5 Extreme Ways to Go Frugal and Save

I recently read a good article from Yahoo Finance about 6 Extreme Ways to Go Frugal and Save. It was a great article with some great tips for going frugal but in many ways I thought the title was a little misleading. Not one of their options seemed even slightly extreme to me. In fact I would say in the current economic climate all 6 tips are perfectly normal things to do when trying to cut back a little.

I thought it would be more fun and interesting to look at some real extreme ways to go frugal based on the idea’s set out in the Yahoo article.

So here goes…..

1. Walk everywhere…. and I mean everywhere!

When I lived in Montreal I took this frugal extreme even on the harshest of winter days. Walking is a multi-purpose frugal activity and when taken to an extreme it’s extremely good for your health and really helps you get to know your area. I still walk pretty much everywhere here in Cairo too when I can. I would say anything under 6 miles is fair game to start with and as you get used to it you can start some longer ones in with good time planning. Who needs a car?

2. Rent out your home and live in a trailer (or even sell your home!).

I personally think trailers have a worse reputation than they should. Whilst spending time in USA I visited a few people living out in the woods in permanent trailers and I hardly even noticed that they were not just small houses (especially the double ones). They are much cheaper to rent and if you rent/buy a run down one it may be a fun little project. The cash from renting out your property could possibly pay for the trailer rent/loan and give you some left over to throw into your debt or savings.

If your property is going to rent for less than the cost of the mortgage then just try and sell the money pit. This may not be the sound financial advise of most people but if you really want to release a weight that could be the way to go!

If you already rent then this is easy. Hand in your notice, get rid of all your stuff and move into a trailer. Easy peasy.

3. NEVER use credit cards or credit again.

Financial Highway has been warning of the dangers of credit cards with posts such as Why Credit Cards Can Be So Devastating and Your Credit Card is Not An Emergency Fund. I am also a big advocate of giving up using credit all together and if I ever buy a house I plan to use cash, in fact I have Pledged to Never Use Credit Again.

Credit is basically borrowing money that you do not have and for anyone seriously wanting to be frugal it’s absolutely nuts to even consider taking on more debt in any form, if your car is falling apart, so be it, take the first tip in this article and walk. if you need to get a new phone, get a $10 phone from Virgin and get by until you have the cash to buy a more expensive phone. There really are no excuses when you think about it!

4. Don’t buy any food!

This isn’t very easy but it is possible. You would have to learn the art of foraging and spend some cash getting a small garden together. Any staples you do need could be acquired by bartering with local farmers, your friends and your neighbors. You may be amazed how much food your neighbor would give you for moving their lawn or clearing their drive of snow!

Foraging can produce a huge amount of food for you from your local woodlands. Many plants and leaves are good for salads, you may find nuts and berries and all sorts of other things you have never thought of eating.

Growing a small garden can be done starting with easy veggies like cabbage, spicy peppers, zucchini’s and tomatoes.

5. Dump all electronics

Who needs a television, mobile phone, computer? Even I stop the line at a computer but if I really, really needed to cut back I would sell the computer. Many people get by without any of these things. They do really strange things like read books, go on hikes or actually visit their friends in person (weirdos!!!).

The amount of cash saved and time freed up by purging your home life of electronics may be liberating after you get over the immediate feeling of loneliness and boredom!

I would love to know what frugal extremes you have gone too and if you have tried any of the 5 extreme ways talked about in this article.

53 Responses to 5 Extreme Ways to Go Frugal and Save

  1. I have been very tempted to give up my car and just walk my four miles to the train station every day. But then silly selfish excuses come up like, walking an hour home after a 12 hour day sounds terrible! In reality I know I could do it. I walked everywhere in college and didn’t give it a second thought. I may reconsider this.

    I do not use credit cards (only use my debit as a debit) and hadn’t thought of this as extreme. I just like having one less bill to worry about.

  2. Hey Leslie….. I know this goes against tip 5. but for walking to and from work I found that Audio Books on an MP3 player are an absolute godsend. It’s a great way to fit in daily exercise and get some reading in!!!!

    No the credit card thing isn’t extreme to the enlightened among us ;).

    Thanks a million for your comment.

  3. There’s a guy in my town who walks everywhere. (except in the winter of course. -20 isn’t exactly conducive to walking and surviving.) I’ve always wanted to stop him and find out what got him started and what his motivation is to keep going.

