The book Suddenly Frugal is written from the perspective of a suburban mom whose family got into debt. They began living frugally to keep their house out of foreclosure. This isn’t a book that tells you how to cut expenses to the bare bone, but instead a book directed towards keeping a typical American lifestyle (with vacations, shopping, home-ownership, and a car) while cutting waste from the various aspects of your life.
Here is a chapter list and a tip drawn from each:
1. Daily Routines
- Do less laundry by wearing clothes more often between washings.
- Plan meals first, then grocery shop only for planned meals. Scan the weekly grocery ads and use coupons.
- Skip the dishwasher drying cycle: Turn the dishwasher off after the last rinse cycle. Gently shake the racks to remove excess water, then pull them out so the dishes can air dry. (This will also add moisture to the air in winter.)
- Declutter and sell (or trade) the excess on Craigslist, eBay, Freecycle - or donate to a good cause.
- Get favorite magazines from the library, read them on the internet, or use airline miles for magazine subscriptions.
- Consider buying a used car instead of a new one. (This chapter focuses exclusively on car ownership. I wish it had addressed other frugal options like walking, biking, public-transport, or car-sharing.)
7. Heating and Cooling
- To use less air conditioning, don’t cook inside during hot days and keep shades drawn when the sun is out.
8. Fix it Yourself
- Take free classes at Home Depot, Lowe’s or your local extension office to learn how.
- When remodeling, consider what pieces are still useable and keep them (maybe the cabinets, maybe just the cabinet knobs). Find cheap items for a remodel at Habitat for Humanity ReStores.
- Set up a rain barrel attached to your gutters to capture water for plants. During your shower, plug the tub and also use that water for plants. (Do this after you’ve shampooed, since soap is not great for plants.)
11. Free Stuff
- Use the website Freecycle to get free things and to give away unneeded items to others.
- Start a gift shelf. During the year, keep an eye out for great clearance prices on gift items. Stash them on the shelf so you won’t need to pay full price when a celebration happens.
- Recycle cereal boxes into gift boxes or magazine holders. Reuse glass jars to hold hardware or bulk foods. (Personally, I am a big fan of the Classico pasta sauce jars for this; they even have volume marking on the sides – see my pic of stored cornmeal.)
- Plan a “staycation” in the town you live in. Seek out amusement and water parks, museums, plan a picnic, and find minor-league sports to attend.
See our previous money-saving book review here: 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.