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Family Budget: The Ultimate List to Cutting Down Household Expenses

We all want to cut back on how much we’re spending, but rarely do we ever look at every single way that we can. We like to take the easy way out instead of really working on ways to save money around the house. I’ll admit it. I’m guilty of it too. I like easy ways to save money, but I have also come to recognize that sometimes it takes more than easy to get the job done. There is a very fine line between a thrifty person who really just wants to save once in a while and a truly frugal person who will do what it takes to save a buck and it is incredibly important for you to know which you are. It’s so important that when I wrote the Six Dollar Family book, it is one of the very first things I address. Why is it important? You won’t know how far you are willing to go to save without knowing whether you are thrifty or frugal.

Need to cut your household expenses? If so, you NEED this guide! Cut your expenses in half, re-think your family budget, earn more money and more!

I am one of those people that I don’t do things half-heartedly. I either do it with everything that I have or I don’t do it at all. That may be why I’ve grown this blog to become as successful as it is in just over a year. I give my whole heart to what I’m doing and honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I take the same view with my money as well. Sure, I get into trouble sometimes due to an unexpected expense or life event, but that happens to us all. I’m not a millionaire yet so I expect that to happen and try to plan accordingly. Sometimes I plan successfully, others not so much. In other words? I’m just like you and I have the exact same financial struggles that you do. When you’re working to cut your household expenses, I very likely am too. When you’re working to adjust your family budget, I likely am too. When you’re working to boost your savings account, I am too. When you’re planning for retirement, I am as well.

Family Budget: The Ultimate List to Cutting Down Household Expenses

So how does all of that fit in with this post? How does it fit in with the an ultimate guide to help you cut your household expenses? Easy. The money saving tips below are tried and true and not just by me. They have been used for years by people all around the world. Some people will love the entire list and put the ideas into practice (if they’re not already). For others, the savings of one or two items won’t be enough. For another group, some of the ideas will be across their line and they would never consider doing certain things to save. That’s okay. You do you and what is best for your family.

Just as a heads up? This post started out as 10 ways to save money. What it ended up being was incredibly long and jam packed full of ways to cut your household expenses. So for the sake of not killing me? I broke it up into two pages. When you get finished reading this one? You can click the little button at the bottom of the post to go to the next page.

Cut back on what you’re using – 

It might seem like common sense, but one of the ways to cut down on household expenses is to simply cut back on what you’re using. Spend  some time working to get your family to a point where you’re using less of everything. By doing so, you will eventually cut your expenses quite a bit with what will turn out to be very little work.

Make your own household items – 

For some, making the choice to stop buying and start making as much as possible doesn’t even require a second thought, but for others, it may feel as if they’re going back in time 100 years.  No matter which view you take, making things homemade instead of buying them is a fantastic way to cut household expenses. In 2015, we made the decision to make as much as possible and now, I wouldn’t go back. We now make over 60 items and are still working on adding to our list of things to stop buying and make homemade.

Pay for what you can with gift cards –

It might seem impossible, but paying for things like groceries with gift cards is a fantastic way to save money. To get the gift cards, you can do what I do with to add $225/mo to my income every month quite easily. If that isn’t your thing, both and are both great options for picking up discount gift cards. Ebay can also be great for buying them cheaper than face value and if you’re super savvy? Your local grocery store can help you too!

Go Paperless – 

Really want to save money around the house? Get rid of the paper and go cloth! You can go cloth in every room of your house if you’re really looking to cut household expenses. In the kitchen, you can use unpaper towels. In the nursery, cloth diapers might be a good option. Women can even make the choice to go cloth for their needs with cloth feminine pads (I did and have never looked back!) and yes, some people even go cloth for other bathroom uses (That’s past my personal frugal line). It seems a bit “much” to some, but if you’re really looking to cut expenses, it can be a big help.

Stay on budget – 

It might sound cliche’ to tell you that you need to have a budget, but the truth is that to cut your household expenses, you absolutely do need a family budget that works for your family and you need to stick to it. When you’re off budget (or when you don’t have one at all), you spend so much more money than you intend to. Why? Because there is no plan for your money to follow.

Earn cash back (or rewards) when you shop –

No matter how frugal you are, there will come a time when you need to purchase something. If that is the case and you can’t avoid purchasing, why not get paid cash back or rewards to do so? For online purchases, I shop online through Ebates. Companies will pay Ebates a portion of your purchase and Ebates in turn pays some of that back to you. (Plus, free $10 gift card for new members!). If Sears and Kmart are on your frequently shopped lists, Shop Your Way Rewards might be a good option. For in-store purchases like food,  Ibotta and Checkout 51 are fantastic! Both offer cash back on regular grocery purchases including fresh produce and milk!

