15 simple (and perhaps weird) ways to save money

How do we manage to find money to invest in dividend paying stocks when we are a single income family? Simple, by being frugal whenever we can. We are all about living frugally and trying to be as frugal as possible. Being frugal doesn’t mean we are eating ramen noodles daily and not heating our house. Being frugal simply means that we find ways to optimize our expenses and reduce or eliminate unnecessary expenses. Here are 15 simple ways to save money.

#1 No cable, no Netflix, no TV at home

When I first moved out from home for university and started living with roommates/flatmates, buying a TV was not high on my priority list. Because one of my roommates/flatmates would always have a TV, there was never a need for me to buy one. When Mrs. T came to Canada as an exchange student, she didn’t own many things. TV was one of the things she didn’t need and didn’t purchase.

When we moved in together over 5 years ago, we didn’t see any needs to purchase a TV. We simple felt there are better things to do (like having hygge) than spending our time in front of a TV.

Because we never had a TV, we had no need for cable subscription. We also don’t have Netflix subscription. No wonder my parents called me boring. 🙂

Here in Vancouver, the basic cable subscription is about $46 per month. After tax that comes to $51.52 per month. Obviously the monthly cable subscription will cost more if we were to subscribe to a more expensive package.

For Netflix, the monthly cost is $9.99 plus tax.

Overall, by not having cable and Netflix, we save $62.71 per month.

#2 Basic cellphone plans

Like many millennials, we have cellphones instead of a landline at home. Mrs. T used a Nokia “dumb” phone for the longest time, paying the basic $25 per month rate plan. Although she recently upgraded to a smartphone, which we got for free by redeeming some rewards points, she did not get a data plan. Rather than adding the basic data plan for an extra $10 per month, Mrs. T uses the many open wifi hotspots available for data access on her phone.

I have a cellphone plan from work. Right now the plan is $55 per month. Before I got a work phone many years ago, I used to be on Telus’ basic $25 per month plan. I would have kept my phone but it was tough to say no when my company decided to pay for my phone bill.

Adding everything up, we save $35 per month before tax and $39.2 per month after tax.

#3 Fill up gas in USA

Since we live near the US-Canada border and I have a Nexus card, I have been filling up gas in the states for the last year and half. The gas price difference is roughly $0.30 per liter, after currency conversion. I typically fill up twice per month for about 55 liters per fill up.

$0.30 per liter saving * 55 liter per fill up * 2 fill up per month = $33 saving per month.

#4 Use Cloth Diapers

Before Baby T1.0 was born, Mrs. T and I decided that we would use cloth diapers after the first month (because meconium is very difficult to clean). We were given some infant Bummis pre-fold diapers at the baby shower and purchased a few more packs ourselves. We also purchased bumGenius covers, and some cloth diaper clips. Instead of purchasing a diaper sprayer, we went with a home-made one. Later when Baby T1.0 was too big for the infant pre-fold cloth diapers, we purchase 40 used baby-sized Bummis pre-fold cloth diapers off Craigslist. In total, the cost of the diapers and accessories was about $350.

Originally we didn’t use any disposable diapers at all. But we soon found it was too messy when we were traveling. When Baby T1.0 started sleeping in longer stretches (i.e 6+ hours), we found that one cloth diaper couldn’t last the whole night. To make our lives easier, we decided to use disposable diapers at night or when we’re out for an extended period of time (not easy to clean a poopy cloth diaper without the diaper sprayer).

Luckily for us, Baby T1.0 was toilet trained around 1.5 year old. Today he only uses disposable diapers for naps and at night.

Because we already have everything, we decided to use cloth diapers for Baby T2.0 as well. We only use disposable diapers for night time or when we are out for extended period of time.

We change Baby T2.0 about 7 times a day with 6 of these in cloth diaper. According to my calculation, we save roughly $0.15 per cloth diaper instead of using a disposable diaper.

$0.15 per cloth diaper saving * 6 changes per day * 30 days = $27 saving per month.

#5 Eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of yogurt & cereal

We used to eat plain yogurt with cereal on top for breakfast. About 4 years ago we discovered an alternative – healthy and delicious oatmeal. By oatmeal I am not talking about these instant oatmeal packs that you eat on camping trips. Rather, I am talking about healthy organic quick rolled oats that we purchase in 40 lbs bags and measure a precise amount each night before going to bed and soak the oats in water overnight. We typically add some frozen berries while cooking the oats. To finish off, we would sprinkle with some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp heart seeds on top. For some sweetness we typically drizzle a spoonful honey. Having oatmeal for breakfast is healthy, easy, and best of all, way cheaper than eating yogurt and cereal.


We save roughly $0.45 per person on breakfast by having oatmeal instead of yogurt & cereal.

