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These living frugal ideas will teach you how to get your life straight when hard times hit.

This might seem a little random, but hear me out.

Recently, I read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (if you haven’t read this, you definitely should…it’s a great way to get perspective on how blessed you really are) and I wanted to share this passage:

“The Nolans practically lived on that stale bread…take a loaf of stale bread, pour boiling water over it, work it up into a paste, flavor it with salt, pepper, thyme, minced onion, and an egg (if eggs were cheap), and bake it in the oven. When it was good and brown, she made a sauce from half a cup of ketchup, two cups of boiling water, seasoning, a dash of strong coffee thickened it with flour and poured it over the baked stuff. It was good, hot, tasty, and staying.”

Beer bread recipe

“They lived mostly on these things made from stale bread, and condensed milk and coffee, onions, potatoes, and always the penny’s worth of something bought at the last minute, added for fillip.”

I know it’s not popular, but perspective is probably the most important thing you can get if you really want to save money.

Begin with that in mind, and these living frugal tips will save your budget.

Frugal Ideas For Living Cheap

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Frugal Living That Lasts Paycheck After Paycheck

These tips for frugal living will save you a bunch of money for sure.

But if you want to save the most cash, you really should consider finding ways to lower your grocery budget FOR GOOD.

Food takes up so darned much of your take home pay that when the cost of groceries goes up, it can feel like you’re strangling. 

It took me forever to learn how to deal with grocery shopping in a way that saved my family the absolute most money, and let me have food on hand for emergencies.

But it works.

Even when family members had to go on special diets.

Heck, even when the cost of groceries doubled.

If your budget is constantly getting busted by the grocery store bill, check out my simple Overhaul Your Grocery Budget Course. 

I created it just for people like you and me, who need straight forward lessons on shopping in a way that will save you money no matter how your diet changes, where you live in the country, or what the economy does.

(Because your budget should NOT get destroyed every time the government changes again.)

Frugal Ideas To Save On Food

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Let’s jump right in! Try these things:

Make copycat meals at home from your favorite restaurants.

Eat fresh produce one week and frozen or canned the second week to avoid extra trips to the store.

On Sunday night, think about what meat you’ll need for the next three nights and set it in the fridge to thaw. Do the same on Wednesday nights.

If you shop in store, track everything you put in the cart on a calculator or by scanning it yourself using the store’s app (this works at places like Sam’s Club and Kroger).

You can certainly track your spending better if you do grocery pick up or delivery. (But you will miss out on any clearance deals in the store.)

Stop going to restaurants. We find more and more that with the price of everything so high, and given the difficulty in finding good workers, it’s just not the same fun experience it used to be for us.

Have a weekly leftovers night. Insist on it. If everyone absolutely refuses to eat leftovers, stop making such big portions. If there isn’t enough for seconds, they will either change their mind, or enjoy a nice PB&J.

Don’t buy weird flavors of foods thinking your family might branch out “this time”.

Check out this menu to feed your family on less than $100 for an entire week. (That’s not just dinner, that’s all meals and snacks for a week.) This is a good way to help you get ahead for a week (or maybe pay for a small emergency with grocery money).

Sprinkle parsley or paprika over your recipe to add a big pop of flavor for a low price.

clearance groceries

Grab pretty glasses from the thrift shop and serve ice water in them at dinner.

Add bread to every meal to fill up those bellies. Depending on your family’s needs, this might look like:

  • buying discount bread at the store
  • getting a good recipe for corn bread and French bread
  • getting a sourdough starter
  • buying a bread maker to save more money over the long haul.

Write down every food you throw away for a month. It’s eye opening…and you’ll try harder to use stuff up.

Frugal Things To Do As A Family

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4-H is generally an affordable family activity or club. (If you take general projects, or if you raise animals already.)

Biking, running, hiking are cheap or free activities.

Camping: borrow a tent or just rent a cheap cabin at a state park.

In your area, look for battle sites (Civil War, Revolutionary War, etc.), native American burial sites, other historical sites, caves to explore, animal adventures, etc. If it’s close to home, you’ll save on gas.

Some places that charge entry fees offer discount days if you look for them.

Check your library for events and clubs. I was astonished to find that our local libraries even have museum passes that you can “check out” and visit for free!

large family mothering

Skip the travel ball teams. Your child can learn just as much about teamwork, problem solving, overcoming obstacles, and more from playing in a local rec league or even sandlot baseball.

Sandlot ball. If you have a local park with a baseball field, organize a day when local kids can meet up to just play old fashioned baseball. They’ll love not having grown ups ruin everything for them 😉 and all the parents will love that they don’t have to pay for fees or uniforms.

Frugal Ideas To Save As A Mom

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Organize a clothing swap with other moms. Everyone will be grateful to not have to try to sell clothes just to buy more, or deal with a bag of thrift store stuff in the back of the car for months.

Don’t upgrade appliances that aren’t completely broken. I know you want the brand new shiny refrigerator, but be honest. Isn’t it just gonna get covered with “I love you, Mommy” artwork or activity calendars within two weeks anyway?

Frugal Ideas That Are A Little Different

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Look in the trash can. What are you throwing away that you could buy reusables of instead? (You’d be surprised at how many things you can wash and use again. Check Amazon for reusable solutions for all of your most used disposable items.)

When running errands, track your route carefully to make the most out of your gas.

Have your air conditioning and heater inspected and cleaned yearly. Find a reputable local guy to do it instead of calling the expensive guy who advertises on TV.

How Far Do You Carry Your No?

If you have a bad fast food habit, start reading books and watching videos about how unhealthy it is for you. Keep reading and watching until your body is convinced to dump the habit.

Evaluate your streaming services and pick one to cut. Just do it.

Really, honestly, consider if your family can go down to one vehicle. The cost of owning a car is outrageous when you consider the payments, insurance, taxes, gas, tires and other maintenance.

How to finance a car. What no one tells you about loans.

Check the mistake paint and stain bin regularly when you know you have paint needs coming up.

Join your local Buy Nothing group. (Check Facebook or try searching for it.)

Want audio books without paying for subscriptions? Try Hoopla or whatever your local library uses. You can also check YouTube for free audio book videos.

These living frugal ideas will help you make the most out of your budget when times get tough.

Hungry for more ideas? Try this list of 50 great frugal living tips.