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Extreme Frugality: The Crazy (Legal) Things I’ve Done to Make and Save Money

Updated on September 21, 2012
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If you ask my friends and family what one of my best assets is, they may likely say that it is my ability to save a dime. Sometimes a penny.

I’ve been getting better over the years – and no, I don’t mean getting more reasonable, I mean getting more crazy about my mula.

I admit that I’m not as good as the people on the TLC show “Extreme Couponing”… though I have been known to dumpster-dive for a coupon. I also believe in upholding certain standards (no stealing, no lying, etc.). However, I can say that I am more willing to take that extra step every now and then.

If you want to take that step as well, here are some techniques for you to try:

  • One man’s trash: Sure, it’s great to hold a yard sale to sell of some of your items. But how about selling someone else’s items? I’m certainly not telling you to steal from other people. But that junk on the side of the street with a “FREE” sign hanging off of it? Someone else is bound to want it, even if it’s not you. I’ve hauled desks, bookshelves, microwaves, and other abandoned items off of the street by myself (not always easy), taken them to my abode, and posted them on Craigslist for some extra bucks.
  • It’s not just a job: I don’t just work for my job, I make my job work for me. I make sure to take advantage of all of the benefits. I’ve held jobs that provide free transportation (public transit passes) so I don’t have to drive and pay for all of my regular car expenses. In college, I’ve been a Resident Advisor to get free housing and food. Do some research!
  • Take it to go: Hate paying tips? Take it to go. If it’s cold food, you don’t have to pay tax, either (that’s why I don’t get my subs toasted at Subway).
  • Let’s make a deal: You’re shopping at the store. Dress got a snag? Cereal is expired? Talk to the manager and see if you can get a discount or better.
  • Do good at Goodwill: Goodwill and Salvation Army are my favorite places to go. Not only are you helping a good cause, but you can find normally expensive clothes at ridiculous prices. I wear basically all Banana Republic and J. Crew at work and people are always surprised when I tell them how much I spent. I don’t really care if it is not the current line or style (and you shouldn’t either if you’re reading this). Don’t be discouraged if you’ve gone before and you didn’t like the selection or the ambiance: all stores are different depending on where they are located and the kind of people who donate clothes there. Take the time to head to the more ritzy area to find the Goodwill store there (don’t forget to take the bus and use your free pass!).
  • Get back to class! You can save all over the place with student discounts. You can enroll for community college classes and use your Student ID to get deals on restaurant food, tickets to events, computer software, and more.
  • Save a life: I’m sure you’ve heard of getting paid to donate blood and stuff (I’ve actually never done that)… but, I mean, if you literally save someone’s life, they’re going to owe you, right? Maybe they can repay the debt in gifts?
  • It can't hurt to ask: Rarely have I been turned down when I have asked for a refund or a discount. I've gotten some overdraft charges waived when I called the bank and asked. I had a $15 coupon expire and I called to get a new one - and they gave me one!

As I mentioned in my disclaimer earlier, I am not the most extreme in my tactics (I’ve never baked cookies inside a car on a hot day to save electricity or gas). But I did want to share a couple of tips in case they are useful. I encourage anyone to share their input or any of their own tips!

I also want to add something that I feel has helped me save money over the years - don't fall for gimmicks like "buy one, get one half off" or "get the third one free". If you don't need it, don't buy it!

Money-Saving Tips from 'The Frugal Girl'

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    • carozy profile image

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Great tips to save and earn some money. I live in San Francisco and there are always free items on the streets... I'll see what I can do about reselling them.. thanks for the ideas!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      We take advantage of a relative's free movie tickets. My cousin works at a movie theater and gets up to 4 free tickets a day (pinch me!) as long as she emails them ahead of time with our names, the time of the show, etc. We get to see new releases for free! Free feels great!

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

      Haha Mike! I guess the joke didn't quite make it through :)

    • profile image

      Mike 4 years ago

      Trying to get free stuff from somebody because you saved his/her life? Seriously? What kind of morals do you have?

