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Frugality can become too extreme, but where do you draw the line? In other words, how far would you go to save a buck?
I detailed my own unusual ways to save money in a previous post, explaining my trick to keep two sodas separated so my wife and I can purchase and share just one large cup. And I really do keep switching dentists to take advantage of “new patient specials.” This is all very reasonable (to me).
But what about the family that stopped using toilet paper to save money? Instead they use, and reuse, pieces of cloth, which apparently don’t stink if you wash them often. This saves them $94 annually. You could say it’s no different than using cloth diapers for babies, but I’ll find some other way to save $7.83 per month.
What about you? Would you try using recyclable rags in place of toilet paper, or is that just too far? Not sure? Read on for some more tough decisions. Here are more than 20 of the most extreme ways people save money.
1. Fill Ketchup Bottles From Packets
Most of us have taken hme extra condiment packets from a fast food restaurant, or at least had some left over in the to-go bag. And why not? I just open and use them as needed, but Robert from Indiana says he squeezes the little packets into his ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise bottles. That sounds way too tedious to me.
2. Go Cemetery Dumpster Diving
Ann from Iowa found a way to save on the artificial flowers she uses for her craft projects. She retrieves flowers and other decorations from the dumpsters at cemeteries. Okay, if I was into crafting I might do this, but I would leave the flowers on the graves alone. And you?
3. Make Leftover Lipstick
On Stretcher.com, Sharon says she digs out the remains of her lipstick tubes, puts them in a jar, and melts them in the microwave. She explains, “I pour it back into the best lipstick cases and it looks like new.” It is “a bit messy,” she admits. Worth a try or not?
4. Make Your Own Toilet Paper
In case you’re wondering, we are going to hear a lot about bathroom frugality. For example, Stephanie, at SixFiguresUnder.com, rations toilet paper for her family (boys get one roll per month, girls two), and uses fast food napkins to supplement that, which seems reasonable.
But then she cuts her kids school papers into strips and rolls those onto empty cardboard toilet paper rolls, after having the kids crumple the paper to make it softer. Isn’t that too much work to save a little money?
5. Collect and Recycle “Used” Toilet Paper
Yes, this is Stephanie again. When the neighbors’ homes are “toilet papered” by pranksters, she and her kids offer to clean it up, rolling the paper back onto those recycled cardboard tubes to be used for its proper purpose.
Again, this seems like too much work for the money saved, but the neighbors probably appreciate the cleanup help (would it be wrong to paper my own home just to watch them come and re-roll the paper?).
6. Stop Eating
Dina from Illinois says one way she saved money “was to stop purchasing groceries and eat WAY less, often not eating all day into the wee hours of the night!” Hmm… I’m going to stick with eating regularly for now.
7. Take Other People’s Leftovers Home
Roy Haynes, featured on the TLC program “Extreme Cheapskates,” could be the basis for this entire article. He uses the money saved by his frugality to fund a pet rescue center, but even that worthy purpose doesn’t make his wife comfortable with his tactics.
For example, she quickly disappears from the restaurant when, after they finish eating, he starts gathering leftover food to take home… from other tables… while people are still dining there.
8. Stretch That Toilet Paper
Yes, it seems that there is no end to the ways to save money on toilet paper. Roy Haynes pulls apart two-ply toilet paper and re-rolls it as single-ply to make it last longer. Given the cheap paper he probably buys to begin with, I wonder if he has to spend extra money on hand soap.
9. Sharpen Disposable Razor Blades
This is another Roy Haynes trick. The problem is (apart from the risk of injury), I can’t find any explanation of how he sharpens disposable razors. I guess I don’t get to try this one.
10. Reuse Your Dental Floss
In a Huffington Post report we learn even more about Roy Haynes, including the fact that he dries his dental floss so he can use it again. At least he’s not collecting used dental floss from friends.
11. Reuse Soda Cups and Popcorn Bags
Haynes again; he digs used cups and popcorn bags from the garbage in movie theaters and gets free refills with them instead of paying for popcorn or soda.
