When you’re having trouble making it from paycheck to paycheck, it can seem hard or even impossible to keep your head above water. To help you out, I’ve channeled my inner cheapskate to put together this list of cheap living tips. They will hopefully help you live frugally and lower your monthly expenses!
These simple changes in your lifestyle, along with creating a budget, can end up saving you a lot of money every month. Even if you are already able to save money, there are ways to save even more.
Just making your lunch to bring to work can save around $100 a month. Are you excited to make these changes? Well, let’s get started!
Related: For motivation, here is my $2,500 per month budget (for two) in one of the most expensive cities: San Diego!
Please note: This post may contain affiliate links, but at no additional cost to you. For my full disclosure policy, click here.
1. Negotiate rent
Always try to negotiate your rent, you might get lucky. The place I currently live in, I was able to negotiate it down $90 per month! If you’re a great tenant with on-time payments, they might even lower it to keep you.
2. Downsize your home
Many people have more space in their homes than they actually need. Think about how much you could save by getting somewhere smaller (especially on utilities!).
Some people want their kids to have their own rooms, but I believe that having children share a room builds closer sibling bonds and promotes valuable skills like sharing and compromising.
3. Extend your commute
Residing in a city can be so costly. If you can handle a long drive to work, the savings are amazing for living further away, you get more of a bang for your buck. Living cheap isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it!
4. Raise your deductible
If you have homeowner’s insurance, you can raise your deductible for significant savings. This means you’ll have a higher out of pocket cost if anything happens, which is why it’s good to have a savings account.
A great place to look for discount oil changes.
6. DIY car maintenance
The most expensive thing at the mechanics is the cost of the service. Search how to do simple things like changing the air filter and headlights yourself.
I usually find an article with step by step directions or a video on Youtube. Instead of being charged $25 for the cabin air filter, I bought and changed it myself for $8 (and now I upgraded to a reusable $40 filter).
7. Conduct regular vehicle maintenance
Also make sure to get your oil changes, tire rotations, and everything else done on time. Slacking too much in this department can lead to bigger and more costly repairs.
8. Love your hooptie
Well.. maybe not a hooptie per se, but an older, used car that’s in good condition is better on the budget. Instead of paying $300/ month ($3,600/ year) on a car loan, you can buy a car outright with that amount of money.
Plus, your insurance is also higher when you have a car loan.
9. Wash your own car
Hand washing your car is cheaper as long as you don’t waste water and run up the water bill. I also find that the car is cleaner when I do it myself because I check every nook and cranny.
10. Increase the deductible
Like home insurance, you can also raise your deductible on your car insurance to save money. I did this and saved $25/mo ($300 per year) with USAA. But also occasionally shop around for cheaper rates.
11. Unplug your electronics
Unplug it all! Even when not in use, your electronics are slowly sucking up electricity. I unplug everything when I’m not using it. From the television down to the toaster.
12. Winter thermostat setting
Keep your thermostat at 68F and wear more clothes for warmth.
13. Summertime thermostat setting
Use fans and open windows for the breeze. If it’s too hot, set your AC to 78-80F
14. Energy-efficient curtains
Better insulation and curtains will help keep the cold weather out. Blackout curtains also keep the sun from punching in during the summer, which gives your AC unit less work to do.
15. Take shorter showers
Have a quick shower instead of baths. For more savings, have a navy shower. I.e. Turn on the water to get wet then turn it off. Soap up, then rinse off.
Internet & Television
16. Cut the cord on your cable tv
You can have significant savings and live cheaply by not having a TV plan and instead using Netflix ($9), Hulu ($6), or other online streaming services. Philo (at $20/mo) is the one of the cheapest live TV streaming services. You can get a free trial here.
17. Get a cheaper package
A lot of people are enticed when they hear something is bigger, better, and faster. However, I have one of the cheapest internet plans (30 Mbps) with my provider and it still works great for my family’s needs.
We’re able to run security cameras off of it, stream videos, and play video games.
18. Avoid modem rental fees
Some companies charge so much per month to rent their internet box. One company charges $13 per month ($156/year) to rent theirs. I bought my own and it ends up being cheaper in the long run.
If I switch services, I can take it with me, and if it’s ever not compatible, I can resell it.
19. Join a family plan to save
Family plans are usually cheaper than paying for a single line. Sharing a plan with someone and splitting the bill can lower the amount you both pay.
20. Skip the upgrade
I can say that we probably all love having the latest technology out. But cheap living is easier when you skip the fancy gadgets. It can save you $20-$40 per month on equipment fees per line.
21. Save with autopay
Companies like T-mobile will knock off $5 per line.
22. Check for discounts
Some cellphone companies have discounts based on age, student discounts, and where you work.
23. Look for deals
Keep checking for the deals that companies have. They may offer to pay off your line to switch to them or offer free or discount lines and phones. Also, look for companies that have deals on the services you already pay for.
