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Save Money and Have Fun By Starting a Frugal Club

Guest post by Jennifer

In 2009 some friends and I found that we were like-minded and wanted to try new ways of saving money. We all especially enjoy using more natural products and thought we could make some of them inexpensively ourselves. So we started Frugal Club and have tried to meet most months and work on a variety of projects.

Recently one of our members was interviewed by our hometown magazine, Rochester Magazine. Now more people in our town have asked us about the club!

How to start your own Frugal Club:

*Find friends who are interested in a frugal lifestyle.
* Get together and talk about what everyone is already doing to save money.
* Brainstorm ideas of what you would like to do to save money/get ideas from Money Saving Mom.
* Have someone volunteer to lead or organize each project you decide to do.
* Have people bring what they already have for the project and divide the cost of what needs to be purchased.
* Get together and try some of the projects.
* Rotate homes for hosting and bringing treats.
* After finishing a project, evaluate if the project was beneficial and if it saved money.
* Have fun!

Projects we have done as part of our Frugal Club:

* Made and then exchanged seasoning/mixes (taco seasoning, chai tea, popcorn seasoning, oatmeal packets).
* Traded items we didn’t need or wanted to re-gift (see this post on a Stockpile Swap Party for more ideas).
* Made personal products (facials, shampoo, deodorant, cocoa lip balm).
* Made greeting cards from scrap paper and magazines.
* Had a holiday cookie exchange.
* Shared a CSA vegetable box together.
* Made window cleaner, laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent.
* Made dish scrubbers out of onion mesh bags.
* Went to garage sales together in the summer
* Discussed freezer meals/cooking in bulk/purchased meat in bulk and split it.
* Made homemade air fresheners.
* Discussed frugal baby things (cloth diapers, cloth wipes).
* Exchanged or lent books we already own.
* Made fire starters for camping.
* Rented an aerator and did multiple yards.
* Shared packets of seeds for our gardens.
* Hauled our own trash/recycling.
* Exchanged coupons.
* Picked strawberries.

Projects we plan to do in our Frugal Club:

* Try our hand at home haircuts and go to a cosmetology school for inexpensive hair cuts.
* Make candles and lotions.
* Wash each others’ windows.
* Help each other with time consuming yard work (trimming bushes)
* Plant herbs.
* Make “sandwich bags” out of cloth.
* Make soap when we visit a goat farm in May.

Jenny and her friends/current Frugal Club members: Jill, Beth, Carla, Kristy & Dana all live in Rochester, MN. In our group we have five nurses and one librarian. We enjoy learning from each other and of course talking! In the last year, three babies have joined the Frugal Club so our meetings are a little different than they used to be! 🙂

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  • a happy mom says:

    I have used cosmetology schools for my haircuts the last 5 years. I get a wash, cut, and dried (styled) for $15.00 Also gives me some alone “baby free time”. It does take longer for the haircut, but I ALWAYS get compliments on my hair and many are surprised when i say I got it cut at a cosmo. school. If you find a school with great instructors, you tend to get good haircuts for a small amount of money.

    • mildred lane says:

      My 13 yr old son loves to go to the cosmetology school. The girls pet him and take forever .They charge $5/cut. I take a book to read.

    • jennifer says:

      I’ve been going to the local cosmetology school for about 9 years now. I agree about the “alone time!”

      I’ve only had an issue a time or two, but I keep going back.

      Can’t beat $10 for haircut/dry/style!

    • Ruth says:

      Our neighbor cuts ours she has a salon! But it’s 18 A Cut! Cheaper than schools when you add in gas and time

  • Carrie says:

    What a fun idea! Often I don’t do-it-myself because I don’t want to add more work to my busy day, but I always make time for getting together with friends. I love it!

  • Ali says:

    What a great idea! I live in Rochester too and sometimes I think I am the only frugal shopper. I love Jennifer’s articles in the local paper, The Post-Bulletin and is wonderful to see her on Money Saving Mom. Way to go Jennifer!

  • Sarah says: did a post on frugal clubs a few years back. Here is the link:

  • Jennifer Brown says:

    I wish I had a few people in my area for this. What a fantastic idea.

  • Julie says:

    Sounds like fun! What is your recipe for taco seasoning?

