Taxes will cost you more than any other thing in your life, including your home. It may not feel like spending, but taxes are a massive expense everyone can do better at reducing. I see people in my office all the time that had prepared their own tax return. In nearly all cases they overpaid the government. Since income, sales, excise, property and other taxes consume over half of the national income, you will need a two-pronged approach in applying frugality to your tax spending. First, most people need a tax professional to assure they are utilizing as many tax benefits as possible. The tax code is complex and getting more so every day. Even the pros struggle to keep up with the changes. What chance do you have? And the over-the-counter DIY software can’t do everything for you either. Second, even with a tax pro in your corner you need to keep yourself informed on tax issues. Read about tax breaks that apply to you. Question your tax professional. Don’t be afraid of paying for some consulting with your tax pro. When I consult with clients I have in excess of a 10x return for the client. That means for every dollar they spend they benefit over $10. We call that hyper-frugal!
Easier said than done. Illness is expensive and the cost goes beyond the medical. Lost wages and a lower quality of life are two huge costs of poor health. Staying healthy is easier for some and harder for others. Regardless, you need to eat quality food in proper proportions. Exercise is vital. Because everyone reading this will be in a different place with their health, I encourage you to consult with your doctor in building a plan to improve your health. Get on the right diet for you. Find the best exercise program for you. Don’t forget your social life. Family and friends play a large roll in your health. If you sit in taverns with friends that drink too much and smoke, you might have a problem. Consideration for your lifestyle is an important part of your frugal lifestyle. Choose who you associate with well.
Laundry detergent in the box stores have so many fillers just to make it look like you are getting a lot for your money when you are not. You can cut your laundry costs up to 98% by making your own laundry detergent. It is easy to do and it cleans better than store-bought detergent. Consider the detergent-making process a family project. It is fun and teaching your children the low-cost way of living is priceless; a gift that never stops giving.
As discussed above with vehicles, transaction costs add up fast. The same applies to where you live. It is expensive to move. It takes time and requires helping hands and/or a moving truck, etc. If you are renting there might be some damages that get deducted from the security deposit; the new place will also require a security deposit. Owning your own home can be a very frugal move! But take a page from Warren Buffett’s book. Buffett is one of the financially wealthiest people on the planet. He bought the home he lives in back in 1958 for $31, 500. His home is worth over $650,000 now. Buffett mentioned many times he would not be happier living in a bigger or newer home. He is happy right where he is. And good thing. The money he saved in Realtor fees and other selling costs would have come from the seed money he used to build his fortune. Fees generally are things you pay that give you next to nothing in return. Cutting fees is the surest frugal step you can take. Stay put. Move only if you have to (i.e.. job change).
Everyone loves the smell of clothes dried outdoors. We saw in Tip #19 how to save money on laundry detergent. How about cutting the cost of drying your clothes to zero? If you are able to hang clothes outdoors, do so. If not, you can use a clothes drying rack. They are inexpensive and pay for themselves many times over. As a bonus, you add moisture to the air during the dry winter months. That means your frugal clothes drying habit will also make your home more comfortable. You can read more about the clothes drying racks I use here. There are some links to Amazon to help in your search for the best clothes drying rack also.
You can save the world and yourself one frugal act at a time. Whenever possible, bike to work, the grocery store, the bank or anywhere else you might be going. There are bloggers who think you should live close to work to be frugal. I personally love living in the backwoods where I grew up. It is 15.1 miles from my driveway to my office. And I bike it many times every year. I had an old Huffy bike I rode forever. I decided to get myself a new flashy set of wheels and pulled out my pencil and paper to calculate exactly what it would take to get a free bike. You can read that story here. It is about halfway through the linked post.
How full is your recycling bin each week? How about the garbage bin? All the stuff in those bins is filled with stuff you paid for only to throw it away. Want to inject frugality into every purchase? It is simple. Buy stuff with the least packaging. Packaged foods are the worst. Processed food is a bad health choice, as well. All that packaging is paid for by you. But did you want the food inside or the box? The food, of course. Yet you paid for the box, too. (There is no free ride. The box has a cost and it is added to the price of the product.) When you purchase something, be aware of the packaging. It is costing you a fortune.
Water isn’t an expensive commodity in my part of the world. That isn’t true everywhere. Water can be an expensive purchase. Heating the water adds more to the cost. Shorter showers and a low-flow shower head is an excellent way to reduce water consumption. Turn off water when not in use. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. So much of frugality is common sense. Examine all water use. It should be easy to see where you can reduce consumption in your household.
Filters make a difference. I have an open-loop geothermal heat pump in my home. The filter where the water comes in needs to be cleaned periodically. If it gets dirty the efficiency is reduced. If dirty enough, the heat pump trips off. The air filter also needs changing a few times per year. I have a reusable air filter I clean and then put back into the unit. Filters on your vehicle, lawn mower or any other item in the house, need to be charged or cleaned on a regular basis. Forgetting this reduces the life of the item and increases energy consumption. And clean the grill behind your refrigerator! And under the darn thing, too! Stressing the compressor on your refrigerator can cause the compressor to fail. Have you seen what refrigerators cost? Yes, it is very frugal to clean and replace filters often.
A sure way to save money is to keep the heat (or cold) where you want it. Insulate the attic. Wrap your water heater and the hot water pipes. Weather stripping around windows and doors offer serious energy savings. Many communities have low-cost services to help with your insulating needs. If doors and/or windows are deteriorated it might be advantageous to replace them. Tax credits are available to reduce the cost.