60+ Extreme Things People Have Done To Save Money

Nearly two years ago, I published the blog post 8 Ways To Be An Extreme Cheapskate, which was about extreme money saving tips. While the people in that post are from the TV show Extreme Cheapskates, I wanted to ask real people what they do to save money and for their best money saving tips….

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: September 8, 2023

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There are many interesting money saving tips, and some of them are quite embarrassing. Here are over 30 extreme things people have done to save money.Nearly two years ago, I published the blog post 8 Ways To Be An Extreme Cheapskate, which was about extreme money saving tips. While the people in that post are from the TV show Extreme Cheapskates, I wanted to ask real people what they do to save money and for their best money saving tips.

We’ve all done super embarrassing things to save money.

By sharing the things that we do, maybe we can all feel a little less embarrassed about our best money saving tips and even find new ways of saving money.

Doing one or all of the below may allow you to change your life for the better, such as by allowing you to pay off your debt more quickly, improve your financial habits, help you reach your dream sooner, and more.

Related money saving tips blog posts:

Here are the best, funniest, and most embarrassing money saving tips.

The many ways of saving money on your looks

Have you ever thought about changing up your look or doing something drastic in order to save money while doing so? These money saving tips will show you exactly how to save money on your looks, and they are super interesting!

Shave your head. “I’ve gone without hair to save money. I shaved my hair as a way to save time AND money when I was a single mom. 17 years later and I still shave it – mostly because I’m used to it and not so much for the money. But every time I think about growing it out, I do think about the money I’ll have to start spending.” –Alaya Linton

Get more days out of your makeup by not washing your face. “When I was in college I wouldn’t wash my makeup off but every 2-3 days. I would simply touch it up each day so I could stretch the life of it. This way I didn’t have to buy my drug store makeup that often. Sounds terrible when I admit it now and I’m thankful my face didn’t breakout back then from it!” –Roxanne Gilmore

Related tip: Sign up for a website like Ebates where you can earn free CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. All you do is click on a store that you want to shop through (they have TONS of stores such as Kohls, REI, Toys R Us, etc.), and shop just like how you normally would. Ebates makes a commission for referring you to the store you just shopped at, and they give you some of that money back as a thank you. Plus, when you sign up through my link, you receive a free $10 cash back! My Ebates review: Money Saving Tip – Use Ebates For Free Cash Back.

Skip the cap and gown on graduation day. “When I graduated from San Diego State University I found out it was going to cost me $60 to rent a graduation cap and gown. I didn’t have the money (and didn’t think to ask family to chip in) so I wore a suit instead. I looked and felt so stupid on graduation day as literally the ONLY person not dressed up as a graduate, and have regretted it ever since. But I did save 60 bucks!” –Chris Huntley

Cut your own hair. “When I was on a tight budget during University, I stopped getting my hair cut professionally. Instead, I purchased a quality pair of hairdressing scissors from Sally’s Beauty Supply, watched tutorials on YouTube, and taught myself how to cut my own hair at home. The embarrassing part is that I continued to cut my own hair at home after I graduated from University to save money. I went almost 7 years without a professional hair cut! (And no, I don’t recommend this to anyone haha)” – Eden Ashley

Don’t go to the mall for 2 years. “This is definitely embarrassing. I didn’t step foot inside of a mall for 2 years about 12 years ago. I was and still am a single mom so money was definitely tight. I had one pair of decent shoes because my other ones were worn and tattered so I had to throw them away. So, for 2 years a single, young woman did no shopping, wore one pair of shoes, and rarely got my hair done in a hair salon (As a Black woman, getting our hair done is huge. I’m not sure about everyone else.) That time period really taught me the meaning of what the “old” folks used to tell us – “Don’t look like what you’re going through.” I was definitely going “through” and I looked like it.” – Natasha Ptomey

Keep your shoes together with Scotch tape. “I broke one of my sandals, and it was the only pair I had. I didn’t want to buy another pair so I taped it back together with Scotch tape. It lasted for another month or so.” – Adrienne Luedeking

Use hotel shampoos. “We wait until the hotel cleaning person has abandoned the cart, and then we raid it for shampoo, conditioner, etc. We don’t take all of it though. Just four or five bottles at a time.” – Millason Paige Forrester Dailey

Wear your contacts for a LONG time. “Okay this is absolutely terrible but I wear my 2-3 week contacts 4 weeks to make them last longer. And I don’t even own glasses (which is usually fine but if I ever get an eye infection, I’m in serious trouble)” – Brittany from Equipping Godly Women

Find ways to save money at home

How much do you spend on rent, your home, etc? With the money saving tips below, you’ll be able to save money at home in many different ways.

Live in super cheap living conditions. “I lived with a couple and another guy in a cramped house. I shortly learned that they were extremely frugal themselves and didn’t use their AC or heat. Chicago winters are brutal and heat is NECESSARY. I had so many terrible nights of sleep and worst of all, I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I was paying to live in a house that I was totally miserable in, and they never thought to tell me that they don’t use heat or AC. OH, they also had a newborn baby a month or 2 later after I moved in, which was absolutely terrible. But, being in college, I did what I had to do to save money. Rent was really cheap.” –Alexis Schroeder

Move your whole family into your parent’s basement. “During the three years that we worked to pay off $144,000 of student loan debt, my family of six lived rent-free in my in-laws’ unfinished basement. In order for the plumbing to work, we had to put in a “step-up” bathroom. My 6’7″ husband cannot even stand up straight in the shower. He has to cock his head to the side in the shower every day! But we’re debt-free now, so the sacrifice was well worth it!” –Stephanie Jones

Save money on rent by having interesting roommates. “I rented a room in a house with four other guys, who had band practice every night until about 2am. Oh and I shared a room with an eel. In my closet. Who wasn’t my eel. I lasted a year, and my rent was only $200 so yea, I suffered to save a few bucks! Rent in the area at that time for a room was about $500.” –Lauren Wittry

Go to the bathroom in a jar or bottle instead of using the toilet. This is from Extreme Cheapskates. There was one episode where the woman had a working toilet, but wanted to save water. In order to do so, she had a jar next to her toilet that she would use the bathroom in. There was another episode where a guy only flushed his toilet once a week. It didn’t matter what happened in his bathroom, he waited AN ENTIRE WEEK to flush it.