  • That is a great idea. Another good idea is to start a meal swap with your neighbors. I’m not currently in one (unfortunately), but for 3 years I swapped nightly dinners with two other neighbors. One neighbor cooked Monday, one cooked Tuesday, and one cooked Wednesday. We had leftover night on Thursday and Friday we usually had pizza/dinner out/dinner with friends. I only cooked one weeknight per week! It was awesome! We made a main dish, a dessert, and one or two sides. Our kids would deliver the food hot and fresh. I saved so much money because I was not constantly buying lots of ingredients for lots of little meals. Our local newspaper did a write up on our meal swap, too! I have tried to talk my current neighbors into it, but so far no one seems interested ;-(.

    • boyzmom says:

      A year ago we group of us did the meal swapping also. We would cook on Saturday or Sundays and then meet up and swap meals for the week. Each person had containers plastic/glass that we would put the other peoples meals in and then assemble the meal and then put the instructions on how to cook it.
      Someone would make enchiladas, tuna casserole, spaghetti casserole, chimichangas, ;lasagna, chili and then all we had to do was finish cooking it or warm it up in the oven and serve it. It was so nice to only have to cook once a week. We stopped doing it once Spring hit and we had “lost” a few of the members. The only downfall we had was that a couple of the people included really couldn’t cook and you had to “fix” their meals each week.
      Otherwise it did save money. It was a lot cheaper to make a bigger meal once a week then to buy food for the entire week different meals.

  • Autumn says:

    Thanks for all the ideas. I’m been slowly transitioning our place into more of a chemical free one so I loved the recent post about all the things you could make homemade(soaps and bodywashes that were much healthier) and one item in particular could be used for about 30 plus things. So great to know and should keep me busy in my spare time.

  • Kristi says:

    I have been wondering how to go about starting a coupon swap. I have several girls that are interested in this but don’t know how to work it. Do you just put them all on a table and get what you want? exchange coupons for what they are worth? Does anyone have any suggestions for this? I have wanted to do a clothes/purse/accesories swap too but have the same problem with it. What is someone brings 2 bags full of things and another person only two items to swap? I just am unsure how to keep things fair and balanced so no one ends up donating the most things. I would love any advice on this.

    • Rae says:

      As far as the clothing/accessories swap, if you are concerned about it being fair, maybe you get a ticket to “take” for each item you bring? Then the rest people can take back their leftovers or have it all get donated. Or you could start out with the ticket thing then if anything is left over (if somebody brings 20 things but only found 10 items they wanted, there would be leftovers), you could have them available to anybody.

    • boyzmom says:

      I have been to a coupon swap before and we sat around the table and just passed around the coupons that were up for swapping. Each person just took what they wanted. There wasn’t a limit to any of it.

    • The Nester did an interesting post on having a home decor swap. She explained the rules really well. It looked like a lot of fun!

    • Ruth says:

      When there were some around here they were formed at the library

  • Heidi says:

    I am in Rochester too!!! I too feel like I am the only one of my friends/family trying to live the frugal life!!

  • Janet says:

    I love the idea of buying things in bulk and then spliting it up. Although, we have tried it before with a large group and a Costco division and everyone seemed unhappy or felt things just were not fair enough towards them. So, I guess the trick is to get a small group that think alot alike.

    Here are just a few ideas I have done with my 5 sisters.

    In the summers we make snacks and drinks for the van to haul when we go on outings (we have a great big orange drink dispenser like the kind you see men use on construction sites and with our 35 kids everyone gets a drink) We bring magic marker and solo cups and we take turns on which sister brings the drink and which brings the treat/ treats.
    This has worked well for all outings then we also each pack a sandwich and extra drink for the lunch.
    We also share cleaners and just make them stretch. Here is how we do it.
    Let’s say I buy window cleaner and oven cleaner
    Another sister buys Tide and clorox 2
    Another sister buys all purspose cleaner and bathroom cleaner then we meat and take about 1/3 each pour into our old bottles and just try to make it last at our own homes.
    I personally have a ton of tricks for stretching stuff.

    Passing around clothing works until kids are around age 8 to 12 after that believe me they have an opinion about what they are willing to wear!

    Scraps from old clothing can make excellent quilts even for the first one they take on to college ! Sometimes these can be the most cherrished.

