Amy has been an online writer for several years. Her goal as a writer is to spread as much knowledge as she can about saving money.
My grandfather once told me a story about this man he used to work with who was so frugal that he ate only cheese sandwiches for 20 years. That's it. Two pieces of bread, two slices of cheese, and no condiments. Every single day for 20 years. His friends used to say that he was so thrifty that if you squeezed him, pennies and nickels would fall out of his backside. Weird, I know. When he passed away, his family went to his house and discovered almost a million dollars hidden under his mattress.
I am not sure if this story is true or exaggerated, but it's just one of many crazy stories of weird frugality. It's hard to believe this guy lived so long. Regardless, here are some less extreme but still eccentric ways I have found to save myself some cash.
1. Flush Less
If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down. Enough said.
The act of flushing, not not flushing, is really what can spread germs around the bathroom, via an unappetizing airborne spray.
So if selective flushing isn’t really unhygienic, is it dirty and/or stinky? Well, if you’re healthy and well-hydrated, your No. 1 shouldn’t have strong color or odor. And if you clean your bowl regularly, you shouldn’t be seeing any strange buildup effects in the bowl. Going a few rounds between flushes, then, shouldn’t be unpleasant.
What it should be, on the flip side, is a significant water saver. A standard throne uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush, so if you flush three times a night, that’s 4.8 gallons down the drain. But if you flush every third time, you’re saving 3.2 gallons of water per night, 22.4 gallons per week, 89.6 gallons per month, and 1,075 gallons a year — my, how it all adds up.
Your family can decide what works for them. You can start with flushing every other time and build from there. Perhaps you can agree to suspend the practice when you have company. Here’s a tip for your negotiation: Promising to take over the toilet-scrubbing task can buy you a lot of goodwill.
I am not an expert on foraging. I have heard from others that getting back to the land can be money-saving, therapeutic, and educational. I would go with a partner, not on your own. You don't want to get lost in the wild. There is a vast amount of mycological (mushroom hunting) and foraging clubs across the United States.
How and when can you forage for free food?
You don't need to live in the wilderness to forage. Even if you live in the heart of a city you'd be surprised where free edibles can be found. You can find free edibles any place where things grow. Just be sure to stay away from heavily polluted areas such as bodies of water and soggy areas after heavy rain. Areas near heavy traffic where oil and fluids emitted from cars can be dangerous.
Foraging can be done in any season. It can be a fun and practical hobby for you are your family. Many people think of the Fall as the time when food is picked and eaten. Foraging is a year round even in many parts of the country no matter what season it is. Just be sure to pick up a foraging guide, it is a great investment to educate your family on what types of plants to look for. It will pay for itself in very little time.
3. Pick Up Every Coin You See
I have a friend that throws her pennies in the trash. She also thinks it's "below" her to pick coins off of the ground. It's just wrong! Last year, I picked up every coin I spotted on the ground and put it into my vacation coin jar. I have well over $40! It was free money and I am proud of it.
Where to find free money:
- Under the couch cushions (duh)
- In the rejected-change bin of coin counting machines like Coinstar
- Near parking meters in early springtime, as the snow melts
- Under your feet at the checkout counter of just about any supermarket or drugstore
- Around the self-service vacuum at car washes and gas stations
- The bottom of the ball crawl at Chuck E. Cheese
- Beaches and playgrounds, especially if you have a metal detector
4. Save Condiments
When you eat out at a restaurant make sure you save all packaged condiments. My uncle never paid for a single condiment his whole life due to this practice. He had a huge ziploc bag in his fridge full of every kind of condiment you can think of. As a kid I thought it was pretty weird. As an adult I think it's genius. My aunt and uncle were smart enough to raise five kids on one income.
I have started my own small container of condiments that I keep in my pantry. They are nicely sized to put in lunches for my hubby when he goes to work. Saving condiment packages also saves you trips to the grocery store when you run out of things like mayo and soy sauce.
5. Go to Bed Early
This one is difficult for me. Nevertheless, when you go to bed earlier you get up earlier. When you get up earlier you have a huge advantage financially because you use more daylight and less electricity at night.
Going to bed early every night and getting seven to nine hours of sleep not only helps your wallet, it is also good for your health. The benefits include weight loss, heart health, and improved job performance.
6. Be Scroogy During the Holidays
When the holidays come up it's pretty easy to go to the nearest Walmart and spend $200 on decorations for your home. You can avoid this and still be festive on the holidays. Make your own decorations from things you have around the house. You can also decide to skip out on decorating all together. Be firm with your friends and family by informing them you will not be exchanging gifts this year. Some might groan about it but they get over it fast. You can also be crafty and creative and make them an inexpensive homemade gift.
7. Don't Wash Your Hair
My hair dresser suggested this to me and it saved me a great deal of money. I went from washing my hair daily to only washing it once a week. My hair is a lot healthier now, less dry, and I also save an hour a day. Your body regulates itself and produces less oil when it becomes accustomed to being washed only once a week. For the few weeks of only washing your hair once a week it will look terrible but see it through. After about a month your hair will go back to looking it's best. I haven't been brave enough to go completely shampooless but some people swear by it.
8. Take Baths Instead of Showers
A new study has found some modern showers waste so much water, their owners would be better off filling up the bath tub.
Research into the habits of 100 families has found that power showers use twice as much energy and hot water as a bath.
Even an ordinary shower eight minutes long is nearly as wasteful as a bath, the soap giant Unilever claims.
9. Make Saving Money a Competition
Start a money saving competition with your friends and family. The person that saves the most money at the end of the month wins. Be sure there is a prize at the end. Everybody needs some kind of incentive. One idea would be a weekend trip.
