How to keep your old car from becoming a money pit


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Worried about your car becoming a money pit? A money pit is something that drains your financial resources. Some money pits are well-known. One is buying a ramshackle home that translates into a significant monetary loss. Another is misusing credit cards, an easy ticket to losing money that would have otherwise been channeled into your retirement account or child’s education fund.


While those are obvious money pits, others are less noticeable. Take, for instance, cars. When buying a car, you’re usually thinking of a means of transport to get you from point A to B. But cars are a ravenous wealth destroyer. From the initial outlay, refueling, maintenance, insurance, and repairs, car owners spend thousands of dollars every year for the privilege of driving on the road.


In fact, cars are second only to houses as a top contributor to most people’s debts and poor savings. Thinking of ways to reduce the running expenses associated with car ownership? Buying a used car warranty might help you deal with the cost of unforeseen breakdowns. Apart from that, let’s look at the things that cause your car to drain cash out of your wallet and how to stop it.

Reasons Why Your Car Is a Money Pit

Lack of Preventative Maintenance

Some motorists choose to take their chances and ignore preventative car maintenance. One reason could be the lack of auto repair financing due to the absence of insurance. Routine service may seem like a needless, time-consuming cost and a potential rip-off by conniving car mechanics.


According to data gathered from National Car Care Month inspections, the car parts that are often neglected include:

  • Dirty or low-level fluids.
  • Worn out or contaminated antifreeze.
  • Dirty air filters.
  • Damaged belts and hoses.

You’re exposing yourself to constant trips to the mechanic and unforeseen repair bills when you skip preventative car maintenance. Similar to a human body, your car needs regular maintenance to steer clear of breakdowns down the line. Ideally, you should observe your car’s service schedule. This will ensure you’re up to date on all maintenance.

Old Car Restoration

A majority of car enthusiasts delight in owning an older or classic car. That old car may seem like a fun project. However, purchasing it could suck the cash out of your pockets.


Are you aware that it may cost you up to $100,000 to refurbish a classic vehicle? While ordinary vehicles may be costly to maintain, restoring an old, classic car can really put a dent in your pocket. You may consider applying for an auto repair financing loan to handle the restoration. What’s even worse: Even if you successfully restore the car, it won’t fetch you as much as what you put into it when you decide to sell it.

Poor Driving Habits

The way you drive has a close correlation with your car’s fuel consumption, tire wear, engine and brake performance, and transmission integrity. Driving your vehicle at a higher RPM (revolutions per minute) range translates to higher fuel consumption. And if you love to shift gears regularly, your engine might experience torque variation output, resulting in more fuel use. Ideally, you should be slow and steady when accelerating and braking.

Your Mechanic

Almost every driver has visited their local repair shop for routine car maintenance, only to drive away exasperated. This is after paying over the odds for minor repairs. The majority of mechanics are sincere, diligent people who will detect and point out issues you may not know of.


However, some mechanics are unscrupulous and want to rip you off your hard-earned cash. They will overcharge, recommend unnecessary repair services, or do a shoddy job so that you need to come back several times to get it fixed correctly.


Prior to agreeing to any maintenance, counter-check your car’s maintenance schedule. This is the only schedule you should adhere to unless an urgent problem has surfaced to warrant immediate maintenance or repair.


For instance, many car owners still follow the 3,000-mile oil change misconception planted in their minds by some mechanics. This means that you change the oil a lot more frequently, which leads to more spending. Ideally, oil changes are scheduled between 6,000 and 10,000 miles by auto manufacturers.

Constant Repairs

Perhaps your car has been subject to constant repairs ever since it got into an accident. Or maybe your engine has been giving you problems all the time. Regardless of the situation, constant repairs can heavily drain your pockets.


Whether it’s mechanical troubles, body damage, or something else, some fixes are not worth persisting with. Ideally, you should determine if the cumulative vehicle repairs cost more than the value of the car. The Kelley Blue Book is a great resource to find out your car’s current market value.


