You don’t need us or anyone else to tell you that things are tough and that there’s a lot of financial pressure on many families‘ shoulders these days, Pandas. Especially with winter quickly approaching. Many of you have probably already felt your wallets and savings accounts getting thinner. And were left flabbergasted by the prices in the grocery stores and petrol stations.
Things are getting quite bad for a lot of people. So much so that they’re figuring out ways to cut back on various costs. From food and transportation to rent and entertainment. Others turn to the vast digital waters of the internet for help. For instance, the helpful folks over at r/Frugal shared their very best money-saving tips, including what products they substitute with others and what they actually make at home, themselves.
Check out their best advice below and upvote the posts that you found to be the most useful, Pandas. Oh, and we’d absolutely love for you to share your insights with us. So go on and give all the other readers some friendly cost-cutting tips and tricks in the comment section at the bottom.
Bored Panda wanted to get to grips with how we can save more money in these times, so we reached out to Sam Dogen, the author of ‘Buy This, Not That: How to Spend Your Way to Wealth and Freedom’ and the founder of the insightful Financial Samurai blog. The financial expert told us where we can cut back, how much we should ideally be saving, how quickly we adapt to different standards of living, and how you actually need much less money to be happy than you might think. Read on for his expert comments.
Granola is so easy to make, and healthy (low-sugar) prepared granola is so expensive! Toast oats in a large pot, stir frequently, add dried fruit, nuts, spices/sweetener and fat, spread on parchment paper-lined pan, and bake.
According to Sam, from Financial Samurai, a major way to save money is to take on a different perspective on entertaining oneself.
“Entertaining oneself for cheaper has never been cheaper today thanks to all the streaming options online. In the past, we’d have to pay $10 a ticket each to watch a movie, pay for gas, maybe parking, and some food. The total expenditure for two could easily range between $50–$100! Now, we can pay $5–$15 a month for unlimited shows from Apple TV+, Netflix, Disney, and more,” the financial expert noted that entertainment now is already cheaper than the alternative.
“The pandemic has also taught us how to enjoy more of all the free things our cities have to offer. From public parks, to free museum weeks, to wonderful hikes in the mountains or on the beaches. You don’t need to spend a lot at all to have a great time,” he told Bored Panda.
“In fact, being able to enjoy all of my city’s amenities for free was one of the biggest surprises of early retirement I didn’t anticipate. While working, a lot of us believe we need a lot of money post work to be happy. It’s just not true. Due to retirees having more time and freedom, retirees actually need much less money to be happy!”
Sam, the author of ‘Buy This, Not That,’ explained to Bored Panda that people adapt to new standards of living and circumstances reasonably quickly. Things quickly become the norm for us.
“We will adapt to new lifestyles and living standards within a month and no longer than three months. Hedonic adaptation works both ways. This is why it’s important to save money until it hurts each month. If it hurts, it means you are pushing yourself to the limit,” he noted.
“After about a month of living on your new lower budget, you will get used to it. Then you should try to increase your saving rate by 5% to feel the pain again. You will eventually adapt and feel just as good as when you didn’t save as much,” he said.
“However, over a 10-year period, you will end up accumulating way more money than you thought possible if you invest your savings. Here is a guide for how much I think you should save by age to keep you on track.”
Some parts of the world are hit by economic uncertainty more than others. For instance, the energy crisis in the United Kingdom is getting pretty bad. Inflation in the country has reached over 10%, and CNN notes that various sources see it rising to as much as 13% and even 18% as natural gas prices remain elevated.
Regular Brits will be paying a lot more for their energy bills than last year. According to analysts, energy bills for households may rise by 80% in October, year on year. Some businesses are already struggling as well. For example, one pub, part of the Greene King chain, reported its energy costs having jumped by 33k pounds (just over 38k US dollars) per year.
I’m not sure if this counts, but learning to sew a tiny bit in order to make reusable cotton pads/makeup removers. I used an unworn pair of sweats, cut it into squares, sewed along the edges, and it’s worked great so far for skincare and makeup removal 🙂
Muffins to take to work for my coffee breaks. Takes me about 15 minutes to mix, 20 minutes to bake, and I have several weeks worth. I keep a well stocked pantry, so have flour/sugar/oil etc. I can control sugar amounts, and portion size (a homemade muffin is often smaller than a bakery one).
Blackberry jam 🙂 We live surrounded by wild berries, every August we harvest enough berries for a full year of jam. It’s all my boys ever want – I’ve made other berry jams and they still just want black!
