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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

The ultimate guide to saving money like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

I started working on this post around this time last year. I've been taking my time working on it because  I didn't want to leave anything out. If it's supposed to be an ultimate list then by  golly I'm gonna make it an ultimate list.

So, tell me - have you ever seen that TLC show Extreme Cheapskates on the telly or on Netflix? If not, I'm sure you can guess what the show's about from the title alone. The show reveals the lifestyle of genuine cheapskates and the great lengths they go through to avoid spending money. Many of the people on the show have hoards of cash and/or are millionaires thanks to their penny pinching habits. Some of the things these people do will only save them a few pennies in the long run but they know that pennies add up. Now I'll admit that some of money saving habits these people have developed are a wee bit strange, unsanitary and sometimes just plain gross (such as taking home a stranger's restaurant leftovers) - I'm not going to mentioned those tips. I'm here to share with you all the realistic money-saving methods I've seen on the show and from my own personal experience as a frugal mom of two in a one-income household. 

NOTE: I am aware that there is a possibility that the show Extreme Cheapskates may be fake or at the very least slightly "padded" for entertainment sake, but that doesn't mean the show doesn't reveal some pretty darn practical money saving tips.

This list isn't about just being frugal, it about going all out and making sacrifices to ensure your bank account grows like wildfire! So, if you want to retire early, save up for a wedding, a new car or home or break the chains of debt quickly, then dadgummit this post is for you.

**I am not an affiliate of TLC (The Learning Channel), all opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Turn off the overhead light, lamps, TVs, radios, game consoles and other electronics in any room you're not in.

When not in use, unplug chargers and any device that has a light to show it's plugged in such as irons, coffee makers and chargers.
How to Save Money on Energy
Lower the temperature on you water heater.

In the summer, turn the AC off, wear less clothing and open the windows.

In the winter, turn the heat down and bundle up.

Weatherproof your home. Tint window, fix drafts and air leaks to cut down on your heating and cooling costs. Check out this blog post from The Green Optimistic8 Affordable Ways to Weatherproof Your Home.

Turn off the lights during the day and open the curtains for natural light.

Put your water heater on a timer.

Unplug devices after charging.

Upgrade to energy-saving appliances.

Reduce air-conditioning costs by as much as 10 percent by keeping AC condensers and window units shaded, perhaps by installing overhead awnings over each window.

Paint your roof white. Via Bankrate.com: "A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Heat Island Group found that in sunny climates, buildings with white roofs required up to 40% less energy for cooling than those with black roofs. At current utility rates, that means you could save more than $100 per year in cooling costs."

 Place your regular light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs.

Install a programmable thermostat.

 Put you computer to sleep when it's not in use.


If a garment has been worn for only a brief period of time, there's really no need to wash it. Hang it up and wear it again.

Buy generic laundry products.

Cut your dryer sheets in half. One box will last twice as long and your clothes will be just as soft. OR just skip the dryer sheets all together.
Hand wash your clothes and hang them up to dry.

Only, wash full loads of laundry. If the load is tiny or you need just a couple items washed, wash them by hand instead.

Clean clothes in cold water only.

Stop sending your clothes to the dry cleaners and learn to clean dedicates yourself.


The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}Don't buy disposable dishes, plasticware and paper towels. Make sure everything you buy is reusable.

Wash dishes by hand.

If you insist on using the dish washer, turn off the dryer function and let them dry over night. The built up heat from the washing usually speeds this up.

Cut sponges in half or
Use a dish towel instead.

Don't buy specialized appliances and gadgets that only serve one purpose like egg peelers, strawberry hullers, butter spreaders.

Pour dish water on garden beds.

Reuse glass jars and plastic food containers for leftovers, lunches, etc.

Wash and reuse aluminum foil and ziplock bags.


Don’t shop hungry! When you shop hungry you buy more food than needed because everything sounds so darn tantalizing.

Keep your meals simple.

Practice portion control and eat only as much as what you're actually supposed to eat.

Hang on to condiment packets, napkins and plastic-ware from fast food restaurants.

Learn to garden and save hundreds of dollars on produce a year.

Hunt/fish. Nature will provide you with free meat!

Eat expired food? Yes, the "sell by" date is when stores should pull an item from the shelves. That doesn't mean it's not ok to eat. Most perishables are good up to two weeks after the sell by date. Use common sense with this one: if something looks weird, smells funny or is obviously spoiled, please don't eat it.

Use coupons for groceries, restaurants and even online buys.

Plan your meals around the sales and deals at the grocery store.

Make your own wine and beer.

Forage for wild edibles.

Bring your own grocery bags to stores that charge for bagging.

Stock up on meat and produce when it's on sale and freeze it.

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

Learn to can your fruits and vegetables. They will last form months - sometime years.

Befriend a farmer and get the hookup!

