Frugal living

I’m currently skint and am trying to cut down on spending. Is anyone in a similar position? And does anyone have any useful tips on how to live on the cheap?


  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    When I was skint in the past, I got into frugal living habits many of which stayed with me and became a way of life. You can eat very cheaply, if you shop when the 'sell by' items have been marked down, and always eat and drink in. Turn off everything not in use, don't leave it on standby. Compare tariffs. Wear extra clothes rather than turning heating on. Wash or shower, don't bath. Only buy new clothes when you need them. This is a start, I hope it helps.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    Agree with all the above. Martin Lewis’s MSE website has some great tips too.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    Use up stuff. Clothing but especially food. Soups make use of the bits and pieces in fridge. Fritters make a good change made again from the pieces in fridge. If you are in work, take lunch from home.
  • We recently joined Too good to go. This is an app intended to reduce food waste, and which can also allow you to pick up groceries for knockdown prices. The stuff is still edible but the shop/restaurant won’t be able to sell it for some reason, like it’s already right up to its date, or it’s a bakery that makes fresh every day. We pick up big boxes of slightly tired, but perfectly usable fruit and veg from the greengrocers downstairs from the apartment for the princely sum of €4. The twist is that you don’t know what’s in the box until you pick it up (which is why we go for the greengrocers’ boxes – we know it all will be fruit and veg, even though the exact contents are a surprise).

    Anyway, we’ve found it to be a great way to economise, and save the planet at the same time.

    On a different tack, I have saved not inconsiderable amounts of money this year by joining the public library instead of paying for books.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Yes, I live very frugally because of very low income. I have lots of tips, though everyone’s life and environment and interests are different, so to me the most important thing is to work out how what your priorities are, and get to know your own surroundings, to work out what will work best for you.

    To work out how to get cheap food, you might have to go to several of your local supermarkets and food shops at different times in the evening to see which do reductions, and what sort of time. Best also to choose a nearby one. because they’re not going to reduce all the food you want on the same day, so better to go a few times a week. Best not to decide beforehand what you plan to eat, but wait till you’ve seen what’s reduced, and bought foods you like (and foods you’ve not tried, which can make it more fun) and then be creative thinking of what you’re going to cook from them.

    But most important, set yourself a budget. Once you’ve set the budget and are strict with it, you will find ways to be creatively frugal. The app goodbudget is good - it’s a free app, and it lets you set up virtual envelopes for each budget (food, bills, transport, pleasure, etc) each month, and shows you visually how much you have spent of each budget. Make sure you do have a pleasure budget, and think creatively about fun, things you can do that don’t cost much money- or even any money.

    Work out systematically where all your money goes. Are there any monthly payments you could cancel or reduce? Work out what budget you have and how to live within it - below it if possible.

    Once you’ve got a budget for each aspect of your life, you then can use it how you like. If you spend nothing on your pleasure budget one month, you have double the next month.

    And work out your personal priorities. See how Raptor Eye said don’t bath - that works for lots of people, but for me, a bath is a helpful sensory thing for me, and I bath every day, and I allow for that in my budget. Though if you have a gym membership which you don’t want to cancel (or maybe you could shop around and get a cheaper one) you could in theory go every day for a swim and have a shower there.

    Also, think about how you use your electricity and where else you can go to charge your devices. If you budget to go to a coffee shop once or twice a week, for instance, they usually have electrical outlets.

    It’s hard to know how helpful my advice is because everyone means something different by being frugal, because it’s all relative to what you had before. Kath Kelly’s book How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day is quite fun for ideas of free ways to enjoy yourself (though her £1 a day didn’t include bills, and she managed to get an awful lot of free food at posh functions, which are not going to be available to everyone - depends where you live).

  • Mend and repair things until you can mend and repair no more.

    I wouldn't have had to replace my wardrobe, but I've 1) lost weight and 2) ended up throwing out† 60% of my clothes as they picked up the smell of cannabis and my daughter is allergic to it*. I'm currently working my way making clothes from my fabric stash or remaking clothes from things that are worn out. Check out the charity shops - we scored two M&S last season cotton jumpers and a pair of trousers for £1 each last week. I will need to remake the trousers, but they are a linen mix.

