More Frugal Lifestyle Tips

I use to think nothing of jumping in the car and driving all over the place. It was just gas. What I didn't take into account was the fact that of course it is not just gas. 

It is the mileage you will put on your car, which then gets into brakes, tires, etc. And besides, you shouldn't waste gas.

So when you get into your car on a whim, think about it from that point of view. I probably put less than 30 miles a month on my car. And I've already told you that my budget for gas each month is $20. I've managed to go two months on $20!

But in order to do that, I had to find a grocery nearby. Check. A vet. Check. A place to get my hair cut. Check. Pharmacy. Check. So actually, when I go out, I can get most of my errands run in a one mile radius. If you schedule your errands together, even better!

I use to go out to eat a lot. That changed when I moved here. About once per week I allow myself a meal out. Which means I bring it home. I have never been the type to just "pick up a beverage or a coffee." Those few dollars mount up. 

I don't go to movies. But nor do I have Netflix. I think Netflix is wonderful and keeps families from spending so much at the theater. I just don't watch TV much and very rarely watch movies. I probably don't watch a movie a year. Just not my thing. But I'll watch reruns of Law & Order three or four times!

Before I moved here, I'd walk through the mall and browse clothing, or stroll through the antique malls, etc. I rarely buy clothing. Since I work from home, I can live in pajamas if I want. 

Shoes are out because with the ankle brace, I have to buy shoes a size bigger. And they must be good sneakers. 

That limits what I wear, so my other shoes, sandals and such, just gather dust. I purchase one decent pair of sneakers, about $80 from, which gives me free overnight shipping, and wear them until they're not supporting my foot any longer. Which is about 6-8 months.

Occasionally I take the pupsters to the groomer. About three times a year maybe. In between I take the snub-nosed scissors you can get from a pet shop and do it myself. It's not as pretty, no, but it gets the job done. 

I'm very intentional about buying things for my home. I either have to need it, or want it very, very badly. And then it's never on a whim. Because I have limited space. If I don't have room for it, I don't need it. 

Buying groceries is pretty simple for me. I tend to eat the same cereal every morning. (I'm not very adventurous, am I?) For supper I share a baked potato with veggies with the pupsters. Potatoes are the only "people" food I give them, because they have to eat prescription dog food. And they like cottage cheese too, which I will give them a spoonful of.

For lunch I've started buying trail mix type foods. Nuts, dried fruit combined with say, a sliced up apple. Peanut butter crackers. This was today's lunch.

It's better to eat small meals anyway. I get up and eat cereal and have coffee. About 11 a.m. I will have half a sliced bagel. About 2 p.m. I had the above.

Since I order a lot from, that means I don't tend to run out of things like toilet paper and detergent and soap, etc. You just have to think ahead about what you think you will need.

Order $50 worth, and it is shipped free right to your door. Which really helps with not using gas in your car and walking if you have a bad ankle. I've already talked to you about this one.

If you don't think ahead, you're going to run out of something and have to run to the store and buy it whether you're getting a good deal or not.

I use like a grocery list. Every time I think of something, I put it in my online cart. Those big boxes they send my purchases in come in handy too. 

The dogs' prescription diet is expensive. I picked up two 12-pack cans at the vet the other day. It was $70. But I've seen them get deathly sick. And this is the only way I can keep that from happening. So there is no choice here. Their dry food is around $50 for a big bag. 

That's a must, because the pupsters are so important to me and it's my job to take care of them, so I have to cut corners in other places.

You have to be careful when shopping. The stores will try to fool you with different sizes. Say cereal. I will think I'm getting a deal because it's marked down, and then get home and see that the box is much smaller than the one that's almost empty. Have to look at how much is actually in that box. 

Some people do really well with coupons. I don't happen to be one of them. So I have to find other ways to save. One of these days I might have time to do that, but right now I just plain don't.

Shop various pharmacies for prescriptions. All it takes is a phone call. 

I depend a lot on reviews of things I need and buy online. I almost always get free shipping, even when it's furniture. You can't beat that. 

When they came out with reviews of items, that was the best thing since sliced bread. Now you can read what something is really like from consumers who've already purchased it. If it has bad review, or is less than 4 stars, I'm not taking a chance on it.

If you're 50 or older, sign up with AARP. It's a minimal amount each year. I've really saved money on hotels in the past. And oftentimes seniors get a percentage off apartments, meals at a restaurant, car rentals, etc. So it's worth it. Plus I signed up for their newsletter, so I get lots of valuable information and notifications online.

