Extreme frugal living. Sound scary? It doesn’t have to! People often think of “extreme” as being over the top or excessive but as you’ll see below the ideas I’m about to share aren’t as bad as they sound.
And NO it’s not about having to take cold showers for the whole month or becoming a couch surfer or even getting rid of cable. These little tidbits are guaranteed to save you money and are some of the little things I’ve learned from encounters throughout my life.
As you’re probably grasping I’m all about saving money. Some people may call my methods frugal while some people may already incorporate them into their daily living.
The one thing you’ll learn about me is I’m not about depriving myself of the good things in life.
Sure, I’ll give up a night out with friends to save some money or I’ll decide to only meet out during happy hour. This is because my desire to save money is stronger than my desire to spend.
I know you’ve heard of people who have put a halt to EVERYTHING when trying to get out of debt. Obviously, this can get you out of a hard spot financially but there are other things you can do to make or save money effectively.
You can make money from an extra job or a side hustle you can even figure out a way to make some passive income with these ideas.
TIP: Are you looking for ways you can make money by either buying or selling things. Check out my list of 50 Things You Can Buy Or Sell To Make Money NOW further down
20 Extreme Frugal Living Tips
1. Flush Toilets Less Often
Have you heard the saying if it’s yellow let it mellow? Well, there’s some validity to that. By flushing your toilets less often you’ll be able to save a ton of money on your water bill.
I understand if you’re having guests over it can feel a bit awkward if you haven’t flushed your toilet so go ahead and give it a quick flush and carry on about your day.
2. Buy Furniture Second Hand
I know some people say ABSOLUTELY NO to used furniture. I get it, but I’m not talking about nasty old beds, I’m talking about nice quality furniture. By looking on your local Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or even at your local thrift store you can find some nice furniture for your house.
We bought our last 2 couches second hand and they’re perfectly fine!
Who needs to pay Pottery Barn prices when you can get used for a fraction of the price?
3. Regift Gifts
I’m sure you’ve received a gift or two you haven’t been overly excited about. REGIFT it! No one will know the difference and if there is someone who could benefit more from the gift there’s no shame in doing it.
Also, don’t forget to ALWAYS reuse gift bags. Those cute bags are too expensive to not use multiple times.
If I notice someone is throwing out those bags I always mention that I’m happy to take them and reuse them. No need to fill the landfill with perfectly good bags!
4. Reuse Tea Bags
Say what? Yep, I do this all the time. I regularly reuse bags to make 2-3 cups of tea. There’s no reason you can’t reuse yours too!
5. Eat Expired food (you can even cut “some” mold off)
There’s so many people that are scared by the expiration date on foods. I use expiration dates as a guideline.
Obviously, I wouldn’t think to drink milk 2 weeks past the due date but don’t be afraid to purchase meat that’s in the “flash sale” area. You can purchase meat that’s reduced for quick because it’s close to the expiration at half the price.
How about that mold on the cheese? Do you throw the whole block away just because there’s a little mold on it? Don’t fret about a tiny mold just cut that portion off and you’re good to go.
6. Classy Up Your Food
Can’t afford your favorite pizza from your local pizza joint? Why not dress up a boxed pizza so it doesn’t taste like cardboard? It’s easy to throw on your own toppings to make it more appetizing. I love mushrooms, olives, spinach and peppers.
7. Take Something For The Road
Don’t judge K? Those yummy fruits like bananas or apples that are sitting at the hotels continental breakfast take one for the road! You’ll have a snack for later in the day and you won’t have to spend your own money.
My thought is those fruits aren’t going to last forever so they need to get eaten up, right?
8. 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, 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.
9. Pick And Freeze Fruit
In Idaho we have a ton of fruit that is wasted every summer, especially blackberries. I’ve been picking and freezing fruit for years.
Picking fruit allows me to use fruit all winter for free versus buying berries in the store for outrageous winter prices.
You can even take advantage of farms that allow you to pick and take your bounty home for a fraction of the cost you would pay in the store.
10. Shower Less Often
Are you cringing at the thought of showering less often? Remember I said that this list wouldn’t include cold showers? Well let me tell you something my friend over at Tuppennys Fireplace takes cold showers regularly you can find out why here.
When you’re trying to save a bit of money and practice some extreme frugal living there’s no shame in showering less! It’s always easy to use something like these if you need a way to freshen up.
