16 Things Frugal People Don’t Waste Their Money On

Rebecca Holcomb

Italian Gelato

Living frugally isn't something that comes naturally to everyone. For impulse spenders, cutting out unnecessary spending is a daily struggle. However, if you want to live a more frugal lifestyle or trim the fat from your budget, we can help. 

Outside of choosing to live as frugally as possible, the frugal lifestyle does have some common threads for people who adhere to its practices. Sometimes, it is as simple as cutting out items you don't budget for. However, if you need help figuring out where to start or need a push in the right direction, we've curated the most common items frugal people won't spend money on to get you started. 

1. Bottled Water

Bottled Water
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Bottled water is a manageable expense to cut from your monthly budget. As of 2015, Americans spend an average of $100 annually on this easily accessible choice. Instead, purchase a well-made double-insulated tumbler or thermos. This frugal buy will allow you to enjoy your favorite cold beverages without the expense of buying them already bottled. 

This purchase is also an excellent option for ecologically conscious people looking to reduce their carbon or waste footprint. For minimalists, cutting down on waste is essential, and it can save them hundreds of dollars over a lifetime. 

2. Disposable Paper Towels

paper towels
Credit: Depositphotos

Disposable paper towels are great if you buy them yearly to host Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the summer family reunion. However, as a whole, they are a huge money pit, costing Americans $5.7 billion a year. The nature of paper towels is to have the convenience of throwing them away and easy access to cleaning up spills or other messes. 

If you're looking to live frugally, you'll need to toss these back on the shelf. The continual need to purchase roll after roll of these disposable towels will kill your ability to save and, over a lifetime, can cost hundreds of hard-earned dollars. 

3. Dishwashing Soap

credit: depositphotos

One rule frugal people tend to follow is a refusal to buy anything they can readily make themselves. For instance, a mixture of equal parts baking soda and borax will work for each dishwasher load you need to clean.

If you prefer to do your dishes by hand, you can make your soap using vinegar, water, and castile soap. Castile is a vegetable-based soap that is dye, chemical, and animal product-free. This option is especially nice for people who follow a vegan lifestyle. As of 2022, making your soap can save you more than $85 a year

4. Pre-Packaged Snacks

Processed Snacks
Credit: PBT/Depositphotos

We all love to snack; having our favorites ready is a time-saver. However, it's an expense that frugal people don't pay for. Instead, they take time from their schedule to create snacks at home. 

With an average annual expense of $479.44 as of 2019, Americans can save a truckload of cash by cutting back on ready-to-go treats and salty snacks. By 2026, the snack food industry is projecting $32.6 billion in revenue, meaning plenty of Americans are already contributing to this growing food sector. 

5. Ready-Made Pizza Dough

Pizza dough
Credit: Depositphotos

According to a 2020 poll, 85.61% of Americans regularly use ready-made pizza crust to create their pizzas at home. Thin crust is the most popular crust style for frozen pizza eaters, and pepperoni is easily the most favored topping. 

If you currently purchase one ready-made crust every week at $3.59, you could save yourself $186.68 a year by making your own at home with some flour, active yeast, a sprinkle of sugar, oil, and salt. 

6. Pre-Packaged Vegetables

packaged meals
Credit: jacksonstockphotography/Depositphotos

If you want to reduce food expenditures from your budget, start with pre-packaged fruits and vegetables. According to Mashed, you can save three times the money by purchasing fresh vegetables and fruit to cut up yourself, over buying the convenience of the already-cut frozen variety. 

In an economic market where food prices have skyrocketed since 2021, this food processing and consumption sector can save you hundreds of dollars if you're willing to do the work yourself. 

7. Disposable Plastic Bags

plastic bags
credit: depositphotos

Experts expect 322.15 million Americans will use single-use plastic garbage bags and trash can liners in 2024. The metric tonnage of plastic waste contributed to this sector is 140 million.

Buy a few solid reusable grocery bags, and when you put your groceries away, make sure to put these bags back in your car for future grocery or store stops. Not only does this cut out this unnecessary expense, but it also helps ensure less plastic ends up in landfills. 

8. Dryer Sheets

Dryer Sheets
Credit: Bellanoche/Depositphotos

While income levels certainly impact Americans' spending on laundry supplies, the average is still a surprising $170. Dryer sheets are a large chunk of that total. With an average price of around $12, you'll go through these little fragrance bundles like water down a drain. 

If you use 80 sheets a month, you will spend around $75 a year on these little sheets that help with static cling and the “fresh from the dryer” smell of your clothes. If you want to save money on finishing your laundry, spend your money on materials and string a clothesline up in your yard. Hanging your clothes instead of using the dryer will help as it'll also lower your electric charges. 

9. Specialty Ice Cream

ice cream
credit: depositphotos

Americans like ice cream just like the like pizza. In 2022, they spent an average of $74.79 annually per consumer unit on ice cream, and specialty flavors and products only added to that expense. If ice cream is something you truly enjoy, try only buying it when it's on sale for a buy one, get one offer, and pay attention to the portion size. 