You simply have to be judicious about buying things. Stop and think. Don't buy on impulse. If you don't know where you'll put it, unless it is absolutely something you have to have (and you have to splurge on yourselves sometimes), then don't buy it. 

And if you're limited on space, tell yourself if you buy that piece of furniture or whatever, then something else has to go. 

Some women spend a lot at the beauty shop, etc. Now if that's their thing, I'm not going to knock it. I wear my hair short, and it grows very fast. So in between hair cuts, which I get down the road for $15 plus a tip, I will trim it up myself the best I can. I've never been one to color my hair, so don't have that expense. 

I've had my nails done once in my life. And I've never had a pedicure. Just not my thing. 

I went a little wild (for me) and purchased another Dyson hand vacuum a few weeks ago online. I have had one for years, but the motor stopped working. I did some research and found that getting them fixed will cost about the same as a new one. 

So I started checking online for the cheapest price. I also did some research into other hand vacs, to see if maybe others were now rated better. Here's where I drew the line and made my decision. The Dyson does not have to have new filters. I found it for $160 and free shipping. So I went with it. 

That's the most expensive thing I've bought in a long time. But I have to take into account how much it hurts my ankle to drag out the big Dyson I brought from Texas. 

The little one is so much easier, so much lighter in weight. And for little messes, I can take care of that real fast. I can clean the furniture, etc.

I thought long and hard before I bought that. Because this time of the year is tax time, and I have to pay taxes. I'll have to get a tag for my car, which thankfully is paid off. (Since I wrote about frugal tips last, I doubt very seriously I've put another 100 miles on my 2006 Nissan Pathfinder.)

I need to take the dogs in for shots. And it's about to be mowing season again, which means I have to pay a guy to mow it. I can take care of the minor pruning, etc., the flower gardens. But I know with my ankle I'd be a fool to buy a lawn mower.

Speaking of tax time, if you're a blogger and considered self-employed, find a good accountant. It took me two years of bad ones to find a good one four doors down the street. And everything that at all pertains to my blog, he deducts. My office in my home, internet, phone, etc. If I hadn't had those things, I'd be looking at what I consider a hefty tax bill. And as it is, I've got to come up with about $1200. 

Life is short, so I'm not saying don't treat yourself. That's a must. Just don't overdo it. A treat to me is a new book. If it's about marketing or blogging, I will be able to use it at tax time. I buy books online at for the book club. I get to count that as well. Otherwise I won't buy a book unless it's for reference. 

Okay, that's all I can come up with for now. And it's just about time for yoga, and then my nightly baked potato. The dogs just love those things.

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  1. I don't do well with coupons either, because we are very much creatures of habit, and don't want to try those products. Also, one of us has a special diet, so it is better to make from scratch. I happen to live near one of those humane society's. There are all different ones these days, so I have no idea who they are affiliated with, but one of them has a pretty nice store on my driving route, and they sell the special food my poodle needs for much less than the vet, and no tax.

  2. You are smart to live so frugal. You have some great tips. I hp in the car all the time to run dumb errands. Sometimes it's for my sanity. I feel bottled up at home sometimes. The snow out the window looks so beautiful and cozy.

  3. I'm with Holly, I feel the need to leave the house at least once per day. It makes me a happier camper to have a little change of scenery. You are so smart and have such good ideas. I've told several people about your advice. So smart.

  4. Great advice Brenda. I love that you have figured out so many ways to cut corners and save money. Like you said some things are a must (like the pupsters food) and we all need a treat now and then, but don't overdo it. I don't go nearly as much as I use to and group my errands always. I need too take advantage of and order cat food and litter and other staples from them. I don't have a lot of storage space but I could rearrange a few things for that savings. I'm going to check out the Dyson since I need a better vacuum but like you I always read reviews before making a decision. I'm waiting for the ice storm and hoping we don't lose power!


  5. I think the reason you are able to live as well as you do is because you are so conscious of your spending. That's a good way to be even if you have money to burn! There are many rich people out there that don't look rich just because they don't spend money and have a lot of debt. I think it's a smart way to live no matter your income. You know your bounderies and where you can afford to splurge. Great tips!

