A Simple Approach to Living With Less

20 Simple Ways to Save Serious Money by Becoming a Minimalist Family

There are many ways that being a minimalist family can save you money. Saving money isn’t really the main reason for becoming a minimalist, but it is a nice side effect. I’m sure you’ll come up with more ways that minimalism saves you money, but this is a list of ideas to get you started.


1) Plan menus. Taking the time to plan menus has the benefit of avoiding impulse buying at the store and encouraging you to eat healthier.


2) Give experience gifts. Put some real thought into the next gifts you give and consider an experience gift like tickets to an attraction or the cost of enrollment to a cooking class.


3) Research the free activities in your area. Finding affordable family fun is often challenging. Instead of dropping some serious cash at the movies, check out the local area attractions that often come with a low or non-existent price tag.


4) Cut off cable/get rid of TV. Getting rid of your television is one obvious way to shrink your bills. You can also utilize free options available online.


5) Cancel magazines and other subscriptions. Keeping magazines around the house can tempt you to buy things in the same way TV commercials do. Any kind of subscription can add to your clutter. It systematically brings items into your home that you didn’t have to make a deliberate choice to purchase.


6) Avoid mindless gift giving. Don’t feel the need to buy someone a present just to cross their name off a list. Avoid mindless gift giving throughout the year. Any time you give someone a gift, make sure you put some real thought into it.


7) Make your own cleaning supplies. You can save a ton of money making you own cleaning supplies. Most of the specialty cleaners available today are unnecessary. Many cleaning jobs can be accomplished with some basic vinegar and baking soda.


8) Wash fewer clothes. Less Clothes = Less Laundry = Lower Costs. My kids manage to get all their clothes dirty every week no matter how many clothes are in their wardrobe. By shrinking their wardrobe, and mine as well, we all survive just fine on a smaller amount of clothing, and we also save time and money with less laundry.


9) Wash clothes in cold water. To put in perspective how wasteful hot water is, washing your clothes in hot instead of cold for a year, wastes more electricity than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for a year. Even washing your clothes in warm instead of cold wastes that much energy. (Source)

10) Avoid storage costs. Don’t make the same mistake we made and pay to store your excess junk for years at a time. If you don’t have room for it and can survive without it for more than 30 days, then you don’t need it and you probably won’t miss it. Period.


11) Go car-free or car-lite. Getting rid of your car completely saves money on gas, insurance, and maintenance. Even if you aren’t able to give up your car completely, consider cutting back on how often you use it.


12) Consider moving closer to work. Similar to going car-lite, cutting down your commute will increase your savings as well. When we moved in with my family, it cut my husband’s commute in half.


13) Downsize your home. Homes keep getting larger and larger despite the fact that average family size hasn’t changed much and people are out of the house more than ever. It might be time to seriously consider downsizing your home and freeing up the money and time spent paying for it.


14) Cook with fresh foods and from scratch. Cooking with fresh food is definitely better for your health, and it’s also much cheaper to cook from scratch. I believe the enormous fast food industry is a byproduct of everyone staying so busy constantly running around town. Make time in your life to stay home, cook healthy food, and connect with your family.


15) Use leftovers for your lunches. Don’t let your food go to waste. Pack a lunch with the leftovers from dinner. It’s healthier than eating out and the savings really add up. We date our leftovers with small round removable stickers so no one has to wonder what something is and when it was cooked.


16) Don’t spend more than you make. This is a pretty basic money saving tip, but it often gets overlooked. Sticking with a budget and avoiding impulse buying is so important. Once you get in control of your finances, you’ll find you are a lot less stressed.


17) Use coupons but don’t over buy. Coupons only save you money if you use them on items you would already be buying. Don’t buy something you don’t really use or need simply because you have a coupon.


18) Plan cheaper vacations or try staycations. Family vacations do not have to be about spending lots of money going on fancy trips. Keeping the focus on family time makes the destination less important.


19) Plant a garden. Growing food at home can be a fun way to spend some family time together and enjoy reaping the benefits.


20) Use Freecycle and Paperbook Swap. These are a couple of great free ways to share unused items and books. You share with others and they share with you as well. They are also great for declutting your house if you run out of friends and family to give your things to. Just be careful of being attracted to free items you don’t really need.

The truth is, many of the items on this list may have already occurred to you. There are lots of ways that minimalism can save you money. The important thing to remember is that every little way you save will begin to add up.

What are some ways that you’ve discovered you can save money by being a minimalist family?

Please check out my book, Family-Sized Minimalism, if you’re interested in reading more about minimalist living for families. If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for updates or follow me on Google+ orTwitter. Thanks so much for reading!

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Article originally published on 10/02/2011

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  1. We save money by rarely buying things and borrowing instead. Fortunately, we live close to both sets of parents, so there’s always an abundance of free babysitting, large car usage (when we need to haul stuff for home renovations), tool/appliance borrowing, etc. Also, we saved a ton of money completing our home renovations ourselves.

  2. Here is another interesting site for sharing stuff: http://neighborgoods.net/

  3. Linda Sand says

    Family plans. My Dad is on my step-sister’s computer plan. My daughter is on her housemate’s phone plan.

  4. I love the give experiences as gifts. That is a big one for us. I guess I should start thinking about what to “get” for the grown kids and the grandkids for Christmas!
    Great list!

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi Bernice, yep I had that “oh my gosh, Christmas is getting close already” feeling today. Time to put my thinking cap on.

  5. Thanks for this great post. I will definitely be using some of your ideas to write some more posts. Fab money saving ideas here. Thanks.

  6. Great post!

  7. Faith,

    Thanks so much for link back to our family’s No-TV story. We’re still going strong with no cable — and not looking back!

    This is a really great list; so many hit home. Our family has a big vegetable garden and chickens and with a small investment in seeds and a bit of elbow grease, you can really create a win-win for your family and wallet. We just wrapped up a two-week 125-mile local food challenge (http://www.thenewpursuit.com/tag/2011-ecochallenge/) and one of the best parts was pushing ourselves to learn how to make even more things from scratch — yogurt, bagels, butter, etc. A lot of the time it was much cheaper to buy the raw ingredients and make things from scratch!

    One other idea for your list: Use a clothesline to dry your clothes. It forces you to slow down, savor some time outside and save on your electricity bill. I love it!

    Be well,

    • Faith Janes says

      Thanks, Bill. That’s a really neat family food challenge! I would never have thought about making our own butter. I might have to look into that.

      Do you end up with crunchy clothes when you line dry? We have a household of 10 so we do lots of laundry. Our dryer broke last week but it was rainy outside. So we ended up draping clothes everywhere and not only did them take forever to dry, but they ended up completely stiff.

      • Lined dried clothes are soft and smell so fresh. In Australia, most families use a clothesline. Just pop your washing on in the morning, hang it out and let the gorgeous sunshine do the rest.

  8. My husband gives gift cards for our 5 grandchildren at Christmas time. When we home educated I had to limit the home education magazines and catalogs. I read 2 home education magazines- Practical Homeschooling(home-school.com) was in our library and I subscribed to Home School Enrichment magazine. I mostly ordered from 4 catalogs. That may seem like a lot but there are so many available. I had to write letters to a few catalogs telling them to not send me catalogs anymore. I never buy magazines at the supermarket check-out line. We have always washed our clothes with cold water. I never used the heat/dry option on the dishwasher. I prefer washing dishes by hand. We had a clothes line in Florida and all our clothes,etc. faded.


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