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Looking for extreme frugal tips from a cheapskate? Keep reading! I can teach you how to save money and grow rich!


Learn Extreme Frugality from a Professional Cheapskate

My dad is one of the most frugal people on the planet. He taught me all of these extreme frugal tips. I was one of seven kids, and growing up we all washed our hair with dish soap to save a few pennies a week, handed down everything, including underwear, from child to child, until it was nothing but holes and regularly drowned our dinner in catsup to be able to choke it down.

The reason we had to drown our dinner in catsup was that my dad made ‘refrigerator stew’ at least once a week. I’ll tell you what refrigerator stew is in a just a minute because first I have to explain how my dad grocery-shopped.

Extreme Frugal Tips for Grocery Shopping

His favorite place to shop was an immense warehouse that sold scratch-and-dent and expired items. When a semi-truck carrying grocery items crashed, the damaged goods would all be sold cheaply at this warehouse. Or when food expired and could not legally be sold elsewhere, it would be taken to the warehouse. And if you were willing to purchase goods in bulk, you could get them even cheaper. Bulk seems reasonable for an extremely frugal person with seven kids, right?

EXTREME FRUGAL TIPSSo my dad would come home with gigantic 6+ pound cans (intended for restaurant service) of chili, olives, or whatever was cheap, depending on which trucks crashed that week.

But it was rarely cheap to buy balanced, nutritious, normal-type groceries, like milk, eggs, bread, cheese, ground beef and pasta. The groceries my dad brought home were more like 15, 6-lb cans of pickles and a 6-gallon bucket of frosting one week and 50 cartons (the big, family-sized kind) of plain yogurt the next

By the way, we didn’t like plain yogurt. What kid does? But the entire fridge was full of plain yogurt that week and nothing but plain yogurt, and we’d get hungry. So we would add jello mix to it, to flavor and sweeten it. My dad always bought jello mix in huge, 3-lb mylar bags, so it was no problem — we always had plenty of jello powder. We even forgot how weird we were until we’d have a friend over, offer them a snack, scoop a cup of plain yogurt into a bowl and then pour jello powder over it. I will never forget their reactions! My friends quickly learned to eat before coming over to my house, or bring their own snacks.

Extreme Frugal Tips for Cooking

Okay, back to refrigerator stew — I’m sure you’re waiting for that recipe with baited breath since you’re here, looking for extreme frugal tips. You dump every leftover, including last week’s leftover birthday cake, this morning’s leftover oatmeal, the can of garbanzo beans that nobody ate because they tasted slightly ‘off’, the wilted lettuce scraped from the bottom of the veggie bin and the 1/2 can of leftover pickles, which is approximately 3 pounds of pickles, into your largest saucepan. Add a dozen eggs and stir over medium heat until it’s cooked and mostly congealed and kind of gloppy.

Plop that enormous pan on the table and yell, “Soooo-eeeey”, to call your kids to the table. That’s how farmers call pigs to their meal of slop (did you know?) and is very apropos if you ask me. My dad thought it was the funniest thing ever to call us like pigs. Now that I think about it, it was funny. Serve that slop with the largest bottle of catsup you can find and tell your kids to take it or leave it. Oh, and make sure they’re good and hungry before you do it. They might need to skip a few meals to get hungry enough.

Some weeks the refrigerator stew was mostly edible, and some weeks it smelled, looked and tasted like garbage. I mean, technically it was garbage that most people would have scraped down their sink disposal — except the Ethiopians, who would have been grateful for it. We were lectured about the Ethiopians regularly.

Extreme Frugal Tips for Beauty and Style

EXTREME FRUGAL TIPS of cheapskatesAs we got older, we kids weren’t exactly on board with all of this extreme frugality. It felt totally unfair and WRONG that we had to endure frizzy, coarse, hair, reminiscent of a rat’s nest all to save a few pennies on actual shampoo. Dish soap is not even soap, it is detergent, full of harsh chemicals.

My three sisters and I had the worst hair ever. It wasn’t curly, and it wasn’t straight. It felt like straw, but even straw will straighten out and lay down. Our hair wouldn’t. It kind of looked like a horse tail, but messier and completely uncombable.

Seriously, I had a huge complex about my insanely frizzy hair. Nobody I knew had hair quite like mine. Middle school was the pits — all because of my hideous hair. My sisters concur.

An ‘extreme cheapskate’ is a person who will do almost anything to save money. They could be considered fanatical when it comes to saving money. They will come up with ways that you have never thought of in your wildest dreams to avoid spending a few pennies.