  6. Hi Brenda! Those are some great tips. I've tried so hard this year to get rid of a bunch of junk and declutter and it's made me feel so much better. I don't do well with coupons either. Most of the things I don't even use. You're to be commended for being so frugal.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  7. One of my dogs favorite treats is to lick the beaters after I make mashed potatoes. If my little grandson is here and helped with the mashing / beating, his next favorite thing to do is hold the beaters for the dogs. Lily gets too enthused in the end and tries to take the entire beater away as if she think that she can take it off to a corner and eat it all! :)

  8. Hi Brenda, Your post is filled with great tips and many my hubby and I do as well. Decluttering and cleaning out has been my thing this winter. I just can't stand having clutter around. Now that is not a money saver, but it has been a wake up to, if we don't use it loose it and don't buy more!! I'm not a coupon user either. It's usually items I don't need so what's the point just to get 50 cents off. I like your tip about ordering staples from Walmart. That would really help a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  9. So many great ideas. I especially love the Walmart online shopping. I think I need to try helps if I can stay out of the stores. I tend to impulse shop!! I am inspired by the simply "cozy" life that you lead :)

  10. Hi Brenda,
    I may an effort to walk to the grocery store, library, etc. In fact, I was doing so well on that the brakes on my car rusted out - twice! I don't have a garage. The mechanic told me that I need to take the car out once a week and drive it ten miles. I realized he was right. Replacing the brakes, twice, was 100 times more than I would have spent on gas to drive to the grocery store, library, etc. It was pretty apparent, when I opened the gas line door, and saw that a wasp had built a next inside...I better drive that car more often.

  11. Hi Brenda, I, too, live in a small house and I've noticed with the extreme cold and snowy weather that once I get out of work I just want to go home. And you know what? I've discovered nothing is lacking. I once heard it said that what you spend your money on is how you invest it. I don't thinking eating out or buying stuff I have to dust is a good investment. I see advertising as a ploy to take away my hard-earned money. What I've found works for me is buying something of good quality (like your Dyson) that will give many years of service. P.S. I would like to know more about your yoga practice! All the best

  12. Hi Brenda. Thanks for the good tips. We've always had a modest income, so we have to look for ways to stretch our dollars. As I've sat here thinking about things we do to save money, it occurs to me that a theme to it is, Find what works for us, and stick with it.

    For instance, we buy used cars, either pay cash or pay off the small loan very quickly, and then keep them forever. My car is a 1999 model, and my husband's truck is a 2001.

    We buy our clothes at thrift stores. This might not work for everyone, but it works for us. We both wear an "LL Bean" look, heavy on khakis and cotton shirts and wool sweaters. Because I have a very narrow range of garments I'm searching for, I can sift through the thrift store racks very quickly and don't let myself get sidetracked by other garments. Certain thrift stores have their clothing much better organized, by color or size or type of garment, so I go to those stores so it won't take so long to sift through the clothes.

    I go to the thrift stores about once or twice a week, in combination with other errands. I have a rule of never spending more than $5 on any item. .

    The grocery store was a place we used to be pretty sloppy at, money wise. But, now my husband is on a low-sodium diet due to high blood pressure, and I need to watch carbs and bad fats because of my high cholesterol. It's led to us becoming better label readers and we've become more cost conscious at the grocery. We used to eat out a few times each week, but we've cut back to only eating out maybe twice a month, and so we are shopping for more groceries and cooking at home more. We try to buy as little pre-packaged food as possible, and eat fresh or frozen ingredients. So we don't use a lot of coupons, since they are mostly for pre-packaged items. We could still make a lot of improvement in cost cutting by getting better about studying to grocery store ads and finding out when sales are.

    We don't have a TV. We've had TV's before, and have had cable a couple of times. But, after a few months with cable, I get mad about the cost, since we mostly only want to watch our favorite sports team play once or twice a week. So, we listen to the games on the radio, like it's the 1940s. Not ideal, but, a lot cheaper. We haven't been to a movie in 10 years. We like to do hobbies at home, or go outside on a walk. My husband splurges on hobby items, like woodworking tools and hobby magazines. But, he keeps the tools and uses them, and re-reads the magazines again and again. So, it's not really wasted.

    We haven't taken a travel vacation in, well, decades. That's one thing we'd like to do but haven't been able to afford. But, we do take day trips on weekends to state parks, to hike or go fishing or kayaking. We have a canoe and two kayaks and a lot of fishing gear that we have spent a fair amount of money on, but, we use it a lot, so it has been a good investment for us.

  13. I will never understand why people don't schedule all their errands at once! My brother does an errand and comes home. Then thirty minutes later, thinks of something else and goes to do that and come home. Then repeats after being home a few minutes. He thinsk my other brother and I are organized because we do our errands all at once. No, it's just common sense! My neighbors on both sides, have the cars running ALL weekend! Constantly. I don't get it. I don't shop just for entertainment like many do, but we all have to finally go out and get supplies or do other errands. I always have just one day per week maximum and am very happy if I can go two weeks which I often do. I don't spend even ten dollars per month on gas. I will have to fill up this month ($28.00) and it will be the first time since Nov. I do buy online for many household things also. Always with free shipping. Plus, no impulse shopping that way and all price comparing is done prior.

