When your finances are in a deep decline, going all out for extreme frugality can help you stay on budget.
You can find plenty of advice about how to be frugal and how to save money. But advice on extreme frugality with the emphasis on super frugal living can be harder to find.
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.
Are you ready?
With extreme frugality you are talking way beyond ordinary and average ways to save money. Extreme is as extreme does.
Extreme Frugality And What It Is Not
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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
- Playing board games as family entertainment
- Invite friends over instead of going out
- Use up leftovers
- Buy secondhand things instead of new
The list above are things that extremely frugal people think are pretty mainstream.
For lots more useful money saving tips these posts will help:
It can feel hard sometimes to get started with the more extreme ways to save money, where to start? What to do? How? If you feel like that then I encourage you to grab a couple of the books below and dive in that way.
Of course, as we are talking extreme money saving I would prefer it if you grabbed your copies from the library! Alternatively get yourself a used copy from Amazon, no need to pay full price!
How do you practice extreme frugality? Extreme frugality is about taking extra steps to save money. Steps that those around you might find strange or odd. Like not eating out for months on end. Or eating offal or never buying new clothes. Practicing extreme frugality is about being very frugal with everything you do. Everything.
What is an extreme saver? An extreme saver tends to be those people who both earn a lot and save a lot. If you are earning more than $100k a year it can be easy to save 50% or more of your income, especially if you live in an RV, and are extremely frugal.
Is it worth being frugal? Oh yes! Being extremely frugal has allowed me to pay my mortgage off 10 years early. To retire 17 years early. To be financially free. All while earning way less than $50k a year – way less.
How do I live super frugal? To live super frugal you should try to be vigilant about all aspects of your money. Being super frugal is not just about cutting back or not spending on impulsive purchases. It’s thinking about how to do things more frugally. Think waste not, want not.
11 great examples of extreme frugality
1. Eat offal
Offal is the internal organs and intestines of animals used as food.
Offal is a good source of protein and significantly cheaper than more expensive cuts of meat.
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.
One of the frugal stories I have from that time is 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.
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!
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.
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 use extreme budgeting tips like this 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 going down the route of extreme cheap living and 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 55F.
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 a cold shower instead of hot
Related post: How To Save Electricity Doing Absolutely Nothing
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!
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?
There are plenty of frugal living stories about how 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.
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.
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 FREE grocery budget challenge:
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?
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 extreme cheap 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.
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.
This book has so many different frugal stories about how to save money and is one you can dip in and out of all the time.
It’s my go to book for all things frugal and I love it. 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 extreme cheap living 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 monthly 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. Jacob’s blog was one of the extreme frugal living blogs I had been following for a few years and I wanted all of 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 or frugal stories and more on setting up your life in order to maximize your frugality and savings.
You can buy Jacob’s book here.
For all my recommendations on the best books on living frugally, check out this post:
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 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!
You may also like: 20 Frugal Living Tips For Seniors
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 of mine and some aren’t. Not because I think they are cheap, but because they don’t fit into my life right now.
Always wear the badge of a super frugalista with pride!
For more help in becoming the best frugal you, join the FREE frugal foundations email course
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Last Updated on 29th September 2021 by Emma