You may not want to invite them to the neighborhood barbecue. They might do what my dad did. He had a ton of rhubarb from the garden that he didn’t want to waste, so he boiled it into a thick paste, added some water and sugar, and pureed it. He tried to pass it off as a beverage, but it was the consistency of sticky jam and looked like diarrhea. It wasn’t a big hit, so at the end of the night he brought it all back home… and served it up with that weeks refrigerator stew.

You might also want to avoid long conversations with them unless your life, too, revolves around frugality, extreme frugal tips, and saving money.

On the bright side, ‘extreme cheapskates’ also usually have amazing talents and skills. Because they are so averse to spending money, they are remarkable DIYers and can create anything from nothing. There is absolutely nothing around the house, or under the hood of a car (or any other machine), that my dad can’t fix. And he doesn’t jimmy-rig things with duct tape, either, because he is all about maintaining value. He could impress Tom Silva, The Property Brothers and Chip and Joanna Gaines with his mad DIY skills.

I’m sure we can all agree that my dad qualifies as an extreme cheapskate, and I’ve got a list for you of all of his top money-saving hacks. You might decide that several (or most) of them are too extreme for you, but even if you just adopt a couple of his extreme frugal tips you could potentially save a lot of money.

Keep that in mind as you read these extreme frugal tips and money-saving hacks from one of the world’s biggest cheapskates.


Extreme Frugal Tips:

  • Use powdered milk. You’ll save lots of money because your kids will refuse to drink it, so milk consumption at your house will decrease dramatically.
  • Sometimes clothing stores will donate returns or items with small flaws to thrift stores. If you see them sorting through merchandise and setting damaged items aside, ASK for them. They often don’t mind giving away (for FREE!) merchandise that they were just planning to donate. Relinquishing your pride is one of my best extreme frugal tips.
  • Kids are cheaper by the dozen. Save yourself money by having a whole slew of ’em. You only have to purchase clothing for the first, and you can hand them down to all the rest. Be sure to buy gender-neutral clothing!
  • You can also hand down backpacks, shoes, coats, toys, musical instruments and every other thing. So, essentially, an entire passel of kids barely costs more than one, but you can get a whole lot more work out of them.
  • Shoes can be made to last longer with a little duct tape and cardboard. If the sole wears out, trace the shoe onto a thick piece of cardboard, cut it out and insert it into the shoe. Tada! You can wear that pair at least another month like that, and then just make yourself a new cardboard insert. If the top of the shoe wears out, the duct tape will make it last longer. You can even purchase duct tape in fun colors and patterns.
  • Dumpsters have all kinds of great stuff that is FREE.
  • You’ll find the best dumpsters in neighborhoods that are undergoing new-construction. You’ll find so many doors and molding remnants that you can help all your kids renovate for free, as long as they don’t mind the eclectic look. Frugal people can’t afford to be picky!
  • Grocery stores will often mark down day-old bakery goods. The early risers always get the best selection!
  • Save your old electronics after they break or become obsolete. Save big boxes of random electric parts, wires, switches and whatnot so you can ‘macgyver’ anything, should the need ever arise. Learning how electronics work, so you can repair them and salvage parts and things is another of my best extreme frugal tips.
  • I already gave you the recipe for refrigerator stew, which will ensure that your leftovers never go to waste. But if you object to feeding your kids ‘slop’, you can also repurpose leftovers into actual edible goods. Here is a great extreme frugality tip! For example, stale cookies that nobody wants from the cookie jar make great pie crusts. I just pulse them, like I would graham crackers, into a fine crumb, then mix with butter and sugar and press into the bottom of a pie plate. I repurpose extra Sunday roast into a delicious stew, leftover rice from dinner into rice pudding for breakfast, and make stock out of leftover bones. There is really no need to eat slop when you can create delicious meals from leftovers, and the same aim is accomplished — that of not wasting food and keeping food costs low.
  • You can grow new and valuable fruit trees from the pits of peaches and the seeds of apples. Free fruit, baby!
  • Shop strategically for groceries. Learn more about that in the post linked below.
  • Read: 7 Secrets for Cutting Your Grocery Budget in Half.
  • Don’t buy your kids toys. They’re happier with boxes anyway. You can get boxes free from the dumpster at Walmart. The biggest ones are the best.
  • Speaking of boxes, they make fantastic weed barrier. The weed barrier you buy at Home Depot is EX.PENS.IVE! You know what is even better weed barrier? Old carpet. Instead of sending carpet to the landfill when you replace it, throw it out in the yard. Plop a couch on it and you have yourself an outdoor room. Totally kidding! Sort of. My dad actually did use carpet as weed barrier in our garden. He flipped it fiber-side-down and used it to make pathways. It worked brilliantly and I do the same, except I cover it with bark mulch to make it attractive. The entire playground area in our backyard is lined with carpet, beneath the rubber mulch. I am never going to have to weed back there, woohoo!
  • Huge, ancient, broken appliances make great ‘playhouses’ for your kids. We had one made of a gigantic old chest freezer in our backyard. My dad just cut a door and windows into it and we were set.
  • Wash out, save and reuse the plastic bags your bread and other items from the grocery store came in. Other packaging, like yogurt containers, can also be saved and reused, eliminating the need to waste good money on storage containers. Sure, it might be hard to find what you’re looking for in a fridge full of old yogurt containers, but if my dad can do it, so can you.
  • install timers on all of your light switches so that your darn kids can’t leave the lights on anymore. Instead, your kids will have to get up to turn the lights back on every two minutes until they get so frustrated they just quit using the offending rooms altogether and you save a couple of bucks in electricity because the rooms are no longer used.
  • Shut all the furnace vents and turn the heat down so low that it just barely keeps the pipes from freezing. Make your family dress like Eskimos to endure the cold. It’s good for their character and teaches them all these same extreme frugal tips you’ve worked so hard to learn!
  • Install low-flow shower heads and bang on the wall if your kids’ showers take longer than two minutes. In their defense, however, it takes awhile to get all the shampoo (or dish soap) out of your hair when the shower head only drips.
  • Gather your family into the bathroom (all dozen kids) and teach them how to wipe with only two squares of single-ply toilet paper. Hands are washable, right? However, since you can’t live in the bathroom to monitor each individual child’s toilet paper usage, this one will become a constant battle. It’s all in the name of extreme frugality.
  • Collect all the leftover shards and nibs of soap in a jar and save them until you have enough to melt them down into new bars.
  • Save and reuse all of your old cooking oil. When the oil gets very gross, just make it into candles, using old shoelaces (they must be cotton) as wicks.
  • Pack snacks in your handbag, so you never have to stop for fast food.
  • My dad laughs at people who purchase bottled water — he thinks it’s one of the biggest scams of the century.
  • Cut your own hair and cut your children’s hair. There is no need to pay people to do things you can do yourself!
  • Line-dry your clothing (it will also last longer — just turn dark colors inside out so they aren’t faded by the sun)
  • You get the best deals by purchasing really old vehicles that nobody else could possibly want. (You’ll also pay tons less in insurance.) But be sure to teach your driving-age kids all of your insanely awesome tricks for starting them, like spraying starter fluid into the air intake, so they don’t get stranded places. Bonus points if the vehicle is just so preposterous that you get to laugh about it as a family for the rest of your lives!
  • Drive as close to 65 mph as you possibly can, because that is the exact speed at which you attain maximum fuel efficiency. Try not to get caught in residential areas, because a speeding ticket will negate your savings, and be sure to stay in the slooooow lane on the freeway, where you can laugh at all the foolish, gas-wasting suckers speeding past you at 80-90 mph.
  • Never use your air conditioning, because — what a waste of money!? Extreme cheapskates have no problem sacrificing creature comforts for the greater good.


