It’s Time to Get Hardcore Frugal!

“No you’re not hardcore! Unless you live hardcore!” – Dewey Finn from School of Rock

(Un)frugal to Hardcore Frugal

Last week we talked about how we were a bit unfrugal in 2008. Today I thought I’d address the other side of the spectrum: hardcore frugality. I’ve covered this idea before when I wrote about extreme savers. However, I think it’s time to address this issue again in light of our current economic situation. People are struggling financially. Yet I get the sense that people don’t know how to dial back their big lifestyles and live within their means.

Most of us are probably blessed to be at a point in our lives where hardcore frugal tactics aren’t necessary. But if you’re having trouble paying your mortgage or putting food on the table, it’s simply time for you to cut costs and get hardcore frugal. But those in that situation likely know that and they don’t need me telling them what to do. Necessity, after all, is the mother of frugality.

But these tactics aren’t just for the desperate. If you find yourself struggling to pay off that last bit of unwanted debt, or lacking the extra savings to secure you in these uncertain times, maybe it’s time for you to step up too. So, step up!

Wherever you find yourself across this spectrum, here are some ideas to get hardcore frugal (not for the faint of heart):

How to Be Hardcore Frugal

Cancel All Your Subscriptions and Services – “Seriously?” Yep. Any type of monthly service or subscription needs to go. Examples: cable TV (which we recently cut for lack of use), internet, maid service, gym memberships, dry cleaning. You get the point. Basically any monthly expense that doesn’t fall under the category of life-sustaining utility – get rid of it.

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Go for Groceries & Only Dine-Out When it’s Free – Monthly expenses for eating outside the house at a restaurant or fast food joint are huge. My suggestion is to only go out to eat if you have a coupon or gift card that will pay for the entire meal. Otherwise, stick to eating food from the grocery store. It’s way less-expensive and you can buy in bulk. This is kind of understood, but make sure you’re bringing a lunch to work too. Simple stuff, I know. But this is a huge struggle for our “gotta have it now” society. Me included.

Use the Library, Parks, and Museums for Entertainment – Avoid the mall and the movie theatre. Head to your local library to get your entertainment fix. These days, most modern libraries come well equipped with free internet service and loads of free DVDs to rent. You can also find free entertainment at your local parks and museums. Nothing wrong with a game night at home either. You don’t have to spend to be entertained.

Don’t Buy any Clothes or Stuff – Just stop buying crap in general. Don’t spend any of your money on clothes or furniture or stuff for your house or car or collection. Just say no to consuming things! I promise that you will keep your money if you don’t spend it. This sounds like an SNL skit I once saw.

Final Thoughts

Making serious progress towards your debt reduction and savings goals may require some serious sacrifice with how you spend your money. Most likely not for a long period of time though. Maybe you only need a couple of months to get where you want to be. It’s a new year. Make this the year you get hardcore and get back on track financially!

Did I miss any steps for becoming hardcore frugal? Add your ideas in the comment section.

Photo by paulgreber

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  1. momoftwo says:

    I really like this! I think a big thing is changing your perspective! My nine year old reminds me of what she learned in social studies, “Mom! You said you have to go to starbucks! Starbucks is a want, not a need.” Oh, the wisdom, I had to smile and thank her! Watch the company that you keep. Do you hang out with people who constantly whine and complain or feel the need to shop all of the time? Do you know someone who is already hardcore frugal and happy, not whining as if they are forced to be that way? Well, make plans with that person and let their attitude rub off on you!

  2. Betsy Bargain says:

    Just a thought for those who want to cancel their internet service, but still go online sometimes – my library offers free wireless internet. Yours might too.

  3. Maximizing Money says:

    I love my local library.

    Most libraries will let you have out like 10 movies at once, and they carry all of the latest releases as well as new music releases, so it’s not like you have to watch old movies or something.

    Plus, with Internet access, you can simply order your movies online and pick them up at the library when ready.

    Sometimes, depending on your vicinity to your library, you will get movies quicker than other requests as well, so maybe 20 people might be on a list for a movie, but if you live near the main library, you will get it first.

    Oh yeah, they have something called books as well, which is what I believe movies are made from…

  4. @Studenomics, You might be able to freeze your membership in the summer, or during other periods when you use it less.

    – Chelsea, Quicken Online

  5. Studenomics says:

    It’s going to be tough getting rid of that maid service (kididng. I don’t know about cutting the gym membership as it’s a part of my daily life. Some of the other subscriptions are a bit easier to quit.

  6. I’d say I’m pretty close to hardcore. I do still have internet, no cable though. I laughed when you wrote maid service.

    When I go ‘out’ that means fast food. Entertainment =$1.50 movies every once in a while.

  7. Tyler Hurst says:

    Maid service? Really? Cutting out maid service is hard core? Wow, you people live in a whole different world.

  8. “Hardcore frugal” to me means going car less. Yes, without car. :/

  9. I just thought of one that I’ve personally used to really save fast. Last May I moved from D.C. to Cali, and had just finished grad school (read=poor). Prior to this, I had to make cash fast, and was saving using some of the little things you mention above (i.e. cut back to basic cable, left the Internet on though).

    If you take inventory of everything in your living space, chances are you’ll find some stuff you can sell on or (did this for books, DVDs). Do some research first, to see what others are charging for something in the same condition (just search Craiglist for similar items). I literally made a $1000 in a couple of months, fast, by just spending my spare time taking digital pics, uploading them to Craigslist, and meeting people closeby in public places.

  10. Tyler Hurst says:

    I agree with most points EXCEPT for internet. A monthly internet subscription can serve as entertainment (watching movies/tv shows), job search/work from home (um…pretty self-explanatory) and connectedness to anyone and everyone that might have a job or money saving tip.

    Gym memberships, if not pricey and used regularly, aren’t a bad idea to keep either. Working out helps a ton when you’re stressed about finding work.

    Everything else on the list can go.

  11. Travis @ CMM says:

    Hardcore Frugal? That just sounds funny. I was just reading another post about people who were making 6 figures now having to take jobs for minimum wage, and I asked how are they gonna get buy. But I guess if you look at all the unnecessary stuff that we think is necessary, that we spend money on, that can really start to add up.

    Cable $50
    Internet $50
    Eating Out $75
    Movies $25
    Clothes $50

    That’s just a guesstimate, but cutting out those things would save $250 a month. That’s $3000 a year, not too shabby.

  12. One thing about cutting cable….many now offer On-Demand services with a lot of movies for free. Might have to weigh that against driving out somewhere to get a DVD.