With this in mind, here are some car tips to take into account so you don’t end up with a money pit.

Tips to Help You Reduce Expenditure on Your Car

Get Cheaper Car Insurance

Car insurance is a legal requirement in most states, making it an unavoidable expense related to car ownership. Are you overpaying for car insurance? Many motorists sign up for a car insurance policy and become loyal for several years. However, the premiums may continually go up to an extent where you are overpaying for auto insurance.


How does this happen?


Car insurers look at multiple variables to decide on your monthly premiums. These include age, driving history, and mileage. However, other insurers mine data from different platforms and use it to carry out “price optimization” on your premiums, as claimed by USA Today.


Basically, car insurers set premiums just high enough to stop customers from searching around for alternatives. Due to this process and the fact that the longer you stay with an insurance provider, the less likely you are to leave, the rates can rise every year.


So, what’s the solution?

  • Shop Around: While you can’t escape price optimization, you don’t have to be helpless in the face of rising premiums. The trick is to shop around for better deals from other insurance providers.
  • Bundle Your Policies: As with any industry, insurers want you to sign up with them for all your different insurance needs for the longest duration. With that said, many offer price cuts when you enroll for multiple policies.

The most popular policy bundle is combining your car and homeowners’ policy from the same insurance provider. A study by InsuranceQuotes reveals that the average customer saves 16.1% on insurance premiums when they bundle these two policies. For example, Allstate offers a 25% discount when you bundle both home and car insurance. Likewise, Progressive claims new clients will save $1,000 per year on average when they bundle their home and car insurance policies.


Read more: Cars and Credit: 14 Things to Know to Get the Best Deal

Preventative Maintenance

Routine preventative maintenance will cost you money. But the good news is that it will keep your car working optimally, which means that you’ll avoid bigger mechanical issues down the road. You don’t want the type of problems that leave you needing roadside assistance and with a hefty repair bill to deal with.


Given that vehicles have lots of mechanical parts, many things can go wrong when you least expect them. Here are some important routine maintenance practices to factor in if you want to avoid costly repairs in the future:


Oil change: Most car manufacturers recommend that you change the oil between 6,000 and 10,000 miles. Always follow the car owner’s manual concerning how often you change your engine oil and the right type of oil for use, whether that’s a synthetic mineral or semi-synthetic engine oil.

Routine tune-ups: These include the following:

  1. Replacing dirty or clogged air filters. A dirty or worn-out air filter will increase your car’s fuel consumption and result in your engine stalling due to a lack of oxygen.
  2. Power steering, antifreeze, transmission, and brake fluids are crucial to your vehicle’s performance and reliability. The mechanic will top off any low-level fluids if need be.
  3. Car batteries can last for a decade with little maintenance. Battery inspection involves checking its condition and removing any buildup of battery acid.
  4. The mechanic will also check your car’s belts and hoses. Any signs of cracking or splitting require immediate replacement before the belts snap.
  5. If you’ve been hearing an irritating screech every time it rains, you need to replace your windshield wipers. Plus, the mechanic will also top up your windshield wiper fluid for a sparkling windshield.
  6. Your car’s undercarriage and axles will also be examined for any potential issues. Your wheels will also undergo alignment to avoid uneven wear and tear.

A weekend spent at the repair shop may not seem like much fun. However, it’s certainly time well invested. A tune-up avoids problems that may keep your vehicle off of the road for weeks and cost you thousands of dollars in auto repair financing. Generally, a professional tune-up can cost you anywhere between $75 and $150. Think of it as an investment in your car and coverage against future repair expenses.

Safe Driving

Of course, wear and tear is an inevitable part of driving. But aggressive driving habits will cause your car parts to fail prematurely, requiring costly auto repair financing. Driving with care will give you the joy of driving more miles without repair.