Skip the sirloin and buy cheap cuts of meat. Check out this post: 25 Easy Ways to Make Cheap Cuts of Meat Taste Expensive.

Eat meatless meals at least once a week. A couple of great meals to try are bean burritos,  potato soup and eggplant Parmesan. You won't even miss the meat! Want more ideas, check out this book Everyday Flexitarian: Recipes for Vegetarians and Meat lovers alike by Nettie Cronish. 

Don't waste! Eat those leftovers!

Cut back on sodas and other sugary drinks. You don't need them anyway...

Strain, store and reuse cooking oil again and again.

Go for a $1 cup of coffee instead of overpriced energy drinks.

Buy a good water bottle and refill it as needed instead of buying bottled water.

Buy food in bulk.

Use vegetable scraps (broccoli stalks, celery greens, cauliflower centers, and the like) to make vegetable stock for soups and other recipes. Freeze the stock until you are ready to use.

Buy raw meat in a large pieces and cut it up as needed instead. When you buy meat already cut up, like sectioned chicken, you're paying more for the convenience.

Don't buy pre-chopped and diced fruits and veggies. Buy them whole and be your own food processor!


Cut the cable and try out lower priced options like Netflix and Hulu.

Get books, magazine and DVDs from the library or borrow from friends and family.

Have less frequent outings and date nights. Try going out only once a month, versus once a week.

Leave credit cards and debit cards at home when you go out for date night, movie night, dining out, etc. Take only a reasonable amount of cash with you.

If you go out to eat, go at lunchtime. The prices are WAY lower during lunch.

Only order water at restaurants.

Skip the bar. The drinks are way overpriced. For the price of three beers at the bar, you could buy a whole six pack at the grocery store.

Either cut back on drinking alcohol or quit altogether or...

Only go our for drinks if someone else is picking up the tab.

Limit visits to the cinema to once a month or stop going all together. The movie will be on Netflix or in the Redbox in just a few short months anyway. (Get Redbox coupons and other deals HERE from retailmenot.com)

Instead of paying for lessons, search You Tube for videos on how to knit, tap dance, play the banjo, decorate a cake, etc.

Look for free entertainment like art shows, free museum days, local festivals, movies in the park and open mic nights.

Volunteer to usher at theaters so you can get to see plays and other productions for free!

Quit smoking. Not only will quitting save you tons of money a month, it'll save you thousands in the long run! AND it's a very good thing to do for yourself. If you smoke a pack a day at $7 a pack every day for a month that equals to $210 a month... $2,520 A YEAR! Need help? Check out these products form Amazon.

Turn off the TV, turn off the lights, light a candle and read a book like "olden times".

When throwing a party, go pot-luck style instead of spending a fortune on catering or making foods yourself.

Plan small vacations for special occasions to nearby hot spot destinations instead of taking super expensive trips overseas, cross country, giant theme park every year.

Want to go shopping for fun? Take only a small amount of cash with you. Take no credit cards and leave debit cards at home to avoid the temptation of getting more dough from the ATM.

Invite friends over instead of going out.

Cancel magazine subscriptions. Get your info online or borrow zines from the library or a friend.

Keep snacks in your vehicles to avoid having to stop for fast food or over priced convince store snacks.


The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}
Collect hand-me-downs.

Hit up yard sales.

Borrow. Need something you're only going to wear once like a formal gown for a gala or a nice suit for a funeral? Borrow what you need from friends and family.

Learn to sew, knit, crochet etc and make your own clothing and accessories.

Check out daily deal online boutiques like Groopdealz, Jane and Zulily. It's not uncommon to find goods up to 85% off.

Mend it, don't toss it! It only takes very basic knowledge of hand sewing to repair most clothing.

Buy clothes when they're out of season. Example buy your bathing suit in the winter or your coat in the summer and get it for significantly less than when it's in season.

Thrift shop.

Say no to designer labels but if you insist, hit up eBay or outlet stores.

Realize that just because something is marked down, doesn't mean you should spend money on it. A $300 purse marked down to $100 might sound great but think about this: would you rather have a $90 purse with $10 inside or a $10 purse with $90 inside?

Only shop online clearance sales.

Only shop online when free shipping is available.

Re-purpose and up-cycle old clothes.

Shop at consignment shops. You can also make a bit of money selling your unwanted clothes at them too!

Set a cost-per-item limit. Example, never buy a shirt over $5, jeans over $10, shoes over $15, etc.

Check out my blog post Dressing a Family of Four for Less Than $200 a Year.


Collect and use the samples from magazines, Avon, anywhere!

"Steal" those little hotel soaps, lotions and shampoo, shower caps even the coffee and cups. You paid for it! It's yours! (Often time they're thrown away. Please don't take the towels and bedding.)

Wash your hair less often - it's better for your hair and you'll use less product.

