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Frugal living looks mighty attractive, doesn’t it?
After all the excess – and waste?!! – of Christmas and the blow out of New Year. And not just attractive but massively necessary because for lots of us Christmas means debt more debt.
It can feel like a mountain can’t it? Daunting. As we beat ourselves up over all our waste.
But luckily there are loads of simple frugal living tips that can help us pay debt off fast and – triple whammy!!! – declutter our homes and cut waste whilst we’re at it.
Yep, seriously – I promise you – we can pay off debt and declutter our homes and go zero waste through small frugal living changes.
All we need do is stop buying a whole load of clutter, we will truly be happier without.
How awesome is that? But how does it work? Well I’ve a huge list below of stuff to stop buying but first let me explain the big secret and that is the snowball trick …
It’s a super powered, easy way to pay off debt, declutter and go zero waste frugally.
1. Pay Off Debt Frugally
OK, so small frugal living changes might seem pointless for tackling a mountain of debt but as debt guru Dave Ramsey shows those tiny frugal savings can snowball debt pay off.
Each small extra payment reduces interest which creates a new saving we can use to pay off more and the cool thing is, these tiny changes snowball debt pay off faster in another way and that’s because they help break the shopping addiction we all have.
Every week we buy clutter we don’t need from habit. Little things but they add up. Once we open our eyes to our waste the stuff we happily stop buying snowballs and we break the shopping spell.
That snowballs our debt pay off and starts to cut our clutter.
2. Declutter Frugally
We’re all desperate to declutter, aren’t we because we’re drowning in stuff we don’t enjoy.
All sorts of stuff: clothes, toys, books, gadgets, memories, paperwork. You name it we’ve got it but lots of our clutter are consumables that we buy just to chuck away after a single use.
Check out your kitchen or your bathroom. bet they are full of stuff you never use – mine were – but it was clutter I kept on buying. How crazy is that?
Spending money week after week to fill up our precious space with stuff we barely used. Sound familiar? Yep.
But it’s hard to declutter isn’t it? Well this is where the snowball trick comes in again.
We start small with a few frugal changes:
And that creates a little space to breathe in which gives us the strength to declutter more and so the declutter snowball grows bigger.
Sounds corny? Maybe. But I tell you what, it works!!!
Starting with those tiny frugal living tips I have decluttered thousands of things and we are so much happier without them. And remember it’s a triple whammy, by buying less clutter we’re going zero waste with barely any effort at all …
3. Go Zero Waste Frugally
Now, I have to be honest and confess zero waste was not my original objective.
I had other priorities. I thought but I tell you what, trying to waste less proved a massive way to save money and declutter because – as I discovered – a few zero waste products snowball savings enormously.
Buying these reusable products let me buy less stuff. Spending £10 on micro-fibre cloths 5 years back, for example, has seriously saved me £1,000+ on cleaning products etc over the years and a few cloths take up much less space under the sink than 20 barely used bottles.
It was the easiest declutter ever and if you split your zero waste product savings between debt pay off and a few more zero waste products that snowball snowballs!
Sounds good heh? But let’s get practical. What can we actually stop buying easily to help us pay off debt, declutter and go zero waste. Well, here’s my big list of frugal living tips to start your snowball.
4. 101 Easy Frugal Living Tips
I’ve started this frugal living list with some of the most obvious things to stop buying.
If you are already doing this fantastic, skip on. If not, then do start, they are so easy and and will save you loads.
I’ve then got loads of cleaning stuff – dull heh? But do not skip them because the amount of money we all waste on cramming our kitchen sink cupboard full of toxic cleaners, is unbelievable.
OK. So here goes …
- Newspapers – just read online or even better read a book. We could ALL do with a bit of a news detox, right now, couldn’t we?
- Coffees out – carry your own in a flask
- Bottles of water – always carry your own water bottle
- Soft drinks out – again carry your own
- Books – borrow from library, start a book swap
- DVDs – ditto
- Sales bargains – they seem like a great BUT everything we buy comes at a price. It all takes space to store and time to look after. And before you know it those bargains are just “clutter” and our mental health is paying for them!!! If you don’t really, truly need it, don’t buy it.
