Extreme Ways To Save Money Without Cramping Your Style

Extreme ways to save money might sound difficult, but it has more to do with thinking outside the box than relying on special skills like, for example, hunting for your own food.

As you go through the list, you might begin to see a pattern. Strip away the facade of everyday products and services to get to what's important. None of these tips are difficult, which means anyone can do them. See how many you can incorporate into your life.

• Take shorter showers. I love long showers, especially if muscles are sore, but you can take a short shower then quickly get into warm, comfy clothes (straight out of the dryer) for the same effect. It's the warmth that's soothing.

• Use less shampoo and toothpaste. Have you ever read the instructions or watched the commercials about how much product to use? It's ridiculous and unnecessary. A quarter to half of the product is all you need in most cases.

• Cut your own hair. I haven't been to a hair stylist in years. I trim my hair--or ask Greg to do it. As long as it's not in my eyes, I'm not that fussy.

• Shave your head. Greg does this. He doesn't feel he has enough hair to warrant a visit to the barber, so he shaves his head quarterly. I don't like it, but he does and that's all that matters.

• Use less electricity. In the days before electricity, most people worked according to the amount of daylight. While we might not live like pre-industrial folk, we can reduce our energy intake substantially by thinking like them.

• Negotiate. I love the story Greg told me about his father the day he bought him a top of the line 5-speed bike. He walked into a retail store and asked the clerk how much he wanted for this $89 bike. God love my father in law, because he haggled with him until they reached a price he wanted. While I probably wouldn't haggle for a bike, big ticket items are most assuredly negotiable. Do your research and then you can negotiate from a position of strength.

• Look for free samples. A few sites to try are: Freebie.org, Freeflys, FreebieShark, FreebieMom

• Have a No-Spend Month or Week. There are people who will not spend ANY money during a spending moratorium which takes an enormous amount of planning. I limit my spending to essentials only.

• Walk or bike ride to your destinations. It's a little hard for us since we live miles from any store or restaurant, but if you live in the city, it's definitely doable. Limit your shopping to your immediate neighborhood.

• Carpool. This is handy if you have a coworker (you like) that lives nearby.

• Combine your errands. If you run all your errands on one day you'll save fuel, time, and resist the urge to buy more than you need.

• Eat at home. This one's a no-brainer. Eating at home is always cheaper than eating out.

• Entertain at home. Instead of going out with friends for expensive drinks and dinner, invite them to your home. Ask each person to bring a bottle or appetizer while you provide the ambiance and a clean bathroom. :)

• Free eats. Sign up for restaurants' mailing lists to get included for free birthday meals and other specials. If you must eat out, you might as well get something free out of it.

• Save your take-out extras. While I don't normally use ketchup and mustard packages, we do use soy sauce and the extra napkins that come in our take-out bags.

• Reuse your empties. Take-out boxes/bowls, and empty jars can have an extended life. I never toss them out without using them at least one more time for leftovers, freezer containers, or craft projects. Receptacles with good seals and sturdy walls (like glass jars) can be used almost indefinitely.

• Free groceries. Many big chain grocery stores have store loyalty cards that offer digital coupons, including free items every week.

• Dry your clothes on the line. Dryers are one of the biggest energy wasters. If you can line dry at least some of your clothes, you're ahead of the curve.

• Collect rainwater. Greg just shakes his head at me for this, but even though I don't have a rain barrel, I put out buckets and wheelbarrows out when I know there's a big rain coming. I use this water for my plants.

• Haunt the alleys before trash pickup. They say one man's trash is another man's treasure and there are no truer words. Driving past homes after their garage sales can also reap benefits.

• Look for spare change. It's everywhere. Seriously. I've found loads of change on the sidewalk, especially in parking lots where people probably lose them while they're digging for their keys.

• Barter. I love the concept of barter, but I think this is one of those that's harder than it looks. You just have to keep looking for someone who has something you want, who also happens to want something you have in return.

Don't forget about Craigslist and Freecycle. They're a gold mine for people on a budget.

Have you ever bartered for something? Do you use as much shampoo and toothpaste as they show on the commercials?

Do you pick up loose change in the parking lot? Have you ever cut your own hair?


jacabur1 said…
Maria I do prefer eating at home, depending on what is fixed it may be cheaper to buy the meal however as otherwise the multiple ingredients left over from it probably will spoil. Like for example if we make tacos and only use a small portion of a head of lettuce can guarantee the rest will turn bad on me before it gets eaten.

Do cut my own hair. Basically just trim the length shorter so it does not bother me so much when trying to sleep as have a tendency to get it "trapped" when it is too long and roll over on it.

It has been almost 7 years since had a clothesline, really miss the fresh sunshine smell sometimes but love my dryer for it's ease of use inside the house since could not hang clothes anymore anyway.

Use tiny amount of toothpaste, too much shampoo still and shower time is within 15 minutes or less whereas it used to be 30 or more at one time.

