Some people will meet their savings goals at all costs, including with some extreme (and sometimes embarrassing) ideas.
If you want some quirky, out of the box ideas to save money, done by real people, keep reading to learn about these 30 frugal extreme money savings tips!
Table of Contents
1. Eat Like a College Student
Do you remember those college days? You were living on ramen noodles in your dorm room. An extreme way of saving money is to continue living that frugal lifestyle, beyond college years! Many people do this.
Do you ever read those stories where someone paid off $50K in student loans in 2 years?
Or, another sky high student loan amount super fast?
This is one of the ways they do it. Making lifestyle sacrifices for the short term can pay off in the long term. Here are some other crazy ways to eat cheap like a college student to save a lot of money fast:
- No eating out
- Eating once a day
- Drinking only water
- Eat from the dumpster
- Hop on the “No Food Waste” bandwagon and get steep discounts on unsold fold with the GoMkt app
Check out these 16 apps that prevent food waste. They can help you support the No Food Waste movement and get free or super cheap food!
2. Haircuts at Home
Cutting your hair at home is a great way to save money. In our household, men’s haircuts are $30/week. That’s a whopping $1,500+ per year. It can be even more expensive for women and beauty salon appointments that can rake up to $100 or more per visit!
Investing in some hair styling tools like clippers or hair cutting scissors is a good way to save money on your grooming expenses.
Some have even gone so far as to shave their head, to keep maintenance and costs down. This includes men and women, by the way!
Or, never cut it and just grow it out.
3. Don’t Wash Off Your Makeup
Speaking of grooming and self care, another way to save money for women is to not wash makeup off your face.
Makeup is expensive and wearing it everyday will make your supply go down super fast.
Instead of washing your makeup off your face at the end of the day, just skip it, so you can stretch your makeup wear a bit further.
This one sounds pretty crazy but it’s a way to keep your makeup longer and people really do this!
4. Don’t Throw Out Your Clothes…Ever
Ok, so what exactly does this mean?
Well, there are times when you need to replace your clothes.
- Holes in socks
- Ripped leggings or pants
- Buttons popping off your coat
- Gaining a little weight and “outgrowing” your jeans
Don’t throw out those clothes. Repair them!
Sew ripped or holey clothes, and yes that includes socks! Sew buttons back on your garments, and use a rubber band or try one of these 33 hacks to stretch your tight clothes a little longer.
5. Cheapen your Living Conditions
Lower of cost of living, literally. Here are some ideas to do this:
- Live in a small house
- Get roommates
- Don’t use A/C or heat
- Cut the cable
- Rent out unused rooms in your place with rental arbitrage
You might wonder how some people can make such extreme changes but these changes won’t last forever. Some of these money savers can help reduce your expenses by thousands each year.
6. Move your Family in with Family
Living with family and moving back home is such a budget saver. You can potentially pay no rent or very little rent, while you or you and the family take up a spare room or the basement in your parent’s place.
7. Kick the Disposables
Keep nothing disposable in your home. This means no paper towels, tissue, or toilet paper? Yes, that’s right. Use permanent options like these examples.
8. Don’t Buy Convenience Foods
You might have to really give this one some thought. When you go to the grocery store, buy whole foods and use every part, if you can.
For example, buy a whole chicken, instead of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Then, use that chicken for food, make chicken broth, bone broth, food for your pet, get the idea?
- No junk food including, chips, cookies, crackers, or ice cream
- No tea bags or coffee pods
- No frozen dinners
- Nothing in a box or can
You will be preparing your meals and food at home. This will take more time and more work but your wallet will thank you.
9. Drink water
We talked about this a bit above but to elaborate, you will be drinking tap water. No more bottled water or water filters. You’ll enjoy good ol’ tap water.
Invest in a reusable water bottle and fill it up when you’re on the go, at public water fountains or restrooms.
This easy change will save you a ton of money!
10. Shop Second Hand
Never buy clothes new..ever! When it’s absolutely necessary to replenish your wardrobe, shop second hand at the thrift shop, consignment store, or local goodwill store.
11. Explore Free Entertainment
Check out free activities to keep you entertained. Many communities offer an array of free local entertainment like:
- Music in the park
- Public library
- Local parks
Not to mention free fun stuff you can do at home like a movie marathon in your living room or hosting an indoor or outdoor picnic with your friends.
12. Hand Wash Laundry
Save on laundry costs by hand washing and line drying your garments. It is more work but it reduces the wear on your clothes and saves you money.
13. Buy in Bulk
You can save a ton if you switch to buying in bulk. A 40 pack of bottled waters at your bulk store costs less than a 24 pack at your regular grocery store. More supply, less costs. That’s the whole idea behind buying in bulk.
The biggest money savers are in produce, meat and dairy. You can freeze what you don’t need and thaw it out for use later.
14. Grow your Food
Growing your food is a cost effective way to lower your food budget. You can’t grow everything but there is a lot that you can grow, like expensive produce. Buying local from your farmer’s market is a good way to save money while supporting local farmers too.
15. Make your Cleaning Supplies
Cleaning supplies are pricey. Make your own with cheap base ingredients like baking soda or vinegar.
16. Make Gifts
Instead of buying gifts for holidays, birthdays and special events, make them! There are a ton of cheap DIY gifts you can make at home.
