Advanced Frugality 101 – How to save more in special circumstances5 min read

A lot of things can happen in family life that mean you’re caught short on funds. Whether your washing machine has suddenly decided to break, you’re faced with unexpected medical bills, or you’re looking to save for something specific, it can be difficult to scrape together the money. The best way to save, of course, is to spend less. See these great doable tips for advanced frugality in those times of need.

1. Reconsider the necessities

When it’s time to save money, it’s time to redraw the line between what we want and what we need. Is it really necessary to buy that expensive brand of shampoo, or can you switch to generic brands? Does that dish sponge really need replacing, or can it do its job perfectly well for another week or two? You won’t regret giving up some luxuries when you see your bank balance growing.

2. Cook from scratch

Supermarkets want to convince you that prepared meals are good value for money. Don’t believe them! Most of the things you love to eat can easily be made at home for a fraction of the price. Homemade food is also often much healthier due to the lack of processed ingredients like preservatives, thickeners, and flavorings. Get creative and learn to cook some of your favorite recipes. Prepare your own lunch to take to work with these easy ideas for work lunch. And why stop at cooking? Instead of buying those delicious chocolate chip cookies at the supermarket, make a fun activity out of it for the kids and bake some of your own.

3. Shop in bulk

Ah yes, the constant, unavoidable chore: grocery shopping. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated if you plan ahead and shop in bulk. Make a rough meal plan before you go to the store - you probably already know more or less what meals your family usually eats. Many stores will offer deals if you buy a lot at a time, and stores like Costco are specially designed for bulk purchases. Just make sure you can store it, the last thing you want is to waste food.

4. Reduce and Reuse

By using a little bit less, and reusing a little bit more, you can save heaps. Try to start by using less of the products you need daily, like dish soap, shower gel, shampoo, paper towels, laundry detergent, and so on. Producers will often encourage you to use much greater amounts than you actually need. You can also reuse many household items in new ways. For example, use old bed sheets for a picnic instead of buying an actual picnic blanket. Also, you could consider washing things like towels and bed sheets less frequently. This means less work and fewer expenses!

Related Article: Things I've Given Up to Save Money

5. Buy used items

Ideally, you want to buy as little as possible. When you really need something, buying used items is a great way to save on expenses without compromising quality. See if you can find what you need at your local thrift store before going to the mall. Instead of buying new electronics, furniture, or other items, use sites like Gumtree or Ebay. You will probably find high-quality, durable items for much lower prices than if you were to buy them new.

6. Save on utilities

When saving is crucial, utilities are a big factor. There are endless ways to save on water and energy bills. Put on an extra layer instead of raising the thermostat. Wash your clothes on a colder wash cycle to both save on bills and make your clothes last longer. Hang the laundry on a clothesline instead of running the dryer. Instead of baths, take short showers. Don’t leave the fridge open or the water running unless you’re using them. Properly switch off or unplug electronic devices at night to avoid using unnecessary electricity. The list goes on and on.

7. Redefine entertainment

Entertainment is a major factor that determines a family’s household expenses. Subscriptions to magazines and online services, books, films, TV plans - they all add up. Replace electronic entertainment like television, gaming, and tablets with board games, coloring, and reading to save on electricity and boost your imagination. Consider getting a Kindle to get access to endless free reading material, or borrow books from a library instead of buying them.

Related Article: How are we Saving Half of our Income?

8. Transportation

Driving is convenient, but expensive. Reduce car-related costs by choosing to walk, cycle, carpool, and take the bus whenever possible. Not only will this save you a lot of fuel and maintenance money, but it gives you a chance to get daily exercise and interact with new people.

9. Grow your own

Growing your own food is an excellent way to learn useful skills, spend quality time with your family, and save lots of money! If you have a garden, why not use it to the fullest by introducing a small vegetable plot? You’d be surprised how much cheaper it is to grow your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables. If you don’t have much room, you can grow many things indoors, too. Save on watering and composting by collecting rainwater and making your own compost out of household waste.

Are you ready to finally take control of your finances? Let my budgeting spreadsheets help!

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Jennifer Jones

My name is Jennifer Jones.I started out life as Jennifer White but four years ago I married Mr. Jones and became The Frugal Mrs. Jones.I love finding ways to live frugally that ENHANCE your life not make you feel like you are missing out on the things you want to do. When you invest in being frugal in every aspect of your life – from what you eat, to where you shop, to how you research the products you buy – being frugal can truly be a joy.When you buy a vacuum cleaner that is going to last you 10 years because you did your research or make a delicious, healthy meal that your family loved for less that a single meal would cost in a restaurant, the satisfaction can be significant.Living frugally is not about doing without, it is about doing better!
Posted in Emergency Fund, Family Finances, Frugality, Guest Post.


  1. Great list Jennifer!
    I’ve been working recently at planning my meals for the week before I do my weekly grocery shop, and making enough at dinner for leftovers the next day for my wife and me. It’s cut down on our meals out and delivery quite a bit!
    And it’s also fun, becoming a better cook. I can now cook many of my favorite meals from restaurants just as well (if not better).
    I’m also big on digital libraries to borrow books on Kindle and audiobooks for free.

    • And the more you plan meals the better you get at it and the less waste you have.

      I often find if I plan on a Sunday around what I already have in my fridge and pantry I can make it all the way through the week picking up only 12-15 extra items.

      Thanks for reading!

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