  4. I like your tips. I would add that if walking longer distances were out of the question, then get a used bike. You can bike much longer distances comfortably than walk them.

    Also, I’d add a bit of caution to foraging for your own food in the woods; I think you need to know what you’re doing and which plants are edible. I only say this because I saw that movie Into the Wild and though some of it was speculation, the character did end up eating the wrong plant which caused him digestive problems and he starved to death. I think growing a garden is a safer bet!

  5. Hey Little House, yes bikes are awesome for this. I want one here in Cairo but the traffic is too dangerous :(.

    I want to see that movie! Of course I guess it always pays to do your solid research. There are some nasty berries out there!

  6. Some of these are reasonable and beneficial depending on circumstances.

    Credit cards are better used wisely than not at all. It is better to get everything on a CC where you get points for air miles, get insurance on some purchases and can cancel a order that goes pear shaped rather than hand over that cash or debit card and lose it all. Clocking up those points is earning money for nothing as long as you keep track of your finances daily and your head on your shoulders. Additionally the credit to your name is useful if you at some point want to step up a level (owning a house isn’t necessarily a loss of money).

    However, when in harder times it can be better to cut everything back to the bone.

  7. Hey Nick, if used right credit cards can certainly make money…. but if you are cutting back for debt reasons and such things I think it makes sense to keep it simple and get rid of the possibilities and temptations of building more debt… CC’s are masterful at making you say things like “I’ll just grab this a week before pay day and pay it back right away”…. Then if anything else pops up it never get’s paid back!

  8. Well, the original article was on yahoo and to the average person doing something other than taking the SUV up to the drive-in to order some fast food and charging it to the credit card is extreme.

    I have done/doing the first 3 on your list. In terms of electronics, the costliest problems are “plans” and “upgrades”. I only upgrade when something dies and my only plan is my internet connection. No cell phone.

  9. Thanks for the tips. Those are not the easy ones. I stopped using credit cards for 3 years now. I work two jobs, at non-profit and delivering pizza in the evening. I got free food for dinner and bring home for breakfast and lunch for the next day. it’s been 2 years now. cannot give up my car and electronic. i hope i can switch my car to diesel so i can use their used cooking oil as fuel.

  10. Forest, great tips! I just wanted to say one thing about trailers – yes, they do get a bad rep. That’s mostly because of the kind of environment you live in if you choose to live in a trailer park. (Bro-in-law whose home was set on fire lived in a trailer park, and my grandmother – who also lives in one – has suffered at the hands of trashy neighbors who don’t care to destroy things that don’t belong to them.) My parents live in a double wide, and like you said, you can’t even tell it’s a trailer. It has a foundation and looks like a small house.

    The only negative to living in a trailer is that they are not built to withstand extreme weather. Living in Tennessee, we’ve had quite a few tornado warnings, and it’s a very scary thing when you’re in a trailer. We would have to drive the five miles to my grandparent’s home and hide out in their basement until the storm passed. So if you live in an area that doesn’t have major weather threats, I think trailers are a great thing. But I wouldn’t buy one in Tennessee.

  11. I agree with all of them, EXCEPT number 5. Can’t do away with my computer, as its how I pay all my bills.

    Not too mention that the computer allows for numbers 1 through 4, otherwise how would one make cash to afford to do away with the computer. lol.

    There’s no doubt that many live above their means, and I feel that this is the “gist” of your article. Live below your means, people.

    On number 3 – yes credit stinks, but it’s not realistic for most people to buy a home with cash. Some yes, most? No. But on the other hand as far as cars go, this applies more. I think most people can (and should) wait to buy a car with cash, as opposed to credit. But a home? Not as easy.

  12. @Early Retirement Extreme, I agree about the original article. If you read the comments it’s amazing how many people feel yahoo’s tips would ruin their life!!! Sounds like you are living a very frugal minimalist lifestyle like me :).

    @Dexter, good stuff, sounds like you are working hard. You should check out Jeff from http://DeliverAwayDebt.com, he delivers pizza to pay off debt too :).

    @Jenna, home made gifts mean so much more to me than quickly purchased items.

    @Red, yes the technicalities are a little more…. If you lived in a mobile home you could just drive away from the adverse weather… That would require a movable job too but it is something that could be considered.

