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Are you extremely frugal? Do you need to be? Extreme frugality has its pros and cons – and it is not for everyone. Is it for you?
What Is Extreme Frugality Living?
There is no clear-cut definition of what it means to be extremely frugal. One person’s extreme ways to save money is someone else’s practical, money-saving lifestyle.
Generally speaking, however, most examples of extreme frugality include intense ways to save money that most people are unwilling to do.
That said, everyone has their breaking point when it comes to financial frugality; a place they will draw a line in the sand. A person can practice extreme thrifty living in some aspects of their life, while being more liberal with their spending in other areas.
What is the Upside to Extreme Frugality?
Without a doubt, there are definite pros to frugal extreme living.
First and foremost, frugal extremists have a firm grasp on money matters. When extreme budgeting, people have the ability to control where they spend their money – and know how to save their money – and eliminate debt.
Extreme money savers often also have the benefit of finding joy in non-materialistic possessions. Furthermore, the lifestyle allows them to be less reliant on an income and the ability to experience more financial freedom.
Is there a Downside of Being Extremely Frugal?
There is a downside to frugal extremism. In many cases, intensely frugal people can become unnaturally obsessed with money. They often use their time as a commodity and can convert to being cheap instead of frugal.
Worse yet, extremists can eventually become so ultra-focused on money that they lose friends or become reclusive from society.
Why Do People Live an Ultra Frugal Lifestyle?
Most people practice excessive frugality out of necessity. Often, people learn how to be extremely frugal due to a job loss or swift change in financial circumstances requiring them to stop spending money.
That said, some people thrive on extreme frugal living; they see it not just as a way to get ahead monetarily, but as a way to dictate the kind of life they want to live.
When I was adopting a more frugal lifestyle in order to accomplish a lofty financial goal, it was never my intention to learn how to be extremely frugal. Yet, many people would contend that some of the habits I have developed are extreme frugal ways to save money.
The truth is that people adhere to extreme money-saving measures for many reasons. Someone may become extreme in order to attain a specific money goal, like achieving financial independence, or because they simply have an intention to live a frugal minimalist lifestyle.
How To Be Extremely Frugal
Anyone can become super frugal with their personal finances – so you can, too! The first step is to create a budget so that you know where you are currently spending money. You can get started right now with my FREE Budget Worksheet!
Once you identify where you are over-spending and where you could be saving, you can use my extreme frugal ideas to set you on a path toward reaching your goals.
The reason driving your desire to become frugal will determine your strategy – whether you go all in or ease into the water – but my extreme frugal ideas are the perfect place to start!
28 EXTREME FRUGALITY TIPS
My list of extreme frugal tips is a roundup of some of the most intense ways to quickly save money. The list is segmented into extremely frugal ways to save at home, with your food and in your life.
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Extreme Ways to Save Money in the Home
When it comes to extreme frugal living, the best place to start is in the home – and I will show you how!
#1 Cut Out Cable
Cutting your cable bill is one of the most commonly touted frugality tips. And it should be – people pay way too much money to watch TV. However, I’m not just suggesting that you reduce your service by eliminating luxury channels, I’m saying cut it altogether.
Then, go one step further and cancel your subscriptions for streaming services, too. All of them. If you are really feeling emboldened, nix the internet as well.
#2 Adjust Your Thermostat…by A Lot
The cost of heating and cooling a home can be astronomical, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the best examples of frugality is to adjust your thermostat to a more reasonable temperature.
In the wintertime, see how low you can push your thermostat (we go as low as 58 degrees!) and bundle up in blankets, sweaters, hats and wool socks to stay warm. During the summer, see if you can get by without running the A/C; open windows and use fans instead. Trust me, it will save you heaps!
Another one of the extreme saving measures you can take with your energy bill is to unplug anything that is not currently being used. Although only a small amount of energy is used by devises that are plugged in but turned off, every little bit helps!
Some of the top energy offenders are microwaves, toaster ovens, televisions, computers, printers, gaming consoles, stereos, electric toothbrushes, nightlights, power strips, chargers, clocks and even lamps – none of which need to be plugged in when not in use.
#4 Shut Doors and Vents
As we already mentioned, it costs a lot to heat and cool a house. That said, it will cost less if you only heat and cool the rooms that you actually use. Shut the doors and vents to the spare bedroom and seldom-used den and you will likely see a decrease in your energy bill. To get really extreme, cordon off part of your home and live in a much smaller space.