$0.45 per person * 3 person (Me, Mrs. T, Baby T) * 30 days = $40.50 saving per month.

#6 Using manual lawn mower

When we moved from an apartment to a house a couple of years ago, one of the new tasks is mowing the lawn. Because we didn’t own a lawn mower, we had to purchase one to make sure our lawn wouldn’t go wild. Gas and electric powered lawn mowers cost at least $300. Even a used one can cost around $150. Instead, we purchased a manual lawn mower for less than $100.

Manual lawn mower doesn’t require any gas or electricity while allowing us to do some exercise when mowing the lawn – killing two birds in one stone.

How much saving do we get per month by using manual lawn mower instead a gas or electric powered one? Hard to say, probably about $5 per month in the summer time

#7 Air dry clothes

We rarely use our dryer. Instead, we dry our laundry on drying racks which we purchased at a 2nd hand store many years ago. When it’s hot and sunny, we simply move the drying racks on our deck and dry all the clothes there. During the rainy Vancouver season (i.e. non-summer time), we either dry clothes outside as our deck is covered or indoor. Given all the cloth diapers that Baby T2.0 uses and all the clothes that Baby T1.0 and T2.0 go through, I’m very glad that we air dry our clothes, or else our dryer would be running all the time!

Saving per month: $40.

#8 Buying milk in the US

We go through a gallon of milk about every two weeks. Because I go to the states to fill up gas roughly every 2 weeks, I would pick up a gallon of milk at the same time.

Milk in Canada typically cost $4.85 per gallon. A gallon of milk is $2.50 US at the gas station that I go to. Given the exchange rate of ~1.3, this means we save about $1.60 Canadian per jug of milk.

$1.60 * 2 = $3.20 saving per month.

#9 Only having one car

Suburb living usually means multiple cars for each household. We are breaking this norm by owning only 1 car. During workdays I commute to work so I take the car with me. Mrs. T gets around town by either walking or taking public transportation. This was the key reason for purchasing a brand new double stroller earlier this year. Fortunately, our house is about 10 minute walk from the closest grocery store and the town centre, making it easy for Mrs. T to get things done. On rare occasions that Mrs. T needs the car, I would take public transportation to work (significantly increases my commute time though).

The annual car insurance costs $1,800 (with 43% discount, highest possible discount rate, for being a good driver).
Gas cost estimate is $30 per month if we own a 2nd car.

This equates to $180 of saving per month.

#10 Grow our own produce

One of the reasons to move from an apartment to a house a few years ago was to have a yard so we could start our own vegetable garden. Mrs. T made a giant circle in our yard and divided the circle into different sections to plant many different things like spinach, kale, garlic, onion, strawberry, tomato, beet, carrot, plum, zucchini, pumpkin, and a variety of herbs. We also grow red currant, black currant, rhubarb, and apple in the backyard. It’s pretty neat to see how many things come out of our vegetable garden and yard. Many produce like garlic and onion can last us for almost a year so we’re almost self-sustained. Herbs are surprisingly expensive in grocery stores, so it’s nice to be able to go to the yard and get fresh herbs whenever we need some.


Saving per month? Tough to say, probably $40 per month

#11 Toilet business – if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down

No need for further explanation. 😉

Saving per month? Roughly $4.50

#12 Buy & pick seasonal fruits in large quantities and freeze them

We have made a tradition of buying and picking seasonal fruits in large quantities and freezing them. The idea is to purchase sufficient amount so they last anywhere from 6 months to a year. This reduces and sometimes eliminates the need to purchase frozen fruits during the year. For examples, we buy fruits like blueberries and peaches, we pick free fruits like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries (from our garden). We then use these frozen fruits for things like oatmeal breakfasts, smoothies, and pastries throughout the year.

It’s totally awesome to have a large chest freezer at home to accommodate all these delicious frozen fruits.

Saving per month? Roughly $20.

#13 Shop at Costco for non-perishable items

We stock up non-perishable items like toilet paper, baby wipes, zip-lock bags, tin-foils, and etc whenever they are on sale at Costco. It’s already cheaper to buy non-perishable items at Costco so things are even cheaper when they are on sale.

Saving per month? Roughly $5.

#14 Purchase 2nd hand clothes and toys

My parents volunteer at a local thrift store that donates all the proceeds to the local hospital. Through this connection, we were able to get many great quality 2nd hand items. Most of Baby T1.0 and T2.0’s clothes are 2nd hand clothes or pass-downs. Similarly, many of their toys were purchased from the 2nd hand store. Neither Mrs. T or I are big shoppers (shouldn’t come as a surprise). We don’t like shopping for clothes and non-necessity items. On the rare times that we do, we get exhausted pretty quickly when shopping for clothes. Looking at our wardrobe, many items were purchased 2nd hand as well. Many of our clothes are more than 3 years old. By not drying clothes in the dryer, we managed to keep our clothes in good condition for many years.

