Are you looking for that one weird trick to catapult you to epic frugality and an early retirement epiphany? Do you want to know the super secret tactics Mr. Frugalwoods, Frugal Hound, and I employ to attain our sky-high 71% savings rate? Have you been prowling the internet for “hot frugal tips”? I know I have. Look no further because today, I’m revealing all.

So just how are we positioning ourselves to retire at 33? Get ready for some shockers.

The Frugalwoods’ 12 Shocking Frugal Hacks

1) Don’t spend money.

Drops mic…

I'm a ridiculous-looking animal
I’m a ridiculous-looking animal

I could pretty much end the post right here, but then I’d feel badly that you took the time to click over and start reading… Plus I have a lot of Frugal Hound photos I need to squeeze in today.

I see folks getting more frantic than a greyhound in a squirrel sanctuary over coupons, sales, deals, and bizarre money-saving schemes. But the truth is, a genuine frugal weirdo doesn’t need any of that, because we just don’t buy it. Whatever it is, we’re probably not buying it. This might sound like a gimmick in and of itself, and you can feel free to treat it that way if it helps you. Try this out: “Oh yeah, I’m in the Frugalwoods-No-Buy program. It’s pretty intense.” All’s you have to do is, wait for it, resist the urge to buy stuff.

Bonus: wind power near our Costco
Bonus: there’s wind power near our Costco!

Every month, Mr. Frugalwoods and I go to the grocery store, Costco, and occasionally Home Depot and Full stop. While it’s totally possible to impulse shop at the grocery store (ahem, pregnancy cravings, ahem), it’s far less tempting than say, I don’t know, a store that sells clothes or gadgets. When in doubt, don’t buy it.

2) There are no hacks.

The first rule of frugal hack club is that there are no hacks. Despite what we all might want to believe, there’s no hidden trove of tricks that we frugal people use. Life is pretty simple and peaceful when you’ve embraced the frugal ethos. Rather than spending your valuable life energy deliberating over which new useless doodad to buy, or how to pimp your ride, or bling your cat, you get to enjoy the beautiful ease and clarity that comes from being secure in, and content with, what you already have.

There's never a shortage of library books in our home
There’s never a shortage of library books in our home

With all the extra time you’ll gain from not shopping or stressing out, you’re free to dress up your greyhound in absurd outfits, read books (checked out from the–gasp–free library), cook your own awesome food, and just generally enjoy life. Frugality is all about identifying your priorities and then only spending money in service of those goals. There’s really nothing more to it. But hey, I thought of more stuff to write, so keep reading…

3) Buy a used car.

If a frugal weirdo needs a car, you better believe they’re going to buy it used. No matter what car salesmen would have you believe (which, by the way, would entail taking advice from someone who stands to benefit from your loss…), a new machine will depreciate immediately after you drive it off the lot. You might as well fling a few thousand bucks out the window as you drive away to get the idea of just how much money you’ve wasted.

Frugal Hound shows off our sweet 19-yr-old ride
Frugal Hound shows off our sweet 19-yr-old ride

And when I say a used car, I don’t mean a car that’s a year or two old. I mean one that’s generously several years old. Frugalwoods-mobile is rocking it at age 19 and has incurred nominal repair expenses over the years. Why? She’s a reliable beast of a vehicle. Do your research, figure out what type of car fits your needs (not your wants) and then find one that’s 10 years old on Craigslist. Oh yeah, and pay cash for it. Financing a car is a greater sin than wearing white after Labor Day.

4) Go to a cheap college.

This is an example of taking the lazy way out. Instead of fretting and roiling over student loan rates and how to cobble together an astronomical tuition fee, encourage your kiddos (or yourself if you’re a super enlightened high-schooler reading this right now) to select a decent, inexpensive, in-state, public university.

There are plenty of amazing public schools that cost a fraction of their private counterparts. A fraction, I tell you! Mr. FW and I are both the products of public higher ed and look where we are now! Writing bizarre frugal rants on the internet! In all seriousness, we’ve both been served just fine by our public school BAs and never once had an employer look askance at our education. And did I mention we’ve never had any student loan debt? Oh yeah.

5) Cook your own food.

Cooking our own food!
Cooking our own food! P.S. That’s salmon on a salad (I realize it looks kinda weird in the photo, but it’s really tasty)

Yep, another shocker. I’m always amazed at the number of people bewildered about where to start frugalizing their monthly budget and turns out, they’re dropping a hundred bucks or more at restaurants every month. I totally get it if a restaurant meal every now and then is part of your entertainment or treat budget, but, making it a habitual component of your routine is an easy way to watch money fly through your fingers. If you do want to eat out from time to time, frugalize your at-home breakfasts and lunches.