- Packaged snacks – make your own trail mix from bulk buy, plastic free nuts, dried fruit & seeds
- Shop bought smoothies – blend up the soggy fruit in the fridge
- Shop bought soups – blend up your leftovers
- Lunch out – take sandwiches, or you own soup, or learn to make quiche or a quick pie you can take a slice of everyday
- Disposable cleaning cloths – use rags or micro-fibre cloths. I truly have saved a fortune over the years with these and cut down on our waste
- Kitchen roll – ditto
- Cleaning wipes – ditto
- Dusting spray – ditto
- Tissues – use good old hankies
- Trash bags – might not seem doable but if you want to go zero waste it helps AND will save money.
- Pasta sauce – make your own veg rich sauce in bulk super easily and freeze
- Take aways – quit pretending to meal plan & start meal looping so you can always get food on the table easily in 30 minutes or less however tired and fed up you are. It’s SO simple: 90% of the time you just rotate through 14 core meals you know by heart, with lots of common ingredients. AND if you are really doing it seriously, you don’t cook the next meal in the rotation until you’ve eaten your leftovers!! Pretty hard core BUT it seriously saves money AND cuts food waste AND declutters your pantry!
- Ready meals – ditto
- Shop bought salads – all those little tubs of shop bought coleslaw are a massive invitation for waste left at the back of the fridge going nasty just cut up your own veg at the beginning of the week and add dressing as you need it
- Packets of cold meats – these can so easily be similarly wasteful, eat up your own cold cuts
- Buy one get one free deals – on stuff you never eat
- Coupon deals – ditto
- Special offers on stuff you never buy – I am a sucker for this on fresh food like fish that’s expensive. IF I don’t have an easy recipe I know I can use it in, it will go in the freezer and NEVER come out. And ALL that time be a guilty worm in my head reminding me how much I wasted. Say NO!
- Sweet snacks – so many of us are battling them aren’t we? They’re hard to resist. BUT it’s much easier if they’re not even in the cupboard. Try working out your spend a week on them and paying that off from your debt at the beginning of the month. And THEN it’s gone. You don’t have it to spend. You don’t have it to tempt you.
- Fancy health food – we ALL want to get healthy, and I’m definitely upping the amount of healthy gut food I eat but if you’re never going to drink that fancy kombucha or whatever, just don’t buy it
- One off ingredients – it’s so easy to cram our food cupboards full of one of ingredients for specific recipes. We use them once and then forget them until they expire. Get into meal looping and you can slash the number of ingredients you buy AND store AND waste!!
- Cake & dessert mixes – it’s almost always cheaper to bake from scratch. I am SO not a great cook but I can make pancakes and crumble and Victoria sandwich and shortbread quickly off the top of my head, so guess what, we eat lots of them. Again, rotating the basics IS a great frugal tip.
- Pies & flans – I will say it again, I am NOT a great cook. Not even a mediocre one. BUT I’ve learned to make a half decent savoury pie and a quiche off by heart. Which means A) it’s relaxing to do B) I save money and C) they give us great leftovers which save us MORE money.
- Cheap bread – buying “cheap” does NOT always save money. And bread is the best example of that. Cheap bread just doesn’t full us up properly. Or keep us full. SO we end up eating much more cheap bread than good old fashioned, slow risen wholemeal or rye or sourdough.
- Cheap meat – ditto cheap meat. It doesn’t really satisfy us so we keep buying MORE and MORE. Enjoying one awesome cut can work out more frugal and save us more for our debt pay off than three cheap ones.
- Kitchen cleaner – micro-fibre cloths with a dollop of dish liquid or castille soap & baking soda for extra ooomph if you really need it 😉
- Bath cleaner – ditto
- Mould remover – ditto, just leave on grout for 30 minutes or so and rub off
- Oven cleaner – ditto, seriously this works. AND yep it involves a bit more elbow grease. But better that than the nasty chemicals in commercial oven cleaners
- Window cleaning spray – micro-fibre cloths & white vinegar. There is NOT much you can’t clean with basic white vinegar. AND it’s non-toxic. AND it’s cheap. I buy mine from a local zero waste shopping co-op.
