Extreme Savers: A Closer Look

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 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’s 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.

In addition to these Extreme Savers, these other lists may be of interest:

Would you ever cut your own hair or build your own house like these Extreme Savers?

Photo: by flattop341

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Last Edited: July 24, 2017 @ 1:59 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a former practicing CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of FinCon, the conference and community dedicated to helping other financial influencers and brands. He created this website back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money, hold himself accountable, and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

PT uses Personal Capital to keep track of his financial life. This free software allows him to review his net worth regularly, analyze his investments, and make decisions about his financial future.

PT keeps a portion of his emergency fund in Betterment, the automatic investing tool that makes investing super simple. Betterment focuses on what matters most: savings rate, time in the market, investing costs, and taxes. PT recommends this service to anyone looking to get started investing for themselves.

All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. twistedsouthernbelle says:

    I am most inspired by Holly Ordway. If I can cut my expenses down to thirty percent of my take home pay. I will be Extremely happy.

  2. I cut my husband’s hair, but not my own. I can’t see to cut mine. I do trim my front to make the hair cuts last longer. I consider myself pretty frugal, my husband considers me tight. We still struggle since our income is not great, yet I know we could do better if we tried more. Eating out is a bit of a downfall, but with gas prices that is changing too. Food money is now going into the gas tank.

    Thanks for some more suggestions to work on and for a great blog.

  3. Saph -Walk with Me says:

    Great post!! There are some things on that list I already do, some I plan on doing, and some I prob won’t or just not able to do.
    I definitely won’t be cutting my own hair. I get a hair cut once a year or so anyway. =) This time I might grow my hair and sell it. =)

  4. Forget cutting the hair, just let it grow! I only get it trimmed twice a year, and because I always keep it pulled back at work, people don’t even notice the long hair until I turn around. And in case you’re wondering, I’m a professional site manager, not landscaping or anything truly “gruntish”….not that I haven’t done that too.

  5. I always try to cook at home. I don’t like to spend unnecessarily outside.

  6. @Laura…I think if I had the skills to build a house I’d be making some cash here in Texas…their still going up all around me.

    @Emily – I agree. They ARE inspiring.

    @BeThisWay – LOL

    @John – Good point about making more. That DOES help. I wish I could cut my own…I’d butcher it.

  7. John's Weight Loss Blog says:

    It’s definetly all about not spending money (although making more helps too!).

    I’ve been cutting my own hair for about 10 years – that clipper was one of my best investments ever.

  8. BeThisWay says:

    I cut my own bangs in the 9th grade, and the results scarred me for life.

    Haircuts are cheaper than therapy, so I’ll keep paying for them.

  9. Emily N. says:

    Very inspiring profiles! I’m glad to hear about people saving money considering the average American has over $8000 in credit card debt. I try to live frugally, but not to the extreme of cutting my own hair or building my own house mainly because I don’t have those skills.

  10. While we save, I wouldn’t call us extreme. We do follow a lot of the tips listed. We don’t rent movies as we either borrow it from a friend, see it on TV or visit the $1 theatre.

    If I had the skills to build a house, I would go that route.