Here are 15 cheap gifts you can make yourself that cost almost nothing!
17. Only Flush Once a Week
This comes straight from an episode of Extreme Cheapstakes. The idea is to save water by only flushing the toilet once a week, regardless of what happened in there the entire week.
Have you heard of this modified version: if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow, let it mellow?
What an extreme!
18. Cut the Cable
Cable television can be very expensive. Cut it out, but not completely. Transitioning to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, can slash your bill down by as much as 90%!
These cable alternatives are a good way to keep you entertained without breaking the budget.
You can also watch TV cheaply on your computer.
19. Coupon from the Trash
Couponing at all costs is what a lot of people do to save money, including rummaging through the trash of neighbors and dumpsters from local shops. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?
20. Switch Banks
Switching banks comes with many perks including hundreds of dollars, free appliances and other freebies when you join a new bank. So, why not switch banks to take advantage?
21. Only Shop on Sale
Only shopping sales means if it’s not on sale, you aren’t buying it. It’s a pretty extreme take on shopping but if you decide to do this, you can make it easier on yourself with these money-making tools:
Dosh: This free app lets you earn cash back on your purchases. It’s simple. Install the app for free on your cell phone, link or debit/credit card and use that card to make purchases at participating retailers. You can scan your area with the app to see what retailers are available and offering discounts.
When you make a purchase, cashback is applied to your Dosh account automatically and you can redeem for cash to your bank account, PayPal cash, and other options!
Ebates: You will want to get the free Ebates browser extension on your computer. When you land on an Ebates partner site, you’ll get a popup showing you how much cash back is available with your purchase. Once you buy, you’ll have cashback applied to your Ebates account. Then, redeem of rewards like cash, gift cards, and more!
Ibotta: You can scout out the sales in your area, scan receipts and do so much more with the free app, Ibotta. It’s for grocery shopping and will help you save a ton on your food costs.
You’ll want to check out these 13 Ibotta tips and tricks to get the most out of the app!
22. Live in Your Car
A lot of people are starting to do this to save money. The cost of renting an apartment, up to $1,000+ is saved every month and can be applied to savings or your debts.
Who does this?
- College students
- Recent college grads
- Digital nomads
It’s definitely an extreme way to cheapen your lifestyle costs, living in your vehicle.
Do you know those gifts you receive for yourself that you don’t like? Don’t throw them away, regift! This will save you a ton on gifts that you’ll be buying throughout the year for birthdays and other events.
24. Ask for Refunds
Have you ever paid a membership for the month and cancelled halfway through or before the month ended? Why not ask for a refund. Even a prorated refund is a win, getting money back for the portion of the month you didn’t use. A lot of people don’t even think to do this, but ask. You might be surprised how often you’ll get a refund back!
25. Live a Petless Life
Pets are expensive. They can bring joy and serenity to your life. They can truly feel like part of the family but the truth is, the upkeep for having a pet can be high:
- Vet checkups
Save money and have no pets.
26. Eat Free Food
There are free food opportunities all around you. Here are some ways to eat free:
- Install fast food restaurant apps on your phone
- Check out monthly free food deals here
- Mystery shopping
- Use a rewards app
Restaurants that Give Free Food
Your favorite fast food retailers like Burger King and KFC offer incentives for downloading their free app onto your cell phone. You can get free food just for downloading, along with other perks like birthday freebies, coupons and more.
Here is a roundup of some restaurants that offer incentives for getting their app:
- Baja Fresh
- 7 Eleven
- Auntie Anne’s
- Burger King
Check out more restaurants that give free food.
Monthly Food Deals
Head to Thrillist for their monthly roundup of free food deals from restaurants that are offering specials, honoring a holiday or giving out free food for no reason at all.
With mystery shopping, you are working as an undercover shopper, evaluating the performance of restaurant employees. You are paid for your services with money or rewards and you usually get the item you are shopping, for free.
Get Olio. Here’s how it works:
27. Eat Super Cheap Dinners
Similar to eating like a college student, you can do really cheap dinners throughout the week to save. You can eat spaghetti and marinara sauce for under $.50/serving, feeding about 5 people. You can also eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cereal to save money.
28. One Meal a Day
Go even more extreme, eating just one meal a day. People who fast do this for the purposes of losing weight. Can you imagine how much you’d save on your grocery bill if you shopped for one meal a day, instead of three meals plus snacks!
29. Work a Second Job
Working a second job will bring in more income, which you can put toward your savings goals but it can also have perks.
When I was in college, I worked at Pizza Hut. The perks? Huge discounts on food for employees plus we got to take home cancelled orders or eat them at work. During this time, my weekly grocery bill didn’t exceed around $25, partly because of all the free or steeply discounted food I had access to.
Other job perks?
- Free daycare
- Free dry cleaning
- Free food
- Free supplies
- Free car washes and detailing
This one makes you think twice about getting a second job.
30. Start a Side Hustle
To save money, you can start a side hustle to make extra money. Aside from getting a second job, there are other ways to earn more income:
- Take online surveys (earn $300/month or more with these surveys) – some of our favorites our Survey Junkie, Vindale Research and Pinecone Research
- Start an online store
- Start a blog
- Sell your stuff on Ebay
- Flip domains
These extreme money saving ideas certainly make you think, don’t they? What embarrassing or unusual measures have you taken to save money? Share your thoughts down below.