    Frequent libraries to borrow books and use their internet.

    † donating to the charity shops - many were sold and reused, depending on the shop, Cancer Research were useless;
    * my daughter came home as her world was impregnated with cannabis by a neighbour dealing on the same landing and the stupid building design that connected the ventilation systems between flats on the same landings.
  • I don't think of myself as frugal - but then realise the jumper I'm wearing is more than 30 years old, as are my shoes and shirt!

    All the above tips are useful and I'd add to them
    • cook a large batch of stuff and freeze what you don't eat for future use
    • pack empty space in freezer with newspaper
    • cook casseroles in the microwave (less time, less power)
    • use the low tarriff period at night for things like washing machine, charging mobiles, etc
    • grow vegetables
    • if a neighbour has unused garden ask if you can cultivate

    When it comes to getting stuff from charity shops it can pay to go to the shops in a "better" area - the Chelsea branch of Oxfam used to be very good for up-market clothes.

    Other than that, I'd advise something that may seem counterintuitive: buy the best quality shoes and clothes you can (so Lacoste polo shirts rather than Tesco) because they're much better made from better quality materials. And look after clothes and shoes by mending, repairing, and proper laundering: a Lacoste shirt may set you back £50 from an outlet but it will last 30+ years.
  • Also frozen fruit and vegetables are often much cheaper. Tesco sells 1kg of frozen sliced leeks for £1.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Also, buy clothes and shoes when they are in the sales - you can get huge reductions. If you are a woman, it's worth bearing in mind that men's clothes seem to be better quality and cheaper than women's clothes, and are not always very difference in appearance when it comes to things like tee-shirts and hoodies. Now is a good time to buy sales stuff, actually. Think ahead for next winter and get a coat in the sale if you need one. And walking shoes are good if you walk a lot, even if you don't go hiking as such. Walking is a free way of transport, so if you're able to walk when you would otherwise drive, it can be worth thinking of situations to do that, and also looking on a map to see alternative routes to walk which are greener, so you get a nice, scenic walk. I have just bought some good walking boots reduced from £90 to £25.

    Also, if your feet are UK size 5 or smaller, you can get Doc Marten youth shoes/boots, which are cheaper than adult ones, and very cheap if you buy in the sales. Same with other brands too, but DMs are good quality and last long. I have some nice ones and people are surprised that they only cost £20. Also it's a good idea, when there is a really good sale, to think ahead and buy more than one of something that you like a lot, because there won't be that particular sale again, and also, next time you need to buy, there might not be a sale on.
  • All these ideas are very good, even if one isn't on as constrained a budget.

    Thrift and frugality not only benefits us, it can enable us to give more to charities or support worthy causes.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate

    Several well-known charities run shops around here to raise money for their activities, selling good quality second-hand clothing (donated to the shop)at very reasonable prices - $40 for a pair of Loake shoes secondhand when the price new is over $700. So you can get quality clothing at an affordable price knowing that much of your payment will go to the Hamlin Fistula Clinics in Ethiopia. And as others have said, quality clothing lasts much better and is more comfortable; you may also feel better yourself wearing it.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    fineline wrote: »
    The app goodbudget is good - it’s a free app, and it lets you set up virtual envelopes for each budget (food, bills, transport, pleasure, etc) each month

    I use Budget for Windows, by Snowmint Creative Solutions, for the same purpose. It's not free, although it's reasonable.

    Years ago, my sister actually kept physical envelopes that she stored in her freezer for safekeeping.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    fineline wrote: »
    The app goodbudget is good - it’s a free app, and it lets you set up virtual envelopes for each budget (food, bills, transport, pleasure, etc) each month

    I use Budget for Windows, by Snowmint Creative Solutions, for the same purpose. It's not free, although it's reasonable.

    Years ago, my sister actually kept physical envelopes that she stored in her freezer for safekeeping.