Focusing your efforts on reducing your grocery bill will also continually yield dividends. Since food is one of those things we just have to buy on repeat, finding ways to make it cheaper will be a boon for you every single month. Don’t just trim off a few bucks every once in awhile, change how you eat and watch the savings grow. Mr. FW and I munch healthy (hello organic produce!) for around $300-$350/month for the two of us–yes folks, it can be done.

6) Buy a house as an investment.

If you choose to buy a house, buy smart (many frugalers are in the renting camp, which can also be a great strategy). Don’t spend above your budget, don’t take out a mortgage at a terrible interest rate, and don’t buy something you won’t be able to later resell or rent out. When you’re buying, treat it like an investment, not a home. You’ll have plenty of time to home-i-fy it after you move in, but you can’t go back in time and make it a better investment.

7) Bide your time.

Frugal Hound attacking her toys
Frugal Hound attacking her toys.

In those rare instances where Mr. FW and I truly do need to buy something, we take the tack of biding our time. Much like Frugal Hound stalking her toys, we’re methodical and ruthless. We observe, price compare, research, deliberate, investigate used options, consider if we already own something that’ll suffice, determine if it can be borrowed, and then carefully make our purchase. In this way, we find the best product at the best price and don’t suffer buyer’s remorse. I’ve never been sorry that we waited to make a purchase. Time always lends perspective and a better deal. It’s a proven frugal fact.

8) Get a frugal pet.

For those of us who are fur, fin, or feather-inclined, it’s important to make a thrifty choice when selecting a pet. Rather than sentencing yourself to a lifetime of struggling to find coupons for dog-walkers and groomers, select a breed of dog that doesn’t require either (I’m of course biased towards greyhounds, but there are other breeds that also fit the bill).

It really is possible to build future frugality into your adoption of a pet by taking into consideration their exercise needs, medical proclivities, grooming requirements, behavioral tendencies, and your own travel and work schedule. I’m a huge advocate for pets, but only when done frugally and responsibly.

Frugal Hound with her paraphernalia
Frugal Hound with her dog paraphernalia

9) Invest simply.

Do not use ostentatious money managers and ETFs with words and marketing that make you feel smart but actually just mean they’re leeching money from you every month. Choose low-free index funds that are so straightforward, you can manage them yourself. It’s boring, but it works. Sometimes–actually often–simple is best.

10) Don’t waste time caring about what other people think.

Unless they’re going to help you pay down your debt or save more money for you, forget what anyone else thinks about you. You don’t have to race around trying desperately to figure out how to keep up with the Joneses because you’re keeping up with the Frugalwoods (which is really easy to do, by the way, since it mostly involves an absence of actions and things).

If you’re spending money so that people will be impressed by you and like you, consider this: do you really want to impress and befriend the type of people who would be impressed by lavish displays of wealth? “Not I,” said every frugal weirdo reading this.

11) Do it yourself.

Mr. FW and I cutting my hair at home.
Mr. FW and I cutting my hair at home.

Whatever it is, don’t hire it out. The exception here is dental and medical care–I’ve gotten questions about this before and, for the record, we don’t advocate for home-surgery. But if a task doesn’t require an MD, you can probably figure it out on your own.

Fix your own house, cut your own hair (yes, gentlemen and ladies), wash your own dirty dog, cook your own delicious food, change your own tires, clean your own house, and just generally don’t pay people to do stuff for you. You’re wasting two things when you hire out: 1) your money, 2) your opportunity to learn a new skill.

12) Look beyond the flash.

All that glitters is not gold. The consummate frugal weirdo knows to studiously avoid anything that reeks of marketing and gaudiness. Plenty of stuff falls into this dangerous category: new cars, new clothes, new furniture, even pre-packaged foods at the grocery store.

Put on your flash-blinders and open your eyes to the wonders of scratch-and-dent appliances, used furniture on Craigslist, thrift store clothing, and raw, bulk foods in boring colors like green and brown. Cleverly avail yourself of what our non-frugal counterparts cast off. The used market is rife with other people’s mistakes. Make them your cunning advantage.

What are your top frugal tips?

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  1. Tip #1 says it all. It’s all about changing your mindset, once you flip the switch and break the behavior of spending and perceived convenience you can do so much more with your money.

  2. Keeping up in with the Frugalwoods is actually really hard. You’re so optimized in your lack of spending at this point! I have definitely said to myself “the Frugalwoods wouldn’t have bought this.”