    @Danny, I can’t let my computer go either! Just can’t be done, but if times really were that hard I think I would consider losing the comp for a short period rather than getting into debt again. Debt really stinks no matter how much they sugar coat it!!! The car situation in USA is ridiculous! As Dave Ramsey preaches you can always start with a beater and build up with a little shrewdness.
    You got the gist right, I consider myself very frugal but I don’t follow all these rules. Even following one would help a bucket load or just modifying each idea to fit your lifestyle better.

  13. Wow! Some of these are for the most motivated!!! It shows that with desire, anything is possible. My hope is that these tips travel to many and inspire those who really need them!

  14. This is a great list. I glanced at the Yahoo article as well and felt that it was very weak! I was hoping that someone would share some really extreme frugal ways in light of that article.

    I think that if you life in a city that is conducive to walking, that is a great way to save. Owning a car is very expensive – even if it is paid for!

  15. Wow- these are extreme! =)

    How about living in a country where the standard of living isn’t very high and earning North American wages? That way you won’t have to pay North American taxes, too (My friend lives in China and teaches there, she gets taxed diddly squat, it’s great!)

  16. Great post. I really should be walking more as I have a grocery store about 1.5 miles away. The problem is getting everything home.

    Or, I could walk and forage for berries and forget the groceries! 🙂

    I am going to think about walking/biking more though. I need to do it before the weather turns bad here.

  17. @Barb, exactly these are extreme tips but taken a little lighter than can inspire small changes.

    @YoungAndThrifty… Exactly what I do :). I live in Egypt and work online earning US$$$. It’s much easier that way.

    @Khaleef, absolutely agreed. This is one of the things I love about walking, it keeps me healthy and I really get to know my surroundings.

  18. @Everyday Tips, I walk to the grocery store 1.5miles away and normally struggle back. I take a large back pack to help though and a tough shopping bag. My partner comes sometimes and she helps with her back pack.

    You could always forage too :)…

  19. Forest,
    Yes, these are EXTREME. Well, except for the no credit card…I guess I am one of the “enlightened.” Great post and it works because you walk the walk (pun intended)

  20. i have done a great job recently with not driving my car and walking everywhere. it was an adjustment but i am proud that i have pulled it off.

    as for dumping all electronics i have a long way to go once im home i love to watch TV, listen to music and play on my computer.

  21. Don’t buy any food, sounds like a plan! 🙂

    I like tying in weight loss and savings all the time, so this is a good reminder.

    Congrats on your first staff writer post! Looks like a ton of Yakezie Members of stopped by to support! That’s great!

  22. Hey Vytas, this article is looking at extreme ways. The best thing to do is take the tips and amend to suit your life. Just reduce rather than stop where things are too extreme 🙂

    Thanks for your comment.

  23. I like the first and the third points. The other three are too extreme. Do we really have to go to back and start living like people used to live in middle ages?
    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend.

  24. I like #4 a lot – Don’t buy any food. While I am not sure if our family would want to go to that extreme, I am actually going to take some of your advice and try to barter more for food and other items. Thanks for the tip.

  25. @Financial Samurai, ha ha….. You could just not buy food and that would definitely lead to some drastic weight loss! Genuinely though cutting meals sizes down and upping nutritional content is a better choice :).

    @John, good luck with the bartering and please do stop by to let us know how it’s going. Here in Egypt bartering seems to be quite a normal thing to do.

  26. Frozen foods, microwaveable stuff, junk food, anything that’s packaged and prepared for our convenience is not only more expensive than something you cook yourself, but also most likely less healthy. I’m not saying to eliminate these completely, but reduce consumption.

  27. The transmission was going out in our car and we decided not to replace it or the car, that was four years ago. My boyfried bicycles everywhere, lost 60 pounds. I walk or use the bus, train for all types of shopping. Love it, no insurance, no gas, no repairs = no headache. If I need transportation, there are three car rental locations in my area.

    • That’s an awesome story :). Sometimes we don’t realise where we are wasting our money. We may just assume we NEED something when we don’t. The weight loss may save you a lot of cash in health going forward to!