    That looks really good too, - and I like that it has a free trial. I tried for a while budgeting on spreadsheets on my computer, before smart phones were a thing, but I found I often forgot to record small purchases, and got behind. So for me personally, it's easier having an app on my phone, just because my phone is always with me, so I can record my purchases as they happen. I should add there are other budgeting apps, that have different systems - I actually first downloaded several free versions of budgeting apps, to see which would work best for me, and I was planning to pay a couple of quid to upgrade if I found a good one that needed upgrading. But GoodBudget doesn't - there is a monthly subscription option, but I've never needed that.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    I will add this lesson from life: if you can possibly do so, avoid paying interest. It's what will keep you skint. Even if you only save £1 each week, try to save up for things, and don't run the credit cards up to more than you can pay off completely each month.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    You can set it up so you pay the entire balance of your credit card automatically by direct debit. I do this. It is much, much easier. It makes you mindful so you don't spend more than you can afford, and ensures you don't forget to pay on time and so have to pay extra.

    Another thing you can do is stop paying by card altogether. A colleague did this and told me about it, saying it worked well as a budgeting technique for her. Each week she would draw out £50 in cash, and that would be her money for the week. If she ran out, she ran out - she wouldn't let herself use a card as backup. Actually having the money there in her purse made her more aware of how much she had, and more careful what she spent. Though I find setting a budget on my app has the same effect for me.
  • The best financial advice I was ever given came from our "daily". Like many of her generation she had a horror of debt and mistrusted the Hire Purchase schemes that were common before credit cards.

    Before she and her husband bought their first washing machine she asked all sorts of questions, including what the saleman thought would be the lifespan of the machine. Once the beast was delivered she took the price of it, divided it by half the projected lifespan given by the salesman, and put aside sufficient each week to cover the cost of a new machine by the end of the period. At first the money was kept in a biscuit tin but eventually she was persuaded to put it in a savings account, together with money for similar purchases.

    I've followed this for electricals over the years and I know that if all else fails the "electricals" account will have sufficient in it to cover most emergencies.
  • skint: appears to be British dialect for being completely out of money. Which could be inferred from context to a degree.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    People use 'skint' quite loosely, I find. It means they are hard up, short of money - and what that means will vary from person to person. It doesn't necessarily mean literally no money at all - they could still have money for food and such. Students often describe themselves as skint.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Yes, if I were what I understand to be skint a £50 shirt would be impossible, however much long term sense it made, because I just wouldn't have £50. This is Vimes' Law of Boot Inequality - one reason rich people stay rich is they can afford to buy high quality stuff that lasts in the first place.

    It doesn't always work though - I splashed out £50 on a pair of jeans once in the hope they wouldn't wear through in six months like cheaper ones.

    They did. Just as quickly. Had the same with shoes, so I'm back to £20 at Winsors.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate
    As a freelancer, I oscillate between feast and famine.

    If food matters to you:

    When I have extra cash, I buy really good condiments: extra-virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and Parmesan; Kikkoman soy sauce and good fish sauce, toasted sesame oil: Maldon sea salt, whole black peppercorns and Szechuan peppers, tomato passata, jars of anchovies, dried porcini, Dijon mustard. Whole spices for Asian dishes that I can grind up in a pestle and mortar. I always have lemons in the house, fresh garlic, turmeric and ginger. This gives the dullest ingredients a fighting chance.

    Planters and pots are great for a quick herb and veg garden. I grow perennial bushes of bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, origanum and sage along with annuals of rocket, opal basil, parsley, sage, garlic and onion chives (these are great for quick dashes of flavour in frittatas and for gremolata). Vegetables that work for me are Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes (mingled with plantings of basil in summer, a great pairing), celery, bok choy, pak choy, Chinese cabbage. I have huge clumps of lemon grass and self=seeding red mustard leaf.

    I have learned to bake homemade bread and make my own pasta, make and freeze vegetable and chicken stocks, preserve jars of konfyt, pickles, spiced vinegars. I stockpile stores of dried red and black lentils, split peas, barley, spelt, polenta, basmati rice, jasmine rice and brown rice -- all in tall glass jars out of sunlight.