Shop the Dollar Stores – 

Dollar stores used to be filled with cheap items that were a waste of money, but these days, they’re filled with the exact same items you’ll find at big box stores. To help cut your expenses and keep your spending low, shop at the dollar stores when you can. Shopping at these types of stores can be a learning experience though. There are items you should not buy at the dollar stores because they aren’t a good deal, so you’ll have a learning curve when you first start. Once you learn though, you can save quite a bit of money.

Don’t skimp on quality – 

I’m all for being cheap, but the fact is that buying certain items cheap will only cost you more in the long run. For example, trash bags are one of those things that I refuse to buy from the Dollar Store. They rip and leak too easily and we end up going through twice as many as we normally would. Instead, I go for quality over quantity and I buy Hefty trash bags that actually hold the trash and don’t leak. I might pay more per box, but I save in the long run because I’m not going through twice as many bags.

Go without –

Let’s all be honest with each other. We as Americans are an extremely spoiled society. There are quite a few products and services that we “need” to have in our homes when in reality, our needs are actually few. If you really want (or need) to cut your household expenses, going without is a great way to do it. Obviously I don’t mean things like food or housing, but cable, internet or that new iPhone can all be picked up later on when you’ve built your emergency savings and have a higher net worth.

Ditch the car – 

Although easier said than done, a major household expense is your car so if you can ditch it? You’ll save a considerable amount of money. If you live in a larger city or the places you visit are nearby, consider buying a bike and using it instead of the car. Uber and Lyft are also good options for traveling cheap. If you can’t get rid of the car altogether, consider downsizing to one family car instead of two. Sure, two cars is nice, but it absolutely is not a necessity and if you’re really wanting to cut your household expenses? You’ll make due with just one.

Stop Using the Washer –

I know, “say whhhhhaaaattt?” but hear me out. This tip for cutting your household expenses is not for the faint of heart. It really is for those who are determined to spend as absolutely little as possible. Honestly, this one is way more work than I have time or the energy to do. With that said though, your washer and dryer are the source of major cost for a family even beyond the initial cost of buying them. In fact, the dryer is the single most expensive household appliance that you own. If you are one who refuses to spend anymore money than you have to, you can do your laundry without a washer and dryer. Picking up a Wonder Wash means that you’ll take a lot longer to do your laundry, but you’ll basically do it for nothing more than the cost of your detergent once you purchase the “machine.” To dry, use a clothes drying rack and Bob’s your uncle at that point. If you don’t want to buy a Wonder Wash, you can fashion one at home with a 5 gallon bucket and lid and new (please use a new) toilet plunger.

Line Dry Your Clothes –

Again, your dryer is the most expensive appliance that you own so even if you don’t want to take the step of kicking both of them to the curb, using your dryer less will result in significant savings. Ideally, a clothesline is best, but if you don’t have room for one, a clothes drying rack will work just as well. If all else fails though, hangers on the shower curtain rod works in a pinch. Just be sure that they are actually hanging in the tub or shower since they will drip quite a bit as they dry.

Buy Your Meat in Bulk –

When you go to the store, do you pick up one pound of ground beef or ten? For me? I pick up ten and sometimes more. Why? Because to really save money on meat, you need to purchase in bulk. Bulk prices are usually quite lower than single unit prices. Watching the sale ads, buying from companies like Zaycon Foods, buying meat combo packs and using your freezer the way it was meant to be used is almost always a sure-fire way to lower your grocery bill. When your grocery bill is lowered? Your household expenses are as well.

Buy used more often –

There are a lot of misconceptions about buying used and if you’re believing those misconceptions? They are costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars extra each year. You can even purchase used items off of big box stores like these days. In fact, there are certain items that as a frugal person I refuse to buy new. The vast majority of used items being sold are in good condition with plenty of uses left in them. Checking your local groups and apps, learning a few thrift store shopping tips, and doing what you can to become a yard sale pro will always have you saving money before you spend it. When you buy used to help cut your household expenses, you’ll want to learn how to haggle for the best deal and you’ll want to make sure you stay away from items you should never buy used. Without knowing how to haggle, you’ll end up paying more and if you buy an item that shouldn’t be bought new, you could be putting you or your family in danger.




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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family . By the age of 30, she had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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