By committing to only purchasing this sweet treat when it's on sale and portioning it correctly, you can save some green for more important purchases. 

10. Hand Soap

Washing hands
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In 2022, Americans spent an average of $85.37 per customer unit on hand soap products. While the price per unit is down from its peak in 2018, rising inflation caused the price to tick back up from its 2022 levels as consumers continued to purchase pre-packaged soap products. 

If you still love hand soaps but want to keep your costs low, purchase essential oils, castile soap, and a bit of water. Lye is also a viable agent for making homemade soap if castile soap isn't available where you live. 

11. Store-Bought Candles

Woman buying scented candle
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While 2022 saw a slight dip in the amount Americans spent on candles and candle products, it still registered a staggering $4.5 billion. A recent poll suggests that consumers will pay $500 or more for fragrances in 2024, a part of which belongs to the candle market

Frugal individuals often use paraffin or beeswax with essential oils to create their own unique-smelling candles. This not only allows them to create candles they know they'll enjoy but also greatly cuts down on the expense of paying for the store-bought variety. 

12. Laundry Detergent

Laundry Detergent
credit: depositphotos

Laundry is a chore that never stops. It's a kissing cousin to doing dishes, and both chores can feel like the seventh circle of the Underworld. However, the amount of money that goes into doing laundry is surprising. Between equipment and general laundry supplies, Americans average $1500 on laundry services every year

This expense means that, on average, Americans spend between $180 and $600 on laundry detergent over the same period. Imagine pocketing most of that money and making your own detergent with a little bit of grated bar soap, borax, and the occasional scent booster.

13. Packaged Soup

Canned soup
credit: depositphotos

As of 2024, Americans purchased 1.18 billion units of condensed soup. In 2023, the average price of a can of Campbell's soup was the highest in its history, at $2.39. At this price, the canned soup industry is raking in revenue of $2.82 billion. 

Creating your own flavorful soups at home is easier and much more cost-effective. It will also reduce the high sodium content of most condensed soups and allow you to add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. For instance, my husband doesn't like chunky vegetables, so I cut them small and just add a ton of them. 

14. Trash Bags

trash bags
credit: depositphotos

The trash bag market in the US is expected to reach $2.87 billion in 2024 and continue to grow into 2029. Instead, frugally-minded people will repurpose old grocery bags or use biodegradable trash can liners to help reduce waste that ends up in landfills. 

Compostable trash bags will certainly reduce waste that goes to the landfill. However, they aren't less expensive than their plastic counterparts. If you want to be frugally cost-effective, reusing grocery bags would be more financially feasible. If helping the environment is more important than the added cost, compostable bags would be worth the expense. 

15. Artisanal Cheese

credit: depositphotos

For some, artisanal cheese can be a religious experience. However, for people looking to live a frugal lifestyle, it is an item they won't buy. Instead, they use cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, and gouda to fill their flavor pallets. Considering Americans consumed 16.1 pounds of cheese per capita in 2021, you can see how much we love cheese. 

Thankfully, these cheeses are competitively priced and don't skimp on flavor or texture. If cheese is something you can't live without, pick up some of these creamy cheese offerings where you can afford to be choosy about the brand. Eventually, you'll come across a brand that creates the flavors that satisfy you, and you'll feel like you're getting artisanal cheese at a discount. 

16. Bottled Salad Dressing

Woman having salad
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In 2020, a Statista study showed that in any given month in the US, 75.4 million Americans used one bottle or jar of bottled salad dressing. However, the interesting statistic is that 38.62 Americans consumed four bottles or jars of dressing

While giving up your favorite Caesar or ranch dressing might be challenging, finding ways to create your own salad topping at home using olive oil, herbs, and a hint of vinegar will give you a fresh and healthier option than the store-bought variety. This  is especially true as most store-bought brands add preservatives and sugar to their dressings. 

16 Items Boomers Buy When They Retire That Are Completely Useless

Retiree Buys
Credit: Miljan /Depositphotos

Until you get there, retirement can feel like the great unknown. You have a plan but still don’t know precisely what challenges and adventures lie in wait. Fortunately, you have your own metaphorical Edmund Hillarys and Chris Columbuses who have forged the path through retirement before you. Retirement success stories are proof that gliding smoothly on the raft of retirement savings is possible, but not if you make foolish purchases like these.

16 Items Boomers Buy When They Retire That Are Completely Useless

16 Frugal Habits That Have Made Retirement Even Better

retire budget
Credit: Depositphotos

Ah, retirement. Those twenty-five or thirty years after you hit the age to fully withdraw Social Security when you can sit back, relax, and enjoy life's splendor. But it can also be a time of extreme anxiety, heightened stress, and financial difficulty.

16 Frugal Habits That Have Made Retirement Even Better

Leave a Comment