30 “Must
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30 “Must

Oct 14, 2023

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A lot of people are feeling the pinch right now—making ends meet has become harder for some families over the past couple of years. However, despite the financial struggles, people’s ingenuity and creativity have helped them push back against soaring costs.

Redditor u/Btb7861 turned to the popular r/Frugal online community to hear about their “must-have items” that end up saving them lots of money in the long run. From library cards and DIY tools to handy kitchen appliances, these internet users revealed what helps them stay within their tight budgets better. Check out their best advice as you scroll down.

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Library card. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks using the Libby app, but there are other free resources that having a library card will give you access to as well.

DeniLox , Guzel Maksutova Report

Nowhere else beats a public library for access to free entertainment!

Basic hand tools and a willingness to DIY

robbiewilso , Elena Rouame Report

Coupled with YouTube.

Honestly - smartphone. I'm old enough that I lived a good chunk of my life before they existed. I remember in the car, having a CD walkman with that tape adapter, a booklet full of CD's, a bunch of paper maps in the trunk for when I got lost, and the pain in the a*s that digital cameras were back then.My smartphone has replaced the need for so many other devices in my life, and made a lot of tasks simpler & less of a pain in the a*s than they used to be.

anachronic , Rodion Kutsaiev Report

For $45/mo my smartphone comes with unlimited data and hotspot. I use it for my tablet and smart TV, saving me many $$ since I don't need wifi/internet/cable

The more open-minded, thrifty, and willing to learn new skills you are, the better off you’ll be when the economy’s in the gutter. You can save a ton of money by knowing how to do things well yourself. And that can take many different forms.

Say, if your relatives taught you some handy DIY, plumbing, and electrical skills, then you’re miles ahead of most other people in your local area. You don’t have to call a specialist when something goes wrong at home—_you are the expert_. Similarly, if you’re even a half-decent cook, you can save a ton when buying groceries and avoiding dining out.

Simply put, you want your income to be greater than your expenses. That way, you’re able not only to survive and thrive but also to save a bit of your funds for a rainy day, an important purchase in the future, or contribute to your kids’ college funds.

Electric tea kettle so I don't have to turn on the stove. Water is ready so fast!

TurkeyTot , Tyler Nix Report

Nods wisely in British

I ‘cut the cord’ a few years ago by dropping my landline and cable. I have internet through my provider and Sling TV. Save probably $150/month. That, plus YouTube, is enough for me. For my cell phones, I did not go with a more expensive unlimited plan. I have a 6g plan and it’s enough since I use WiFi at home and at work. Plus I don’t game or watch movies on my phone so don’t use much data. Those are the most money saving tips I have.

1095966 Report

Hating Sling. Going back to Roku. It's free on a Roku TV and has more than Sling.

Crock pot! I'm working part time through nursing school and I batch cook things when I go to work and put about two servings in the freezer and eat it for 2-3 meals.

Accomplished_Egg6618 Report

Have you tried an instant pot yet? Both the insti and crok have been lifechanging for me.

Now, you have two main strategies here. You can try to increase your income. In which case, you might want to ask for a raise, start looking for a higher-paying job, or focus on a side hustle that you’re passionate about, in your spare time. At the same time, you can cut out some of the unessential things in your life so that you’ve got funds to spare for other (more important) expenses.

At times, you have to spend a bit of money to save more cash and time. That might mean purchasing new or used cooking equipment, as well as tools or appliances. Though before you shell out for all those fancy things, sit down and have an honest think about how much cash it’s likely to save you in the short term and the long term.

A more efficient, long-lasting appliance that you’ll use every single day is going to pay off very quickly. On the flip side, buying equipment for the type of frugal lifestyle you’d like to live instead of the one you’ll actually live, would be a waste of your resources. Sure, an air fryer might be budget-friendly for your neighbors, but maybe you’re just not into air frying, like, at all.

Rain barrels, Clothes line and pins, thermos for hot water, garden seeds, small sewing kit.

colamuse Report

Wanna hear a REALLY stupid law? In many places it is illegal to capture rain water!!! I guess that way the municipal water department gets to get every penny for every drop!

