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What’s the Most Extreme Way You Save Money?

What’s the Most Extreme Way You Save Money?

I was thinking today about some of the things I’ve done to save money over the years.  It got me thinking about how far people will go to save money.  After all, frugality has reached what is likely a post great depression high.  This is likely caused by not only recessions and high costs of living, but also from the idealism of conserving, recycling and reusing things to help the environment.

I’m sure you’ve seen one of the many TV shows about extreme couponing, storage auctions, picking, and many other extreme ways to save or make money.  Our question is, what have you done to save money that was extreme?  Here’s what I’ve done:

First of all, we sold one of our cars.  Our family of four now has just one car.  And because we live in a suburb, we definitely still need to use cars.  That saved us a monthly car payment, insurance, and made a lot of extra room in the garage.  Every time I walk out to the garage I don’t miss the awesome car we had (a BMW 335 twin turbo loaded beast), instead, I am grateful that I have saved $30 today (and every day) based on the car payment and insurance that I don’t have to pay this month.  While this may be the mst extreme thing I’ve done to save money, I have done some other things that could make it on the not very extreme list.

extreme couponing is one way to save

For example, I didn’t go to Mexico last week for my cousin’s wedding.  It pained the heck out of me to sit home while all the fun was taking place, but I easily saved $1,000 by not going.  In the past, when I lived and worked in San Francisco I did a few extreme things.  For starters, I walked to work every day and sold my only car.  Some days I would take the bus but I saved a ton of money by walking and not having to pay for parking at my apartment or at work.

Even more extreme, while in San Francisco I had owned a three unit building that was more or less in the Mexican ghetto that they call the Mission District.  After getting married, my wife and I decided to move into one of the units.  We chose the unit that needed the most work so that we could add some value to the apartment.  However, because of rent control laws and all of the ambulance chasing lawyers in San Francisco, we were sued for a “million dollars” because we “chose” to evict the tenants that we did.  All that after I offered to pay them $10,000 to leave without eviction!  Anyway, the lawsuit was settled for tens of thousands of dollars but I think I made it back with the benefits I gained by fixing up that unit.  Of course, the extreme came over the next few years, when my wife and I had to live in the ghetto.  We literally gave up our nice apartment to have meth addicts on our porch every nite, an insane asylum next door, and a dozen or more day workers every morning that threw ALL of their garbage on our doorway because we evicted their friend.  For all the extreme money saving I did there, I have one thing to say – F— You San Francisco and you’re screwed up laws!

So there you have it, that’s what I’ve done to save money.  Let’s look at what others on the web have said about extreme ways to save money.

What Others Are Saying About Extreme Saving

At Purposely Frugal, they listed the following methods as “too extreme”:

  • Keep dog and cat fur that they shed, to stuff pillows with.
  • Keep dryer lint to stuff pillows with.
  • Use cloth toilet paper (yes, I have actually heard of a family that did this).
  • Use hand signals when turning in your car, so your blinker bulbs will last longer.

At Love to Know Savings, Amy Hoover disclosed an extreme way to save money that is quite ridiculous.  It’s called “hiding cash” and here is how it works:

Hiding cash may seem like a great idea. People have been known to stuff particular amounts, such as every $5 or $10 bill, in odd places, like plastic bags in toilet tanks, behind framed photos, or under the mattress. While this might work for some, you will be out the cash if your home should burn or be robbed. Additionally, you may truly forget where all the money is when an emergency arises, making it difficult to access.

Another way of hiding cash from yourself is to balance your checkbook using the “round up, round down” technique. For every amount you deposit, you round down to the dollar; for every amount you withdraw, you round up to the next dollar. However, this can become complicated for some people and make it hard to balance at the end of the month. Keep track of this method by using a separate ledger to follow the actual amounts and transfer it into a high-yield saving account at the end of the month.

At Kenndungu’s blog, there are some extreme saving ideas.  One is to remove all of your carpeting, another to move in with mom and dad, and even an idea to stop all spending for a month.  These are some pretty good ideas that I could easily classify as extreme.

Tip One: Make Your Home Carpet Free

You may be scratching your head on this one, but do you realize what it  cost to maintain your carpet? To properly maintain that carpet you have  to vacuum regularly which requires electricity. You also need to have  the carpet steamed, and shampooed a couple of times a year. This isn’t even  taking into consideration the medical costs associated with carpet due  to pet dander, allergens and molds taking up residency in the fibers.  While it may cost a little to get rid of the carpet upfront, it will  save you over $200 a year once you get rid of it.

