Nearly two years ago, I published the blog post 8 Ways To Be An Extreme Cheapskate, which was about extreme money saving tips. While the people in that post are from the TV show Extreme Cheapskates, I wanted to ask real people what they do to save money and for their best money saving tips.
We've all done super embarrassing things to save money.
By sharing the things that we do, maybe we can all feel a little less embarrassed about our best money saving tips and even find new ways of saving money.
Doing one or all of the below may allow you to change your life for the better, such as by allowing you to pay off your debt more quickly, improve your financial habits, help you reach your dream sooner, and more.
Related money saving tips blog posts:
- How I Earn Over $100,000 A Month Online
- How To Save Money
- 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month
- The $20 Savings Challenge
- 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money
- 8 Things To Sell To Make Extra Money
Here are the best, funniest, and most embarrassing money saving tips.
The many ways of saving money on your looks
Have you ever thought about changing up your look or doing something drastic in order to save money while doing so? These money saving tips will show you exactly how to save money on your looks, and they are super interesting!
Shave your head. “I've gone without hair to save money. I shaved my hair as a way to save time AND money when I was a single mom. 17 years later and I still shave it – mostly because I'm used to it and not so much for the money. But every time I think about growing it out, I do think about the money I'll have to start spending.” –Alaya Linton
Get more days out of your makeup by not washing your face. “When I was in college I wouldn't wash my makeup off but every 2-3 days. I would simply touch it up each day so I could stretch the life of it. This way I didn't have to buy my drug store makeup that often. Sounds terrible when I admit it now and I'm thankful my face didn't breakout back then from it!” –Roxanne Gilmore
Related tip: Sign up for a website like Ebates where you can earn free CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. All you do is click on a store that you want to shop through (they have TONS of stores such as Kohls, REI, Toys R Us, etc.), and shop just like how you normally would. Ebates makes a commission for referring you to the store you just shopped at, and they give you some of that money back as a thank you. Plus, when you sign up through my link, you receive a free $10 cash back! My Ebates review: Money Saving Tip – Use Ebates For Free Cash Back.
Skip the cap and gown on graduation day. “When I graduated from San Diego State University I found out it was going to cost me $60 to rent a graduation cap and gown. I didn't have the money (and didn't think to ask family to chip in) so I wore a suit instead. I looked and felt so stupid on graduation day as literally the ONLY person not dressed up as a graduate, and have regretted it ever since. But I did save 60 bucks!” –Chris Huntley
Cut your own hair. “When I was on a tight budget during University, I stopped getting my hair cut professionally. Instead, I purchased a quality pair of hairdressing scissors from Sally’s Beauty Supply, watched tutorials on YouTube, and taught myself how to cut my own hair at home. The embarrassing part is that I continued to cut my own hair at home after I graduated from University to save money. I went almost 7 years without a professional hair cut! (And no, I don’t recommend this to anyone haha)” – Eden Ashley
Don't go to the mall for 2 years. “This is definitely embarrassing. I didn't step foot inside of a mall for 2 years about 12 years ago. I was and still am a single mom so money was definitely tight. I had one pair of decent shoes because my other ones were worn and tattered so I had to throw them away. So, for 2 years a single, young woman did no shopping, wore one pair of shoes, and rarely got my hair done in a hair salon (As a Black woman, getting our hair done is huge. I'm not sure about everyone else.) That time period really taught me the meaning of what the “old” folks used to tell us – “Don't look like what you're going through.” I was definitely going “through” and I looked like it.” – Natasha Ptomey
Keep your shoes together with Scotch tape. “I broke one of my sandals, and it was the only pair I had. I didn't want to buy another pair so I taped it back together with Scotch tape. It lasted for another month or so.” – Adrienne Luedeking
Use hotel shampoos. “We wait until the hotel cleaning person has abandoned the cart, and then we raid it for shampoo, conditioner, etc. We don't take all of it though. Just four or five bottles at a time.” – Millason Paige Forrester Dailey
Wear your contacts for a LONG time. “Okay this is absolutely terrible but I wear my 2-3 week contacts 4 weeks to make them last longer. And I don't even own glasses (which is usually fine but if I ever get an eye infection, I'm in serious trouble)” – Brittany from Equipping Godly Women
Find ways to save money at home
How much do you spend on rent, your home, etc? With the money saving tips below, you'll be able to save money at home in many different ways.
