I may enjoy living a frugal lifestyle and saving money where I can, but I don’t live like the people featured on the TLC show Extreme Cheapskates. Honestly, I’ve never even watched an episode of the show after hearing about it from friends and family. I just don’t think I could handle it.
But apparently, the show’s producers thought I might like to be on it. They emailed me after finding my blog and wanted to know if I’d be interested in auditioning. I didn’t even respond to the email because I’ve never thought of myself as a crazy person — and that’s the only thing I can think when I hear stories of the people on the show.
I do believe the show is misnamed. Sure, there are extreme ways to save… and then, like I said, there’s just downright crazy. Because Extreme Cheapskates is a reality show, they are all about showcasing the completely crazy, and downright insane.
But what about extreme ways to save that are definitely out there, but not totally nutty?
The whole incident did get me wondering what I would be willing to try, and I thought it would be fun to share some extreme ways to save to see what you would consider doing — or what, for you, crossed the line from “intense” to “insane.”
Let’s move down the line in order from tame to way on out there, and let me know what you would be willing to try!
Dropping a Big Cell Phone Carrier for a Non-Traditional Provider
Would you go from AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint and switch to a provider like Republic Wireless? You wouldn’t have to give up a smartphone addiction if you made this swap, but you would have to give up a known quantity (the big established carriers) for a relative industry newcomer (Republic).
And if you are iPhone obsessed, you’d be out of luck here: Republic only offers two phones, and while they’re great products, they’re Androids.
But we’re looking at serious monthly savings. Republic Wireless offers plans from $5 to $40 per month, you can change your plan up to twice a month, and there’s no contract. This is one switch I did make in an effort to save: I went from Sprint, an iPhone, and a $80 monthly plan to Republic Wireless, the Moto X, and a $25 monthly plan. And it has been totally worth about $50 per month back in my pocket in savings.
Becoming a Vegetarian
This doesn’t seem too extreme for me, but I know other people can’t dream of giving up the bacon — even if it means saving a little more of the financial bacon you’re bringing home.
The fact is meat is expensive. I’m a vegetarian myself, so I’ll spare you the lecture on how modern agribusiness is a nightmare on many levels including financial ones (you’re welcome!). But seriously, would you try giving up meat even for a few days a week, or saving it for special occasions if it meant saving on your grocery bill?
Bartering Instead of Buying
Do you have goods or services you could exchange with others? Can you participate in some sort of communal living arrangement, where you receive fresh food from a local grower in exchange for working a few hours on their farm every other weekend?
Bartering instead of outright buying the things you need could be a good way to save money, but it’s not always convenient or easy for people to do — which is why some would consider it extreme. After all, it takes time and effort to produce something worthy of exchanging, and sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to cut back in other areas in order to make room in the budget for something you want to purchase.
We haven’t tried this way to save yet but I’d be open to the idea if the opportunity arose. And I’d certainly be willing to barter within my business in order to save money. If a graphic designer wanted to give me a whole new website in exchange for some content marketing or copywriting, I’d jump on that.
Participating in the “Share” Economy
This refers to doing things like becoming a Lyft or Uber driver, renting out a room you’re not using on AirB&B, or any other type of activity where you can rent or rent out something that you either don’t need all that often or don’t use much yourself. You don’t even have to sign up with a formal service. Stuff like getting rid of your car and borrowing a friendly neighbor’s when you can’t bike, walk, or take public transportation also qualifies.
We could reasonably rent out two rooms in our home. We have our master bedroom and our office, but then we have a guestroom and a bonus room that are mostly sitting empty and unused. But I just don’t like the idea of living with other people, and I’m not financially motivated to rent out rooms. Earning extra money that way (or saving by putting the cash towards out mortgage) just isn’t worth having to
What can I say, I’m an introvert, and my space is my space! (I know, I know, I’m missing out on easy money.)
Other Extreme Ways to Save (Relatively Speaking)
You may or may not consider the above ways to save “extreme.” It’s all relative! Maybe some of these ideas for saving money seem more or less extreme to you:
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- Getting rid of your car completely.
- Moving to a smaller home.
- Buying everything used.
- Working to become less dependent on energy sources by using solar power or creating your own heat (with something like a wood-burning stove)…
- …or going totally off-the-grid and creating a self-sustainable lifestyle (although this seems like it would have a high upfront cost to get started, I’d image this extreme action would create a cheaper lifestyle in the long run).
- Cutting up your credit cards.
- Going coupon crazy.
What extreme ways to save would you try — or have you tried in the past?