11 Extreme Frugal Living Tips You Should Try

Last Updated on 8th September 2020 by Tuppenny

Are you willing to go all out for extreme frugality in order to save money?

When you need to save money you can find plenty of advice about how to be frugal and how to save money.

But advice on extreme frugality with an emphasis on extreme? Not so much.

Sometimes saving money like other people do is just not enough.

If you’ve tried all the mainstream frugal tips but your finances are still not going in the right direction then perhaps it’s time to look at what extremely frugal people do.

Maybe you’ve just lost your job or maybe you’ve had your light-bulb moment and are determined to learn how to pay off debt fast as possible.

There are ways to ramp up your money saving attempts if you are prepared to go where others fear to tread.

Let me be clear, I am talking about extreme frugality not general money saving ideas.

If you want to read about the best frugal living tips and how others have successfully lived a fantastic frugal life then do have a read of this post:

The Best Books On Frugal Living You Need To Read

old fashioned kitchen table with vintage kitchen scales and other wooden equipment on shelves behind the table

Extreme Frugality And What It Is Not

If you have a need to focus more on how to live super frugally then you will already have factored the following money saving ideas in:

  • Growing your own food
  • Cutting cable
  • Using the library to borrow music, movies and books
  • Picnics as your usual meal out
  • Playing board games as family entertainment
  • Invite friends over instead of going out
  • Use up all leftovers
  • Buy secondhand things instead of new
  • Save rainwater and use on your garden
  • Learn DIY to fix things yourself
  • Mend your own clothes

The list above are things that people who are into extreme frugality think are positively mainstream.

If you haven’t already then start with the list above, but I am presuming you’ve got these covered and need even more.

For lots more useful money saving tips these posts will help:

How To Start Saving Money: 7 Tricks You Can Easily Do

21 Money Saving Tips For Beginners – How To Start Saving Big NOW!

35 Ways You Are Wasting Money [And How To Stop Right Now]

For more help on learning how to save money grab your copy of the Money Saving Mini Bundle

Extreme Frugality meaning

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more here)

 According to dictionary.com the meaning of extreme includes:

  1. of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average
  2. utmost or exceedingly great in degree
  3. farthest from the center or middle

With extreme frugality we are not talking about the usual, mainstream ways of saving money.

We are talking way beyond ordinary and average.

The key to extremely frugal ways to save money is in the definition above – we are talking ‘farthest removed’ and ‘exceedingly great’.

Money saving tips for the average person are more about clipping a few coupons and not auto renewing your annual insurances.

vintage kitchen worktop with vintage equipment including electric mixer and scales to signify extreme frugality

Is Extreme Frugality Really That Extreme?

What extremely frugal ways to save money looks like to me might seem more like being an extreme cheapskate to you, or maybe it feels just like mainstream living?

While I was researching this post I thought about the extremely frugal people I have known and what antics that have got up to.

My Mother knows all about how to be extremely frugal because she absolutely was when I was a child.

At the time I hadn’t realized my Mother was being super frugal, I just thought she was being eccentric!

And that could sum up how others may view you when you are aiming to become very frugal – slightly eccentric.

Is that a bad thing?

Is being focused on super frugal living and saving money really eccentric?

At the end of the day we follow our own paths, we must all manage our money and if you need or want to be very frugal then you go for it.

It’s your life.

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

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11 great examples of extreme frugality

1. Eat offal

Offal is the internal organs and intestines of animals used as food.

Sound gross?

Offal is a good source of protein and significantly cheaper than more expensive cuts of meat.

Offal includes:

  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Tripe
  • Brains
  • Tongue

You get the idea, not your everyday meat product.

In the 1970’s with sky high inflation and mortgage interest rates many families, including mine, resorted to eating offal.

The main memory I had from that time was my mother serving us brain curry.

My brothers hated it but I actually liked it!

I’ll be honest and say that now I’m older offal feels like extreme frugality food gone too far.

Although my husband loves kidney and liver, they are not something I actually like the taste of so they are not something we eat (thankfully).

