Growing up, my grandma was the queen of frugality. She could squeeze a penny until it screamed for mercy. Nothing made her happier than getting a good deal or saving a few bucks. Grandma grew up during the Great Depression and learned the value of money from an early age. Even as she got older and could afford more excellent things, she maintained her thrifty habits.
I remember going shopping with Grandma as a kid. She would spend an hour clipping coupons from the newspaper before we left. At the store, she meticulously compared prices and knew which day each item went on sale. Grandma bought generic brands, shunned convenience foods, and never paid the total price if she could help it.
At home, Grandma was always sewing up holes in clothes, repairing appliances, and making things last. She cooked almost all meals from scratch and loved leftovers. Eating out was reserved only for special occasions. And you can bet Grandma asked for the senior discount everywhere she went!
While other kids were embarrassed by their penny-pinching grandparents, I always admired Grandma’s resourcefulness. Today, Grandma is no longer with us, but her money lessons stay with me. In this blog post, I want to share 15 of Grandma’s secrets to saving money every day. With the economy uncertain, these frugal tips can help anyone pinch pennies and maximize their budget. Read on to learn savvy strategies for spending less without sacrificing your lifestyle.
1. Buy Generic Brands
Example: Instead of paying $4 for a name-brand cereal, go for the store-brand version at $2 a box. Generic medications also offer tremendous savings over branded prescriptions. For staple items like bread, milk, and eggs, generic is the way to go.
2. Cook Meals at Home
Example: Making dinner at home costs a fraction of what you’d pay at a restaurant. For instance, a homemade pizza may cost you $2 a serving versus $10 to order delivery. Meal planning, utilizing leftovers, and cooking in bulk can make home cooking even more affordable.
3. Use Cash-Back Apps
Example: Apps like Rakuten, Ibotta, and Fetch Reward let you earn cash back on purchases you already make. All you have to do is upload receipts or link a credit card. The spare change adds up over time to some excellent savings.
4. Cut Unneeded Subscriptions
Example: Do an audit of recurring services and be ruthless. Eliminate subscription boxes, streaming platforms, or software you don’t use often. Trim cell phone features or connected services in your car you could live without.
5. Buy in Bulk
Example: For non-perishable items you use regularly, a warehouse club membership pays for itself. Toilet paper, cleaning products, pantry staples, and OTC meds can all be purchased in bulk quantities for less per unit.
6. Avoid Convenience Foods
Example: Pre-cut veggies and single-serve yogurts might seem convenient, but you pay a massive premium for the privilege. Larger sizes, conventional produce, and homemade snacks are much cheaper per ounce.
7. Shop Sales and Use Coupons
Example: Sales cycle regularly, so keep a price book for favorite items. Check weekly ad circulars and stock up when there are great deals. And don’t forget about coupons—either paper from the Sunday newspaper or digital from sites like CouponCabin.
8. Stick to Store Brand Groceries
Example: Opt for Kroger over Kraft, Great Value over General Mills. Often, the difference is just fancy packaging. For basics like produce, milk, bread, eggs, cereal, and spices, generics are the most economical choice.
9. Limit Eating Out
Example: Restaurant meals quickly demolish a budget. Set a weekly cap on dining out or making coffee/snack runs. Pack your lunch, make coffee at home, and keep tempting temptations out of sight and out of mind.
10. Repair Before Replacing
Example: Don’t toss out a ripped shirt—sew up holes or tears to extend its life. Maintain appliances, electronics, and furniture with basic upkeep. Run it into the ground before upgrading to the latest and greatest.
11. Use Public Transportation
Example: Take the bus or train to commute instead of driving when possible. Not only do you save on gas and parking fees, but also on long-term auto maintenance costs. A bonus is being able to relax or work instead of focusing on traffic.
12. Negotiate Bills
Example: Call up cable/internet, insurance, and cell phone companies asking for better rates. Come armed with competitive offers and a willingness to switch providers if needed. Loyalty rarely pays, so fight for promotions and discounts.
13. Avoid Convenience Fees
Example: Online retailers want you to pay for expedited shipping, but patience pays off. Opt for free standard delivery whenever you can. The same goes for booking fees—skip third-party sites and book directly.
14. Shop Second-Hand
Example: Buy lightly used clothes at thrift stores and consignment shops. Check Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for furniture and baby gear at a fraction of retail prices. Garage sales can offer deep discounts, too.
15. Make Handmade Gifts
Example: For birthdays and holidays, give gifts from the kitchen like baked goods or home-canned jams. Crafty types can make cards, candles, jewelry, artwork, and other DIY gifts for a personal touch.
Frugality gets a bad rap as being the realm of extreme couponers and penny pinchers. But as Grandma demonstrated, living frugally is more about innovative money management than deprivation. A few simple changes in daily spending habits can yield substantial annual savings. It takes mindfulness, discipline, and a willingness to break old patterns.
The next time you’re about to buy a morning latte or something on sale mindlessly, you do not need to pause. Ask yourself if there’s a more frugal option that aligns with your financial goals. Small daily savings end up being more impactful than a big one-time cut.
With an uncertain economy, job market, and stock market, every little bit of savings helps. By implementing even a few of these secrets, you can weather financial storms without panic. Build up an emergency fund or extra padding in your budget. Who knows – you may even enjoy the challenge of spending less and saving more!
Of course, balance and moderation are key. The point of frugality is not deprivation but aligning spending with priorities and values. Occasional splurges keep life fun and rewarding. As long as your financial foundation is strong, some extravagances are fine! I hope you’re inspired by Grandma’s lessons to rethink your daily spending. Creativity and mindfulness go a long way when it comes to saving money.