You’ll notice that the extreme frugal tips of cheapskates are a bit more drastic than frugal habits of wealthy people, which we discussed in Live Like a Billionaire: Frugal Habits of the Wealthy, but they do overlap and the mindsets of both groups are similar. We can learn lots from both groups.



frugal habits get rich save money


Extreme Cheapskates are Wonderful People

You know my favorite thing about extreme cheapskates? They don’t compare themselves to everyone around them. They could not possibly care less about what the Joneses are doing, and actually feel sorry for the Joneses when they buy a new car, because they wasted so much money getting rid of the perfectly-good older car and lost value just driving the new one off the lot.

They are happy with their lives and feel totally confident being themselves. They aren’t trying to keep up with anyone. This allows them to be truly happy and content and always in control of their finances.

They know that the financial decisions they make today will have an impact on tomorrow, next week and even years. If they need money tomorrow then they save up for it today. They are using their money now to make sure that they have a financially secure and pleasant future.

They don’t buy things that don’t fit into their long-term plan. Thinking about the big picture helps curb the desire for impulse purchases. It really helps to keep everything in perspective when you ask yourself whether you want or need the item and how you’ll feel about this purchase next week.

Oh, and by the way. I wasn’t even remotely kidding about the strange groceries my dad brought home. We regularly had 6-gallon buckets of frosting that tasted like shortening. When we began refusing to eat a certain type of shortening, ahem, uh, I mean frosting, my dad would just stir in some food coloring to disguise it. Or he’d add cocoa powder and turn it into ‘fudge frosting’.

A million yums! He even used it in place of shortening at times, since, after all, that’s mostly what it was. That frosting could be substituted for both the shortening and the sugar in most recipes. Double the bang for your buck, ha, ha!

