CRUNCHEd: a blog about people and numbers

90 Extreme Ways to Save Serious Money


By Raine Parker

With rough economic times, it seems that everyone is looking for a way to save money. The following list offers 100 extreme ways to save yourself some serious money without having to be an accounting major. Some of these suggestions aren’t too out there, but others may require that you have a strong constitution–or a very understanding significant other.

Personal Care

From washing your clothes in the shower to darning your socks, these frugal tips will save you some cash.

  1. Don’t shower every day. Shower every two days to save money on water and soap usage.
  2. Reduce shampooing. Many experts believe that shampooing more than two or three times a week is not good for your hair–plus it will really save you on shampoo.
  3. No more toilet paper. Some frugal people stop spending money on toilet paper and use newspaper or cloth towels instead.
  4. Take a navy shower. With a navy shower, you only turn on water to get your body wet and again to rinse the soap off. You’ll save a ton of money on both water and the energy spent heating that water.
  5. Sew your own clothes. Sewing your own clothes can reduce the amount you spend on clothing dramatically. If you really want to be frugal on material, purchase clothing from a thrift store that is several sizes too big for you and reuse the cloth for your own project.
  6. Knit your own woolens. Knit your own sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves that will last for years for the price of the yarn. If you live somewhere where you can have livestock or if you have access to wool, you can learn to spin your own yarn, then knit it.
  7. Darn your socks. If you get a hole in your socks, don’t throw them away, darn them.
  8. Wash your clothes in the shower. Take your clothes into the shower with you to wash them while you wash yourself.
  9. Make your own soap. Never have to spend too much money on soap or shampoo again when you learn to make your own affordably.
  10. Stop wearing make-up. While this is probably just for the women, not wearing make-up will save plenty of money you would have spent on cosmetics and is probably better for your skin.
  11. Make your own toothpaste. Salt, baking soda, and a few drops of peppermint oil is all you need to make your own toothpaste.
  12. Stop shaving. Never have to buy another razor or waste expensive water when you eliminate shaving.
  13. Cut your own hair. Especially if you are a guy and can get away with a simple buzz cut, cutting your own hair is an excellent way to save money.
  14. Ladies, use a menstrual cup. Don’t spend money every month on feminine hygiene products when you can reuse a menstrual cup for years.
  15. Mayonnaise moisturizer. The egg and oil in mayonnaise moisturize the skin and the vinegar balances the pH level, making it a fine and inexpensive skin moisturizer.

Recycling

These extreme recycling ideas range from the practical to the outrageous.

  1. Recycle pet hair. If you have a pet that sheds, collect that fur, and knit scarves, blankets, and hats from it.
  2. One man’s trash…. The old saying holds true that what one person throws away is treasure to someone else. On trash day or on regularly scheduled trash pick-ups for bulky items, you can find discarded furniture, appliances, and more that often just require a little TLC to be completely usable.
  3. Lost and found. Lost and found items frequently go unclaimed. Instead of buying hats, coats, umbrellas, and other items often left behind, you can help yourself to those from the lost and found bin (after it’s been cleared as truly lost, that is).
  4. Extreme recycling. Make it a goal to reuse everything again. For example, instead of throwing away cereal box liners, reuse them as trash receptacles in place of trash bags.
  5. Shop at thrift stores. Buying clothes, furniture and appliances from thrift stores can save you a bundle of money compared to how much you would spend to purchase the same items brand new.
  6. Craigslist. If you are looking for a specific item and can’t find it at a thrift store, check out Craigslist. People frequently sell their unwanted items there for awesome prices.
  7. Have a swap meet. Get together with friends and bring a bunch of stuff you want to get rid of–then get your trade on.

House and Property

Learn how to save money on where you live with ideas such as using geothermal heating or taking in boarders.

  1. Build your own house. Purchase inexpensive land and build your own house for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase a house.
  2. Downsize your home. If you aren’t ready for building your own house, consider moving to a smaller house and eliminating some or all of your mortgage debt.
  3. Live in portable housing. For a truly extreme way to save money, live in portable housing such as an RV or a sturdy tent that you can take with you anywhere and don’t require land ownership.
  4. Fix it yourself. Learn how to repair a broken appliance or patch the roof yourself. Not only will you save money, you will also learn an important skill that can be bartered for something you may want or need.
  5. Use alternate energy sources. Use solar power, geothermal heating, or other alternative energy sources to power your home.
  6. Collect rainwater. Collecting rainwater to use for your yard, garden, and any other use around the house will reduce your water bill.
  7. Sell luxury items. Some things are just a luxury to own and actually cost more money just by having them. A boat, two or more cars, jet skis, a motorcycle, and other luxury items cost gas, insurance, maintenance, and storage to own.
  8. Take in boarders. People who have extra rooms can take in boarders to earn money from rent.
  9. Volunteer at a kibbutz. If you want to eliminate costs for room and board altogether, you can volunteer your time at a kibbutz.
  10. Live in your car. There have been several stories over the past few years of people who have chosen to live out of their cars while leading a fairly normal existence.

