60 Tips on Frugal Living for Families to Save Money

There are so many frugal ways of living but what actually works? What is the best way to save money at the grocery store or pay off your high interest credit card bill before the end of time? I’ve been living this lifestyle now for over 10 years and over that time have found some of the best tips for frugal living for families and today, those tips are yours to keep.

Keep reading for an awesome list of creative ways to live frugally in order to make life work on a limited income.

tips for frugal living - picture of family with a toddler eating dinner

Frugal living is just one great way to save some extra cash. If you are looking for more ways to gain control of your finances for the sake of your family’s future, I suggest taking a look at my post on ways to budget when money is tight. The post includes some of the best ways to not only budget your money better, but to also find some extra money to live a little with.

But how would I know? Well, because I have been there. This time ten years ago I was dreading the weekly grocery shopping trip because it meant a grocery bill that I would have to figure out how to afford.

Things were tight. Really tight. And as the grocery budget started to expand, and life became life-y, my family’s financial situation was not headed toward a great place. I have to get really creative and learn some of the best frugal tips I could in order to stay afloat and thankfully, a little bit here and there added up and we figured it out. 

Now I want to help you do the same. The frugal lifestyle is not for everyone, but you have to do what you have to do. My number one tip before getting started would be to get the whole family on board because it is going to take a group effort in order to become a more frugal family.
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What is Frugal Living?

I figure before we really dive in, it might be a good idea to start with an explanation of what frugal living actually is.

Frugal living serves as a valuable toolkit for families maneuvering through the challenges of a tight budget. Think of it as a financial strategy designed to maximize the impact of every dollar. 

Here’s a closer look at what frugal living entails and how it can be a lifeline for families facing financial constraints:

  • Resourceful Budgeting: Frugal living is a deliberate approach to budgeting that prioritizes resourcefulness. It involves making mindful choices to optimize every aspect of your spending.
  • Financial Safety Net: In essence, frugal living acts as a financial safety net. It provides a cushion for unexpected expenses, ensuring that your family is better equipped to handle unforeseen challenges without compromising financial stability.
  • Invaluable Life Lessons: Beyond monetary benefits, frugal living imparts valuable life lessons. It fosters a sense of resourcefulness, creativity, and a keen understanding of distinguishing between necessities and luxuries.

If your family is navigating a tight budget, adopting a frugal lifestyle is key to building up your financial foundation. 

It’s not merely about cutting costs but rather making thoughtful decisions that lead to lasting financial resilience. 

Stay tuned for an insightful list of tips to empower your family with frugal living wisdom!

60 Tips on Frugal Living for Families

Now that you have a better grasp of what I’ll be explaining today, let’s get to it.

For your ease of reading (and skimming), I have broken down the huge list of tips on frugal living for families down to five categories:

  • Frugal living lifestyle changes to make as a family
  • Frugal budgeting tips
  • Frugal grocery shopping tips
  • Frugal home life tips
  • Frugal family fun ideas

I hope that by breaking this big list up that you are able to find exactly what you are looking for!

Frugal Living Lifestyle Changes for Families

As I mentioned earlier, a great way, the best way, to work toward a frugal lifestyle is to get the whole family on board. You will save so much more money (and time) if you get everyone on board in the long run. 

Here are some creative ways to change up your lifestyle as a family in order to save some extra money:

Thrift Store Treasures: Explore thrift stores for second-hand clothing, furniture, and household items. You’ll be surprised at the quality gems you can find at a fraction of the cost.

Pre-Loved Reads: Instead of buying new books, consider borrowing from the library or participating in book swaps with friends and neighbors.

DIY Cleaning Products: Create your own cleaning supplies using common household items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon. It’s cost-effective and reduces exposure to harsh chemicals. Making your own laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaners are actually pretty simple!

Paper Product Savings: Cut down on paper towel and toilet paper expenses by buying in bulk or opting for store brands. Consider using cloth towels for cleaning to minimize disposable paper use.

Smart Cell Phone Plans: Review your cell phone plan and explore options for family plans or more budget-friendly providers without compromising on coverage.

Student Loan Check-Up: Contact your student loan provider to explore options for refinancing or adjusting your repayment plan to better suit your financial situation.

Clothing Swaps: Organize clothing swaps with friends or neighbors. It’s a fun way to refresh your wardrobe without spending any money at all.

Service Provider Negotiation: Negotiate with service providers for better deals on internet, cable, or other subscriptions. Loyalty often comes with perks, and they might have promotions available.

Health Insurance Optimization: Understand your health insurance coverage to make the most of preventive services and discounts on medications. Utilize in-network providers to minimize out-of-pocket costs.

Reusable Containers: Invest in reusable containers for lunches and snacks. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it also saves money in the long run compared to disposable options.

