If you thought being cheap means always leaving a small tip or stealing packets of ketchup, you aren’t familiar with the extremely cheap.
Extreme Cheapskates, one of TLC’s questionable “reality” shows, features penny pinchers who will amaze (and even disgust) you with how far they’ll go to save a few bucks.
Here are 10 money saving ideas from Extreme Cheapskates that I bet (and hope) you don’t try.
1. Drying and reusing paper towels
With great spills come great opportunity – to reuse paper towels, that is. Who said they were meant to be used just once?
The extremely cheap can use their paper towels, wash them, then hang them to before using them again, just like Roy Haynes does on the show!
Image by: overheadfluorescence
2. Living without toilet paper
Forget about separating two-ply — just stop using toilet paper altogether!
Kay Hashimoto, who was featured on the show and interviewed by The Daily Mail, has sworn off buying toilet paper. Instead, she’s substituted soap, water and, errr, her hands. If that makes you queasy, her actual quote from the show is too gross to publish here.
And her savings for all of this trouble/grossness? Drumroll… $6 per month!
Image by TLC.com
3. Collecting your own drinking water
We’ve all heard about the high cost of bottled water, but tap water costs too much now? For those that don’t want to pay $0.001 per gallon from the tap, there’s another option: Collect your own drinking water.
Ben Livingston of Extreme Cheapskates drives out and fills up on water in a local creek.
Image by: copleys
4. Covering yourself in cornstarch to beat the heat
I’m not sure how or if this absurd idea even works. But for Ben (mentioned above), who lives in Austin, Texas without air conditioning, anything as crazy as putting cornstarch on your skin is worth a try to beat the sweltering 100+ degree heat.
Sure, A/C is expensive, but can’t he get by with an electric fan?
Image by: fstorr
5. Eating left-behind food at restaurants
I rarely waste food, but I’d never touch diner’s plate. For Cheapskate Roy (from above), it’s an opportunity to save a few bucks. He’s not shy about dining off abandoned food from a nearby restaurant table.
Image by: geishabot
6. Serving roadkill to dinner guests
If you won’t touch food left behind by nearby diners, how about snacking on a fresh kill by a fellow driver?
Extreme Cheapskates Vickie and John go out with their kids in search of a deliciously-free meal that doesn’t even require a trip to the store. After passing on a little-too-rotted corpse of a fox, they settled on a rabbit they found down the street.
But don’t think they’d be so greedy to keep it all to themselves. They invited over a few friends to feast on their road kill rabbit meal.
Image by: brownpau
7. Asking for a dozen free samples, then not buying anything
We’ve all tried an ice cream sample or two before picking the best flavor to indulge in an entire cone’s worth. But if you don’t care about enjoying a whole scoop (and drawing the ire of a local business owner), just go for a dozen or so samples and then buy nothing like Roy does on the show.
For extra effect, tell your wife it’s a date and let her suffer the embarrassment (yup, he did that, too).
Image by: elwillo
8. Driving a “car” (or what remains of one)
I’m on board with keeping things frugal by driving used car that’s seen more than it’s fair share of miles and may have lost a bit of it’s glimmer along the way. But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. That is, unless you’re Ben, who takes “clunker” to a whole new level with his ride.
Image by: mindfrieze
9. Unplugging everything when you leave the house
Phantom energy wasters like TVs, stereos, and cell phone charges suck up power when you’re not using them. While I’ll even admit to unplugging some of my devices when I leave the house, I can’t imagine unplugging everything in your house every time I leave.
That’s what Extreme Cheapskate Victoria does on the show, leaving literally no appliance untouched.
Image by: crazytales562
10. Flushing only once a week
Not to be outdone by the toilet paper saver mentioned above, another cheapskate (Greg) start puts the “It’s it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule to shame. No matter what it is, Greg lets it go a full week before flushing.
Oh, and when he does finally flush, it’s using shower water collected in a bucket.
What’s your favorite moment from Extreme Cheapskates?
CNN Money’s Extreme Savers
Biking to work, cutting your own hair, growing your own veggies, buying your clothes on EBay. While most of us don’t live this kind of lifestyle, some people do go to these extreme measures to maximize the amount of money they can put away into savings. CNN Money did a series of articles focusing on these people they deemed “Extreme Savers.”
The Complete List of Extreme Savers
I’ve put together the complete list of these Extreme Saver profiles. If you’re like me, you’ll get plenty of use from viewing these profiles: discovering new ways to save and hopefully being inspired to find your own path to extreme savings.
CNN Money did a good job of gathering savers from all walks of life. The ages range from the early twenties to late fifties. Some are married with kids. Some are single. There are consultants, engineers, and even a research scientist. And just about every area of the country is represented, even a fellow Texan.
What’s impressive to me is that these people were able to save a great deal even though they have mid-level incomes. Most in the series were living off incomes of less than $60,000. For instance, Greg and Tara Black, a Virginia couple in their mid-thirties have a combined income of $48,000 but have amassed over $220,000 in combined retirement and short-term savings.
The savers also use second streams of income to fund their savings. Rick Kuhlman, a 33-year-old computer help desk supervisor, is a part-time financial adviser. Others use rental properties to bring in more income.
Spending Less Is The Key
However, the main emphasis of the profiles is on how the people are able to save (or spend less), not necessarily
how much they’ve saved or their incomes. So here are the goods… I thought I would list out some of their savings methods for your enjoyment (listed somewhat in order of extreme-ness):
- Cook at home
- Use the warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco
- Use the library for books
- Use online movie rental services like Netflix
- Buy from discount clothing stores
- Dine-out only two or three times a month
- Utilize free entertainment like events, museums, and parks
- Use coupons and apply for all rebates
- Bring in leftovers to work
- Walk and Bike to work and around town instead of drive
- Use cash back credit cards
- Purchase big ticket items like a boat at auctions
- Install florescent light bulbs
- Use the Internet to compare prices of non-perishables
- Shop flea markets and used furniture sales
- Rent videos only from the library
- Grow your own veggies
- Buy clothes on eBay.
- Cut your own hair
- Hang clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer (kind of old school, huh?)
- Drink only two alcoholic drinks per month during your one evening out
- Build your own home (this profile, pictures included, is worth a look)
- Live without cell phones or Internet access in your home
Perhaps the best method is starting a savings plan early in life, like Jessica Nixon, just twenty-three, who started investing in stocks in high school.
Save to Spend
So what are they doing with all the money they save? All the savers seem to have at least one short-term savings goal. Like the youngest saver, Jessica, who wants to purchase what she calls a “17-foot runabout boat” soon. Others are saving up for a house. Ultimately though, saving for the long-term is what most of them are all about. Brian O’Reilly, just 28 years old, hopes to semi-retire by age forty. Rob and Michelle Parker, a Florida couple in their thirties, plan to retire in ten years.
I have to say, the most inspiring profile comes from Holly Ordway, a thirty-year-old writer from San Diego, who, along with her husband, is able to save $70,000 a year of her six-figure income. Nice! For Holly, it’s not about living a cheap or miserly life. It’s about frugal living. Holly says, “Being frugal is all about making good choices with your money…” She claims to filter out the incoming consumerism message by not listening to much radio or TV, and not reading magazines. I bet she reads Money Magazine.
In addition to the eight main profiles, CNN Money also did an article on Extreme Savers with twins. Those are also worth a look, if only for the cute twin pictures.