    One tip I have is to empower your means. I was reading an article recently about some of the things poor people have to do to get by. At least half the things on the list, I choose to do and am proud of it. E.g. The difference between wanting to bring your lunch v. having to bring your lunch. Knowing that you can’t do something is a lot crappier than choosing not to do something. If a ‘have to” could switch to a “want to”, they could feel better during their lunch break every day and likely make better financial choices because they aren’t feeling deprived. It’s all about mindset.

    1. That’s a great point–it really is all about mindset. It’s about choosing to spend less because you want to. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. These principles are very close to our own philosophy. We met at public university and had no problem landing jobs. In many ways the new cars and clothes and furniture are the trade-off for early retirement or whatever financial goals you might want. So not worth it! I doubt most people actually think it is, but they don’t believe changes like driving a used car could have such a huge impact on their finances. We also believe that not shopping, DIYing, and buying necessities off Craiglist are actually way more fun!

    1. Definitely, new cars (every few years, too) have got to be a top earlier retirement killer. Or at least a top big-time delayer.

      When I sat down to write a blog post about my 1996 Dodge Dakota, I calculated that owning it — AND KEEPING IT — had lowered the size of my targeted financial independence stash by a cool $150,000. Which would have added 9 more years to my wait before pulling the earlier retirement trigger. So, definitely, driving an older model vehicle is in my book one of the most powerful earlier retirement frugal hacks I can think of.

  4. At first I thought WHAT? Buy a home as an investment? That’s the biggest rookie mistake ever. I usually say to NOT buy a home as an investment . Buy it as a place to live in.

    Then I realized you meant don’t spend too much money and don’t get all emotional. Very smart advice.

    1. That was my thought to. With your home, it’s best to assume that every “improvement” you make has an ROI of 0%. Otherwise people get way to excited about justifying big home renovations that they want to live in, but are actually terrible long term investments. Better to be up front that the costs of home-i-fying your modest home (preferably bought out of foreclosure or with a similar big discount) are considered sunk costs and not investments.

    1. Makes sense! And, then you don’t have to find a place to board your pet while on vacation!

  5. Cats are very frugal pets. 😉 They don’t need to be groomed, they eat pretty small amounts of food, and they can be self-sufficient for a night or two if you go on a weekend trip! I may be just a little biased…

  6. I have recently got into the spend no money mode! however DH isn’t on board yet. We are full time RV’ers and travel so libraries are out for us. But with a free kindle app you can get free books from various outlets…

  7. Wise advice indeed, although truthfully if I were to do it all over again and very frugal, a pet wouldn’t be included, as I don’t think they are very frugal choices. When they get sick it can get very expensive. But I still love my pet to death as you love yours, and sometimes you can’t just forgo everything in life for the sake of frugality. All in all it’s spending money on what you value most, and not on frivolous stuff.

  8. When I started down this road to financial independence, many folks suggested the strategy of shopping at thrift stores. I have found that this does not work for me. Instead, I purchase a few well made pieces of new clothing.

    In the past when I shopped thrift stores, purchased many inexpensive items, and sported a very full closet. But what I learned is that I had a closet full of clothes that I AlLMOST liked, and in reality I wore several of the same pieces over and over. Now I do not shop thrift stores and I purchase my clothes new. The difference is that I only own a few pieces of clothing. For example, I own four pairs of black pants that are identical. This is what I wear to work. The pants last for about three years before I replace them. I also own a few pairs of shoes, including three pairs of Birkenstocks that are resoled (my local store always offers ten percent off in the month of April), one pair of Chaco sandals, along with specialized shoes for bike riding and hiking.

    I buy items that are good quality and I purchase items on sale when possible.

    1. Sounds like you have a great strategy! I think it’s all about being strategic, which you definitely are.

    2. Most of my clothes I get from goodwill, and are decently high-quality, because I’m very selective when I go. You’d be surprised what people will donate, you just have to be critical about it, but you can often get stuff of a quality that’s rarely made nowadays.

  9. I love that you are poking fun at the tiny “tips and trick” and “hacks” that people seem to search out on the internet. It’s much better to focus on the big picture, as you have in this post. Don’t make one tiny alteration in your life and expect it to make a difference.

    I think you covered what I would say are my best frugal strategies – default to not buying (I don’t go as far as you do, but it is rare for me to make discretionary purchases, and well-researched when I do) and make sure your top budget line items (for most: housing and transportation) are reasonable to inexpensive. Nothing is more futile than trying to maximize cash back rewards when what you really need to do is sell your car or move.

    1. It really is all about the big picture–there’s no way to “hack” your way to true frugality, in my opinion. Great point about moving and selling the car!