Couponing Wisely: Embrace couponing but be strategic. Focus on essential items and items your family regularly uses.

Homemade Gifts: Consider making gifts for special occasions. Handmade gifts often carry more sentimental value and cost less than store-bought alternatives.

Limiting Impulse Buys: Create a shopping list before heading out and stick to it. Avoid impulsive purchases that can quickly add up.

Family Entertainment Alternatives: Explore free or low-cost entertainment options like community events, parks, and local attractions instead of expensive outings. I mention 10 ideas at the end of this post!

Batch Cooking: Save time and money by batch cooking meals. Freeze portions for later use, reducing the need for takeout or dining out. I do this often with chicken. I’ll make a big batch to use throughout the week in different meals.

DIY Home Repairs: Learn basic home repair skills to tackle minor fixes without the need for professional assistance.

Cancel Unused Subscriptions: Regularly review and cancel subscriptions that you no longer use or need. This includes streaming services, magazines, or any other recurring expenses. TIP: Check your bank account. I thought I had unsubscribed to Audible but turned out it never went through and I was spending money I wasn’t even using!

Vehicle Maintenance: Keep up with regular maintenance for your car to prevent costly repairs down the road. Proper tire inflation and regular oil changes contribute to fuel efficiency.

Frugal Budgeting Tips

If you have a large family, your budget is going to be the key to living a frugal lifestyle. Make it known. Have family conversations about it. Be open. Let everyone know that this is where we are at and if we want to get “here”, this is what we have to do right now.

Here are some of the best frugal living tips when it comes to your budget:

Track Your Expenses: Start by recording all your expenses for a month. This helps you understand where your money is going and identify areas for potential savings.

Set Clear Financial Goals: Define short-term and long-term financial goals. Whether it’s saving for a vacation, an emergency fund, or paying off debt, having clear objectives guides your budgeting decisions.

Differentiate Between Needs and Wants: Prioritize essential expenses (needs) over discretionary spending (wants). This ensures that crucial bills are covered before allocating funds for non-essential items.

Create a Realistic Budget: Craft a budget that aligns with your income. Be realistic about your spending habits and set achievable targets to avoid frustration.

Emergency Fund Allocation: Include a category in your budget for building and maintaining an emergency fund. Having a financial safety net prevents unexpected expenses from derailing your budget.

Negotiate Bills and Subscriptions: Regularly review bills and subscriptions. Negotiate with service providers for better rates or consider canceling subscriptions that no longer add significant value.

Limit Credit Card Usage: Use credit cards sparingly and focus on cash transactions. This reduces the risk of accumulating high-interest debt and encourages mindful spending.

Plan for Irregular Expenses: Anticipate irregular expenses, such as annual insurance premiums or property taxes. Set aside a portion of your budget to cover these costs when they arise.

Consistent Review and Adjustments: Periodically review your budget to track progress and make necessary adjustments. Life circumstances and priorities change, and your budget should adapt accordingly.

Involve the Whole Family: If applicable, involve your family in the budgeting process. Discuss financial goals together and encourage everyone to contribute ideas for saving money. This fosters a sense of collective responsibility.

Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips

Ah, here we are. Your grocery budget. I am willing to bet this is where a huge chunk of your finances gets used up (and often tossed away).

Here are some grocery shopping tips forward becoming a more frugal family:

Create a Weekly Meal Plan: Plan your meals for the week ahead. This not only helps you buy only what you need but also reduces the temptation to make impulse purchases.

Stick to Your Shopping List: Once you’ve crafted your meal plan, create a corresponding shopping list. Stick to it religiously to avoid unnecessary spending on items not in your plan.

Buy in Bulk Smartly: Purchase non-perishable items in bulk to take advantage of lower unit prices. Be mindful of expiration dates and consider sharing bulk purchases with family or friends.

Optimize Seasonal Produce: Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. They are not only fresher but often more affordable. Explore local farmers’ markets for even better deals on seasonal produce.

Combine Fresh and Frozen Produce: Balance your grocery cart with both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is great for immediate use, while frozen options are often more economical and have a longer shelf life.

Grow Your Own: If possible, cultivate a small herb garden or grow easy-to-manage vegetables. Not only does this save money, but it also provides a fresh, homegrown touch to your meals.

Limit Convenience Foods: Pre-cut or pre-packaged items may save time, but they often come with a higher price tag. Opt for whole fruits, vegetables, and grains to save money and reduce packaging waste.

Minimize Food Waste: Be mindful of expiration dates and organize your pantry and refrigerator to use older items first. Get creative with leftovers by incorporating them into new meals or freezing for future use.

Explore Generic Brands: Don’t shy away from trying generic or store brands. They often offer comparable quality at a lower cost compared to name brands.

Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs: Join your grocery store’s loyalty program to access discounts, coupons, and special offers. Many stores also offer loyalty points that can be redeemed for additional savings.

