Finances & Money Frugality

Extreme Ways to Save Money

By Raine Parker

This guest post is contributed by Raine Parker, who writes on the topics of accounting degree .  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: .

When it comes to saving money, most of us know where to start. Eating out less, going to the library, buying fewer clothes, and hypermiling are all traditional ways to cut back on spending, but what if you need to dig a little deeper in order to save more? Below are extreme and sometimes controversial ways to save money on a daily basis.

  • Get a roommate: Even if you have to move, getting a roommate will subtract a huge amount from your rent, utilities and other living expenses. Make sure your new roommate is as committed to you when it comes to saving energy, though.
  • Get married: Getting married can reward you with tax benefits, will alleviate rent costs and can help you save on food, entertainment and other daily living costs. Just don’t marry someone who’s carrying lots of debt, because that will become yours too.
  • Give up your pets: Pets are cute and fun and can even contribute to healthier, calmer lifestyles for their owners, but they’re also expensive. Give up your pet to your parents or a friend so that you can save on vet, food and boarding costs.
  • Stop drinking: Alcohol — even cheap alcohol — can hurt your budget. Save it for special occasions, and eliminate weekly or daily drinks.
  • Stop smoking: Smoking is also expensive, in the short- and long-term. Depending on how much you smoke, you could be buying packs a day, and should also expect to pay more in health insurance and medical bills in the future.
  • Bring your own food and snacks: Bring your own snacks to the movies, pack your lunch rather than going out during work, and head to nightspots that let you bring your own food. Picnicking is also a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon without going out to eat.
  • Go without heat or A/C: Dress in layers and pile on blankets during the winter, and use fans, ice cubes and water spritzers to keep you cooler during the summer. (Editor Note: just be careful not to let your pipes freeze or you’ll have to spend all that money you saved!)
  • Get rid of your TV: Cutting cable out of your budget can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Once you’re used to the sacrifice, take it one step further and get rid of your TV altogether to save on energy costs. You can always watch DVDs and even regular TV programming on your computer.
  • Steal Internet: Sure, it’s a controversial way to save money, but if you can find a stable connection from a neighbor, the risk might be worth it for you. (Editor Note: For many internet providers, this is actually against their terms of service and can get your neighbor booted. It’s also illegal in some areas!)
  • Swap with friends: From music and DVDs to laundry detergent to clothes, set up a swap network with your friends. Take turns buying what you need, and then pass it around the group to cut spending.
  • Record every expense: It’s tedious, but writing down every single expense — from gum to gas to withdrawals — will help you figure out where you need to stop spending.
  • Turn in your pennies: Keep loose change and deposit pennies, nickels and dimes when you have enough.
  • Eat packaged food: We all know that fresh — even organic — food is healthiest, but when you’re on a serious budget, you can buy packaged food in bulk for less money. Stock up on peanut butter, ramen noodles, rice, beans and the big bags of frozen vegetables that will last longer.
  • Walk or ride your bike: Eliminate the need to budget for gas by walking or riding your bike everywhere that you possibly can. (Editor Note: This would be a bit hard on my 30 mile highway commute!)
  • Don’t do or buy anything without a coupon or discount: Pledge to limit your activities and shopping according to whether or not you can get a discount. Look for coupons, free movie passes, sales and promotional rates for everything you buy. (Editor Note: But be careful to not buy stuff just because you have a coupon)
  • Buy according to the season: You’ll save money on produce if you buy fruits and vegetables in season, but you can find the best deals on Christmas decorations, travel, clothes and even homes when you buy them during the off-season.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I actually laughed out loud when I read the title of this post.

    I think recording every expense is my favorite tip. I would only suggest doing it for 3-4 months because you may become overwhelmed, lose interest, and resort back to old spending habits. But that was the way I turned around my financial situation. You never know where you’re money is going until you see it every day in a spreadsheet.

    To play a weird devil’s advocate, I wonder what the numbers are for smokers if you consider early death compared to the amount they’re buying in cigarettes. Let’s be honest: life is cheaper if you’re dying early from smoking, but I wonder if it ever evens out lol.

    Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances

  • A lot of these sound like college. Not the drinking one, but the roommate, eating packaged food, steal internet, swap with friends, etc.

    For the average college student who has $4,000 in credit card debt…they seem to be pretty frugal, no?

  • I have to agree with the others: Most of these aren’t THAT extreme. You can pretty easily find a blogger who has been there/done that. (Except, maybe, eating only packaged food.)

    But I have to object to the editor’s note about pipes freezing. I grew up in AK and there are plenty of ways to avoid/fix this. The least economical of which is to run a small stream of water from the tap all night. We frequently had to do that because my parents turned the heat off at night. (We were all under blankets, after all! Except they didn’t have to be the first ones up, grrrr!)

    You can also put a heating pad on the pipes (so long as it has a cover or you might get a short! Finally, my mom has been known to use a hairdryer on the pipes. It takes forever, but it’s a lot cheaper than calling a plumber in!

    Despite (or perhaps because of) the cold climate, I was taught to dress in layers first, turn the heat up second. It’s a little less helpful down here in Arizona, though. You can’t do much once you’re down to the barest essentials (or less!) and sweating. The trick in hot climates is to find a place that covers electricity for you. Until you have a place of your own, that’s the most frugal thing I know!

    • @Abigail, I give other authors a chance to post their stuff and see how the internet responds. In this case, I would agree that the methods are not extreme at all.

      As far as my note about pipes freezing, the bullet points to basically keeping your heat OFF. In that case, when your heat is always off, and you live far enough north where your pipes could freeze, then you MUST insulate your pipes and even that might not help. Your tips are good when your power goes out, but I think running water all day and night to keep them from freezing is a waste and counteracts the savings from keeping the heat low or off. Same goes for using a hairdryer or a heating pad. Unless you have a ton of heating pads, you can’t protect all your pipes. And do you know how much electricity a hair dryer sucks up??? A LOT!

  • How about I stop breathing all together? After giving up pets, good food and decent clothes, I might as well kick the bucket – THAT would definitely save me some money!

    It is one thing to be frugal but it is all together stupid to give up living!

  • I think you forgot the two most important ones.

    1) Don’t have debts. Not paying interest is an automatic “saving”. Having revolving credit card debt means paying 15.99% (or whatever the rate is) more for everything.

    2) Don’t have all these unused bedrooms. Housing costs are the biggest costs. That is somewhat covered by point one of having a room mate.

  • Some of these tips are great – like writing down your expenses & keeping your change. I really object to the “get rid of your pet” one though. I know it says to give your pet to a friend or relative but having a pet should be a lifetime commitment, not something you give up because you spent too much money. That kind of thinking is why so many pets are in shelters (or worse).

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