Whenever I watch shows like Extreme Cheapskates, I usually start out thinking, “That’s a pretty good idea, actually!” “Oh my gosh, we could totally do that to save some cash!” Then, of course, there is the turning point where I start going, “Okay…yup…too far…too far…” So what ideas from the show are actually something people could use in their own home? I dug through them all to come up with 87 Extreme Cheapskates money hacks that are actually pretty normal. So normal you might actually be able to use them without changing your life or bailing on your dignity.
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After living the YOLO life (filled with credit card debt) for too long, my family and I made drastic changes that lead to a very cheapskate way of living. We quickly realized living like cheapskates was adding MORE stress to our lives and finances.
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I’m kind of glad that I never got into extreme couponing for the main reason that I know I would love it way too much. No doubt it would consume my entire life and probably ruin my marriage. But I would have 18 bottles of Tide and have only paid 25 cents. Maybe it’s worth it?
There are a few people out there who can manage their credit cards wisely, pay them off monthly and reap major benefits. For the rest of us who enjoy them solely for neglecting our financial responsibilities in order to purchase unnecessary items and rack up debt, it’s time to let them go and get your life back!
Instead of eating out, start bringing lunch from home. It is absolutely ridiculous the amount of money this can save a person! It beats eating someone else leftovers or eating out of the garbage…doesn’t it? Created by a mother of 4, all your meal plans are laid out for you to take all the guesswork out of grocery shopping.
Alright, we’re slowly easing closer to “extreme” territory. Maybe I’m just born with a lot fewer cares than most people, but when I could actually eat bread (#glutenprobs) I always took advantage of the day-old bakery section at Walmart! Prices were always marked down and they had everything from bread loaves to birthday cakes!
Think about it…when you’re showering how much water is being wasted going down the drain? Now the extreme cheapskate I saw doing this also did his laundry while showering. You can probably sidestep that one. But showering with a bucket allows you to capture some water that would otherwise head right down the drain.
This could easily be used later for water to clean your floors with, (am I the only person who still does it that way?) You could also use it to flush your toilet! Sounds crazy, I know, but extreme cheapskates told me that if you pour water into your toilet, it has no choice but to flush. Then no water is wasted from the tank. You are simply flushing down water that would have already been lost and saving yourself some toilet water. –There’s no classy way to say that
If you were born with a bladder as tiny as mine, this is something to consider. Sometimes I go potty 3-5 times throughout the night…and I’m not pregnant anymore. Originally, as a new mom, I feared to flush the toilet; kids have ears like hawks and I wasn’t about to chance to wake them up. I’ve now made a habit out of it. I know, you’re totally judging me. I’m not saying your toilets are now a yellow free-for-all. But, if you have a private bathroom or go frequently throughout the night, you save yourself 2 gallons of water each time you don’t flush.
You could stop flushing all together and start urinating into a water bottle then dumping it into your back yard like one extreme cheapskate.
If you are a frequent gym-goer, then make sure you are getting your money’s worth and use the facilities. This can not only help your skin out by washing away the sweat but can also save you by avoiding adding to your water bill.
If you have a teenage girl at home you probably know the eye twitching torture that can go along with the insanely long showers they take. Some families have set up a time limit on showers in order to cut back on wasted water and some just bathe together. Your choice of course!
Keeping your thermostat a little bit higher during the summer months (around 75 degrees) and a little lower during the winter months (69 degrees) are the recommended temperatures to keep everyone in your family happy while still cutting back on the potentially crippling cost heating and air conditioning.
I absolutely love our compost. Not only does it cut back on the amount of garbage we throw away each week, but it helps keep our soil clean and our environment a little bit healthier.
If you are a big fruit and veggie lover, it might be worth it for you to invest your time and money into creating a garden in order to save big on produce!
Scan your cupboard before heading to the grocery store. Often times people head back to the store while they still have enough to make a few meals. Food gets thrown out and leftovers go uneaten. These are all little easy to change habits that can save you money in the long run.
Instead of being in the habit of turning lights on whenever you walk into a room, take a moment to consider if there is enough natural sunlight to already help you see what you’ll be doing from room to room. Personally, I love natural light and it is the one thing I miss the most after our downsize. Our “big house” had huge windows and crazy amounts of natural light.
Cable bills are crazy expensive these days and there are so many other options available. Things like digital antennae, Netflix and Hulu. It might take some adjusting to but can save you a ton of money!