  28. Here is what i do !!
    1) I called cell phone company asking for the cheapest rate, they gave unpublished, the one that is not available to public. I have a very low cell phone bill. Do I need a cell? Maybe one day I ‘ll get rid of it.
    2) I did the same thing with TV. I have a plan that is not available to public. Will I get rid if the TV ? As soon as my son gets older I’ll get rid of it. I can live without TV and +250 channels.
    3) Someone mentioned about walking here. Hey, I used to walk alot. KEEP IN MIND you may have to buy a lot of shoes and boots because long walks wear out shoes very fast.
    4) I do not use Credit Cards BUT I have one in case I need to make some purchase, I have funds to repay the CC right away and guess what, I earned $200+ in rewards for paying in time. Free Money!
    5) I try to not use water too much, I keep my lights off as much as possible and I do not use thermostat when outside temperatures are “OK” , maybe put some sweater on at home, who cares. I have very low utility bills. I received report form Duke energy showing that my house is even more efficient than the “green houses ” in the area and they asked me to share who I keep my bills so low lol .
    Well, lots of other things I could tell but I’m getting bored.
    what i believe is if you are like me you will find a way to save and if you are not like me/ us then there is nothing I could tell to change you. People do not change. We are what we are.

  29. things to have:

    credit card: I dont carry cash, plastic besides, I make large purchases and walking around with 2-5k in my pocket is not very safe.

    if wallet is lost or stolen I have a back up, other card gets cancelled and no money lost
    cash is lost forever is wallet is lost or stolen. not good

    buy in bulk because my house is a hangout for the kids (my child and usually 7-10 kids from my block)

    fresh food is always best

    use prepaid cell and Skype, housephone for emergency calls, no line needed
    internet and Cable are a must…
    bicycles are a must….car is a necessity with kids and having to travel more than 25 miles to work .

    by fixer upper house, fix it, make sure you have a good accountant if you never studied tax preparation, document everything, itemize, itemize 🙂

    figure out what’s best for you and your circumstances

    • Thanks for the breakdown Squid. You could easily carry a VISA Debit instead of a CC but if you pay it each month anyway I guess it is fine. People who can’t pay it fully each month just should not have one!

  30. I’m a 63 yr old woman with an income of $1000 a month. I need all the extremely frugal tip I can get. Maybe the people with all the excuses should go to the ”kinda but not really extremely frugal” site. Thank you for your wonderful ideas. Some I can use right away, some I can modify to suit me, & some to think about & work towards. Thanks again. t.

  31. In the past, I have done these extreme things to be frugal:
    Given up garbage collection. I used all three of the enviro-R’s; reduce, reuse, recycle. I started a compost pile. I burned a few things, tried to avoid things that really pollute, but some stuff was good for my fireplace, which saved on heating costs. I took recycles to a location provided by the county for that. My neighbor allowed me to put the little remaining trash in her can. I still sort recycles and I try to avoid excess packaging. I also have a compost pile near my garden.

    Using gray water. I saved the water from showers to flush the toilet. I also used this kind of water for my garden. I’m back to flushing with shower water.

    Once, when a fridge died, I put off buying a new one by using an ice chest and ice from my big freezer.

  32. I have been practising tip # 3 and tip # 5 already. I would sooner or later practise the remaining tips. I am still working though but I am really headstrong in living more frugally before retirement. Before encountering this article, I have thought all along that I have become an abnormal human. Now that I found this article, I am normal after all! Thanks, Forest!

  33. Most of these seem reasonable, but I do have a problem with some. One such example is the “walking everywhere” one. See, I would walk everywhere, but some distances are just way too far to even consider. Not only is it too far, but I just don’t have the time! If I walked, I would have to wake up two hours earlier every day just to get to my occupation on time. Had I the time, I might have done this. Sadly, I don’t.
    The same goes for my computer. These days, children get most of the information and help they need for school from their electronic devices. If our household stopped using computers, we would be hopeless. We just don’t have the time to take our high school kids to the library (they can’t drive yet) every time they needed to research for a project or write an essay.
    Overall, though, it is a pretty well-written article. I might try doing some of these things a bit more.

  34. I understand the pains that credit cards can cause, but to avoid credit it BAD!
    You will not ever get rich if you do not understand leverage. Do use a credit card poorly, but you SHOULD have a credit card.

    • Hi Brett, I think it’s a lot harder to get ‘rich’ without credit but you can certainly live a comfortable middle class lifestyle and never touch credit. There is nothing wrong with not aspiring to be mega-rich in my eyes.

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