For example, I get Netflix for a great deal with T-mobile; however, other companies off Amazon Prime memberships, Hulu, Spotify, etc.
24. Military cell phone discounts
T-Mobile: Save with the Magenta Military ($80 for 2 lines, $100 for 4) and Magenta Military Plus plans ($100 for 2 lines, $140 for 4).
AT&T: 25% off AT&T Unlimited &More ($94 for 2 lines, $120 for 4) and AT&T Unlimited &More Premium ($113 for 2, $143 for 4) plans
Sprint: Save 50% off family plans with the Unlimited Military Plan. $60 for the 1st line, $20 for the second, and $10 each for lines 3-6. ($80 for 2 lines, $100 for 4)
Verizon: Save on the Start Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, Get More Unlimited, Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, Above Unlimited and/or Just Kids data plans ($10 discount for 1 phone on the account, $25 for 2-3 lines, $20 for 4+). Start Unlimited – ($95 for 2 lines, $120 for 4)
25. Buy in bulk!
Buying in larger quantities can usually save you a lot of money; however, sometimes you could also be wasting money.
For example, I can buy a 3 lb bag of baby carrots at Sam’s Club for $4, but I go through them so slowly most of it would spoil. So a 1 lb bag for $1.50 (about $4.50 for 3 lbs) at a store like Walmart would actually save me from wasting money.
I prefer to buy non-perishables and foods with a long shelf life. I also like to buy meats cheaper in bulk, separate to smaller quantities, then freeze.
Military Benefits – Military members and their families get great deals on a Costco membership and other warehouse clubs!
Sam’s Club – Join or renew your membership and get a $10 gift card. Offer ends 1/31/20200 and is valid in-club only.
Costco – Join as a new member and get over $60 in savings in coupons and free items.
BJ’s Wholesale Club – Join for 25% off your membership plus a $10 coupon.
26. Save money on drinking water
With the Berkey water filter system, you can save thousands compared to buying bottled water.
27. Have meatless meals
I know, I know, it seems hard. But cutting down on the amount of meat you have to buy can significantly cut your food budget. Right now I spend about $40-ish dollars on meat per month (but that includes wild salmon).
28. Pay attention to serving sizes
Not only does this cut down on how fast you go through items and have to rebuy them, but it can also help you be healthier and lose weight (I lost 20lbs in 3 months).
29. Start couponing
I’m a failure at couponing myself, but the people who do it the best are so great that they end up getting money back from the store. One lady gets so much money back on gift cards that she uses them for family trips to Disney.
30. Save money by meal planning
Plan out what you need for your meals and stick to the list. Impulse buys add up a lot! Here are some Cheap Meals Under $10 for 6 People. Meal planning has also helped us to only buy the groceries we need and stop wasting food.
31. Never shop when you’re hungry
Seriously! I find myself picking up things I don’t need because the hunger monster is in control.
32. Use credit cards wisely
If you know how to use a credit card, you know that carrying a balance causes interest charges.
To avoid extra fees, only buy what you can pay off at the end of every billing cycle. This will save you money and increase your credit score as well!
33. Stop going to coffee shops
When living frugally, you might have to give up a few things like daily coffee runs. But you can make your own coffee at home to drastically cut costs.
I bought 2 reusable K-cup filters at the store and you just have to fill them with coffee and pop it in the machine.
My bag of coffee is $10 for the month and the creamer is $4. That’s $14 per month versus $10 for 5 days at Starbucks!
34. Cook more and in larger quantities
Take leftovers for lunch instead of buying lunch for $5 a day ($25/ week, $100/month) and they also make for quick meals instead of eating out.
35. Buy generic medicine
Don’t be afraid to buy the store brand that compares to the name brand medication. The FDA only allows for a small variation in generic medications to the effects will be very similar.
36. DIY pest control
Save money by trying these DIY pest control methods. The product I recommend for roaches is professional strength and remedies infestations quickly! Plus, it’s only around $25!
37. Avoid eating out
Try to set a limit on how much you eat out per week. Just once less can save you a lot over time.
38. Buy second hand
Whether it’s clothes or furniture. You can save a lot by buying them used. I have a great wood table that I bought very cheaply on OfferUp and I’ve had it for 4 years so far.
39. Cancel your gym membership
Some gyms charge so much money! To save, you can follow free exercise videos online.
Buying your used equipment for a home gym is also a cheaper option.
40. Saving money with children
Kids grow out of their clothes so fast! Save money by buying used clothes and shop at discount stores.
To learn how to live cheap and budget when you have (or are having) a baby, take the easy course, Baby on a Budget. Learn how to save money on medical costs, increase your income, and reduce expenses such as maternity and baby-related essentials; Especially for all the formula and diapers you’ll need! Get 10% off with code: STACKYOURDOLLARS10
Be sure to check back on this list for any updates. As I discover new ways to cut everyday expenses in my own life, I’ll be sure to keep adding them here. Share your ideas of how to be cheap below!