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you all for your tips and comments! I hadn't even considered making my own detergent... or not using shampoo! :)

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Thanks for the great tips. It is exciting to see so many frugal people visiting this Hub. I am a frugal minimalist so I seldom buy things. Wanna save big bucks? Make your own laundry detergent. I use the recipe on the Duggar family website. Hey if it will work for 19 kids, it will work for my one kid. Also we do not use shampoo (I have a Hub on that). These two frugal changes save us a lot of money. Thank you for getting me inspired to save money today. I am going to look for new ways to pinch a penny!

    • lpanfil profile image

      lpanfil 5 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      I saved hundreds of dollars on Adobe Creative Suite software by taking a class. All I had to provide proof of paid enrollment.

    • Carole Anzovin profile image

      Carole Anzovin 5 years ago from Florence, Massachusetts

      Goodwill is also the greatest source for kids clothes. Little ones grow so fast that tons of things get outgrown before they wear out. And if your little one hasn't started school yet, who in the world cares if their clothes are out of style! Nobody!

    • Kristin Halsted profile image

      Kristin Halsted 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for the helpful hints. I'm not the best at money saving tricks, but now that my oldest child is in college, I'm trying to pinch a few pennies! Your hints are a great place to start! I also want to complement you on your writing style. You are concise and easy to read. I love to read anything by someone who writes so well! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 6 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      you are my new hero....plus a few others....

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Anne, thanks so much for sharing these tips! I've been very tempted to try the house swap, especially when we were going to New York this year and I saw that I could stay somewhere for $50 :)

    • profile image

      Anne Salter 6 years ago

      I cut my kid's hair and color my own. Trim mine and get a 'real' cut once a year (I wear my hair long).

      I lengthen my daughter's dresses - she's at an age where she grows up, but doesn't thicken (age 5) so all is needed is a bit more fabric to cover her knees!

      We cook most of our meals at home, eat out when traveling only (and still pack tonnes of food with us). Even in hotels, I request that the bar fridge in our room be emptied before we arrive so we can store all breakfast food + snacks + drinks.

      I buy food the day before the expire date and save about 50% - and freeze the food right away. Thaw the day I cook AND eat it. Never had problems with it.

      Pack great lunches for entire family - sandwiches, salads, wraps, hot lunches (thermos for kids; microwave for adults). Don't buy much cold cuts either - typically cook 1-2 large pieces of meat on weekends and use cold meat in sandwiches.

      Our latest tip for money saving? house swap for vacation; we live in Canada and stayed for 3 weeks in France and didn't pay a dime for an appartment in downtown Paris - the food was also cheaper because it came mostly from the grocery store instead of restaurants.

    • profile image

      Tex Biz 6 years ago

      No you didn't mention that free haircut, nice one GlassVisage!

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Haha, nice Tex Biz! Did I mention I got my hair cut free when I donated it at Relay for Life? :)

      Jama, you know what you're doing! I think I could learn a thing or two from you...

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I *love* curb shopping! In fact, that's where the wicker rocker I'm sitting in as I type this came from. Was missing the cushion and one rocker. A carpenter friend made a new set of rockers for practically nothing and I found a gorgeous cushion on sale for less than half price at Pier 1.

      My vacuum cleaner was a curb freebie too. Absolutely nothing wrong with it except one of the cord hooks was broken off. (The former owner pitched it over a broken cord hook?... Geez!)

      Books are my weakness, but I refuse to pay more than $1 (if that much) for used ones at thrift shops and yard sales. If someone recommends a certain book, I look for a "gently read" copy at Amazon.com for pennies + postage.

      Goodwill and yard sales were my favorite places to shop in the state I recently moved from. The town I live in now doesn't have a GW, and the SalvArmy store is over priced and under stocked so I rarely go there. Curb freebies and yard sales are few and far between too. Meaning I'm in *serious* bargain withdrawal at the moment! ;D

    • TexBiz profile image

      TexBiz 6 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

      Hey one more thing, to save money I let my 10 year old cut my hair for the 2nd time. She actually is getting better!

