I've been in frugality mode most of the time since 2002, and most of what I have has been said before but here it is:
Some more general points:
* Get over the idea that what you own somehow is linked to who you are, and the fact that some people will see it that way (these people are not worth it!).
* When it comes to entertainment, focus on what is 2+ years old. There a tons of older films, older games, older books that are absolutely delightful, and you save loads because they are available used, sometimes even free, they are easy to get in rentals (at the lowest price) and in libraries etc.
- read up on taxes, insurance, utilities etc. I know the sites for the UK but not for other countries, but there usually are places to find out about options you have
- ring your current suppliers for everything from utilities to telephone to cable, and ask if there is a way to get your bill cut. There might special deals or new options since you joined. Especially worth doing with your mobile phone company even if still on a contract. I got quite a lot of savings both with O2 or Virgin just by ringing regularly. It works especially if you are calling to complain about the service quality or a billing error, but has even worked when just calling to ask.
- drive less, car pool with friends or acquaintances (or even via a service), get a scooter for short trips etc.
- look at where your money goes, and scrutinise especially anything based on a monthly or recurring fee - subscriptions, memberships, weird insurances
- buy things second hand, via the charityshop/salvation army or on ebay (never fall for buy-it-now!).
- If you know your measurements and what suits you, great clothes can be found on ebay, as well sports items. Benefit from other people's hoarding. Although a lot of basics like socks or underwear can be found cheaper in bulk in real stores.
- Reuse - you probably own a lot of things up in the attic or the garage that you dont use anymore. Buy maybe these books can be reread, this hobby revived? If not, sell or give away
- Join something like freecycle and offer what you dont need anymore, and then go there first anytime you need something. It's very hit and miss but I know people for whom it has worked very well. There are often a lot of kid or pet items, as well as furniture and appliances, but also storage items, hobby items etc.
- try buying from the manufacturers, not the brands. Nowadays almost everything is manufactured by third parties for the brands. And very often these people also sell direct or under their own name. A bit of research is necessary to figure out which are worth it and which aren't. We do this for the dog's dry food, for example (called mad dog)
- what people used in 2002 is still pretty darn good for most use. That goes for home cinema and computers and even mp3 players
- go open source or freeware. (do donate to those a little to make sure they continue to exist)
- look for commercial independent alternatives as well
- for things you only use occassionally, say a good scanner or photoshop, figure out whether there is perhaps a business centre where you can use them, or even your library or local community college
- if you have to have a particular (expensive) software, buy an older version (from legit sources), as sometimes you can still find them
- drop the things you do out of habit, like drinking soft drinks, eating chocolate bars, or stopping for a cappucino. Turn those into occasional treats.
- Learn to cook from scratch. There are tons of recipes which allow for great meals quickly made and cheap. If you're not experienced, start simple, with something forgiving like a fried rice, soup or a stew. Borrow a book called "the essential cook" from the library, or one of those "learn to cook" tv programs
- there are mountains of recipes online so no need to buy a cookbook! From rec.food.cooking to the major portals and new web2.0 social sites...
- Buy cheap meat. I read above about going vegetarian, but I dont think it is necessary. Eating meat less often *will* save money, you certainly dont need it every meal or every day. But buying a whole leg of lamb, stew meat, or a whole chicken, or ground beef, especially when they are on promotion, is a very thrifty thing. You can get about 6 meals for 2 out of 1 large chicken. We do a lot of stews, which again allow you to make many meals out of one cookery session, and which go a long way. Now I didnt start doing those because I am thrifty, but because I like that kind of slow cooking, but it also is thrifty.
- Eat "pulses" - beans, lentils etc. With or without meat. There are a lot of great dishes that can be done with lentils, for example. If you think you dont like them, give them a try again as a curry or a soup or a stew. Chick peas
- use canned fish - Some of our absolute favorite meals here start with a can of crab or tuna. Now these are not "thrifty" dishes, these are the kind of dishes we ate in a restaurant, like southwestern corn and crab soup, pasta with caramelised tuna, crab stir fry etc.
- eggs - (unless you have cholesterol ofc) buy really good eggs from a farmers market and make an omelette - great way to use many kinds of leftovers. I love omelettes , but also scrambled eggs (perhaps with chives and dried mushrooms), or poached eggs on toast. On a similar note crepes/pancakes are a bit of work but a great way to make a cheap supper feel like a feast
- go "exotic" - a lot of the traditional recipes from out there are thrifty- they were the basic foods of people who weren't very rich. Whether mexican or italian or german or swiss or vietnamese or anything, there will be some cost effective recipes that use common carbohydrates and vegetables and yet feel like a truly great meal.
I could go on, rave about pasta and potatoes and quiches and cabbage and root vegetables and pies etc etc but you get the picture.
- join the library - nowadays they have not only books but DVDs and music CDs too
- join a swapping group, whether bookmooch or bookcrossing or local groups
- join a reading group (at the library perhaps?)
- join a cine club, many places have them. Watch old films
- reduce your TV plan to the minimum or cancel it altogether
- pick up a hobby that allows you to make gifts and doesnt need expensive materials, examples: knitting, crochet, drawing, wood carving, baking, basketry, clay sculpture
- learn to sew is a good idea but sewing machines are expensive if you don't have one.
- look at your local community college or adult education for interesting course or conference series (most places have subsidised offerings to learn everything from pottery to foreign languages)
- (re)start playing cards or board games (there are also groups for that pretty much everywhere)
- look around for free film preview schemes or special meal clubs - again I know of a few within the uk but not elsewhere
- stop the gym, it is expensive
- start an exercise program at home. There is plenty you can do without any machines, or with a simple ball or weights
- take up hiking, running or cycling
- join a group for the above
- in the summer, get a season's pass at a swimming pool, they are often cheap
Now a lot of these I have always kind of done, always liked board games and hiking and libraries and cine clubs... but perhaps it gives people ideas
That's all I can think up for now,