Use only a pea sized dollop of toothpaste. That's really all you need.

Shave less often, ladies and dudes!

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

Skip the salon and do hair dyes and cuts yourself or...

let your hair grow or...

Have an experienced friend do it or...

Offer to sweep up hair and clean the salon in exchange for a free cut.

DIY manis and pedis or do without them all together.

Downgrade beauty products. Often times off-brand is just as good as name-brand.

Make your own beauty products. Click here for a huge list of products to DIY and this one for MORE!

Skip tanning salons. Sunshine is FREE.

Shorten showers or use less water in your bath or...

Share baths and showers.

Skip the bath. If you've been sitting around in your pajamas marathoning Bob's Burgers all day, what do you need to wash off? The guilt of being lazy? Pringles crumbs?

Switch to reusable cloth wipes instead of toilet paper. If this sounds like too much, try wiping tinkle with wash cloths and only use TP for... poo wipes. If you really want to be frugal cut up a baby's receiving blanket or burp cloth into squares instead of using good wash cloths.

Put a brick in your toilet's tank.  You'll use less water with every flush!

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

Don't flush every time. Ever heard the saying "If it's brown flush it down. If it's yellow it's all mellow"?

Buy generic over the counter medicines.

When bath a beauty products in a tube run out, simply cut off the bottom of the tube - there's more in there!

When you last sliver of soap is too small to use, lather up a new bard and stick the old sliver of soap to it.

Ask your doctor if there's a generic form of your medication that if less costly and just as effective.

Skip the gym and workout at home. No equipment or special DVDs are needed. There are plenty of free exercise videos on YouTube for yoga, strength training, cardio and more.

Only buy used exercise equipment like treadmills, weight sets, elliptic machines. If someone is selling that stuff they're probably sick of it taking up space in their home and will most likely be willing to part ways with it for a very low price.


Don't go crazy stocking up maternity clothing. You'll be surprised how much of your clothing you'll still be able to fit into even when you're super big pregnant.

Breastfeed. It's free!

Use cloth diapers. From birth until your kid is fully potty trained, you might find yourself around $2,000 on disposable diapers but only $775 on cloth.

Check out my post: 10 Things  Your New Baby Doesn't Need.

Buy second hand clothing or ask for hand-me-downs.
The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

Get toys at garage sales or thrift stores.

Switch to generic baby formula. Both of my babies drank generic and they are very healthy!

Swap toys with a friend when your kids start getting bored with theirs.

Make your baby's food.

Start collecting loose change for college fund as soon as a child is born.

Don't spend tons of money on video game consoles and other electronic entertainment. By them used or not at all. If your kid loves gaming, there are plenty of free games online.

Participate in school fundraisers - the more money you can help raise, the less out of pocket expenses you'll have to spend on things like sports equipment, uniforms and field trips.

Encourage your kids to pick up a hobby to eliminate the desire for expensive video games and electronics. Check out this article Hobbies for Kids from Care.com

Buy kids and teens low-cost phones with pre-paid plans.

Shop around for the lowest price for lessons, ballet, gymnastics, piano, karate, etc.

Cut kid's hair at home, have am experienced friend do it or just let it grow. Little hippies are cool.

Find another couple with children and swap babysitting.

Encourage kids and teens to get jobs to earn their own money.

Take advantage of free activities in your community: Go to a park, visit your library, indoor playgrounds and free festivals.

Just say "no". You don't have to give your child everything he asks for... even if he deserves it. We all deserve a mansion and a full time butler but that doesn't mean we're going to get it does it? Life's so not fair.


Trade in your vehicle for something more fuel efficient.

Only buy used cars.

Clean or change out your car’s air filter. This can improve your gas mileage up to 7%.

Shop around for the best gas prices. The GasBuddy mobile app can help you find the cheapest gas in the area.

Bike, skateboard, walk or carpool to save money on gas.

Never take your car to be washed and detailed. Do it yourself. Borrow anything you might need like a vacuum and other interior cleaning gadgets.

Always shop around for the lowest car insurance costs.

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

Try public transportation instead, especially if you don't get out much.

Change your own oil or have a trusted, competent friend or family member do it for free.

Don't speed. Speeding decreases the fuel economy of your car, meaning you'll get fewer miles to the gallon.

Drop collision and comprehensive coverage. If your car is worth less than $2,000 you're probably paying more to insure it than you could ever collect on a claim.

Take care of your car.  Your car run more efficiently if you keep your tires full, keep the gas tank full and get regular oil changes. As an added bonus a well maintained vehicle has a better resale value.

Combine insurance policies. Check to see if your company provides renter or homeowner insurance as well as auto. You could save to 15% with a combined policy.

Get rid of any vehicle that rarely gets used. It's a huge waste of money to pay for insurance or maintenance on a car that you and  your family can live without.


