The Best Frugality Advice: The Cheapest Ways To Do Anything

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2007-04-0327

Saving money is quite a priority for many so I thought to crowdsource the question: What kind of stuff do you do to keep more money in your pocket? Are you a coupon clipper, bargain hunter, expert haggler and frugalist? Do your friends call you a cheapskate? Well then, we hope you’ll like what we have here.

I can tell you now that I have the absolute BEST frugality advice anywhere on the net. Sure, this is a bold thing to say, but I believe that the ideas I am presenting here are good because I’ve done my own mashup trick which involved aggregating the blogosphere’s best ideas. Below, I’ve given the floor to various financial advisers on the web. I am also of the mind to either update this list as I find more tips out there, or create new ones as I collect more and more ideas from the wisdom of the crowds.

If you have the CHEAPEST WAY to do something, let me know so I can feature it in one of these posts or just add your comments to this article below.

So here’s the best ever frugality advice I could find.

The Cheapest Ways To Live Your Life

#1 Exercise by walking.
That’s right. Walk and take the stairs whenever you can. You won’t need fancy exercise machines or a gym membership to burn the calories, and on top of that, you can also stop and smell the roses too. Here’s an awesome analysis to convince you about the benefits of walking. Doing heavy chores around the house will also help you out with this. So instead of paying someone to rake your leaves, you can save the bucks and do it yourself. You may get to be so good at this that you end up doing away with your car and opt for mass transportation, which are the cheapest modes of transit you can find.

#2 Cut down on health costs.
Avoid getting sick by washing your hands often. If I can avoid the crowds during the busiest times of the year where the highest amount of germs are circulated, I do that too! But then that means more dollars spent on driving my own car rather than risk it on a crowded bus or train. I guess there are tradeoffs for everything. As a reminder, get that annual flu shot. Now if you’re already sick with a sore throat, try an elixir made out of cayenne pepper powder. And floss daily to avoid painful and costly dental problems later.

#3 Decorate your surroundings and grow a garden for very little.
I know people who cultivated a huge garden out of cuttings. Free cuttings from the neighbors that is! With some time and discipline and maybe a little bit of a green thumb, it can be done. The cheapest way is always to do it yourself, to start small and to get stuff from the dollar store. Another great idea is to find new uses for old items you may already have just lying around stored away somewhere.

frugality advice

#4 Entertain yourself for free.
Why not try any of these activities? Read a book or two, but pick them up at the library. Or if you’re in the mood for a movie, borrow from your friends’ collections. And best of all, play with your kids and spend time with the family by painting or drawing with them, visiting the playground, taking nature trips and building sandcastles on the beach (granted you need a beach nearby to be able to do that).

#5 Eat well for cheap.
Could eating well be done cheaply? I think so, but it’ll take some creativity. Maybe it’ll involve having to do some research into something like Cheap Eats, fixing yourself your own frugal lunch, or using some recipe books that will grant you better health in the long term so that you can avoid expensive medical bills. Feast your eyes on this interesting analysis: the economics of obesity.

#6 Relax the easy way.
Get enough sleep! When you’re awake, try meditation or rest in a comfortable spot. De-stress by trying out some cheap activities like reading a book, taking a nap, and just hanging out.

#7 Have an affordable date.
Though relationships can have its costs, you can still entertain your date through more affordable or even free ways, such as a nice picnic followed by a nice hike in the woods where you can get to know each other better. Renting a movie and having homemade popcorn would be a good way to enjoy yourselves as well.

#8 Look great for less.
I haven’t come across anyone else declaring this, so I will: the best way to look great is to be clean, don’t go overboard, less is more, and dress simply but crisply. Pay attention to the hair since it’s one of the most noticeable things about you. Notice how many people call you out by saying: “check out the bald guy over there!” I will also admit that I don’t mind taking hand-me-downs that fit me and are barely used by someone else. My mother, sister and I have similar builds so it isn’t unusual for all of us to trade clothes now and then. Should you wear makeup? It helps if you’re born with easy to maintain looks. As for me, I personally haven’t paid attention to this in a long time mostly because of allergies, but I may get into it again one day.

