Once upon a time, I was called an extreme cheapskate. I took offense when it was said to me because frankly, I’m cheap sometimes but I’ve never been quite that cheap unless it was out of necessity. Those whole conversation got me thinking about which frugal living tips I would consider to be extreme frugal living tips. There are a few and yes, some of them are past the line of what I am willing to do to save money. They may be for you as well. On the other hand, a few of these extreme money saving tips are ones that are a part of normal life for us and that may be the case for your too. In any case, if you are tired of having a budget failure month after month, they may be just what you need.
The cycle of living paycheck to paycheck can be a harsh, stressful one. Sometimes, you simply don’t see another way to cut the expenses that are necessary in your life. That is where these extreme frugal living tips come into play. They may be just what you need to end that cycle and help give yourself and your family a leg up.
Extreme Frugal Living Tips For When You Really Need to Save
Before we get into these tips for extreme cheapskates (lol), you’ll need to understand that it is okay if some are over what you’re willing to do. That is perfectly okay. If something is more than you’re willing to do, just move onto the next without any worry or concern. We all have our frugal line and there is no reason for any of us to cross that line. Simply put; if you’re not comfortable doing something on this list, just skip it.
Money Saving Tips from Extreme Cheapskates
As I said, these extreme frugal living tips are just that – pretty extreme. They aren’t the tips you’ll go to when you’re simply trying to learn how to save money on groceries or something “normal” like that. They are the ones you will go to when you can’t cut anymore from your budget, but still need to. For the most part, they are okay, but there are a couple that I can not personally endorse. As with anything posted here on Six Dollar Family, check with your doctor, spouse or whoever else you may need to before putting any of these extreme frugal living tips into play or starting an extreme thrifty living lifestyle.
1. Do laundry off grid
Your washer and dryer are two of the most expensive appliances you own. Even if you own an energy star certified set, they’re still playing a role in super expensive power bills. A favorite extreme frugal living tip for those that practice extreme thrifty living is to do their laundry off-grid. Some take it to the real extreme and use their bathtub or 5-gallon buckets to wash. However, if I were to do this one, I would purchase a Wonder Wash and use that for washing and a portable clothing rack for drying. In fact, I have used both when Emma and I downsized a few years ago to live in a hotel full-time. The money you would save on power and water costs, greatly outweigh the costs you’ll spend on the equipment.
2. Have a spending freeze
I am not generally a fan of no-spend months for a reason, but if you are looking for extreme ways to save money, having a year long spending freeze will do it. If you avoid spending any money at all on things that are not necessary for a year; you will both fix your spending issues and save a considerable amount of money. An alternative method to doing a complete spending freeze is not buying anything new for a year, and shopping secondhand stores instead.
3. Heal Yourself whenever possible
This is one extreme frugal living tip that I sort of disagree with and want to caution you on. While I absolutely believe that holistic home remedies have their place, modern medicine does as well. Please use caution when trying to treat yourself. With that said, some of the most extreme cheapskates I know of do not even pay for dental work. They do it themselves. Again, use caution and common sense when trying to save money on health care.
4. Drop Internet Costs Completely
You may not like it but your internet costs you much more than just the cost of the service. Impulse buys, streaming services and more all add to those costs. If you want the extreme thrifty living version of “lower your internet speed,” it is to drop your net completely. Most libraries offer free internet for cardholders which still gives you a way to check your email and do other important things. Another option is to drop your net and buy a Verizon Jetpack with a prepaid Unlimited Data plan. Chances are even that option is cheaper.
5. Use pennies to pay
Most of us have a jar of pennies and change sitting around, but the truth is that change isn’t doing you any good sitting in a jar. People who live extreme frugal living know that and as a result, they’re not ashamed to pay for what they need with those pennies. If you’re worried about using actual change, add them to coin roll wrappers and take them to the bank to be run through the coin machine. They’ll give you cash for them.
6. Stop cooking with natural gas or electric
Cooking with natural gas or electric can be much more expensive than cooking with propane or a wood stove. If you’re looking to kick your frugal activities up a notch, replace your regular stove with a propane or wood burning one. Again, this one isn’t for everyone since it will usually require a major home remodel.
7. Put every electrical item on a timer
We’ve all heard that putting your electronics on a power strip or outlet timer can help save money, but extreme cheapskates will do it to every electronic they own except for the fridge and freezer. The reason you would not want to do those two appliances should be obvious.