Really tough to say how much we save per month. Maybe $30 per month?

#15 Cut hair at home

I keep my hair pretty short so I get a haircut about once per month. Before meeting Mrs. T, I used to get my haircut at whichever cheapest barbershop I could find, usually costing about $20 per haircut including tips. When we started dating, one of the first things I asked Mrs. T to do was to cut my hair. We invested in a high quality hair trimmer and I have not visited a barbershop since.

Saving: $20 per month.

Final words

As you can see, by doing these 15 simple things, we save about $550.11 per month in the 6 months when we need to do lawn work and $545.11 for the rest of year. This adds up to $6571.32 per year! This is more than enough money for the annual $5,500 TFSA contribution room.

Saving money by being frugal is so simple. 🙂

Dear readers, do you have other frugal things you do to save money?

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48 thoughts on “15 simple (and perhaps weird) ways to save money”

  1. What a great post!

    I must say, very informative and amazing analysis, I really wonder what us the reason for that much cost difference of gas and milk in States and Canada, I must follow these awesome straggles to save money like you.

    I spend most of my money for unnecessary things like gadgets and electronics; I should definitely try to get over this habit of buying these.

    Keep writing more articles like this,

    Have a good day!

  2. Some of these points are really weird. I am not sure, if anyone can actually follow all these tips. If one succeeds, he or she may not feel the need to money at any point of time. Anyways, money saved is money earned. 🙂

  3. We use some of them ourselves. No need for #11 because we live in a condo where the water bill is not individualized, so the savings from that would be minimal.
    We are Costco fans and fill up gas there as well. I can’t remember the last time we filled up at a non-Costco gas station. Any trip we plan, we’d map the Costco stations along the way. It saves 10% on gas, sometimes even more!

    • When we lived in a condo we don’t pay water or natural gas. We only use fireplace for heating in the winter time. Having said that, just because you don’t need to pay doesn’t mean you should waste these valuable resources. 🙂

      Costco gas stations are awesome… too bad not every Costco in Vancouver lower mainland has a gas station.

  4. I don’t have a TV, Netflix subscription, or Cable. It gives me so much more time to do things that are giving me value instead of giving value to someone else (I’m pretty sure I spend more time watching ads on TV than anything!). Learning how to cut my own hair is something that I would like to do.. I’m so afraid of messing it up though so I don’t know if it’s a skill that I want to pick up.

  5. That is a truly awesome garden. We do tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, and raspberries. Love just walking out to the garden to pick some produce for dinner 🙂

    #15: Wife has cut my hair for a few years now, and recently started cutting her own. She managed to find some really helpful youtube videos on “layering” and all that, and has gotten really good at cutting her own hair. Lots of money saved here!

    • I agree, it’s totally awesome to walk out the garden and get fresh produce. Tomatoes taste way better than the store-bought tomatoes.

      Mrs. T typically cuts her hair once a year. She goes to a student hair school so it’s pretty cheap (like $20). We’ll have to see about convincing her to cut her own hair. 🙂

    • Haha, I really don’t consider ourselves hardcore. Nothing wrong with potty training longer than expected, the kids need to be ready. Baby T1.0 went through some setbacks too. b

  6. Nice. I actually do most of these things, including buying pretty much everything in the USA! It seems to be somewhat easier when you live south of the border.

    We did the cloth diapers and potty trained our boys at 18 to 20 months. After that, it was one diaper at night only. Saved a ton of dough and landfill space with those moves.


  7. Thanks for all the great tips! I might steal the idea of picking fruit and freezing it to last 3-6 months. I’ll recap my other thoughts based on the numbers…

    #1 – I wish we could go with no tv, but we keep it for Netflix and use HBO Go. Overall, I barely watch television, and prefer to remind myself of Mr. Money Mustache’s quote, “become a producer, not a consumer.”

    #5 – oatmeal for me tastes better! I’m glad to see it is saving me money too. Our current breakfast routine involves making a green smoothie – that is relatively low cost, but it also makes breakfast the most expensive “cooked” meal at about $4/plate.

    #10 – that garden looks AMAZING! We live in a high rise in Chicago, so growing a garden might be limited to 2 or 3 plants on our balcony. Maybe one day in the future…

    #15 – after a recently botched haircut, my fiancee now does my hair and the overall experience is much better. Plus, we save $20 every 6 weeks.

    Thanks for putting together this list!

    • Picking fruits and freezing them is a great idea. 🙂

      We made green smoothie here and there with stuff from our vegetable garden. It tastes amazing!