Make your own toilet paper. “I make my own re-useable toilet paper…yes I do! Living full time in the RV saves problems in the black tank but saves money too!” –Margaret Heaton

Turn off the AC, even in the heat. “I refused to turn on the AC during the summer. My electric bill was so high in the month of July that I wanted to try and save some money by not using my air conditioner. I made it a month. I ended up sleeping on the tile floor a lot because it was cooler than my bed. Cut my bill down from $450 to $200 that month!” –Ryan Wilkins

Freeze water bottles instead of using AC. “I used to freeze water bottles and put them in my bed at night during NYC summers because I was too cheap to buy an AC.” –Erin Lowry

Get rid of paid TV completely to save money. The average monthly cable bill is around $120! By the year 2020, the average cable bill is expected to be around $200 a month. If you want to save money, you may want to think about getting rid of cable, satellite, Netflix, and anything else you are paying for, and just switch to a digital antenna (I highly recommend doing this!).

Save money until you can fix things. “So this wasn’t just me, but my family. I grew up in an old house and one year the electrical wiring got messed up and we lost electricity in half the house. Instead of fixing it which would have cost a small fortune, we lived off of extension cords until my parents remodeled the house a few years later. So yes, I lived with no electricity in half the house for years because my parents wanted to save money. Same thing happened with the water heater. On the bright side, I don’t find cold showers to be so bad.” –Amanda Abella

Limit the amount of stuff you have. “I used to re-use coffee filters but, then I found out I could sew my own so I made some and now I just throw them in the washing machine. We have three kids but, a few years ago we did a “no spend year” experiment and that included Christmas & Birthdays (our extended family thought we were the worst parents ever). Each person in our household (2 adults and 3 kids) only have 5 outfits each and everything comes from thrift stores. If our 10-year old daughter wants new (used) clothes … she has to pick out the items she wants to donate and only gets that many in place of them. We lived in a 3BR/2BA house w/a garage for years but, last year we moved into a 2BR apartment in an effort to force ourselves to limit the amount of “stuff” we own and purchase.” –Marie Edwards

Wash your clothes in a bucket. “When I was a college student in Paris, I was on a super tight budget and was constantly trying to think of ways to save money. Some of the slightly cringe-worthy things I did include: wrapping the free bread that restaurants provide in a napkin and taking it home to have for breakfast the next morning, washing my clothes in a bucket of water and detergent to avoid paying the laundromat fee and buying cheeseburgers from McDonalds and eating the bun for breakfast, then crumbling the burger patty over rice for lunch – delicious.” –Ashli from The Million Dollar Mama

Hang blankets to prevent a draft. “We lived in an old house and the house settled and there are almost full inch wide gaps at the tops of the front door. But the doors aren’t the standard size for doors, and would need to be custom made which is of course super expensive. So instead of forking out the money to buy new doors, we used heavy blankets to hang behind the doors to prevent the draft. Weirdly enough, it worked! It looked ghetto, but it helped keep the house warm, keep the draft out, keep the heat bill low, and helped us avoid needing to buy new doors!” –Caroline Vencil

Sleep on an air mattress. “Slept on an air mattress for my first several months living in Nashville! Eventually a roommate felt bad and gifted me her bed once she bought a new one 😂 I kept that bed (and a free desk) until I turned 25.” – Kate Dore

Find your neighbor’s coupons in the trash. “When I started couponing, to save money on newspaper subscriptions, I would take early morning walks around my neighborhood on Recycling Day and dig through my neighbors’ bins for coupons. Not as bad as “dumpster diving,” but just as crazy.” –Alaya Linton

One person’s trash is another person’s furniture. “When I moved out of my dorm into an apartment for the first time, I couldn’t afford furniture so I raided the dorm discards after move out day and scored a sweet papasan for our living room!” –Lena Presley Gott

Buy hundreds of gift cards to get free gas. “When we went to replace the windows in our old home from Lowe’s, I made Mark Greutman buy $8,000 worth of gift cards so I could get 6 free tanks of gas. The issue was that most of the gift cards were in $25 increments. I made Mark pay for the windows at Lowes with a grocery bag full of $25 gift cards, it took him an hour to cash out and it crashed the computer a few times, but I didn’t pay for gas for 2 months! *WIN*” –Lauren Greutman

Find things that are on “sale.” “Just after graduating college, I moved into a house with a friend. I only had a twin mattress and couldn’t stand it any longer. I went shopping for mattresses but didn’t want to spend $700+ on a queen mattress. One day as I was reading the paper, I saw an ad in the classifieds (this was around 2000 so no Craigslist yet) for mattresses. I called the number and got the address where the “sale” was. My friend and I headed to the location. It was in an industrial complex with old factories. The “sale” was out of the back of a plain white box truck on the side of an alley. While it was sketchy, I bough the mattress for $300. It was still in plastic so I thought it was safe. for the next few days, my friend and I watched the news to see if any mattress stores were recently robbed but never saw anything.” – Jon Dulin

Give a toilet seat for a birthday present. “We lived a mixed blessing type life growing up. We had good times and we certainly had rough times. I remember seeing my dad roll change from his bedroom jar to try to make payroll. Then one year I received a toilet bowl seat for my birthday. Things we needed for the house were also my birthday present? I was so broke in college I would not walk but rather run to any and all free food! Today – I am almost 40, live comfortably, better than I ever dreamed for myself, and still if I see free food or any leftovers I will take it all and devour it as if it were my last meal!!” – Ashleigh Blatt

