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Frugal Hacks: A Yearly Money-Saving Checklist

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Frugal hacks are money-saving gems! With a little organization, a few phone calls and some DIY work, you can save hundreds – possibly thousands – of dollars every year.

My checklist of frugal hacks to save money can be used as an annual (or semi-annual!) to-do list. While checking off the list does require some effort, it is well worth the money you can save!

A Yearly Checklist of Frugal Hacks

My checklist is not comprised of new frugal ideas; these are 9 tried-and-true hacks for money that stand the test of time. The beginning of the year is an ideal time to make that Financial Resolution to tackle the frugal living tips checklist – but honestly, there is never a bad time to start saving money.

Looking for extreme frugal hacks? Check out my list of 28 Extremely Frugal Ways to Save!

#1 Utilities: Negotiating Hacks to Save Money

One of the top life hacks to save money is negotiating with your utility services – and it’s so simple. All you need to do is call and ask! Okay, well maybe that oversimplifies it a little bit – so I have a few negotiating tips.

Negotiating with Utilities

The first step to this money-saving hack is to decide what you want so that you know what to ask for. Do you want a lower rate, more or better services, freebies? If you are trying to get a lower rate on your cable bill and they offer you free premium channels (that you do not want), that is not solving your problem.

Second, when you make the inquiry, be polite and clearly state your goal. Say something like, “I’ve reviewed my current bill and it is currently more than I would like to pay. Can you tell me about any discounts or programs that could save me money?

Listen to their offers – and make notes. If you aren’t hearing a solution that works for you, be specific about what would make you happy as a customer. “Those are nice offers, but not exactly what I had in mind. I want to pay $X. Is there something we can do to get me to that dollar figure?”

This money hack only works if the offer meets you needs. If it doesn’t, be ready to say no – or that you need to think about it and would like to shop around. Avoid being roped into longer contracts. You can also ask to speak to a supervisor if the representative you talk to cannot offer you discounts.

What Bills Can Be Negotiated?

While not all bills are negotiable, the beauty of this hack to save money is that there is no harm in making the phone call to inquire.

Cable, phone and internet can offer the biggest savings (as they are also the biggest offenders of sneaking in extra fees over time!). Trash, electricity, and credit card rates can also be negotiated. Furthermore, you can negotiate with your lenders and insurance providers – but we get more into that next.

I have personally used this frugal hack to lower several bills. For example, I reduced the amount of an electric bill by enrolling in a special program. By bundling cable and internet, I got a lower monthly rate. Phone bills can be lowered by signing up for a family plan with extended family members. I was even able to lower the amount of property taxes when I asked about special programs.

#2 Saving Money Hacks for Price Comparing Loans and Insurance

If you own a car or house, then you likely have a loan or mortgage and are paying for insurance, too. One of the best frugal life hacks for saving big money is reviewing your current premiums and interest rates and price comparing with other companies.

How to Shop for Refinance Rates for Home and Car

Before getting started on this saving money hack, you will want to make sure your credit is in tip-top shape. It is also wise to review your current loans; know your rates, loan terms and be aware of any penalties and fees for paying it off early. This information is vital for price comparing a new loan.

When shopping for a refinance on your mortgage or car loan, it is best to get quotes from several lenders – including the one you are already with! Ask for all of the fees and estimated closing costs and calculate those into the bottom line when making your decision.

Just like the money-saving hacks to negotiate your utility bills, you need to go in with a plan. Do you need a lower monthly payment or are you seeking a lower interest rate that will reduce the amount of your overall repayment?

Mortgages are big loans – and refinancing should not be taken lightly. Get more refinancing tips from The Mortgage Reports and find tips for refinancing you car loan on Credit Karma.

How To Shop for Insurance

Just like shopping for loans, you can use similar money hacks for lowering the cost of your insurance. You will want to shop several insurers; the ‘cheapest’ insurance companies don’t always offer the lowest rates – and don’t shy away from getting rates from local companies, too.

As you collect the information, be sure you understand coverage and deductibles. Not every car needs comprehensive insurance and higher deductibles can significantly lower your monthly payments. For this money saving life hack to work, you need to look at your individual situation – your car and emergency fund – and determine the most economical route.

