19 Things To Learn From Extreme Cheapskates, And How To Turn It Into Cold Hard Cash
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They’ll do anything to save a dime and their frugality knows no limits. Their lifestyles are so fascinating that they inspired a television show that aired for three seasons on TLC. But although most of the tactics used by “extreme cheapskates” are over-the-top and ill-advised, some of their ideas can be used as inspiration. Here are 19 things you can learn from some of the world’s cheapest people, and how you can take a less extreme approach to save tons of cash.
1. Make money doing the things you already do online.
Cheapskates might oppose paying for wifi, but why not offset your internet bill, or better yet make money off of your online activities. Swagbucks is a great way to make money by doing the things you already do on the internet. Get points when you shop online, watch videos, play games, or answer surveys. Turn those points into gift cards or get cash back with Paypal. It’s incredibly easy (and smart). Every 100 Swagbucks equals $1.
Simply head to the website and sign up for Swagbucks. You earn four Swagbucks just for signing up. When you confirm your email address, you get a $5 sign-up bonus. See how quickly the points accumulate?
Once you’re a bona fide Swagbucks member, you can make money by doing the things you already do – just make sure you go through the Swagbucks website to do them. For instance, if you want to purchase items at Walmart, don’t go directly to Walmart.com. Instead, click on the Walmart link on the Swagbucks site.
Once you’ve accumulated 300 Swagbucks ($3), you can start reaping the benefits. A quick click on the “rewards” button shows all of your options, including gift cards from popular retailers such as Amazon, TJ Maxx, and eBay. If you want cash, just choose the Paypal cash card.
2. Never pay more than $1 for everyday items.
A real cheapskate knows the value of Dollar Tree. It has virtually everything, and at prices which are extremely cheap compared to other retailers. If you aren’t a Dollar Tree convert just yet, stop everything you’re doing and become one.
The best thing about Dollar Tree is that it has virtually everything. This means you can save big bucks when it comes to buying household items which are overpriced at other stores. Just consider the cost of laundry detergent and cleaning products at your local grocery store. Then consider you can get those same items (often the same name brands) for $1 at Dollar Tree.
But Dollar Tree also has fun stuff. Imagine you’re throwing your son a birthday party. You have to decorate the house, make goodie bags for the guests, and buy disposable plates and decorations. You also need wrapping paper, a greeting card, and a few gift bags. And don’t forget the mylar balloons. Now consider buying all of those items at your local party store. The number is scary, right? That’s why you go to the Dollar Tree. Every single time.
Dollar Tree also has a Value Seekers Club that is well worth joining, offering frugal ideas for just about everything – from cooking to hosting and crafting. Joining the club gives you members-only access to contests and money-saving ideas.
3. Say goodbye to rip-off phone contracts.
Mobile phone companies are notorious for trying to rip off their customers with overpriced contracts and hidden fees. Cheapskates have caught onto those methods and are opting for Tello instead.
The company offers its customers pre-paid plans, allowing them to skip the contract. In other words, you’ll never again find yourself counting down the days until you can break free from the chains of your service provider. What a great feeling.
Tello offers wireless coverage provided by Sprint, so you have the added benefit of knowing that your service comes from a well-known coast-to-coast provider. You’ll get quality calls and fast internet, and you can make all your pre-paid payments online quickly and easily.
It also gives you the option to include international calls with your plan. In fact, you can call your friend in China or India for the same price of calling your friend in Albuquerque.
Just don’t go too overboard when it comes to cutting phone costs, like this extreme cheapskate who refuses to dish out money on a phone and instead walks to the library every time she wants to make a call.
4. Make every penny work for you.
It’s true that interest rates aren’t what they were during your parents’ generation, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made. Adopt an “every penny counts” mentality and make sure you put your hard-earned money to work in the best way possible. Online banks are typically where the best rates can be found. Check out CIT Bank which is currently offering a 1.55% APY on its Premier High Yield Savings Account. Don’t worry about coming up with a huge initial deposit – you just need $100 to open an account. The bank also offers an 11-month No-Penalty CD with a 1.85% APY.