    And thrifty shopping for vegetables and bargains, as others have noted.

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    skint: appears to be British dialect for being completely out of money.
    I have to confess it's a new word for me, but I've learned lots of them on the Ship. Over here we'd say "broke."
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Yes, we’d use ‘broke’ in the UK as well - skint is possibly a more demotic usage.
  • I have to confess it's a new word for me, but I've learned lots of them on the Ship. Over here we'd say "broke."
    We also say broke in the UK. I like ‘skint’ though, it has a nice edgy sound to it and it’s what we say back home. I’m assuming it comes from ‘skinned’ (just looked it up and yes it does but it is a 1920s word which surprises me).
    I agree with the using cash advice, and budgeting is a good discipline so you know where everything is going. Foodwise, I tend towards the lentils and beans with spices, they’re cheap and fill you up.
  • edited April 30
    I'm enjoying this thread, as a lifelong habitual skinflint. At the risk of RH knowing what LH is doing, I echo GG's point - I think living cautiously can be coupled to giving generously.

    Can I think of any extra tips? If you like fixing things, do so. If you've ever made anything at all, it's worth reflecting that (for example) a broken chair is 95% of the way to being a chair, compared to the pile of wood one might start with for a scratch-built project. Though this logic leads me to persevere with vehicles which normal people would think a bit nuts.

    A working pushbike is almost free, and a lot lot cheaper than the bus. If it looks bad enough, no-one will nick it. Collect tyres and tubes from dead bikes that people leave lying around (well, that happens here, and also commuters sling tubes as they seem to carry spares and won't lower themselves to patching them).

    Slow cookers are odd things that people buy, don't use, and leave in a charity shop. If you're not a great cook (like me) they are great for throwing in *any* kind of leftovers from the fridge - brown the meat first - and all day you have the nice knowledge that your tea is dealt with. It might even taste nice. Day two, make a pie out of what's left. Frozen pastry can be almost as cheap as marge and flour if you buy it when on special.

    Ditto bread machines. Mine makes a small white loaf for about 35p including electricity. It saves on trips to the shops, but hot bread can be a bit addictive.

    Heat you, not the house / air. If you're old-ish / stationary, a small electric blanket to sit against your back in an armchair works great and is very cheap to run. I got my Mum one and she loves it. An old-fashioned electric bar-fire with reflector will warm you great from point-blank range aimed at your body, if you're working at a desk - but don't try to heat a room with it. If you're moving around, bungee a hot water bottle to your belly under your coat. I used to do this picking my kids up from primary school. They know I have no shame :smile:

    (ETA and yes - Don't Borrow Money).

  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited April 30
    Hm, that reminds me, my study is freezing and a hot water bottle under my feet would be nice to go with the gloves on my hands. We’re big fans of layering here.
    (Skinflint, that’s a lovely word too which I used to hear a lot as a child but not here in Cambridge)
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    As someone who's never had much money, I do find that it's still possible to cut down in one area to save more in another. I decided to stop having wifi and landline for a year, for instance, and saved quite a bit that way. Sometimes I limit myself to £1 a day on food, and then I save money that way. I would never spend £50 on an item of clothing though - but I would spend £50 or more on walking shoes, because I see shoes as transport costs, as I often walk to where I'm going, and good shoes make a huge difference to comfort.

    This is the sort of thing I mean about creating a budget. If you know you have a specific budget, you can see which areas you may be able to cut down on - especially if you're used to living more extravagantly - and there may well be money left over, and sometimes you can make a bigger purchase that will make a big difference to your life. It's quite common for people to make lots of little purchases - coffees, lunches, pints, etc. - which often they don't think much about, because they seem small, but if they stopped or limited these, it would result in quite a considerable sum of money being saved at the end of the month.