Skip the heat and use a teakettle instead. “We just moved to Scotland and saw what our electric bill was going to be, so we haven’t turned on the heat yet. I keep filling up a hot water bottle with water from our teakettle and setting my feet on it.” – Natalie McKee

Use a hot water bottle for heat. When I was paying my mortgage off I’d make sure I didn’t waste a single penny. So for example when my little boy went to bed (I was a single parent at the time) I’d turn off the heating, go to bed myself with a hot water bottle and sit and read under a single lamp. Doesn’t seem extreme to me, seems completely sensible and I have very happy memories of reading loads during this period. Bonus was paying the mortgage off in 5 years!” – Ellie at Frugality Gives Us Options

Use every last squeeze of toothpaste. “I’ve taken “almost” empty tubes of toothpaste out of the bathroom trash can that my husband throws away. He thinks they are empty but I can squeeze out at least half a dozen or more uses from them. I hate to waste, but my husband thinks I nuts…” – Lisa Hebert

We use a space heater for heat and set out heat at 60 in the winter. “We live in Michigan and keep our heat set at 60 during the winter. We dress warm and use a space heater in the primary area that we spend the day in. We also warn others who come over to dress warm!” – Jennifer Roskamp

If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow! “We don’t flush the toilet until it’s been used a few times…here’s the rule “if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow!” – Ashleigh Allman

Move in with your parents (or your spouse’s parents!). “I’m 37 and have been with my husband since I was 16. During my senior year in high school, I moved in with him and his parents (because my family life wasn’t great) and to save money.” – Melissa Barstow

Use the bathroom anywhere but at home. Ok this is a very embarrassing story that I thought I would take with me to my grave. Back in my university days, when I didn’t have toilet paper at my house, instead of buying some right then and there, I would spend the next 3-5 days going to the bathroom at the school. It was only a 10 minute walk away!” – Sang Shin

Live in your car. “In an effort to cut costs and avoid the expensive dorm rooms, I lived in my car for my 1st year of college. Saved a good amount of money!” – Colin

Move your whole family into your parent’s spare bedroom. “I and my entire family six of us slept on the floor of my parents spare room for a year to build our house for cash.” – Kevin Coy

Rethink your travel. “After college graduation, a friend and I took a cross country road trip to Yellowstone. My friend worked with the parks system for the summer before getting ready to go to grad school. Meanwhile, I needed to head back home (to NC) but discovered that flights out of the Yellowstone area were pricey. A flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte was much cheaper, so I went that route. So I took a bus from West Yellowstone to Los Angeles, where I had a college friend attending law school at Pepperdine University (and living in a “dorm” room on Malibu beach). So, while saving money, I also got to live on the beach and see some of California for a couple of weeks. I also saved some money by hitching a ride with the family of a young teenage girl I met at the bus stop in West Yellowstone. Her mom asked me to watch her on the trip (and we hung out on the long ride). When we arrived at the bus station, her older sister met us and dropped me off at my friend’s doorstep. (This was a long time before cell phones but the mom had told the sister about me; still a bit weird thinking about it but a fun adventure.)” – Julie Rains at Investing to Thrive

Find new ways to skip storage fees. “When I started blogging in 2008, I decided to share a super trick I’d come up with: when visiting London, you can avoid splashing out on the expensive left luggage facility at King’s Cross rail station (£8.50 – or $11 – per item, per day) by stashing your bags in the (free) locker room at the British Library, which is 2 minutes’ walk down the road. What I hadn’t accounted for, was that when my blog became popular, this post would begin drawing substantial amounts of traffic… Suddenly I was being inundated with hate mail and angry messages from students and other library users, who were complaining that thanks to my post, they could no longer find empty lockers there. Apparently I was “selfish” and “should feel guilty” for broadcasting my secret tip far and wide. The library also changed its locker policy, in response to the influx of “non-users” making use of the free facilities. Awkward. Not so awkward that I have been prepared to delete the post, though; if one thing is clear, it is that the tip provides lots of practical value for readers.” – Karyn Fleeting

Use gift cards for gifts for others. “We got married last October and got hundreds of dollars in bed, bath and beyond gift cards. We bought all our Christmas gifts there and used a coupon on every single item. We still haven’t made it through the last gift card.” – Jen Smith

Live in a 16×24 cabin. “When I first moved out on my own, the only rental I could afford was a 16’x24′ cabin with no running water in Alaska, for $400/month. The trips to the outhouse at -40 were very brief, to say the least! I also had no money for furniture, so I got it all by raiding the local “transfer sites”- drop off locations for trash and unused items. The transfer site by the rich part of town had the best castaway furniture. I haven’t written a blog post about this, but I should!” – Lindsay VanSomeren

Ask for refunds. When I was single, I decided to try online dating and found a woman on Match who I wanted to get in touch with. But of course you had to pay to communicate, so I purchased a minimal 3-month membership. The woman and I hit it off right away and so I called Match to cancel and asked them to refund the rest of my money (which they did) as I’d no longer be using their service. I’ve been married to that woman for 10 years now.” – Gary Weiner

Grocery money saving tips

Groceries can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. With these money saving tips, you’ll be able to cut your grocery bill in no time!

Fill your name brand cereal box with off brand. “When my husband and I were first married we needed to buy diapers for our kid… So I stopped buying pre made things like laundry soap and chicken broth and started making my own of everything. I even went as far as splitting the meat I bought into much smaller portions. My husband also hates off brand cereal so I would keep the name brand box and fill it with the off brand kind. He never knew the difference. Our grocery bill went from $100 per week to $50 per week. We were actually able to put money in savings and not just live check to check.” –Heather Farris

Related tip: I recently joined $5 Meal Plan in order to help me eat at home more and cut my food spending. It’s only $5 a month (the first two weeks are free too) and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. The meals are easy to make and are affordable.

