Saturday 13th July 2024

Frugal skills to save you money

Shoestring Jane’s guide to frugal living emphasises essential skills from budgeting to knitting and decorating.

Many of us lead busy lives and often look for ways to save time. However, a cost-of-living crisis tends to refocus your priorities.

Finding ways to make our money go further has become essential for many of us, so now is the time to consider developing some frugal skills to save money. 

Here are some skills that will help you lead a more frugal life.

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Learning to budget is one of the most important frugal skills you can have. Managing your money will enable you to make the best of what you have, free you from debt and allow you to save for a rainy day. 

Money Helper has a useful budgeting tool to get you started.


Cooking your own food is much cheaper than buying ready-made or takeaway meals. It doesn’t have to be hugely time-consuming or complicated, either. Try basic recipes to build confidence, such as pasta sauce, soup, or a casserole.

As a bonus, homemade food tastes better and has no additives.

Gardening and growing your own 

Mowing your lawn, weeding, and tidying are great for fresh air and exercise. You could save on a gardener as well as a gym membership! Learning some basic gardening skills can be a fun and frugal hobby, as long as you don’t get carried away buying plants and tools in the garden centre.

Growing your plants from seed, especially the edible variety, is a wonderful, frugal skill. As well as saving money, there is nothing like the simple pleasure and superior flavour of a freshly picked tomato, corn on the cob or some aromatic herbs to add to your cooking efforts.


Now that schools rarely teach sewing, many people have no idea where to start with a needle and thread.

However, learning how to sew can be a real money saver. As well as repairing clothes – sewing on buttons, fixing small tears and darning – for example, developing some sewing skills can enable you to alter favourite items to fit you better or upcycle charity shop clothing. 

Here, Dianne from Beyond the Sewing Room shares how she refashioned a £1 charity shop dress. 

Car washing

Getting your car cleaned professionally is likely to cost you £15-20. By investing in a bucket, car shampoo, a sponge, a chamois and some wax, you can achieve a shiny vehicle at a fraction of the price. Use your vacuum and a duster to clean the inside.

Basic car maintenance 

According to the RAC, carrying out regular car maintenance checks can keep your vehicle in good working order and prevent an expensive breakdown. Here are 12 checks they recommend.

Learning how to top up the oil, change a wiper blade, replace the filter and change a tyre are all useful frugal skills to save you money.


Making jams and chutneys from homegrown or foraged ingredients is a fun frugal skill. But don’t stop there. You can bottle cordials from elderflowers or rhubarb, make wine, sauerkraut or preserve fruit in syrup, as in this recipe. These all make thoughtful, inexpensive gifts.


Just like any other hobby, you can spend a lot of money on knitting and crochet. However, there are ways to develop these skills without busting your budget. 

Wool, needles and patterns can often be found in charity shops, along with interesting buttons to add to your pieces. You can also take inspiration from wartime knitters and reuse the wool from an old jumper to make something new. This post tells you how to treat the wool so that you can reknit it.

Painting and decorating

If you want to update your home on a budget, the quickest and cheapest way is to learn some painting and decorating skills.

A fresh coat of paint on your walls and woodwork will brighten and freshen your space for very little money. Wallpaper can be expensive, but you can focus the pattern on one feature wall or even learn painting techniques like sponging or rag rolling to create a similar effect. These techniques can also be good for disguising uneven plaster.

You can even look out for free paint via Freecycle or Freegle or see if you have a Community RePaint scheme, which will allow you to buy partially used cans of paint for just a few pounds.

Household repairs

If you haven’t tried doing minor household repairs, you may lack the confidence to try. But there are a lot of small jobs you can tackle yourself instead of employing a tradesperson.

Fixing leaky taps, unblocking drains, securing creaky floorboards and regrouting tiles are some of the suggestions for frugal household repairs suggested by Ideal Home.

You will need to start accumulating basic tools for each job, so look out for second-hand ones or borrow from family and friends to get you started.

Frugal self-care

These days, you will find a beautician or nail bar on every corner. However, it wasn’t long ago that people would only consider a professional pamper session if they were getting married! 

You can save a lot of money if you learn some basic self-care skills. Manicures and pedicures can easily be tackled at home, as well as a relaxing facial.

Hair dyes for use at home are very dependable as long as you follow the instructions. I recommend purchasing a bowl and brush so that you can apply the dye evenly.

Once you gain confidence, there is no end to the list of frugal skills to save money. How about DIY dog grooming, making your own household cleaners, or upcycling old furniture? What do you like to do yourself that you used to pay someone else to do?

Photo credits: Pexels

Shoestring Jane

Mouthy Blogger

Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.

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