Live in super cheap living conditions. “I lived with a couple and another guy in a cramped house. I shortly learned that they were extremely frugal themselves and didn't use their AC or heat. Chicago winters are brutal and heat is NECESSARY. I had so many terrible nights of sleep and worst of all, I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I was paying to live in a house that I was totally miserable in, and they never thought to tell me that they don't use heat or AC. OH, they also had a newborn baby a month or 2 later after I moved in, which was absolutely terrible. But, being in college, I did what I had to do to save money. Rent was really cheap.” –Alexis Schroeder
Move your whole family into your parent's basement. “During the three years that we worked to pay off $144,000 of student loan debt, my family of six lived rent-free in my in-laws' unfinished basement. In order for the plumbing to work, we had to put in a “step-up” bathroom. My 6'7″ husband cannot even stand up straight in the shower. He has to cock his head to the side in the shower every day! But we're debt-free now, so the sacrifice was well worth it!” –Stephanie Jones
Save money on rent by having interesting roommates. “I rented a room in a house with four other guys, who had band practice every night until about 2am. Oh and I shared a room with an eel. In my closet. Who wasn't my eel. I lasted a year, and my rent was only $200 so yea, I suffered to save a few bucks! Rent in the area at that time for a room was about $500.” –Lauren Wittry
Related tip: My preferred way to travel is to stay in short-term rental vacation homes such as Airbnb (this will give you a $20 Airbnb coupon code for your next stay). Airbnb vacation home rates are usually comparable or cheaper than a hotel, plus you usually have more room and there is usually a kitchen as well. Also, if you have a lot of people going on vacation with you, you can split a house for a much cheaper price than it would be for everyone to get a hotel room. Read my Airbnb review The Many Positives Of Using Airbnb Plus a Coupon Code For Your Next Vacation!
Go to the bathroom in a jar or bottle instead of using the toilet. This is from Extreme Cheapskates. There was one episode where the woman had a working toilet, but wanted to save water. In order to do so, she had a jar next to her toilet that she would use the bathroom in. There was another episode where a guy only flushed his toilet once a week. It didn’t matter what happened in his bathroom, he waited AN ENTIRE WEEK to flush it.
Make your own toilet paper. “I make my own re-useable toilet paper…yes I do! Living full time in the RV saves problems in the black tank but saves money too!” –Margaret Heaton
Turn off the AC, even in the heat. “I refused to turn on the AC during the summer. My electric bill was so high in the month of July that I wanted to try and save some money by not using my air conditioner. I made it a month. I ended up sleeping on the tile floor a lot because it was cooler than my bed. Cut my bill down from $450 to $200 that month!” –Ryan Wilkins
Freeze water bottles instead of using AC. “I used to freeze water bottles and put them in my bed at night during NYC summers because I was too cheap to buy an AC.” –Erin Lowry
Get rid of paid TV completely to save money. The average monthly cable bill is around $120! By the year 2020, the average cable bill is expected to be around $200 a month. If you want to save money, you may want to think about getting rid of cable, satellite, Netflix, and anything else you are paying for, and just switch to a digital antenna (I highly recommend doing this!).
