Living frugally without hardship: let's share actionable suggestions

This topic is a reboot of a favorite topic of mine back from FWF’s “glory days”, originally launched in 2003.

Let’s detail specific strategies for living frugally while still living well. This means (roughly), not feeling like you have to make a noticeable sacrifice for small savings, or a significant sacrifice for a large savings.

Please add your own suggestions, or offer constructive comments on other’s suggestions. Please do NOT post ways to take advantage of generous friends, unknowing neighbors, or lenient/dim merchants. This includes items like pirating signals, bandwidth, etc., along with returning items that a person has used in order to gain free “rent” of them.

Also, please keep the focus on the ways to be frugal without giving up stuff that makes life worth living. So, a post about “not eating out,” while frugal, would be off-topic, UNLESS you have an argument for why there are good substitutes that bring similar satisfaction for less money.

Thanks for your patience with these “ground rules!”


Uncategorized / multiple-categories:



  • Get rid of unused items, downsize
  • Don’t fill your home with books – use the library to loan physical or e-books (UncaMikey), or download (gwraigty)


  • Buy blank t-shirts for ~$5 (blok)
  • Join a clothing swap group (Stubtify)
  • Line-dry clothes - save on gas/electricity, the cost of a dryer, clothes last longer. (BarnyardRomeo)
  • Get your work suits in Southeast Asia (nasheedb). Don’t go to Beijing (cashmeeousside)


  • We all have to pay these bills, and they add up to thousands a year. The low-hanging fruit is to call in regularly and ask for retention offers or any other promos that are running. If you haven’t done this in 12-18 months, you need to call ASAP.
  • Consider prepaid phone plans and family plans to save lots of money.
  • Get rid of the landline and consider using Obihai, Google Voice, Ooma.
  • Ask to be kept on promo rates for internet service (Shandril)
  • Cut the cable cord and consider Netflix, Amazon FireStick + Prime, Hulu, Chromecast, Roku. Else TiVo or HTPC with media center or Plex (fragiledelaer), or OTA (PurseStrings)


  • Stay at least one generation behind (jcohen73)


  • Comparison-shop annually.
  • Review your insurance limits and coverage to avoid gaps, overlaps, or unnecessarily high limits (topnotcher).

Home improvement & repair:

  • When something breaks or needs a seemingly minor repair, I search online and look at YouTube. (BostonOne)
  • Buy used, quality furniture on Craigslist.

I think Telecom is a huge bill many people have these days , often paying hundreds of dollars per month for cable , Internet , home phone , cell phone etc - and there’s really little need to pay so much

If you have xfinity for Internet , they are now offering 5 free cell lines through their xfinity mobile program

And you can port over your landlines and other numbers you want to keep . Free unlimited calling and texting . They are trying to sell the data but if you can limit your cellular data use and use wifi at home and when out, you can drastically cut your telecom bills . This is especially good for older folks who don’t use much or any Data ; and they sell home cordless phones that connect to your cell via Bluetooth so your home phones will ring when a call comes into the cell. The backend of their cell service is Verizon which is regarded as the best .

Pair xfinity Internet ($9-39 a month depending on your area) with 5 cell lines and a Hulu subscription and rabbit ears , and you’ll save hundreds each month while still having acess to tons of programming


Getting rid of unused items. Since the original version of this thread in 2003, an entire movement has arisen devoted to “decluttering”; keeping only objects that “bring you joy”. There is merit to these arguments–especially for we over 30s who were often raised on “more stuff” = better, and have had to unlearn bad habits.

But the financial benefits to decluttering are often less appreciated, yet more significant. Consider:

-Sales or donations. Online forums like CL and various phone apps make it easier than ever to raise useful cash from unused stuff. Donating to charity avoids the effort of sales, while resulting in tax savings if you itemize deductions

-Lower Housing costs. either by downsizing, or by generating rental income to offset housing expenses. So for instance, what before was a garage full of stuff can become a garage that gets leased out to the family next door with three cars or two much of their own stuff…without affecting your life inside the house. The possibilities are endless. Here in Seattle for instance garage space is growing ever more valuable, as parking grows more scarce and expensive…

-Lower insurance / less risk of theft. Recently I downsized from a desktop PC rig to all laptop / tablet, which travels with me. This means I not only have fewer CPUs to declare for insurance, but it’s less “theft bate” for anyone who happens by my residence.


Mov[quote=“SIS, post:2, topic:29”]
Pair xfinity Internet ($9-39 a month depending on your area) with 5 cell lines and a Hulu subscription and rabbit ears , and you’ll save hundreds each month while still having acess to tons of programming

SIS, great suggestion. That could be a game changer if it’s marketed effectively. Agre too that it’s especially good for older folks. In addition to them not using as much data, they are less likely to be “cord cutters.”.

(And I tried quoting your post, but couldn’t do it…are we still building out that functionality?) EDIT: OK, I get it. You need to highlight the part you want to quote, and then hit “quote reply” in the post you’re answering. That’s an elegant solution

I’m about a third of the way through a (classic?) book often recommended to beginners – Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. It talks about decluttering and evaluating expenses based on whether they bring you enough joy and justify the number of hours you had to work to earn that money. It’s also a little heavier on eco-consciousness and anti-consumerism than I expected. I don’t mind, but I can see some readers brushing off important concepts because of this.