5. Shop around for groceries.
Never paying full price for anything is another great motto to live by if you’re looking to bring out your inner cheapskate. Thanks to modern technology, it’s never been easier to compare prices at various grocery stores before buying items. Log in to Instacart, see what grocery stores in your neighborhood are available for delivery, and compare prices.
Once you’ve picked your items, Instacart delivers those items to your home in as little as one hour. Pretty impressive, right? It allows you to save time, energy, and money, letting you spend your valuable hours doing something more fun than grocery shopping.
If you’re particular about the produce you buy, don’t worry. Instacart focuses on quality, and the website assures you it will “pick the freshest produce with the perfect ripeness.” Just sit back, relax, and let Instacart do the work for you. You can get your first delivery free here.
While never paying full price is a great mantra, just make sure you don’t become like this extreme cheapskate, who even haggles for gasoline and fast food items.
6. Don’t let extra space in your home go unused (or unpaid for).
If you have extra space in your house, listing a room can be a great way to pay your mortgage or earn extra spending money. Airbnb has made it incredibly easy to offer up space on a temporary basis. The website will walk you through every step, even suggesting a market rate price for your space. Depending on where you live, this can be an extremely lucrative side hustle.
You may also want to consider a more permanent solution, listing part of your home to a long-term tenant. Just don’t be like this extreme cheapskate, who was so frugal that she set up a divider in her house, charging tenants extra if they wanted to use the washer, dryer, or kitchen.
7. Watch your utility usage.
It’s no secret that turning off lights when you leave a room and taking shorter showers can have a pretty big impact on your utility bills. However, there are also lesser used tactics which can mean even bigger savings.
For a smaller electricity bill, try hanging your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer. In addition to saving you money, it also reduces your carbon footprint and increases the life expectancy of your clothes. Dimmer switches are also a great way to save money, as they allow you to only use the amount of light that you actually need.
It’s also worth taking advantage of a free home energy audit from your local utility company. Doing so can provide tips of how to cut back on your energy usage and keep more money in your pocket.
The ways to cut back on household utilities are endless, but just make sure you don’t go completely overboard, like this family who shares the same bath water every day.
8. Fill up your car with paying passengers.
If you’re like most Americans, you spend a substantial amount of your life inside your car. Why not make money while you’re behind the wheel? Uber has revolutionized the taxi industry, allowing everyday people to make money while they take passengers to their destinations. The best part about driving with Uber is that you always remain in control – you make your own schedule, and decide which journeys to accept.
Lyft is another great outlet that allows you to be a driver on your own time. According to the company, some of its drivers make more than $800 by only working on Friday nights and weekends – not too shabby. There’s never been a better time to try it out, as Lyft is currently offering a $250 bonus to new drivers.
There’s nothing wrong with being a legitimate Uber or Lyft driver, but try to refrain from becoming like the extreme cheapskate who charges her friends for mileage and gas every time she drives them someplace.
9. … And food deliveries.
One of the cardinal rules that many extreme cheapskates live by is to never drive anywhere unless it’s absolutely necessary, or if they can somehow make money by doing it. That’s why UberEats is a great option, allowing drivers to make extra money while delivering food. The concept is simple – customers order food from their favorite restaurants via the app, and the UberEats driver picks up the order from the restaurant and delivers it to the customer. Drivers make their own schedules and work as little or as often as they want.
DoorDash offers the same concept and flexibility, allowing delivery drivers to become “dashers” for the company. In addition to making extra money, many dashers say they enjoy the job because it allows them to get to know their city better and introduces them to new restaurants. It’s a win-win for anyone who wants to make extra cash while exploring the area they live in.
10. Save money while driving.
The next best thing to making money while driving is saving money while driving. Metromile lets you do just that, offering pay-per-mile car insurance if you live in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Washington. To use the service, drivers simply plug a device called a “Pulse” into their car. This allows the company to easily measure a person’s mileage.
