We gathered ideas for pinching pennies from our Facebook group that truly show the power of mindset. (You can see the whole thread here.) Taking control of the little financial choices that are presented to you daily will result in a frugal mindset will no doubt spill into the whole of your life. Coupling this with making stellar big-ticket decisions will lead you to Financial Independence.
Some of these tips are fairly extreme and may not be for you. That's ok. The point is to start thinking about how to save money in unique ways. Start questioning your everyday decisions and who knows where you can save a few bucks.
Personal Care & Health
Save On Razors
Razors are quite pricey. You can choose how to trim that cost.
Take good care of your current razors:
- Keep them completely dry to avoid rust
- Coat in oil (again to avoid rust)
- Sharpen your blades either on a pair of jeans, or even your arm as an old fashioned strop!
Avoid buying razors altogether:
- Pick up free razors from hotels
- Skip shaving. Stick with trimmers and a 5 o'clock shadow
Save On Hair Care
Cut your own hair
Some folks take to cutting their own hair to save a few bucks. Of course, this is a super subjective subject. For men, a good pair of trimmers can do the job really well. Ladies, check out YouTube for tips to cut your own hair. It is doable!
Cutting your own hair may mean changing up your hairstyle to something you can maintain yourself. If you are struggling, pay a hair stylist to teach you the best methods. As a compromise, you can do some maintenance yourself to increase the time between salon visits.
Dye your own hair
Dying your own hair is an option as well. This idea is a little more mainstream and there are all kinds of tips. Again, YouTube can be a great source of learning how to do it for cheap or free!
Buy discount glasses and contacts
Eye exams can be expensive, often in the $100 range. However, America's Best offers three years of eye exams for $99. That works out to about $33 per exam.
When you go to the eye doctor, they make it seem as if you must buy your glasses and contacts from them. You don't! You can take your prescription anywhere, including online stores.
One of our reader's favorite online stores to buy glasses is Eye Buy Direct in which glasses and frames totaled $19.
Contact lenses are pretty straightforward to buy. Unfortunately, you have fewer options since the brand is prescribed by the doctor. But shop around at the dozens of online discount retailers to see who is cheapest. It would even be a good idea to know which brands are cheaper and ask your eye doctor if that particular brand is a good fit for you. Sometimes doctors will purposely prescribe boutique brands that only doctors sell. That way you have to buy your contacts from them. Don't fall for it. Unless you have a unique circumstance, national brands should work just fine.
Skip expensive tampons
When it is that time of the month, the Diva cup or Lena cup come highly recommended but does take a bit of getting used to. These cups replace your tampons and pads. They cost between $15 and $40 depending on the brand, but can last up to ten years! Ladies, this is huge savings! It's at least worth a try.
Cutting Food Costs
Cutting Food Costs While Traveling
We are a creative and innovative bunch. Some things you can do require some replication of people who already do the unconventional. Feasibility depends on if you're driving or flying.
- Bringing the InstantPot along on vacation or for those on the road long term
- “Grilled” sandwiches of any kind with the hotel iron. [editor's note: my first reaction to this tip was disgust. Like “ew, I don't want a hotel iron touching my food.” But check out the video below, it doesn't look so bad]
- Use a coffee pot for Ramen or step it up with even more ideas
- Bring a George Forman grill on trips
Avoiding high restaurant costs makes for completely different kinds of memories, not to mention money values instilled in kids if you have them along. Think of the possibilities! Local grocery store, loaf of bread, no refrigeration, purchase only what you need from the deli with a bag of chips and you have a self-made picnic on the cheap!
Then, of course, there are travel rewards. A great place to start learning is ChooseFI Episode 9: How To Travel The Easy Way.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Coffee
People can get pretty touchy when it comes to their coffee, so experiment with what kind of stretching is acceptable to you.
- Brew a second pot from the grounds of the first; add another new scoop if needed
- Find uses/recipes for leftover coffee
- Freeze leftover coffee for smoothies or other frozen concoctions. As for homemade caffe mocha, a canister of chocolate powder is $5, which is pennies compared to one stop at the coffee shop.
- Roasting your own beans can also be a lot cheaper. You may even get some use of that air popper for popcorn.
Restaurants And Leftovers
Taking leftovers home almost guarantees one or two more meals. Bringing your own container almost always impresses the staff; less running for them. Throwing out leftovers is nearly a sin to some of us. Heck, if the person you are dining with doesn't want to bother with their leftovers, our thrifty selves are willing to pack their leftovers; subject to the “gross factor”, of course.