Electric lights are only used sparsely at night, unless it is so gloomy outside like it has been for the past weeks with no constant sunshine, rarely light up rooms in daytime as can see just fine without them.

As for the rest it is hit or miss on some things, mostly miss on the rest.
Maria Zannini said…
Jackie: You have excellent money saving habits, Jackie. You're a good role model.

I was afraid people might think me weird for cutting my own hair. It's not that I wouldn't love a professional to do it, but I have terrible hair, so what's the point.

re: lettuce
LOL. Lettuce is the one thing that never goes bad at my house. I'm half rabbit. :)
My husband loves saving money - he's big on coupons and collecting spare change.

As a kid, my mother and grandmothers would hang the wet clothes out on the line - and this was in the city! Everyone did it at that time and place. Now? I can't remember the last time I saw laundry on a line, anywhere.
marlenedotterer said…
I miss clotheslines. I do hang shirts and blouses inside, as well as anything that's prone to static electricity.
Collecting water: go you, Maria! ALWAYS do this. Seriously, the day is coming when fresh water will be scarce. Learn now to treat it like a precious resource. That includes shorter showers. In fact, we shower every other day unless we've gotten especially dirty or sweaty.
I do not cut my own hair or anyone else's. That would be a disaster.
Regarding the leftover lettuce: compost! You'll be making good, fresh soil. The earth can use it even if you don't garden.
LD Masterson said…
I'm guilty of long showers, but that's where I do my best writing/planning/problem solving. If I can't work out a plot issue, I go take a shower. But I do use less of most products than the manufacturer suggests, I'm big on coupons and freebies, and when we go out to eat, I almost always bring half home for a later meal.
Maria Zannini said…
Madeline: I grew up in Chicago during the 50s and 60s. We had clothes lines strung from the back porches of one apartment building to another. The greatest feat I ever saw during my young life was watching men climb outside the porch on a fourth floor walk-up and string a new line.

I thought it was terribly brave. One false move and it would've been 40 feet down on concrete.

My mother would string our clothes out regularly. I remember when all she had was a washboard and the tub. Later we had one of those wringer washers, but we always had to hang our clothes outside on the line. I don't think she had a dryer until the late 70s.
Maria Zannini said…
Marlene: One of the things I love best are clothes straight off the line after a sunshiny day. They smell so good!

re: precious resource
That's how I feel about it too. We get a fair amount of rain--not as much as east Texas, but still enough to sustain us, but it's nothing I take for granted. I probably sound like an old person, but I watch the weather forecast religiously especially during growing season. I don't want to waste any water I could use elsewhere.
Maria Zannini said…
Linda: I love long showers, but I usually feel guilty before I go too far. :D

re: bring home leftovers
We're really spoiled in this country. The serving sizes are huge here compared to other countries. I almost always have leftovers unless all I eat is the appetizer.

Hope your broken foot is feeling better!
Stacy McKitrick said…
Hubby and I eat out a lot (as you know), but we tend to share the meal. Keeps us from overeating, plus it's cheaper that way. Certainly enough food on the plate to share, that's for sure!

I tend to keep my head down when I walk. Mainly to keep from tripping over things, but I find money that way too (and yes, I pick it up). Found $10 once!

As for toothpaste -- I never put on what they show you on the commercials. I'd gag with that much toothpaste in my mouth! I put on enough to freshen my breath, which really isn't all that much.
mariazannini said…
Stacy: I wish I could get Greg to share meals with me. We never like the same thing.

re: head down
LOL! That's me. I'm a clumsier than a drunk on Saturday night. If I don't watch where I'm going, I will definitely trip on something. But being clumsy has its occasional rewards. :)
Mike Keyton said…
We indulge in thermostat wars
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: Strangely enough we never argue about the thermostat. Sometimes he turns it down too low during the summer, but it's only for a short time so the house cools off.
lynnviehl said…
I can't pass a coin on the ground without picking it up. I keep it in a jar and donate it to the no-kill animal shelter when I visit. My best year was about $23, mostly in pennies. :)

I do cut my own hair (my guy trims the back) because I know how I like it. I use about a quarter of the shampoo and toothpaste they show in ads. I've also started using handmade hard soap because it lasts longer, is way cheaper than the store stuff, and is gentler on my skin.

I did a lot of bartering when I was younger and poorer. I'd barter typing services for various things when the other person didn't have the funds to pay me. One grad student tuned up my car and rotated the tires in exchange for proofing and typing up his thesis. I've repaired quilts in exchange for fabric, thread or sewing notions. Got a great pair of razor-sharp pinking shears that way. One memorable swap was housesitting for a week for a lady in my neighborhood, who gave me her barely-used sewing machine in return. I couldn't have afforded to buy it back then, so I was really happy.
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: I'm glad I'm not the only one who buys hard soap. I think that liquid soap is a sham. I buy a little bottle of it for when guests come over, but for us, it's hard soap.

re: bartering
Oh, I wish you would write a post about how to barter! Apparently my father and father in law were good at it, but I'm just not sure hot to begin.

Good on you for doing so well.