Extreme Frugality

Is there such a thing as being too frugal? To what lengths will you go to save a few dollars? We each have to draw our own line, for instance I will glean unused produce but I won’t dumpster dive. Here’s a list of some extreme frugal activities, how many are you comfortable with?

-Making personal hygiene items from scratch – I admit it, I tried these once! A little over a decade ago a friend made me a dozen cloth menstrual pads. They were made of a very soft fleece with metal snaps on the “wings”. They appeared to be very comfortable. I can’t speak to the absorbency because I never used them; unfortunately I didn’t have a washing machine and didn’t feel like taking even more laundry to the Laundromat, a very expensive way to wash clothing. I gave them to a friend who was very happy to have them and swears that homemade pads are the best.

More info on making cloth pads at Hillbilly Housewife

-Cloth Diapers – by the time my second child came along we were lucky enough to have our own laundry machines so I started using cloth diapers in 1999 and didn’t stop until 2006 or so when I had three in diapers for a short while. Over the years I found several brands that I preferred and some that didn’t work so well. I ended up preferring the old-fashioned Chinese Prefold Diapers, they’re very easy to use and wash and if you use a modern snap-closure diaper cover you don’t need to use pins.

-Cloth toilet paper – Yup, using cloth has its merits but not merits I’m willing to do at this point.

-Extreme Couponing – I admit, once upon a time I did this. I lived in an area that doubled coupons so it was worth it. I’d buy as many as 10 newspapers every weekend and was a member of 20 or so coupon trains. The manager of the store I usually went to was never happy to see me, my 3 carts of food and my 100 coupons. I feel it’s important to stress that I never did anything illegal or against store policy. I never used too many coupons on 1 item, I respected the store’s purchase limits & I never photocopied coupons. Also, I never broke my order up into multiple transactions so I could use more coupons at the same time, this really annoys cashiers and other customers. I would buy my first round of items, take them to my car, and go back in the store that day or the next for another round of deals. And never, EVER shelf clear a good deal. I know it’s tempting but please leave a few items for someone else (and if the shelves are cleared when you get there ask for a rain check!)

I no longer extreme coupon, in fact I don’t really use coupons much anymore. When I was extreme couponing I bought a lot of not-so-good-for-you food, because that’s what the coupons were for. These days I don’t live in a double coupon area and I also cook more nutritious meals now. This isn’t to say that I won’t buy something pre-packaged or canned if it’s a really good deal, but it’s got to be pretty darned cheap.

-Dumpster Diving – There is a difference between picking up an item you need from a trash pile waiting for pick-up, which I will do occasionally vs. dumpster diving, which I won’t do. I won’t dumpster dive for a few reasons, the first being that it’s not legal where I live, it’s considered trespassing. The second is that I’ve worked long enough in retail & grocery to know that most of the good stuff is either sent back to the company, given to Second Harvest or Goodwill, or compacted inside the building. The third reason is that I am clumsy, seriously clumsy.

-Gleaning – I will glean produce from abandoned fruit trees, if I have permission to do so. I never turn down free food, so when my neighbor offered us 70 lbs of sour oranges, I took them. When we found several lemon trees with ugly lemons (and I mean UGLY!) in an undeveloped area of our neighborhood we were told we could take them, and despite their ugliness and pulpiness, they were EXCELLENT juicing lemons. Always ask, you really can’t pull over and start removing fruit/corn/whatever from someone’s property.

There’s an extreme movement called Freeganism that is based around dumpster diving and gleaning, check it out here.

A safer way to glean and “dumpster dive” is by using Freecycle, check it out!

-Eating pet food. I recently saw a post in an online frugalliving forum that a man fed his children canned cat food and called it “tuna”. Um…no, I won’t do that for a zillion reasons, the first being that cat food is designed for the nutritional needs of cats, who have less sensitive stomaches than humans…and have you smelled canned cat food?

What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done in the name of frugality?
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2 thoughts on “Extreme Frugality

  1. I cannot see myself using cloth pads. Or cloth toilet paper. It is just not happening unless these items become impossible to buy in their typical form. I'm frugal, but not extreme frugal. I will buy clothes at Goodwill. I will buy pants at GW and cut off into shorts or capris. I have given GW or Salvation Army or etc items as gifts. Some of the buys are incredible! But, I will not dumpster dive. At least not in my area. Now, if I went towards Raleigh, in some of the richer neighborhoods, I might find things in the dumpster worth diving over. But it wouldn't be food. I just couldn't do it unless we were truly starving.

  2. Pingback: Extreme Frugality, part two |

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