Frugal Living Around the House

Frugal living around the house, the easiest place to be frugal!

frugal living around the house

Saving on your energy bills:

1. Switch off all your appliances at the wall before going to bed at night. Many electrical items continue to use electricity even while off if connected to an outlet. Do you really need to use the oven or microwave as a clock? A battery powered wall clock uses much less power.

2. Switch off the oven, hotplates and iron a few minutes before you need to stop using them – they will stay hot for a long time. Heating devices use more power that anything else.

3. Likewise if you are by the kettle (the ultimate power bomb!) when it reaches the boil switch it off by hand – the automatic cut off will leave it boiling and burning up watts for longer. Instant coffee is better when made with water that is not quite boiling. Only boil the quantity of water you need. Should you be lucky enough to have a range oven that you can boil an old style kettle on – use it.

4. When using your oven try to fill it! If you really need it on for only one thing pile the bottom up with baking sheets, cake tins etc – this will make it into a much smaller space to heat – it reaches the desired temperature much quicker too.

5. Consider investing in a solar powered battery charger – you will make long term saving with this.

6. Tumble drying is very expensive – line drying is free. When outside drying is not possible consider whether you have radiators that could be used if on anyway – however this will increase the humidity in your house and may lead to damp in your attic if it’s not well ventilated.

7. Shopping around for electricity suppliers has proven economical for us. We were with Hydro Electric for years then changed to Scottish Gas as they had a cheaper tarrif. After about a year we were contacted by HE offering us a special deal for returning customers – no standing charge and an even lower tarrif than our current suppliers – staying faithful to them really doesn’t pay.

8. If you have your heating on a timer or thermostatic control try switching it on and off by hand as needed. This uses far less fuel.

9. You can buy special insulation sheets to put behind radiators to reflect the heat back into them. Cardboard wrapped in aluminium foil does this too.

10. Don’t forget you can insulate yourself too – wearing warm clothes and layers can reduce heating bills – thermals, legwarmers under jeans and cosy slippers all make a huge difference!


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Cleaning tips:

1. Instead of using expensive cream cleaners use a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth – it works just as well.

2. Vinegar is great for cleaning surfaces such as glass that you want to be smear free – if you have an old spray bottle fill it with half vinegar and half water for a great window and mirror cleaner.

3. Essential oils are great for general cleaning too and very economical as you need so little. A couple of drops of tea tree oil on a damp cloth will disenfect surfaces.

4. Unless your clothes are very dirty try using half the recommended amount of washing powder – works a treat! For whites add a teaspoon of bicarb. for extra whitening. We have found that supermarket’s own (namely the Co-op) brand washing products are as good and, of course, much cheaper than the expensive brand name washing powders. Best of all are Soap Nuts, completely natural, eco friendly, excellent for sensitive skin and extremely cost effective with a bag potentially lasting for years. We find we can use the same 5 or 6 nuts for up to five washes with fresh smelling clothes and good cleaning. If you want a definite fragrance just add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice.

5. If you do need a special cleaning fluid for a particular job look for it in the bargain shops first like 99p stores, cheap supermarkets etc.

6. An unusual, but completely free, stain removing tip discovered inadvertently by a very bad housewife: for food stains on clothes that just won’t shift, try washing as normal with a bit of bicarb added to the wash and then pin outside to dry. Leave it there for a few days! Works best if the washing is exposed to both bright sunlight and driving rain. Also brightens up greying whites.

Books and reading:

If you love reading it is possible to spend a heart stopping amount of money on books over the years!

1. Make full use of your local library – you can have as many free books as you like. You can also order any title that you particularly want. Remember to phone and renew your books to avoid charges if you are not returning before the due date. Mobile libraries visit most villages once a week and usually have no overdue charges – if you are very rural they will sometimes come right to your house – contact your local library for details. If you are a pensioner video rental is also free from the library.

2. Second hand book shops are wonderful too – even cheaper are the book sections of charity shops.

3. The Works is a fantastic source of discounted books, often selling sets of books for the price you normally pay for one. The Works also has great deals on stationery, toys & games, and art & craft supplies.

The Works - Britain's Leading Discount Book Store provide a really reliable service and do have discounted items too – they also have the marketplace sellers where bargains can be picked up though you will pay £2.75 postage.

4. If you have a huge collection of books go through them and consider which you really want to keep and read again – if there are some you could do without try selling them – see the make a few pounds page for ways to do this.

5. If you read a newspaper remember that you could probably read it online for free – most of the larger UK papers are available on the internet. To find your chosen one just go to and search for its’ title.

6. Audible have a 30 day free trial – you get a free audio book of your choice to keep regardless of whether you cancel at the end of the trial.


1. For many people the constant purchase of new clothes is a difficult cycle to break – if this is you, go through your wardrobe thouroughly and start using what is there – you may find many things you had forgotton about.

2. Forget being snobby about second hand shops – it is well worth looking around the ones in your area. You will soon work out where the better clothes are and can sometimes pick up new or nearly new items for a fraction of the normal price.

3. Factory outlet shops can house many terrific bargains. High St. store New Look offer extremely competitive prices on clothing and their sale prices are hard to beat.

Don’t miss the Schuh Imperfects section for massive savings on branded shoes. You can search by size and person among the shoes that have tiny imperfections, often indiscernible.