Meanwhile, leading British retailer John Lewis Partnership, recently announced that it plans to feed 88k workers over the winter to help them manage the rising cost of living. They’ll be offering free food to all employees during work from October till the end of December. Someone working a single four-hour shift, for instance, will be eligible for one meal. Meanwhile, those working eight-hour shifts are eligible for two meals, CNN Business reports.
British writer Ariane Sherine recently told Bored Panda that the cost of living situation isn’t all that bad yet, but things are definitely going to get worse in October. “And then even worse in January as the energy price cap rises,” she said.
“It’s going to affect so many people badly that it’s quite terrifying—and so far the government have barely done anything to mitigate this.”
She added: “Everything costs 1.5x the amount in the shops, our energy bills are spiraling out of control, there’s a shortage of home appliances and our new prime minister promises to be just as incompetent. So if you can move to, say, France or Germany or Canada instead, I’d strongly advise it!”
The German government just now unveiled a 65 billion euro (64.7 billion dollar) package to help households get through the winter and cope with soaring prices. This is the third such relief package in Germany this year, since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The former two packages totaled 30 billion euros (29.8 billion dollars).
Cold brew coffee and oat milk are very easy to make at home and cost about 25% of what it takes to buy it in the store. There’s very simple recipes for both online if you’re interested
I no longer buy popsicles and just instead use the popsicle molds. You just then fill it with juice, iced tea, or some other drink and then you’ll have popsicles with flavors different than what you can buy at the store.
I bought microfiber cloths and polishing cloths so I now clean all my glass and mirrors with just water. Make many of my own cleaning products such as an all purpose spray cleaner and daily shower cleaner. Make my own laundry detergent and fabric softener. Rarely use a stain remover and mostly rely on Fels Naptha for that. Make my own salad dressings.
Kitchen expert and incredibly talented pie artist Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin recently shared her awesome advice for saving money when it comes to food-related costs. She told Bored Panda that cooperating with your family, friends, and neighbors to buy in bulk can help a lot. Freezing food that you bought at a discount also helps. As does reducing the amount of red meat that you eat. There are tons of options available to everyone. Though it does take a bit of thinking outside the box.
“Everyone is feeling the pinch the world over right now—so don’t go it alone! Team up with friends and relatives and develop your cost-cutting strategies together. Your purchasing power is greatly increased when you shop together and you can share tips and keep an eye out for deals together,” she said.
“If you are looking to cut back on your family grocery budget, consider adding one or two extra meatless days to your existing schedule. Meat, especially red meat, just costs so much more to raise, process, and transport safely compared with alternate sources of protein. Unless you’re dealing with mystery-meat level fast food processed stuff, it’s never going to be able to compete on price,” Jessica noted.
I make my own curry powder, but this is mostly because I don’t do well on black pepper and want to make a recipe that’s better for my health.
I make my own fruit & veg wash from unscented liquid castile soap diluted in a lot of water and put in a squeeze bottle. The premade ones, aside from being stupidly expensive, always seem to have some citrus added to them – and that is horrible for my skin.
Dry shampoo. Plain arrowroot powder will do the trick, add some cocoa if you have dark hair, or clay (fuller’s earth) for body if that’s your thing.
Instead of febreze, vinegar and ethyl alcohol 50/50 with essential oils or citrus peels for fragrance.
I make my own bar soaps: regular (for cleaning stuff) and castile.
Lye is cheap and we get the oils in bulk from Costco. The equipment costs a little bit at first. Over time it’s the most affordable way to have quality soap.
“Buying groceries items in large lots and splitting between multiple families is a great way to take advantage of bulk discounts when your own pay-check doesn’t permit you to go out and invest in 10 lbs of cheddar on your own. Bonus points if you have a friend who is able to buy from restaurant suppliers directly or is part of a co-op!”
As for freezing, it’s a very viable strategy, so long as you do things properly. “You can certainly freeze fruits, veggies, and meat to eat later without sacrificing nutritional value. Just make sure you read up on the correct way to do this to avoid spoilage and freezer burn.”
I haven’t purchased paper kitchen products for over a decade, I just use rags and linen napkins. I also use reusable vacuum cleaner bags
We’re just recently trying some things.
Vanilla Extract – a bottle of vodka and about a dozen vanilla beans (we bought from Amazon) sliced down one side of the middle to open up. Let sit for about 6 months to a year, shaking weekly. We’re on about month 3. It already smells amazing.
Onion Powder & Garlic Powder – you need a dehydrator and bullet or blender for these. Slice up a bunch of onion or garlic. Dehydrate for however many hours your dehydrator recommends. Blend into powder. We did onions already and I’ll be doing garlic tomorrow.