Find free food. “If I was having a bad money week in college, I’d attend a few events on campus that had any sort of food…some groups I was a member of, some I wasn’t. I could go about 4 days in a row without spending any money on food. I only did this a few times but I was always weirdly proud of it.” –Crystal Stemberger

Dumpster dive for free food. Dumpster diving is when you go to various dumpsters (homes and stores), and dig around until you find a treasure. I was first introduced to dumpster diving for food on Extreme Cheapskates, but I actually know a few people who do this and find great deals.

Bring a toaster on vacations. “I come from a very frugal family. On one family vacation, to save money on meals, my mom packed our toaster in her suitcase so that we could heat up waffles and other things in our hotel room instead of going out. We would wait for the toaster to cool off so she could hide in back in her suitcase before we left for our daily adventures because I don’t think you were supposed to have something like that in your room.” –Christine White

Eat roadkill. This is another money saving tip from Extreme Cheapskates. I know that all food comes from somewhere, but driving around trying to find a dead animal just seems a little too extreme for me. One family actually used almost every part of the dead animal they found. They ate the animal, and I believe the mom made keychains for their guests as well.

Eat peanut butter and jelly’s for 5 days straight. “A friend and I once traveled to Florida (10 hr drive) to spend a week with another mutual friend. We did it on less than $80 each for the whole week by borrowing his mom’s car (great gas mpg), sleeping at a campground, and eating bananas, bread, and peanut butter 3 meals a day for 5 days. No exaggeration, peanut butter sandwiches for 5 straight days.” –Nick True

Take leftover catering home. “When we were saving for travel I would offer to clean the conference room at my office after board meetings so I could take the leftover catering home. My husband and I often ate canapes and mini burgers or whatever was on offer that day for dinner!” –Emma Healey

Think about even the smallest purchases. “Back when I was a starving college student – cream cheese for your bagel was 10 cents extra but butter was free. Every time I bought a bagel it would be a huge decision for me whether to splurge for cream cheese or go with the butter. Thankfully these days I can choose whatever I want guilt free. Calories are another story, though.” – Neena Nandagopal

Stop using paper towels. “We stopped using paper towels completely. While this seemed like an easy way to save $400 it was a constant embarrassment to friends and family who visited and asked “where do you keep your paper towels?” Then they started visiting (even for dinner!) and bringing their own paper towels. All these years later and we’re out of debt and have tons of paper towels and people STILL bring us paper towels.” – Rosemarie Groner

Start fasting. “Incorporated fasting and combined macro-rich/dense foods into 1-2 meals to save money at the store.” – Leighann Scott

Water down boxed juices. “I have watered down the boxed juices to make them last longer while my family slept and swapped out the branded cereal for the no brand cereal…I just dropped it into the old box so they wouldn’t know. I am NOT ashamed.” – Sandy Smith

Super glue is your friend. “This past summer, the sole of my sandals was falling off, so I super glued it back on. They lasted until August when sandals went on sale.” – Amanda Kruse

Resort jobs have their perks. “My husband and I used to be resort cleaners, at a time when neither of us could find other jobs. We would take our oldest son with us (he was probably about 4 or 5?) to avoid paying daycare. If there was any food left in the resort room fridges, we would take it home. If the last guests hadn’t used their supplied toiletries, we would take them home. Once, we even scored an expensive, unopened bottle of wine!” – Bindi Horvath

Buy lots of Mentos for a discount! “We bought 14 packages of Mentos orange mints because gas points–an extra 40 cents off per gallon!” – Claudia Pennington

Spend money on parking to get free food. “Many years ago in the UK we used to buy an hours parking for 70p (we don’t even have a car!) to get a voucher for buy one get one free on McDonalds. We’ve saved a fortune over time!” – Ricky Willis

Save money by making money

The money saving tips and money saving ideas below will blow your mind, especially the first one…

Sell used toilets. “When we built our house (like… we built it, not hired it out) I saved money every possible way, because we didn’t actually HAVE much money (we had to work for a week, get our paychecks, then go buy nails and stuff)… So I bought used toilets. That had been taken out of other people’s houses. I bleached them all up, cost us a fraction of what new toilets cost. And you can’t tell they’re second hand. Just in case anyone is wondering … if used toilets is too gross, when I was backpacking and had to go to work in these horrible red dirt fields for a month and didn’t want to wreck my only shoes – I just got some other shoes – from a garbage can. It seemed like no one was using them.” –Carly Campbell

Take as many online surveys as you can. There are tons of survey companies that you can sign up for and make a little bit of side cash. If you sign up for them all, you may be able to earn anywhere from $25-$100+ a month by taking surveys online. Survey companies I recommend include Swagbucks, Pinecone Research, Survey Junkie, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.

Sell as much as you can from your home in a garage sale! “In college I went to the pawn shop more than a few times. Those were not proud moments! We are super tight on money right now. These aren’t crazy things, but we’ve started making our own food like butter and jelly. I started a garden in the backyard so we don’t have to buy any veggies. So far everything is going well, but I’ve yet to see a veggie. We might just have to eat the veggie leaves – ha! This weekend I am having a garage sale, and I’ve put just about everything in the house up for sale, but the kids, on eBay! I have to admit, I am NOT turning off the air conditioner down here in Florida. The combination of humidity and my premenopausal moments ain’t pretty. No one else wants me to turn it off for those reasons, either. Ha ha!” – Julie Powell Pollitt

Rent out your home and sleep on people’s couches instead. “When times were tight, as they often were, I afforded my NYC rent by airbnb-ing or subletting my apartment and crashing with friends instead.” –Stefanie O’Connell

Get paid to stay up for 48 hours straight. “Lots of crazy things over the years! Most of these I remember from when I was laid off and totally broke. Some thing’s that come to mind: I used to go to yard sales and buy things and resell on eBay, that was a lot of fun and I made good money doing that! I had some friends that would do it too and we had a code: “would Angie (or some name) like it?”. That was us asking if the others thought it would sell on eBay or not 😂😂 I used to do focus groups and I did one that paid $1,000 to say in a hotel for a week and I had to stay up 48 hours straight for something they were testing, it was brutal! I used to do extreme couponing and became friends w the paper guy in my neighborhood and he would bring me 10 extra papers each week so I had tons of coupons. At one point I had a whole closet filled with things I got free or next to free.” – Jenny Kerr