      We are very glad to have our own vegetable garden. When we lived in an apartment we had some planters but the vegetables didn’t grow nearly as well.

  8. Great ways to save more money. I definitely agree with #4 and #14. We did this with our first child and it has saved a tremendous amount of money. On top of that we set alerts on craigslist for free items which further saved us money when it came to clothes, toys and even strollers for our son.

  9. We did the cloth diapers as well. I do wonder if all the laundry loads shifted the savings. That being said it was still the right choice for us from an environment perspective. We’re now looking at selling back the old diapers on Craigslist. If we didn’t come out ahead already this will probably do it.

    • Even with all the laundry loads I think you come out ahead on savings, especially if you air dry the diapers. We also did cloth diaper for environmental reason too. It’s amazing how quickly disposable diapers fill up the garbage bin.

  10. Great list! We are currently doing many of these, and did the cloth diaper route too. When our little dude was potty trained we sold all of his cloth diapers on Craigslist for $150.00. So not only did we save by using cloth, we made a little $ back in the end!

    • We plan to sell all of the cloth diapers on Craiglist once we’re finish with them. We’ll most likely sell all of the baby related items once Baby T2.0 is older. Definitely a great way to get some money back.

  11. #2 – I usually pay $5/mo for my cell phone, but through some fluke of the system, I am in the middle of 18 free months.
    #6 – I bought a reel mower for our rental apartment (Our house doesn’t have a lawn). It makes me upset to see people mow a tiny lawn with a gas-powered mower, like they can’t think of any other way to do it.
    #11 – No.
    #12 – We have about 6 quarts of sour cherries we picked in the freezer right now. Impossible to find those fresh.
    #13 – We just got our annual 3-month free offer for BJ’s in the mail, so we will do our annual non-perishable stock-up.
    #15 – My wife has been cutting my hair since 2005, with the same set of clippers!

  12. I buy most of my groceries reduced right before they expire. I will look through the freezer isle see if any close out specials are going
    I like to hang my clothes outside. I just wish I could predict the rain that would save on washing also. Lol

  13. Hi Tawcan – Great list of money saving tips. Amazingly, this list looks a lot like my own list…so I don’t think they’re weird at all!

    I’m kind of amazed you use a manual lawn mower though!

    We do other weird things too, like not buying beverages and avoiding beef!

    • We don’t have a big yard, especially with the big veggie garden that Mrs. T made. It usually takes about 30 minutes to mow the lawn with the manual lawn mower.

      We, too, drink water instead of buying beverages. We have also started making our own kombucha.

  14. A good list for sure! My additions in no particular order. Taking books out of the library vs buying them. Catching my own fish and making our own healthy meals instead of eating out. When you catch your own it tastes just that much better. Riding my bike everywhere and not paying for a gym membership. We also do a lot of runs/walks in the evening after dinner,. more walks than runs at the moment.

  15. Awesome ways of being frugal and smartly saving big chunks of money! I partake in a few of those methods as well and am constantly looking for new ways to save big. The smart phone might be the next target, there appear to be good lower cost options compared to Apple or Samsung. Thanks for sharing.

  16. That’s pretty hardcore to give up not just TV and cable, but also Netflix! We for sure still do Netflix and Hulu, and are happy to spend the $20 a month combined on the two. 😉 But the rest of your cost-saving measures seem like no brainers!

  17. Cool list. The neat thing with frugality is that you get to find your own small changes that are really no big deal to you. I’m sure a lot of the things we do to save money (e.g. – using Google Voice for texts/calls primarily, and using a pay-as-you go Airvoice $10 plan) would be not worth the effort for others. And the same goes for us: there are some things we don’t really choose to save on (e.g. – our pets’ food or vet services).

    The great thing with money is that the details don’t really matter. Saving $500 a month is the same $500 a month, no matter how you get there.

    • A few dollars here and there do add up quickly! Using Google Voice for texts/calls is a great idea if your cellphone plan does not include sufficient text/airtime. We eat good food too. The rationale being good food = good health. Having good health will save more money in the long run.

  18. I am glad I finished lunch before reading #11…..

    Aside from doing a number of the things on your list (I am impressed you keep to so many), I do recycle those damn gift bags with a vengeance. Although when you get one back, you know others share the same philosophy as you.. All good.

  19. We’ve lowered our thermostat in the winter and raised it in the summer to save on heating/cooling cost. There are plenty of ways to save if you just breakout of your comfort zone a bit.

    • We typically keep our thermostat at 19C (66.2F) in the winter time and turn it down to 16C (60.8F) at night or when we’re out. Last winter when Mrs. T’s family visited us, they kept complaining that it was too cold inside. We don’t have AC at home so that’s not an option for the summer.


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