Save money until you can fix things. “So this wasn't just me, but my family. I grew up in an old house and one year the electrical wiring got messed up and we lost electricity in half the house. Instead of fixing it which would have cost a small fortune, we lived off of extension cords until my parents remodeled the house a few years later. So yes, I lived with no electricity in half the house for years because my parents wanted to save money. Same thing happened with the water heater. On the bright side, I don't find cold showers to be so bad.” –Amanda Abella
Limit the amount of stuff you have. “I used to re-use coffee filters but, then I found out I could sew my own so I made some and now I just throw them in the washing machine. We have three kids but, a few years ago we did a “no spend year” experiment and that included Christmas & Birthdays (our extended family thought we were the worst parents ever). Each person in our household (2 adults and 3 kids) only have 5 outfits each and everything comes from thrift stores. If our 10-year old daughter wants new (used) clothes … she has to pick out the items she wants to donate and only gets that many in place of them. We lived in a 3BR/2BA house w/a garage for years but, last year we moved into a 2BR apartment in an effort to force ourselves to limit the amount of “stuff” we own and purchase.” –Marie Edwards
Wash your clothes in a bucket. “When I was a college student in Paris, I was on a super tight budget and was constantly trying to think of ways to save money. Some of the slightly cringe-worthy things I did include: wrapping the free bread that restaurants provide in a napkin and taking it home to have for breakfast the next morning, washing my clothes in a bucket of water and detergent to avoid paying the laundromat fee and buying cheeseburgers from McDonalds and eating the bun for breakfast, then crumbling the burger patty over rice for lunch – delicious.” –Ashli from The Million Dollar Mama
Hang blankets to prevent a draft. “We lived in an old house and the house settled and there are almost full inch wide gaps at the tops of the front door. But the doors aren't the standard size for doors, and would need to be custom made which is of course super expensive. So instead of forking out the money to buy new doors, we used heavy blankets to hang behind the doors to prevent the draft. Weirdly enough, it worked! It looked ghetto, but it helped keep the house warm, keep the draft out, keep the heat bill low, and helped us avoid needing to buy new doors!” –Caroline Vencil
Sleep on an air mattress. “Slept on an air mattress for my first several months living in Nashville! Eventually a roommate felt bad and gifted me her bed once she bought a new one 😂 I kept that bed (and a free desk) until I turned 25.” – Kate Dore
Find your neighbor's coupons in the trash. “When I started couponing, to save money on newspaper subscriptions, I would take early morning walks around my neighborhood on Recycling Day and dig through my neighbors' bins for coupons. Not as bad as “dumpster diving,” but just as crazy.” –Alaya Linton
One person's trash is another person's furniture. “When I moved out of my dorm into an apartment for the first time, I couldn't afford furniture so I raided the dorm discards after move out day and scored a sweet papasan for our living room!” –Lena Presley Gott
Buy hundreds of gift cards to get free gas. “When we went to replace the windows in our old home from Lowe's, I made Mark Greutman buy $8,000 worth of gift cards so I could get 6 free tanks of gas. The issue was that most of the gift cards were in $25 increments. I made Mark pay for the windows at Lowes with a grocery bag full of $25 gift cards, it took him an hour to cash out and it crashed the computer a few times, but I didn't pay for gas for 2 months! *WIN*” –Lauren Greutman
Find things that are on “sale.” “Just after graduating college, I moved into a house with a friend. I only had a twin mattress and couldn't stand it any longer. I went shopping for mattresses but didn't want to spend $700+ on a queen mattress. One day as I was reading the paper, I saw an ad in the classifieds (this was around 2000 so no Craigslist yet) for mattresses. I called the number and got the address where the “sale” was. My friend and I headed to the location. It was in an industrial complex with old factories. The “sale” was out of the back of a plain white box truck on the side of an alley. While it was sketchy, I bough the mattress for $300. It was still in plastic so I thought it was safe. for the next few days, my friend and I watched the news to see if any mattress stores were recently robbed but never saw anything.” – Jon Dulin
Give a toilet seat for a birthday present. “We lived a mixed blessing type life growing up. We had good times and we certainly had rough times. I remember seeing my dad roll change from his bedroom jar to try to make payroll. Then one year I received a toilet bowl seat for my birthday. Things we needed for the house were also my birthday present? I was so broke in college I would not walk but rather run to any and all free food! Today – I am almost 40, live comfortably, better than I ever dreamed for myself, and still if I see free food or any leftovers I will take it all and devour it as if it were my last meal!!” – Ashleigh Blatt
Skip the heat and use a teakettle instead. “We just moved to Scotland and saw what our electric bill was going to be, so we haven't turned on the heat yet. I keep filling up a hot water bottle with water from our teakettle and setting my feet on it.” – Natalie McKee
