Use these penny pincher ideas to save money without looking like you don’t have any
Tell the average American family that we’ve just enjoyed nine years of uninterrupted economic growth and they’d probably laugh in your face.
Wages have barely budged since the financial crisis and it wasn’t exactly easy making ends meet before. I do well freelancing and running my five blogs but, with the wife in year three of nursing school, we’re constantly looking for ways to save money.
Problem is, we don’t want to look like we’re penny pinchers.
It’s one thing to save money. It’s something else entirely being ‘that family’.
Fortunately, there are ways to pinch pennies without looking like a miser. The penny pincher ideas below will save enough money that you can splurge where it matters and nobody will be the wiser.
What Does Penny Pincher Mean?
As much as we have known a lot of people who love splurging their money, there are also those who are the same exact opposite, and that is who we call the penny pinchers. A penny pincher is someone who loves saving and always have smart money ideas in tow. They are usually motivated and strict when it comes to money handling because they honor their financial goals to the extent that they take it super seriously. But they cannot be misunderstood because penny pinchers are actually not greedy people. They understand that money is not everything too well, only that they are conscious because they know the consequences of spending above the means.
Since the start of pandemic, a lot more are learning how to be a penny pincher in various ways. They think this will allow them to beat the crisis and that the money they will simultaneously save from lavish shopping sprees can be efficiently used to work for them while they sleep or while they are too occupied creating more income streams. Most penny pinchers are known to be financially disciplined and are focused on their short and long term financial goals. And most of all, they are those who look forward to becoming finally financially free.
Penny Pincher Ideas around the House
Saving real money without looking cheap means saving when nobody is looking. That means finding penny pincher ideas to save around the house are your best shot at cutting the corners on your budget without looking like you’re cutting corners.
Cooking for an Army
With my wife in nursing school and me working upwards of 50 hours a week, sometimes we don’t have time to cook dinner. Making sure our son always eats a good meal means we're ordering out a lot of nights and spending over $300 a month extra on food.
To save money, now we cook three nights worth of dinners Sunday night. We eat leftovers on Monday night and freeze the third-night’s dinner to eat on Thursday, that way we’re not eating the same thing three nights in a row.
Cooking in bulk like this just one night a week helps to cut down on ordering out from three nights a week to just one. We still order out or will go out to eat on Friday or Saturday but end up saving about $150 a month from what we were spending previously.
Homemade Laundry Detergent
Making our own homemade laundry detergent was always one of my mom’s favorite penny pincher ideas. It works just as well as store bought and nobody ever knows the difference. In fact, you can even experiment with adding different essential oils to get a unique fragrance to your clothes.
- Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
- Ivory Soap (3 bars)
- Oxi Clean (two containers)
- Borax (two boxes)
Grate the bars of soap into a large cooking pot with 18 cups of water over a medium heat. When the soap is completely dissolved, pour in the washing soda and borax and wait about two minutes for it to dissolve.
Stir in another three gallons of water as well as any essential oils you want to add for scented detergent. Cover the container and store it in your laundry room. Each load of laundry will use about half a cup of the mix. For a family of four, one batch will last a couple of months and save $300 a year.
Homemade Household Cleaners
Making your own cleaning supplies is one of the best ways to pinch pennies. Besides working just as well as store bought cleaners, you won’t be using all the chemicals.
Two separate bottles of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are all you need for kitchen counters. Spray and wipe with the vinegar and then follow it up with the hydrogen peroxide. Used one after the other and they’ll kill any kind of bacteria on food surfaces just as well as bleach.
You can also use the vinegar spray for glass and other surfaces for a streak-free shine. The smell will go away in less than a minute or you can dilute the spray with half-water.
A mix of ½ gallon water, 1/3 cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar can be used for really tough cleaning in the bathroom. This mix will eat through bathroom mold if you let it sit for half an hour before scrubbing.
Penny Pincher Fashion
According to the Department of Labor Consumer Spending Survey, the average household spends nearly $1,700 a year on clothes. That breaks down to about $675 per person so larger families will spend even more.
My extended family is well known as the garage sale champions of the Midwest. My mom and aunts used to meet up on Sunday to exchange and talk about deals they had found the day before.
I never thought garage sales were as great a penny pincher idea. You can find some super-discounted clothes but most of it looked heavily worn or it took you all day to find a couple of like-new pieces.
I much rather prefer the thrift stores like the DAV and the Salvation Army for two reasons. First, most won’t accept clothing that is heavily worn or damaged. That improves your odds of finding something that doesn’t look like a hand-me-down. It also saves time because you’re not going from house to house.
I can pick up a couple of shirts at the Salvation Army for less than $5 each versus paying $35 or $40 for new shirts.
If you’re not ready to go full-on garage sale or thrift store yet, check out some of the new online consignment shops like Poshmark. People upload pictures of their clothes for sale at discounts of 60% to 80% off the original price. A lot of the clothes have barely been worn and may be there just because the owner wants to clean out their closet.
Penny Pincher Furniture
Household furniture isn’t the expense that food or clothing is but it can still add up, especially for a family with pets that like to destroy things.
One of the least known penny pincher ideas I’ve found is dumpster diving college dorms after move-out day. This is usually a weekend in May before everyone goes home for the summer.
This isn’t dumpster diving like you’re jumping in and getting dirty, most of the stuff is just piled up outside and around the dorm. You’ll find small refrigerators, appliances, mattresses and oh so many futons…all free for the taking.
Penny Pincher Vacation Ideas
Being a penny pincher doesn’t mean you can’t relax and treat yourself to a vacation. It doesn’t even mean you have to skimp on your vacation.
Saving money on your next family trip means looking at each part of the journey in pieces to see how to save where you can.
- Instead of flying cross-country, why not go somewhere closer to home that’s within driving distance?
- Instead of staying in expensive motels, check out campgrounds and home exchanges.
- Instead of going to that expensive theme park; visit natural parks and historic sites. Washington, D.C. is one of my favorite cities because nearly everything you want to see and visit is free.
It’s up to you what you do with all the money you save through penny pinching. Make sure to invest some of it but there’s nothing wrong with splurging a little either. Spend money where it counts and don’t feel like you have to pay up for new and store bought stuff.
Read the Entire Money Saving Series
- 20 Money Saving Tips to Save $7,500 a Year
- Best Ways to Invest Children’s Savings
- Saving Tips for Teenagers: How to Teach Your Teen Child to Save
- How my Parents Taught me the Importance of Saving
- 5 Best Ways to Manage your Investment and Savings
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.