I’m not sure about you, but I know a ton of females who only wash their hair every 2-3 days depending on the grease factor of course! To combat the grease there’s nothing wrong with throwing in a bit of baby powder to absorb some of that shine!
12. Work At A Restaurant
Did you know that by working at a restaurant you may be able to feed yourself cheaply for a good portion of your meals?
Many restaurants offer their employees a free or discounted shift meal after they’ve worked their shift. If you work for a kick a$$ place you may even get an after shift adult beverage absolutely free! How cool is that?
Keep in mind some restaurants offer their employees a percentage off on meals they order while dining at the establishment during off shift hours. Win Win!
11. Grow Your Own
There’s nothing better than growing your own fruits and veggies! You can easily start a garden with a few packages of seeds and in no time you’ll be able to have fresh herbs and chop your own flavorful tomatoes for a fresh and flavorful salad.
13. Sleep In Your Car While On Vacation
If you’re road tripping and planning to arrive late to your destination why would you want to pay full price for a hotel? Instead you can opt to stay in your car to save $100 on accommodations.
Keep in mind extreme frugalistas are smart about cutting costs wherever possible. Even if it’s opting out of $100+ for a hotel you may only sleep in for a couple of hours.
14. Instead Of AC Sleep With Ice Packs (Or A Nalgene Filled With Hot Water In The Winter)
You think I’m kidding right? Nope summers can be brutal, and the power bill even more so. To keep yourself cool and your electric bill manageable sleep with some ice packs.
During the winter months you can warm something up like this to keep you warm during the colder season.
While we were backpacking in Nepal during the brutal cold months at high altitude I’d put boiling water in my nalgene to keep me warm during the freezing cold nights.
15. Sleep At Walmarts For Free While On Vacation
Did you know that most Walmart’s allow people to park and sleep in their lots without being hassled? It’s true! If you’re feeling a bit adventurous you can give this one a shot!
When my husband and I are in between destinations on a road trip we have no problem posting up for the night at a Walmart to save money. We feel there’s no reason to pay for a campground or hotel if we’re just looking for a couple hours of shut eye.
Full disclosure: We have a campervan to sleep in so it makes the night a bit more comfortable.
16. Save Money At The Movies
If you’re the kind of person who likes snacks while at the movies and looking for ways to be frugal, head to the local dollar store to pick up your favorite candy for cheap.
There’s no need to pay the overpriced costs for candy and various snacks when going to the movies. You can get your favorite box of candy for a dollar and smuggle it inside in your coat pocket.
17. Bundle Up Instead Of Turning On The Heat
I bet you have a sweatshirt you could throw on to keep yourself warm during the cold months rather than turning up the heat.
Before you think of touching your heat dial save some money by layering your clothes and throwing on some comfy thick socks. This is my favorite cosy blanket for cuddling up during the winter.
18. I Didn’t Buy Clothing For A Year
To help save money for a down payment on our house, I decided to do a “no new clothing challenge”. This meant I didn’t buy any new clothes, shoes, or accessories for an entire year.
At first, it was a little embarrassing to re-wear outfits to different parties and activities. But all the money I saved by not shopping for a year was totally worth it!
19. Live In A Campervan: The Ultimate Extreme Frugal Living
One of my favorite stories of simple living is from MichelleSchroeder- Gardner who’s a blogger at Making Sense Of Cents and the creator of the affiliate marketing course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Michelle willfully transitioned her lifestyle into living in small spaces, a sailboat and a campervan are what she chose. She’s even earning over $150k per month on her blog and gets to frequently travel the world with her husband.
20. Attend Free Events For Free Food
There are plenty of free events happening every day that offer food to those attending. Think hors d’oeuvres at an art gallery opening, or appetizers at an open house or even free lunch for attending a free financial seminar. (Hey! You might even learn something beneficial.)
As a college student I did all sorts of crazy things to save money and get free food! I’ve gone to dozens of random events that offer free lunches: club meetings, info sessions, seminars, networking, events, etc.
If you stay long enough you may even get to take some leftover pizza home!
Final Thoughts About Extreme Frugal Living
Alright I’ve given you some great tips to get your started if you’d like to begin living an extreme frugal living lifestyle. I get it that you may not be interested in doing all of the ideas or perhaps any at all!
But for those of you who’d like to save a bit more money each month why not give a couple of these a shot!