Around the House

Get tons of great daily living tips that will save you serious cash.

  1. Water down your products. Shampoo, cleaning supplies, and more will last much longer if you water them down a bit.
  2. Use natural cleaning products. Most things in your home can be thoroughly cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. Compare the price of these items with what you are paying for each individual cleaning product.
  3. Use selective flushing. Many people choose not to flush the toilet after each use, limiting flushes to every second or third pee and when solids are present.
  4. Line-dry clothes. There’s no reason to spend money on a clothes dryer or the energy it takes to run one when you you can dry your clothes outside for the price of a clothes line strung between two trees and a bag of clothes pins.
  5. Get rid of big stuff. Sell your unused furniture, appliances you don’t use, or any of the other big stuff around your house that is just taking up space.
  6. Learn to live without heat or air conditioning. Less than 100 years ago people lived just fine without central heat or air conditioning–and many in countries around the world still do. Imagine how much you would save if you eliminated these two expenses.
  7. Put a brick or jar in the toilet. Putting a brick or large jar or two in the back of the toilet reduces the amount of water used during each flush, saving both water and money.
  8. Skip the silverware. Fast food restaurants frequently give out plasticware. Hang on to this and reuse it instead of purchasing silverware.
  9. Make your own (safe) pesticide. Boric acid is relatively safe for humans, but deadly for ants and roaches. Make your own pesticide and save plenty on extermination services.
  10. Put high-energy electronics on a timer. Plug TVs, DVD players, and other high-energy usage appliances in to a timer so that they are not using energy at night and are available again during the day.
  11. Use only one light bulb. If your house is small enough (and your fingers aren’t too tender), switch the light bulb from socket to socket as it’s needed in each room. If it’s a compact fluorescent bulb, it can last for years.

Food

From taking home leftovers from the office party to adopting a freegan lifestyle, learn how to save a bundle when it comes to food.

  1. Live off the land. Grow your own vegetables and herbs and raise your own livestock for consumption to cut your grocery bill considerably.
  2. Use a diaper in your plants. If you are growing vegetables in containers, put some of the absorbent material from a baby diaper at the bottom of the container–below the soil. When you water the plant, the excess water will be absorbed into the material, then when the soil dries out, the water will soak up into the soil, eliminating the need for frequent waterings.
  3. Cook from scratch. Learning to cook your own food from scratch can save you a bundle.
  4. Hunt for your meat. Rather than rely on purchasing meat, for the price of a hunting license and a gun, you can find your own meat.
  5. Take home leftovers. Volunteer to clean up after the office party or fundraising events at school. All that leftover food that usually gets thrown away can be yours for the taking.
  6. Free groceries. Take advantage of your store’s buy-one-get-one-free deals or check out websites and blogs that are devoted to finding these types of saving opportunities.
  7. Restaurant freebies. Sign up on many restaurants’ mailing list to get free food. Don’t forget to include your birthday to get free meals then, too.
  8. Save restaurant packets. Put all that salt, pepper, hot sauce, and other condiments you keep getting when you purchase fast food in your pantry to use later.
  9. Shop at farmers’ markets. Especially if you go at the end of the day, you can usually get bargains on the fresh food direct from the farm.
  10. Cut out alcohol. Alcohol costs plenty of money. Stop drinking to really save, or learn to make your own.
  11. Ignore expiration dates. While this is not recommended for safety reasons, there are plenty of people who ignore the expiration date on food so it will last longer.
  12. Become a freegan. Freegans forage food tossed out by grocery stores and restaurants. If you can get beyond the concept of dumpster diving, this is an awesome way to get free food.
  13. Extreme frugality meal plan. If you want to learn how to eat very cheaply, then take a look at this meal plan.

Health and Medicine

Everyone has concerns about the cost of health care, so here are some extreme ways to help you cut back.

