61 ways to take your frugalness to the next level

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61 ways to take your frugalness to the next level
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I recently went through a magazine (that I get for free in the mail) and took out all the perfume samples. It’s just one of those things I do sometimes, so I didn’t think twice until I realized my husband was standing there — looking at me like I was a little cuckoo.

‘Are you going to do something with those?’

Um, what? I don’t know… what?

This is probably not something I’d otherwise share with the world, but yes — I was saving the free magazine samples in case I ever need a quick, fresh scent on the go. It’s also like trying on clothes — I need to wear it to I know if I like it…

My husband’s skepticism then got me wondering about all the little quirky things other people do to save a buck. So I started with Team Clark and then we posted the question on Facebook.

As you can probably imagine, it was like opening Pandora’s box… But mixed in with all bizarreness were a lot of useful tips!

So here they are.

Frugal tips from Team Clark:

  • Return things to the grocery store.
  • Water down dish and hand soap to make it last longer.
  • Eat samples at Costco or Sam’s for lunch or dinner.
  • Add water to whole milk.
  • Save all the wrapping at family Christmas for next year.
  • Dumpster diving for Wendy’s cups when they offered a promotion for free flights.
  • Wash out plastic bags to reuse them.
  • Only use half the detergent recommended to make it last longer.

Now, here’s a look at some of the top tips offered by our fans on Facebook!

Read more: 30 easy ways to revamp your finances in 2017

Clark fans’ top money-saving tips & tricks

Savings tips

David: When I was a young single dad, money was really tight. I had to afford diapers, formula and daycare, so I had to scrimp and save any way I could. I couldn’t even afford paper towels. So, I cut up some old towels and t-shirts and used them as a substitute. I just laundered them. I hated not having paper towels. That was a long time ago. I can afford paper towels now! Lol

Ann: Mine are small but they do save money! I drink only water when I am dining out and I still use a drip coffeemaker with a brand name coffee that I generally can purchase on sale (especially then – and I buy more than one container in case it doesn’t go on sale again soon).

Eric: Well, some people call it extreme. But I don’t think so. I take Megabus frequently from my home city of Atlanta. Yeah, the people who are riding the bus with me are loud and inconsiderate, but hey it’s dirt cheap. Also, I never go to the movies during non matinee times, always go to the local museums on discount days and show up early to Atlanta Braves games – about two hours early – to get a $1 ticket.

Alpesh: Call all service provides (cable, Internet, cell phone etc.) every year and ask them for a better deal/discounts/free programming etc.

Kathy: Once or twice a year, I go over all my bills & call up the customer service representatives to see if I can lower them. Last year, I got a $35-a-month discount on my cable bill by threatening to switch providers, & a $20 monthly discount on my car insurance by raising my deductible. It’s not extreme, but every penny helps!!

Pat: Cut the cord! Decided to end the Dish network $95 a month bill and put up an antenna. Now, I watch more TV than ever before. Cable= reality show nonsense. Off air = classic TV, movies, local channels. I’m a classic TV nut anyway… love my antenna and no monthly fee!!!

Taryn: 1. Buy quality, it’ll cost u less in the long run. 2. Shop at Costco, they have the lowest profit margins. 3. Buy things on sale and on clearance.

Sabrina: I save my change. Last month I cashed in two years worth of savings: $384. It would have been more but i got in a tough situation a while and picked through it. But i was pleased with my results!

Molly: Two months a year (usually March and September when there are no holidays or other big events) we have a no-spend month. I skip my monthly Costco run and use up stuff from the freezer. We limit outings to save on gas. We only buy NEEDS and not WANTS and even try keeping the needs as basic as possible. Works pretty well to boost the savings account or recover from the holidays.

Bobbie: Don’t spend $5 bills, but tuck them away when you get them in change.

Read more: 26 ways to bring in extra cash each month

Susie: Fill up the car at Costco; no magazine subscriptions; wash bath towels once a week instead of after every use; use vinegar, ammonia, lemons, baking soda to clean the house; change out of my good clothes after work so they don’t absorb cooking odors or get stains; make shopping decisions for things like toilet paper, laundry soap on unit price.

Jill: I take good care of my car. It’s a 97! I shop at Aldi  and thrift stores (for fabric from full skirts). Currently I’m saving all my dimes because I read that if you fill an empty 2 liter with dimes you will have $700 when it’s full. I wanted to see If I could get all those dimes in there. If it’s true it might take a while but it’s a truly painless way to save $700!

Gail: Empty change in to a large jar DAILY. The end of the year, we have $800 to pay property taxes or buy Christmas gifts.

Judi: Every time I get a $5 dollar bill I put it in a drawer. At the end of the year I’ve saved a few hundred dollars!

Maxine: Wash first time used aluminum foil that is in good shape. Turn lights off when you leave a room for any time. Only wash dishes in the dishwasher when you have a full load. Research vacations fully before leaving home. Save change. Just a few ideas I used to help us retire with ease.

Betty: I have been throwing loose change in coffee jars, boxes, etc. for years My niece did this when her daughter was born and was able to buy her a car at age 16 – she would count and roll and put in savings every so often just for that purpose.

Joshua: I live off of 20% of my income. I save the other 80% – never touch any of it, unless I have an emergency. I of course don’t buy anything I don’t need, wants are not necessities, so I stick to what will help me retire on time.

Laura: I buy only my work slacks second hand. I drink the free coffee and water at work (it’s a benefit) and I only go to the movies on the $5 night. I keep a separate wallet with coupons and deals with me to use as they come up.

Nancy: This may not be extreme, but I instituted a family rule when my children were teens & we still follow it 20 years later: no one goes in debt for Christmas gifts! You give what you can afford & we all appreciate the gifts no matter the size. Over the years, prosperity has ebbed and flowed for all of us, so the rule works very well.