    • TexBiz profile image

      TexBiz 6 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

      Glad to help.

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Victoria Lynn, I agree! I go straight to the Clearance section and bring my coupons for extra discounts :)

      TexBiz, great tips for buying a car. Those are things I hadn't known before - I appreciate the advice!

    • TexBiz profile image

      TexBiz 6 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

      I am very frugal and always have been and Yes I voted up. I save money and help the environment at the same time by not driving much and by keeping my tires pressure at the maximum in my car to save more gas. I noticed that the Generic foods these days are usually better than brand names. I sold cars for 5 years, but still never buy a new car, and when buying a car people NEVER by an extended warranty... they are a waste of money and if you must have a warranty, do not buy it from the DEALERSHIP which overcharges you. Other warranty offers will come in the mail after you buy your car if you buy it from a big Dealership which usually has to back up their sale and can't sell you junk. You also can go online

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I'm always looking to save money and have written up some tips myself! I don't fall for gimmicks and "sales," either. Even sales often aren't cheap enough for me. You have to spend money to save money; I'd rather not spend. Resale shops are good, too!

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Ah Drood, thank you for your flattering comments! :D

    • Drood profile image

      Drood 6 years ago

      once again, an excellent hub. you are still my hero. this one, as with your others is insightful, informative and well written ( hope i didn't sound too much like a geek there).

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks for the comments! Sunshine, I agree, great tip - I recently went to Relay for Life and got a free haircut when I donated my hair :)

      Thanks for t vote Diana!

      Baygirl, great tips! Is the roast one really true? :)

    • baygirl33 profile image

      victoria 6 years ago from Hamilton On.

      Hi Glass,great hub,I love frugality.

      My moto is if you save the little pennies the big stuff will take care of themselves.

      I used to put the roast on the engine block (well sealed) and drive up north.Voila when we got there it was ready to eat.

      In the olden days when the kids were young ,we used the great bags that the milk came in for freezer bags.

      Even now I buy large packages of meat and take them home and pack them separately for the freezer.Of course you have to read the labels.Some are cheaper in small packages.I cut and colour my own hair(saves time too).Of course when I have to go to the salon ,the cutters are pretty ticked.

      I used to make my own clothes;now I buy second hand or even better ,shop in my kids'closets.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 6 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Useful tips that most wouldn't think of. Voted up.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great tips! I'm a frequent visitor at Goodwill and always find something I could use or just for fun! Another way to save money is to skip the salon and cut and color your own hair or have a friend do it. Saves a TON of money :)

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      That's great Ryan! It's amazing what you can get if you just save even small amounts of money :)

    • Ryan-Palmsy profile image

      Ryan Palmer 6 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

      Hi Glass Visage,

      I really liked this hub! I'm trying to save enough money to buy a motorbike and this hub will help even further!

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you Pamela! Suziecat, my new hero! I do that too sometimes - our library has book sales once a month, and sometimes there are textbooks for $1 that I can sell online for much more!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great Hub - I'm always looking around at Goodwill for things to sell on Ebay. I once bought a Green Hornet mug for 10 cents and sold it for $49.99. I danced around the house for ten minutes.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I am very frugal but you listed a couple of things I hadn't thought about. Thanks for the new tips.

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you both! I feel that it's always good to save a penny because these days, you never know when you're going to need it (though I only pick up pennies when they're heads-side up :)

    • laral profile image

      laral 6 years ago from England

      Great hub! I need to improve my non existent saving techniques! I am going to bookmark this hub. Thank you made me think about that!

    • glassvisage profile image
      Author

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Jan, that's a great one! I'm always watching the register, but I didn't know about that bonus! Thanks so much for sharing that! ... I'm going to see if you have any Hubs about frugality :)

    • JanThinks profile image

      JanThinks 6 years ago

      Cheap is my middle name. I love your suggestions, but you missed a few of my favorites like always watching the cash register as they are ringing up your deals. If something scans at the wrong price, many stores like Walmart will give you the item free up to $5, then they will take $5 off the price. I get something free at least once a week.