8. Fish for food
Fishing for food is one extreme thrifty living tip that I am one-hundred percent okay. In fact, it is one that my own family practices yearly. As I showed this past summer, our cost breakdown per meal with caught fish versus store bought was significantly cheaper. If you’re looking into how to save more money on food, fishing is a great way. Just grab the necessary fishing equipment and head to your nearest clean lake!
9. Hunt for food
Another great way to save money but may be considered extreme thrifty living for some is to hunt for your food. We also do this one, although it is more my hubby’s thing than mine. For some, hunting and fishing will be over the line of what they are willing to do. Again, if so, that is perfectly okay too.
10. Drop cell service completely
Another of the “favorite” extreme frugal living tips I came across was to drop cell service if you can. Asking yourself if you really need to be paying for a cell can be eye opening. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself if your family can drop the number of phones you’re paying for. For instance, do all of your kids need an individual cell or can they share one? Do they even need one at all? Even dropping one line can help save hundreds per year.
11. Get a flip phone if you need cell service
If you do need to have a cell phone, do you absolutely need a smartphone? They are far more expensive than just a regular flip phone since they require a data plan to even work. If you’re really wanting to put some extreme frugal living tips in place in your life, dropping the data is a great way to do so. Flip phones such as THIS one are a great frugal option that allow you to call and text, but that’s about it.
12. Opt for WiFi Calling
If you absolutely must have data on your phone for work or other reasons, consider switching cell companies to one such as Republic Wireless. With Republic Wireless, your phone will use WiFi networks in the air to provide your service. Since the service does not run on towers like other carriers, your service is extremely cheap each month. Republic Wireless and other companies like them have plans that start around $15.00 per month making them an extremely budget friendly cell phone option.
13. Drop Streaming Services (or cable if you still have it)
Most libraries offer DVD rentals totally free which means if you’re still paying for streaming services or cable, you may be wasting money. While there are ways to watch your favorite tv shows totally free, those that are considering these extreme thrifty living tips will want to weigh the cost vs. benefit of keeping those services. If you decide they are not worth it, drop them and opt for trading movies and tv shows with your friends and renting from the library.
14. Go Paperless for Everything
We’re all aware that reusable products are generally cheaper in the long run and are typically the first step someone takes when they’re moving toward having a zero waste home. Have you ever considered taking those products a step farther and replacing everything disposable? Not only can you replace paper towels with reusable unpaper towels, but you can also buy reusable kitchen towels, buy reusable cloth pads, buy cloth baby wipes, buy cloth diapers and even buy reusable family cloth.
You can also make your own reusable products like these homemade reusable cleaning wipes or these DIY fabric softener sheets. Both are amazing at their job and far cheaper than store bought.
This is another area where one or more items may be across the line for your family. If so, that’s okay. For instance, it wasn’t too long ago that I made the switch to cloth pads but I could never even consider using family cloth. If something is too extreme for you, just move on.
15. Ditch the multiple soaps
In our home, it would be easy to spend big bucks each month on body wash and other soaps. With 2 teens, myself and my husband all preferring a different soap or body wash, we would be spending $20 or more each month to cater to everyone. That does not include the soaps we use for cleaning either. The answer to this is pretty simple. We use Castile soap.
There are so many ways to use Castile soap that it just makes sense. Not only can we use it to bathe with but it also doubles for cleaning. This means I make one batch of homemade liquid Castile soap and I’m done. One product for one price.
16. Ditch the shampoo and conditioner
Did you know your hair does not need typical shampoo? For extreme cheapskates, washing their hair with nothing more than baking soda and apple cider vinegar is normal. Others prefer to make their own homemade shampoo such as our homemade coconut milk shampoo recipe. Just keep in mind that if you make this switch, your hair will need time to adjust.
17. Eat for free when you can
Most folks who practice extreme frugal living know that eating for free whenever they can is key to saving as much money on food as possible. If you’re looking to add this to your money saving arsenal, check Facebook and local bulletin boards for free events that offer food, grab free samples in stores or opt for the buy one get one promotion at your favorite deli.
A couple years ago, my daughter and I downsized and moved into a hotel full-time. The experience was eye opening for me as to how much we all really spend to live. It is an extreme thing to do but if you’re looking to drastically cut your living expenses, I recommend it.
19. Check the curb
Curb side finds are a great way to save money and while most of us simply drive right by, an extreme cheapskate will stop and pick something up if they can use it. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find furniture, electronics and more all in good usable condition.