  10. I love this! I agree, I dislike using a lot of coupons or shopping sales for this exact reason. I use coupons to a certain extent, but find just not buying things to be a much cheaper alternative 😉 .

    It’s also the reason we are such home bodies. Aside from just loving our home, we also know that we aren’t out spending money when we are hanging at home.

    1. So true about not buying things–it’s better than any discount out there! We’re the same way about hanging out at home 🙂

  11. As the owner of a senior dog I would have to say that pets are not frugal. They are an important part of life but my old dog and his vet bills have impacted my retirement goals.

    Vet bills, drugs and food were about $3,000 last year and that is 4 weeks of take home pay for me. Some people told me to just put him down but he has an excellent quality of life and I have an obligation to provide him with the care he needs because pets are not disposable like an old cell phone or broken dishwasher.

    1. Beth, I completely agree with you. I have an 11 year old lab, she has been in great health and inexpensive to groom for most of her life. But, now that she is a senior dog, there are issues with her health. A abscess tooth, a condition called drunk leg, which is a the result of a pinched nerve in her spine and just last week we took her in for a hacking/breathing noise she was making. That visit alone was $250 for x-rays and steroids, and they wern’t even sure what the problem was. I then had to go back yesterday and pick up a new perscription because the steroids have been hard on her colon.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear you’re both going through health issues with your dogs now. And, Beth, I think your sentiment about pets not being disposable is a wonderful one. I agree that pets aren’t frugal, but, I think there are ways to make the experience of ownership more frugal (though, as you both point out, not when serious medical conditions are involved). My best wishes to you both!

        1. Pets are enormously important to the wellbeing of many people, esp people living by themselves. The scientific research into this is mind blowing. However, that doesn’t mean you should ever take on an animal you cannot afford to take to the vet when necessary.

          1. Absolutely, Lorna. My two old cats went over the rainbow bridge over the last 12 months, and as I recently sold my business to concentrate on studying a PhD, I’m very conscious of having no income as well as no cuddles. I have ongoing health issues that have previously been alleviated by the presence of my gorgeous pusses.
            Now I’m considering becoming a volunteer foster carer which would a) restore the furry absences in my life, b) not blow my tight budget (all food, vet etc costs are covered by the charity) and c) leave my options open as to whatever jobs might arise when I finish the PhD (local, national, international). Not quite as perfect as enjoying 20 years of joyous furbaby companionship, but, I hope, a good alternative.

  12. #12 invest simply. I agree investing in low cost index funds are they way to go. Keep those fees low. Most fund managers are not going to do much better then an index. If they do beat the index, you will lose out in additional fees.

  13. I am thrilled that you have a post on your frugal grocery list, I’m going to dig into that! My fiance & I eat all 3 meals at home throughout the week and only dine out very rarely. This saves us hundreds of dollars in a month, but we tend to stick to the same purchases and sometimes stray away from organic because it can be too pricey. Love the part about “gasp-free library,” as well – definitely one of our all time favorite places! Perfect for frugal dates & gaining free knowledge. 🙂

    1. Love frugal library dates! That’s one of our favorite activities :). Great job on cooking at home too!

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  15. “I’m always amazed at the number of people bewildered about where to start frugalizing their monthly budget and turns out, they’re dropping a hundred bucks or more at restaurants every month.” I could not agree more! This always gets me and it’s one of the simplest ways to live frugally. The “average” family of four spends anywhere from $600-$1300 per month on food. While that’s a pretty drastic range you can get by with much less and still eat very well and still eat a lot of organics. All too often, I’ve found, so much of it comes down to choices and realizing it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

    1. Well said–it really doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Frugality is kind of a common sense equation when it comes down to it!

  16. Great frugal hacks! This should definitely be bookmarked. I used to be in the renting camp and still kinda am but I do think that if you live in an area that makes sense, buying is a good idea. I know someone who bought a duplex, rented one unit out as well as rented one of the rooms in his unit…that paid the mortgage! That wouldn’t work where I live in NYC though. Any other frugal dog breeds? Not planning on getting one now…but maybe in the future =)

    1. Yeah, I think rent vs. own is a healthy debate to have–like you said, it just doesn’t make sense to buy in every market. Good question on frugal dog breeds–in general, larger dogs are calmer and require less exercise and hence are less destructive and less in need of dog walkers, etc. I’d suggest researching which type of breed will best fit with your lifestyle when the time comes. For example, a high-energy herding breed that requires extensive daily running will not do well in a condo in the city 🙂

  17. I play 52 ways to stretch a pension – a game I play with myself. I’m retired and already have my dream home in the country but I want to be able to buy myself some new toys to play with in my retirement years. Every week I devise a new way to save my skimpy pension. I am up to #37 now! Change the behaviour (spending) and before long you have a new ingrained habit (saving). It works! Thanks for giving me some fresh ideas to work with. I will get to #52 before year end and will have enough money saved to buy my new toys…..then I guess, I will start over again next year.

