50 Extreme Money Saving Tactics For The Brave, Bold And Maybe Just The Plain Stupid!

10 August 2016

Many of us were counselled in childhood to learn to save a few pennies or dollars for later, whether that be in the form of a rainy day fund or to save up for big ticket purchases. While saving a portion of your income is always a good habit to get into, some people take saving money to the extreme, achieving remarkable heights in belt tightening and self-restraint to push the frugal living envelope.

Here are 50 extreme money saving tactics for the brave, bold and just plain stupid:

1 - Train Your Cat

Every cat owner knows the hassle and effort that it takes to clean the litter box or tray. By training your cat to use the toilet, you can say goodbye forever to lugging home bags of cat litter and cleaning the scoop and tray on a regular basis. Online videos and tutorials will give you all the information you need in order to train your cat not just to use the toilet but to flush it afterwards.

2 - Save Your Pet's Hair

Dogs, cats and other furry pets shed a lot of hair. Instead of fretting at how much time and effort it takes to clean up the hair, think of it as a way to save money! Collect your pet's hair and use it for a variety of money-saving projects including stuffing pillows, stuffing furniture and using it to knit clothes, scarves, oven mitts and a host of other items.

3 - Never Buy Loo Paper

Buying and using toilet paper (tissue) is literally a recipe for flushing away your money. In order to save money while keeping clean, considering cutting up an old shirt or blanket into strips and keeping them in a jar next to the toilet. When they get soiled, throw them in the wash.

Other ways to save money include using strips of newspaper, strips of paper cut from junk or unsolicited mail, flyers that people hand out, or any other source of free paper (like those annoying memos you get at work). Be sure to dispose of them in the rubbish instead of flushing them in the toilet as they'll eventually cause a clog.

4 - Learn Another Way to Shower

Often called a "camp" shower or a Navy shower, there's a way to get clean while saving a lot of money on water. The way it works is you turn on the water long enough to wet yourself and then immediately shut off the water. Soap up and wash yourself and then turn the water on again just long enough to rinse. Repeat the same steps for shampooing your hair.

Note: you can save even more money by learning to take cold showers. There are websites and online chat groups dedicated to the purported benefits of taking cold showers which go beyond saving a few pennies. Cold showers are thought to help boost the immune system, be a better stimulant than coffee and caffeine, can cure headaches and restore virility.

5 - Eat Unusual Cuts of Meat

Every culture has norms and taboos about which parts of an animal are considered desirable. The next time you visit your local butcher, enquire as to how much odd cuts of meat like the head, feet, or other parts cost. For the squeamish, you can use these cheap cuts to make stock or flavor soups and broths while more adventurous carnivores can learn to make traditional delicacies like brawn (head cheese) and cold tongue.

But even the cheapest cuts of meat at a butcher can't compare to what the Americans call road kill, wild animals that you can regularly find on the side of the roadway. Cheapskate gourmands have written cook books and posted online tutorials on how to transform a squashed bird or rodent into what is reputed to be a delicious meal.

6 - Sleep at a Friendly Stranger's Home

Often called couch surfing, many penny pinchers have developed the art of staying at someone else's home for free. Perfect for holidays or business trips to other cities, couch surfing involves ringing up a friend or using websites in order to find a host that will let you sleep on their couch (or floor, or occasionally a proper bed) for absolutely nothing.

Truly dedicated couch surfers develop a network in their own hometown of friends, acquaintances and generous individuals to rotate between different couches so as to not wear out their welcome. And although it's somewhat unethical, don't forget that many churches and municipalities provide shelter for homeless individuals. 

7 - Sleep at Your Office

One cash-strapped man in the United States figured out that he could make a small fortune by renting out his apartment. The only problem was that he would then have nowhere to live. He solved this dilemma by learning how to always be "working" late and the "first one in" at the office. To pull this one off, you'll have to learn how to clandestinely sleep somewhere in your office, take sponge baths in the toilet and stash personal hygiene items in a desk drawer. But if your company provides a shower, you're way ahead of the game!

Note: in most places, it is illegal for people to sleep in a commercial property like a business office. Watch out for security personnel and cleaning crews who may surprise you in your hiding spot during the night.

8 - Use Your Toilet Less Often

Without being unnecessarily graphic, there are two types of business that you'll conduct with regard to your toilet. Instead of unnecessarily flushing down litres of water every time you need to relieve yourself, consider alternate methods of disposing of liquid waste. Some penny pinchers use old bottles or jars to store liquid waste and then empty them in their garden or a nearby green space. Not only will this save you money but it can provide much needed hydration for plants.

An easier way to save money is to remember the old adage of "When it's brown, flush it down. When it's yellow, let it mellow," saving your flushes for only the most fragrant personal expenditures.