No surprise here, most people on Extreme Cheapskates are very wealthy. They have good, hefty savings that I don’t think they use whether it’s a rainy day or not. Be sure to be intentional when it comes to creating good savings for yourself and/or your family.
Unplugging things once you are done using them is one very simple way to cut back on your electric bill each month. Just turning an appliance off doesn’t fully stop the flow of electricity, so if it’s easy to unplug, give it a try!
One cheapskate demonstrated how to make deodorant with coconut oil, baking soda, and an old toilet paper tube. You know what? I tried it! I stunk like crazy and my armpits got super dry. Also, my husband thought I was crazy. That one may have been a flop, but there are a ton of DIY recipes these days for so many different things and a lot of the ingredients you may already have in your home!
No, not for deodorant. You can save them for crafts for the kids or even sell them on Amazon. You can get around $9 for a 24 pack of rolls when sold on Amazon!
Decluttr is a great site to use to get rid of your excess stuff, including your electronics! Then use this money to buy your family presents instead of just wrapping up your old junk. (Yup. It happened.)
Extreme Cheapskates eat roadkill or cook food on their car engines. When cooking on the stove, and your food is getting close to being done, turn off the stove and cover your pot or pan with a lid and all the leftover heat to continue cooking the food. I do this a lot with rice. It’s amazing how much time you can save when you just cut the heat and leave it covered.
One extreme cheapskate actually peels her bananas in the store because she doesn’t want to be charged for the additional weight. Crazy? Yup. Yup, it is. BUT if you don’t see yourself eating 8 bananas, pulling off 3 is a great way to only pay for what you will actually be using. Same goes for other produce. Buying in bulk can be helpful, but if you’re not going to make use of everything, then don’t spend the dough.
The old brick in the toilet trick can go a long way. Putting a brick or other large object on the back of your toilet tank will save you a little bit of water. And you know what they say, a little bit can go a long way!
Turning off the shower while you soap up your body is another good way to save some money. Tom does this. I personally need a steady flow of heat or I turn into a giant goosebump. If you live with an extreme cheapskate, this might be risky. They very well might go straight to the source and just leave you water-less. Happened to a guy right after he moved in with his girlfriend. I wonder how they’re doing?
Saving more water when it comes to showering is a lot easier with water-saving shower heads! You get a little less pressure but it can make a helpful difference on your water bill!
Not everyone likes leftovers, but making the use of all your food is crucial! After all, you paid for it, get the most out of it! You could reach for real Extreme Cheapskate status and eat other people’s leftover…say at restaurants or on airplanes. Leftover peanuts…I mean c’mon.
Get a tub for your kitchen sink to wash dirty dishes in. Doing this stops you from wasting running water to wash each dish. Instead, keep your suds in the tub and after getting a few suds up, rinsed them off in groups and place them on a drying rack.
Yup, the classic, don’t ride if you can walk theory. If there are places close enough to you, try walking or biking in order to save on those insane gas costs! If you have a pool, you can also get our bike rigged up to double as a pool filter! Save you $200 a month and get your fitness on! Whoop whoop!
When it comes to any form of shopping, start bringing your own bag. This is a big environmental help, but can also get you discounts at certain stores! Did you know there are easy ways to make bags out of old t-shirts? There is! Look it up! I didn’t see this on an Extreme Cheapskates but one woman did use old t-shirts to make her child diapers. So, there’s that too.
There is something very classic about this one. Reminds me of my grandma hanging clothes in her back yard. Skipping the dryer and just letting nature do its thang. In fact, you can even just do this indoors now!
You know someone getting ready to give away their old clothes? Get in on that! My friends and I are huge when it comes to clothes swapping! Great way to save cash and try clothes you may not have given a go before!
Its true Fortunate Gems doesn’t sound as awesome as Lucky Charms, but chances are they taste the same and you might save a buck or two!
Making a habit of going out to eat will be the death of you and your budget. There is no doubt. Chances are, your health and fitness will probably take a hit too! You don’t have to be a cheapskate to know this one!
There are so many places that are just dying to give you free stuff on your birthday it is insane! Ihop, Denny’s, Starbucks, Caribou (Minnesota’s Starbucks,) Applebees…it’s insane how much you can totally cash in on. Fill your fridge with coffee and takeout and have yourself a grand ‘ol time! Just Google places that give you free food on your birthday and you will no doubt find a massive list so you can start plotting your savings!