Reusable containers that all use the same size lid for leftovers and food storage. I have a bunch from IKEA that are oven proof glass or plastic, but they all use the same lids. I have tall and short squares of both types. its so nice to put away leftovers from taco night by just snapping lids onto all the containers. I try to use the glass ones all the time. if something has to go into the freezer it gets plastic. If it is a red sauce I freeze in plastic, then pop it out, into a glass and reheat so nothing stains. Saves so much money and carbon footprint on plastic bags.

ShadowL42 Report

This is genius , lids are the bane of my life

A bicycle

1ksassa , Adam Stefanca Report

If there is infrastructure and culture of using bicycles in your country.

Be realistic about how much you’re willing to change your life for the sake of your budget. And if you’re ever in doubt, try to focus on smaller changes at first than big, radical ones. You might not need three different streaming services, for instance, so go ahead and cancel most of them. But if you’re a genuinely passionate fan of movies and TV shows, don’t suddenly try to pretend that you can live without them for entertainment.

Similarly, if you enjoy dining out at fancy places with your friends, you can limit how often you do this. However, if it’s your way to experience gastronomic delights and keep in touch with your pals, don’t quit cold turkey. You could try cooking for your social circle at home. Or you could find other ways to experience the best parts of life without making your wallet cry. Say, going hiking or to the park, or ‘settling’ for a fun night of board games.

A small house and a fuel-efficient car. Costs much less to operate and heat/cool. Also-chest freezer and all my meal prep containers. I make all my food on the weekends and it’s ready for me all week.

Spectrachic9100 , Luke Stackpoole Report

Hmmm, a lot of people seem to enjoy freezing their chests nowadays.

Heavy curtains and fans. No AC needed, plus in winter the curtains will keep the room warm.

kavalejava Report

This needs a location, here curtains are useless. Blinders!!!

Brita filter and refillable water bottle that I don’t hate. Apparently I like straws and will drink a ton of water if the bottle doesn’t annoy me. I invested in a fridge brita pitcher years ago but ignored it for way too long. Finally found a stainless steel water bottle with stars and a straw lid and I’m going through almost a gallon a day now, instead of buying bottled water.

causticwonder Report

I recently got a Zojirushi brand water bottle/flask thing. I put cute stickers all over it. Suddenly I am a hydro homie XD I was terrible with drinking water before, but I love that water bottle SO MUCH that now I drink the correct amount of water in the day. Sometimes it’s all about investing in a system you know you’ll use.

In the meantime, rethink how you shop. You can buy plenty of items in bulk at a large discount, and then freeze them for later use. If you cooperate with your friends, family, and neighbors, you can then all save a lot of moola.

Cutting back on expensive red meat and opting for cheaper cuts or other sources of protein also works. As does buying banged-up fruits and veggies at a discount: they might not look pretty, but they’re still delicious! And if you’re ever in doubt about what to cook, try a quick stir-fry with whatever cheap, seasonal ingredients are available in your local area.

For ladies, menstrual cup/disc. It's a high learning curve but once you get comfortable it saves a lot of money and is very convenient as well

melloyello4 Report

I’ve recently switched to period panties. They’re AMAZING. Literally will never use pads again.

I order my groceries online, does that count? Prevents me from buying unnecessary junk and I can flip through the flyer and add sales and have it dropped off first thing in the morning!

brilliant-soul , Kaitlyn Baker Report

Same here, but I do pick up, so no extra charge. Not only have I eliminated impulse buys but am a lot happier due to the extra time I now have.

Motion activated light switches in corridors and utility rooms. Energy efficient and very convenient.

Why_So_Slow Report

I tried this , but somehow the cats made it their mission to play with the light, so now I have to turn on the light with my elbow while carrying laundry:)

Lots of reasonable quality kitchen items. Pots and pans, knives, utensils, dishware, etc. Nothing crazy high end, just stuff that’s built to last. I won’t have to replace any of it for 10 years and at least some of it will last a lifetime. It also all makes cooking easier, which makes me less likely to eat out all the time.

Sarah-Who-Is-Large Report

dad bought wusthof knifes and lifetime pans...they are 60+ yo and my sister is still using them...still in great shape...i bought wusthof knives and lifetime pans....i am confident that my son, who is in high school now, will be using them long after i am dead...

Sewing machine. You can make, alter, mend everything yourself.

LaFilleDuMoulinier Report

Um, don’t you need to know how to sew ?