Metromile is designed for people who drive less than 200 miles per week – which happens to be 65% of US drivers. Those who fit that criteria could see their car insurance bill cut in half – in fact, the average person who signs up manages to save $500 a year. The website offers free quotes, allowing potential consumers to compare Metromile rates with their current insurance provider.
It’s a breakthrough concept which is customized to fit your driving habits. After all, why should you have to pay the same rate as someone who spends far more time on the road than you do?
11. Never spend unless you’re getting points or cash back.
This concept has been made easier in the era of couponing, online voucher codes, store loyalty cards, and cash-back credit cards. With research and the right mindset, it’s entirely possible to get something back every time you purchase an item.
One website that makes saving even easier is Ibotta, which has great cash-back offers for everyday items. There are three ways to use the service – by uploading a receipt for items purchased, by linking a store loyalty card, or by making a purchase using the Ibotta app.
Scenario 1: You like shopping the old-fashioned way, so you head to your local grocery store, grab a cart, and wander through the aisles. You’ve done your Ibotta research in advance, so you know which items will give you cash back, and you’ve used the Ibotta app to select those items. Once you’re done, you head to the checkout. You pay the cashier the full amount for the groceries, and get reimbursed by Ibotta once you take a picture of your receipt and upload it.
Scenario 2: You connect your store loyalty card to Ibotta and use the app to add the offers you’re interested in. You head to the store, use your loyalty card at check-out, pay full-price for your items, and Ibotta automatically takes care of your reimbursement.
Scenario 3: Before you begin shopping, you browse cash-back offers from top apps. You launch the Ibotta app and click on the “shop” button. You make a qualifying purchase in a participating app. You soon receive a confirmation stating that the offer is pending. It won’t be long before you receive your cash back.
If it sounds too good to be true, check out this Ibotta fanatic who has saved more than $10,000 by using the service.
12. Use technology to save money.
Another great way to save is to use Butterfly, a Chrome extension that activates cash back at 2,800 stores. Simply sign up, click on the retailer you’re interested in, and immediately see the savings that are offered by that store. Continue with your online shopping and your savings will be automatically applied at check-out.
Butterfly also has a shop where you can purchase discount codes at discounted prices. For example, it has a $20 off code for Target which only costs $10. Immediately after you buy the ecode, the $20 is put in your Butterfly account. You then use that cash on Target.com, using the Butterfly Chrome extension.
Once the retailer has confirmed your order, your savings are available to you. The cash can be received via Paypal, or you can have an old-fashioned check sent to you via snail mail.
13. Realize that cash-back can happen even after you buy something.
Many amateur cheapskates might believe that once a transaction is completed, the savings are over. However, that’s not always the case. Paribus continues to search for price drops and late deliveries after you order merchandise online, and lets you know if a store owes you money back.
The concept surrounds a policy that many stores have – if you buy an item and the price drops soon after you bought it, they’ll give you a refund for the difference. But tracking that information is time-consuming. Enter Paribus, which tracks the things you’ve already bought. Whenever there’s a price drop, it gets the refund for you.
All you have to do is sign up on the website, using the email address you use for your online shopping. This allows Paribus to go through your email and search for receipts from retailers. When it finds those receipts, it tracks the price of those items online. Once it realizes that a price has recently dropped to a level below what you spent, it contacts the retailer on your behalf and asks for a refund.
In other words, it does all the work for you and you have nothing to lose by signing up.
14. Never underestimate the value of second-hand clothes & rented outfits
Depending on where you live and the kind of circles you run in, you might find there’s still a bit of a taboo surrounding used clothing. Try to wipe that completely from your mind.
Thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, and estate sales are often treasure troves of new or lightly used clothing, and it’s not uncommon to find designer labels. Once you get into the game, you’ll soon identify the best neighborhoods to find bargains, and you’ll start to see that “used” clothing often means it’s just been sitting in someone’s closet for years, with the tags still on.