    1. I love that you’re coming up with a new way to save every week–what a great idea! I find it fun to challenge myself to save more too–it really can become a game! Good luck to you in getting to #52, sounds like you’re well on your way.

  18. I agree there are no real hacks.

    My friend and I were discussing investing and delayed gratification the other day. My friend said too many people who hear the ideas of MMM and frugality in general scoff because really what they want is a get rich quick scheme. I would argue that frugality is a get rich quick scheme – being able to retire in 10-15 years of work (assuming you’re not starting off with substantial debts) is a hell of a lot quicker path to retirement than that of the average American. Of course, it requires some discipline and self-control (I would argue only initially, and after a while it just comes naturally). But most people’s idea of get rich quick means within say a year or two, not 10-15. It’s too bad really.

    I totally agree with #2. A hack would be quick and easy. Frugality can come easily over time, but getting there is typically neither quick nor easy.

    1. Well said–frugality is certainly a calculated, long play for a lifetime of freedom. What could be better 🙂

    1. Totally! We’ve just built it into our lifestyle, which makes it second nature and long-term.

  19. I’ve been cutting my own hair since right after college (3 years ago). You know, it looks better than when I went to a professional. Reason being, since I have to do the work, I care more out of the end result. I pay attention to how it gets done. I <3 my hair now like I never did before.

  20. Yup, gotta love #1. I find that I spend the least amount of money when I just don’t leave my house. It sounds dorky, but I’ve got a garden to tend and books that need reading, so I ought to stay put a little more anyway! Of course, I might also need to purposefully turn off the house internet, or “forget” my Amazon password too…

  21. Love that: “The used market is rife with other people’s mistakes.” Hear, hear. Thanks for putting these all in one place, especially the tip about there being no hacks. It’s a reminder everyone needs — including those of us in the frugal world!

    1. Thanks so much! It’s true–it’s a long-term, calculated game. But. totally worth it in the end!

  22. I think not having a pet is the most frugal option of all. I love dogs and we had 2 wonderful, amazing mutts for years but it’s such a financial relief not to have vet bills and other pet-related expenses.

    1. Very true that no pets is the most frugal option. But, there are ways to have pets more frugally if one is so inclined.

      1. I’m not sure but a frugal pet option might be fostering – you get the benefit of a pet for a shorter time period until they can move on to a forever home. It’s something I plan on looking into once I move into a pet-friendly home. Great post 🙂

        1. That’s an excellent point, Katie! I know that the organization we adopted Frugal Hound from is always in need of more foster parents. And, indeed, it’s a shorter time commitment!

  23. I like #1 and #4 the best. In fact, I have written about #4 and how unimportant these more expensive and somehow “prestigious” colleges actually are. They might prepare you for a long, drawn-out career. But heck, who wants a long and drawn-out career, anyway? I’ll gladly take the easy and cheap way out…AND retire before I hit 40.

    Sounds like a much, much better plan to me.

    1. So true! Mr. FW and I are just so thankful we went to a cheap school. Not having student loan debt was a life-changer for us.

  24. It’s all a matter of priorities. What are your priorities, in order?
    Ask yourself for each expenditure of money or time if it contributes to your priorities.
    Ask yourself if you could substitute or do without.

    Saving money defers current pleasure to the future. Make that future count.

  25. What you said! Definitely beginning with don’t buy stuff. (Although I imagine you will soon be back in Goodwill hunting for maternity clothes! Man, I miss maternity pants. Those things are comfy and so forgiving.)

    Parenting little kids while working changes the dynamic. I can’t DIY everything because there aren’t enough hours in the day, and not all DIY is compatible with watching your children. So I concentrate on things that can be worked in short stretches (aka a Daniel Tiger episode), involve no dangerous equipment, and especially that the kids can help with. (Big Brother likes to hold the reverse button on the sewing machine, and they both like turning on the food processor.)

    So, for instance, Mr. FP just paid to have new screens made. DIY would have involved dangerous equipment (a hacksaw, which we don’t even own) and the learning of skills that we are not likely to use again soon. He did call around and turned a $90 quote into $44. (Thank you, True Value hardware!)