#5 Eliminate Drafts
When being very frugal, don’t let your hard-earned money drift out the door or through the window! Sealing up drafts will most definitely save you money. Inexpensive weather stripping for will do the trick!
#6 Negotiate Your Bills
Reviewing and negotiating utility bills is one of the extreme frugality tips that just makes good common sense. With online billing and auto-pay, some people barely glance at their bills anymore…and vendors could be unknowingly increasing their fees or over-charging for services not even used.
Every six months – or at least once a year – scour your bills for extra charges, unexplained fees and increases – and then have a conversation with your provider about how to lower your monthly bill.
#7 Line Dry Your Clothes
Line drying clothes has long been one of the top extreme frugal living hacks. Investing in a cheap drying rack – rather than running your dryer – will save you a few bucks.
At the very least, check with your electric company to see if there is a monetary advantage to running your dryer at off-peak times.
#8 Use Wool Dryer Balls
Another one of my extreme money-saving tips for the clothes dryer is to invest in Wool Dryer Balls, rather than using disposable (and pricey) dryer sheets.
Wool Dryer Balls are reusable and excellent at reducing wrinkles, plus, they can also cut down the amount of time it takes to dry your clothes.
#9 Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent can cost a pretty penny…but not if you make it yourself! If you are committed to learning how to be extremely frugal, then make the effort to make your own laundry detergent. You can start with this basic recipe.
#10 Stretch Liquid Hand Soap
I have forever been a fan of adding a little water to a bottle of liquid hand soap when it gets too low to pump out. I want to use every last bit!
However, my tip for extreme thrifty living is to cut the soap with water from the get-go. When your refill your soap container (hopefully using an economical refill like this one), simply add half soap and half water.
You can use this cheapskate trick for dish soap and shampoo, too!
#11 Forego Expensive Cleaning Supplies
It doesn’t need to be said that anyone looking for extreme ways to save money should clean their own house rather than hiring a housekeeper – that’s a no-brainer. That said, there are a few ways you can save money when cleaning.
First, ditch the expensive cleaners and learn to make your own. Second, stop using disposable cleaning supplies – like paper towels and Swiffer products – and instead use washable cleaning rags.
#12 Make Your Own Cleaning Rags
When living very frugally, consider creating your own cleaning rags rather than buying them from the store. Old t-shirts can be cut into squares to be used as dust rags and towels that are ready to be tossed make great mopping rags.
#13 Stop Buying Toilet Paper
Toilet paper isn’t cheap – so stop buying it! Rather than literally flushing your money down the drain, invest in an inexpensive bidet toilet seat.
If a bidet is not in the budget, then use one of the ultimate frugal tricks: Make washable toilet paper from an old sheet. You can find out how to do it here.
#14 Collect Shower Water
Have you ever considered how much water is used during your shower? Just while adjusting the temperature, clean and usable water is wasted.
Save that water – and your money – by putting a bucket in the shower to collect water. Use the collected water for your plants or to clean the floors. Not only is this one of the extreme frugal living tips, but an environmentally friendly tip, too.
Extreme Money Saving Tips for Food
When it comes to extreme ways to save money, there is no better way to do it than with the money you spend on food. Of course, you need to eat – and my extreme frugality tips will show you how you can eat well for less.
#15 Start a Garden
In order to save money on your grocery bill, learn how to grow your own food – it’s is one of the best cheap living tips! Lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, squash, carrots, peppers and tomatoes are a great place to start for beginner gardeners.
Herbs are easy to grow, as well – and you can grow them indoors year-round. Try growing basil, rosemary, lemongrass and mint.
#16 Kick the Coffee Habit
Anyone offering frugality tips will tell you to stop buying pricey cups of coffee from the coffeeshop. For this extreme frugality tip, however, I’m recommending kicking your coffee habit altogether.
Coffee is expensive, even at the grocery store. So is soda pop, tea and juice. None of these items should be on your frugal grocery list; drink water from the tap instead.
#17 Become Your Own Chef
Eating out at a restaurant – or even fast food – is an absolute luxury. Extremely frugal people cook all their meals themselves.