As you make your inquires, remember to always ask for discounts – such as multiple car discounts, bundled insurance policies price breaks, pre-pay insurance rates and good student discounts. Also find out if the insurer offers any special programs – like usage-based programs or special rates for agreeing to e-statements instead of paper mail.

Frugal Hacks Yearly Money Saving Checklist by PositivelyFrugal.com

#3 Save Money Life Hacks: Cancel Memberships

Canceling memberships is one of my favorite frugal hacks – because it is so painfully obvious!

Throughout the year, we sign up for subscriptions – either with the best intentions of using them or because of a low-cost or freebie initial offer. Sometimes, we are enrolled into memberships without even knowing (as they were buried deep into the extra-fine print). Stop spending money on the services you do not use!

At least once a year (but better every six months), scour your credit card statements for any subscription and membership fees.

For memberships that you have never used or are no longer interested in using, cancel it right away. For all other subscription services, determine if they are really worth the price you are paying. 

If you want to keep the service, use money-saving hacks to negotiate a reduced fee. Another hack for saving money is to share your membership with family or friends (if the service allows it) so that you could split the cost instead of paying for it on your own.

#4 Home Repair Money-Saving Hacks

Keeping up with home repairs – and completing any fixes DIY – has long been one of the top frugal living hacks. Completing a yearly checklist of home maintenance can save you bundles down the road.

While there is a long list of recommended homeowner maintenance, I’m highlighting the top hacks for upkeep that can save you money now.

  • Change your filters to help your furnace and air conditioner run more efficiently.
  • Check plumbing for leaks and consider installing low-flow fixtures.
  • Seal drafty windows and doors with weatherstripping or insulation (and then start a sinking fund to save up money to replace the windows in the future!)
  • Replace your old thermostat with a smart thermostat to save on your electric bill.
  • Switch to energy saving lightbulbs (which are one of the top products that will save you money!).
  • Add insulation to attics and crawl spaces.
  • Clean out (and possibly shorten) your dryer vent – and switch to wool dryer balls, too!
  • Clean out your gutters yourself, rather than paying someone to do the task.

When doing any home repairs, consider borrowing or renting tools instead of spending the money to buy them (this frugal hack alone can save you hundreds!).  

#5 Money Saving Life Hacks: Sew It Up

Another one of the long-time thrifty life hacks is making clothing repairs to get more wear of your apparel. Sewing on a new button, adding a patch or mending small rips can add up to big savings.

At least once a year, go through your closet. Sort out what items you can mend (and also identify what can be donated, repurposed or tossed out).

To make minor clothing repairs, you need little more than thread and a needle. That said, investing in a basic sewing kit costs less than $10 – and there are simple sewing machines that you can buy new for less than $100.

If you fear that your sewing skills are not up to par, watch a few online videos. You will quickly learn just how easy it is to make minor clothing repairs that will save you from having to spend money on new clothes.

#6 Take Inventory…of Everything

Buying in bulk and stocking up on items when they are on sale are two of the best life hacks to save money. However, sometimes our bulk purchases get lost in the depths of our cavernous cupboards and our stockpiles amass into borderline hoarding.  

On an annual basis, it’s a good idea to take inventory and get your supplies under control. Otherwise, you could find that you have accumulated more than you could ever use – which is not a good way to spend your money.

This life hack to save money is fairly simple; start by inventorying your pantry stockpile. Clean out your cupboards (and wherever else you stash your food stuff) to get a better idea of what you currently have…and make a plan to use it! Also, take note of what items you may need to purchase in the near future.  

If you really want to keep your finances organized and stay on top of your stockpile, make a spreadsheet of items you have. Notate when you open a new item and how long it takes you to use it. That way you will have a better plan for when you need to make future bulk purchases.

This same frugal hack can be used to clean up your health and beauty supplies, your paper products, laundry items and any other goods you store in your home.

#7 Saving Money Life Hacks: Look in Your Freezer

I love frugal food hacks (I share tons of them on my Frugal Food page!) – and freezer meals and freezing bulk meat are two of the best! That said, just like with other stockpiles, surplus food that goes into the freezer can get lost in the abyss.

Throwing away food is an incredible waste of money – and food that sits too long in the freezer will need to be tossed.