- Stainless steel cleaner – micro-fibre cloths with vinegar or lemon juice
- Rinse aid – add a splash of white vinegar
- Fabric conditioner – ditto
- Dryer sheets – use reusable dryer balls
- Stain removers – you can shift almost all laundry stains naturally with cold water, dish liquid, vinegar, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide
- Carpet stain remover – ditto
- Drain blocker – a regular pan of boiling water & dish liquid will keep it clean
- Odour eliminator sprays – you can make your own with leftover vodka 😉
- Air freshener – open doors, brew coffee
- Fly spray – make a fly trap with vinegar
- Ant poison – wipe where they’re entering with white vinegar, it destroys the ant trails
- Odour eaters – just sprinkle baking soda in them and leave over night
- Carpet freshener – ditto
- Laundry starch – if you really need it – you could just NOT iron 😉 – make your own non-toxic version with corn starch (flour).
- After sun – blend oats & water to make your own oat milk, it relieves very bad sunburn and is cheap as chips AND toxic free
- Anti-septic wipes – soap AND water!! Turns out all this antiseptic stuff may actually be contributing to antibiotic resistant drugs!! Scary stuff.
- Hand gel – ditto
- Essential oils – lots of people swear by essential oils AND they can be useful BUT there’s a whole multi level marketing industry out there pushing them to us over and over again. If you’ve got the basics resist the sales patter. Paying off debt will do more for anxiety than any essential oil!!
- Paint brush cleaner – leave in vinegar
- Weed killer – target spray with vinegar
- Ball point pens – root out the old fountain pen and get refillable cartridges
- Teeth whitener – make your own paste with baking soda
- Mouth wash – apple cider vinegar will naturally see off the bacteria in mouth and gut causing bad breath
- Tampons – get a menstrual cup and save £1,000s over your life time!!
- Sanitary pads – reusable pads or period panties. TBH they aren’t cheap upfront but WILL save you £1,000s over your life.
- Baking parchment – you can get reusable silicone mats.
- Cup cake papers – buy washable silicone baking cups & never buy again
- Cotton wool – use washable muslins
- Cotton wool rounds – you can buy or make reusable cotton rounds
- Coffee filters – again rather than spending money to chuck stuff away get reusable filters
- Coffee machine cups – and you can buy reusable cups for Keurig and Nespresso machines
- Straws – rather than keep buying straws just buy a metal one
- Cling film – buying beeswax wraps once will let you stop buying clingfilm over and over AND they’re zero waste
- Foil – ditto
- Sandwich bags – ditto
- Freezer bags – just use leftover jars especially wide necked ones, or reusable silicone bags
- Disposable picnic & party stuff – all those disposable plastic cups & cutlery and what not for parties and picnics create a load of waste AND clutter
- Board games – have a game swap with friends and sell off games and jigsaws you know you’ll never play with
- New toys – ditto BUT also just hit the playground or the park or play toy free games
- Kids glue – flour & water paste does the trick for little kids crafts
- Kids clothes – kids clothes are SO much cheaper than when we were young BUT we actually spend more money on them because we cram their wardrobes full of them. Decluttering the unworn extras and making them fold them up and wear again MEANS much less laundry. Result!!
- Subscription boxes – if you use it all up every month great BUT how many of us actually do?
- Magazine subscriptions – do you really read them? Cutting that subscription will save money quickly and passing all those old copies you WILL NEVER read again is the easiest declutter ever!
- Craft supplies – recycle and upcycle what you’ve got or join a freecycle group to find people decluttering fabric, yarns etc
- Paper napkins – root out old fabric ones
- Membership cards – do you truly use that membership card for the cinema, theme park, sports club, museum etc? You probably can’t cancel straight away BUT get your money’s worth whilst you do to save on other outings and then do NOT renew.
- First aid supplies – OK this might seem a bad idea BUT apart from plasters most of us don’t use half of our first aid supplies before they expire. Muslin cloths make great bandages and reusable rounds can be used for simple dressings.
- Disposable diapers – it’s pretty easy to pick up cloth diapers from other local parents and they can take you through all the ins and outs of using them
- Disposable baby wipes – you can now also get reusable baby wipes. You’ll save money in a few months AND cut waste
- New baby clothes – the world is drowning in barely worn baby clothes. Just join a local Facebook parents group and buy great quality ones second hand for a quarter of the price
- Cheap baby toys – babies change so rapidly it can be tempting to buy new toys to keep up BUT believe me this is just a recipe for clutter. You can pick up hand me downs very easily. So if you are going to spend money it’s better to spend it on great, general toys that will last e.g. bricks AND hold their value so you can sell them on at near purchase price.