    Something I've found helpful is to judge potential purchases in terms of how much use I will get out of them, and how much difference they will make to my life. This is also what I mean about working out priorities. People sometimes think it's extravagant that I have an iPad Mini, but I get so much out of it - music, videos, social interaction, reading, learning, art apps, organisational apps, etc., and I spend hours a day using it, and enjoying it, so it is a purchase I prioritised, and definitely seems worth the money. It would be different if I put it on a shelf and only used it occasionally. But after two years, it works out to about 50p a day. About the cost of a specialty cup of coffee once a week.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    May I add, start saving now for Christmas. Need not be much but every bit that is saved takes the pressure off an expensive time of year.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Oh, regarding heating yourself rather than your home, wheat bags are great. Put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then put it around your neck, to wear like a scarf around your home.

    Shops that sell outdoor/camping clothes tend to have really thick, warm, comfy clothes, and there are sales on right now. I have lovely warm fleeces and hoodies from Mountain Warehouse and Animal, in their sales. Prices such as being reduced from £50 to £10. And men's ones are better than women's ones in my experience.
  • Thanks for all the tips!

    I’ll check that app out @fineline as I think I’ll find it useful. I’m determined not to use credit card or savings as I know it won’t solve the problem and I do need a safety net for if my car packs in or my cat gets sick.

    I find it funny when people talk about buying clothes because I have loads as I don’t throw them away and accept hand-me-downs when my friends do clear outs. I definitely need to declutter in that area!
  • Jengie Jon wrote: »
    May I add, start saving now for Christmas. Need not be much but every bit that is saved takes the pressure off an expensive time of year.

    I buy gifts for Christmas all year long, That way you can buy the perfect gift at the perfect price. Often thrift stores sell new things, summer craft fairs of have unique items at good prices.

    Soup are good on a budget, as are stir fries, and eggs.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    For various reasons, we had a very frugal year last year, and discovered the joys (and they really were joys) of making decent food from small amounts of relatively cheap ingredients. One such was potato curry, which is so nice I don't need to be boracic* to want to make it.

    I'd echo what others have said about avoiding debt and credit card interest - when our finances improved (courtesy of a family legacy) the first thing we did was pay off credit cards** and our car loan.

    * boracic (rhyming slang) boracic lint = skint.

    ** the misuse of which was part of the cause of our skintness in the first place.
  • Being frugal is a hobby I took up as a student and with which I never seem to have become bored.

    I don't think anyone has said this one yet - buy vegetables when they are on the reduced isle and freeze them immediately. You don't end up throwing half away when they have gone bad then.

    Make a basic tomato stew in bulk from chopped veg - I use onion, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and dented cans of chopped tomatoes fried off and boiled up to make a thick veg sauce. This can be frozen and made into curry, chilli, pasta sauce, sweet & sour, barbecue sauce and so on with just a few extra flavours.
  • When you must buy or pay for something, consider:
    a) is there a chance of haggling for it? My husband is Vietnamese and will do so on the slightest opportunity. Surprisingly, he often gets a pretty major discount even in places where you think they'd laugh at him. I think maybe the shock of hearing someone offer to bargain is what pushes them into saying "yes".
    b) can you barter or trade for it? This is particularly good for things like needing to get a tree taken down, or some sort of skilled labor--though if you have a vet with a child in school, offering free tutoring is an idea. Figure out what skills you have that someone might be willing to barter for. Don't forget the humble ones, like cooking, cleaning, or tax prep.

    Before you start cutting everything else to the bone, identify one or two things that you get an inordinate amount of pleasure from--whether that's Netflix or buying a latte 'round the corner. Allow yourself to keep those one or two pleasures rather than saving the extra few dollars you might (or might not) get from stopping them. Generally speaking, you'll be in a much better mood, and find it much easier to deal with the other deprivations if you have your X, whatever it is. And don't allow anyone to hassle you about keeping it!

