A few months ago I saw a commercial for a new TLC reality show called “Extreme Cheapskates”. I was eager to see the show as the highlights from the commercial had me very intrigued. I’m all for saving so automatically I looked online to find the episodes. The show follows the lives of proud and happy cheapskates who show viewers how they save money every year by taking thriftiness to another level. Truthfully some of the people they documented did some very strange things, things that most of us (cheap or not) would not practice but others weren’t that extreme at all and had good points as to why their way of life works.
For example, Jeff and his wife would practice what they call a 'fiscal fast' that restricts them from spending a single cent the entire week; instead they are to use all that is in their fridge and cupboards. Not a bad idea right? They also do not own any electronics (ipods, televisions, cell phones) and limit their electronic devices to their basic kitchen appliances (fridge and stove). Jeff also only uses a bicycle as his means of transportation and has saved over $50,000 because of his frugal and environmentally friendly choice!
And though Jeff and his wife are not the most extreme of the bunch, others like Kay, a New Yorker who refuses to buy toilet paper (she uses only water and soap) definitely took it to another level. Kay prides herself on living within a stringent budget and says she doesn’t waste money on toilet paper as there’s no point since it’s just “something that you’re just going to throw away”. She usually does her laundry while she showers to save water, time and money and has saved $6 a month from doing so. She’s also into ‘dumpster diving’, a term used frequently on the show, which means picking through the dumpsters outside of grocery stores, restaurants and retail stores in hopes of finding goodies. You see, most of these places throw out expired or damaged products that may not be suitable to sell but are still (according to Kay) decent enough for a cheapskate to use.
While Kay’s budget hasn’t saved her millions yet, Victoria’s story is one of those that has me wondering what cheap tactics I could use in the new year. Meet Victoria, another cheapskate who says she keeps everything unplugged unless she’s using it. She keeps her freezer on a timer mechanism that keeps it on for 12 hours and then off for another 12. She says she’s been saving 50% on her electric bill and that her frozen meats have yet to go bad or even thaw. She reads her meter every morning and documents the numbers in her budget that she’s been following since 1989. She’s also budgeted her life out to the T until the age of 116. Oh did I mention she’s a millionaire? Yup. All those dollars she’s saved over the years have definitely added up. And according to her boyfriend she’s the only millionaire that dumpster dives. But Victoria does make it clear that her cheapskate ways aren’t just to save money; it’s also about being environmentally conscious.
At the end of each episode I realized more and more how much I've been wasting. I may not be boycotting toilet paper yet or dumpster diving but I will be a lot more conscious about how much I waste. I might even try the fiscal fast and see how much I can use and save at the same time.
What are some extreme money saving tactics that you or someone you know has tried?