    And here’s my add: Don’t be afraid of hassle. I hate my health insurance company. I had to wait on hold for half an hour, then they hung up on me, and I still didn’t have an appointment. I finally got one after about 5 phone calls. But I save $85 a month with them. So if you average out the hassle over the course of a year, I’m probably making AT LEAST $200 an hour to put up with the hassle. I don’t make quite that much pushing papers for our dependent care FSAs, but it saves the taxes on $10,000 per year–so $2500. That’s definitely worth a couple hours a month spent making up special receipts, getting them signed, and uploading them!

    1. Great point about hassle! We like to say we’re a company’s worst nightmare because we do not fear being on the phone and mailing in various bits of paper and receipts :). That’s such a good way of thinking about it–thanks for sharing!

  26. I, too, like #1, just “Don’t spend money.” I learned I am more apt to buy if I leave the house, though I know, all too well, how easy it is to buy online. I’m trying to grocery shop less often because, invariably, once I enter the food store of choice, I will buy more than I’d planned. Taking in a list does help tremendously. Saying “No,” to impulse buying and snack foods that “jump out at me,” does take some will power. But, I’ve become much stronger over the past year, since my husband passed away. I will be moving so I need to save as much money as I can since I’ll be moving into a higher cost housing area of the country. But, I’ve also learned a lot. I do shop thrift stores because, for the most part, I find much better quality there, than in retail stores. One example: t-shirts; these I wear for working out. The ones in thrift stores are older and heavier and will last me along time, whereas the ones in retail stores are paper thin and I would need to layer 2 or 3 times to adequately feel covered. I am very picky when I buy, but do find quality in thrift and consignment shops. Some women say they can never find anything for themselves there, but I always do well and honestly wear the clothing I buy. As to eating out, I often use online coupons and frequently either share a meal with a friend or take home enough to make one or two more meals. I meet a friend at Dunkin’ Do-nut, now and then, and we always get a survey on our receipt. With the coded receipt, I can go back, buy a medium coffee, get a free do-nut and, with a senior discount, spend less than $1. I can’t fix my breakfast at home for that price. This has been most interesting and helpful. And, I always enjoy reading the comments from readers.

    1. Thrift stores are amazing! We often find clothing with the tags still on it, never worn or washed, for 80-90% off the initial price. When we _have_ to buy clothes (thankfully not often) we’ll always go thrift.

      Glad this is interesting, thanks for commenting!

  27. FWs,

    Great tips. #1 is definitely the best. 🙂

    I’d say that going a bit further on the car thing… it’s probably more possible to get by without a car than a lot of people give credit for. We get by just fine without one in a relatively small town. Even cheaper than a used car, and a lot healthier as well.

    And insofar as college is concerned, that’s also sometimes not necessary. Depends on your interests/skills/plans and what not, but going to college was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. But if you go, then I definitely agree with the advice up there.


    1. Yeah, I’d argue that far more people go to a 4-year college than _should_ go. I have a soft spot in my heart for a liberal arts education… but it often is not the right financial choice.

    2. Sometimes a bike trailer is useful, especially for families, but I, single retired, have little problem carrying all my purchases in my back saddlebags and/or on the back rack, including a 20kg bag of dog food or a 70lb can of malt extract for beer making – tho not both at once….

  28. The title of this post is hilarious 🙂 I am a first time commenter and LOVE your blog! I have been reading frugal blogs for YEARS now and many of the started out great but then seemed to dwindle in quality of content over time. It is SO refreshing to find such well composed and creative content as you have on your blog. You two are so inspiring! Thank you for putting your time into your blog. I hope it is something you enjoy and continue to do well into the future so we can all continue to read! 🙂

    1. Hah, thanks. Nothing like poking fun at some terrible click-baity headlines 🙂

      We’ll keep doing it as long as we’re having a good time. So far, after 191 posts, it’s still a ton of fun!

  29. We really can’t hear enough of these posts! Thank you so much for all the work you put into writing them. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate them all. (We had planned on eating out last night, then after being inspired by your post I quickly got into ‘cooking mode’ and prepared a simple meal that was wholesome, filling and inexpensive.) You’re such an encouragement. Thank you both! 🙂

  30. Great list!!!

    I generally agree with the previous comment that cats are frugal pets, but my geriatric Tony has a chronic illness and has become a HUGE money-pit. (Hello, $550 enema??) But he’s my first baby, and I can’t image not paying for what he needs to be comfortable.

  31. This was a great read! A lot of these things we’ve done because we had to, not because we were frugal weirdos yet, but it always surprises me how foreign these concepts are to some people. What? You can do your OWN nails? Like they’ve never heard of such a thing. It makes their noses wrinkle at the very notion! I am actually happy to proclaim that I have never ever ever had a manicure done by a stranger. There, I said it. Boy am I glad to get THAT off my chest. 😛

    1. I’ve never had a manicure done by a stranger either, but it’s probably more reasonable since I’m a dude 🙂

      But I also know families that own a house with a lawn and they’ve never mowed their own grass. I mean come on!

