertainment center in their dorm room, and chuck it in the parking lot. nother obvious one is the dollar store!!! They have name brand food and health and beauty items for waaaaaay lower than supermarkets. I've gotten my deodorant, shampoo, razors, soap, bath gel, crackers, coffee, canned soup, and tuna....enough for a month....for around $12.....I'd spend that buying shampoo and razors alone in a local supermarket!!

This hint comes from Jen, who calls it "A Really Tacky Money Saver": You can even save money on your charity giving (isn't that an awful spot to scrimp?) I recent discovered that my bank offers a credit card program that doesn't cost me a penny but by which they donate a % of what I spend on the card (Very little, only when there is no alternative, but every penny to charity helps)to the charity or school or police agency of my choice. And I even get a nifty card with a Panda Bear (my program of choice is the World Wildlife Fund). At the Royal Bank in Canada it is called the Affinity program.

Al Garner has so many ideas he really ought to have his own webpage! Although some of these could be placed in other sections of the website we decided to keep them all together in order to give him proper credit:

Al Garner, Midway City, CA, copyright '98

Tina Emory is another person with lots of ideas: I am really new at frugal living but started becoming interested when I realized that I was being charged by random businesses on my credit card and paying it off for 7 months!!! without stopping to think that I might be the victim of fraud. Anyway I started realizing that I needed to change my lifestyle and hopefully get some money. Here are some tips that I have used. I hope that they help.

From Megan Kesich in Canada: Second hand stores here have fill a bag events or 50% off days, my kids dress in all designer stuff and I am always buying two sizes ahead for basics like jeans and tshirts, I have found some amazing deals...Laura Ashley crib set (bumper pad, skirt and blanket) for $5 total...entire set of cookbooks $3. Be there when the doors open, know what you are looking for and hustle to that section. We have a family clothing chest...winter coats, mits, sporting equipment etc all get held on to and passed through the family. Check to see if your area has a barter exchange. I carry a household inventory book, it lists what I am looking for, what I am wishing for, what is about to fall apart etc I carry it around so if I see a good deal I can remember if I really need it, I also give it to my mom when she is doing garage sales. If you use a product and are unhappy or even happy call the 800 number; Pampers gave me $50 in coupons because one bag I had the tabs were ripping off.

From J. Apodackis: I have been saving hundreds of dollars by not using our dryer. We have a clothing rack and hang our clothes with a fan on them. Once the clothes are dry we put them in the dryer on the “less dry cycle” with a little mist and they are ready to hang after a minute or so. We live here in Texas and we put a rack in the garage also which dries the clothing even faster. It takes a little work, well worth the effort.

From Marina B: Get 3 tiny boxes or bags or little things you can store money in. Label the 1st one "Entertainment", this will be the money you use to go to movies, shopping, etc. The 2nd one will be the name of the item you're saving up for. A bike, a telescope, whatever. The 3rd one is "Extra" - ironically, this is the money you don't spend! You invest in it and save it, after a few years you'll get quite some money. Save it your entire life and you'll be rich! :) If you get $15 a week, put $5 in each box. If you get $20, put $6.66 in each one, and so on.

From J. Apodackis: I just reviewed my home policy and cut my rate 50%. I went to bigger deducible and the same can be done on your auto insurance.

From Jerilynn Darnell: For those petlovers out there, I have an alternative to those expensive pet beds. Take an old pillow that you can't stand anymore and some worn towels or extra cloth you have lying around. Make a simple pillowcase or covering, you can sew this or velcro together. Slip it over the pillow and you have a inexpensive pet bed that your pet will love! One tip though, don't make this an excuse to go out and buy yourself new pillows or you defeat the purpose!!