Then there’s Everything5Pounds, which is exactly what it says. They sell unsold stock from top High st. brands, all detagged, and all £5. The first time we browsed this site we kept seeing expensive looking shoes and thinking, ‘Oh those are lovely, I wonder how much? Oh yes, £5!’ They sometimes have a £2.50 sale on too.

4. Cheaper ways to shop on Amazon include their Certified Refurbished section and their Outlet for overstocks and marked down items.

5. Have a try making your own, especially if you’re already a bit handy with a needle! Burda Style are an ‘open source’ sewing community who share patterns they’ve made themselves for free. Often, the projects on the site involve ‘up-cycling’ existing clothes – making a halter top out of an old t-shirt, or a skirt from old jeans.

6. is one the top UK daily deals sites using the power of group buying to offer customers up to 80% off the best stuff to do, see, visit, eat and buy in a variety of cities in the UK.

Personal Care:

1. Haircuts: Obviously some hairstyles do need the work of a professional but simple children’s cuts and short mens styles are quite easy to do yourself. A pair of good hair-cutting scissors and/or hair clippers for short styles can save you a packet in barber’s fees over the years.

2. Cosmetics and Toiletries: if you are in the habit of buying expensive shampoos, soaps, cleansers etc. try out the supermarket own brands – recent studies have found Tesco’s cheap shampoo to be better than the extremely expensive, well advertised brands! For deodorant we use a solid salt one, it’s very effective, no nasty chemicals and ours has been going for three years now! The most luscious facial (and anywhere else!) moisturiser is virgin coconut oil and it works out cheap too, usually under a tenner for a large tub. It’s anti bacterial, antifungal and claims are made for it’s age defying properties; it certainly makes your skin lovely and soft 🙂 It can also be used as a healthy cooking oil and hair conditioner.

3. Water: this may sound an odd personal care tip but it’s very effective. Water is the cheapest and healthiest thing you can drink – value spring water is around 19p for 2 litres or you can filter tap water quite cheaply. Drinking lots of water does amazing things for your skin, lessening the need for all those potions and lotions too!

4. Ladies – reusable sanitary protection is great – better for you, the earth and your pocket – many small businesses are selling these products on and some of them are so pretty! For women who prefer internal protection the Mooncup is an excellent alternative to tampons.

Exercise (also see frugal weightloss) :

You don’t have to take out an expensive gym membership to get in shape and stay toned. Yoga and Pilates are forms of exercise that you can do at home. Going for a walk is great exercise – running too if you are already quite fit. If you have a bike – get out on it! Gym equipment such as exercise bikes, rowing machines and weights are extremely expensive when bought new – they can be picked up at car boot sales or free ad papers for a few pounds.

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21 Replies to “Frugal Living Around the House”

  1. Soap nuts also are good to wash hair in and as natural no conditioner is required . Hair is just as good as shampoo plus conditioner but much cheaper and better for the hair and scalp

  2. If you put 3-4 spoons of dried milk in your bath with a few drops of your favourite essential oils, it softens the water and leaves your skin feeling super soft too. No need for expensive body lotions

  3. Some good tips here. I’d suggest having book & DVD swaps. Have a box at work where everyone leaves spare books etc, so you people acquire new ones without spending anything.
    Also: don’t underload your washing machine. Read the instruction book about how much you can put in at any one time & get value for money with your wash.
    Save money by not buying clothes which are dry clean only.
    If you need a new item (bread maker, toaster, iron) don’t be shy about putting the word out among family & friends. Often people have a spare. Maybe they’ve bought a newer model & still have the older one just gathering dust. Make sure you say thank you with a bunch of flowers or whatever. If no luck – try Freecycle.
    My final tip would be: don’t bother with expensive over the counter medicines such as Anadin & Nurofen when Superdrug, Wilkinson etc sell extremely cheap, just as effective alternatives. Not so smart packaging but a fraction of the price.

  4. if you have mint growing, even at this time of year, boil up a good couple of handfuls, cover and leave to go cold. Then strain and mix 70% mint infusion and 30% cheap shampoo. Looks a dingy colour but doesn’t half work well and leaves hair squeaky clean.

  5. To save on the dishwasher, substitute plain vinegar for rinse-aid and use dishwasher powder detergent plus salt instead of tablets. Dishwasher powder is very cheap. This saves sigmificant amounts if you use your dishwasher every day.

  6. I changed over from npower to spark for duel fuel over a year ago. Initially npower wanted to increase my DD from £90 to £120. Spark offered £75. After a year I was £150 in credit so reduced it to £56 and now £45 a month. I use gas central heating and a tumble dryer as I wash my nurses uniform. I can’t belief the difference in price.

  7. Olive oil makes a good shaving oil
    Use two or three drops
    It is also a good bath oil half a reaspoon is enough

  8. always do too many potatoes when pre boiling for roasting later,that way you have enough for the next day to use as boiled,roast of use cold in salads>Lots of left over cooked veg? put them in the liquidizer and make vegetable soup.

  9. For free books, enter the Goodreads Giveaways here: . They give away literally thousands of books every month and there’s a huge variety: thrillers, biographies, cookery books and all sorts. I’ve won dozens of books – some better than others! All they ask in exchange is that you put an honest review on Goodreads.

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