Move closer to your job and cut down on transportation costs. Growing up my ex-stepdad used to drive a whopping 60 miles to work 5 days a week (we lived in micro-town and it was a good job). With the low gas prices of the late 90s-00s, that still racked up to be almost $1,500 a year in gas just getting to and from work.

Pack your lunch. Bringing your lunch to work should only cost $0 - $2 a day if you're doing it right! Going out to eat at $6 - $8 a meal, up to $40 a week, $160 a month, $1,920 a year!

Buy uniforms, scrubs and other  business-wear used if possible.

Make coffee at home and take it to-go instead of buying coffee at Starbucks every morning. Or just wait until you get to work and drink the coffee there. It's free!


Say no expensive fancy pet gadgets like water purifiers, auto-feeders and self cleaning litter boxes.
Learn to groom your own pets.
The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}
Create a pet budget and stick to it.
Make sure to keep up with vaccines to keep your dog healthy to avoid costly emergency vet bills.

Your dog doesn't need clothes...

Make your pet's toys.

Don't get high maintenance dog or cat breeds require a ton of special grooming.

Don't invest in exotic animals that require special equipment, food, toys and vet care.

If you're not much attached to your pets - cut pet costs all together by finding them a new loving home.

Shop around for a veterinarian with the lowest fees.

Free mutts are just as good as expensive purebreds.

Get your pet spayed or neutered! Puppy and kitten care isn't always free - not to mention is can be pretty darn stressful.


Instead of buying, borrow items that you know you'll rarely use or only need once - tools, sewing machine, movies, games, books, etc.

Ditch the land-line and stick with cell phones.

Ditch the contract phones and go with a pre-paid phone.

Reuse and re-purpose, jars, boxes, grocery bags, ziploc bags, food containers - the list goes on and on!

Split the wifi bill with a trusted neighbor.

Downgrade your home: go for a house or apartment that is smaller and cheaper.

Only buy used appliances and furniture.

Something broken? Learn to fix it yourself or have an experienced friend fix it before you hire a pro.

Dumpster dive for furniture and home decor. Often times you don't even have to get inside the dumpster! Larger items like furniture and appliances will be sitting right outside the dumpster.

Rent out spare bedrooms for money.

Get a roommate or two and split the bills.

Paying for storage? Invite someone to share the space with you and split the bill.

Is your paid storage space full of stuff you don't need? Sell it!


First: learn to manage your money better.

Shop  BOGO or "buy one get one" with a friend. They buy something, you get something FREE.

Barter (trade). It's a great way to get what you want and get rid of things you don't need. You can also offer a skill you have (sewing, tutoring, cooking, lawn maintenance, car mechanics, etc) in exchange for goods.

Only buy what you NEED.

Dive in extreme couponing.

Cancel unused club memberships.

Enter sweepstakes, contests, birthday clubs and giveaways.

Watch less TV. The less TV you watch the less you'll fall prey to catchy advertising.

Shop around for the best price for anything.

Mail in rebates.

Earn free gift cards with Swagbucks. No worries. Sawgbucks is totally legit. I use it myself. If you want more information, check out my post What the Heck is SWAGBUCKS? Myths and Truths of earning FREE gift cards.

Earch cash for watching videos, playing games and answering surveys with Inbox Dollars. I just signed up and I'm pretty pleased! Plus you get $5 just for singing up!

Sign up for free customer rewards programs.


Pick up that penny! Collect every single coin you see.

Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees.

Watch your bank account like a hawk to avoid overdraft fees.

Use your bank's ATM to avoid fees.

Start selling off things you don't need and stash the dough.

Recycle aluminum cans and paper for cash.

Never turn down an opportunity to make money.

Follow your favorite restaurants on Facebook, Twitter, etc so you can stay on top of hot deals and sales.

Quote about frugality - The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Like an EXTREME CHEAPSKATE! {frugal living, get out of debt}

▲What NOT to do▲

Do not steal ANYTHING.

Do NOT swap tags on items at stores. That's a form of shoplifting and there's a great possibility you WILL be caught. It's immoral and not worth the consequences.

Do not make up false claims to get free meals at restaurants.

Do not lie about your age or your children's ages to get freebies and special deals.

Do not eat perishables from the garbage unless you know the exact history of the food and how and why it's in the garbage. It's called "freeganism". Yes, it's a thing. I'm not too crazy about the idea but plenty of people do it and are just fine. They're called... freegans...

Do not perform surgeries at home, tooth extractions, stitches, etc.

Do not ignore serious medical issues to avoid hospital bills.

Do not be stingy. If someone needs financial help and you have the money, please help them. You might find yourself in the same situation some day.

Do not inconvenience cashiers, clerks and waitresses with counting out a buttload of loose change to pay for things. Roll loose coins or cash them somewhere. Opt for gift cards instead of cash at coin-counting machines to avoid fees.

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