Use a hot water bottle for heat. “When I was paying my mortgage off I'd make sure I didn't waste a single penny. So for example when my little boy went to bed (I was a single parent at the time) I'd turn off the heating, go to bed myself with a hot water bottle and sit and read under a single lamp. Doesn't seem extreme to me, seems completely sensible and I have very happy memories of reading loads during this period. Bonus was paying the mortgage off in 5 years!” – Ellie at Frugality Gives Us Options
Use every last squeeze of toothpaste. “I’ve taken “almost” empty tubes of toothpaste out of the bathroom trash can that my husband throws away. He thinks they are empty but I can squeeze out at least half a dozen or more uses from them. I hate to waste, but my husband thinks I nuts…” – Lisa Hebert
We use a space heater for heat and set out heat at 60 in the winter. “We live in Michigan and keep our heat set at 60 during the winter. We dress warm and use a space heater in the primary area that we spend the day in. We also warn others who come over to dress warm!” – Jennifer Roskamp
If it's brown flush it down, if it's yellow let it mellow! “We don't flush the toilet until it's been used a few times…here's the rule “if it's brown flush it down, if it's yellow let it mellow!” – Ashleigh Allman
Move in with your parents (or your spouse's parents!). “I'm 37 and have been with my husband since I was 16. During my senior year in high school, I moved in with him and his parents (because my family life wasn't great) and to save money.” – Melissa Barstow
Use the bathroom anywhere but at home. “Ok this is a very embarrassing story that I thought I would take with me to my grave. Back in my university days, when I didn't have toilet paper at my house, instead of buying some right then and there, I would spend the next 3-5 days going to the bathroom at the school. It was only a 10 minute walk away!” – Sang Shin
Live in your car. “In an effort to cut costs and avoid the expensive dorm rooms, I lived in my car for my 1st year of college. Saved a good amount of money!” – Colin
Move your whole family into your parent's spare bedroom. “I and my entire family six of us slept on the floor of my parents spare room for a year to build our house for cash.” – Kevin Coy
Rethink your travel. “After college graduation, a friend and I took a cross country road trip to Yellowstone. My friend worked with the parks system for the summer before getting ready to go to grad school. Meanwhile, I needed to head back home (to NC) but discovered that flights out of the Yellowstone area were pricey. A flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte was much cheaper, so I went that route. So I took a bus from West Yellowstone to Los Angeles, where I had a college friend attending law school at Pepperdine University (and living in a “dorm” room on Malibu beach). So, while saving money, I also got to live on the beach and see some of California for a couple of weeks. I also saved some money by hitching a ride with the family of a young teenage girl I met at the bus stop in West Yellowstone. Her mom asked me to watch her on the trip (and we hung out on the long ride). When we arrived at the bus station, her older sister met us and dropped me off at my friend's doorstep. (This was a long time before cell phones but the mom had told the sister about me; still a bit weird thinking about it but a fun adventure.)” – Julie Rains at Investing to Thrive
Find new ways to skip storage fees. “When I started blogging in 2008, I decided to share a super trick I'd come up with: when visiting London, you can avoid splashing out on the expensive left luggage facility at King's Cross rail station (£8.50 – or $11 – per item, per day) by stashing your bags in the (free) locker room at the British Library, which is 2 minutes' walk down the road. What I hadn't accounted for, was that when my blog became popular, this post would begin drawing substantial amounts of traffic… Suddenly I was being inundated with hate mail and angry messages from students and other library users, who were complaining that thanks to my post, they could no longer find empty lockers there. Apparently I was “selfish” and “should feel guilty” for broadcasting my secret tip far and wide. The library also changed its locker policy, in response to the influx of “non-users” making use of the free facilities. Awkward. Not so awkward that I have been prepared to delete the post, though; if one thing is clear, it is that the tip provides lots of practical value for readers.” – Karyn Fleeting
Use gift cards for gifts for others. “We got married last October and got hundreds of dollars in bed, bath and beyond gift cards. We bought all our Christmas gifts there and used a coupon on every single item. We still haven't made it through the last gift card.” – Jen Smith
Live in a 16×24 cabin. “When I first moved out on my own, the only rental I could afford was a 16'x24′ cabin with no running water in Alaska, for $400/month. The trips to the outhouse at -40 were very brief, to say the least! I also had no money for furniture, so I got it all by raiding the local “transfer sites”- drop off locations for trash and unused items. The transfer site by the rich part of town had the best castaway furniture. I haven't written a blog post about this, but I should!” – Lindsay VanSomeren
Ask for refunds. “When I was single, I decided to try online dating and found a woman on Match who I wanted to get in touch with. But of course you had to pay to communicate, so I purchased a minimal 3-month membership. The woman and I hit it off right away and so I called Match to cancel and asked them to refund the rest of my money (which they did) as I'd no longer be using their service. I've been married to that woman for 10 years now.” – Gary Weiner
Grocery money saving tips
Groceries can be expensive, but they don't have to be. With these money saving tips, you'll be able to cut your grocery bill in no time!