Frugal Home Life Tips

Now here comes home life. You might think there aren’t many things you can do here to save money but me-oh-my, there are! 

Here are some great ways to get frugal when it comes to your home life:

Energy-Efficient Practices: Save on utility bills by being mindful of energy use. Turn off lights when not needed, unplug electronics, and consider energy-efficient appliances.

Water Conservation: Install low-flow faucets and showerheads to reduce water consumption. Fix any leaks promptly, and consider collecting rainwater for plants.

Repurpose and Upcycle: Give new life to old furniture and decor through creative repurposing or upcycling projects. It’s a cost-effective way to refresh your living space.

Unplug Electronics When Not in Use: Save on energy costs by unplugging electronics and chargers when they’re not in use. Many devices consume energy even in standby mode.

DIY Home Decor: Instead of purchasing expensive home decor, try your hand at do-it-yourself projects. Create personalized items that reflect your style without breaking the bank.

Second-Hand Furniture: Explore thrift stores or online marketplaces for affordable second-hand furniture. With a bit of creativity, you can furnish your home stylishly on a budget.

Natural Cleaning Solutions: Utilize natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon for cleaning. Homemade solutions are not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Embrace the three Rs by reducing waste, reusing items when possible, and recycling materials. It’s a sustainable approach that aligns with frugal living principles.

Mindful Purchases: Before buying new items, consider if you genuinely need them. Mindful purchasing reduces clutter and helps you allocate resources to items that truly add value to your home.

Simple and Functional Storage Solutions: Opt for budget-friendly storage solutions that are simple yet functional. Utilize baskets, shelves, and organizational tools to keep your space tidy without splurging on expensive storage furniture.

Conserve Gasoline: Combine errands to minimize car trips and save on gas. Consider carpooling, biking, or walking for short-distance journeys when feasible.

Frugal Family Fun Ideas

You didn’t think I’d leave out the fun, right? Never. I firmly believe that the only way to stick with something as difficult as an all out frugal lifestyle is to figure out how to enjoy it. 

Here are some great tips for families when it comes to having fun frugally:

Outdoor Adventures: Explore local parks, nature trails, or community gardens for a day of outdoor fun. Bring a picnic, play frisbee, or go on a nature scavenger hunt.

Free Community Events: Check out local event calendars for free community activities such as outdoor concerts, festivals, or movie nights. Many communities offer no-cost events throughout the year.

DIY Craft Day: Have a craft day at home using materials you already have. Get creative with recycled items, old magazines, or simple household supplies to make unique art pieces.

Library Excursions: Spend a day at the library exploring books, attending storytime sessions, or participating in library-sponsored events. It’s not just educational but also a budget-friendly outing.

Game Night: Rediscover classic board games or card games for a night of family-friendly competition. Rotate who gets to choose the games to keep things interesting.

Movie Marathon at Home: Host a movie marathon featuring family favorites or a theme night. Make it special with homemade popcorn, blankets, and a cozy living room setup.

Cooking Challenge: Have a cooking challenge where family members take turns choosing ingredients for a meal. It’s a fun way to bond while trying out new recipes with items from your pantry.

Indoor Fort Building: On rainy days, transform your living room into a fort using blankets, cushions, and chairs. Spend the day inside the fort reading, playing games, or watching movies.

Community Sports: Look for community sports programs or events. Many towns offer free or low-cost sports activities for families, providing a chance to get active together.

Family Talent Show: Organize a family talent show where each member showcases their talents, whether it’s singing, dancing, or telling jokes. It’s a lighthearted way to appreciate each other’s unique skills.

There you have it. By now, you should have quite a few new ideas that should help you save on little things that really add up.

If you feel like you need to take things a step further, make sure to check out my Money Fit Moms freebie (FREE!). It’ll serve as your guide to mastering your finances and actually making things work for your family whether you are on a single income living that stay-at-home mom life, or simply live on a tight budget and are looking for a way out.

FAQs About Living Frugally

What is the number one thing to remember about living frugally?

My best advice would be to make sure that everyone in the family is on the same page. That is the key to success when living a frugal lifestyle.

How can I live off very little money?

The best ways to live off very little money include eliminating monthly subscriptions, shopping around for new insurance, purchasing used items instead of new ones, not wasting anything you purchase, and purchasing products at the right time.

How do you live frugally with children?

My best advice for living frugally with children is to not only share with them where you are at but also be conscious about your purchases for them. Shop secondhand, always!

How do I start frugal living?

The best way to begin living frugally is to evaluate your spending and make a plan of action.

With that, I think you should have everything you need in order to gain control of your finances and start on a path that’ll help you be more prepared for unexpected expenses.

Need more? I cover everything you need to know about tackling your finances in my Money Fit Moms course. It is FREE and you can read more about it here.