What other money saving tips do you have to share? What embarrassing things have you done to save money?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Kate @ Cashville Skyline

    These are hilarious, Michelle! I’ve definitely done several of these in the past. Thanks for including mine! πŸ™‚

    1. Haha, it was a lot of fun to write!

        1. Reni

          I am all for saving money when ever possible and do not feel the need to hide off brand products in higher brand boxes. If I am trying to save money I am not going to hide it. I agree that skipping the mall is a good start. Many of these ideas are helpful, but I hope that some of theses are not really true because several are unsanitary, unsafe, and unhealthy. Not washing off your make up can lead to skin problems and will prematurely age your skin. Not flushing for a week might as well have a porta-potty installed nearby and using a jar instead of the toilet and dumpster diving for food make me feel very sad for these people. I hope for everyone we are able to take better care of ourselves and each other.

          1. Jane Ward

            Unfortunately many people are so broke after paying their bills like rent, water, power, & gas, there is barley any left to pay for anything else like their phone, cable, fuel for the car, and let’s not forget the food and paper products.
            I am a single mom who can no longer work. I support myself and 2 children on $300 a month! So, yes I am very frugal with my purchases. I make a little extra money on the side sewing items to sell, doing bead work to sell and many other items. I purchase most of my fabrics from goodwill. I use coupons when I need something from the fabric stores as well as watching for sales. I never pay more then $1 per pattern.
            I closely monitor the thermast all year. Currently it is winter so at night I set it at 68-69, during the morning I set it at 70-72 for about an hour then back down to 69-70. We do laundry no more then twice a month. I make the kids hand warmers that they put in the microwave just before they leave for the bus.
            What may seem unhealthy or unsanitary to you means away of survival to others. I’m sure you have never had to struggle a day in your life and that is great but might I suggest you put on someone else’s shoes for a month before chastising someone who is struggling. For example can you live in $300 a month? How about $500 even? Next time you see a mom or dad trying to count out the last of their change just so they have bread and milk for their family. Be an example to others by being Christ like. May you be blessed.

  2. LaMesha

    Some of these are way too extreme for me (eating roadkill for example). Some that weren’t listed include using a diva-cup or washable pads instead of buying disposable pads and tampons every month. Using cloth diapers for your baby, clothing swaps with friends, doing workouts from youtube or checking out workout videos from the library and going to those “kids eat free” restaurants if you really must eat out.

  3. Oh my God. These are some crazy things people are doing to save money.

  4. Michelle: This money saving tip is not humorous or extreme, but it works.Trying paying monthly debts, like mortgages, car and student loans, biweekly. Divide your monthly payment in half and pay that amount every two weeks when you get paid. Because there are 52 weeks in a year, you’re making 26 half payments, or the equivalent of 13 monthly payments a year. This extra month’s payment can help pay off your debt more quickly and reach your financial goals sooner.

  5. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    Love this list, Michelle! I’ve done some of these things, but definitely not all (roadkill!!!). Thanks for sharing my idea! πŸ™‚

  6. Lindsey

    These are some pretty crazy ways to save money! I must confess I’ve done a few of these myself though :P.

  7. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Hahaha, thanks for sharing these! Some of these are a little wacky, but I guess it’s all about what works for you. The line between being cheap and being frugal is a thin line–and it’s a line that I think is different for each person. I don’t think I’d shave my head to save money, but I did walk to work to save money, which many people in my city would consider extreme. It’s all about perspective, I think.

    Some of the “craziest” things I’ve done do include dumpster diving for coupons (which I stopped because it turns out there are laws against that–oops), walking to work while we saved up for a car (not a popular choice in our city, especially for women), and grocery shopping at 7 am to get discounted meat.

    1. Yes, exactly! Not everything is for everyone, but these are all interesting ideas πŸ™‚

  8. We already do a lot of these things, but I’m always looking for new (reasonable) ways to save money. We’re saving a ton on heat right now with our wood-burning stove.

    I like the idea of sewing your own reusable coffee filter – definitely going to give that a try!

  9. All these tips are making me laugh. I’ve definitely done a few of these to save money, thanks for including mine!

  10. This is too funny, I love it!! Thanks for including me Michelle!!

  11. OMG most of these things are absolutely hilarius and dangerous,, this is readson I can have a frugal lifestyle but I am not going to became an extreme cheapskater

  12. These are too funny. Thanks so much for sharing these and including mine!! πŸ™‚

  13. Erin @ View From Our Terrace

    These are funny! Currently I am saving money by not fixing the heat in my car. Halfway through last winter the heat stopped working and after the quote I got was $1000 (mainly for labor) I decided to tough it out for the rest of the year and re-evaluate this year. Once it got warm I never thought about it because the AC works fine, but here we are back to winter and I am still not planning on fixing it! I don’t have to do a lot of driving early in the morning or at night so I just wear my jacket, scarf, gloves, and sometimes a hat. People think I am crazy but I think it is worth it – I hate unnecessary expenses, especially on cars!

    1. Haha, I’d probably do the same. $1,000 is a lot!

    2. Stephen

      It’s obviously not that cold where you are. In Canada where winter is regularly below freezing if you don’t fix your heat in the winter your windshield will never be clear if you get any spray on the window once your driving.

      1. Awka

        Not sure where she lives, but I’ve done this in New England.

        Park so sun will help defrost. And/or use a windshield cover.

        Icescraper and windshield fluid designed for extreme winter cold.

        A chalkboard eraser helps defog interior glass.

        Like her, my AC works. Heat is just close to non existant. (Not leaking coolant, etc. )Set to the windshield option, and crack window a bit. The goal is a clear view. I hate ppl who drive around with a snowy car.

        There are also plug in heaters, seat warmers, etc. No experience with those personally yet, but they exist.