Here are some of the best driving tips to use when you pull your car out of the dealer’s yard:

  • Practice slow and steady acceleration when you start your drive. This is because significant deterioration to the engine occurs within the first 20 minutes of switching on your car and hitting the gas pedal hard. Quick starts and sudden stops will also cost you more at the gas station, exert unwanted strain on your engine, and cause faster wear and tear on your brake pads.
  • Avoid driving with little or no fuel at all. This is because the sediment from the gas, which usually settles at the bottom of your fuel tank, will affect the engine. The dirtiest gasoline is at the bottom of the tank. So when this is used, there’s a higher threat that the dirt will ultimately end up in your fuel line and in the engine. Consequently, it may lead to grave damage and costly repairs.
  • Your tires can last longer with careful driving. What you should do is observe recommended speed limits. Steer clear of potholes on the road. Also, don’t drive over curbs. Otherwise, they might take a huge toll on your tires.
  • No need to take short trips. Instead, combine all of them. This is because a huge part of the wear and tear occurs during the first couple of minutes of driving. So, fulfilling several errands at a time will keep your engine running efficiently.

Only Buy Gasoline at Reputable Gas Stations

Gasoline doesn’t come cheap, and you’re probably searching for ways to save money at the gas station. You’ve turned a blind eye to premium fuel. So, you decide to fuel at an off-brand gas station to save a few bucks. But is the cheap gasoline safe for your engine?


Remember, not all gasoline is the same, despite the fact that it originates from the same source. As directed by the Environmental Protection Agency, several additives are combined with the base gas. The end product is safe for your engine and cuts down on your overall emissions.


Various gas companies, including both major brands and off-brands, add their own additives to the gasoline. This is designed to make the gas effectively clean and enhance engine performance. The major difference is that reputable brands add further additives in their fuel to give an extra level of protection and cleaning for your engine.


Of course, more additives come at a cost but guarantee excellent engine performance. In contrast, off-brands will sell you bare-bones fuel with fewer additives at a lower price.


Ideally, check your car’s owner’s manual to confirm the type of gas the manufacturer recommends. If possible, stick to that guideline.

Fuel Affordably

Fuel expenses make car ownership an expensive affair. If you don’t know where to get the best fuel deals every time you need to refuel your tank, you’ll end up paying over the odds for gas.


Have you ever filled up your vehicle with gas only to drive a few minutes down the road and see cheaper gas at another filling station? There is no worse feeling than that. The good news is that you can prevent such situations from happening.


If you want to reduce your car fuel expenses, consider using gas price comparison apps. These apps help you compare all the gas prices in your location. Plus, you can even indicate your preferred type of fuel. If you want diesel fuel, only filling stations that offer diesel fuel will pop up in your search.


When browsing through the available list of filling stations near you, you will see the following:

  • The price of gas.
  • Last price update.
  • The distance between you and the station.
  • Customer reviews for that fueling station.

Thus, you can know where to get affordable gas immediately. Look at the money you’ll save. While a $1.50 difference in gas prices may not seem like much, it will add up over time. Besides helping you save money, you also save time since you don’t have to drive around searching for cheap gas.


Here are some examples of fantastic apps that will point you towards the cheapest gas to fill your tank with:

  • GasBuddy.
  • Drivvo.
  • Waze.
  • MapQuest.
  • Fuel.

DIY Basic Car Repairs

Perhaps you’re one of those drivers who call their mechanic straight away when you experience a slight difficulty with your vehicle. Car repairs can drain your wallet fast. The good news is you can carry out various repairs on your own, irrespective of your technical skill. As long as you can hold a wrench, you can do a lot more, from fixing alternators to fuel filters.


For do-it-yourself repairs, a computer should be your resource tool. Expert Village and AutoMD are both fantastic resources of how-to guides, general-purpose videos, and diagnostic help for the most basic auto problems.


If you want to weigh up whether a repair merits your time and effort, RepairPal is a useful resource for verifying the average price of repairs in a repair shop. Thus, you can decide whether to do it yourself or take your car to the mechanic.

