Cost of living: Rich people have shared their best tips for saving money, so let's all take notes

Composite - piggy bank stock image with quotes from savings tips
Photo credit: Getty Images

While generations past were content with the standard life cycle (school, university, first job, marriage, children, woooooork, retire at 65, death), in recent decades there has been an ever-growing interest in finding ways to subvert the status quo, driven by the millennial cohort's desire to break free from the typical working lifestyle. 

For example, the FIRE movement - 'Financial Independence, Retire Early' - has become increasingly popular since its inception about 20 years ago. The concept of FIRE is for its disciples to achieve financial independence rather than relying on the typical 9-5 grind to support their lifestyle and family. The ultimate goal is to retire earlier than the traditional age, relying only on savings and investment income to cover the majority of their living expenses - usually withdrawing around 4 percent of their portfolio each year.

For the most part, people who follow the FIRE movement attempt to live frugally with intent. They reduce frivolous spending, leading to less money spent each month, which means, in turn, less time you're required to work. Many people pursuing FIRE look for ways to drastically cut their expenses, allowing them to invest 50 percent or more of their incomes.

According to a recent survey, the average household income of users in the Financial Independence subreddit is US$226,000 (about NZ$370,402) per year. Yes, that's a lot.

However, each week pursuers of FIRE come together for Frugal Friday to share the simple - and sometimes very convoluted - ways they scrimp and save to achieve their goals; tips us very average income earners can capitalise on when it comes to reducing our own spending. It's basically a way to glean tips, tricks and knowledge for free. 

As curated by BuzzFeed, here are some of the top-rated tips from this year.