When you want to keep your grocery bill down low then have a read of the best frugal foods to buy when broke.

traditional kitchen utensils hanging on ship lap wall and worktop

2. Road Kill

Another example of extreme frugality food is to eat the road kill you may come across on your travels.

In the UK it is widely accepted that if you accidentally run over an animal you cannot pick it up as road kill.

However the person behind you can.

I have no idea whether this is an urban myth or buried in some law.

But what I do know is there are people who supplement their protein intake with road kill.

And yes, my Mother has picked up road kill before!

3. Moldy Food

In day’s gone past the money mantra was ‘waste not, want not’.

If food has a small amount of mold on it, does it mean all of that food is now inedible and off?

If you want to reach the heights of extreme frugality then using moldy food can definitely help you save money.

I account my cast iron stomach (no food poisoning for me) with having been given food that had the mold cut off when I was a child.

My Mother’s response to our disgust at this practice was to point out the premium people pay for blue cheeses like Stilton – moldy cheese!

4. No-Poo

There is a whole no-poo movement of people who no longer use shampoo or other chemicals on their hair.

There is a transition stage you have to go through which is off putting for many people.

Your hair will be/feel more oily and likely look different.

But get through those 4-6 weeks and you should come out the other side with lovely shiny hair.

And more money in your pocket as you are no longer buying shampoo, conditioner or likely any other hair products.

woman washing her hair in waterfall surrounded by rocks and greenery to signify extreme frugal living tips


5. Stop Shaving – Both Men AND Women

Beards are very much in fashion these days so no shaving for men is not difficult to achieve.

Nor is it extreme.

You won’t seem different from many others around you, indeed you’ll blend right in.

But how about no shaving, waxing or hair removal for women?

Are you willing to be more extreme with your personal care in order save money?

6. Cut Your Own Hair

Again this is more aimed at women than men as men often invest in a set of clippers and cut their own hair.

But how about us women?

Are you up for never visiting a hairdresser again?

Visiting the hairdresser is something I just don’t do.

With long straight hair it’s fairly easy to cut my own hair although Mr2p now does the honors.

Are you willing to allow your partner to cut your hair in your quest to save money?

7. Collect And Reuse Grey Water

There are plenty of typically normal ways to save money on your water bill.

But how about reusing your bath water to flush your loo?

Or using water from your washing machine to water your plants?

When you are going all out to learn how to be as frugal as possible, reusing your grey water makes financial sense.

8. Be Sparing With Your Heating

Reducing your energy bills is good practice whatever your financial circumstances.

Being more conscious about your energy usage is a good frugal habit that also benefits the environment as you are using less fossil fuels.

But to hit the heights of extreme energy saving you need to take your energy usage to a whole new, lower, level.

I feel extremely frugal when I have the heating off during the day and the temperature drops to 13 degrees.

But how about:

  • not having the heating on at all
  • wearing your day clothes in bed to keep warm
  • wearing hats and gloves whilst watching TV
  • only having 1 light (bulb) on in the house at one time
  • having 2 sets of curtains to keep more heat in your room
  • having a cold shower instead of hot

Related post: How To Save Electricity Doing Absolutely Nothing

a plate of muffins


9. Other People’s Leftovers

Using up your own leftovers is just good practice to reduce food wastage and lower your grocery bill.

But how about taking the leftovers from work meetings, events and parties you have attended?

Events like these often have food left over and the super frugal won’t hesitate to ask if they can take these extras home.

After all it’s free food!

55 Cheap And Easy Meals You Are Going To Love

10. Dumpster Diving

Checking out the things other people have thrown away is perhaps not that extreme.

Especially if you are focusing on skips and dumpsters left by the side of the road.

My Mother is renown for not being able to walk past a skip without having a quick nose through it’s contents.

But what about checking out thrown out food?

Some people will go to great lengths to source free food and are happy to dive into dumpsters and skips in this search.

Caution: Venturing onto private property in search of free stuff is trespassing, always ask permission.

vegetables being prepared on a wooden table

11. Super Cheap Meals

If you are looking to save money then your grocery budget is always a good place to start.

Getting your grocery bill down to the extremely low levels that super frugalista’s achieve involves scrutinizing every meal and thinking outside the box.