Another classic: just stashing your spare change for a rainy day. The best way to do this is to get yourself a big, long and thin glass jar. Thin enough so your hand can’t sneak it’s way in, big so you have to save for a long time and glass so you can shatter that baby when the time comes!
Rainwater is the sky’s free gift to you. Getting a rain barrel set up in your yard is a perfect way to take full advantage of this free water! Most water bills go to maintaining green grass through constant watering! Save your water bill and use your rainwater! They are relatively inexpensive an can save you huge in the long haul. That’s what it’s all about after all. It’s raining men? More like it’s raining cash. Wink, wink.
I don’t know if you guys understand just how hard it is to go an entire blog post without a Friends reference.
If you don’t know what “pulling a Ross” means, (I suppose we could go a lot of ways with this one.) I’m referring to taking full advantage of all the amenities that you might get at a hotel. Of course, there is the shampoos and soaps, or you could go full Ross and take the toilet paper, light bulbs and batteries out of the remote controls. You’re paying for the stay, may as well get what you pay for. Just don’t get caught.
Skip the fancy stuff and start doing what you can at home. Soak your feet, paint your nails, dye your own hair? I know that one is a little scary. One easy to do hair tip I can give you is using a little peroxide and lemon juice to help lighten your hair! I used to do this with our oldest daughter before she was “old enough” to start getting actual highlights. She loved it and it totally works!
Other DIY ideas:
When you do splurge on a restaurant visit, go ahead and get yourself some of those condiments! Yeah sure, someone might see you sneak some in your purse but they won’t be laughing when you have a full ketchup bottle’s worth and they only leave with a story and regrets.
A penny picked up from a dirty parking lot is a penny earned.
Remember that one Extreme Cheapskates where the husband tried to throw his wife an anniversary party with a $20 budget? How about a one-way bus ticket to anywhere but here, dude?
You don’t have to be quite that frugal, but this guy had the right idea. Setting a limit for birthday parties, birthday presents, and other events and sticking to it will save you huge. Like Dave Ramsey says, “Tell your money where to go.”
When I see free furniture on the side of the road, I can’t slam on my brakes fast enough. I love scoping out old dressers, chairs or side tables! Maybe you have a purpose for them or maybe you are just as obsessed with chalk paint as I am and you can fix them up and sell them for a 100% profit! Cha-ching.
Not only will using cash more save you from credit card debt and help you fill up your coin jar, but you’re a lot more likely to get a fair price on items you purchase as well. Some stores have a deal if you pay with cash (because they have to pay for credit card processing!) If you’re at a flea market, furniture store or even a car dealership, if you tell them you’ve got cash but you want a deal…chances are they are going to listen to what you’ve got to say!
Being a cheapskate is all about reusing what you can. Extreme Cheapskates have been known to reuse toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates…and anything that’s meant to be disposable. Please don’t reuse your toilet paper. But maybe try out replacing napkins and paper towels with reusable towels. Just forgo any disposables altogether.
Maybe not a hunter of road kill. But if hunting is a skill you possess and you have a family of meat eaters, fishing and hunting is a great way to get food on the table…or in the freezer to avoid having to purchase high priced meats every month.
Yup, you can save that 2-gallon flush by just multi-tasking. I’ll leave you to contemplate.
Latest beauty trends have let us know that too much shampoo and hair washing is actually not good. It’s better to allow your natural oils to get the chance to sink in. Take full advantage of this trend with a few cute hats and cut back on the amount of shampoo you go through each month!
Maybe not dryer sheets, diapers or deodorant; I was thinking more along the lines of homemade cards and wrapping paper. Personally, I love a card made from the heart and happen to think the newspaper wrapping is a look that never goes out of style. And hey, if you’re looking for more newspaper uses…you could also try it out like toilet paper. Extreme style.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if this actually something an extreme cheapskate would do. But, for things like toilet paper, meat, bread…anything you’re going to use a lot of may as well save by bulk buying. This could be with Sam’s Club or Costco membership or when there are major sales and coupons to take advantage of!
You can try and get a few uses out of one tea bag or, with green tea, after sipping down a few cups, be sure to save your tea bags and you can rest them on your eyes for 20 minutes to help eliminate under-eye puffiness. Not like I have any trouble there. #lies
Like I said, with rainwater. You can make the most of nature’s free offerings and avoid the extra water bill. You can also clip your own grass (and even use a gas-free mower!) When it comes to those pesky weeds, they say boiled water poured on will do the trick. Boiled rainwater perhaps?