    If you need a pricey object (car, furniture, piano, whatever), approach your church community and ask if you can put a notice in the newsletter. We needed a piano for our young son to practice on, did that, and the Baptist church down the road came across our notice while idly perusing our newsletter online (!) and GAVE US A STEINWAY. People are looking to get rid of stuff, especially when older and downsizing.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I buy fruit and veg from the reduced aisle, but I don't freeze them, because I find they tend to last ages after their date in the fridge. So long as you buy whole fruit and veg, not bags of it chopped up. I am quite selective what I freeze (because my freezer is always packed full - no empty parts to fill with newspaper!). Also I find yogurts last long after their dates, and I buy quite a few reduced price yogurts and keep them in my fridge. And cheese too. Pretty much everything in my fridge is out of date, and it is all fine.

    I buy raw meat and fish from the reduced aisle and I freeze that the day I buy it. I also buy sliced bread from the reduced aisle and freeze that - and take it out slice by slice to toast. And I buy reduced butter to freeze - as it's not reduced very often, so when it is, I buy a few. And I buy the occasional ready meal to freeze, when they are reduced very cheap, say 20p. Because when I cook in bulk, I don't freeze it - I put it in the fridge for the next few days. I don't like my own meals frozen.

    Ready meals in the freezer are good for days when you are really tired or feeling unwell - don't go shopping on those days because it's harder to be controlled and sensible in what you buy when you are very tired, At least, I find that.

    Also, thinking longer term, a couple of weeks before Christmas and a couple of weeks before Easter, supermarkets sells lamb and duck very cheap. I sometimes buy a couple of ducks and a couple of lamb legs at that time to put in my freezer (though it requires lots of rejiggling everything to get them to fit). They also sell certain veg much cheaper at that time - carrots, parsnips, etc. Also, after Christmas and Easter, they sometimes give away free veg, because they stocked so much, so they don't have to chuck it out.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    If there’s ‘stuff’ you need have a look at your local Freecycle or Freegle group, or similar. We got a free fridge, free washing machine, free freezer, free dishwasher and free cooker with ceramic hob all in this way. And don’t forget thrift/charity shops.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Before you start cutting everything else to the bone, identify one or two things that you get an inordinate amount of pleasure from--whether that's Netflix or buying a latte 'round the corner. Allow yourself to keep those one or two pleasures rather than saving the extra few dollars you might (or might not) get from stopping them. Generally speaking, you'll be in a much better mood, and find it much easier to deal with the other deprivations if you have your X, whatever it is. And don't allow anyone to hassle you about keeping it!

    Yes, this. This was what I was getting at when I was saying it's important to work out priorities and have a pleasure budget. I budget for regular cappuccinos at my favourite coffee shop (and when I've had 9 of them, I get a free one - make sure you use the loyalty card system!). You need some nice things, some little unnecessary extravagances that make you feel good, so you don't feel poor and restricted. I also like to go to a charity shop where I can buy four books for £1 - it's a nice feeling to browse and choose four books, and a nice feeling also that my money is going to charity, so I feel I am contributing something.

  • [A long account, probably boring}
    I grew up in a household with a mother who hated everything domestic (this was 50 and 60+ years ago): she stood openned cans of food in an electric frying pan with an inch of water and that would be supper (I think electric frying pans were the microwave of 1962; she later melted Melmac™ plates in a microwave). She used iron on stickers to hem things like my trousers, later staples. She thought powered milk was convenient and made her own yoghourt from it, the first time in 1973, a date which lives on in my memory. If you don't manage the quantities it overflows and smells up the house something terrible. I am traumatised to the point still I don't eat yogurt (my mother's spelling of this glary substance was not frugal with letters).

    She discovered powdered orange juice (Tang) and thought it wonderful because it was apparently invented for astronauts, and even less favourably, she discovered something called mushroom gravy, among other nasty powdered things. She boiled water on the stove and mixed up bouillon cubes (Oxo) and threw all left over canned foods into a pot which got reheated for lunch and sometimes supper. Somehow she inherited a stove-top waffle iron from the 1920s and we had waffles usually on Friday supper (meatless) and sometimes Sunday for supper too (no idea why). She would use "sandwich spread" (mix of mayonnaise, ketchup and relish in a jar) and make us sardine sandwiches with waffles as the bread. This increased my popularity at school. Periodically my father would curry up something, and that was the best cooking in the house (he'd fled Germany and ended up in Singapore before the Pacific war started in 1941). He curried stuff on pizza when they invented those pizza kits was the best meal we had.