9 - Eat Expired Food

We all know or suspect that those "sell by" dates on foods are just milquetoast warnings from overcautious governments and food regulators. In many jurisdictions, it may be illegal to sell expired foods so you'll have to tread lightly but it is usually fairly simple to strike up a relationship with a friendly store manager who will be more than happy to unload unsalable goods to you for a fraction of their normal price.

Note: fresh foods like milk, eggs and meat DO go bad quite quickly so stick to canned goods, frozen foods and dry goods unless you're sure about what you're buying. 

10 - Learn to Dumpster Dive

What the Americans call dumpster diving is the art of searching through rubbish tips for lost "treasures". Once you get used to the smell and unpleasantness of jumping into rubbish tips, you might be surprised to find just how many valuable items are regularly tossed away. Old mobile phones that are not considered "cool" anymore, perfectly wearable clothes, and edible food are regular finds in rubbish tips.

For beginners, start by combing through rubbish tips behind your favourite restaurant, grocery store or bakery. 

11 - Collect Lemon Slices

Whenever you go to a restaurant or cafe and are served with free water, be sure to ask for lemon slices. You can also sometimes obtain free lemon slices at workshops, conferences, or from your office break room. Take these home and use them for your tea or add a little water and make yourself a nice cool glass of free lemonade.

12 - Pack Your Own Lunch

Bringing your own lunch to work or school is a time-tested method of saving money. But you can stretch your pennies even further by being sure to re-use your sandwich bags. 

Note: learn to practice batch cooking, taking one day out of the week to prepare an entire week's worth of meals. Freeze what you don't eat. When you go to school or work, use their microwave to re-heat a delicious, low-cost homemade meal!

13 - Buy Own Label Food Products

There are certainly times when brand-name foods in the supermarket are superior to own label foods, but most of the time you won't be missing much when you stick to your supermarket's white label or own label products. Especially good savings can be had on really basic items like pasta, flour, and cereals.

By sticking to own label products, you'll save money but if your family balks, consider re-using old boxes and jars from their favourite brand-name products and filling them with the lower-cost white label items.

14 - Collect Shampoo and Shower Gel

Gyms, some offices, hotel rooms, and spas often provide free shampoo and shower gel sachets or mini bottles. You can also sometimes find nearly-but-not-quite empty bottles of shower gel and shampoo at your gym or school locker room. 

For extra points, bring empty shower gel and shampoo bottles with you when you visit a friend's home or a gym where shampoo and gel is dispensed and fill up your bottles for home use.

15 - Revitalise Stale Bread

Whether you're recovering tossed loaves of bread from behind your local bakery, buying expired loaves, or simply have a loaf at home that's gone stale, it's easy to make it "fresh" again. 

Wrap up your stale bread in a moistened napkin or towel and microwave it for 10 seconds. Magic! It will be soft and delicious again. 

16 - Avoid Using Stamps

If you've got to send a cheque, letter or other form of post to a business, mail it off without applying a stamp first. Most businesses will pay for the postage when they receive your important missive.

17 - Grow Your Own Fruits and Veg

Even if all you've got to work with is a tiny kitchen window, it's possible to grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs. Online tutorials will teach you how to get started, taking old pots and jars and adding dirt (which you can collect for free from thousands of places), water and seeds to harvest a bounty of food at home for almost no cost.

If you're lucky enough to have a garden or allotment of your own, there's no reason not to start growing your own food today. Not only will you save a ton of money but you'll also be enjoying fresh food that is guaranteed to be free of pesticides and chemicals.

18 - Recharge Your Gadgets at Work

Whether it's your beloved smart phone, laptop, tablet or other modern gadget, you can save a bit of money by always recharging them at work or school. While the savings won't be enormous in the short run, over the long run you can learn to power all of your favourite devices for free.

19 - Donate Your Clothes to Charity

You'll need some seriously cheeky willpower to pull this one off but some thrifty savers know that washing clothes can be expensive so they donate dirty items to Oxfam or other charities. The charities will then wash and iron the clothes, giving penny pinchers the opportunity to buy their old clothes back for almost nothing.

20 - Thin Down Your Washing Up Liquid

In this instance, it pays to buy a quality brand of washing up liquid. Simply divide it by half (or even thirds) in recycled jars or pots and fill up the rest with water. Give it a good, brisk shake and you've now doubled (or tripled!) the amount of washing up liquid on hand at no additional cost to you.

Note: in many cases you can soak dishes and glasses in a tub of water for an hour or two (overnight in some cases) to loosen up even the most stubborn stains and bits of food, meaning you'll need both less muscle power and washing up liquid to get your dishes sparkling clean. 