#9 Get your money back by being nice.
Ask, be nice and people will address your bill disputes much better than if you make a scene. If you want to return something, act fast, be organized and have your receipts ready. If you want to have your credit card late fees forgiven, call your card company and simply make a cordial request. Many times they will address your problem in your favor.

#10 Be charitable without spending a cent.
To help others, you can donate something else other than money. How about donating your time and skills instead? It’s free. There’s also a really cheap way to pass away from this earth. How about donating yourself to science?

These tips are the cheapest ways to conduct our lives since most of them can be done for free. There’s nothing I’d like better than to collect them all in a tidy package like this to share with you as well and for easy referencing anytime I like, and that way I can keep tabs on what the blogosphere has to say about watching our budgets.

Copyright © 2007 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

limeade April 3, 2007 at 9:40 am

Great list of ideas. All are pretty much doable. Here are my thoughts on going out to eat.

Keep it up.


frugal zeitgeist April 3, 2007 at 10:57 am

Excellent tips. Thank you!

Leo April 3, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Excellent article! I love how you provided concrete advice and links for more info. Thanks also for the links to Zen Habits.

As for myself, I can proudly say that I’ve taken most of these steps. The other two that I haven’t are things that I hope to do someday. Thanks again!

mapgirl April 4, 2007 at 6:51 am

Thanks for the link! Floss floss floss! 🙂

James April 7, 2007 at 8:11 am

#4 Entertain yourself for free.

I’d also like to note that this includes utilizing things that you’ve already purchased in the past to entertain yourself. Most people have large collections of stuff, and the continue to purchase more even when they already have enough be entertained.

JT April 7, 2007 at 7:06 pm

You can eat very well if you learn to cook gourmet food. Save a ton of money on restaurant dinners, too. Spend $20 on a rack of lamb for the family vs. $30 a plate at a restaurant, that kind of thing. One year when we cut back, we made our own bread via a breadmaker. Excellent investment, both in time with the family (all the kids helped) and money. You can also spend a month or two gym membership on bicycles, or even a few weights at home.

Debbie April 12, 2007 at 7:58 am

More comments on the first five:

#1 (exercise) – Walking is good cheap aerobic exercise. So is jumping rope (which you can do even without a rope). It’s also good to have strength-training (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc., pulling weeds, carrying heaving things around), flexibility (stretching), balance (do things on one leg), and hand-eye coordination (mending, cooking).

#2 (health) – Also eat properly, negotiate doctor costs, price shop for prescriptions, get symptoms checked out early, do internet research before talking with your doctor, and do things that make you happy.

#3 (decorating) – Keeping your place clean and organized is a cheap way to keep it looking good. If your friends make fun of you for having nothing on the walls, just start putting weird things on your walls that you like – sporting equipment, musical instruments, decorative t-shirts on hangers. Also you can hang pictures from magazines or old calendars.

#4 (entertainment) – Also check out community festivals (eat before you go), and buy things that can give you a lot of entertainment for the buck such as games, blank journals, drawing paper, and musical instruments (recorders are cheap).

#5 (eating well) – Learning to cook or at least do more and more processing of your own food (tear your own lettuce, etc.). Throw pot-lucks where people bring their recipes as well as their dishes so you can add more things to your repertoire.

Steve "The Debt Settlement Man" B May 30, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Wow lol that was a really cool little post. I like #4 read a book, that is always great entertainment, although for me its more like read a blog lol.