Thanks scripta, and great to see you here!

[quote=“scripta, post:5, topic:29”]
'm about a third of the way through a (classic?) book often recommended to beginners – Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.[/quote]

Will look forward to your assessment. I’ve recommended The Millionaire Next Door --also first published in the early 1990s–o students and friends alike, but have never read this book.

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I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but here goes.

I’d been in the market for a new dining room table for much longer than I care to admit. :slight_smile:

I’d priced dining room tables off and on over the years. The prices disgusted me, running about $3000 and up. We’d had some good luck with a couple of smaller purchases at, so I checked out their selection of dining room sets this spring.

We got a beautiful Asian hardwood dining room set with six chairs for just over $900! :grin:


I only wear blank t-shirts, so now I only buy next-level brand, blank t-shirts for me to wear from my wholesale account. They are usually around $5, fit really well and come in many sizes and colors. Most t-shirts you buy are printed on the same shirts anyway.

I use if anyone is interested.


My wife has a clothing swap group on FB she’s very active in. It has been a HUGE $$$ saver for her clothing budget. She stumbled upon it by accident and I’m sure it is one of many. For women who don’t like to wear things over and over and like to have variety in their wardrobe it is fantastic.

You swap dresses and each person pays shipping for the dress. She constantly has people marvel at her never-ending string of beautiful dresses, which in reality are swaps for $5 from a dress she purchased on clearance for $50-$75. She’ll wear a dress in rotation for a few months and then swap it out.

It also helps for when she gets tired of a dress, there’s zero friction between us because she swaps it for something she likes. She also just straight sells dresses on the group/on, in essence ‘renting’ them for a while and then pulling the $$ back out of the clothing.


I’ll add to that, that I try to follow the idea that if I buy a new item (let’s say a new shirt) I donate an existing shirt. It help with not having clutter but is also a way to figure out whether I want or need something.


When we retired 11 years ago, we downsized from owning a 2000 sf house to renting a 1000 sf apartment. Part of the downsizing was getting rid of hundreds (thousands?) of books and many VHS/DVD movies and the bookcases that held them.

After a lifetime of buying books I decided no more – we now use the public library. Not only is this cheaper (free!) it is vastly more convenient. I can request books/movies online and they let me know when they’re ready to pick up. And since we live downtown, we can walk to the library.

This is a single example of how decluttering can improve your life, financially and otherwise.


Fellow book lover here!

Have you also explored downloading books for free? I’ve tried this via the Kindle app and it works pretty well.

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Congrats gwraigty! That’s interesting. Do you attribute the difference to something about specifically, or are you inferring there’s a larger technique to furniture shopping that can help you live better for less?

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Very nice blok, that’s a great price. I’m a big blank T-shirt fan too. Is it easy getting a wholesale account there? I gather these wear/look/feel like $10-20 shirts you could otherwise buy?

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So cool! Are there any groups she especially likes that would be open to interested members here?

Along similar lines, I wonder if she or anyone else here has tried .

My wife tends to prefer high quality stuff she can wear for years, vs swapping stuff in and out…but I can imagine for someone who craves variety in a wardrobe, these groups are a lifesaver.

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Nicely done UM (and great to see you here, btw!) I agree it’s a great example life improvements from decluttering.

I can relate. In a previous life I was a philosophy professor, with books my stock in trade. This collection of thousands was largely unmanageable before our move from Spokane to Seattle, and I’m still trying to downsize. I only buy ebooks now unless there is a truly compelling reason for a paper purchase.


From what she tells me it is very brand/style specific. So if you’re into vintage/retro there are vintage/retro groups. If you like Name brand there are name brand groups. Search for BST (Buy, sell, trade). Or for stores with very big followings BST.

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Nice, thanks Stubify.

I dont remember the sign up process, you may need a business with a TIN. I think you can get next-level shirts on Amazon as well. Yes they feel exactly the same since most graphic tees are printed on the same brand shirts.

You can also get other styles like collared, long sleeve, ect on wholesale sites.

Dave, I’m really not sure how to answer that. From what I’ve read, it seems as though Wayfair acts as more of a drop shipper rather than storing any inventory. That would lead to some significant savings. We’d had good luck with smaller furniture purchases, so that helped me be confident in buying something as large as a dining room set.

As for a larger technique, it’s the old, boring, comparison shopping. The price differential can be ridiculous, not only online, but even between stores that are literally across the street from each other.

When mattress shopping, one local store had pricing between $700 - $900 for some queen sets I found comfortable. The store across the street had comparable sets priced in the 4 figures. The saleswoman said she could let me have a set for as low as $1500. (Now, why didn’t I feel tempted by that?) After that, I was pretty sure I’d buy from the 1st store, until I checked a 3rd store. Their pricing was nearly identical to the 1st store, except the saleswoman mentioned that they had 3 models that were overstocked and were priced at $599 until they sold out. That’s where we bought our mattress.