13 frugal living must haves to save money.

Sometimes you’ve got to spend a bit of money to save a lot of money. Not always, but sometimes.

There are some cases when it comes to frugal living where you will have to invest a bit of money to save money over the years to come. If you’re careful, the things you buy now will more than pay for themselves time and time again in the future.

When my husband and I decided to start our frugal living journey, we didn’t go out and buy everything all at once. In fact, I didn’t even know there would end up being things we would buy to make our lives easier and save more money.

As we’ve lived a life of frugal living, we’ve learned many things along the way – and one of those is that it is a good idea to make smart purchases on some things. Things that will help you save money in the long haul.

Because frugal living isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

I don’t suggest that you go out and buy everything on the list all at once, but write it all down and slowly, over the next few months, work on purchasing these things as they will definitely help you save money and live simply.

You may even have several of these items in your house already, as we did.





Number one on the list goes to that one kitchen tool that I believe absolutely everyone should have. A crock pot is a must-have for frugal households as they help you all sit down to a healthy, homemade dinner even when you don’t have time to make it.

If you know you have a busy day ahead, grab your crock pot and plop some meat and vegetables in it and turn it on.

Whether you’re going to work, running errands all day, or just too busy to make dinner, using your crock pot takes such little time, it’s hard to believe there are still people who don’t use them.

Your crock pot will save you a lot of money and will come in especially useful on those days when life seems to get away from you and you just don’t have time to make dinner. You may be tempted to reach for the phone and order a pizza, but that wouldn’t be good for your health or your budget.

Though using a crock pot does require a bit of thinking ahead, you have to be sure to start the crock pot several hours before dinner so the food is ready in time, it is a life saver.

If you’re not the best at this whole thinking ahead thing and you’ve had one too many nights where it’s past suppertime and you still don’t know what to make, an instant pot is more likely to be your style.

I have not personally used an instant pot, but I have heard of many people who love theirs. And some people who don’t, so be sure to do your research before investing in one.

An instant pot does virtually the same thing as a crock pot, in far less time. Because they cook food so fast, some people say that their food ends up much drier – though, as I said, you should definitely do your own research before purchasing one as I don’t have much to offer since I don’t have one.

Our crock pot has my heart – it makes some of the tastiest meals and makes dinner time so, so easy. Our crockpot has been used at LEAST once a week (more like 3 or 4) over the past while since we were in the process of moving and work has become a lot busier, requiring more of my time. I have no doubt that after this baby comes it will be getting used even more than it is now.

Have I mentioned how much I love our crockpot? I do, I really really do.


There’s no sense in paying the 5 – 10 cents that they charge for those ratty plastic grocery bags when you can pay 75 cents – $1 for a reusable one and never have to buy grocery bags again.

Plus, reusable grocery bags can be used for many more things than just hauling groceries.

I use ours all the time when my husband and I go away for a day trip or overnight stay somewhere (mostly because our backpacks seem to have gone missing in the move…). They are also great for when you are running errands all day and have to bring piles of paper along, and they have many more uses.


Good coupon sites and rebate apps are frugal living must haves. These apps are completely free and just take up a bit of space on your phone, so really, why would you bother leaving money unclaimed when you have the option to get it back?

Rebate apps allow you to scan your receipts and claim cash back on certain purchases that you make.

There are several rebate apps available, including Ibotta, which I have never used but have heard good things about, and Checkout 51, which I use every time I go shopping and love for its user-friendliness and ability to earn me cash back.

When using Checkout 51 you can scan through the weekly items that are available for claiming cash back on, then when you go shopping be sure to get those items if they are on your list.

After you have made your purchases, the app allows you to scan your receipt and choose which items you would like to claim. After processing your receipt it will automatically put the cash back on your account and once you reach a certain amount in cash back they will send you a check with your money.

It’s extremely easy, and it’s allowing me to get money back on things I was already going to buy anyway.

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A big part of frugal living is making your own stuff, whether that be cleaners, detergents, or food. This includes baking your own bread, cookies, muffins, desserts, and everything else.

To be able to make homemade bread, you’re going to need a couple good bread pans, for making homemade cookies, you will want a sturdy cookie sheet (I much prefer stainless steel over non-stick), and for baking your own muffins you will either want a muffin pan, or what I much prefer are my silicone baking cups that allow me to make muffins even if I don’t have a muffin pan handy.

These baking cups are extremely easy to clean (far easier than a muffin tin – even a non-stick one), and easy to use. You can either stick them inside your muffin tin, or you can place them right onto a cookie sheet and make far more than just a dozen at a time.

Many people still use muffin tin liners with their muffin tins. These silicone baking cups can be used in place of liners, and they’re reusable so you’ll never be stuck in a sticky situation where you’ve run out of muffin liners but want to make muffins (has anyone else been in this situation or is it just me?).


Keeping a couple of dry storage food containers on hand is a great idea as you should be buying your flour and sugar in bulk by now if you haven’t already been.

Since you’re going to be doing a lot of cooking and baking, you will need a lot of flour and sugar anyway, so don’t worry about it going bad before you get around to using it.

If stored correctly in an airtight container, flour will last easily one year on the shelf, and if you’re approaching that one year mark and still have a lot of flour left, you can throw it in the freezer to prolong its life significantly.

Sugar can last anywhere from two years to, well, much much longer than that in an airtight container in the pantry.

So go ahead and buy those dry storage food containers, then head to your local Costco or Sam’s Club and pick up a big bag of flour and a big bag of sugar.


A freezer is a non-negotiable in our house, and it should be in yours too. Flour isn’t the only thing that can be frozen to prolong its life. Stuff like milk, cheese, meat, veggies, and much more can be thrown into your freezer to make them last a very long time.

