Living on a tight budget can be hard. When you’re trying to save money and live frugally, it’s important that you only buy things that will save you money in the long run. Enjoy this list of must-haves for your frugal home so that you can make sure not to spend any more money than necessary.
With these items, living on a tight budget won’t feel like such an uphill battle.
(A note before we get started: if you’re anything like me, you might see a list like this as “permission” of some sort to go fill up your cart with all of these items. Please don’t do this! Put them on your birthday list, stalk thrift shops, or buy them slowly over time. Going into debt to save money never makes sense.)
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A slow cooker is a great way to save money on food because it allows you to buy inexpensive cuts of meat and make them deliciously tender. Cheaper meats tend to be on the tougher side, but a slow cooker solves this problem. Things like pot roasts and recipes using stew meat are some of the least expensive ways (per serving) to eat red meat.
A slow cooker is also a great way to cook in bulk. Every Tuesday, I put together a big pot of pinto beans in my slow cooker. I then divide them into portions that are just right for a single serving and freeze them. You can do this with seasoned shredded chicken, spaghetti sauce, and many other things.
And finally, a slow cooker allows you to have a home-cooked meal on a day that you’ll be out of the house during dinner prep time. When you can’t be home to cook, a slow cooker is the next best thing.
With the rise of electric pressure cookers, you can buy an old-school Crockpot for basically nothing.
Reusable Food Containers
Leftover containers are a great way to save money. And sure, you could spend a bundle on glass one with locking lids, but I love this affordable, stackable set. It takes up hardly any cabinet space and every lid goes with every container.
These are good for more than just leftovers, of course: use them when you’re dividing up bulk food purchased, storing homemade chicken stock, and packing lunch and snacks on the go.
A large freezer is a great investment because it saves you money on groceries. If you buy in bulk, the per-unit cost of the items goes down.
Things you can buy in bulk and freeze (or buy already frozen) that you may not have considered
- berries (great prices compared to fresh!)
- dried fruit
And of course, having a freezer stocked with premade meals will save you money. When you have dinners ready to go, it will save you from takeout on a busy night when you just can’t cook anything.
Basic coffee maker
We all know the cliche of wasting money on fancy lattes every day. But using a single-serving coffee maker is also shockingly expensive. When you factor in the cost of those expensive machines (and their short lifespan), plus the cost of the cups themselves, you’d be better off grabbing coffee at a convenience store.
Enter… the old school coffee maker. A pot. A drip system. A basic brand of ground coffee. There was nothing wrong with the way your grandparents made coffee! Let’s get back to that.
(If you don’t drink coffee, tea is also an excellent option for a frugal beverage. It’s not as expensive as coffee and doesn’t require any fancy equipment to make at home.
Mason jars are inexpensive, versatile, and durable, which makes them the perfect choice for just about anything. They reduce clutter in your home because when you don’t need a jar for one function, it can serve another. And best of all, they are easy to get perfectly clean.
Here are some of the ways we use mason jars:
- vases for flowers
- storing rice, dried beans, and awkwardly packaged ingredients like constarch
- candy jar
- drinking glasses
- pump bottles for soap and lotion
With the addition of specialty lids, they make great:
- toothbrush holders (this one holds two toothbrushess + toothpaste)
- shakers (we use this to store baking soda for cleaning to make it easy to sprinkle)
- portable drinking cups
Make sure you check to see whether the lids are for wide or regular mouth.
Reusable water bottle and mug
If you’re in the car a lot, driving kids around, it’s nice to have a soda or coffee with you. But, of course, a bottle of soda here and a drive-through iced coffee there adds up over time.
The solution? Bring your own to-go drink.
For cold drinks, my favorite is the trusty mason jar with this lid that turns it into a straw cup.
For hot beverages or something you can throw in your purse, there’s nothing like the Yeti thermal water bottle. They are a bit spendy but one of those things that is truly worth the price. Every mom has gone through dozens of awful straw water bottles that leak and are impossible to clean. These clean up beautifully in the dishwasher and have a design that works straw-free.
Basic water filter
For those that don’t like the taste of tap water, a basic water filter can be purchased for very little and it makes drinking and cooking with tap water much easier. This will obviously save you money over buying bottled water, but even better, it lets you skip finicky in-door water filters in your fridge. These will always give you trouble and shorten the life of your appliance
Clothesline or drying rack
Clotheslines and drying racks are a great way to save money on your electric bill. Rather than using the dryer, you can use these items to put your clothes out in fresh air.
This will also prolong the life of many items and save you money in the long run.
Sponges are gross and expensive. Dishcloths can be changed multiple times per day and used basically forever.
Instead of buying disposable sponges for $10 or more per month, you can buy a set of dishcloths for a few dollars and just launder them. They are usually much softer than commercial sponges too and can be used in place of paper towels too.
A well-stocked pantry
A well-stocked pantry can help you save hundreds of dollars per month. If you know what to buy in bulk, when it’s on sale, and how to cook from scratch, you can eat for a fraction of the cost that most people spend.
This can be done affordably if you build your pantry one week at a time. Set aside $5 per week and buy extra pasta, beans, canned items, or other shelf-stable items. Having a good assortment of basic goods allows you to make meals with what’s on hand and keeps you out of the grocery store, which is always a money saver.
Basic cleaning supplies
A clean house is a house you love to be in, and staying home is the best money saver of all.
All you need to do 99% of your cleaning is vinegar mixed with water, some microfiber cloths, and baking soda or scouring powder such as Bar Keeper’s Friend
Helpful for some people
These items are not “must-haves” but if they make sense for you, can definitely save you money.
If you watch a lot of TV, then looking into an antenna might save you some money. If not, just subscribe to streaming services or cable services on a month-to-month basis so that you can cancel when you need to. (But don’t let your digital subscriptions get out of control!)
Vacuum food sealer
If you purchase a lot of fresh food like meat and vegetables, then a vacuum sealer is probably worth the investment. It’s not super cheap, but it will save you money in the long term by keeping your food fresher for longer.
A way to work out at home
I believe exercise should be a part of every mom’s morning routine. But gym memberships are expensive and inconvenient. There are many, many home workout programs.
Frugal home must haves to save you money
Having certain items on hand makes your frugal living journey easier. But that doesn’t mean that without these things, you can’t live a frugal life. With a little creativity and planning, you can make anything work.
These are just suggestions to help you along the way.