How Frugally Extreme Are You?

re-using tea bags by hanging them on the washing line

With prices on the rise and wages certainly not keeping up, more and more people have to turn to more frugal ways of living, but some are going a level up and heading closer to being a member of the extreme frugality club... How about you?

So what's classed as extra frugality? The answer is anything that might be classed as going a bit too far in the battle to save money, and you will likely get a 'funny look' when telling someone what you do! I was invited onto BBC radio this week, and we looked at a few methods people use to help stretch their budget; some ideas are more frugally extreme than others; I wonder how many ideas you might adopt to save the cash?

Reusable toilet roll

This is, in my view, going a bit too far! People are using pieces of cloth instead of loo roll, which, once used, are stored in a container of bleach and water and then put in the washing machine to be used again. I guess it's not a million miles away from washing babies' nappies, but I suspect the contents may be a little worse, and I get that loo roll is expensive, but I think there are other things I would be happy to lose before losing loo roll, still thousands of people are now doing this, and if money is tight then fair enough! One of the arguments for doing this is that you would have to spend money on the bleach, plus the electricity and water washing them, so would the savings not be that great? It's a fair point!

Regrow your veg

This one is very achievable and is something I already do. For example, take a spring onion, cut off the root, and place it in water or soil, and it will re-grow, which you can then use for food, and re-grow again! It makes sense, as does using the seeds from veggies or fruit to grow your own food. It makes financial sense and is quite fun to do, and over time it could save you a fair few quid on food costs, so this is definitely on the yes list!

Freeze leftovers for another day

I think most of us do this, or if not freezing leftovers, using them up in another way rather than throwing them out. I know my youngest nipper will often leave half his dinner, so I tend to freeze the untouched part and then use that for another meal at a later date. It makes sense, saves the cost of making a new meal, and ensures I'm getting even better value for money by ensuring every bit of food I've paid for already is getting used!

Buy whole milk and then refill with water.

I didn't think people did this, but actually, they do! They buy a bottle of whole milk, and then once half is used, they top it back up with water, with the idea being that it's now similar to skimmed milk and doubles the amount of milk you get for your money! The logic is reasonably sound; I did try it, and it isn't something I would want in my cup of tea, but it works ok when making sauces or puddings! So a bit extreme, but if used for the right thing, it's a yes from me!

Re-use your tea bag

Ok, this may be the most un-British thing you could do, but it's not a new idea! I've heard many stories of people using a tea bag, drying it out and then using it again! I've tried it, and it is kinda ok... obviously, it's a weaker cup of tea than the first cuppa, but more or less passable! I think it would be better for making iced tea, as you don't need quite so much flavour, and based on that, again, it's on the list as an extreme frugal contender!

The above also works if you use ground coffee; again, it will be weaker, but you could run hot water through it again, especially if you like your coffee on the weaker side!

Only drink tap water days.

I've spoken to a few people who have tap water only days, where all they drink is tap water and don't drink anything else that costs money, such as soft drinks, coffee, alcohol etc. The cost savings soon add up, and to be fair, it's probably much healthier as well, so it sounds like a pretty easy way to be super frugal!

Bathe/shower less

It makes sense to take fewer baths and showers to keep water usage at a lower level. You don't want to skip them entirely if you still want people to come near you, but limiting the number of showers etc., you have is an excellent way to conserve water. Baths are better in regards to the amount of water you use, as some showers can use 10 litres of water a minute, so if you are showering, try and keep it to as short a time as possible; 2 minutes being the optimum showering time.

Baths use less water, and what water you use for your bath can be kept in the bath and used for flushing the toilet. The water can also be used for watering the plants and grass, ensuring that no water is wasted at all, as it's worth remembering that water has gone up in price this year as well, by an average of 1.7%!

Only flush toilets once a day.

Following on from the bath /shower frugal saving, only flushing your loo once a day is an excellent way to save water, if not a little gross. Please, for the love of all that is holy, only do this for liquids; please flush solids immediately!

If you want to flush as normal , invest in a hippo bag that fills up space in your water cistern, which means your toilet will use less water to fill up the cistern. You could also consider filling up a larger fizzy drink bottle with water and popping that in your cistern, which will do the same job as the hippo bag.

Use a power timer to turn off your appliances at points during the day, such as the fridge/freezer.

Invest in a power timer for your heavier power-use electronic appliances. You can comfortably turn off your fridge or freezer for 60 - 90 minutes without any risk of the food coming warm/defrosting etc. Have them turn off in the middle of the night when there is likely to be nobody awake to keep opening the fridge/freezer doors; that way, you can save money on electricity with no food safety risks.

Meat-free meals - Reduce the cost of meals by removing the meat.

Skipping meat in meals every other day will help lower the cost of your food shop. Don't substitute the meat with meat-free alternatives, such as veggie sausages, veggie burgers etc., as these are often more expensive per kilo than meat; instead, buy cheap veggies and go down the stir fry or veggie curry type route instead; even better if you manage to grab some yellow sticker bargains to lower the cost even further! It's probably healthier as well!

Grocery budget - Don’t take your card or cash to grocery shopping.

Write a list, work out what it's going to cost, more or less, and then buy a supermarket gift voucher, from a cash back service such as Karma Cashback, for the amount you expect to spend, and then use that to pay in the supermarket.

Firstly you'll get cash back on the voucher purchase, of an average 2.8%, so £2.80 for every £100 voucher purchased, and most importantly only take the voucher with you, leave your cards and cash at home, that way you won't be ABLE to spend any more than you have budgeted for, so you won't be able to make those impulse buys the supermarket wants you to make, you'll just spend your budget, and not a penny more!

Don't buy new

It can be tempting to buy new everything brand new, be it clothes, furniture etc., but don't. Buy everything from charity shops, from places such as Facebook Marketplace and car boot sales, etc, and if you've had something in your wardrobe for more than a year without wearing it, sell it and use it to buy something you will wear or buy something else you need. The average person has around £1,000 of clothes in their wardrobe and wears about 10% of what they have!

Don't eat out!

Lovely as it is to have a meal out, or even just a coffee, don't do it. Plan food in advance, take a packed lunch, make a coffee at home and use a thermos; the average person spends over £300 a year in coffee shops, with the average coffee costing around £3.10 each (2021 pricing), whereas it can cost under 40p per coffee, even less if using an economy coffee, to make it at home and take it out with you!

Nick it!

If you go and stay at a hotel, make sure you nick the complimentary tea and coffee from the room, as well as the guest shampoo and soap. If you stay for more than one night, ensure you take these items before the housekeeper comes to service the room, as they will add more! Don't be afraid to ask at reception for some extra tea/coffee; it's unusual for them to say no!

Cancel everything

We all love Netflix, Disney Plus etc., but it's expensive. There are free online services offering you tv-series and movies to watch, and yes, I'm talking about the legal ones, service such as Pluto provides a wide range of free movies and shows to watch. You will need a tv licence for this, though, as the service also includes streaming video, so it falls under the tv licence required category.

There are even more wacky ways to save money, but I've tried to keep it just hovering on achievable; after all, this is Great Britain. and we do have our standards, skint or not ;)

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