Fill your name brand cereal box with off brand. “When my husband and I were first married we needed to buy diapers for our kid… So I stopped buying pre made things like laundry soap and chicken broth and started making my own of everything. I even went as far as splitting the meat I bought into much smaller portions. My husband also hates off brand cereal so I would keep the name brand box and fill it with the off brand kind. He never knew the difference. Our grocery bill went from $100 per week to $50 per week. We were actually able to put money in savings and not just live check to check.” –Heather Farris
Related tip: I recently joined $5 Meal Plan in order to help me eat at home more and cut my food spending. It’s only $5 a month (the first two weeks are free too) and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. The meals are easy to make and are affordable.
Find free food. “If I was having a bad money week in college, I'd attend a few events on campus that had any sort of food…some groups I was a member of, some I wasn't. I could go about 4 days in a row without spending any money on food. I only did this a few times but I was always weirdly proud of it.” –Crystal Stemberger
Dumpster dive for free food. Dumpster diving is when you go to various dumpsters (homes and stores), and dig around until you find a treasure. I was first introduced to dumpster diving for food on Extreme Cheapskates, but I actually know a few people who do this and find great deals.
Bring a toaster on vacations. “I come from a very frugal family. On one family vacation, to save money on meals, my mom packed our toaster in her suitcase so that we could heat up waffles and other things in our hotel room instead of going out. We would wait for the toaster to cool off so she could hide in back in her suitcase before we left for our daily adventures because I don't think you were supposed to have something like that in your room.” –Christine White
Eat roadkill. This is another money saving tip from Extreme Cheapskates. I know that all food comes from somewhere, but driving around trying to find a dead animal just seems a little too extreme for me. One family actually used almost every part of the dead animal they found. They ate the animal, and I believe the mom made keychains for their guests as well.