Extremely frugal meals can still involve meat but often involves a lot of pantry staples that hopefully you have stockpiled at a low price.

Ingredients such as rice, pasta, beans, pulses and super cheap seasonal produce including potatoes.

Fiona successfully challenged herself to spend just £50 a month on groceries for 2 people whilst others aim to only eat food from the reduced section.

For more help in saving money on your grocery spending join the grocery budget challenge:

Help With Practicing Extreme Frugality

If you would like more advice and help in learning about the lifestyle that some people may call extreme cheapskate money saving then why not check out the books below?

My advice with buying books is firstly to always check them out of the library if you can – it’s the frugal way!

If you like what you read or your library doesn’t stock it then buy it used from Amazon.

The books I buy often cost me just shipping and a penny or so.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

This book has so many different frugal ideas to save money and is one you can dip in and out of all the time.

I’ve had the book for over 10 years and still pick it up every so often to give me some thrifty inspiration.

Personally I find some parts verging on the more cheapskate side of money saving but overall it is an absolute gem packed full of ideas and helpful tips.

The book is actually a collection of the frugal living newspaper Amy published in the 1990’s and laid out in a similar style so a very easy read.

You can buy Amy’s book here.

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker

Confession – I bought this book brand new when it was first released.

I had been following Jacob’s blog for a few years and wanted all his tips and advice in one place.

It’s not for the faint-hearted and I found it quite heavy going but if you want to focus on creating a framework for your new lifestyle then do have a read.

There is less on day to day tips and more on setting up your life in order to maximize your frugality and savings.

You can buy Jacob’s book here.

Examples of extreme frugality

As a child I didn’t realize my parents were practicing what we might call today extreme frugality.

Indeed I don’t think they would consider they were being super frugal at all.

Careful with money yes, extreme no.

These days my parents aren’t poor by any standards yet my Mother still picks up roadkill if she finds it.

She still cuts mold off of food. And if she passes a skip/dumpster I bet she can’t resist taking a look.

It’s not that she can’t get out of a poor mindset – she didn’t have one.

She just enjoys living within her means in some aspects of her life because she wants to spend her money in other ways!

3 children lying down in grass with daisies in their toes

Extreme Frugality Or Extreme Cheapskate?

At the end of the day it’s your choice. It’s your money to save or spend.

If you followed all of these super frugal tips would they make you a cheapskate? I don’t think so.

It’s about making the choices that are right for you and your circumstances.

If you need to stop living paycheck to paycheck then saving every penny will help.

Personally some of these are ingrained frugal habits and some aren’t.

Not because I think they are cheap but because they don’t fit into my life right now.

If you are going to wear the badge of a super frugalista then wear it with pride!

Got a super frugal tip to add to the list? Why not share in the comments?

For more help in becoming the best frugal you join the frugal foundations email course

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4 thoughts on “11 Extreme Frugal Living Tips You Should Try”

  1. I’m just starting back in to full time work soon and want some hints and tips on budgeting.and saving and paying of debts.and where’s the best place to start-first please.thank you as it would be very much appreciated. As most of you people have been through it yourselves and you’ll know the best place to start and what to do next and you’ll have a good piece of advice for us which is what we need right now.so we look forward to hearing from you soon take care bye thank you bye.

    • Hi Diane. Going back to work full time is a big step but a great opportunity to make the changes to your budget and start paying of those debts. I would suggest the following for starters:- write down everything you spend and review it every week to see where your money is going. Take a packed lunch to work from day 1, make that a habit so you don’t spend on takeout at work. Create a meal plan every week so you know in the morning what dinner will be that night. Keep it simple, max 30 mins cooking/prep time as you’ll be tired from work. Don’t fall into the mindset of ‘you’ve worked hard so you deserve to have takeout/new clothes’. You deserve to be debt free and have savings. Always remember that. For more hints and tips check out my archive page which lists all the posts I’ve written archive page here. I wish you the best of luck and know you can do it. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi Barbara, you are so right. You can be extremely, super frugal and never be a cheapskate. Thanks for stopping by!


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