        IF its -30 for days on end, then, no these temporary solutions won’t work. If your glass is clear though? Baselayers and a lap blanket are your friends.

  14. This is such a great list of the extreme savers. I cannot get over some of these, going to the bathroom in a bottle or bucket? Now I have to admit that sometimes in our house our yellow seems to mellow in the toilet too with my kids. Guess I am just raising some money saving kiddos πŸ™‚

    Awesome post with fun and creative ideas to save, who can blame anyone for saving.

    1. Thanks! It was a ton of fun writing this. I have another one similar going live in a few months – Extreme Things People Have Done to MAKE money πŸ™‚

  15. Natasha

    We had to do what we had to do! If you work it right, it’s only temporary. A very short time period. It’s sacrificing for the short term to have a better long term so to speak! A true life lesson.

  16. Tim McReynolds

    Growing up in Western Kansas had it’s advantages. One year we had just moved to a new town, and we didn’t have enough money to buy a Christmas Tree. My Dad made it an adventure, we were challenged to find the biggest tumble weed. Dad spray painted it with some green paint he had left from a prior project, and we put lights on the tumbleweed. It was when I was in 3rd grade, I am now 59, but it was one of the most memorable Christmas celebrations of my life. It was a fantastic Christmas, all gifts were homemade and as always, I don’t remember the gifts, I just remember the Christmas.

    1. Awww love this! Sounds like a great memory πŸ™‚

  17. Wow some of these are extreme! I hang onto birthday and Christmas bags and reuse them!

  18. Claudia @ Two Cup House

    I loved Jen’s gift card idea–so smart!

    Thanks for including me! πŸ™‚

  19. This is a very entertaining list! Can’t say that I’ve done more than 2 or 3 of these things. Some things I have done to save money are stop using my dryer and air dry all my clothes and go to bed early in the winter so I save on electricity.

    1. Haha, I agree – it was entertaining to write too!

  20. Hi,

    Fasting is a good idea it will save money as well as it will good for health.

  21. Ben Bergmann

    I honestly can’t remember to have ever done something that extreme to save money as eating roadkill! If I had to choose my personal favorite (if you can call it that!) it would be that one πŸ˜‰

    A lot of the other ones are actually quite helpful and can definitely save you money. Eating roadkill can too, but I don’t think I’d ever try it!

    1. Janicea

      In our county in Indiana, a LOT of deer are killed or injured . One can have their name on a list at the police or sheriffs stations to pick up the “roadkill” right away. The person who picks it up must skin,gut, butcher and wrap the meat for the freezer.

  22. Chris

    Great list! But uhhh….buying Mentos to save money on gas. If you even had a large tank that held 20 gallons, you would save only $8 but how much are you spending on Mentos. If you had a small tank (12 gal), you are only saving $4.80. This person might have actually spent more than they saved! lol I did love the generic/name brand cereal trick!

  23. I’ve got an extreme way to save money (although in our case, that wasn’t our reason for doing so).

    If you happen to have a job that you can do remotely, live in a developing country. There are always places within those countries where you’ll be able to enjoy the must-have comforts you’re used to, and your money will go a long way! Plus, you’ll have one heck of an adventure. I’m not a huge risk taker, we only travel to places with a reputation for being safe, always research where to go for safe medical care etc… .but it’s worked out well and provided us with some amazing memories!

    Anyhow, loved reading this list – it’s amazing what people have gone through to save a buck, and I admire them for doing what they had to do!

  24. Hi Michelle,
    I enjoyed reading through this list. While so many points made me laugh, almost all of them could be applied in more of a moderate manner and people could save money without appearing to be too crazy. I am not too sure about those Extreme Cheapskate ideas though – yuck!
    Thanks for including my story here, too. So, happy to be part of this frugal group. πŸ™‚

  25. This list is awesome! I think I like “start fasting” the best because not only would I save money, but I would loose weight, too! ha

  26. Christine

    While I have and currently do some of these things, some of the ideas listed could be very unhealthy. I’m not shocked by the roadkill idea because I have heard of people doing this but a hunter did recently tell me that if an animal is not butchered correctly, urine and other “stuff” can get into the meat and cause someone to get pretty sick from eating it. A car hitting an animal and causing an explosion inside the animal’s body would definitely put a good butchering at risk. Also, due to hunting laws, it may be illegal to collect road kill without first notifying the authorities.

  27. Sarah @tortoisehappy.com

    I don’t really see it as extreme, but I’m sure lots might. I don’t wear make up, well hardly ever. I have a palette of 4 eye shadows and a mascara, but that’s it. It must save loads of money πŸ™‚

  28. Leeann Minton

    My favorite money saving trick is actually making my own baby wipes. I’ve saved so much money just using paper towels with water and coconut oil. I’m too squeemish for cloth diapers or soft cloths and water for wipes, but you can do that as well and save even more money. If I purchased wipes I would be spending at least 6X more a year than I do by simply making my own. I do purchase some wipes for trips outside the house or on the occasion that I forgot to make a new batch of wipes. I use an old butter tub to hold my home-made wipes. I used to have two, but I gave the second to my sister who had a little one this past June.

  29. Janicea

    My husband was a dairy farmer and he always wanted to have REAL butter’ I would buy a lb. of REAL butter,and a lb. of margarine, then use the electric mixer to blend them together. In the 54 years that we were married, I don’t think he ever caught on.

  30. Go Finance Yourself!

    Fun list. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get by. Beats going into credit card debt! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Chris

    My son was behind a vehicle that hit a deer. He jumped out, hit it with a tire iron so it wouldn’t suffer and asked the driver if he wanted it, to which he answered, “no”. He and his friend butchered it. He has been a hunter since he was 9 years old and has shot many deer. So, in this case, yes, I would agree with road kill. However, I also agree with the above post-er who states about the urine and the state laws.