Here’s a list of 60 different food items that can be frozen to extend their life.

This is good news now that you’ve decided to start living frugally, because sales will be your friend, and when you see a sale that is really amazing, you’re going to want to stock up.

In fact, where I live the price of cheese is through the roof, but I haven’t had to buy cheese at its regular price in many years because I track the sales and stock up when a good sale comes on.

Cheese is something my husband and I eat a fair amount of, so if I bought it at regular price it would drain our wallet, but since I am able to stock up on it when it’s on sale and freeze it for future use, we can go months at a time without buying cheese – then stock up again when it comes on sale.

I’ve had many people think I am ridiculous for keeping our freezer stocked with so much cheese, but I can’t help but think it’s ridiculous how many people are willing to pay full price for it.

So go out, make an investment in a freezer and start stocking it with products so you can save money.

Keep in mind: just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it.

For example, if buttermilk came on sale it wouldn’t be a smart idea for me to stock up on it since I don’t use it that much. Though I use it sometimes when I bake, I can always make my own at home from milk and vinegar, so that would be a sale I would be smart to pass up on.

Be a smart shopper and know what ingredients you need and use regularly.


Have you ever heard of the oven lunch box? It is a lunch box that acts as a mini-oven, so you can have a warm lunch even if your workplace doesn’t offer a microwave.

My husband isn’t a big fan of sandwiches, so I often pack him leftovers to take to work for lunch – his workplace doesn’t always offer a way to warm up his lunch, so purchasing an oven lunch box would be a smart decision for us, though I haven’t made the plunge yet.

If the reason you or your husband always buy your lunch at work is because there is no way to warm up your food, an oven lunch box would end up saving you money if it would help you start taking lunches from home rather than eating out.


A good quality coffee maker is something that many households lack. If coffee is something you and your husband drink regularly and you don’t have a good coffee maker at home, there’s a good chance you’re spending too much money on buying coffee when you go out.

Purchasing a good coffee maker and quitting your habit of buying coffee from restaurants will help you save lots of money over the years.

This is the exact coffee maker my husband and I have and we love it. We can either whip up a quick single cup of coffee or make a whole pot for when we have company over.

Our coffee maker was a bit of an investment, but it has paid for itself time and time again in the sheer fact that we have quit buying coffee out.

You can also find a more affordable coffee maker here that will get the job done and make you a tasty cup of coffee at home, too.


A travel mug goes right along with having a good quality coffee maker. If you’re going on a road trip or simply heading to work, filling your travel mug up with coffee from home will save you the temptation of getting coffee from town.

Every morning I fill my husband’s travel mug up with coffee before he heads out to work, this way he can drink his coffee normally or sip it throughout the day without it going cold.

A good travel mug will keep the drink inside it warm for long periods of time so you don’t have to worry about drinking it fast in fear that the drink will cool down.


While some people won’t be able to swallow this pill yet, cutting the cord and getting rid of cable is an extremely smart way to save money every month.

Paying for cable is an unnecessary expense, especially when you can get the news online for free and watch your favorite TV shows and movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re ready to make the jump, go ahead and cut the cord and get rid of cable. Though Netflix and Amazon Prime aren’t absolute necessities on this list of frugal living must haves, if you are someone who likes to watch TV shows and movies and can’t bear the thought of getting rid of cable, they may be a good option for you.

If you’re on the fence about Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can grab a free 30-day trial with Amazon Prime through this link.


Like I mentioned earlier, a big part of frugal living is making your own stuff. Not only does that mean baking your own bread and buns, but it also means making your own cleaners and detergents.

Did you know you’re wasting money when you buy your cleaning products because you likely already have everything you need for cleaning right at home already?

What do I mean by this? Vinegar.

Vinegar is your new best friend – it has nearly endless uses. One of those uses is being a homemade cleaner.

There are countless recipes for homemade cleaners, but my favorite is a simple 3 ingredient cleaner that contains one part water, one part vinegar, and peel from a lemon or lime.

The water and vinegar mixture is your cleaning solution, the lemon or lime peel is just to add a nice smell. I used to try and get that nice smell by adding lemon juice to my cleaning solution, but that just ended up making it sticky.

Not good.

So now, rather than adding the juice of the lemons and limes, I simply add the peel into the vinegar and water mixture and let sit for a few days, then pour into a spray bottle and use for your everyday cleaning tasks.

It’s cheap, easy, and works well.


While a programmable thermostat isn’t a must have, and you can definitely achieve the same results with any old thermostat, a programmable one makes the process much more “set it and forget it”.

Here’s what I’m talking about: during the day when you and your kids are in the house, I’m sure you have your thermostat set to a certain temperature, it’s comfortable and warm.

When night rolls around and everyone is under covers, why not turn the thermostat down a few degrees so you don’t have to be paying for heat while everyone is cuddled up and plenty warm with their blankets, anyway?

A programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for different times, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to turn the temperature down at night, then back up the next morning – it will do it for you automatically.

But, if you don’t want to spend the money on buying a new thermostat you can definitely still get the same results by setting reminders for yourself to turn the temperature down in the evening, then back up in the morning.


Having a rain barrel or bucket is a great way to save money on your water bill. If you have a garden (which you definitely should – even if it’s just small), you can use the water from your rain barrel to water your garden.

Always remember to put the rain barrel out somewhere that a lot of water drips down, like below a downspout, then save that water to use for watering your garden. You can even hook a hose up to some rain barrels to make watering easier.

Rather than going out and buying everything on this list all at once, I would suggest that you take it slow and start collecting the items over the next few months, rather than all at once.

Be sure to look through your house first, as you may have some of these items lying around your home already.

Which of these frugal living must haves are the top priority on your list? Which of these frugal living must haves do you already have in your house?

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