21 - Make Your Own Washing Powder

There are thousands of online videos and tutorials teaching you how to make your own soap. But you can also buy large bricks of soap from local artisans, hippies or naturists for far less than the equivalent of commercial brands of washing powder.

Take your bar (or brick) of soap and use a cheese grater to shave off some flakes. Add these to your washing machine and you can get an entire load clean for a fraction of the cost. 

22 - Always Reverse Your Car When Parking It

Whether you park your vehicle in a driveway or garage, you can save a lot of money by always parking it in reverse. Operating a cold motor to reverse and turn around your car uses 80% more fuel than simply starting it up and driving it away forwards.

23 - Be Generous With Your Loyalty and Club Cards

At the supermarket or anywhere else where loyalty cards get you freebies and reductions on your bill, be a good neighbour and share your generosity with the patron behind you in the queue. Offer everyone and anyone in your vicinity the chance to use your club card and maximise your rewards.

24 - Make Your Own Gifts

Not only do people purportedly prefer homemade gifts, but you can save a lot of money by making items yourself instead of buying things online or from a shop. Learn to knit, make a touching homemade card, or fill a nice glass with sweets and tie a ribbon around it in order to make a truly special gift for just pennies.

Note: another great homemade gift idea is to print out a picture and then put it in a frame. Your friends and family will assuredly appreciate a photo of their favourite cheapskate!

25 - Sell Your Hair

If your hair is in good condition and is six inches or longer, you're walking around with cash money on your head. Whether for charities that make wigs for cancer patients or firms that buy hair for beauty shops, selling hair is big business. Be sure to check in with your buyer BEFORE you take scissors to your valuable locks.

26 - Underwear

No one can see them, and in many cases you don't always need them, so learn to be thrifty with your undergarments. Start by wearing a pair of knickers one day and then turning them inside out for wearing on the second day. Depending on your sensitivity, you can expand by stretching each pair of pants to last a whole week. And when you're ready to truly pinch every penny, start going completely without.

27 - Feed Your Dog on Leftovers

When you're out to eat, always be sure to save any extra scraps for your dog. If you're adventurous, you can also collect uneaten food from your dining companions or from other tables in the restaurant. Your dog will cherish every bite.

To save even more money, bring your dog with you every time you visit a friend or acquaintance who also has a dog, allowing your dog to snack on any food that's left in your friend's dog bowl.

28 - Make Your Home Phone a Premium Number

There's no sense in paying for a home phone when you can instead make money with every call you receive. Change your home line to a premium number and learn who your real friends are!

Note: the law requires that you inform anyone whom you give your premium number to that it will cost them to call you, but sometimes your memory might slip, especially when giving out your number to banks, businesses and ex-spouses.

29 - Cook at the Office

An electric kettle and a microwave are two of a penny pinching gourmand's best tools. Following online instructions and tutorials, it's possible to whip up an entire meal of delicious "home" cooked meals by using the equipment in your office break room or school lounge. 

30 - Heat Water at the Office

Before you head home from your office or school, get a litre or two of water up to a nice boil in the electric kettle or microwave and pour it into a flask. You can then savour a nice cuppa at home for the price of a tea bag.

31 - Use Someone Else's Toilet

Whether it's at your neighbour's home, local shop, fast food restaurant, petrol station, school, office or even supermarket, it's usually fairly simple to find a toilet to use instead of your own. Develop a schedule and map to make sure that you're never caught short. 

Note: some business require codes to use their toilets. Invest in a cheap product (like a cup of coffee or a bag of nuts) to learn the code and then write it down in your special loo notebook.

32 - Pare Down Fruit and Veg at the Shop

Apples, cherries and grapes at the supermarket come with unnecessary stems and stalks that will add a few cents to the total price at checkout. Be sure to pare off unnecessary leaves, stalks and inedible bits from vegetables like carrots for even more savings.

33 - Borrow a Friend's Washing Machine

This trick won't work forever but, if you're careful, you can save a lot of money by telling friends, family and acquaintances that your washing machine is "broken" and calling upon their good graces to let you wash a load (or two!) in their home. 

34 - Use a Wind-up Torch

Lights are expensive and even candles cost money. Invest in a wind-up torch and use a muscle power to light your home in the evening to enjoy a little bit of light reading, home barbering, pet hair knitting or any of your other favourite cost-cutting hobbies.

35 - Never Pay For The Internet

Sure, we all love the internet but those monthly costs add up. Cut your addiction and bills by stopping all internet service to your home. Spend your free time reading books to improve your knowledge while waiting to watch the latest cat videos until you're at the office or school.