Tip Two: Move in With Mom and Dad

Regardless of how old you are or if you have a spouse and kids, you may  want to take a look at living with mom and dad again. The reason for  this is that it can significantly save money for both you and your  parents. Yes, you will lose some privacy, but overall it can be a better  arrangement for all involved. Mom and dad get to bond with grandkids,  expenses are shared which could easily save you $3000 a month.

So, we’ve shared our extreme ways of saving money, as well as looked at other bloggers to see what they’ve tried.

Now tell us, what extreme ways have you saved?

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Lala May 23, 2012, 9:28 am

    I wouldn’t call it an extreme way though, but I’ve been doing this for years now and it’s saved me thousands of dollars: bartering! When I signed up at barterquest.com I was completely unfamiliar with the concept but it’s highly addictive. I’ve bartered clothes, shoes, computers, cars, babysitting, dog walking, books etc. in the past. More recently I’ve become a passionate house swapper since I otherwise I can’t afford to travel.

  • Patricia Coldiron May 23, 2012, 2:27 pm

    One method I use to save money is to keep a piggy-bank in my office, and all the accumulated change goes into that bank. You might be surprised how fast your change adds up, and you can use the windfall for extras, or to help with a bill. Another method I use is going to a discount website that featues 2-for-1 restaurant coupons. This enables you to enjoy a restaurant meal without breaking the bank.

  • sundcarrie May 23, 2012, 3:37 pm

    I hate coupons I can never remember to take them to the store and I end up buying things that make me fat. They need coupons for produce and I might start using them. I shop the edges of the store and stay away from the processed stuff. It actually reduces doctors visits so I suppose I am saving there. My extreme saving are not as extreme as I thought I don’t have television don’t get me wrong we have a television but we don’t tv stations. This makes for less wasted time and when we want to watch something we go rent it. We had Netflix and HuluPlus for awhile but we ran out of stuff we wanted to watch so we canceled them but they were both cheaper than basic cable. Also we have a small flock of city chickens that we get a lot of eggs from I was giving the extra away but now I am going to sell them. 6 chickens produce an egg a day and there is only two of us and the dog gets some. If we are trying to save extra we just eat a lot of eggs and make a very minimal trip to the grocery store.

  • Mandy May 24, 2012, 1:05 pm

    So far I have not done anything too extreme to save money. I am however, hoping to get some great ideas. I would really love to start saving and to become debt free. It will not be easy. I have never been very good and sticking with a budget. I am seriously going to do what I can to learn though. I do not want to constantly be worrying about bills. It would be so nice to be able to relax.

  • andrew320 May 24, 2012, 3:36 pm

    I found that one of the largest expenses was buying toilet paper. Any time my fiancee and I head over to Tim Hortons or a restaurant, we grab a handful of napkins.

    If we go to a fast food place, we take a handful of ketchup or mustard packets.

    I have saved a lot of money on renting pictures in the last month. We are a big fan of films of the first half of the 20th century and much of them are public domain so we go to YouTube and watch them. That saves us at least $50 per month now – on occasion we do rent films from Bay Street Video because only they have certain pictures we want.

  • S.O. Price May 29, 2012, 6:55 pm

    I guess this will be a little bit of “confession time”! I’ve had a few family members tease me about some of my habits around the home, but I laugh all the way to the bank. I cut down on doing dishes (which means I cut down on using hot water) by putting some of my dishes back into the fridge for reuse with another meal. It seems quite wasteful to prepare a sandwich, pull out a plate on which to set it and then toss it in the sink just because the plate has a few crumbs on it. Chances are I’m having a sandwich the next day too, so why not just put the plate in the fridge and reuse it the next day? It really cuts down on the amount of dishes I use and along with only flushing the toilet using the philosophy of “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” I’ve noticed a decrease in my water bill. I also try to avoid using my dryer by letting clothes air dry around the house. Pajamas, sweat pants, old t-shirts don’t need to go in the dryer. Who cares if they’re a bit wrinkled? Not me. I also routinely rip facial tissue and paper towels in half and only use a half sheet at a time. For eye makeup removal, it just isn’t necessary to use a full facial tissue when only using half a sheet gives me all I need with room to spare. These are small ways to save money that have really become habitual behavior for me. I also have large scale ways that I use to save money, but I’ll save those to share for another day!

  • vpresson June 4, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I could use a lot more help with saving money. But i do however do things to make extra money and save what i make by doing online surveys or things like that and the money goes into my paypal account so that’s where it stays since you have to transfer it to your bank and it takes a few days to get it i just leave it in there that way it doesn’t get touched and most of the time i forget about it. And when i’m in really need of cash i’ll check it and will have between 20 and 40 dollars saved up in there that i have forgotten about and i take out however much i need and the leave the rest so i guess that would be my most extreme way of saving getting money and forgetting about it.


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