A chest freezer!

nerdygirlfire Report

Why would you freeze your chest? 🤔

Vacuum sealer. Keeps frozen food from drying out and allows to store it for months and months without a problem. I cut my food waste by at least half when I got one of those.

Tonythecritic , Timur Weber Report

I don't think there's any nutritional value in clothes 🤔😅

Toaster oven. Don't know why I waited so long to buy!

LowTerm8795 , Charlotte May Report

Am guess this is another American top tip. In the UK everyone has a toaster, and I'm sure we must have a mountain of used, broken ones somewhere, the extent to which we use them as a nation.

Rechargable AA/AAA batteries

kajEbrA3 , John Cameron Report

As David Paterson said, they run at lower voltage (nicad, nimh). You can get lithium AA and AAA that actually produce the proper voltage (1.5v). They're expensive but worth it.

Cash-back credit cards (with no annual fee.) It’s FREE MONEY!I have several of these cards, and I use them in every store or bill that accepts it; including the monthly bills like electric/gas, insurance, phone, etc. Different cards have rewards for various types of purchases, so choose carefully.The secret is that you MUST pay off the entire balance every month, or the interest charges will cancel out any benefit. So the other secret is that I pretend I am spending cash whenever I buy anything. That is, I don’t charge anything that I won’t be able to pay for at the end of the month. If it’s a big purchase, I’ll save up until I have enough for it, then put it on the card and pay it off a few weeks later. Instant discount! I have been doing this since cash-back cards were introduced, and these days I get around $5000 back per year. Over the years, I have probably made an extra year’s salary this way. Before anyone comments, I realize this won’t work for everyone. The old adage “Know Thyself” applies here. Some people have no choice but to use credit to survive. Others know they can’t resist spending money they don’t have. If either of these describes you, just scroll on and forget you read this. (I say this with love!)Also, I have noticed lately that some businesses have started adding a surcharge for using credit. (Mostly they’re small, local businesses.) There’s usually a sign near the register, or on the check in a restaurant. So another secret is to pay attention to those signs. There are still times when cash is king. Oh yeah… it’s also sent my credit rating to the top level 😃I hope this advice will help at least a few people. Love to you all!❣️

Jrzgrrl Report

Is this an American thing. I don't really understand this one. I never buy anything I can't pay for - the "pretend I am spending cash" confused me (no I am not rich, I am on minimum wage but I truly never spend money I didn't had). Maybe it's different in Germany? Many Credit cards costs money. I pay cash or via debit card. The only way to get money through grocery shopping is buy using bonus cards/apps like payback but that's just one cent per two spent euro. Or have I overlooked something? How can I get money from spending money?

So many! Cloth napkins, rags, reusable menstrual products, safety razor, bidet, knit dishcloths, clothes drying rack, and dark curtains in the summertime to name a few.

SeashellBeeshell , Brian Patrick Tagalog Report

A big No to re-usable menstrual products they are hardly convenient to use whilst at work or travelling

My thermos when I travel. I have lounge access at airports and I can make myself a pot of tea to take for the flight, or make myself a huge cocktail :)

AmexNomad , Anna Kumpan Report

How much does lounge access cost? I'm thinking this only saves money for airline employees.

Cold brewer. I make my own ice coffee, every day, year round.I use different ground coffees, different creamers, always mix it up. Haven't stopped for coffee in well over 2 years. Likely saved $1000s!!!

KimboSlice129 Report

I got an espresso machine for my birthday and I'm pretty sure it has saved me hundreds of dollars. Drip coffee can only take you so far with the variety of drinks you can make, so I always thought that homemade coffee wasn't really all that good.

In our house, instapot. We rely heavily on beans (usually black, pinto, or garbanzo) as a protein source, and being able to buy them dry and cook up batches easily and quickly saves us a ton of money. Canned beans might seem cheap, but the dried ones are sooo much cheaper.

freddythedinosaur1 Report

my nephew is a vegan, i bought him 1-2 pounds each of 15 different kinds of dried beans and lentils, 25 pounds of rice, 5 pounds of steel cut oats, and 15 pounds of dried fruit for under $75...it was eye-opening...even when you factor in how much vegans are gouged for prepared foods (like veganaise) and when they go out to eat...