Now, I have to admit that I sneak food into the theater, and maybe I could be tempted to save my own popcorn bag for the next visit, but eating and drinking out of other people’s garbage? That’s way over the line.
12. Pee in a Bottle
You might think all this extreme frugality is practiced by people who really need to cut costs, but one of the most extreme strategies reported by the Huffington Post is practiced by millionaire Victoria Hunt, in Columbus, Ohio.
She pees in a bottle and then empties the bottle in her garden, figuring this saves her about $2 per month on toilet water. Us guys could save the trouble of the bottle and just use the sink, but I think I’ll pay for the flushes.
13. Just Don’t Flush
Zumba instructor Greg Insco has his own way to save on flush water. He only flushes the toilet once per week, and even then he uses water he saves from his shower. Once per week!? Are there some physical effects of Zumba of which I’m unaware?
14. Wash Clothes in the Shower
Greg Insco must really want to save on that water bill. Instead of using his washing machine he takes his clothes with him into the shower. I’m not sure how it works, but I suppose it might save some time if you avoid that whole getting-undressed-and-getting-dressed-again routine.
15. Sit on the Floor
Terence Candell, in Oakland, California, painted his whole house with one gallon of paint, but his frugality is even more extreme when it comes to furniture; he has none. Candell says, “Furniture is a keeping-up-with-the-Jones thing… It doesn’t give anything back.” Well, it does give comfort, and that has to be worth at least a $40 Craigslist couch, right?
16. Use Water Instead of Toilet Paper
With the number and variety of ways people save on toilet paper you’d think it cost a fortune. But for Kay, also featured on TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates,” any price is too high.
She says, “I don’t believe in spending money on something that you are going to throw away, such as toilet paper or paper towels.” Instead, she uses a bottle of water to wash herself up after using the toilet. Despite her stated principle and the fact that she’s spending something on that water, I assume she throws it away once it’s used.
17. Dumpster Dive for Food
Perhaps jumping into garbage dumpsters for food is no longer extreme. You can easily find a dumpster diving guide online, and even more specific advice, like how to dumpster dive at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. As for myself, I’m comfortable with foraging for food in the wild, but not in the dumpster. And you?
18. Find a Free Eating Contest
When Dave Ramsey asked his Facebook fans what they do to save money, “Phillip” said he entered a free Whopper-eating contest. After downing almost 5 Whoppers in eight minutes, he not only saved on food for the day, but he also won a $50 gift card for the food court in the mall. Yeah, just for the free meal I might try this one, but I wouldn’t try too hard to win the contest.
19. Wash Clothes Less Often
Washing clothes less frequently doesn’t sound too extreme, but on ToughNIckel.com Jamie Kinsey says her grandmother did laundry just once per month. It seems you would need a lot of clothing or you would have some pretty grimy stuff by month’s end. I can also see this tactic working if you’re a nudist.
20. Share a Bath
In Kinsey’s grandmother’s home they shared bath water. They filled the tub and took turns bathing in the same water. Would you share bathwater with your siblings or children? I know I wouldn’t want to be the last person in line.
21. Bath Less Often
Kinsey tells us her grandmother bathed just once per month. Bathing a little less often can be a reasonable way to save a buck, but where do you draw the line? How many showers or baths per month would be enough to satisfy your need for frugality and cleanliness?
22. Reuse Facial Tissues
Kinsey’s grandmother is of the opinion that “Kleenex can be used more than two or three times.” At least she doesn’t suggest sharing them.
23. Gargle and Spit
Okay, grandma clearly crosses the line with this one. She advocates gargling with mouthwash and then spitting it back into the bottle to use again. As Kinsey explains (presumably mimicking her grandmother’s words), “It’s your spit! It won’t hurt you!”
I think we can agree that sometimes people go way too far to save a buck.
What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done to save money? Tell us about it below, and happy frugaling!