- Bring your own Pyrex container
- Reuse the restaurant to-go container until you can't reuse it anymore
- You can always feed the safe leftovers to the dogs for zero-waste
- Bring your own squeezable flavoring
How far would you push it?
Once you have leftovers, be sure to make the most of them.
Related Articles: Frugal Vs Cheap–Where Do You Draw The Line?
We all hate spending money on stuff we can't even enjoy.
Paper Towels Vs. Rags
The “green” factor comes in here–the dollar bill and the Earth. The general public thinks “paper towels only cost a couple of bucks.” We respond “….and I'm saving a couple of bucks. Quarters turn into dollars.”
- Reduce what you use by cutting the paper towels in half or thirds
- Use and reuse and reuse some more.
- Paper or cloth does depend on the level of gross going on.
- With rags, just throw dirty rags in with the normal laundry. Make it a habit because rags are so much more absorbent.
- Use one paper towel to dry lettuce, hang it, then use it the next morning to drain bacon. A family can spend $350 per year in paper towels!
Another big money savings happens for those who make their own cleaning supplies. Recipes can be found all over the internet, but a popular FI site is Clean Mama's Housekeeping Society. A bit of work up-front can mean not only big savings but a better product as well.
Hot Or Cold And To Dry Or Hang?
The consensus on the Facebook Group is that washing in cold water works just fine. For new clothes that haven't been washed much, the important thing is to separate darks and lights. This isn't so important for older clothes.
Depending on where you live and the humidity, you may not have much of a choice when it comes to drying. If you can, hang clothes on a rack or hangers and they're dry in no time with a ceiling fan going. You'll learn to hang clothes once it hits you that lint in the lint trap is your clothing falling apart!
Related: How To Lower Your Electric Bill
Frugal “Dryer Sheet” Hacks
- While you're watching TV, take that massive box of Costco dryer sheets and cut them in half
- Use those halves over and over and over
- Use laundry sponges
- You could go for dryer balls or a vinegar a recipe to soften
Experiment and find the method and the cost that works for you.
More Household Cuts From The ChooseFI Community:
- Don't buy trash bags, just use grocery bags and hotel laundry bags.
- Wash and reuse ziplock bags, plastic utensils, and containers of any and all kinds.
- Fill empty toilet paper tubes with dryer lint to start the fireplace and keep the heat low.
- Make microwavable rice bags for whenever a consistent heat source is needed. These homemade wonders are like an electric pad, but no cord or risky electricity. With needle and thread or a sewing machine, you can make these tiny enough to put inside mittens or large enough to weigh your feet down during cold winter nights. The bigger they are, the longer they need to be microwaved, and the longer they hold the heat.
- Reuse containers of all kinds. Heavy cream bottle is now a milk bottle for lunch. Glass jars are healthy and can be the perfect little containers for just about anything. Make your own hummus and put it in the fancy hummus container. Buy bulk to refill the retail container. Get creative with these reusable hacks!
In The Bathroom:
As Dustin Hoffman said in Meet The Fockers: “If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.” Some of our well-traveled folks also go by “in this land of fun and sun, we do not flush for number one. In this land of sky so blue, neither do we flush for number two.” Figuring out how to make the most of water because of necessity is one thing. Doing it by choice is one of those little decisions that will establish discipline in your framework.
Cloth diapers and cloth wipes can be big savings. Investing in what is needed for your first kid and using it for every kid after that is genius. Diapering for free. ‘Nuff said.
At The Office
Since many people “Don't eat leftovers” or the whole office gives up on the leftovers after a day or two it just means more for us! Bring on the containers!
Other folks will spend a fortune on sodas at the vending machines. Establish a recycling center and gather up those cans and bottles and turn them in for $$.
At The Movies
Guys, put on those cargo pants and bring your own snacks. Ladies, large purses will shelter your king-size candy bars and cheap sodas.
Cheap Grocery Stores
“Discount” grocery stores sell items that “regular stores” don't want to put on their shelves. In Arizona, we have American Discount Foods. Google “discount grocery stores near me” and see if there is one near you. Here is a clip of one from YouTube, it gets going at about the [2:30] mark.
A meat department hack is to look at the expiration dates and make a note to self to come back on that date and you can ask the meat person to mark it down for you. Usually half price!
The Minimalist Inside Us All Propels Us To Financial Independence
To further our passion to reduce expenses, try to find a Zero Waste or Buy Nothing Facebook or MeetUp group. Every little decision will propel you towards your Financial Independence number, and closer to creating the life you design by intentionality.
If you have other ideas on where to save some coin or dollars, just leave them in the comments below.