Jonathan Thomas August 20, 2008 at 9:27 am

It’s been my experience that there is ALWAYS a cheaper way to do something. You just have to think hard enough about it.

fnog9 October 27, 2008 at 11:38 pm

PFFFF!!!! You call this the “cheapest way to live!?!” I came here looking for hardcore stuff! Like for people who have virtually no income, no relationships, don’t care about how they look, or how they come across to society at all. For this type of person, the thought of paying for exercise is ridiculous, health care is completely out of the question, entertainment and decoration is non existent, and dates are irrelevant. I want to figure out how to live on a total all expense budget of $500 per month….. not just so I can say that I’m cheap or to make some stupid political statement, or reduce my stupid carbon footprint or some crap like that…. but because I no longer have a choice. I must live cheap or I will die. This webpage has let me down. This site is the overspenders guide to spending slightly less. You want to really save? Try evicting yourself from society altogether.

Silicon Valley Blogger October 28, 2008 at 12:24 am

I believe I address the frugality requirements of 90% of people who read this page. Perhaps I may not be able to satisfy everyone’s definition of “frugal” or “cheap”, but most people — I hope — will agree that I have.

If anyone needs to be THAT cheap, they should instead turn their attention to ways to increase income so that they don’t have to resort to uber-thrift.

If there really is no way to earn income, then government programs should figure heavily in the picture and should hopefully help things out.

mike February 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm

i have to disagree on the washing hands often part. part of building and immune system is to be exposed to small amounts of germs and bacteria. i am not a dirty man by any means but i occasionally bite my finger nails and hardly ever wash my hands other than average bathing or dishwashing. i have been to the hospital or doctors office combined a total of maybe 8 times my entire life, including mandatory physicals in highschool.

rajsamand February 25, 2009 at 5:20 am

wow! you wrote about some very good ideas here.
IF a person can do these all things he or she can save a lot of money in their lifetime.
So I am going to save money by doing some of these things myself.

MG777 May 26, 2010 at 3:36 pm

fnog9 I have the perfect solution for you — go out and get a better job rather than sitting there whining about wanting to live on an unrealistic amount of money. You’re poor because you want to be. The rest of us work our butts off and want to find more ways to save money without being unrealistic about it. Your post made me LOL.

Rita May 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Washing your hands is very important. Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise.

countchocula June 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

“If anyone needs to be THAT cheap, they should instead turn their attention to ways to increase income so that they don’t have to resort to uber-thrift.”

WOW, you are out of touch! With the exception of the exclusive 90% that comprises your readership. This would make a nice money magazine article or something.

Silicon Valley Blogger June 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm


Interesting comment you made. I am only suggesting that doing things to try to increase income can help relieve someone of having to focus on being so thrifty all the time. We all have a limited amount of time to do anything, and there are a ton of ways to go about affording things. There are people I know who simply spend 24/7 trying to think up ways to make more money. There are also people I know who spend 24/7 thinking up ways to fit their lifestyle into a fixed budget. It’s a matter of doing what you want to do to make things work.

If you’re comfortable being frugal, then more power to you! I think it’s a combination of both working to increase income plus working to save as much as possible that’s worked for me. Your formula for success may be different.

Linda September 18, 2010 at 8:15 am

I enjoyed reading the ideas here, some of them are very smart and helpful to people who have experienced unexpected hardships. And I’ve been through times after leaving the service where I had no call backs on jobs even after putting in 30 say applications or so. So that’s pretty bad economic times, from taking orders every day and serving your country to maybe i could cut the neighbors lawn? And eating at soup kitchens. But these ideas help me to drift away and be creative, and get my mind on things I like. So just thought I’d be sociable.

Tina February 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Dunno how this was the top google hit for cheapest way to live :/ How disappointing!

Silicon Valley Blogger February 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Well, if you’re looking for tips on how to live cheaply, hope we offered some ideas!

Cheryl September 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I agree with the disappointed analysis. These ideas are no-brainers !

Silicon Valley Blogger September 15, 2012 at 6:05 am

Thanks Cheryl, but many people like getting the reminders though. While we know what it is we need to do, sometimes, it’s helpful to have some affirmations before we do anything. But you’re right, this is NOT rocket science at all, and the true benefit here is in walking the walk and actually saving — not just knowing what needs to be done to save money.

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