This little octopus thingy I got at IKEA made to hang laundry to dry. It has a bunch of clothespins and can hold all kinds of socks/undies/shorts/etc. Got two of them. Generally, I don’t use my clothes dryer and hang dry 95%. Towels/bedding have to be machine dried. And things that I don’t want any wrinkles, gets put into the machine for just long enough to pull the wrinkles out, then they get put on a hanger to finish. A bonus of avoiding the dryer is your clothes last a bit longer.

DicksGloryHole Report

I was going to upvote here until I saw the reddit user's username. Ewwww...

Mattress warmer - not to be confused with electric blanket. Using the mattress warmer lets us lower the thermostat in winter. Downside/upside: pet magnet

LowTerm8795 , Stephen Andrews Report

I just want the pet magnet!

Learn how to make Kimchee. Overpriced to the extreme in the stores, it's just bit of salt, sugar, some red pepper flakes, vegetables, and fermentation.The cheapest vegetables make the best kimchee as well.Maangchi has recipes on youtube. I recommend the combination radish and cabbage kimchee, as you can have flexibility in one jar. Ramen? Add some cabbage kimchee. Eating chicken? Get the radish. You can slice the radish into cubes and slices, the slices are perfect in grilled cheese sandwiches.Lose weight, save hundreds. Kimchee!

Inclusive_3Dprinting Report

Sauerkraut made with red cabbage, easy and tasty

For me, it was a vacuum sealer. Safeway often has incredible deals on meat (4 for $19.99), so I'll buy a variety-chicken, stew meat, pork chops, burgers, etc. and go home and repackage it all with the sealer. It lasts a lot longer, and no freezer burn like I have had with ziploc bags. Game changer.

NotWorriedABunch Report

there are also videos on how you can remove almost all of the air from the bags for free/without a sealer....not sure if i save money, but everything tastes so much better and has a better texture without air!

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Jonas is a Bored Panda writer who previously worked as a world news journalist elsewhere. After getting his bachelor's degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Manchester, he returned home and graduated from Vilnius University with a master's degree in Comparative Politics. Jonas enjoys writing articles ranging from serious topics like politics and social issues to more lighthearted things like art, pop culture, and nature. In his spare time, Jonas writes books and short stories and likes to draw lighthearted illustrations. A huge fan of literature, films, philosophy, and tabletop games, he also has a special place in his heart for anything related to fantasy or science fiction.

Mantas is a photo editor at Bored Panda. Also he is a student of Digital Contents, who was studying is South Korea and right now is taking a break from studies so he could get more experience and polish his craft.He likes to get carried away by his own imagination and create something interesting, mostly in a visual form via drawing in Photoshop or on paper.

It’s essential to have a smaller yacht. If you’re just taking a quick jaunt around the bay, there’s no need to waste money on all the extra servants the bigger one requires. And you don’t need to take the jet everywhere when the helicopter is perfectly sufficient for shorter trips! But the best money saving tip is to move all your production costs to the poorest country you can find, and use local strongmen to suppress any worker’s rights campaigns. Hope that helps! 💰


But none of them were to stop eating avocado toast. Now I'm confused.

Big Avocado suppressing the truth!

Cook everything at home. All food, desserts, drinks. Also stop eating meat. This will not only save money in the short term, but it will reduce your medical costs in the long term. And help fight climate change. Also, if you must have children, adopt ones who already exist and need a home.

How does adopting save money?

Pregnancy is expensive!

Second hand kids are always cheaper. The older they are the more you save.

It’s essential to have a smaller yacht. If you’re just taking a quick jaunt around the bay, there’s no need to waste money on all the extra servants the bigger one requires. And you don’t need to take the jet everywhere when the helicopter is perfectly sufficient for shorter trips! But the best money saving tip is to move all your production costs to the poorest country you can find, and use local strongmen to suppress any worker’s rights campaigns. Hope that helps! 💰


But none of them were to stop eating avocado toast. Now I'm confused.

Big Avocado suppressing the truth!

Cook everything at home. All food, desserts, drinks. Also stop eating meat. This will not only save money in the short term, but it will reduce your medical costs in the long term. And help fight climate change. Also, if you must have children, adopt ones who already exist and need a home.

How does adopting save money?

Pregnancy is expensive!

Second hand kids are always cheaper. The older they are the more you save.