Just like homemade deodorant and cards, a little cleverness when it comes to cleaning your house can go a long way. Vinegar and baking soda are an awesome and powerful cleaner especially when it comes to toilets and tough stains. Beyond that, peroxide and water are great for wiping down and sanitizing surfaces.
We’re all about reusing after all, right? I’m not asking you to read the obituaries and then ask for the deceased people’s clothing. That would be extreme. But maybe hit up a Goodwill once and a while. I have managed to repeatedly snag super cute booties in my size that are barely worn (or not at all) for around $3 each!
The best and biggest online thrift stores:
Take full advantage of parks and free events in your neighborhood.
This is not just for Extreme Cheapskates, it’s just a smart idea. Head to the website Unclaimed Money and type in your name to see if there are any unclaimed checks with your name on them! I did this a few years ago to find that I hadn’t ever cashed a paycheck from when I lived in Arizona. Score.
You’d better believe Extreme Cheapskates aren’t wasting their heating and air bills on any wasted space! In fact, a family of 4 living in a trailer saved so much money they downsized to a cruise ship and took a 2-year cruise! They also used newspaper as TP and shared bathwater, but…
A library card can get you access to free events in your area, free books, free movies, free CDs and free magazines. Definitely, something to take advantage of.
Don’t worry, it’s not weird. If you have a water bottle and you’re out and about, take advantage and fill your water bottle up in the drinking fountain! Just don’t bathe in the sinks or anything. Please.
You probably don’t have to use carpet samples and carpet padding for a yoga mat like one cheapskate did for her in-home Pilates studio. But you can save HUGE by skipping the gym membership and just taking full advantage of the space you have at home.
Have a work buddy to swap rides with or a neighbor who could help get your kids to school? Jump on the chance to cut your gas costs in half by carpooling, ride swapping or taking the bus!
So maybe Extreme Cheapskates would have people CHOOSING to bite their nails to avoid buying fingernail clippers. But, really what I’m talking about is quitting bad habits. More along the lines of cutting back on alcohol consumption, cigarettes, and junk food. Then again, you could just make your own liquor at home. Just like the guy who also cooks on his car.
Some Extreme Cheapskate stories start after a big debt bailout. So to avoid a future of roadkill eating and sharing bath water with your teenagers, start digging yourself out right now! Check out my Dave Ramsey’s Snowball Method post on how we paid off $6,000 in 6 months.
Sure you can make clothes that are too big fit by safety pinning them to the right size. Or you can just really be sure to care for the things you have so they last longer. Scotch Guard your couch, keep a tidy home, clean your carpets, be gentle on your driveway. All those little things can make your home last longer and avoid you having to shell out money on repairs.
If you are taking care of your stuff, then that means taking the time to fix what is broken. I was so proud of myself of doing this recently with our bedspread. It started getting huge tears in it and after going to the store to just get a new comforter I decided to come home and stitch up the old one. Let’s be clear, I barely survived home ec classes, but now I have a hole-less bedspread you can barely see the terrible sew job!
You know the shpeel by now…you spend more upfront to save more in the long haul with LED lightbulbs. Who knows, maybe if you “pull a Ross,” you’ll get an LED out of the deal? You could also limit your house to one single lightbulb and carry it with you from room to room. Another Extreme Cheapskate idea.
As a Minnesotan, I know winters can get cold and a heating bill can take a big hit. Covering your windows with plastic covering is a good way to help conceal heat so you’re not losing as much!
Don’t worry, we’re not dumpster diving for clothes. But if you wear a pair of jeans for the day, and nothing too terrible has happened to them, hang them back up and wear them again later in the week. You can do this with shirts and pajamas as well. It definitely cuts back on the number of times you do laundry each week
Planning more meals that involve no cooking is a great way to not only be healthier but to save on gas or electric bills. Ok, that doesn’t mean a bag of chips counts as a meal. I’m talking fresh produce, salads or overnight oats.
If you cut off the bottom of celery, or the tops of an onion, set them in a ffreezer-safebag and use them again to make veggie broth. Using every piece of your food that you can really help stretch your food budget!
