Ever since I had my first child and gave up my full-time job, I’ve had an obsession with making the best of our family income. For me, living frugally doesn’t mean going without, but making the most of what you have.
I love the old way of doing things. Both my babes wore cloth nappies. I made reusable wipes, and many of the clothes they wore were hand-me-downs. I celebrated the fact that I had two children of the same gender so that I got more wear out of their clothes.
It’s been a few years since my boys were babies, the oldest one is sixteen now, but I still remember those times like they were yesterday. So let’s start with the baby stage of my frugal journey and move up from there!
Here are the best frugal living tips that I have collected over the years.
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Cloth nappies have moved on a lot since mine were in them. I used to pour over the different types you could buy. I even went so far as to knit a wool wrap, which made their bottoms huge! I could have spent a lot of money on different types, but my favourite was the Bambino Mio all-in-one nappy with fleece liners, soooo comfy for baby’s bottoms! These nappies were just coming out at the time, so I only had a few of them, but they were lovely, and washed nicely too.
Reusable baby wipes
You can buy ready-made wipes now, but I chose to make my own by cutting up a big piece of fleece I found. You could cut up an old fleece jumper or blanket too.
I save a huge amount on cleaning goods each month. Here are my best frugal living tips for cleaning your home on a budget.
I found out about Zoflora disinfectant from my Granny. One tiny bottle can be diluted to make about five spray bottles, far cheaper than buying individual bottles.
White distilled vinegar has a multitude of uses around the home. You can use it to remove limescale, clean windows, and banish smells. I use it in the washing machine in place of fabric conditioner, and it cleans the drum at the same time.
Washing Soda Crystals
I use washing soda crystals to make washing powder go further. I mix one half washing powder with one half washing soda, and the wash results are just as good.
I’ve mentioned these before on this blog, they save me a fortune on cleaning products. When I got my first cloth in the post, I was amazed at its cleaning power! I’ve been hooked since then. I usually buy mine in bulk and they last several years before they need replacing.
Beauty and toiletries
Keeping your body healthy doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here are some frugal living tips for keeping pretty.
Vaseline petroleum jelly
I’ve been using vaseline as my only moisturizer for the last ten years. I use it everywhere, including on my face. Vaseline doesn’t technically moisturise, it creates a barrier on the skin which stops moisture escaping. Basically, it helps the skin to moisturize itself. My face has always been quite spot-prone, so I was hesitant to use it there, but I found it does not clog pores and gives me fewer breakouts.
Ponds cold cream
Boots used to do their own label cold cream, which was cheaper than Ponds, but sadly they stopped selling it about a year ago. I now buy a big pot on Amazon to get the best value.
Ponds is the only cleanser I have found that doesn’t leave a tight feeling on the skin, and it is amazing at getting off makeup.
Yes, I use these as face cloths too! They are great at removing facial cleanser and give my skin a gentle exfoliation at the same time.
I discovered Mooncups after my second son was born and have been using them ever since. I have saved so much money on tampons. It takes a little getting used to, but I wouldn’t be without it now. I expect my Mooncup to last until I don’t need it anymore. Then I will sell it on eBay (joke!).
I have to admit that clothing is not something I have a great love for. I like to look well presented, but I’m not a sucker for fashion.
I don’t buy a lot of clothes, but the ones I do buy are usually always on sale.
My biggest tip is to buy clothes out of season. Go to your favourite clothing website and start by ordering everything by price, from cheapest up. You will find as you scroll through that heavily discounted items will begin to appear. I have found so many bargains that way!
I used to make clothes, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s worth it any more. Fabric is often quite expensive. Shops like Primark and Matalan sell their clothes so cheaply now. It is just not worth making your own.
For something unique, I like to browse charity shops. Often you will find great quality items at reasonable prices.
You can’t beat home-cooking! Here are my best frugal living tips for saving on food:
- Always have a meal plan for the week
- Only shop once per week
- Swap out brands for the supermarket's own brands
- Be careful of multibuy offers, sometimes they aren’t cheaper
- Do an extra shop in the evening for discounted items you can store or freeze
- Batch-cook and freeze
My biggest tip for electrical items is always to buy second-hand. You can get really good quality second-hand goods that have been hardly used for a fraction of the price.
Here is what I bought recently:
- Laptop (Lenovo Yoga) – saving £300
- Desktop computer (Lenovo Thinkcentre) – saving £300
- Washing machine (Zanussi 10kg) – saving £310
The washing machine we bought had only been used for three months. The laptop and desktop computer I bought saved me about £600 together, but the saving was more than that because I decided to go back to Windows 10. Previously I used Macs, the equivalent cost of buying a Macbook Pro and a Mac Mini would have been at least a couple of thousand pounds more.
My second biggest tip is never to buy a mobile phone on a contract. Get a second-hand phone on eBay and put your own pay-and-go sim in it.
Ok, you might not have the latest and greatest phone, but let someone else pay for it instead, and you can buy it off them at a fraction of the new price a bit later.
I have a sim from giffgaff, and it costs me £8.00 per month for 2GB and unlimited calls and texts, such a good deal!
The great thing about giffgaff is if your family members have one too, you can get free calls and texts to them even without a plan, as long as you top up every three months.
When I need to save a little more in the month, I can go without a plan for that month, but I can still call and text my family because they have giftgaff too.