Note: if you're savvy with high-tech gear, you may find that you're able to receive wireless internet signals from your neighbours. Befriend them to ask for their password or use software to temporarily unlock and borrow access. Many restaurants and businesses offer free Wi-Fi and you can usually make use of it from within a few meters of the establishment instead of having to go inside and buy something.

36 - Stay In Shape At Home

Who needs expensive gym memberships when you can use everyday objects around the house to stay in shape? Do time-tested exercises like press ups or use water bottles to fashion a set of weights. 

37 - Learn to Make Refrigerator Soup

Instead of going to the supermarket every time you're in the mood to eat something, make it a rule to never replenish your supplies until you've eaten every last morsel in the house. When you get down to the last few bits of meat and veg, throw it all in a pot and make "refrigerator soup".

38 - Host Pot Luck Dinners and Barbecues

You're probably paying a lot of hard-earned money to live in your flat or home, so why not take this valuable investment and use it to make money? Be extra generous and offer to host pot luck dinners and barbecues, instructing each guest to bring a certain item. You supply the location and then you get to eat like a king or queen for free!

39 - Shave Less Often

Whenever possible, let your facial, underarm, and leg hair grow unimpeded. When you are forced to shave in order to conform to modern social etiquette, shave as infrequently as possible, getting the most mileage possible out of your disposable razors.

40 - Wash Your Clothes While You Shower

You've already using water and soap to clean yourself, so why not double down on the efficiency and get some clothes washed at the same time? Throw in a load of clothes at the bottom of your shower and vigorously tread them with your feet while you shower. Wring them out when you're done and allow them to drip dry a bit in the shower before hanging them on the line.

41 - Never Buy An Umbrella

No matter where you live or how rainy it gets, there's no sense in wasting good money on an object that you only use a fraction of the time. Railway stations, schools, and some office centres collect umbrellas in a lost and found box. Take advantage of their good nature to keep yourself dry in wet weather, preserving your karma by returning the umbrella to them when you've finished using it.

42 - Recycle Cereal Bags

You may not realise it, but every single cereal box comes with a high-strength, durable plastic bag inside of it. Carefully empty it out and rinse it, and now you've got a perfectly usable plastic bag for packing your lunch or collecting pet hair.

43 - Re-Use Tea Bags

As long as the water gets a little dark, you can still make tea from a teabag. Save and reuse tea bags three or four times.

44 - Loot the Restaurant

Restaurants and food courts offer a plethora of condiments in sachets like ketchup, mustard, and vinegar. Help yourself to a few extra and keep them at home for the next time you're making your favourite low-cost cuisine.

45 - Take an Imaginary Christmas Holiday

Not only will your friends and family members be jealous of your amazing Christmas holiday plans, but you'll be relieved of any pressure to buy them gifts in time for the holidays. Wait until the shops hold their big Boxing Day or New Years' sales and then impress everyone with your amazing generosity. Enjoy Christmas Day at home alone in the dark with your wind-up torch while you count all of the money you've just saved.

46 - Say Yes To Freebies

If you keep your eyes open, you'll be astonished at how many businesses are constantly giving away free stuff. Whether it's pencils from IKEA, pens from banks, coffee samples from cafes, or free food samples at the supermarket, there's an entire universe of freebies out there waiting for you. For even more freebies, scout the internet for special deals and sign up for every possible sample, trial and offer and sit back and enjoy the avalanche of good things coming your way.

47 - Wash Your Car At The Petrol Station

It's downright irresponsible to use your own water to wash your car or pay someone else to do it. The next time you're at the petrol station, use their squeegee and bucket in the forecourt to clean your entire car, not just wipe off the windscreen.

48 - Become a Human Guinea Pig

Laboratories and research firms are always looking for volunteers. Whether it's testing out the latest kind of skin cream or perfecting new psychological trials, there's a lot of cash to be made by signing up to be a human guinea pig. Ring up your local university or pharmaceutical company and enquire about ways you can put your health on the line for money.

49 - Learn to Excel at Video Games

You may not have the body or the discipline to be an Olympic athlete but there's plenty of good money to be made as a "digital athlete" or player of video games. Games competitions offer enormous payouts for the top contenders and you can also make money by testing out new games. 

50 - Always Be Fourth At the Pub

You'll need at least three mates or coworkers for this to work, but when you go out drinking with others, always let someone else pay for the entire round during the first three trips to the bar. By the time it is your turn, people will start forgetting who needs to buy the next drink or have already reached their limit.


It truly is astonishing just how far people will push the bounds of creativity and pecuniary inventiveness in order to save money. But considering the way most people spend above and beyond their income, a little caution and financial disciple can certainly be healthy. We hope these 50 money saving tactics have at least inspired you to take charge of your financial future even if you don't plan on becoming a devoted disciple of dumpster diving.