When doing the repair work, have the video guide loaded up in front of you. Follow the instructions and always refer back to the video guide if you missed a step.


Virtually all vehicles are fitted with nuts and bolts for the basic repairs you’ll need to make. When buying car repair tools, pick those with hefty handles. They usually provide a good grip.


Some of the typical tools you need include:

  • Torque wrench.
  • Adjustable wrench.
  • Pliers.
  • Jack.
  • Socket and ratchet set.
  • Screwdrivers.

Mindful Parking

It’s late. You’re leaving the building after doing some errands, and there it is—a parking ticket nestled on your windshield.

According to a survey of data from over 100 U.S. cities, Americans pay between $25 and $200 on average for parking violations. Generally, parking tickets don’t affect your car insurance rates. However, they could result in further inconveniences, including:

  • A tire boot: You may have a boot placed on your car’s tire until you pay for the tickets. Apart from paying up, you will also need to pay someone to take off the boot. This may cost you up to $136 in major cities like New York.
  • Late charges: Unpaid parking tickets attract late charges, which can be costly. Some municipalities double the original ticket or more. You don’t want to accrue past-due fees on your ticket violations.
  • Getting towedBe ready to spend over the odds to have your car released when it’s towed for a series of parking tickets. In an exposé run by NBC 7 in San Diego in 2019, they discovered that car owner paid between $2,700 and $5,000 to have their impounded cars released. Further, the municipality sold 1,452 out of the total 4,683 towed cars.

Below are some of the tips that you can use to avoid a parking ticket:

  • Be careful where you park your car. Ideally, check nearby signs to confirm whether you’re permitted to park in the vicinity.
  • If you’re parking in an area with time limits, take note of the duration you have paid to park. Consider setting a timer on your phone in case you forget. You should also give yourself a few additional minutes to get back to your car before the period elapses. Or you can add some change to the parking meter to extend your parking time.
  • Consider a scenario where you’ve parked in an area with a faulty parking meter. It may be quite difficult to prove to the local parking attendant that the meter was not working. The best thing is to park somewhere else if possible.
  • You might be a victim of regular parking ticket violations at home or adjacent to your workplace. The alternative is to rent a parking space instead of parking your car on the street. You can also table a request to your employer for parking assistance. Another option is to park your car safely elsewhere and use public transportation to work or school.

Final thoughts

Car ownership can sometimes feel like throwing money down the drain. One day it’s wear and tear on the brake pads and paying monthly premiums. Then later, the tires need replacing or the engine has a problem.


It may often seem like you’re dishing out money to the gas station and mechanic. Ultimately, the fuel and auto repair financing may far outweigh the initial cost of buying the car, which isn’t a good piece of personal finance.


With that said, car ownership doesn’t have to feel like a drag. The abovementioned tips can help you significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on your car.


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


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Why a frugal lifestyle is powerful, painless & fun


For some of us, frugality comes naturally. But for others, frugal living conjures up images of a miserly, meager existence. No wonder so many tune out when the topic of frugality comes up!


But what if I told you living frugally doesn’t have to be painful or boring? And what if I also told you it could bring financial peace, security and even freedom? It’s true. A frugal lifestyle can provide all this and more.


In this article, I’ll share the whys and hows of frugal living. Then, I’ll get you inspired and motivated by sharing my 53 favorite frugal living tips. Ready to start saving? Let’s go!


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As someone who’s always been frugal, I can vouch for the benefits of living a frugal life. There are so many! For those who need a little more convincing, here are my top reasons to embrace frugality.




Frugality is the simplest, quickest way to improve your finances. When compared with increasing your income, living frugally is far easier. You don’t need special training, knowledge, or tools to save money. Simply pick a tip and get started today!


I think of frugality and saving as low-hanging fruit. Take those easy wins and use them to propel your finances forward.