    Start saving small free items when a child enters highschool and you will have an amazing gift basket for going away to college.

  • Michelle says:

    Oh if only we hadn’t moved to Iowa….one more southeastern Minnesota thing to miss!

  • Ah, this sounds like SO much fun! I would love to be in / start one of these clubs. For awhile I was doing a Monthly Craft Night with some girlfriends ( but all but one of them have moved or are in the process of moving, which ended that. Sigh…

    I’m in N. Atlanta, so if anyone else is interested in starting one of these, please let me know! (

  • My husband started cutting my hair about 3 years ago. At first I was nervous, but he did fine! I had cut his hair for years before that, and we cut all of our children’s hair.

    Now I love having my husband cut my hair! We do have a pair of scissor just for haircutting, as well as a haircutting kit (get a seperate pair of shears; the ones that come in the kits are not very good). We also eventually went to a beauty supply shop to get hair cutting capes (one adult sized and one child sized).

    • Alisha says:

      I have four brothers, and my mom cut their hair for years. She used a plastic tablecloth wrapped around the person and pinned in the back with clothespins or clips.

      • I used to use a towel, but after a while, we were frustrated that it was always slipping (especially on the toddlers!) Eventually we bought the 2 capes (they were $10 each). It seemed like a lot to spend, but they have been really nice to have, since we cut hair so often at our house!

    • Jenni says:

      Oh my goodness, I get nervous letting my husband cut my boys’ hair, let alone my own, because it always goes something like, Me: “It’s on the longest setting, right?” Him: “Of course, Babe, don’t worry.” Then our boys emerge looking like they’re ready to be sent off to boot camp.

      • There are little pieces that clip on the cutter that can keep it a certain length–you CAN’T cut it shorter than that. For example, we cut the sides at 3/4″ for my husband and my boys. The longest setting is 1 inch; you can use that for the top, or you can cut the top with scissors. I was really nervous about cutting my husband’s hair too short, but he showed me that I couldn’t cut it too short.

        He also said, “The difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is two weeks.” I relaxed a lot after that!

        • jennifer says:

          I cut my husband’s hair. He pretty much shaves it anyway so I can’t mess it up!

          He cuts our 4 year old’s hair. He likes that dad does it and it looks similar to dad’s (just not as short!)

          As my husband is in the Army, the clippers we have bought have saved a lot in haircuts! It seems like cosmetologists don’t know the “military haircut” anyway.

  • Jenni says:

    Posts like this make me wish there was a forum on MSM so readers could organize local frugal clubs. I’m moving to Topeka this summer and would love to meet some like-minded women in a club like this.

    • Crystal says:

      I know. I want to do that, but I’m trying to figure out how to pull it off in a safe manner. Suggestions are welcome!

      By the way, I have a friend in Topeka who runs a blog for the Topeka deals:

      And you can always come visit me when you move to Topeka. I’m not too far from there!

      • Jenni says:

        Yes, forums can be a lot of work, or so it seems, especially with moderating things. I was just wishing out loud, mainly because I do enjoy reading others’ comments and ideas and think that you have a great readership here who would actively participate in something like that.

        Thanks for the link to your friend’s blog. One thing I am realizing is that groceries don’t seem to be that much cheaper in KS than they are in CA, especially once you factor in sales tax – we don’t have to pay it on food here. But I am looking forward to visiting stores that other bloggers talk about, like Aldi’s and Dillons (sigh . . . the thought of double coupons . . . :)).

        • cyndi dickason says:

          Do you know of any really good coupon blogs in CA? I like to follow MSM, but some of the deals aren’t pertinent to my area. I’m in Central CA. Thanks! Still love this blog as it’s where I started out and love all the articles.

          • Janet says:

            My Frugal Adventures is in Northern California
            Southern Cali Saver is in Southern California
            Save at Home Mommy is in Bakersfield

            There are some others but I usually check these ones – I find My Frugal Adventures to be the best but if you are in the Bakersfield area Sat at Home Mommy does highlight some local deals.

          • Crystal says:

            My Frugal Adventures is one of my favorite Cali deal blogs.

  • So fun! I’ve gotten together with friends to talk about couponing, but we never dreamed on this scale. Sounds like a blast.

  • Autumn H says:

    I live live close by in mn and thought that that post was cool !!!!