10. Put a Water Bottle in the Toilet Tank
This isn't as bad as it sounds. If you put a capped water bottle filled with sand in the back of your toilet tank you can displace enough water to save 10 gallons per day. It doesn't seem like much but it will save you $100 per year. You can save even more if you have more than one toilet in your home. In this case it pays to be a little non-traditional in your ways!
11. Don't Use Coupons
Couponing can lead to overspending. When we get our hands on $10 off and $100 off deals we are tricked to spend more than we planned to. Sites like Groupon put pressure on consumers to make impulse purchases. When it comes down to it, many coupons aren't an actual "deal." Coupons typically come from name brands, even after the coupon is used, generic is still less expensive.
12. Think Like a Grandma
It wasn't until the 80's that people started getting spoiled and became more free about their spending. It started in that economy that everybody began to treat themselves. Times were easier. That time was an exception, not the norm. We need to get back to our old ways. During this economy we need to toughen up and make do like our grandparents did.
13. Eat Raw Foods
Raw vegetables are a lot less expensive than meat. You don't need to use energy in your oven to cook them so you save money. The actual veggies themselves are cheaper than meat. If you don't want to give meat up all together start by eating one day or one meal meat-free. Some people opt for "meatless Mondays." It's a good idea for your wallet as well as your health and weight.
14. Reuse Disposable Items
Disposable items such as plastic wrap, foil, and ziploc bags can all be reused. I usually reuse them a few times. I have spoken to some extreme cheapskates that still have tin foil from the 90's.
15. Think Differently
I read an article once that stated that once you begin thinking yourself as a fit person, you'll become more fit. If you tell yourself "don't" eat this instead of you "can't eat this you take away the negative feelings and empower yourself. It works the same with money. Start thinking that your a saver and you are much more likely to save your money. Tell yourself "don't" spend instead of you "can't" spend. It's brings feelings of freedom and liberation.
16. Be Friends With Thrifty People
I'm not telling you to let go of all of your friends that are big spenders and have money. You may need to use their fancy pool one day! That being said, you should surround yourself with like-minded thrifty people. It will make your life richer. Your friends that are into spending big influence you to spend more money whether you want to admit or not. When I hand out with my thrifty friends they challenge and inspire me to live thrifty and simply. One of my friends and is extreme couponer and lets me know all the great deals.
17. Get Off Junk Mail & E-mail Lists
Unsubscribe to e-mails from stores through the web-site Unroll Me. You can also take your name off of snail mail junk through a web-site called Catalog Chioce. Junk mail will not make it to your mailbox or inbox and will take away the urge to shop before it even happens. It's also a great way to take some of the clutter out of your life.
18. Use Cash Only
Challenge yourself for one month to use cash only. Do everything from paying bills using cash and only using cash for groceries. When you use cash only you have a clear picture of where your money is spent. It is a little more of a hassle but the convenience of using your credit cards can lead to overspending without even realizing it.
19. Reuse Coffee Grinds
This is one of my favorites. I am a big coffee fan and also have dry skin in the Winter. Coffee grinds are the best exfoliator out there. After I use them my skin literally glows. You just need to slough some on and rinse them off. I have also heard that coffee grinds can help reduce cellulite and be used in a garden as fertilizer. Coffee is great in so many ways!
20. Use a Time Limit When You Shop
Set a stopwatch and give yourself a time limit when you shop. When you do this you give yourself less temptation, you will the five things you need and get out of the store. Shop of your lunch break and store the food in the fridge at work. It will give you a chance to get a break from the office and shop in a limited amount of time.
Do you have any strange or "eccentric" ways that you save money? Feel free to share them with me!
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 17, 2018:
There's some really good ideas there Amy. I'm always picking up coins I find in the street. I put them in a pot, then when I have enough I put them in my savings account.
Audrey Howitt from California on August 17, 2017:
What great ideas! I stopped washing my hair everyday some years back and my hair is longer and healthier for it!
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 12, 2017:
Wonderful article on frugality!
Amy (author) from East Coast on June 12, 2017:
Thanks for the info!
Amy (author) from East Coast on June 12, 2017:
I shop at garage sales/goodwill for house products. I don't frown at people that are trying to live more efficiently and frugally.
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 11, 2017:
Do your shopping at Goodwill. I used to frown on this and I don't buy my own clothes there. However, my daughter and husband shop there -- him for work clothes and her for shirts and shorts especially. A great place to find used change is in any fast food drive through lane at the payment window. Just open your door and there it is. People were in too much of a hurry to pick it up.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 11, 2017:
These tips are very helpful, although some present a real challenge. On number one, closing the toilet lid before flushing will fix that "unappetizing airborne spray."
Amy (author) from East Coast on June 11, 2017:
I love your attitude about money and totally agree. My husband and I have been frugal for a long time and it's really paying off now that we are nearing 40. We see retirement as something that can actually happen for us. On the other hand, many of our friends and family turn their noses down at us sometimes because we don't have an expensive care or the latest cell phone etc.
Mary Wickison from Brazil on June 11, 2017:
I feel like I have taken being frugal to another level. LOL I can make a chicken last a week and that is two of us eating.
My husband does the majority of the repairs to the machines here on our farm and also in our house. You tube is a Godsend for instructional videos.
Having a group of people you can call on if you need help with something. It is better to have a larger group and not rely on just a few. Anyone will help you out once a year but if you ask too often, they won't, so a big circle of friends works best.
This one isn't popular but get rid of pets, they are expensive.
I think people have forgotten what a luxury is and now see it as a necessity. Cell phones, alcohol, cigarettes, a car and the internet are all luxuries.
It is funny because people prefer to make more money than economize.