  14. An EARLY Happy Valentime's Day to you, Brenda. May all your dreams come true! Thanks for all your years of blogging which provide us with entertainment and help and stimulates our minds!

  15. What great tips, Brenda! I also run my errands all in one day and close to home. It is so much easier and cheaper that way. Loved reading your post! Happy Valentine's Day!

  16. I don't know if this would save you money on dog food, but my mom buys a rotisserie chicken and makes her dog food with brown rice. She seasons it, too. The vet suggested this. He said it was less expensive than wht he sells. She freezes it, too.

  17. Thanks so much, Brenda. I learned a lot here and I wish I had something to add. I'm lucky here in the city, the grocery store is 2 minutes away. I don't put mileage on my car either except we use it to go to the lake (100 miles each way) and that not great. We do buy our gas in Indiana, though, it's always less.

    I have a friend who is very $$ savvy. She buys all of her bulk items (toilet paper, soap, detergent, etc...) from Amazon. She literally compared prices everywhere, out and online and they had the best deals. I've been thinking about that. It is only the three of us here but it always seems like I run out of TP or paper towels mid week, then you know the routine, you go to the store and spend $90.00!!

    Thanks again!


  18. I love all of your tips. And your lunch looks great! I don't shop online with Walmart as I'm a full time care giver and I enjoy getting out once in while! But it is a great service they provide. I trimmed Ziggy as per your instructions and he thanks you too!

  19. If you order on-line quite a bit, which it seems you do, look up Ebates. It is a free to join site, and will give you a $10.00 gift card. Before you travel to your on-line site, click there first, and then travel to your on-line site. They have deals for cash back, extra goodies, and such. Then one a quarter you will receive a check from them. I just received mine ($36.45) not a lot of money, no, but money I get back for items I would have purchased on-line anyway.

    Hope this helps.

  20. Great tips. Not sure, with working outside the home, that $20 a month for gas would be plausible, however I do try to keep it down. I don't do much online shopping but it might help if I took the time to do a bit of research. Thanks for the ideas!

  21. I try to pool all my errands on one day so I'm not running all over the place several times a week. But there is no way I could go on 30 miles per month! We live in a small town and all that's nearby is a Walgreens (which is only a couple of months old), but I don't shop there because their prices are too high. Any grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Target, the vet etc. are all in the town next to us, which is about an 8 mile drive. We only eat out once/week (Friday night date night) or we'll order a pizza. I do spend a decent amount on food though because I cook dinner for myself and my husband and I plan leftovers because Brian takes them to work for lunch and I also like to put extras in a freezer container...then those freezer meals go to Tim when we see him. I am also picky about the food I buy and try to stick with organic and products with no chemicals, preservatives, corn syrup, and bad oils. We have basic cable and Netflix though we rarely use it. Tim is the one who uses the Netflix a lot. I don't get manicures of pedicures either - those things don't appeal to me. I do my own nails. Can't tell you when the last time I bought a new item of clothing - most of my clothes are from Goodwill. I do cut coupons (Sunday newspaper and online) for common products we use - toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, almond milk. I don't buy convenience foods. I just got my hair done this morning (color and cut) but I am fortunate that my hairdresser does this for me out of her home at a fraction of the price that the salon charges.

  22. Thanks for all the great tips! I really need to get better about not hopping in the car all the time. I just switch from a two week grocery plan to a one week plan and told the family if we run out I'm not going again until next week. Slowly, they are getting the hint, but it's working great for me.

  23. A great post! Like many of your readers and yourself one of the few things I do splurge on is our cat food. One of our cats has skin allergies something fierce and since we changed their diet to the food the Vet recommended (and that costs a small fortune) the improvement has been amazing. They are worth it. I will cut corners other places.

  24. I try to do errands at one time but it doesn't always work out for me - I live in the country so there is no way I can get by on little gas for the car as everything is 12 miles from me at the closest. I exercise at a fitness center as my house is too small for exercise equipment and I live next to a highway so walking on it is out because of big lumber trucks and stray animals that chase you -- and it is my social outlet as well - I have cut back on expenses a lot though in the last several years - you just have to sit down and figure it out. you have great ideas for if you live in a town though.


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