  • I wish I lived in Rochester. You guys sound like a lot of fun and a great support system for each other. Keep up the great work and friendships.

  • Sarah says:

    This has SO inspired me to do this with my girlfriends. Although I’m not sure we’re going to cut each other’s hair. lol. I do like the idea of making big batches/ purchases and sharing it with the group. Some of the deals I get are for bulk quantities and I wouldn’t be able to take advantage if I didn’t have a chest freezer.

  • Karin says:

    This is a great idea! I love how once it starts, it would be an easy way to introduce friends to the frugal lifestyle.

    Everyone has their own comfort levels, but working together in a group means finding new ideas to try together.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Kari says:

    I am from Rochester! I can’t wait to see this article! It was exciting to come on here and see some local people featured! I love this blog… but didn’t know how many people in Rochester were actually focusing on living a frugal lifestyle. Really excited to see your post and I really enjoyed it!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I grew up near Rochester and my parents still live nearby, so this was neat to see people featured from my “home”. Thanks for posting and sharing these ideas.

  • Jess says:

    Very neat article. It is nice to know there are other people here in Rochester that enjoy frugal living. 🙂 I am more a frugal newbie, but it is always nice to hear inspiring stories from other’s then can make it work!

  • Angie Simmonds says:

    Love this idea! You guys have done some great stuff!

  • steph says:

    How do you make a sandwich bag out of cloth? I am so tired of watching money go down the drain and being so wasteful with baggies…HELP!

    • Meghan says:

      I just bought reusable produce bags through amazon–they’re called Fit and Tumble bags, and they’re awesome. I can’t believe I’ve been using reusable grocery bags for years and never thought how I could stop using the plastic bags for produce! Maybe they have something for smaller items too? I’m not crafty at all, so making my own isn’t an option.

    • Megan says:

      You can cloth sandwich bags and wraps on Etsy, too.

      • Megan says:

        Oops, I meant you can BUY them on Etsy! Also, I’m sure you could find a good pattern with a Google search. Let us know if you find something easy 🙂

  • JAM says:

    What I love about this is the friendship and time spent together. What can feel like a chore if you’re doing it alone is fun and something to look forward to. Stay at home moms, especially, (I think) need to find like-minded friends since they are without adult company so much of the day. This post was really inspiring to me. I am in two knitting groups, and while they’re not dedicated to frugality we have such a great time getting together. To have the friendship combined with frugal ideas is really great, especially where a lot of them work best in groups anyway. Great post!

  • Carla Sorensen says:

    What a great article, thanks for sharing it! What a fun idea! I am older and my kids are raised. None of my friends are really into being frugal like this. I am always looking for new and better ways to be frugal and save money. I love to talk to my daughter about these things, however! She is in some type of organized group, too. (another state from where I live) Keep up the fun and good work!!

  • Shirley says:

    I think this is an excellent idea! Most of my family thinks I am crazy (even though i think they secretly like the benefits from time to time). I would love to be able to get together with other women with great frugal ideas. I’m going to have to pass this onto some friends and see what we can get going!

  • Candy says:

    I LOVE this idea! Thanks!

  • You are so awesome Crystal, thank you :). See you in August!

  • Cheap Sally says:

    Looks like such a fun idea! Great article. Thanks for sharing!

  • Diana says:

    Hi There, I will like to be part of a frugal Club : ) Im married and have 3 kids a boy 10 , girl altmost 8. and boy 6. and need so much help on be able to save big on couponing recently I lost all my coupons from months of savins, any how hope someone needy got it and save big on it , any how is anyone in the Riverton area or close by that we may be in touch.
    Thanks in His Agape,

  • Diana says:

    this is Diana again , I forgot to give my state. I live in Riverton Utah thanks.

  • Julie says:

    Need a buddy here in Torrance ca I have coupons that I can exchange people in my mobile park do not like to get involved much but I do is there a list of friends that would like to exchange am a college student at the age of 57 am always looking to save a family of four my husband is the only one that works so if you got help appreciate

  • Rosemary says:

    I recently started a blog called My Practical Home where I share frugal ideas. I only have 2 posts so far, but I will be adding more. I have been a frugal person all of my adult life and thought it was time to start writing things down and sharing it!

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