@gocleanco taught me that I could mop my tile floors by adding 1 teaspoon of Tide Laundry detergent to a bucket of hot water. I no longer buy concentrated floor mopping solution, and I’m very happy with the fresh laundry scent after mopping! You can also add a small splash of bleach to this water!
My fiance used to buy the jugs of Pureleaf tea before I moved in with him and he would probably go through 2-3 a week. I’m a tea girl, so I get gifted a lot of loose leaf tea and started making it by the pitcher at home for us. It may be a small amount but definitely saves us money every month!
Hummus! The ingredients are cheap & I make a big batch on Sunday for the week. I love that I can make it as garlicy as I want, and I’ve been learning how to make the beans smoother (I add a pinch of baking soda before cooking, and let my insta pot natural release for a while before opening…) Store bought doesn’t compare!
I made my own swiffer pads from a $1 flannel sheet from a thrift store. I just cut them a little bigger than needed to fit to allow for fraying (too lazy to sew the edges).
Baking soda + dawn dish soap for stubborn stains. I like to dye my hair fun colors and the only thing that really gets out the dye from the tub is this combo. Also works for gettin g dye off your ears and hands.
I live alone, so food waste can be a problem. I use powdered milk, so I’m not pouring spoiled milk down the drain all the time, and I freeze eggs as well. Just crack them open, beat lightly, pour into the individual wells of a muffin tin, and cover with cling wrap or tin foil. When frozen, you can store them in freezer bags or whatever you prefer. It’s easy to grab what I need and thaw for use, but this can also be done in a more bulk fashion if you prefer.
I have really been intentional lately about using what I have already. I switched to cleaning the kitchen with vinegar/water spray, as well as Dawn soap. Just put out laundered bar mops in a basket for easy use. I found myself using a linen towel to dry hand washed dishes and put them up immediately, rather than letting them air dry overnight and putting them up in the morning. I know exactly how many tea spoons and plates I own, (I’ve washed and put them away so often) so if the count isn’t correct, it’s time to check kid’s bedrooms or desks for the stragglers.
I have to clean some blood, and we are out of hydrogen peroxide or Biz, my go tos. I was reading the Cascade powder label, and realized the major ingredient is an enzyme, so I am substituting on organic stains. It will work or not, don’t care, but I will learn something using what I have on hand creatively.
Edit: overnight results of Cascade on cotton/poly colored knit. No color loss, blood stain completely gone! So more use from something I was going to discard.
I use sodium percarbonate as a substitute for OxiClean for laundry and for washing machine cleaner (it’s the main active ingredient and less expensive on its own). I use citric acid crystal as a substitute for dishwasher cleaner (again, main ingredient).
I use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and Dawn for most of my cleaning. Hydrogen peroxide is great for bathroom use, especially pee stains/smells. The enzymatic cleaners often have it as their active ingredient, and I’ve seen lab tests (with chicken juice) show it works just as well if not better than bleach.
Ditch the pre-made mixes (pancake, cake, muffin, etc.), and either make it on the spot, or if you use it enough, pre-make your own mix, and store it.
I go for less products rather than alternatives. Chances are, the product that’s had millions of dollars of research and development put into it is probably better than a shitty DIY project that you have to buy special ingredients for.
If you’re aiming to spend less overall, replace products with scrubbing a little harder or stressing a little less about hair pouf or cute smells.
When your cooking/baking … just cook with what you have. And if you think “oh, I need such and such!” Then immediately look up alternatives.
Not made but i’ve been using bar soap instead of shower gel it lasts forever ! I use towels instead of paper towels for most spills
I bought cloth handkerchiefs/cloth napkins at yard sales to use at home in place of tissues, paper napkins, and paper towels. I add white vinegar to the washing machine to remove odors and stains.
I learned to drink my coffee black, so I’m not paying extra for milks or sweeteners.
Substituted 95% of toilet paper with water. Bidet attachment was $24 and amortized itself within a short time since toilet paper is insanely expensive! Added plus, it’s way more hygienic.
Average adult in the US will use 159 rolls of toilet paper a year at a cost of $182. Add 145 rolls of paper towels you can replace with rags, and we are talking about roughly $350 to be saved per person per year. It’s about $22000 in a lifetime. However, if you start saving $350 a year at 20 you’ll have $136000 per person at retirement age.
That’s how much having a clean butt really is worth 🙂
I make chicken stock in my instant pot. I get clearance rotisserie chickens and pick all the meat off, then pressure cook the carcass to make stock.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile mint soap watered down 1 part to 4 parts water in reused foaming hand soap containers— placed at every sink in our home— hand soap for a year or more!