  32. Most of these were pretty reasonable, but the toilet seat gift really hit home for me, since I gave my wife a couple soft-close toilet seats for Christmas one year. I’m actually going to give her three more this year for our new house.
    I wrote a post about frugal gift giving, which includes the toilet seats, that you can check out here: http://www.fiscallyfree.com/2016/08/how-to-give-great-frugal-gifts.html

  33. Henri

    I like all the ideas. But I have a small question. People in the US use paper towels at home? Are guests afraid to use a normal towel? Is it considered unsanitairy? Or is it not just for the guests?

    1. Kristen

      Paper towels are generally used to clean up kitchen spills. Some people use a rag or a sponge, but when those sit around wet they can grow a lot of bacteria so most people prefer to just use a paper towel that they can simply throw away.

      1. mable

        You can simply throw away rags, too. Cheaper and better for the environment.

  34. Harley

    “Shave your head”

    I’ve saved a LOT from doing this. Bought an electronic razor 12 years ago for $50 and I’ve rarely had to pay for a haircut since. It’s sometimes hard to get the pesky bits you can’t see at the back though!

  35. I’ve also shaved my head to save money! πŸ™‚

  36. Stephen

    Some of these are great pieces of advice…others…are a bit too extreme for me. I’d possibly think of doing some of the extreme ones if I was really down on my luck but I think i’ll pass on the homemade toilet paper for now…

  37. moon

    Hi,
    People in the US use paper towels at home? Are guests afraid to use a normal towel? Is it considered unsanitairy? Or is it not just for the guests?

    1. I think the average US household mainly uses paper towels. It is sad!

  38. Laurel

    I have read several of these “extreme ways to save money” lists looking for new ideas and I have come to the realization that a good portion of people would consider me and my family wackado.

    I think in many cases, once you start doing something, it becomes “normal” to you. I knew that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. For several years before my 2nd child was born (I have an older child from a previous marriage) I started researching and practicing ways to save money so I could afford to stay home.

    I have learned to make almost everything from scratch. I buy staples in the largest most cost effective size possible. 25-50 lb bags of rice, beans, flour, etc. I visit the local orchards and farms. I buy bulk produce, can, freeze and dehydrate. 2 years in a row I visited the local u-pick farm and brought home 1500-1800 lbs of summer veggies for only .25Β’ a pound between the months of July and Nov. I can 200 lbs of Applesauce and 36 pints of strawberry jam each year.

    This year I have 600 sq ft of garden beds in my front year. I never knew a person could eat broccoli and cauliflower leaves, but we are going to. My summer veggies spend their nights in my dinning room until the weather gets warmer.

    I use cloth diapers, cloth wipes, menstrual pads, flannel toilet “paper”, cloth dinner napkins, cleaning towels, reusable Ziploc bags, silicone baking mats, and silicone muffin papers.

    We take our own trash to the dump. Instead of spending $30 a month for pickup, it only costs us $14-$24 every 2-3 months. We try to have as little garbage as possible. Not just for environmental reasons, but mostly because it costs money to throw stuff away. If it’s good, we try to find a home for it. If we can’t, we donate it. If it can be recycled, we separate it.

    I keep a compost pile. Recently I started doing a Bokashi bucket for meat, dairy, and grains. It ferments those items so you can add it to the compost bin. I also started doing the same thing with a compostable cat litter. NO I’M NOT GOING TO USE IT ON MY VEGGIES! After the fermenting process, I’m going dig a hole and let nature do the rest. I’ve considered composting my own urine, but I haven’t worked myself up to it yet.

    I get my kids clothes second hand or at the thrift store. I only have 2 pairs of pants for myself. I wear one pair till it’s dirty, 2-3 days, then the other pair. Then wash both. I won’t buy another pair till one gets a hole in it or I change sizes.

    I only shower every 2-3 days unless I’m actually dirty, like from the garden or farm. Doesn’t mean I don’t wash up, but not a full shower. I started doing this while pregnant with my 2nd child and I had HORRIBLE patches of Eczema on my outter thighs. The only thing that helped was showering less often. I just kept the habit after my son was born. The time and water savings has been wonderful.

    Same thing goes for my kids. I don’t bath them but every few days, otherwise they get very dry and itchy. Why spend money on lotion, when you can just bath less and get better results.

    Along the same lines, i’m considering quiting shampoo. After some research, I think it will improve the quality of my hair and save money.

    When my husband and I first married, we decided to pay off all our debt before having kids. So we set the thermostat at 50Β°. We both worked all day, it seemed dumb to heat an empty house. Then at night we used an electric blanket and wore stocking hats to bed.

    Now that we have 2 small kids, we heat the house to 65Β°. Instead of getting a bigger house, the 2 youngest sleep in our room, while my 15 year old has his own room.

    When I was a teen, I slept in the garage on an air mattress so I wouldn’t have to share a room with my sister. It was so cold in the winter, I slept with 4 sleeping bags.

    I’ve bubble wrapped windows to insulate them. Now I use a shrink wrap specific Ally designed for the job. I’ve put reflective mylar blanks on the hot windows. This year we’re going to use a reflective film sold for windows, it’s more permanent than $1 emergency blanket and packing tape. The floor to ceiling “curtains” in our bedroom are thermal blankets, $5 ea on Black Friday. The ones in the living room are duvet covers from the clearance rack. Believe me, you’d never know!

    My husband brings home leftover food from work potlucks. He use to work in the school kitchen on Friday’s and day before school vacations he’d bring home food that would expire during that time. Sometimes it would be boxes and boxes of single serving milk cartons. Other times we’d get 40 lbs of small bananas. I’d peel, mashed, and freeze 1/2 cup portions to use in smoothies, muffins, breads, pancakes, etc. Food that would have gone in the trash could feed my family for weeks sometimes. Occasionally the produce would be to far gone and go in the compost pile, where it would later feed the garden, then my family.