Piggy bank
Here's how to scrimp and save from frugal spenders. Photo credit: Getty Images
  • "I cut my sponges in half. I'm so used to it now that a full-size sponge feels like overkill." - InSalehWeTrust
  • "I'm big on yard sales, thrifting, and flipping the things I already have, and I use that money specifically to buy clothes and shoes. I hunt for high-quality, gently used [items] priced for a steal. For my birthday next month, I have a big bag of clothes and purses, and plan to turn it all in at my favourite thrift store for store credit. I can use that for a shopping spree in the store as a gift to myself!" - alexitam14
  • "It's our one-year anniversary today. I want to make people aware of a diamond alternative called moissanite. It's lab-grown and looks just as good, if not better than the real thing. Our engagement ring stone is about 1.5 carat size, which can cost $10k-25k depending on clarity. Our moissanite ring cost about $550 and was custom-made to our liking." - YW55
  • "I started showering and shaving [at the gym] to cut back on my water bill." - P_Cil
  • "My local produce market often sells discounted bags of fruits and veggies that are past their prime. Last week, I got a huge bag of bananas for $3. I mushed up the squishiest ones to use in banana bread, and the rest I sliced up and froze for use in smoothies. This particular market runs Friday to Sunday, so if I go on Sunday afternoon, I can usually get some great deals, as long as I'm willing to do a little work chopping and freezing afterwards." - PizzaFi
  • "I never buy the latest model phone or computer. This year's $1000 phone? It will be $300 in three years, and I'll buy it new then. It will still be a huge improvement on whatever I'm replacing, so it will make me happy. Staying three years behind tech is a great way to save money." - Anonymous
  • "I have been hang-drying instead of using our dryer. Cost-wise, it's probably minimal, but it makes me feel good to give less money to the utility company, and being more eco-friendly is definitely a bonus!" - panda_monium2
  • "My girlfriend has a favourite restaurant but notoriously wouldn't be able to eat her whole meal. Now, whenever we go, we share the meal and get an appetiser. This has trickled into whenever we are eating out, we typically split the meal." - EliteYager
  • "I got an extra trash can and put it outside, so when it rains, I collect that natural water. In my area, it doesn't rain much. I then use this water as irrigation for my backyard. Saves on the water bill a little bit." - royhenderson771
  • "Bar soap is better than body wash. I made the switch in college to bar soap. One bottle of body wash would last me about a month and cost $3-5. I can buy eight bars of soap for the same price, and it easily lasts me six-plus months." - CheeezyPotatoes
  • "I answer Craigslist ads to participate in surveys. Sometimes, they are Zoom focus groups, which can last an hour or two (these are usually $100-200). Sometimes, they're $5 Amazon gift card surveys. I use the money to buy essentials like soap, kitchen supplies, toothpaste, etc." - Anonymous
  • "I enjoy the occasional frozen beverage such as a Slurpee. Unfortunately, the prices have increased... I've been buying the pre-sweetened  lemonade mixes on sale and using a bit of that with water and crushed ice in a blender; I can get 20-plus drinks per mix." - SEA_tide
  • "Ordering groceries for pickup vs shopping in store saves me a few hundred a month on impulse purchases. Also, I leave my husband at home when I go to Costco. He has no self-discipline at Costco!" - Mrshaydee
  • "Online shopping tip: Install a Chrome extension for reverse image searching and use it before you buy anything. Sometimes, things are sold on multiple online retailers at different prices." - catjuggler
  • "I've started slowing my acceleration and timing my coasting better, and I've improved my MPG [miles per gallon] by almost a full three MPG." - braiinfried
  • "We are three weeks in on eating through all the leftovers and extras in our fridge, freezer, and pantry. Other than a couple of fresh bits and pieces, we basically spent nothing on food this month. Looks like we've hit the end of the road for full meals, but next week, we're aiming to build our meals entirely around something we already have." - jka8888
  • "My wife and I are mainly tea drinkers but will occasionally buy a fancy coffee drink to mix things up. In the last year, our local coffee shop has gotten just too expensive. We were at about $7 per drink with tip, which felt outrageous. So, I bought a little moka pot for $30 and started making drinks at home. I can use whatever kind of milk I want (almond, oat, coconut, or dairy) and sweeten it the perfect amount. I daresay the drinks are better, and the moka pot has already paid for itself. I strongly disagree with the sentiment of 'stop buying fancy coffee, and you'll be able to buy a house, millennials'. But in our case, it definitely helps keep us within our eating out budget each week." - the_lemon_lobster
  • "Looking first on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for any tools I need. As a first-time homeowner, I've saved well over $1000 already on tools and probably thousands more doing work myself." - EliteYager
  • "We only go grocery shopping once every two weeks. This has the result of better planning and less waste because you are forced to eat what you purchased without the safety net of just picking up something new in a few days. There is an Aldi on my spouse's route home from work, so on the rare occasion we need milk or bread out of cycle, we can get it, but that doesn't seem to happen very often." - jgatcomb
  • "This really depends on your area, but here, people live in small spaces and often get rid of stuff for cheap or free. Just taking a walk, sometimes you can find really good stuff in great condition. You leave something you don't need anymore on the sidewalk, and it disappears to someone else's home in 30 minutes. I grew up in this city, and almost our entire apartment was furnished with found items or neighbour discards. Today, we got super lucky; my husband was out on an errand and noticed a neighbour was getting rid of a fridge! We were actively shopping for a new one, since our current fridge is breaking. This found fridge is $1000 new. We got it for free and got to know a neighbour a little better. A daily walk is good for your body, mind, AND wallet." - bahala_na-
  • "If you have a bakery outlet near you and normally eat bread, see what their daily sales are and consider going on those days to save money. Most of the breads freeze well, too. $1.25 is an especially good deal when a loaf of bread is $2-$7 in stores, especially if one likes organic breads." - SEA_tide
  • "I called my internet provider to tell them I was thinking of switching unless they could give me a better rate. They just gave me 35 percent off per month. Not a huge amount, but it's nice to trim the budget a little." - DoctorFI_ER
  • "Fried rice is one of my favourite meals. The flavour-to-cost ratio is off the charts. The key to excellent fried rice is to refrigerate the white rice after cooking; I refrigerate it overnight at the minimum. This helps the rice firm up and keeps it from getting mushy. I'll typically make a large batch of white rice and use it throughout the week. Fresh rice for sushi, fridge-aged rice for frying. My typical recipe is simple: rice, eggs, onion, and carrot with soy sauce. Yummy every time." - wormeee
  • "Greeting cards are so stupidly overpriced, I can't even handle it. Instead, I bought a GIANT box of all occasion cards that has 100 unique cards for tons of occasions and some blank ones, assorted envelopes, a box with tab organisers, and a 'card planner' for about $20 on Amazon. Comes out to roughly 20 cents per card, not to mention the time saved shuffling through cards at the store. I always have cards on hand for last-minute things! I've had this box for about two years now, and I still have plenty. Haven't had to buy a card in a long time!" - dogfoodis
  • "My friends and I love going out to breakfast. However it is costly, and the markup on some things is wild. We enacted 'Frugal Breakfast', where we take turns cooking each other breakfast at our various homes. It's amazing. Also, it's a bonus with our young children because they can just play while their parents gab. There's definitely not much for young kids to do at a regular diner except actually eat. Highly recommend it." - loveskittles
  • "I haven't ordered takeout in over two years." - Plain_Chacalaca

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