    So in response I learned to make everything we eat; still do, and our children are anti-packaged foods and pre-prepared meals. Nothing packaged basically. Served me well; I was a student until almost age 30, married, my wife returned to school when we had babies and it became something to involve them in.

    I had an older sister and my mother thought that hand-me-downs to me was a good idea, except that I'm a boy. I learned to ruin clothing. My mother had inherited a sewing machine with the waffle iron, which turned out wasn't hard to run and I made clothes from patterns from the older sister's Home Ec class. Things became easier when dressing in raggedy clothing was thing starting somewhere in the 1960s.

    Also learned to take things apart, in those days, mostly small appliances, later things like tape recorders and cameras, radios, later cars, and later bicycles. I found the public library had repair manuals for many things. God bless public libraries! I still work on bicycles, mostly refurbing and making new to give away through a co-op.

    None of the above was in the interests of frugality really, just because it was possible. Understood it was frugal later on in life. My wife and I married as students and lived close to the edge for a long time, including after children were born. I walked most places in winter, cycled in summer, not wanting to spend on bus fare. I still do this. We're definitely not poor now, but we seem to live the same way, and we give a lot of time, money and things away. I guess we're frugal still.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Use off-peak electricity tarriff as much as possible especially for high temp stuff like towels.
    Line dry. Even inside your dwelling on a frame you can shift around to a warmer place or out of sight.
    Bread machine - make multi-grain healthy loaves full of nuts, seeds and goodies for really cheap compared to buying them
    Make your own yoghurt or kefir. Sprout your own sprouts. (Though if you do not have time don't do that as it will become a burden).
    Nutri-ninja - super-high powered upside-down blender thingy.
    Freeze fruit that looks like it's getting too ripe and use in smoothies or crumbles. (Cut into chunks first)
    If you see cheap fruit in season buy a lot and freeze it in "servings". Especially berries.
    When buying something - a garment, an appliance, kids' toys: divide price by expected lifetime (or number of wears or useage)
    Take into account that you do not need 7 pairs of "gardening trousers" and calmly dispose of stuff that is no longer wearable. So that what you do have is all in good condition
    Only buy things you really love Buy quality (actual quality not snob or label quality) at (from) shops (or www. sites) that are Nice to You. Buying should be a pleasant experience and when you look at or use a purchase it should remind you of what a good time you had buying it

    Second the one about treats mentioned above!
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited April 30
    Part of this is how good you are at budgeting. I am fortunate to have a good income, but I am terrible at managing money - for various reasons that needn’t detain us here.

    So, I have tried to set my life up such that my bills go out the day after my money comes in. I have a store cupboard of long lasting food, that I rolling replenish - then I know if I stuff my budget for some reason, essentials are covered.

    I find that bills that are the same each month are easier to manage so will sometimes choose to pay slightly more - eg phone contract with unlimited minutes over pay as you go - so that I know precisely what I’ll be paying each month.

    If you have a pet and little money, I’d strongly recommend insurance if at all possible - vet bills are just huge for almost anything. I’ve also subscribed to my vet’s wellness plan - this basically amounts to paying monthly so that I’m not charged £70 for a vaccination in one hit. (Because my cat developed a chronic condition I have to submit insurance claims regularly, the wellness plan means I don’t have to pay the vet to fill the forms out which also works out cheaper over the year.)

    I’ve found prepay cards helpful, so I put all my petrol money on one the day after I’m paid and I am considering doing the same for food.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    I use the crockpot a lot, especially for soups and stews. I also operate what I call the soup economy whereby I swap soup for small jobs I would be challenged to do around the house with a semi-retired builder friend. He has all the equipment and the knowledge, and gets soup and a large Christmas cake in exchange. I also give soup or plants I have taken from cuttings to thank people for small things they may have done, or just out of friendship. I also make or recycle thank-you, birthday and Christmas cards.