If you’re a woman who loves quality clothing, don’t head to the mall to buy your favorite brands. In fact, you may not want to buy them at all. Rent the Runway is a godsend for fashionistas who want to stay up-to-date with trending styles without forking over a ton of cash. The concept is exactly as it sounds – pick out clothing you love, pay a small fee to rent them, and get a chance to wear more outfits without actually buying them.
Let go of your inhibitions and unleash your fashionable side in a less conventional way. Just don’t be like this extreme cheapskate, who approaches the houses of recently deceased people, asking if she can rummage through their closets.
15. … Or second-hand furniture.
Decent furniture can be extremely expensive if you’re buying it at full-price from a furniture store. That’s why you shouldn’t do it. Instead, check out garage sales and moving sales. Great deals can also be found at thrift stores and on Craigslist and eBay.
In addition to the obvious money savings, shopping for used furniture also gives you the chance to snag a cool antique or a quirky one-of-a-kind piece. That’s certainly an added bonus in a world full of IKEA living rooms that all seem to look alike.
Just don’t go too far, like this extreme cheapskate who sees no problem dumpster diving for her home furnishings.
16. Buy in bulk.
The cheapest bargains are usually sold in bulk quantities, so cheapskates are no strangers to warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s. Another option is to shop online via DollarDays, which offers wholesale bargains to everyday consumers. It was founded to provide small business owners, non-profits, and individual shoppers with the same deals available to larger corporations. That model continues to save budget-savvy people huge amounts of coin on a daily basis.
One of the biggest perks of DollarDays is that you don’t have to have any kind of membership. All you have to do is create a free account online. This isn’t some exclusive club trying to make money off of you. Instead, it’s aimed at helping you keep as much money in your pocket as possible.
While most of the items on the website are sold by the case, there’s no minimum amount of cases you have to buy. If you just want one case of body wash, that’s fine. Just be aware that cases cannot be broken (so if a pack of pencils comes in a case of 500, you can’t opt to buy 250 pencils).
Shopping on this website can save you and your family thousands over the course of a year, so why not give it a try?
17. Declutter & make money at the same time.
If you’re like most people, you have tons of stuff sitting around that you never use. You have junk in your garage, your closet, your basement, and scattered throughout every room of your house. You know that old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Use it. Believe it. Make money off of it.
Log on to Decluttr to begin selling your unwanted CDs, DVDs, games, Blu-Rays, books, LEGO, and tech items. If your item has a barcode, just enter it into the site’s valuation engine for an instant price. For electronics, search for your item, describe its condition, and get an instant offer.
Send your stuff to Decluttr using the company’s free shipping label and receive your cash the day after the company gets your items. It’s incredibly easy, and it’s better than competitors like eBay because there are no auction fees and you can sell all your stuff in one transaction.
18. Trade in your old electronics for cash.
Americans churn through electronics like crazy, so there’s a good chance you have an old laptop or phone sitting around your house. Turn them into cash with Gazelle. The company will purchase your used smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or MP3 player and then sell them to consumers who are looking for a low-cost way to stay connected.
Simply log onto the site, click “sell,” and receive an offer in less than a minute. Ship your item to Gazelle for free. You get paid fast with an Amazon gift card, Paypal cash, or a check. If you have a phone, tablet, or MP3 player, you can drop the device in a Gazelle kiosk for instant cash.
The process is incredibly simple, and you’re under no obligation to sell your product if you don’t agree with the offer. However, you’re probably never going to use whatever is sitting in your electronics drawer again, so it’s most likely worth it to take advantage of Gazelle’s offer.
19. Take care of what you have.
Frugal living is all about doing the best you can with what you have. When you take better care of your possessions, they’ll last longer and save you money in the long-run. This rule applies to everything you own, from your clothing to your car and house.
However, don’t be like this extreme cheapskate, who wrapped his entire home in plastic wrap in order to protect its resale value.
Life is expensive, and there’s absolutely no shame in cutting corners wherever possible – within reason. Just keep in mind that going to extreme lengths to save a few pennies isn’t always worth the hassle.