At least once a year, go through your freezer to organize and sort through the frozen food you have. Take this money-saving life hack to the next level by making a meal plan to use the items that are close to becoming inedible. Furthermore, make a food consumption plan for the rest of the contents (for frugal breakfasts, lunches and dinners!).

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#8 Living Hacks: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

One of my favorite frugal life hacks is to repurpose or upcycle common goods – like glass jars, plastic containers, grocery/produce bags, mate-less socks, worn t-shirts and even wine corks.

The problem is that we often save these items, shove them out of sight, forget about them and it ends up being a frugal habit that doesn’t pay off. When I committed to becoming a frugal minimalist, I was astounded by how much stuff I had saved.

To make sure your best intentions of repurposing items come to fruition, organize and upcycle on a yearly basis.

How To Reuse Glass Jars and Plastic Containers

Accumulated jars and containers that sit on a shelf is not a good hack for money unless you put them to use! Both are great for leftover food storage. However, other frugal living hacks for using your containers is for organization – such as a place to store sewing items or screws and nails.

Glass jars can be used for home decor, too. Use a jar to display seashells collected on a trip, as a candle holder, a planter – or fill it with a strand of battery-operated lights for mood lighting.

You can also repurpose glass jars into crafty budget gifts. You can find heaps of DIY ideas here.

Ways to Use Grocery and Produce Bags

In recent years, we’ve switched to mostly using reusable grocery shopping bags – but we sometimes still leave the grocery store with a few plastic bags and produce bags. Reutilizing the bags as trash can liners is our number one frugal hack to save money.

Other ways we make use of the bags is for packing shoes, picking up dog poo and as a trash bag for the car. Finding uses for the plastic bags not only saves you money – but it is kinder to the environment, as well!

Make Use of Old Socks and T-Shirts

When socks and t-shirts have become too worn to mend and too holey to wear, instead of trashing them, cut the shirts up into cleaning rags and use the socks to dust the blinds.

I have seen knee-high socks turned into spray bottle covers – and even converted into toilet seat covers to prevent a cold bum. Get creative – or use this list for ideas.

Upcycling Wine Corks

Creative upcycling projects are a fantastic way to make use of the things you already have – and it can turn into a fun, frugal hobby, too!

Wine corks are a great example of things you might save that can be turned into something fun! A frugal life hack for upcycling corks is to create a cork board, make a drink coaster or design a cute birdhouse.

In fact, upcycling is one of the top frugal hacks to save money, because your upcycled project can be used as a holiday gift – or, better yet, you can start a side hustle and sell it.

Whatever items you decide to hang onto, just make sure to actually use them…and don’t be afraid to get creative!

Frugal Hacks Money Checklist by PositivelyFrugal.com

#9 Life Hacks: Money Numbers

One of the best money life hacks is to know, understand and track your Money Numbers. Without a clear picture of where you are, you won’t be able to realistically set future money goals… and without financial goals, it is incredibly difficult to get ahead.

Your Money Numbers are oh-so-important figures – like your credit score, monthly take-home salary, debt-to-income ratio and savings. I talk in more detail about these figures in my article, Know Your Money Numbers – COMING SOON!

While you don’t necessarily need to obsess over your Money Numbers, it is beneficial to review your numbers at least once a year (but better every 6 months) to know where you stand.

Keep track of your numbers – as in, write them down – so that you can review them year-over-year. Tracking the numbers in a Financial Bullet Journal is an excellent way to keep them top of mind without fixating on them.

#10 Budgeting Money Life Hacks

Monthly budgets are often declared the most boring financial tasks – but, trust me, it is one of the best life hacks to get money organized. Budgeting is not as daunting as most people make it out to be. In fact, I make it incredibly simple with my free Budget printable.

A written Monthly Budget sets the course for your spending and your savings – and tracking your expenditures and funds is an eye-opening experience.

What I like best about tracking my monthly budget is that I can use it to compare month-over-month and year-over-year budgets. If you only use one money life hack from this list, budgeting should be it!

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We Want To Know: What frugal hacks are on your checklist? Do you have any How To Save Money hacks? Tell us in the comments!

Interested in more of my Life and Entertainment Tips? I round them all up on the Frugal Lifestyle blog page!


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Frugal Hacks Money Saving Checklist by PositivelyFrugal.com

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