20. Hand Me Down
We all have clothes, shoes and other things we no longer need or want, so why not let your friends and family know you welcome their hand me downs? You may end up scoring what your own family needs for free or at a steep discount over thrift shops and buying new.
21. Take zero waste to a new level
The people who save the most money know that using every little bit of something is less money wasted. Yes, it takes a lot of work to live this way, but once they get used to it, they are usually able to slim down the amount of time they spend. Reuse what you can, get the last drop of something from a jar and so on. If you’re new to reusing things to save money, THESE household items you can reuse are a great place to start.
22. Eat from the Great Depression
Depression Era recipes are a great way to save money since they’re almost always super cheap. A great place to start is with Clara’s Kitchen. If you’re not familiar, Clara lived through The Great Depression and selflessly shared the recipes her Mother cooked on Youtube.
23. Turn your shower off
Your shower uses an insane amount of water every minute and most of it literally goes down the drain. Instead of wasting water you’re paying for, wet your body down and turn the shower off while you soap up. This will help cut down on the amount of water your family is wasting.
Another option that isn’t quite so time consuming is to buy a shower head with an off button such as THIS one. This accomplishes the same thing without the hassle of regulating the water temperature again.
24. Dumpster dive
Dumpster diving is another extreme frugal living tip that may be over your line. Frankly, it’s over mine so I wouldn’t blame you. For some people though, dumpster diving is how they find the things they need or want. I’ll admit that I have seen some crazy “hauls” and that the things this country throws away is mind blowing. If you do decide to dive, be sure to check all local regulations before you do. No amount of saving money is worth going to jail for.
25. Learn how to forage
Foraging is a great way to not only eat healthier but to save money as well. Nature provides a way to feed ourselves in many ways. Even the dandelions in your yard have multiple uses! If you’re just learning how to forage, I recommend picking up a how to book such as The Idiots Guide to Foraging to help you learn before you even attempt it. Picking and eating the wrong thing can be dangerous so do your due diligence before you start.
26. Skip holidays and birthdays
Steve and I don’t gift each other for our birthdays, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day for more reason than one, but it is in part because we both feel it is a waste of money. Instead, we give our kids a small amount and allow them to buy our gifts. Instead, we focus on Christmas only for each other. If you’re really looking to live cheaply, consider skipping any and all of the holidays mentioned. You could even skip Christmas if you truly wanted to. For our family, Christmas is our favorite time of the year so that would not work well for us.
27. Barter for what you need
Bartering used to be a staple in people’s lives, but these days it has fallen by the wayside for the most part. I don’t know that I would consider this an extreme frugal living tip as it is part of my daily life, but for some people the idea of trading is extreme. If you’re looking to learn how to trade, simply ask the next time you’re making a deal with someone. They may say no, but it never hurts to ask.
28. Keep your lights off during the day
Are your lights on? Is it daylight out? Turn them off! There’s zero reason for your lights to be on unless you’re looking in a closet or basement. This is a pretty typical frugal living tip, but extreme cheapskates are militant about it. They don’t turn lights on unless they’re needed and if they do, they keep their usage to a minimum.
29. Keep all but one light off at night
Even if it is dark outside, you still do not need every light in your home turned on. Extreme cheapskates know that keeping every light off except the room they’re in keeps their power bills down. If you really want to turn up the cheap, use oil lamps instead of electricity. The people I’ve seen who do this have power bills less than $50 each month! For me, I’ll keep my lights and just monitor how they’re left on.
30. Keep your furnace low
Do you have a habit of turning your furnace up when you’re cold? Extreme cheapskates don’t. Instead, they will keep their furnace low and add more clothing or blankets to really warm up.
31. Keep your air conditioning off
Here in Texas, our air conditioners tend to run from around Mid-April through November which can lead to some pretty steep power bills. No matter where you live, chances are you turn your a/c on at least once a year. One thing that most extreme cheapskates do is to skip it all together and refuse to run it. There are other ways to keep cool that use far less power or money from your budget. Place box fans strategically around your home or creating a swamp cooler and using it are two great options.
32. Eat less meat and more vegetables
Those that practice extreme money saving know that meat is a huge part of a grocery budget. To combat this, they often eat less meat and more vegetables. Even having a meatless meal once a week can help you drop your grocery budget by as much as $50 per month depending on the size of your family.
33. Drink only water
Sodas, juices and other beverages are not only expensive, but they’re often bad for your health. Extreme cheapskates often drink nothing but water. When they want a change, they add a little lemon for flavor.