Many homesteaders are frugal by nature. And frugality is an element of homesteading that seems to fit naturally with the homesteading ideology in general. You may want to live a frugal lifestyle to avoid overspending and begin building a savings account that you can put to good use in the future. You may be on a minimalism purge and wanting to cleanse yourself of your old life and beliefs, and want to make some extra money with all your excess ‘stuff’. Regardless of the motive, living frugally isn’t a bad idea, particularly in times that are uncertain. If this sounds like something you’re interested in doing or need a few life hacks to help you, check out these 25 practical tips to living frugally that are simple enough to follow. It’s not as hard as it seems to live a budget-friendly lifestyle.
1. Set a budget
Be prepared to set a budget that works best for your family. You’ll need to go over your finances and expenses to determine what you can afford to spend each month. Once you’ve settled into a flow within a homesteading lifestyle, and are starting to garden and/or raise your own meat, then this budget is likely to adjust, so make sure you make note of all current, future and finished costs.
2. Use coupon codes and discounts
Never buy anything without a coupon. You can get coupons for everything, including toothpaste, groceries, household items and clothes. Use both manufacturer and store coupons to save big time on essentials.
3. Check for sales at different stores
You should already have a junk mail email setup where all your emails to your favourite stores get sent to. Signing up for newsletters with your favourite retailers means you’ll get early notification of any upcoming sales, discount code and special offers.
4. Avoid unnecessary purchases
Try not to shop on impulse. You’ll save money if you avoid purchasing items that you’re not really going to need or use in the future. I also often use the wish list option in ebay and Amazon, and the add to cart feature. In both of these sites, the items are not removed unless sold out or the vendor has cancelled the listing. But you could add things to cart and leave them in there for a month or more without it leaving your cart. For ebay, this works well because I often wait until I have quite a few items to ensure I get the best value for money from my subscription with ebay Plus. Both of these sites also offer discounts from sellers and if by chance the item is trending down or up in price, they reflect the changes automatically. This gives you time to consider if you really need or want that item that’s in your cart.
5. Buy meat in bulk
If you notice a decent meat sale, buy it in bulk and store it in your freezer. If you buy it in bulk while it’s cheaper, you’ll save hundreds of dollars per month on chicken, ground beef, pork, and more. Also, reach out to local farmers and see what the cost per kg would be for you to obtain an entire beast, or go halves with someone. Getting a whole or half beast is much better in the long run and will not only save you money, but supports your local farmer.
6. Do free things to have fun
Even rural communities and small towns have free things to do that won’t cost money. Maybe you could get involved in a local bird viewing club, or meet with some towns people to ride horses or go cycling. There’s always local community events such as fairs or rodeos that cost nothing or cost very little to attend, and are lots of fun. Of course, you could always have a scavenger hunt on your property if its big enough, go foraging for wild mushrooms, identify local flora and fauna, take photo’s – the ideas are only limited by your imagination.
7. Plan out meals in advance
Come up with a list of meals to make throughout the week. You can save more money if you know what you’re planning to prepare and can get the groceries for those meals while they’re on sale. I am a huge fan of meal prepping and making recipes that are multi-use. I have some great meal ideas in the post 20 ULTIMATE recipes for meal planning.
8. Go through excess belongings and have a sale
Because you’ve now moved onto your homestead full-time, you won’t need all those fancy corporate clothes. I’ve left one black dress for funerals and one pant suit. The rest is ear marked for sale. You can sell your excess belongings on gumtree, Facebook marketplace, ebay or even by having a garage sale. There may also be an opportunity for you to donate your clothes to women’s shelters or to someone who may need them more than you do.
9. Downsize your home
If it’s possible, try to downsize your home. It’s cheaper to keep a smaller home cool in the summer and warm in the winter than it is to do so for a much larger home with lots of extra space. If you’ve already done that, then consider things like solar, woodfire heating, louvre windows for cooling in summer, and really good insulation. Another thing to consider is to re-evaluate your interest rate and ask your bank for a discussion on reducing your rate. Banks are keen to keep business now and the interest rates are low, so use the opportunity now to reduce your mortgage repayment (if you still have one!) and lock in some savings that way. If you aren’t already using an offset account, you should be.
10. Move to a cheaper city
If you’re willing to make a move, consider traveling to a cheaper city and living there. For example, it’s going to cost much more to live in Melbourne or Sydney than it would to live elsewhere. With all the changes to house pricing since covid, make sure you do your research before making any massive changes to your home situation. You may be in a position to generate some profit from the sale of your home which could buy you something in cash instead. Do your research.
11. Buy used clothes and other items
Instead of buying your clothes at full price, visit op-shops and consignment shops to get high-quality items for lower prices. Not only can you buy used clothes, but you can also find used cookware, shoes, furniture, and more. Another option is to wait until the end of the season and go to stores like K-Mart, target and Big W. Often they’re clearing seasonal stock for dirt cheap – I’ve picked up t-shirts and basic long sleeve cotton tops for $0.50c to $1-2. Even if they only last a year, it’s a significant saving in the cost of new clothing and can be repurposed at the end of its life.
12. Use powdered laundry detergent
Powdered laundry detergent is great to use because it tends to last longer than liquid laundry detergent. If you use liquid detergent, maybe make a simple swap to a powdered one, or, if you’re feeling uber frugal, make your own. It’s easy to get bulk of what you need for much less than it costs you to keep buying the store bought ones, and making your own batch as needed will last you much longer than you may expect!