  32. Cooking your own food and doing it smartly is a huge one for us. Three years ago we set out to cut back our expenses and food was a big area for us to work on. We estimate that we save over $10,000 a year just from cooking more at home. It hard to earn an additional $10,000 or make it in the stock market, but you can easily do it through food spending.

  33. Love it! I’m not Frugalwoods frugal, but I’m trying! My car is 12 years old and six kinds of ugly, but it runs great. We cook at home and work the leftover angle. I’m newly single and just paid off my credit card. 🙂 I just realized this comment is a bunch of random, frugal sentences. Lol

    1. I love the random frugal sentences!!! That’s how I think too :). Congrats on paying off your credit card and embracing the frugal lifestyle. You’ll have to keep us posted on your journey!

  34. From my own experience of practicing frugality for a little more than a year, I can swear that religiously abiding by tips no 9 and 10 helped me most to stash away huge chunks of cash in my bank account. This post is just awesome. Thanks for this gem

  35. FWIW: Over the past 6 months or so I have migrated to eBay instead of Amazon. Under many circumstances one can get what one wants with out upping the order to >$35 to take advantage of Amazon’s free shipping. I immediately go to “Daily Deals”, click “free shipping” and “US only” (once I forgot to do this and a $2 item shipped from China without me noticing and it took at least 6 weeks to arrive), then search. Daily Deals are always free shipping. If Daily Deals doesn’t have it I do a full eBay search. I’m going to retire in a year and I’ll be putting items on eBay to earn some spending cash! I am thoroughly addicted to eBay now and seldom use Amazon anymore.

    1. Good to know! We’re actually using Amazon less these days in favor of Costco, which usually has lower prices. I’ll have to check out eBay though!

  36. You my dear are awesome!!!! I love everything that you and your hubby represent! It’s so refreshing to see a young couple that is this wise and well balanced. We live in a country of abundance yet have a constant mind state of want and that is what is contributing to most of societies issues (don’t get me started). Please keep doing what you are doing and encouraging and education others about the pitfalls consumer culture. I am inspired and grateful to have come across your website! God Bless!

  37. My best frugal hack is accounting for opportunity cost. If you take money out for (fill in the blank) treat it like a loan from the bank. Find out what you would have paid in interest to the bank had you take out a loan, and add that to your repayment of savings. Multiple loans = increased velocity.

    Opportunity cost defined : the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
    “idle cash balances represent an opportunity cost in terms of lost interest”

  38. The one thing I wanted to do my whole life was STAY HOME 🙂 Love my cozy little house, garden, animals, books and music..but, alas, I had to work. I worked at a “job” not a career I loved. So the minute I could retire I did…now I can stay home AND save money…cook from scratch, compost and grow fruit and vegetables, switched to solar power and rain water catchment…most days the (20-year-old) car never leaves the garage…don’t have to buy “office attire” or lunch or donate for birthdays for 30 different people I hardly knew….Have a small but wonderful place for friends and family to visit ….and save as much money as I can in the rainy day fund. Life is good.

  39. Excellent post–an unsparing one to revisit as I look forward to 2017! Thank you for compiling such reasonable “hacks” (i.e., non-hacks) in one place.

    I love to see that so many others enjoy staying home/”in” and tending to simple pleasures (gardening, reading, cooking, family/pet time, learning new skills)…because one doesn’t often see this lifestyle choice represented as common (in one’s community or social circle) or “valid” (in the media). While I know this is how I enjoy life the most, it’s still nice to see affirmation that I’m not alone!

    A few ideas I’d love to see discussed in more detail in future posts (and some responses covered these topics):
    Not having children (or having less children)–could be the biggest money saver of all, but could also be a sensitive topic (e.g., has potential to rile up readers who feel that reproducing is a necessity). Being frugal requires us to examine choices that previously we took for granted, or were blind spots (i.e. “yes” by default), and if someone is truly serious about saving more and spending less, I think it’s an oversight to not at least consider going childless as a choice.
    Drinking alcohol less, or not at all
    Getting by without a vehicle

    Thanks for considering these ideas (and I apologize if you’ve already posted about them and I missed it)!