- Impulse make up buys – I found decluttering old make up really helped me shopping impulsively. It made clear exactly what I did use and what was waste. And I’ve found I got a real kick out of it keeping it minimalist.
- Single purpose lotions – we end up with hand lotion, foot lotion, leg lotion, shaving lotion, unicorn lotion!! ALL festering AND cluttering up the bathroom cupboard. When one single good, cheap lotion will do the lot.
- Expensive toiletries you never use – ditto, again decluttering toiletries actually helped me stop buying stuff I never used
- Hair conditioner – you might not want to drop this forever but giving our hair a rest and just a vinegar rinse for a month or so.
- Cough medicines – you can make your own cough mixture in minutes as you need it, so there’s no waste AND no nasties!
- Specialist tools – with every single DIY or craft tool we could ever dream of only one Amazon click away, it’s all too tempting to buy specialist tools when something goes wrong for instant delivery. But then we NOT only bust our budget paying for them BUT clutter up our precious storage space AND add to the crazy over production of cheap stuff that’s killing the planet whilst putting people out of work it. Learning to make do is unbelievably liberating and a great way to pay off debt.
- One off equipment – and it’s the same with kitchen gadgets and the like, we only ever use once a year. Why spend money on them when we could almost certainly borrow them for free or a pittance by asking around on Facebook? To pay off your debt faster you could even sell off barely used stuff.
- Duplicates – another crazy thing we all do is buy duplicates. Sometimes we’ve just got so much clutter we don’t even know what we’ve got BUT we also get caught in the perfection trap. If we just look hard enough, we’ll find the perfect bag, the perfect t-shirt, the perfect jeans. You won’t. Save your money. Cut your waste. Pay off debt.
- Stationary multi-packs – those mega packs of stationary supplies look like a good deal but why clutter up our house with them for two years when we will save more by paying off debt?
- Seasonal decorations – if you’re anything like me you’ve got boxes of tired Christmas decorations you never get out. And every year you buy more that get shoved away any old how and become tired to. This year, make your own natural decorations and let them go when you’re done.
- Souvenirs – why does everywhere we go these days have to have a “gift shop”? Full of soon-to-be-forgotten souvenirs our kids CANNOT resist. If you can wean your kids – and partners!!! – off one thing, wean them off souvenirs. You’ll save yourself shelves full of clutter AND money.
- Treats – we love our kids, our grandkids, nieces, nephews etc. Of course we do. AND they do whine for stuff. BUT they will trade all those treats for an hour of our undivided attention reading or cuddling or playing monopoly they truly will!!
- Gifts, gifts, gifts – now I truly don’t want to sound Scrooge-like BUT seriously the gift industry is out of control. Giving gifts IS so important. They share our love and gratitude and care BUT when we’re all encouraged to give them and buy them non-stop, they become clutter. Clutter, our loved ones, do NOT have time or space to enjoy. And clutter that can actually cause real pain. So when we need to be frugal, it’s OK to hold back on the gifts and give our loved ones what they would value most … our time.
So there you go, 101 things you can stop buying that CAN help you:
- Live frugally and save money
- Help pay off debt
- Declutter your home
- AND cut your waste
I truly hope they help you save money.
BUT remember you don’t have to follow them ALL at once. Of course you don’t.
Just add in 2 or 3 frugal tips every week. Turn them into easy family habits.
Use those savings to snowball debt pay off Dave Ramsey style.
AND by the end of the year see the difference.
For more frugal money saving tips that will help you declutter and cut waste do check check these out …
- 50 frugal energy saving tips
- 30 zero waste products that save money
- 30 ways to help kids go plastic free
- 250 things you will be happier without
Photo: Cute pink piggy bank against the pink colored background by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0
We invested in a steam mop when we moved here 5 years ago (was around 100) but the microfiber covers are washable and hard wearing. No chemicals or cloths… I can clean floors, oven, stainless steel, glass… it’s great and eco friendly.
Ros @ ZeroWasteTips says
I love the concept of meal looping. My mom definitely did that growing up. I would ditch the microfiber though – they contain nylon which leaches microplastics into our wastewater systems. Good ole organic cloths like cotton are better. Great list!
Hi Ros – meal looping is definitely the way forward. Thanks for flagging on the microfibre cloths. This was my list from a few years back so I do need to go back through again to reflect my recent switches. Best wishes Alice