This is rule number one for frugality. Use less of the stuff you have and it will last longer. Do you need to use quite so much shampoo? Do you need a whole paper towel, or would a half one or a rag get the job done? This is obviously something that can go incredibly awry as evidenced by the people who have stopped using toilet paper, or the woman who pees in a bottle to avoid flushes (just let it mellow, lady), but it's also a good thing to just keep in the back of your mind. I used to have a big problem with using way too much toothpaste. Apparently I took all the commercials I had seen as a youth to heart, and assumed that you needed to fill the whole brush. This left me buying toothpaste all the time, and with a sink full of toothpaste globules that were sticky and gross. Now I use significantly less, buy less toothpaste and I have a cleaner sink. Toothpaste is pretty cheap, sure, but if someone offered to give you $5 a year, you'd take it right?
Ask for a Discount
This is something I'm terrible at, but I try to get better at. Frequently when you ask for a discount, you actually get one. Either way, you don't really lose anything by asking, and you might save a little money. Similarly, if you can, try to get something for free. If you need something, ask on Freecycle. If no one responds, move on to plan B, but you never know what people are looking to get rid of. Remember my beautiful bike:
Don't be Beholden to Expiration Dates
Many of the people on this show go dumpster diving, which is something I would probably never do, but the reason that people can manage to find decent food that way is because people throw away perfectly good food all the time. Grocery stores throw out perfectly good packaged food just because the use by date has passed and so do people just because they get paranoid about eating something that's 'expired'. I have a tub of yogurt that expired in early October, but I didn't open it until mid October. It's perfectly good. I pay attention to smells and sights, and I've never gotten sick.
Learn How to Cook
Learn how to cook, and learn how to cook with cheap ingredients. Peasant food is becoming sexy again, and honestly, there are a lot of ingredients out there that I never cooked with because they just sounded unappealing. After actually trying some of this stuff, however, I found that I liked it, or could figure out a way to like it. I don't advocate making yourself miserable by eating super cheap food that you don't like, but with a little creativity, you can absolutely cook on the cheap.
Stop Thinking Things Need to be Perfect
One thing I really liked on this show was the fact that one of the women admitted very readily that her house was pretty ugly. She got a good deal on it, it has a lot of positives, but it's not the nicest house in the world. It still keeps her warm and dry, and she owns it free and clear. I'd rather have a slightly ugly house than a ridiculous mortgage payment that I couldn't afford. As long as your place is clean, functional and not falling apart, that's all you really need.
This show has also taught me some things not to do. Obviously, it's extreme and some of the people profiled seem a bit mentally ill. You can go crazy with frugality, and that's no better a place to be than being extreme with spending. But that's another post.