Extreme Thrift: Strategies for Life on the Financial Edge
Has an unexpected crisis left you in financial limbo? Need some ideas to pull a money rabbit out of a hat? Here are some of the ideas I’ve used over the years to accomplish a number of money miracles. Read on.
1. Eliminate your housing overhead.
There are a number of ways to do this, several of them far less painless than you might think. Here’s a link with some suggestions.
2. Be absolutely ruthless with your bargain shopping.
3. Practice extreme stewardship.
While this obviously relates a little bit to the item above, it also applies to how you consume and maintain resources in your home and bank accounts. Evaluating every purchase judiciously and taking care of what you have (as Julie suggests in Endurance Frugality) will add up to make a major difference as you struggle to get over your financial hump.
4. Use the big bang theory.
Develop a list of those items with a huge financial return, wow factor or multi-use potential. Some of my favorites? DIY croutons, grated or zested citrus peel from the fruit I buy, freezing and chilling the extra coffee for fun frozen caffeine drinks, dinner rounds for doggie treats, lemon juice concentrate and DIY curtains. For a major multi-use household item list, check out the Original Dawn post from Linsey.
5. Substitutions are cool.
Before spending money on an expensive solution, consider for a moment if there is something lying around the house you could improvise with. Canning jars, clothes pins, binder clips, rubber bands, plastic bags, safety pins, wire hangars, bandanas, and even a potato for a light bulb changer are all ideas available in nearly every household.
6. Explore the two to one rule.
7. Practice financial yoga.
Stretch, stretch, stretch those resources. This can include anything from reinventing old jeans, to cutting off all the buttons before you cut that shirt up into cleaning rags. Groceries can be a challenging area as well. I’ve done tons of posts on that topic, but three of the main ones are on bulk buying, freezer savings, and assembly cooking. Here's another cool resource featuring an extreme emergency menu with companion shopping list. Concerned about fruits and vegetables? Here's my survival mode produce list for when pennies are beyond tight. There are even options out there to cut down on things such as hair spray or conditioner.
8. Explore the DIY you-haul option.
Having a tow-behind utility cart can go a long way towards being able to jump on deals, freebies and super sales of all kinds. And it’s way cheaper than a second or third vehicle. Certainly, there are many things you can haul home yourself without a separate cart, but if you can carve out the cash for one, you will more than earn your money back in savings opportunities.
9. Be friends with your accountant.
There are tons of savings areas out there for tax time, and it’s this person’s job to find them for you. Make your accountant part of your dream team and find every tax reduction strategy available to you.
10. Get super basic with your facecloths.
At times when I was living abroad with all my things in storage, a rustic but effective technique I used was to not worry about face cloths. Whatever I had cut up for cleaning rags was also my stack to grab a clean wash cloth from. It’s not pretty, but it works.
While these strategies are certainly useful in any frugal or crisis situation, what about those times when you stretch every nickel and the ends of your financial rope just don’t meet? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Programs are out there for you. We all need a little assistance from time to time. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Do a little research and see what’s out there. When you get back on your feet, you can certainly explore options for “giving back”. Keep your chin up. We’re here for you.