Underneath the simplicity of frugal living is its incredible power. With a few frugal choices, you could save thousands of dollars every year. Those thousands of dollars could become tens or even hundreds of thousands when saved and invested over time.


Imagine the options and freedom that kind of money could bring to your life. Frugality can help you get there.


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Being frugal can play a huge role in helping you reach financial freedom. How? It increases the gap between your income and expenses. This gap is your savings. When invested wisely, your savings are what will get you to financial freedom.


While a decent income also plays a part, you won’t get far if you spend it all. Frugality is the other half of the financial freedom equation. Embracing it can help you reach your goals sooner.


Some people think frugality is difficult and takes the fun out of life. They’re just doing it wrong! The truth is that living a frugal life can be completely painless.


The key is to focus on your values. Cut back hard on things you don’t value. Then, enjoy spending on things you do. That’s the secret to frugality without deprivation.


Maybe I’m a money geek, but I find frugality and saving to be incredibly rewarding. Seriously though— how can you not feel good about slashing an expense in half or cutting a no-longer-needed expense?


Frugal changes like these are undeniably rewarding both emotionally and financially. If you’re having a hard time embracing frugal living, try focusing on the rewards. That may be what you need to get started.


I honestly find frugal living to be lots of fun. That’s because it’s not all about cutting back and saving money. In fact, much of it is about getting creative and learning new skills and ideas.


Also, it often requires connecting with and learning from others. This, too, can bring more fun and enjoyment into your life. All of this just makes frugality even more rewarding!


So, now you know the whys of frugal living. It’s time to learn how you can start embracing this way of life. It isn’t hard, especially if you break it into manageable steps.


That’s what I’ve done for you in this section. Have a read and get ready to start your frugal living journey.


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Get started by learning about the many ways to save money through frugality. To give you some ideas, I’ve listed my 53 best frugal tips in the next section. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of websites, podcasts and books on the topic.





Try to be thoughtful when choosing your initial money-saving tasks. Don’t start with overly difficult or drawn-out ones. This could sap you of motivation and derail the whole process. Instead, select tasks that are relatively easy to accomplish and give you a boost.


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When considering frugal ideas, always keep your values in mind. As mentioned, this is the best way to prevent feelings of deprivation. You’ll also gain a greater sense of satisfaction when your frugal decisions are true to your values. In turn, this will motivate you to keep going.


Once you tick off some of the easy tasks, it’s time to take on some of the harder ones. They may require more time and effort to complete, but they’ll usually make up for it with bigger savings. Make the leap and go for it — it’ll be worth it!



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Keep a running tally of the money you’ve saved. (It might be fun to display your progress using a coloring sheet or wall chart.) This will increase your motivation to continue working through your money-saving tasks.



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Start making plans to put your savings to work (or enjoy a portion of it)! This can also help to keep your motivation high and feed the virtuous cycle of frugality.


Finally, it’s time to put your newly-gained savings to work. You could pay off debt, deposit it in a high-interest savings account or invest it. As you watch your net worth increase, you’ll further fuel your desire to find even more ways to save money.



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OK, now we’ve got the whys and the hows of frugal living covered. Are you pumped up and ready to start saving? In no particular order, here are my 53 favorite frugal living tips to help you save money and spend less. (And maybe even reach FIRE (financial independence, retire early!)


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Revisit your recurring expenses to see if you can reduce, cut or optimize them. For example, do you still read that magazine? Could you get away with less mobile data? Revisit your expenses annually (at minimum) plus anytime your needs or life situation changes.





Every year or so, shop around and get two to three new quotes on your recurring expenses. Switching to a competitor or taking advantage of promotions could save you hundreds.


Instead of leaving for a competitor, try negotiating with your biller. Call and ask to speak to the retention department. Mention how long you’ve been a customer, then negotiate for a discount or get them to meet (or beat) a competitor’s rate.




Some billers offer a discount to customers who pay their bill once a year or all upfront versus monthly. Insurance, online services and some medical services often offer this payment option.


SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.




Maximize your spending by paying with a rewards credit card. Even better, use a card that offers higher-earning categories (for example, groceries, gas, restaurants).


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Often, smaller businesses will offer a discount if you pay in cash or with your debit card. (This tip goes against my previous tip. But in some cases, the savings are greater than any credit card rewards you might earn.)



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Many billers and banks offer refer-a-friend programs where you and/or your referred friend receive a bonus. Sometimes, the referral bonuses can be quite lucrative, so always check to see if your biller or bank offers them!



Resist the alluring sales pitches to buy extended warranties. They’re rarely worth it. Since you’re now a frugality expert, you should be saving enough to cover any issues that arise.


This is an easy way to potentially save hundreds on your insurance. Raise your deductibles as high as you can afford. Your coverage will remain the same, but your policy premiums won’t — they’ll be much cheaper!



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Thoroughly read the details of your insurance policies. Are you paying for coverage you don’t need (for example, jewelry and fine collectibles on your home insurance; rental car coverage on your car insurance)? Remove unnecessary coverage and enjoy the savings!


Most insurance companies offer senior, group, corporate, alumni or profession-specific discounts. These discounts are sometimes not publicly shared, so you may need to ask to access them.



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When purchasing insurance or applying for a mortgage, you’ll often do better by working with a broker. Brokers can access quotes from multiple companies. That means they can often find you a better rate than you’d be able to find yourself.



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So many banks now offer fee-free accounts. There’s no longer any reason to use accounts with fees or minimum balance requirements. You can also do even better than that! Try to find a no-fee account that pays you high interest and functions as a checking account.





Keep in mind that fee-free bank or investment accounts may still have hidden charges. You could incur them if you’re not aware. Be sure to understand any potential fees and how to avoid them.


Even the best of us make mistakes! Call your bank or brokerage to plead your case if you slip up and are charged an account or transaction fee. Often, they’ll offer a one-time fee waiver. It’ll cost you a mild scolding and a promise not to do it again, but it’s worth it!


Consider investing your money in index funds or ETFs when you’re ready to put your savings to work. They’re effective, easy to use and the fees are ultra-low. (Tip: I highly recommend The Stock Series by JL Collins to learn more about this style of investing.)





Want to live in your house for free (or close to it)? Try house hacking! Some ideas include: renting out your basement, taking in roommates, or Airbnbing your guest bedrooms. You may also want to consider my family’s house hack of choice: hosting international homestay students.


Save big on transportation costs by living in an area that’s walkable and/or bikeable. By avoiding the need for a car, you’ll save money, get healthier and help the environment! (Tip: Visit to find walk, transit and bike scores for most cities in the world.)



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Plan your meals one to two weeks at a time, basing your meals on what’s on sale (see the next tip below). This frugal living skill not only saves you money but time and stress as well. (No more coming home and wondering what’s for dinner!)


One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to check flyers and shop sales. Doing so could easily save you thousands every year.


(Tip: Use flyer apps like Flipp and Reebee to quickly and conveniently find the best deals in your area.)


This is one of my favorite frugal hacks! Look for services like Flashfood or Imperfect Foods. They sell close-to-expiry, ugly or overstocked food at heavily discounted prices. We use Flashfood regularly, and it saves us 50% or more on quality, still-tasty groceries.





Make the best of sales by stocking up and buying in bulk, then store the excess in your freezer for future use. By doing this, you won’t need to buy groceries at regular prices or wait for sales. You can simply ‘shop’ from your freezer!


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Combat food waste and boredom by getting creative and reimagining your leftovers. For example, turn a roast chicken into chicken noodle soup, chicken salad sandwiches, or fried rice. (Tip: Look online to find recipes for your leftovers. Often, you’ll discover new dishes that may be even yummier than the original dish!)



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If you notice your food’s spoiling sooner than expected, try this simple fix: Clean your fridge. You’ll likely find this fixes the problem. You will save your food from an untimely early demise, and you’ll save money!



