Frugal Living – The New Normal

In today’s economy—with the stock market looking more like a roller coaster than a steady climb, with gas prices hovering well above where they were in recent years, and with household expenses continuing to price families out of too-tight budgets—many families are looking for good ways to save money without injuring their lifestyles. I’ve put together a handful of quick tips that will pad your wallet without cutting corners.

One great way to save on everyday activities and outings is a coupon book. offers a coupon book that is available for 150 metro markets and costs between $25 and $45. Preview the coupon booklet for your area (or an area where you will vacation) to see if the coupons are ones you will use.  You’ll not only save on eating out, but you can also save on movie theaters, theme parks, dry cleaning, and local shopping.

  • Average advertised total book savings – $17,000
  • To only redeem 25% is annual savings of $4250
  • A mere 10% redemption savings is $1700 per year

Dining out is a necessity for some families with busy schedules or long commutes, and for some it’s a luxury reserved for special occasions. If you want to try out a new restaurant, but you don’t want to pay full price, you can go to, a site that issues coupons and gift certificates for over 6,000 eateries around the country. Our family picks a spot and pays $10 for a $25 gift certificate—we save over 50% in the process!

  • Average restaurant bill for a family of four is $86
  • Family saves $43 x 52 weeks = $2236

Two absolute necessities for any family are Home Insurance and Auto Insurance. The average family can save a good deal of money with just a little homework and a short conversation with your insurance agent. For your home, you should raise your deductibles to at least 3% of the total value of the home and make sure to only insure the replacement value of the dwelling (usually 80% of the selling price of the home) because you’re insuring the home not the dirt.

  • This is an average homeowner’s savings of  $250 per year.

For auto insurance, make a phone call to ask for all the discounts that your company may offer. Some companies offer discounts that include: combining homeowners’ and auto policies with the same carrier, non-smoker discounts, good student rates, car alarm systems, storing the vehicle in a garage versus carport or street, rating the most expensive car with a stay-at-home (or for pleasure only) rating, being between the ages of 30 and 60, and discount for driver’s safety course certificate (taken to keep a ticket from appearing on the driving record.).

  • This could save the average two-car family with a youthful driver $900 per year.

One great place to save a few extra dollars that many families don’t consider is simple home updates. If you still have young children at home, you may want to wait to have your furniture recovered. By purchasing a quality slipcover for $65 instead of buying a new sofa for $850, you save $785. By placing a crocheted doily for $15 on the coffee table  to cover scratches made by a speeding Corvette (Hot Wheels size!) you save $115 over buying a new table for $130.

  • Total savings on simple in-home updates is $900

One of the most draining line-items in a family’s budget are unexpected and costly repairs. These fixes can add up over time, but they can get a lot more expensive if not quickly addressed. My guiding principle is: Repair now, save later. Broken tiles and chipped grout in the kitchen and bathrooms should be fixed immediately in order to minimize water damage to tiles and the wallboard.

  • The average repair to damage of this kind costs $350
  • Preventative maintenance is about a $30 repair for a savings of $320

Armed with these tips and more to come, you can save money on every-day expenses. It’s simple to live rich for less; it just requires a little creativity, a little know-how, and a lot of savings!


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