  40. I love staying home too! I pinch pennies in some places to be able to afford other things. Another thing, do the maintenance on your home that will help you save money. We paint one side of our house every year so that we never have to layout a huge amount for painting professionally. We entertain instead of going out to eat. We have invested in good knives, a crockpot, a Traeger smoker, a dehydrator, a seal-a-meal thingee, a freezer, and our latest, an Instant pot. My husband makes our own bacon, sausage and smokes large amounts of meat that are cheaper per pound, then we freeze after sealing. This also helps when you don’t feel much like cooking….when you have an already cooked tri-tip that you just have to reheat, it’s easier to face. I eat yogurt every single day and now I make my own along with granola. So much cheaper! My hobbies are gardening and sewing……both money savers. We don’t go to the movies because we generally fall asleep! It’s just as easy to watch a movie on TV and fall asleep in your recliner! Ok ok we went to Passengers on Christmas Day and it was bleh…….I think we are just old! When we went to Hawaii for our oldest daughter’s wedding, we only went out twice to eat the entire week we were there. Our first stop after picking up our rental car was Costco! When my daughters and I went to Disneyland in September 2016 with my granddaughters and medically retired Marine son-in-law, we rented a house and cooked instead of a hotel close by. Our SIL gets discounted tickets, which was great! I always stop at Aldi and stock up when I visit my daughter in SoCa! Their coffee is $3.99 and is tasty for the dark roast, as good as Seattle’s Best, Peet’s or Starbucks! Oh and we make our coffee at home. We also stock up on supplies at Costco when they have their coupons. I froze applesauce from apples from our apple tree and froze extra blueberries. I can’t wait until this year now that the drought is over in Northern California!

  41. My best frugal ideas seem to be close to yours.I had to change my whole life around when My special needs daughter was diagnosed with terminal Lupus. That was 5 yrs ago, and she is still with us… Thank God !!…. any way my whole life changed, including my ability to work a “outside ” job. I learned about local food banks… I know this sounds odd, but if you live near one, like I do, I learned that on Fridays ( ours) because they are closed Sat- Tue. all the breads and fresh veggies and fruits are given away to anyone willing to come pick it up. Well I went in and talked to the manager, and she told me I could take anything and everything I wanted.. well, I have to tell you, in the Fall I got enough fresh, locally grown veggies and fruit, to can and freeze for 50 quarts of different soups, 10 gallon zip lock bags of sliced,pureed and mixed fruits that I was still able to use it well into the summer. I also purchased a used car. I spoke with the salesman about my fixed income and I decided an extended warranty for the duration of the loan was my best bet. 3 yrs in and had some issues, 100% paid for ( paid for the price of the long term warranty as well ) … Had to pat myself on the back for that one. I’m usually not an “insurance” minded person, but this really paid off. Starting this little adventure with you in January is funny. I buy bulk items 4x a year and January is time 1 every year… LOL
    I need to buy things like baby wipes by the case, this year, I purchased 18 cheap wash clothes and I only use the wipes when it is necessary. ( My daughter’s needs). I’m hoping to cut out at least 1 case this year. Thanks for accepting me into the group. I look forward to this adventure with you and all the folks. God Bless

  42. Finally, someone has said it out loud – #1……..just don’t spend money!! I’ve been saying it for years, but have been made to feel like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t obsess over coupons or bargains or drive to five different places to get the best deal on shampoo. My basic strategy is if I think it costs too much, I just don’t buy it. Only exception is if it’s something we either really like or really need – then I do my research and make an informed decision, knowing that yes, we are spending a good deal on this item, but it IS something we truly appreciate and want.

    I love it! Just don’t spend money! HA, finally I’m vindicated.

  43. I have no idea how to cook from scratch. I am a widow and cook at home but use prepackaged mixes etc. Any help would be appreciayed as I live on Social Security.

  44. Frugal woods, I love your passion and articles of wisdom! I am looking for advice. I committed the big sin two years ago now I bought a brand new car.
    I still owe roughly $12,000 on it and it blue books for 15,000.00 Mazda 3 good for work commute. Anyways I think I might want to sell it and get a used truck. Okay the heart of my question is what advice would you give to someone in my shoes? I lost a bunch of money by buying a new car foolishly it’s depreciated a lot do I sell it or keep it to maximize frugalness?

  45. Coupons and sales are such a waste of money. I worked at two grocery store chains in the past, and it’s amazing how the “extreme couponers” will behave. If you never cared about a product until it was on sale, and/or you found a coupon for it, you are *wasting* money when you buy it. There are couponers who will drive to five locations of a store and buy a bunch of products that they have coupons for. So that is time and gas. People who *buy* coupons from others. Sometimes they return a product that they bought at regular price, then re-buy it for the sale price this week. They might break into newspaper stands and steal coupons. Or hang around a store after closing time, thinking that the manager will give them a discount on an item – or let them use an expired coupon – just to get them out of the store. I would rather spend my time doing other things!

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