Tips to stretch the budget & cut costs

Sally: I read a lot of books on my kindle and realized that a few dollars here and there to download books from Amazon was adding up. I started using the library website to borrow books for free. I also love brand name quality clothing. I have favorite thrift shops that I have been going to for years and have accumulated a very nice wardrobe for very little money.

Janice: I buy most of my books at the thrift store for 10 cents each!

Taylor: Meal planning! This is something that is still a work in progress, but I was able to buy enough food to provide lunch and snacks for my husband & I for an entire week for just $35. Also, flat rate billing & no cable!

Gloria: I use a calculator when I grocery shop to make sure I stay within my budget.

Stephanie: Make my own soap, deodorant and laundry soap.

Sue: I have frequent zero spending days. At least twice a week, I spend zero on anything. All purchasing is delayed. And I pay cash for everything.

Nicole: I once washed my clothes in the tub for a month, to save money.

Roberta: Always ask “is this your best price?” when hiring local trades persons, they often give you the ‘good neighbor price.’

Saving 101: Guide to jumpstart and get your savings on track

Nancy: I’ve literally taken just about everything off my walls, out of cabinets, out of drawers and out of the closets to sell when desperate. It’s just stuff and replaceable.

John: Use the same piece of toilet paper I used to wipe with to also blow my nose.

Ruth: I freeze everything in 1 serving containers but buy in bulk! Even milk.

Jean: A simple one: when water is leftover in a glass or elsewhere , I don’t throw it away. I use it to water my plants.

Todd: For my printer, I drill holes in my ink cartridges to refill the ink with a refill kit that I get on Ebay for $10. The refill kits last for at least 2 years, and they have YouTube videos of how and where to drill the holes.

Elizabeth: I wash and reuse plastic Ziplock bags.

Linda: Use my plastic grocery bags to line my small trash cans.

Susie: Use cloth dishtowels instead of paper towels.

Dianna: I printed my own checks. The bank didn’t like it because the checks all had the same number. They asked me to come in and gave me a coupon for a box of checks.

Jimmy: Ask for a lower price on thrift store items, it works sometimes.

Alice: When dining out, I quite often order the appetizer as my main course and always have water. Saves a lot. If I do order the entree, I usually have enough to have a doggie bag for lunch the next day.

Donna: One thing I do is buy bar rags at Sam’s and use them for everything, especially for paper towels. I have had mine 2 years already. $12.00 for around 20 rags.

Cheryl: I check out DVDs from the library for free instead of buying the movie, paying for On Demand or renting them. Just released titles are available.

Charity: Sold everything I had to buy a camper. Used my tax return to put a down payment on land. Living in camper on my land rewards me with financial freedom in so many ways

Dedee: I wear gloves and a hat in the house versus turning on the heat

Erri: I cut ends off toothpaste, make up, lotion to get all of it out of the tube. There’s more left in there!

Susie: Use cloth dishtowels instead of paper towels.

Miriam: Re-use paper towels. Drives my husband nuts!!!!

Josh: Reuse toilet paper

Shevan: Not necessarily a saving tip, but definitely a money earning tip and can also save a life. I am surprised that this is not featured prominently by anyone. Donating plasma. I used to earn around $250-$300 a month donating twice a week and also the fact that you know that it is used to make life saving medicines and treatments make it feel really good about doing it.

Christia: I ask my sister for the Sam’s size pack of Charmin toilet paper every year for Christmas. I live alone so the pack lasts me right at a full year! Haven’t purchased TP in three years and I get the good stuff!

Pam: Saved butter wrappers in freezer to grease casserole dishes, tried to do re-growth on lettuce core and end of celery, was working great until husband got involved and drowned them.

Sherry: wash and reuse aluminum foil if it’s not too dirty. keep clothes as long as possible without buying any more. reuse christmas/birthday bags and wrapping paper. reuse grocery bags for many things. use dawn brand name, fill a dish detergent bottle with water and put in dawn until it will wash dishes good, stretches the dawn a long way. keep junk mail, and papers that are no longer needed and use the back for notes, etc. Haven’t had to buy paper in years. Cut up old bath towels to use for wash cloths and dish towels. Save bacon grease and put in freezer to use in beans and greens. When shampoo, dish det etc are almost empty, pour them into the new bottles to keep from throwing it away. Wash dishes and clothes only when there’s enough for a full load. Use boxes that 12 coke cans come in as tunnels for guinea pigs. Wash and reuse plastic utensils and cups taht are used for holidays, to use every year. Save bread ties to use for other things such as potato chips, frozen vegs taht come in bags. Save different boxes to put christmas gifts in. We live 5 miles from teh nearest store, so I combine trips to keep from going so much. Use credit card only for emergencies. When you eat out, get extra napkins to use in the car. Use the envelope method for paying bills. Save left over vegetables in the freezer to use for soup. Make aluminum into balls, use in the dryer, no more dryer sheets.

Jimmy: Just driving a Toyota pick up truck for 16 years, no payment since 2006. Saves $400+ a month not having a payment. That’s over $50,000 I’ve saved in payments had I kept a new vehicle the whole time.

Debbie: I buy 90% of clothes and shoes at Thrift Stores.

Do you have a money-saving tip to share? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!

How to increase your income by reducing expenses

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Alex Thomas Sadler About the author: Alex Thomas Sadler
Alex Thomas Sadler is the Managing Editor of Clark.com and Clark Howard Digital Products. Alex is also the host of Common Cents, a new Clark.com series that makes money simple, so you can better understand and take control of your own financial life. Alex graduated from the University of Georgia with bachelor's degrees in ...Read more
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