13. Hang clothes to dry
It’s very rare in Australia to not have a Hills Hoist drying line or a makeshift cord under the verandah to dry clothes. In fact, if you have a dryer, particularly in somewhere like Queensland, people will look at you like you fell off the moon. Using nature to dry your clothes is infinitely more cost effective than running a dryer. Understandably, there are some places where this is not feasible for a number of reasons, but if you do have the option of air drying/sun drying your clothing, you probably should consider it.
14. Start a vegetable garden
Plant a veggie garden in the backyard. You’ll be able to grow lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and other veggies that you can eat and enjoy with the family. You’ll end up spending way less on produce at the store. If you’re intimidated by starting a full vegie garden, maybe start a herb garden first to learn some tricks of the trade. Regardless, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of knowing your meal is prepared from food you’ve grown yourself.
15. Consider alternate travel options
There are many different ways to travel to work, but these options are more feasible if you are working off your homestead or not living on your homestead – yet. Things such as ride sharing, bike, scooter, some days working from home, or public transport all contribute to reduced travel costs. Of course, with the world being forced to accept working from home due to covid, there may be more opportunity to work from home in the years that follow.
16. Shop around for cheaper insurance
If your car insurance costs quite a bit each month, shop around for lower prices. You might find a better deal with a different company. This also applies to your health and home and contents insurance. If you’ve made your move to yur homestead, consider all the excess you may have that needs insurance. For example, do you have multiple investment properties? Do you need them all? Can you reduce some costs and get cashflow if you sell? Same as with excess vehicles, trailers, horse floats etc. When you move onto your homestead, there is a liklihood at least you or your aprtner will be working on the homestead full time, so there may not be a need for two or more vehicles for travel to work.
17. Make bread from scratch
There is no nicer smell than that of fresh, yeasty bread hot from the oven. The whole kitchen smells warm and wonderful. It’s much cheaper to make bread from scratch, and you can freeze loaves of bread to ensure that you’ll never run out of it. Its also a lot of fun to customise your bread loaves. You can make jalapeno bread, or rolls, or focaccia – the options are endless. I have an excellent and super simple no-knead bread recipe that you’ll make time and time again, and working on some gluten free recipes too.
18. Shop at cheaper stores
Start shopping at cheaper stores, such as Aldi. These stores offer a lot of generic brands, but their groceries are available at discounted prices. Aldi in Australia also offers a lot of Australian made products. It’s a good way to support Australian businesses and save money too.
19. Have a side hustle for a passive income stream
Find a simple, stress-free side hustle that you can do to make some quick cash on the side. Can you make something homemade, like sewing or knitting projects, candles, soap, lotions? Can you sell your excess fruit and veg? Can you bale hay, do horse and livestock transport, rent out a horse float? How about that fancy tractor? Can it take mulching and fence post attachments and can you do side jobs putting fence posts in or mulching? The opportunities are endless.
20. Get rid of cable
Stop paying such a high price for cable. There are plenty of companies offering shows, movies, and more for lower prices. You’ll need to shop around to see what is out there. In Australia, Foxtel charge in excess of $100 per month for the best-of-the-best package with all the channels. But how much of those channels do you actually watch? We have Netflix, Amazon Prime and Stan and pay about $25 per month which is significantly cheaper and much more cost effective – especially Amazon because its part of our Prime subscription, so the access to the TV subscription is but one of many benefits which include free postage on international and local purchases.
21. Avoid eating out at restaurants
Eating at restaurants is fun, but it can cost a lot of money. Avoid fancy restaurants and fast food joints. Prepare your food at home! It’s better for you and will cost you much less.
22. Repurpose different items at home
Try to repurpose different items at home. For example, you can use old mason jars for canning or an old plastic container as a storage bin for cookie cutters and other baking essentials. You can repurpose these old items, turning them into useful things that will come in handy for you. Any time you have bed linen that’s no longer suitable, you can repurpose these into laundry bags, shopping bags, or cleaning cloths. Same as any old clothing items you no longer need. Don’t throw things away so easily – think about if you can and will repurpose it to give it new life.
23. Use candles
Instead of having lights on all the time, use candles more often. Leave the lights off until the sun goes down. Even after it goes down, you can light a few candles for several hours instead of wasting lots of electricity. You’ll end up with a cheaper electric bill, and a lovely ambience at night!
24. Manage credit cards
I’m not entirely opposed to a credit card, especially if you are using it for flights, frequent flyer points or as gift cards for other things. If you are diligent in paying your credit card off, then it may be worthwhile to look into the rewards programs and see which one gives you the best offers. If you’re planning on taking a trip or want to buy a big ticket item, earning points passively by using your credit card for all purchases is an easy way to do so. Of course, if managing a credit card is hard for you, then don’t fall into the trap of thinking a rewards program will have more benefit. It won’t.
25. Recycle glass, cans and plastic
In Queensland we have recycling centres where you can drop off your glass, plastic and cans for recycling and get a bit of money back! It’s a useful way to think more intuitively about recycling things that can be recycled and reducing landfill.
So there you have it. 25 incredibly useful tips for introducing more frugality into your life without it taking too much of your time. Many of these things are easy switches that you can implement straight away. One’s that you can’t are always good to have in your to-do list to make sure you revisit when the time is suitable.
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