My dad is really a fun, talented and amazing person. I hope you are lucky enough to have an extreme cheapskate in your life, and I hope that you’ll at least try a few of the extreme frugal tips from the list. They aren’t all weird!

Some of these extreme frugal tips are downright awesome!

Do you have any frugal living tips to share? Please leave a comment below!


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  1. Frances mcconville says:

    absolutely hilarious.. how I’d love to meet your father! he sounds such an amazing character. how lucky you are to have a dad with such passion. gonna try that stew 🤪

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Thank you, Frances! I’m so glad that was your take away, because he is an amazing character! He’s super quiet so he doesn’t draw attention, but he’s incredibly talented and generous to a fault, and he’s always got your back. I hoped that it would be obvious that I wasn’t making fun of him — I admire his frugality greatly! Be sure to have plenty of catsup on hand when you make the refrigerator stew!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      My pleasure, Steve! Thanks for reading!

  2. Denise Ann says:

    You are absolutely hilarious! I cannot stop laughing!! What a GREAT article on frugality. The very best, and i’ve read quite all of them. Thanks from the bottom of my cheap heart. xoxoxoxox

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      What a great compliment, Denise Ann! Thank you! I don’t usually get accused of being funny, haha (more like weird!), so it feels good! I must admit, though, that the subject of frugality lends itself well to hilarity.

    2. Fantastic article, Loved your humor. Laughed out loud. 🙂

      1. Amy Saunders says:

        You are sweet, Michelle! Thank you! Extreme frugality and cheapness lends itself well to hilarity. 🙂

  3. Love these ideas! The world needs them now more than ever. Think it could be a tough couple of years.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I think you’re right — frugality is going to become more necessary. Thank you, Charlotte!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I totally agree, and I use the awesome frugal tips my dad taught me every day! Though there are a few I will never use, ha, ha!

  4. This is hilarious! Your dad was ahead of the game on how to live a more green life by reusing everything. I think the dish soap is my favorite. Your poor hair!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Yes, he was! I’ve learned a lot from him. Most notably to always buy my children gentle shampoo, lol!

  5. Oh my gosh! This gave me a good laugh but also a few new ideas of ways to stretch the budget a bit further.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Yeah, you just have to weed out the frugal tips that you CAN’T live with and embrace the ones you CAN. It’s a matter of doing all that we can to stretch our budgets, because every little thing helps.

  6. Some of your frugal tips were funny but actually we have done some of them. We are very frugal people

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I might joke about some of my Dad’s eccentricities, but he sure did set a great financial example! I’ve embraced the frugality he taught us, and it’s gotten us through some pretty tight times. (Along with many blessings from Heavenly Father, of course!)

  7. Oh my, I had a good laugh reading this! We had a few ‘special’ cars growing up that we all still laugh about now. We once had a car with only 1 working door on the driver’s side. So my mom + 4 kids would all have to pile in and out from that one door! We were quite a sight all climbing over the seats!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Lol! I love that the things we remember best and laugh over most are the less-than-ideal! How often do you and your siblings laugh about the perfect vacation or the perfect dinner? It’s always the mishaps. It makes me feel sorry for people who had perfect childhoods, ha, ha!

  8. I like to think of myself as frugal, but your dad certainly puts me to shame! Some of his ideas are good ones, but I think I would have to draw the line at the dish soap shampoo. And maybe the two squares of TP!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Lol! Yes, you do have to draw the line somewhere. I’m not willing to ‘teach’ my kids how to use TP over and over, or police its use. You’ve gotta pick the battles you have the best chance of winning. Luckily, there are so many ways to be frugal, we can all choose the ones we are most comfortable with and live happily ever after.

  9. There were 8 of us kids 4 boys and 4 girls. We all wore hand me downs. We all played together and there were no outside babysitters. We grew a huge garden and raised animals we ate later on. Life was good and I don’t begrudge any of the money saving things my parents did. Certainly is interesting looking back isn’t it.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      But did you have to wash your hair with detergent? Just kidding! I honestly don’t begrudge my parents any of their frugality, either. My siblings and I laugh about lots of things and tease my dad about all of his funny habits, but we ultimately love him for them. And we all greatly appreciate the frugal mindset and great financial habits that he instilled in us.

      1. We didn’t use dish soap, too fancy! My dad took bar soap, cut it up into tiny pieces, put it it a bottle with water, shook it around and voila! Shampoo for a family with five kids.

        1. Amy Saunders says:

          I’m impressed! Did it work?

  10. I thought I was a cheapskate but nothing compared to your dad. Lol. So funny! You have a lot of great ideas. I try and make my money stretch as far as possible.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I stretch my money as far as possible, too! I think cheapskates are awesome, and I try to be one — just not at the expense of my health or emotional well-being, ha, ha!

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