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Instead of keeping your cooktop on the entire time, try this energy-efficient technique:

  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Drop in the pasta.
  3. Stir the pasta to prevent clumping.
  4. Bring the water back to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  5. Put the lid on the pot.
  6. Let the pasta soak for 10 minutes.
  7. Try it for doneness.
  8. If it’s not done, try it every 2–3 minutes until fully cooked.

Note: I learned this cooking technique from “The Complete Tightwad Gazette.” It’s the bible of frugal living!




Did you know that most dishes don’t require a preheated oven to start cooking? Save energy and time by putting your dish into the oven when it’s still cold.


During preheating, your food will slowly come up to the right temperature. This, in turn, reduces the overall cooking time and energy use.



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If a smaller appliance will get the job done, use that instead of a larger one. For example, use the toaster oven instead of the wall oven, the Instant Pot instead of a pot on the stove, the hand mixer instead of the stand mixer. This saves you energy and, in turn, money!


If you enjoy eating out, you could save big by avoiding the dinnertime timeslot. Many restaurants offer happy hour specials or the same meals at a discount for lunch. As a bonus, you’ll also avoid dinnertime crowds!





My family can usually fill up on three restaurant dishes between the four of us. A typical restaurant dish costs $20 or more (plus tax and tip). Sharing dishes can add up to significant savings and helps to avoid overeating!


If you can’t finish your meal, ask to have your leftovers wrapped to take home. Don’t forget to also pack uneaten dipping sauces, side dishes and bread. They’ll get tossed anyway, so why waste delicious food that you spent your hard-earned money on?


Don’t be shy about finding and using coupons and group deals when eating out. They’re a fun and frugal way to try new restaurants (and you could discover a new favorite spot). But don’t forget: being frugal is the goal. Being cheap is not—so make sure you tip on the undiscounted amount!



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Drinks (alcoholic or not) are often the most marked-up items on restaurant menus. Desserts have a lower markup but are nonetheless costly for what you get. By enjoying your drinks and dessert at home, you’ll not only save on the menu price but also taxes and tips.


This may seem weird or gross to some, but it could become the norm if discussed more often! Unless you live in a hot, humid climate, you could very likely shower every other day (or less) without issue. Your skin, wallet and the planet will thank you for it!



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Not only can you wash your body less often, but the same goes for your laundry! Clothing, towels and bedding do not need to be washed after every use. If the item still smells and looks clean, keep wearing or using it until it truly needs a wash. It’s a time, energy and money-saving win-win all around!





Save money, energy and wear and tear on your laundry by hang drying and avoiding the dryer. I realize it can be a pain to hang up many small items. So, reserve your dryer for socks and other tiny items. (Don’t forget to throw your hang-dried towels in the load — see the next tip!)



Ramon Portelli


To soften your ‘crunchy’ hang-dried towels, pop them in the dryer with your damp laundry. The moisture from the wet laundry will soften the towels. And the towels and dryer balls will speed up drying time and fluff up the rest of your laundry. (It really works!)



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Did you know that ‘free’ or discounted cell phones from cellular providers are financed via your phone plan? It’s rarely a good deal, so opt instead to buy your phone elsewhere (preferably used), then BYOD to your carrier. You could easily save hundreds this way.





So many of us have fallen into the ‘normal’ routine of upgrading our devices every two to three years. It’s time to stop the madness! For the sake of your wallet (and our planet), resist this cultural norm and hang onto your devices for as long as you can. Four to five years is a more reasonable lifespan for phones (and five or more years for tablets).



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Always shop the used market first! Even like-new items sell for a fraction of their original purchase price. Buying used does require patience and effort, but it usually pays off. This is especially true when you’re done with the item and resell it for the same price or more! It’s essentially like renting items for free (or close to it).


