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There’s a common myth in the personal finance blogosphere that those of us who care about saving pennies through “frugality” don’t also care about earning more, or that frugality is a waste of time. I’ve heard countless critiques that go something like, “Why bother saving a dollar here and there when what you really need is to find a way to earn thousands more each year.” (Not coincidentally, “finding a way” to “earn thousands more” often involves paying the advice-giver for his or her advice through books or workshops, usually resulting in the advice-giver earning more, not you.)

What a bunch of hooey!

I agree that earning more is important, but it does not mean that you can somehow afford not to also try spending less — it completely defeats the purpose of earning more if you don’t also keep your spending in check. Both are important, and there are many ways to spend less with practically zero effort. For example, going “shopping” requires a significant amount of effort to get yourself together, sit in traffic to drive to your store of choice, wander aimlessly, stand in line to try clothes on, stand in line again to check out, and sit in traffic on your way home. On the other hand, the decision to not go shopping = zero effort. (Bonus points, it also means zero environmental impact!)

Here are 12 of my favorite almost-zero effort ways I use to save money on a regular basis — as an added bonus, many of these will not only fatten your wallet, they’ll reduce your environmental footprint as well:

1) Turn off the lights when I leave a room.

2) Cook twice as much dinner as I need and save half of it for lunch the next day.

3) Wait to run the dishwasher until it’s full.

4) Wait to do laundry until I have a full load. (No not that kind, gutter brain!)


5) I don’t “go shopping” for entertainment.

6) No cable.

7) Only wash clothes in cold water.

8) I switched my cell phone plan to a low-cost, no-contract carrier (I use Virgin Mobile).

9) Eat vegetarian one meal a day, one day a week, and one week a month.


10) Never buy a new car.

11) Keep my freezer full, even if just with bags of ice, to run more efficiently.

12) Buy generic instead of name brand groceries.

This is just the beginning. What’s on YOUR frugal favorites list?





© 2015, Cheddar Pie. All rights reserved.


Charlotte · August 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

The LIBRARY! Same effort as going to the bookstore, so maybe not “zero effort” but “zero net effort”?

    Cheddar Pie · August 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Yes! And sending library books to my Kindle is definitely zero effort!

Craig · August 19, 2015 at 10:14 am

1) Using either a 5% cashback credit card for groceries, drug store, gas, etc. Literally no effort for a 5% return/savings on things I would have bought anyway.

2) Roll down the windows during my commute and turn off the AC (saves on gas).

3) Library! Or if I want to buy a book, going to

    Cheddar Pie · August 21, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Yes! Great ideas. What credit card do you have?

      Craig · August 21, 2015 at 8:01 am

      Just one? 🙂

      For grocery and drug stores (5%) – American Express “Old” Blue Cash
      For gas (5%) – PenFed Credit Union Platinum Rewards
      For travel (3%) – Citi Premier
      For all other non-bonused spending (2%) – Capital One Spark

      Cheddar Pie · August 22, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Cool. I have the AmEx Blue Cash too, though I think mine is only 3% cash back. Thanks for the tips!

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