Small spray bottles (3/$1.25) at Dollar Tree, filled with water, 20 drops of essential oil you like, and about a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol— homemade “poo-pourri” that works great!
Homemade shower spray, a mix of rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, rinse aid for dishwasher, and water.
Sunscreen made with olive oil, non-nano powdered zinc oxide, beeswax pellets, and a few drops of essential oils for scent— all commercial sunscreens now seem to make me itch and break out in a rash nowadays!
I get a large bottle of dish detergent that says antibacterial on it and use it to fill those foaming hand soap containers. You fill it about 25% with the soap the rest water. It lasts forever. Like same container has lasted over two years.
A lot of the time I’ll just substitute name brand stuff with the store brand. Advil liquid gels is like 24 dollars. But If you get the store brand boom 8 dollars
Honestly, it’s so easy to eat out when tired or uninspired to cook.
But my hack is to make things ready when I have time and ambition for when I won’t. This also helps my SO cook as she isn’t as geared to it.
So chop a bunch of stuff, and freeze. I food process for volume/speed and perhaps someone you know would let you borrow for a day.
Carrots, Mushrooms, onions, garlic celery, peppers are the typical. I can go to the freezer with a pan and scoop what I need sautee as the rice/pasta is cooking. That little prep hack removes the propensity to think “I don’t wanna cook” as I am literally doing as much work as making a bowl of cereal almost. And I can do other things while it cooks.
Now, depending on needs I also cook up “packs” of my veg mix sauteed. They aren’t cooked until done but about half way, then frozen. This makes it so as soon as they hit the pan as a frozen lump once thawed it is ready to go.
For example I use the snack size sandwich bags as a way to portion sauteed veg. Fill them and toss all into a bigger freezer bag to protect it from freezer burn. Then depending on how many people are eating I guage what I need from experience. Prepping is easily done at one time for tons of bags. Just depends on your grocery budget and time to chop but cooking one onion or 5 can be very marginally longer same if you’re using multiple pans.
If you take one pack of veg and toss a can of cream soup (omitting water called for) it makes an awesome sauce to go over rice or pasta. Healthy and quick.
So yeah my hack is to make at home cooking easier to achieve to curb eating out.
Oh and most importantly, I batch out these prep meals when I am cooking other meals! You’re there anyway so do the extra cooking at the same time if you can.
don’t buy any meat really, unless it’s $2/lb. pretty much vegetarian, tofu, eggs, lentils, legumes are the main proteins in our house
You can make cream cheese with whole milk and lemon and then I always season it for bagels and dips
I make all my Indian pastes for butter chicken, vindaloo and korma. Also all my salad dressings. All taste so much better. I also dilute my cleaning products.
Baking soda and peroxide in a shot glass and no more toothpaste. And I go to dollar tree to get $1.25 mouth wash that has same active ingredients as $6 kind at CVS.
Actually dollar tree I use for most of my cleaning and kitchen stuff…tongs, soaps etc
Then i turned it into my breakfast. I use small yogurt jars, pour oats in, then something to flavor it, like jam, then pour in the yogurt and leave for a day or two so the oats become soft.
I make my own lunches. Saves a ton and healthier than buying lunch out
I’ve got a 3 monitor setup for work, and they’re on a combination of boxes and books to get them all at eye level.
We make kimchi, kombucha, and rice wine. They’re pretty easy to make at home and a lot less expensive.
Make my own coffee at home. Even if you opt to get syrups and flavorings, you’re still saving a considerable amount of money by not spending $5 on a coffee.
I use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and dawn for most of my cleaning.. Hydrogen peroxide is great for bathroom use especially pee stains/smells. The enzymatic cleaners often have it as their active ingredient and I’ve seen lab tests (with chicken juice) show it works just as well if not better than bleach.
Ditch the premade mixes (pancake, cake, muffin etc) and either make it on the spot or if you use it enough, premake and store.
Cloths for all my cleaning up, paper towels sparingly (oil messes, dog poop/urine, mold)
Microfiber towels instead of swifter dusters. Microfiber and water also to clean mirrors/glass.
Kids, cloth diapers/wipes, cornstarch instead of baby powder. Feminine hygiene, menstrual cup as opposed to pads/tampons. Rinse teeth hydrogen peroxide/water rinse instead of mouthwash.
Borax in my wash. I suggest you don’t substitute the homemade laundry detergent for your regular detergent. The stuff in the homemade is not detergent, it’s soap and it will break your machine or build up on your clothes over time.
Vinegar in place of fabric softener. Fabric softener It will also build up on your machine and fabric (creates an oily residue) and will make your towels/cloths less absorbent.