21 Time Tested Money Saving Tricks for Frugal Family Living

In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, it’s tempting to get caught up in the whirlwind of consumerism, bombarded with ads pushing us to splurge, upgrade, and prioritize convenience above all else.

But our grandparents and great-grandparents were onto something with their tried-and-true frugal living wisdom.

Those timeless tips aren’t just about pinching pennies—they’re about embracing a simpler, more purposeful way of life. They’re about finding joy in resourcefulness, sustainability, and self-reliance. So, let’s dial it back a bit and rediscover some of those classic strategies for saving money and living with intention as a family.

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    Buy Preloved Items

    From clothing and furniture to toys and kitchen gadgets, secondhand stores, thrift shops, and online marketplaces offer a treasure trove of gently used items at a fraction of the cost of buying new. Embrace the thrill of the hunt and score some amazing deals while reducing waste and supporting your local community.

    potted plants

    Grow Your Own

    One of the most rewarding and budget-friendly activities families can engage in is gardening. Whether you have a spacious backyard or just a few pots on a sunny windowsill, growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs can significantly slash your grocery bill while providing fresh, nutritious produce for your family.

    Line Dry Clothes

    Harness the power of the sun and wind to dry your clothes instead of relying on a dryer. Not only does line drying save energy and money, but it also extends the life of your clothes and gives them that fresh, outdoor scent.

    Canning Your Food

    Extend the bounty of your garden (or the great deals at the farmer’s market) by learning the art of preservation. Canning, pickling, and fermenting are not only thrifty ways to make your food last longer but also add delicious flavor and variety to your meals.

    man and child making hamburger patties together

    Choosing cheaper cuts of meat

    Make the switch to budget-friendly meat cuts! Our grandparents were pros at finding flavor-packed options without breaking the bank. They’d opt for tougher cuts like chuck roast or pork shoulder, knowing a little TLC could turn them into delicious meals.

    And don’t overlook ground meat—it’s versatile and wallet-friendly. By choosing wisely, we save cash and unlock tasty culinary adventures. Win-win for our taste buds and wallets alike!

    Buy in Bulk

    Buying staples like rice, beans, grains, and spices in bulk can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run. Plus, it reduces packaging waste and minimizes trips to the store, saving both time and fuel.

    Make Your Own Cleaning Products

    Say goodbye to expensive, chemical-laden cleaners and hello to DIY cleaning solutions made from simple, natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. Not only are they safer for your family and the environment, but they’re also much cheaper than their store-bought counterparts.

    Worker laying pavers onto the bedding sand and fitting them into place with a hammer.

    DIY Home Repairs

    Instead of calling in expensive contractors for every little repair or improvement project, roll up your sleeves and tackle them yourself. With the wealth of online tutorials and DIY resources available, you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with a bit of patience and perseverance.

    Cook from Scratch

    Cooking meals from scratch not only saves money but also allows you to control the quality of ingredients and tailor recipes to suit your family’s tastes and dietary needs. Get the whole family involved in meal prep and make it a fun and educational experience for everyone.

    Repair Instead of Replace

    In our disposable culture, it’s all too easy to toss out broken or damaged items and buy new ones. But with a little know-how and some basic tools, many things can be repaired or refurbished, saving you money and reducing your environmental footprint.

    Use Kitchen Scraps

    Get creative in the kitchen and find ways to use up leftover bits and pieces like vegetable scraps, chicken bones, and stale bread. Turn them into soups, stocks, casseroles, and croutons, or compost them to enrich your garden soil.

    a casserole dish

    Repurposing Leftovers

    Let’s talk leftovers! Instead of tossing out yesterday’s meal remnants, let’s give them new life. Got leftover chicken? Slice it for sandwiches or toss it into a soup. Veggies on the brink? Throw them into a stir-fry or frittata. Leftover rice or pasta?

    Whip up some fried rice or pasta salad. By getting crafty with leftovers, we stretch our budget, cut waste, and enjoy tasty meals. It’s a triple win!

    Use Coupons and Discounts

    Clip coupons, sign up for loyalty programs, and keep an eye out for sales and discounts to maximize your savings on groceries, household essentials, and other everyday purchases.

    Host Potluck Dinners

    Instead of shouldering the cost of feeding a crowd all by yourself, invite friends and family over for a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish to share. Not only does it save you money, but it also makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable gathering.

    cash being placed into an envelope

    Switch to Cash

    Using cash instead of credit or debit cards can help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. When you can physically see how much you’re spending, it’s easier to make conscious choices and prioritize your purchases.

    Meal Planning

    Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid last-minute takeout or grocery runs. By knowing what you’ll be cooking each day, you can make more efficient use of ingredients, reduce food waste, and stick to your budget.

    Conserve Energy

    Reduce your energy consumption and lower your utility bills by practicing simple energy-saving habits like turning off lights and appliances when not in use, using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, and properly insulating your home.

    two bowls of beans with cheese

    Include More Meatless Meals

    Meat is often one of the most expensive items on grocery lists. By going meatless one day a week, you can save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and explore new and delicious plant-based recipes.

    Gifts are Better When They are Homemade

    Homemade gifts are not only thoughtful and personal but also budget-friendly. Get creative with DIY crafts, baked goods, or homemade preserves to show your loved ones how much you care without breaking the bank.

    Borrow Where You Can

    Before rushing out to buy something you’ll only use once or twice, see if you can borrow it from a friend, neighbor, or local library. From tools and appliances to books and movies, sharing resources is not only economical but also fosters a sense of community.

    old glass bottles being reused for chandelier

    Don’t Be Afraid to Upcycle

    Don’t throw away glass jars and plastic containers after you’ve emptied them. Wash them out and reuse them to store leftovers, pack lunches, organize pantry items, or even as makeshift vases or candle holders.

    In conclusion

    Let’s wrap it up! So, diving into old-school frugal living isn’t just about watching those dollars—it’s about reshaping how we see money, stuff, and the world we live in. Whether we’re getting our hands dirty in the garden or finding new uses for old treasures, these habits teach us to be savvy, inventive, and mindful of our impact. They bring us back to basics, reminding us of the joy in simplicity and the strength in community. So, let’s lean into these timeless tricks.

    Photo of author


    Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.