    I try to shop for any small appliances around holiday times when the sales are on.

    I also have a small flask I carry in my backpack because the cost of hot drinks. I usually carry an apple too, to avoid the temptation of buying snacks.

    Before I retired I realised I needed to sort my money so I approached a free budgeting service run by a local church. The budget advisor helped me develop a budget that would allow me to save for hearing aids and other expenses. I found this particularly helpful because I needed someone else who would have a systematic approach. It was useful too in that I realised I was managing better than I thought I was.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    edited May 1
    I've waxed lyrical on here before about Costco ready-cooked chickens: for $7.99 (about £4.60) we can feed the two of us several times, plus making stock from the bones which will be the basis of soups and other dishes (and much nicer than stock-cubes).

    I reckon ordinary Costco membership pays for itself: we recently upgraded to Executive membership, which costs twice as much, but gives you a 2% dividend after a year and also 2c a litre off petrol. We haven't been Executive members for a full year yet, but we're fairly sure it'll justify the extra cost.

  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    Credit card? No, I use a debit card which came with account I opened when I realised marriage would end. While I have money now, I had very little then and if there was no money in account, card could not be used.

    Quality pays. Good shoes fit better and last longer than cheap rubbish and give pleasure to use.

    I am reluctantly realising that a padded silk jacket is practically at the end of its life. I bought it 35 years ago at a sale and loved it. I have mended parts but inside lining is now beginning to shred. It has cost me $1/year on sale price. Warmth, comfort and style at bargain basement price. I will wear it here if outside this year but have bought a replacement on special.

  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate
    @NOprophet_NØprofit I grew up with the same kind of mother! She wasn't 'frugal' as such, but thought adults did better on cigarettes and copious amounts of vodka while children could open packets and cans. That's why decent food and slow cooking is important to me.

    @Galilit's post on homemade yoghurt reminded me that I have at various points nurtured a sourdough starter, which is a time-consuming activity but produces outstanding bread and rolls.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    I think bread making responds to the baker. Normal bread with yeast worked for me but my sourdough starter which had been virtually unkillable turned up its toes and died when I left Mr L and everything was in turmoil.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Oh, I just thought of something I was going to say. I don't make proper bread, but I make a very simple flatbread, which also works as a pizza base, by mixing yogurt with self-raising flour. Or even simpler, you can just mix warm water with self-raising flour. I've done both, and made some nice pizzas out of them.
  • DormouseDormouse Shipmate
    edited May 1
    If you require frugal recipes I can suggest Jack Monroe? Some seriously frugal cooking going on there! I seem to keep messing up the link but if you google "Jack Monroe cooking on a bootstrap" or some such, you easily find her blog.
  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    Yes, I make flatbreads all the time, a nice quick filler for my teenage sons. Sometimes I make a bread dough for more raised ones too.
    I gave my husband a sourdough starter as part of his birthday present and I wouldn’t dare touch his sourdough!
    I eat a lot of eggs, quick, cheap and nutritious. My standard lunch is a two egg omelette with either cheese or mushrooms.
  • Bob Two OwlsBob Two Owls Shipmate
    Piglet wrote: »
    I reckon ordinary Costco membership pays for itself

    Not here, I get free membership from my employer and I have kept an eye on what I spend there. It costs me about 3-5% more to get things from Costco than going to Home Bargains, B&M or even Asda or Tesco if I am selective in what I buy and when. Plus, if I don't go to Costco I don't end up with a tray of 12 danish pastries that I don't need.

  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    I am very frugal in most respects, but I buy very high quality herbs and spices. Even the most expensive make up a tiny fraction of my food budget. This is one area where it pays to splurge. They make even the cheapest food taste so much better.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    I try not to buy spices in the UK: I'm very fortunate in having a half-Turkish friend and whenever they go back home I give them a list and some money and so our spice supply is maintained. Herbs I grow in the garden or in the back veranda, freezing those which really are seasonal, but I find that proximity to the house keeps virtually everything growing year-round, dill and basil being the exceptions.
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