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If you do a lot of shopping at Amazon, you’ll love Camel Camel Camel. It’s a website that helps you monitor Amazon for price drops on items you’re interested in. When an item you’re watching drops in price, Camel Camel Camel will send you an alert. (Tip: Prices can change quickly on Amazon, so jump on it when you get an alert!)


Sign up for rebate sites like Rakuten, Mr. Rebates, and Great Canadian Rebates. These sites allow you to earn cash back on your online purchases. Watch for bonus events when you can earn 2x, 4x or even 10x the normal rebate on your purchases! (Tip: Check multiple rebate sites before making purchases. Often, the cashback amount is significantly higher on one site.)



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Discounted gift cards are a great way to save even more at your favorite stores! (You can purchase them in both physical and electronic formats.) Shop for them at websites such as Raise, CardCash and Cardswap. Typically, you’ll get bigger discounts on gift cards in larger denominations and for less-popular stores.





For maximum savings, stack every money-saving shopping strategy that’s available to you. Here’s how:

  1. Pay for your discounted gift cards with a rewards credit card.
  2. Use a rebate site to earn cash back on your purchase.
  3. Use a discounted gift card to pay for the purchase.


Deposit Photos


Train yourself to ignore regular-priced items. Instead, head to the sale/clearance section of your favorite store or website. You’ll typically save 25% to 50% on these items, but the discounts can be even higher. (This blows the typical 5% to 10% off offers on regular-priced merchandise out of the water!)


These are getting harder to find, but it’s always worth a try. Search online for promo, discount, or coupon codes for the stores you shop at. Typically, these coupons will get you free shipping or 10% off your purchase. (Tip: If you’re also using a rebate site, check the terms and conditions. Sometimes, using a coupon will void the cashback offer from your rebate site.)


One of the best ways to save a lot of money is to DIY everything that you can. Here are some ideas to get you started: cooking, baking, home, car maintenance and repair, renovations, haircuts, pet grooming, vegetable growing. The possibilities are endless! (Tip: YouTube is one of the best, free ways to learn how to DIY just about anything.)


Mending and repairing things is, sadly, becoming a relic of the past. This is terrible for our wallets and the environment. Thankfully, the right to repair movement is gaining steam. Fight back against disposable culture. Turn mending and repairing into a normal part of your frugal living routine!





Maintaining your stuff goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Take care of your belongings and regularly maintain them. It will save you money and prevent the need to mend or repair them in the first place. (Tip: Set recurring reminders on your phone so you don’t forget to take care of routine maintenance tasks.)





Travel can be very costly. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save on vacations and trips. Traveling as a group is one of them. Group travel can net you valuable discounts through bulk purchases and shared accommodations and transportation.





This is my family’s favorite form of travel accommodation! Airbnbs are typically more affordable than hotels. Also, there’s usually a kitchen to cook or reheat meals (which saves money on eating out). We also love that Airbnbs are actual homes. This gives us a more authentic travel experience.


Slow travel is one of the best ways to make travel more affordable. How? When you slow travel, you can spread out the cost of transportation (e.g., flights, trains, etc.) across many more days. This brings your per-day cost way down. Slow travel also gives you time and flexibility to select slower, more affordable modes of transport.


Travel hacking is the process of earning credit card points to pay for your travel expenses. You could end up paying little or nothing for flights, hotels and other expenses. It’s a fantastic way to turn your regular spending into free or discounted travel!





This final tip will help you go beyond the tips in this post. Anytime you’re faced with a spending decision, get creative. Ask yourself how you might be able to do it more frugally. Over time, you’ll get better and better at it. (It’s like exercising a muscle, so practice often for best results!)


I hope this post inspired you to embrace frugal living. When you live frugally, you’ll save money and time and lighten your footprint on the Earth. What’s not to love? Take action now by picking one (or a few) tips from this article and get started!


When you’re ready to learn even more ways to save money, visit my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series. Through the interviews, my interviewees and I share our actual expenses along with a plethora of frugal tips from all over the world!



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