#18 Eat Extremely Frugal Food
Adapting to an extremely frugal lifestyle means consuming a diet of incredibly affordable foods. The question is: How low can you go?
If you want to test yourself, join my $5 Food Challenge, where I will show you how you can eat on a budget of $5 per day.
#19 Eliminate Food Waste
My ultimate frugal tip for eating on a budget is to stop wasting food! Use all of the items in your fridge and pantry before going to the store. Freeze anything that is starting to go bad.
The best way to ensure you don’t waste food is by creating a weekly meal plan. It will help you to stay on top of your food expenditures.
Lifestyle Extreme Frugality Ideas
Extreme frugal living is, in fact, a way of life. Use these practical frugal living tips for ideas on how to save on day-to-day activities and frugal hobbies!
#20 Eliminate Expensive Entertainment
One of the best ways to save money is to eliminate spending for entertainment. I’m not suggesting you stop enjoying life – because entertainment doesn’t need to cost a dime.
There are a multitude of ways to entertain yourself for free – from city parks to DIY crafts to spending date night in. I highlight my favorite free activities in my frugal blog post: 98 Fun Frugal Things To Do.
#21 Walk, Bike or Take the Bus
A car – plus maintenance and gasoline – can put a huge dent in any budget. So, park it (or sell it!) and walk, bike or take the bus instead.
Giving up your car might seem like one of the harshest extreme frugality examples, but it will likely save you loads of money.
#22 Cut Your Own Hair
If extreme frugality is your mission, then get radical and cut your own hair. Salons are expensive – and even cheap haircuts can add up. With a good pair of scissors (and maybe a little instruction from YouTube), you can become your own barber.
Furthermore, dying and styling your hair can cost a small fortune. Let go of the idea that your hair has to be dyed and needs to be styled and go au naturale instead!
Along the same lines, skip the spa and commit to tending to your own nails. When I was changing my relationship with money, giving up pedicures was one of the tough decisions I had to make. Looking back, it was a glaringly obvious way to save money.
#23 Shop Second-Hand
A good way to become extremely thrifty is to start shopping at thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales. You can score practically new items for a fraction of the price you would pay in the store. In fact, shopping second-hand is one of my Top Tips for Frugal Fashion!
To really practice extreme frugality, however, it is best to stay out of stores. If you aren’t in a place where you can spend money, then you won’t spend money.
#24 Engage in Frugal Gift Giving
Gift giving customs can’t (or at least shouldn’t) be ignored – but we all know that giving gifts can be expensive. Rather than avoiding your friends around their birthday or declining invites to holiday parties, seek out ideas for frugal gifts.
To be honest, some of the best gifts I have ever received held no monetary value, but instead were thoughtful or sentimental.
#25 Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle
A prime example of extreme frugality is reusing and upcycling items. Wash and re-use plastic resealable baggies. Save the foil from a casserole dish and use it for the next casserole. Keep glass jelly jars and plastic yogurt containers for storing other food. Clean the cottage cheese container and use it as a planter for your in-house herbs.
Be aware, this is one of the areas when a person can become excessively frugal and turn into a hoarder. Hanging onto items that you will use in the future is a good practice but throw it away if you are not going to use it.
#26 Try a No Buy Month
One of the extreme ways to save money is to stop spending it for an entire month. (If that seems too drastic, start with one week or just a weekend.)
There are no hard and fast rules about No Spend challenges, so you can decide what would be allowable (like weekly fresh produce or gas for your car). The point is to test yourself and draw focus to your spending. And, if something comes up that you really do want to buy, it gives you time to think about it and consider if it is something you really need.
#27 Borrow, Barter…or Get for Free
Borrowing and bartering are two of my favorite extreme money saving tips! Too often, when we need something, we just purchase the item. However, instead of buying a new drill, why not ask your neighbor if you could borrow his? Likewise, consider what skills you may be able to barter with friends, family and acquaintances.
Getting things for free is another one of the extremely frugal ways to save money. Use resources like Facebook Marketplace and local Buy Nothing groups to score stuff for free…or get extreme and go dumpster diving.
#28 Get a Roommate
My final tip for extreme frugality is to take on a roommate. Sharing the cost of housing, utility bills and some household items will save you tons of money!
Interested in more of my Life and Entertainment Tips? I round them all up on the Frugal Lifestyle blog page!
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