Eat peanut butter and jelly's for 5 days straight. “A friend and I once traveled to Florida (10 hr drive) to spend a week with another mutual friend. We did it on less than $80 each for the whole week by borrowing his mom's car (great gas mpg), sleeping at a campground, and eating bananas, bread, and peanut butter 3 meals a day for 5 days. No exaggeration, peanut butter sandwiches for 5 straight days.” –Nick True
Take leftover catering home. “When we were saving for travel I would offer to clean the conference room at my office after board meetings so I could take the leftover catering home. My husband and I often ate canapes and mini burgers or whatever was on offer that day for dinner!” –Emma Healey
Think about even the smallest purchases. “Back when I was a starving college student – cream cheese for your bagel was 10 cents extra but butter was free. Every time I bought a bagel it would be a huge decision for me whether to splurge for cream cheese or go with the butter. Thankfully these days I can choose whatever I want guilt free. Calories are another story, though.” – Neena Nandagopal
Stop using paper towels. “We stopped using paper towels completely. While this seemed like an easy way to save $400 it was a constant embarrassment to friends and family who visited and asked “where do you keep your paper towels?” Then they started visiting (even for dinner!) and bringing their own paper towels. All these years later and we're out of debt and have tons of paper towels and people STILL bring us paper towels.” – Rosemarie Groner
Start fasting. “Incorporated fasting and combined macro-rich/dense foods into 1-2 meals to save money at the store.” – Leighann Scott
Water down boxed juices. “I have watered down the boxed juices to make them last longer while my family slept and swapped out the branded cereal for the no brand cereal…I just dropped it into the old box so they wouldn't know. I am NOT ashamed.” – Sandy Smith
Super glue is your friend. “This past summer, the sole of my sandals was falling off, so I super glued it back on. They lasted until August when sandals went on sale.” – Amanda Kruse
Resort jobs have their perks. “My husband and I used to be resort cleaners, at a time when neither of us could find other jobs. We would take our oldest son with us (he was probably about 4 or 5?) to avoid paying daycare. If there was any food left in the resort room fridges, we would take it home. If the last guests hadn't used their supplied toiletries, we would take them home. Once, we even scored an expensive, unopened bottle of wine!” – Bindi Horvath
Buy lots of Mentos for a discount! “We bought 14 packages of Mentos orange mints because gas points–an extra 40 cents off per gallon!” – Claudia Pennington
Spend money on parking to get free food. “Many years ago in the UK we used to buy an hours parking for 70p (we don't even have a car!) to get a voucher for buy one get one free on McDonalds. We've saved a fortune over time!” – Ricky Willis
Save money by making money
The money saving tips below will blow your mind, especially the first one…
Sell used toilets. “When we built our house (like… we built it, not hired it out) I saved money every possible way, because we didn't actually HAVE much money (we had to work for a week, get our paychecks, then go buy nails and stuff)… So I bought used toilets. That had been taken out of other people's houses. I bleached them all up, cost us a fraction of what new toilets cost. And you can't tell they're second hand. Just in case anyone is wondering … if used toilets is too gross, when I was backpacking and had to go to work in these horrible red dirt fields for a month and didn't want to wreck my only shoes – I just got some other shoes – from a garbage can. It seemed like no one was using them.” –Carly Campbell
Take as many online surveys as you can. There are tons of survey companies that you can sign up for and make a little bit of side cash. If you sign up for them all, you may be able to earn anywhere from $25-$100+ a month by taking surveys online. Survey companies I recommend include Swagbucks, Pinecone Research, Survey Junkie, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
Sell as much as you can from your home in a garage sale! “In college I went to the pawn shop more than a few times. Those were not proud moments! We are super tight on money right now. These aren't crazy things, but we've started making our own food like butter and jelly. I started a garden in the backyard so we don't have to buy any veggies. So far everything is going well, but I've yet to see a veggie. We might just have to eat the veggie leaves – ha! This weekend I am having a garage sale, and I've put just about everything in the house up for sale, but the kids, on eBay! I have to admit, I am NOT turning off the air conditioner down here in Florida. The combination of humidity and my premenopausal moments ain't pretty. No one else wants me to turn it off for those reasons, either. Ha ha!” – Julie Powell Pollitt
Rent out your home and sleep on people's couches instead. “When times were tight, as they often were, I afforded my NYC rent by airbnb-ing or subletting my apartment and crashing with friends instead.” –Stefanie O'Connell
Get paid to stay up for 48 hours straight. “Lots of crazy things over the years! Most of these I remember from when I was laid off and totally broke. Some thing's that come to mind: I used to go to yard sales and buy things and resell on eBay, that was a lot of fun and I made good money doing that! I had some friends that would do it too and we had a code: “would Angie (or some name) like it?”. That was us asking if the others thought it would sell on eBay or not 😂😂 I used to do focus groups and I did one that paid $1,000 to say in a hotel for a week and I had to stay up 48 hours straight for something they were testing, it was brutal! I used to do extreme couponing and became friends w the paper guy in my neighborhood and he would bring me 10 extra papers each week so I had tons of coupons. At one point I had a whole closet filled with things I got free or next to free.” – Jenny Kerr
What other money saving tips do you have to share? What embarrassing things have you done to save money?
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