I know this one can sound a bit icky and if you’re a vegetarian, just go ahead and move on. For those of you who cook chicken, turkey or pork, hanging on to the bones to make a bone broth is a good way to again, make the most out of your food. One Extreme Cheapskate father gets discounts on fish and makes concoctions out of the fish’s bones, heads and eyeballs. He claims some pretty great and healthy meat is in the heads. I’ll leave that to you and your gag reflexes. I don’t know if I could eat an eyeball.
Having an office party? Graduation? Wedding? Get in on the chance to get a free meal. Even if socialization isn’t your thing. I’m not saying you have to take table scraps from the people sitting next to you at Applebees just enjoy a complimentary meal when it’s offered to you.
If you know Sunday is free sample day at the local grocery store…head on in! Not only is this your chance for free food, but they usually hand out coupons as well! Some Extreme Cheapskates just go ahead and ask for the entire plate of free food.
Extreme Cheapskates get their 15 minutes of fame, why not you? If you have a big social media presence, often times brands are happy to help supply free merchandise in exchange for a social media post. This is frequently done by bloggers, but definitely something everyone can take advantage of.
This is an old school cheapskate move I’ve seen since I was a kid. You take a towel and fold it to fit right next to the crack under your door to prevent air from seeping in or out. A very simple measure to take that may just help out a bit.
If you live somewhere that gets crazy hot in the summer months, try opening your windows to get some cool air and a fresh breeze in. Put off turning on that air conditioner for as long as possible.
Sure you can wait for a rainstorm, like a true Extreme Cheapskate or you can just get out that good ‘ol bucket with soapy water and give it a quick rinse down to avoid the high mark up prices of driving through the carwash.
Yup. I said it. You have no doubt seen Extreme Cheapskates dumpster dive but what I’m talking about is a little bit classier version. Basically, avoid the dumpster all together. A lot of bakeries and restaurants toss food that is already wrapped if it is a day old or even if the packaged food falls to the ground. Thus the reason Extreme Cheapskates start diving. They are looking for perfectly good food that was tossed.
Sure you could use leftovers to make a Thanksgiving turkey, (yeah, that happened) or you could just portion your food. If you want to make it last, measure it out before each meal. I have to do this with my kids otherwise all of our food would be gone in a day.
Ok, so we’ve talked veggies and meats, but what about those fruits? Banana peels have tons of natural remedies, orange peels when heated on the stove in a pot can give your whole house a fresh smell and lemons can easily be pre-zester so you have extra flavoring when cooking! Even taking apple cores to make apple sauce is another great idea.
There is that one family that re-uses bath water for all 4 of them, or you could just take a shower as an opportunity to have a little close time with your partner. On a less steamy note, I also used to shower with my little ones when they were small. I was able to knock out their bath time with mommy’s not-so-relaxing shower.
If you bought fruit or veggies that are starting to get bad simply toss them in the freezer. This easily saves you from tossing good food and you instantly have quick grab stuff for smoothies!
Again, we’re not being weird, just imagine if you go out to eat, be sure to take your leftovers home! You paid for them after all. If you ordered a salad, be sure to get the dressing on the side and ask for a to-go box right away. That way you can easily bring a fresh salad home instead of soggy. Simply toss half the salad into your to-go box before you pour any dressing onto your main dish.
Let’s be clear, I am not telling you to perform dental surgery on your spouse via YouTube tutorials. Because some people do that. But things like salt socks, essential oils, and good old fashioned water can go a long way to help you overcome illnesses without having to see a doctor.
Sure you can use both sides of your underwear. I’ve heard.
I think we can all agree the prices of candy, popcorn, and soda at the movie theater have hit all-time highs. So, maybe you bring your own treats. You could fish old popcorn from the garbage cans and then serve them to your date. But I don’t think that went over well on Extreme Cheapskates. So maybe just steer clear of that idea.
Yes, some states still do this! Take advantage and help the environment.
No, I’m not talking about your own dental procedures. But things like plumbing and minor repairs are easily taught on places like YouTube. Just be honest with yourself. Repair what you can and hire where you must.
Being frugal is smart, but remember money is not the most important thing in the world. Don’t sacrifice your relationships just to save a few pennies. Let your family shower…seperately. When it comes to anniversary celebrations, there is nothing wrong with spending more than a $20 and if you’re going to pee in the shower at least do it when you’re not sharing.
If you’re ready to end the cheapskate cycle and start making bigger wins with money, don’t miss my FREE training: Getting Out of Your Money Pit: 3 Steps to Overcome Your Financial Struggles. Sign up now!