"I Did A No-Spend Year": 23 Frugal Habits People Tried And Ended Up Keeping Because They Liked Them So Much

Being frugal isn't just about cutting down on spending. Reducing waste and appreciating what you already have are also big frugal goals. Recently, u/_JosiahBartlet asked people on Reddit to share the frugal changes they've really enjoyed making in their lives, and people had so much to say. Here are some of the top replies:

1."I was extremely skeptical about reusable paper towels, but I was sold the moment I started using them. They are essentially super-thin cloths that roll onto a core, just like paper towels. We wash them in our normal loads of colors and roll them back up. We still have normal paper towels for particularly gross things, but we go through a few rolls a year. We have, I think, 48 reusable ones, and we've been using them for a year and a half just fine. The two of us never run out during the time between laundry days."

Person shopping, carrying two large paper towel packs under each arm while walking down a store aisle
Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

2."I bring every snack, drink, breakfast, and lunch from home every day when I go to work. I work in downtown Brooklyn, which is about as expensive as Manhattan. It saves me roughly $400 a month!"


3."Cutting my own hair. I started during the pandemic because none of the hair salons were open, and I figured if it looked terrible, no one would see it anyway. I tend to prefer simple cuts that are easy to do on myself, and this also cuts out the awkward small talk and all the chemical smells that trigger my asthma. If I decide I want a more complicated hairstyle, I’ll pay a professional, but if all I want is a trim, I can do it myself for free (the hair scissors paid for themselves with the first haircut)."


4."I did a no-spend year on clothes. It was way easier and more enjoyable than expected. I made myself 'shop' my own closet and discovered so many cool pieces I’d forgotten about. Other than to replace essential things that get worn out/fall apart, I really don’t need any new clothes. That was a liberating discovery."

Woman examining a garment in a closet with various clothes
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5."This year, I stopped getting coffee and drinks outside. This saves me about $125 to $150 per month. I’m unexpectedly not even missing it, and I’m planning to throw this money into my retirement account."


6."Giving up alcohol. I quit last year after going through my budget at the end of 2022 and realizing the amount I spent going out. I still go out with my friends, but I drink club sodas instead now, which normally bartenders don’t even charge me for or are free refills. Went from spending $500-plus per month on alcohol to maybe $30 on flavored seltzers. Huge, huge win, and I am better off not only financially but also mentally and physically."


7."Bought a bread machine from Goodwill for $15. We used to buy bread that was $3 a loaf, but making our own bread now costs us pennies."

Person removing freshly baked loaf of bread from a metal bread-maker
Armastas / Getty Images/iStockphoto

8."Buying clothes secondhand only. Three years in, and frankly, I no longer see the point of ever paying retail prices for new clothes. I thrift about once a week and over time have easily found everything I need. Bonus: It’s helped with sort of training myself out of immediacy/instant gratification and into longer-term planning and patience. I will buy new shoes as needed, however."


9."Adding insulation to my attic and air-sealing my house. Yeah, it certainly helped our power bill, but the increase in comfort is much appreciated as well."


10."Switching to an old-school razor blade razor instead of the plastic ones. Shaves fantastically, lasts forever, and razor blades are incredibly cheap."

Razor with a wooden handle on a textured surface
Olena Ruban / Getty Images

11."Menstrual cup and menstrual underwear. I never even feel that I'm on my period anymore."


12."Cutting the tops off tube containers like face wash, lotion, etc., and scooping out the rest of what is left has been a big money saver! You’ll be amazed at how much is still left once it stops squeezing out. To keep the product from drying out, slide the cut piece down onto the area where you made the cut."


13."I got some more containers and now make as much food as possible. Doubling the amount of food rarely involves twice the work. Then I freeze what I know I can't eat. Frozen soup or chili lasts months; I can have a whole buffet in my freezer and not eat the same thing all the time."

A freezer filled with various stacked food storage containers and an ice cube tray
Imran Kadir Photography / Getty Images

14."I switched coffee filter papers to a reusable coffee filter made from steel. It turns out I need 25% less coffee per cup when using the reusable filter. Apparently, some of the coffee doesn't get through the paper."


15."Buying an upright freezer made it easier to prep meals in bulk at much lower cost, thus saving not only money but also time. Why cook rice nine times for nine meals when I can do it once and portion it out and freeze in the time it takes to cook it for two? Why do Bolognese sauce for eight portions when I can do 40 in the same time, plus another 10 minutes for portioning? Even my skeptical husband has admitted it was highly worth it."


16."I switched to a plant-based diet almost four years ago for health issues. A great side benefit is how much cheaper legumes, grains, seeds, fruits, and veggies are than processed foods and meats. My grocery bill is almost half of what it was before I changed."

Person slicing herbs in kitchen with various vegetables on countertop
Fotostorm / Getty Images

17."I used to eat out two or three times a day. Then I moved to a more expensive city and was forced to start eating at home. Now I prefer having my own home-cooked meals over fast food."


18."AirThreds makes reusable air filters for your HVAC system. We bought two and haven't looked back since. It took us 10 months to get our money back, and we've been going strong for at least four years. We are in the airstream for the Canadian wildfires every year and have had no trouble with them at all. It makes it easy during the weeks when the air quality is horrible to switch them out and wash them as needed. The best reusable investment I have ever made for our house!"


19."Quitting smoking. It came, of course, with better health benefits. But the initial greatest impact was on my wallet. Smokers are literally burning up their dollars."

A single cigarette butt extinguished in an ashtray
Adam Gault / Getty Images

20."Not eating fast food at all. As weird as it is to say, I am glad they upped the prices."


21."Buying groceries almost exclusively according to what's on sale instead of buying the same products out of habit. It saves a ton of money and gets us to try new products all the time! It's been so great, and my partner and I actually have so much fun going through the flyer and seeing what new things are on sale every two weeks. Then we get to cook new stuff all the time. It's been great!"


22."Eating beans for lunch every day. On the weekends, I make a large amount of some type of bean dish. Falafel, beans and rice, navy bean soup, bean burritos, etc. Then I just pack it for lunch during the workday. Buying dry beans is like $1.50 for five meals. It’s delicious and healthy."

A bowl and pot of bean and pasta soup on a checkered tablecloth, with a spoon and condiments nearby
Carlo A / Getty Images

23.And finally: "Not trying to 'keep up with the Joneses.' I was in a weird cycle of seeing something on social media and immediately going on the hunt to find and buy. So much less of a burden to take a step back and watch my nest egg grow. It also makes the times I DO splurge that much more special."


What are some of your favorite frugal habits that reduce waste, save money, and just plain make you feel good? Let's talk about them in the comments!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.