    I’ve asked for yard waste, moldy bales of hay, and manure from my neighbors for my garden. I’ve traded veggies for gates, strawberry jam for T-posts, Honey Ginger Applesauce for a swing set, Dilly Beans for a huge bag of flannel, a days weed eating for a $500 huge chain link dog kennel and many other uneven trades. However, both parties were happy with the deal! I’ve even left notes at people’s houses asking if I can trade them for some thing that just “sat” unused and out of place for long periods of time. EVERY SINGLE TIME the answer was “yes, I was planning to get ride of that!”.

    For years my dad, husband and I would work these parties doing clean up, serving drinks, whatever they needed. At the end of the party, EVERYTHING was considered garbage. The caterers, party hosts, rental hall were MORE than happy to have us take food, plastic ware, decorations, etc that were headed for the garage. We always double checked if it was something really nice. We weren’t drinkers, we could have gone home with half empty bottles of alcohol everytime. We got paid a couple hundred dollars each for these parties as well.

    We owed a favor to a friend, so when their wedding came up, we shuttled guests to the remote location in return for 15 cases of Mason jars they used as drinking glasses. After the party, I very carefully scoured the outdoor location for EVERY SINGLE ONE. Boxed up all that sticky mess and washed them at home.

    For two years I signed up for a program with the electric company, where they would send me a message that it was an “energy saver” day. During the hours of 2-7 pm the electric bill would triple, but during the rest of the summer our energy rate would be 1/2 the normal. 10 days each summer we’d suffer the 106Β° heat laying on the floor under the ceiling fan, spraying a mister on our body to keep cool. 7:01 pm would hit and we’d either turned on the whole house fan or AC depending on how miserable we felt.

    One year our house was struck by lightning. Parts of the house no longer had electricity until we replaced the blown fuses and GFIs. We used extension cords for the refrigerator and freezer. The toaster went in the dinning room. The worst was it blew the electrical to the electronic “eye” that sent the signal to the well pump at the bottom of the property. For 8 weeks we had to go down there and hold the button to send 80 gallons of water to the pressure tank in the garage. Believe me, that gets old fast and you find ways to use as little water as possible.

    Over the years many things have broken and we learned to make due without till we could afford to fix them. Our house has 2 hot water heaters. The one that supplies hot water to the laundry room and guest bathroom broke. Since it wasn’t a high priority, it didn’t get replaced for several years. When I needed to wash cloth diapers, I boiled a huge pot of water on the stove and poured it over the diapers in a bucket to help sanatize them. When the washer broke, I hand washed laundry till we could fix it. When the dryer broke, I used an iron to help dry the clothes because it was winter and they’d take days otherwise to dry. I’ve used less than 1 gallon of water to bath when the water pressure tank broke. We’ve used 1 car while we saved money to fix the other.

    We bought Lowe’s gift cards to pay for decking, just to get the gas rewards. We buy gift cards for planned purchased for the gas rewards, especially when they are offering 4x the gas rewards.

    On vacation I have brought a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly. Several times I made sandwiches while my husband drove. It was nice not to HAVE TO buy food just because we were hungry.

    My husband says if he’s stuck on a deserted island, he wants name brand peanut butter and paper towels. He’s family gifts him both for Xmas and Birthday because I won’t.

    I have super glued, duct taped, paper clipped, stapled many articles of clothing or shoes just to get a little more use out of them.

    I cut open toothpaste and other tubes to get the last bit. Water down my conditioner to get one more use. Even if I have a new one waiting. I’ll use the last drop of something in a jar or bottle by adding broth, vinegar, juice, etc, swishing it around and adding it to something. Not doing this just feels wasteful and often adds a nice punch of flavor to a dish.

    I’m sorry this list is SO long and random. The more I wrote, the more I thought about things we do that others might think are crazy or extreme.

    We got ourselves out of debt and decided to stay that way. Sometimes the wait to save up is long and hard. Other things, we’ve just adopted as a way of life. I COULD go back to work, but the COSTS of doing so would out weight my earnings.

  39. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Quick point on the makeup: I used to wear makeup for more than one day and my skin got nasty from it, lol. It’s much better to celebrate your natural face as a way to cut down on cosmetic use. I started going makeup-free on the weekends only, and then did it a few days during the week as well.

  40. Goodness that’s a crazy list! Yep, some of these are a bit much for me, but some of them I’ve definitely done. We also go for a zero food waste policy, especially when eating out, by ordering family style – typically 3-4 entrees can feed our family of five. Kids meals are oftentimes not the best choice – not only is it typically some of the worst food (can we seriously feed our kids something other than chicken fingers and grilled cheese??), but you’re paying for that soft drink and dessert on top of it. Splitting an adult entree gives them healthier food options, minimizes the excess waste, and is typically cheaper.

    Additionally, when we were in Costa Rica, we got a huge bag of refried beans and did beans/rice/tortillas for meals all the time – we’d feed the kids on this BEFORE we’d go out to eat – and they were excited because that meant they got to try a dessert out (we would get 1 or 2 for them to split) and we got to eat a nice meal without the added expense of feeding everyone. Remember restaurants aren’t just for the main course, so modifying your going out by looking at the restaurant as the supplement and not the main course can be a great way to save. We always order the minimal amount possible to start with – you can always order more, or be satiated enough to cover you until you get home and grab something extra.

    Thanks for sharing these crazy ideas – the bottom line is to really ask yourself, “is this REALLY necessary?” I saw a huge shift when I moved from thinking “Can I afford it?” to “Is this a worthwhile investment?”

  41. I developed holes in my tennis shoes and to save money I stitched my tennis shoes back together. I got six more months out of them before they ripped again.

  42. EM

    Oh my God. I’d rather not wearing any make-up than keeping it on my face for 3 days. Gross πŸ˜› But the idea with shaving hair to save some money is.. quite cool!

  43. Exactly what I was looking for. This list is a great resource. Thanks a bunch.

  44. Michelle

    I also believe in frugal living and advocate to friends and family on the benefit of the same. The only things that stops me talking about it openly is the tag of the “cheapskate” person. I just wish more people to get on this bandwagon and live a much happier life without cribbing for unnecessary things.