7 Strange but True Tales of Extreme Frugality

Austerity - turning down temperature on domestic central heating thermostat
There was a lot of belt-tightening after the Great Recession hit. Five years later, some of those belts have stayed tight.

Whether it's avid couponing, keeping the thermostat turned down, or simply using every last leftover, thrifty folks go to all sorts of length to save money. And sometimes they cross a line into what could charitably be described as "extreme."

This week on Reddit's "Frugal" subreddit, a thrifty user posed a question to his fellow money-savers: "What is the most ridiculous, absurd thing you have done for the sake of being frugal?" His own story consisted of buying ten boxes of cheap raisin bran in bulk and spending hours picking out the raisins, eventually winding up with 9 pounds of raisins for less than he'd pay for raisins a la carte.

But some of those who responded had stories that went even further. Here are some of the most extreme examples.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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I turn off my heat/ a/c off during the day. My pipes are well insulated. My furnace is located in the crawl space (who was the idiot that did that?). No worries with frozen pipes. If the temp in the house is below 55, the heat kicks on and the pipes are fine. I have the cheapest bills in the neighborhood

October 25 2013 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I learned early about saving money. My parents and grandparents went through the depression and knew how to get your monies worth. At school we allways used both side of our loose leaf paper and the pencils went all the way down to the eraser. I know how to live from check but these days most people just pull out the plastic and charge away. Allways add a little water to any soapy items, there is enough to last several days or more. You only need about a pa sized amount of toothpaste to brush with. Same with shaveing foam. Store brands are all just as good as the name brands with only a few exception based on individual likes. Toilet paper is the most over used paper product there is, won\'t tell you how to wipe but it doesn\'t have to be a rolled up wade. If you have your car serviced at a dealer after the warranty is out, you are wasteing money. Try to find a reputable shop because it\'s much cheaper. Also auto parts, a dealership is just riping you off with their high prices, most parts can be purchased at your local auto parts store much cheaper and it\'s the same thing. Allways try to get a good repairman whether it\'s for plumbing, general repairs like electrical roofing. The big name company is useing the same materials as the small guys and they charge less. It is wise to find a honest, qualified company for all repairs. Check with friends or the local BBB to see if they are members or if complaints have been filed against them. Try to have knowledgeable friend to tell you what to watch for in a repair person, if they feel you know what\'s going on they are less likely to charge for things you don\'t need. Shop around for free estimates and compare prices and work history. If you are going on vacation for more than a few days, unplug all those electronic gadgets, if you have an entertainment system with numerous components, it will use plenty juice just sitting there while you\'re gone.

September 17 2013 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I buy whole milk, and fill it with water when its half gone to make it last longer, I buy the bulk store brand cornflakes, and make my own mix of sugar and cinnamon in a empty spice container, and use it to sprinkle it on the cereal.

September 16 2013 at 7:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I scrape dried-on toothpaste spit/wash from the bowl of my sink and make breath mints. M-m-m-mm!

September 15 2013 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I buy Quilted Northern that is triple ply. I tear off 4 squares & then tear separate them in to 3 sheets of 4 squares. I can make a roll of toilet paper last a month. When going downhill, I throw my car in to neutral & coast to save gas. I add water to body wash, dishsoap & shampoo. I use store bags for trash bags. I mop with off brand kotex stuck to my Swiffer. Only cleaner I need to clean toilets & mop with is bleach. Call me white trash but I have a savings for my retirement someday fit for a queen only having $8-10hr. jobs. My 2011 Camry is paid for!

September 15 2013 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I was in college, I always made sure I used the restrooms before leaving campus or work to save on my own water & t.p. Also, on those rare occasions where I ate fast food, I'd ask for extra ketchup even though I didn't like it on fries. I'd cut open the packets and squeeze them into my ketchup bottle to use later. I still do this with soy sauce today.

September 15 2013 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carol Landolfo

I base my meals mostly on the grocery flyers. Walmart, when their "Match It" first started, it would take me a couple of hours to make my list, also using coupons. I was able to save between $30-40. a week! Then, they changed/reorganized the rules. I still do it., but dont save as much. I drink a LOT of water! ( I have 2 big filter pitchers one for coffee and one for water. So any bottles from water, tea, soda, are washed and reused. This doesnt save money, but its easier for on the go. Fill some bottles half way with water, freeze them. and then when you want to take a water with you, just fill it......ice water in a bottle :)

September 15 2013 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew someone who would use one side of a Q tip, and put it back in the drawer to use the other side later. Same person turned his heat down to 55 degrees in the dead of winter while he was away for a week and his pipes froze. His contractor had told him to leave it at 65 degrees.

September 15 2013 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm a little stingy but nothing like my Dad was! He would make us turn the water off while we lathered up in the shower. Don't flush the toilet. His motto for that was "If it's brown, flush it down, if it's yellow let it mellow"! No standing in front of an open fridge, you better know what you want before you open it! Turning off the lights is a no-brainer too! I dry my clothes outside when I can to save electricity.

September 15 2013 at 9:30 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

When you go to a hotel room, the shampoo and soap is there for you to use because it is included in the price of the room. Taking what you don't use is not stealing because they will just toss it anyhow! You paid for it, so take it! That does not include towels, robes, etc.. just disposable things. When I stay at a hotel, I take the toiletries and the coffee etc.. I paid for it, why not?

September 15 2013 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply