I love to read about people’s extreme frugality experiments. These are stories of people just like you and me making the impossible an actual reality, and saving a bundle in the meantime. Even if you never dreamed of recycling enough cans to pay for your wedding (could you imagine how many you would have to recycle to pay for the royal wedding?), or use a paperclip to barter your way up to a home, it is worth reading these articles in order to stretch your own frugal limits and comfort levels, and to know that there are simpler ways to live life than to hand over a credit card.

Every so often a person’s crazy frugal experiment makes it to the spotlight and the world gets to read their life experience on one of the larger media outlets before returning to articles on the latest crisis. This is why I’d like to list out 9 frugal experiments that fascinated me over the last several years.

Extreme Frugality Examples

  1. Groupon’s Challenge: There is one man who is going to live one year of his life on coupons alone away from his family, job, and worldly possessions. If he can do it, he will win a prize of $100,000. Update: This must have been too difficult, as the article no longer exists on MSN and no updates have been provided.
  2. If only Paul and I had thought to recycle 400,000 cans in order to pay for our wedding like this couple did. And what exactly will 400,000 cans get you? Approximately $3,800 (depending on market fluctuations).
  3. Mother Feeds Family of 6 on $4 Per Week: This is like one of those families off of TLC’s new show Extreme Couponing.
  4. Have you ever thought to wear only six items of clothing for one month? This might tame your desire to spend like it did for Tamsin Davies. Let’s all go on a shopping diet!
  5. Living on $18,000 a year by choice
  6. How a Can Collector Died a Secret Millionaire
  7. Man lives in cave and has not spent a dime in 9 years
  8. This man bartered his way from one red paper clip to a house
  9. Man who lives in a 96 square foot home (and can build one for you as well, ranging from $36,000 (65 square feet) to $154,000 (774 square feet). Thanks, Helen!

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14 replies
  1. Super Frugalette
    Super Frugalette says:

    I saw the extreme couponing show and was grateful for learning about coupon clipping services. However, I thought it glamorized a version of obsessive compulsive disorder. They really need to use the money they save towards a good therapist.

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Super Frugalette: I agree with you. Most of the people on the show are either OCD and/or hoarders. I hope that they understand how extreme their behaviors are. I enjoy couponing, and have my own “stockpile”, but it is nothing like on that show. We also donate to a domestic abuse shelter, and help my grandparents with their toiletry needs. I think some on the show donate as well, but they don’t highlight that.

  2. CreditDonkey
    CreditDonkey says:

    I saw the wedding out of recycling article on Yahoo. They raised money through recycling and selling off assets. I think extremes are for though people with extreme visions. If you want to try it, you’ll have to be consistent and discipline. It takes a lot of willpower to accomplish what the others have.

  3. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    I think these stories show us that if we have enough motivation and know how we can do whatever we set our minds to.
    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading the stories.

  4. kathryn
    kathryn says:

    Sometimes frugal goes a bit extreme. My husband and I live on approx $12-$15K for the 2 of us. We travel a lot in Australia (summer) and houseit, so basically we only need to provide our food. We have a seconhand camper van for the rest of the time. Then we return to Canada for summer, and basically live rent free in our apt. We own a 5 unit apt house, and the tenant’s rent takes cares of the expenses.
    I think the point is to take whatever good part from all frugal suggestions, and apply them to your own situation. We buy whatever we want, we just try to find the best way to get it. We also enjoy the challenge of ‘making do’ when it is appropriate.
    If you are really in debt, and really serious about getting out, you can do it. really, there is no excuse.
    If you need help, frugals are usually always willing to offer suggestions, that you may have never even considered.
    I love reading stores like these, because I am still learning..or remembering 🙂

    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      That is fantastic that you both live on $12-$15K a year! I am very interested in house sitting or house trading around the world; what website do you use to find places?

      I love to read frugal stories from others as well! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your life experience.

  5. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    I love that you posted #9. I have a plan for when the kids are finished school. Not sure if I ever took you up where Jason’s parents live, but they rent basically a “bungalow” like these houses and that is my game plan. However, after reading this, I am thinking it would be better long term, cost effective, to purchase or build one on purchased land……hum, now you really have me thinking!!

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Hey Cindy!

      It is definitely something to think about, and very affordable (compared with purchasing larger sized homes). How many square feet is Jason’s parents’ house?

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