  1. Learn about alternative healing methods. Many herbs and items found around the house can be used for both promoting wellness and healing.
  2. Use students in training. Whether you want a hair cut, need to see a dentist, or want a relaxing massage, all of these services and more can be obtained from students-in-training at a fraction of the price you would pay to see more established professionals.
  3. Become proactive. Eating naturally and organic, staying physically active, and knowing your body are all excellent ways to stay healthy and avoid costly medical bills.
  4. Learn first aid. Treating minor illness and injuries yourself will reduce unnecessary medical care that can be done at home.

Entertainment

Entertainment can eat up a budget in no time, so take these suggestions to reduce your cash outflow without curbing your entertainment.

  1. Entertain at home. Instead of going out to a bar or restaurant, have your friends come to your place for an inexpensive, yet fun night in.
  2. Free TV and movies. With sites like Hulu.com and even the major networks themselves offering free downloads of their shows, there’s no reason to pay for cable or to see a movie.
  3. Free music. When you sign up for a free account with places like Pandora or Last.fm, you will get free music customized to your taste.
  4. Free concerts. Most cities offer free concerts. Check local listings and see what’s available near you.
  5. Go for dates at lunch. Restaurants typically offer reduced prices for lunch specials, so take your next date out for lunch.
  6. Surf the Internet outside your home. Don’t pay for Internet connection when you can surf at libraries and free Wi-Fi spots.
  7. Share Internet. If you really must have Internet at home and live close by neighbors, share your Internet and reduce the cost.
  8. Find museum days. Most museums offer days or partial days where admission is free. Do a little research and get your culture for free.
  9. Free popcorn. If you do pay the outrageous price of admission to a movie theater, don’t spend anything for popcorn, just scavenge what is left over from the prior movie-goers who left theirs behind.
  10. Exchange cards in the store. Instead of spending $5 or more on birthday or anniversary cards, take your sweetie to the store, choose a card for each other, share them, then replace them on the shelf and leave.

Transportation

From getting rid of your car to becoming a bike commuter, find out how to save money on your transportation expenses.

  1. Conserve gas. There are some pretty extreme ways to conserve gas, such as not driving every day, using alternative fuels in your car, and even turning off your car when coasting down hill. (This last one isn’t very safe, by the way.)
  2. Sell your car. This definitely feels extreme for some, but selling your car will save you a ton of money. With so many other forms of transportation available, why opt for the most expensive one?
  3. Walk. Walk or ride your bike when your destination is only one or two miles away.
  4. Become a bike commuter. Biking to work will save you a ton of money and has awesome health benefits too.
  5. Public transportation. Take public transportation any time you can. A monthly pass for the bus or light rail is probably cheaper than gas, maintenance, and parking expenses.
  6. Move to be closer to work or school. Make sure you live close enough to walk or bike to work or school so you don’t have to own a car.
  7. Car share. Join a car share program for those times when you really need to drive a car, but without the expense of car ownership.
  8. Drive a scooter. Scooters are relatively inexpensive and get awesome gas mileage, often around 100 mpg.

Other Extreme Ways to Save Money

These suggestions range from literally freezing your credit cards in ice to adjusting your bedtime to match the sun rise and set to some rather unusual pet tricks that can all save you plenty of money.

  1. Voluntary simplicity. This movement has gained momentum recently with participants voluntarily simplifying their lives in a number of ways with benefits on the wallet as well as the Earth.
  2. Stop buying. It is extreme, but see if you can stop making purchases all together for 30 days. Not only will you save money, but you will also begin to see ways to do things without spending money for the long term.
  3. Freeze your credit cards. Learn from this blogger’s aunt how to literally freeze your credit cards so that you won’t have access to them just any old time.
  4. Make gifts. When birthdays and holidays roll around, make gifts to give to friends and family.
  5. Free samples. Sign up for free samples and get everything from cosmetics to household items. Set up an email address just for getting email samples so your regular email isn’t inundated.
  6. Live like a farmer. Go to bed when the sun sets and rise when the sun rises so that you use less electricity.
  7. Enter contests. Some people almost make a career out of entering contests. Your winnings can really add up if you stick with it.
  8. Look for spare change. Every time you pass a vending machine, newspaper dispenser, or anything else that gives back change, check the change-return slot and on the ground around the machine for loose change.
  9. Hide cash. Hide $5 or $10 bills around the house in odd places. You won’t be tempted to spend what you don’t see.
  10. Negotiate everything. No matter what you are buying, try to negotiate for a lower price.
  11. Sell pigeon droppings. A church in Hartford, Connecticut, sold pigeon droppings they collected from their church and made $30,000.
  12. Have your dog earn his own money for food. Send Rover out to make money himself like this dog does.


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