Personal Finance

14 Extreme Ways to Save (for Those Hungry for Money to Invest)

Expertise: Personal Finance, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties
59 Articles Written
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This article is not for beginners. It’s not for those just thinking about purchasing their first property in pursuit of financial independence. It’s for those who are ready, willing, and able to take responsibility for their financial future. It’s for those ready to seriously start making major strides in saving around $20,000 to get that down payment for a first property.

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If you aren’t one of the lollygaggers—if there is absolutely nothing that is going to stand in between you and freedom—this article is for you.

In this post, I am going to describe some extreme budgeting techniques that some of my friends and I have used to save a significant amount of money, allowing us to quickly jump into this real estate game!

Full disclosure: Some of these are extremely effective, while others may seem completely outlandish. I suggest giving them a shot before shutting them down.

Here it goes.

Living: The Rent Hack

The rent hack is house hacking before you have the means to house hack. What you do here is you find a two- to five-bedroom apartment or house that you can rent. You rent the entire thing from the landlord and turn around and rent it by the room (or Airbnb it) to other people, such that they are covering your full rent payment.

For example, you find a three-bedroom house for $1,200 on Craigslist. You rent out the entire place from the landlord for $1,200 and then turn around and rent out each of the other two bedrooms for $600 each. That way, you are collecting a total of $1,200 from your roommates, paying your landlord $1,200, and effectively living for free. The more bedrooms you rent out, the higher likelihood that you will bring in money from your living situation.

Note: You need to let your landlord know that you are doing this! This is a new idea, so most will likely say no. But it only takes one yes to get started. I would hope that a couple of rejections are worth $600+ per month.

Related: The Stupid-Simple Budgeting Trick I’m Using to Stop Blowing 5 Figures a Month

Transportation: Bike to Work & Turo

Ideally, the house or apartment that you find is within walking or biking distance to work. That way, you eliminate your need for a car. If you don’t have a car, that’s great! Let’s keep it that way.

If you do have a car and don’t want to get rid of it, then you can rent it out on this site called Turo. People visiting town will borrow your car for a few days and will pay you to use it while you go about your day normally.

This is a very good way to transition your car from a “liability” that takes money out of your pocket to an “asset” that puts money in your pocket.


Food: Grocery Shop & Grocery Shop Cheap

Food is another large expense for many Americans. One of the reasons this is the case is because we so frequently go out to eat where the meals are three times as much. No thanks!

If you want to save in the food department, you need to start making the grocery store a place you frequent. However, grocery stores can be dangerous, too! There are a lot of things that are tempting that you don’t need. Stay strong!

A BiggerPockets user recommended the Mealime app to me. I started using it and it’s great! You can pick what you want to eat, and the app automatically populates the ingredients for you. When you go into the grocery store, ONLY get what is on the list. Once you start to stray from your list, money will stray from your bank account.

I know, I know. That’s really not all that extreme, but I really like it so I wanted to give it a shoutout. Here are some of the extreme tips I was referencing.

Buy in bulk.

Costco is one of the greatest places in the world to buy in bulk. You don’t need to buy your meat or produce at Costco if you don’t like eating the same thing for a week (though I do it). I’m talking about all non-perishable items: toilet paper, toothpaste, oatmeal, canned goods, etc. Buy these items in bulk, and you’ll save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars over the course of the year.

Go meatless for lunch.

If you’re vegetarian, this won’t be too hard for you. However, if meat is the staple of your every meal, there is likely some slimming down you can do (pun intended). Meat is 30 to 40 percent of the average person’s grocery bill. Only eat meat for one meal each day, and you’ll be saving 15 to 20 percent of your total grocery bill AND you won’t get that mid-afternoon groggy feeling. Win-win!

Frequent the “dented can” aisle.

This is something I hadn’t heard of until recently. Apparently, in almost every grocery store, there is an aisle where all of the damaged cans and boxes go. Here you can pick up cans and boxes for a fraction of the price of the ones that are in “new” condition. The contents on the inside are exactly the same—they just may not look as nice in your cabinets. Unless you’re going to be on “MTV Cribs” (is that show still on?), I would suggest making a habit of perusing this aisle. I know I’m going to!

Gym Memberships: Convict Conditioning

Hopefully, you have taken my advice and are (or will be) biking to work. There is a good portion of your exercise right there. If that’s not enough (it’s not for me), I would suggest Convict Conditioning.

Convict Conditioning is a program designed by an ex-convict named Paul Wade. While he was in jail, he would help his inmates get into the best shape of their lives through this bodyweight exercise program, which involves minimal equipment and minimal space. They needed to be able to do this in their jail cells.

Related: 4 Stark Differences Between Being Frugal and Cheap

Look up the program. I believe there is a PDF version for free online. If not, there are a bunch of YouTube videos about it.

Fun Extreme Budgeting Tips

This is the area that might get the most pushback. These are extreme, fun—albeit less impactful—ways to save money. But they do work!

Let’s talk about saving on utilities.

Take military showers.

This is when you only use the water in your shower for functional purposes, to get yourself wet before you lather up and right after to rinse yourself off. For 90 percent of the time, your water is off and you are just washing yourself.

In this same category is making sure you shut your water off while you are brushing your teeth, shaving, and performing all other idle sink-side activities.

Put a two-liter bottle in the toilet tank.

Get a two-liter bottle, put a few rocks in it, fill it with water, and place it in the back of your toilet tank. By doing this, your toilet will need less water to fill the tank, and therefore less water will be flushed. If a two-liter bottle is too big, try a one-liter bottle.

Hang clothes to dry.

This is self-explanatory. It’s no secret that your dryer uses a whole lot of energy. I’d recommend getting a clothes rack, and if it’s a nice day, hang dry your clothes outside. Depending on where you live, it may only take two or three hours to complete.

Unplug electronics when not in use.

When your electronics are plugged in, they are using electricity. If you aren’t using your TV, appliances, and other electronic devices, unplug them! You’ll save quite a bit of electricity this way.

Cut sponges in half.

Look at the size of most of the things that you wash. I would bet that in most cases you do not need the ENTIRE sponge. Why not cut them in half or even thirds to make them last two or three times as long?

Put a soap bowl next to the sink.

Now that your sponges are cut in half, I would bet that they can fit in a small bowl beside your sink. Fill that bowl with soap and water, and put the sponge in there. That way, you are saving water and saving soap all at the same time!

There it is—some extreme ways you can save to expedite the time it takes to save up for your next investment. Again, some of these are silly and some are effective, but I do, have done, or know people who do all of these ideas. If it works for us, it can certainly work for you.

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Is there anything I missed?

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Craig Curelop, aka thefiguy, is the author of The House Hacking Strategy and a driven pursuer of financial independence. Starting with a net worth of negative $30K in 2016, he has aggressively saved and invested to become financially independent in 2019. From sleeping on the couch and renting out his car, he was able to invest in three house hacks in Denver, a flip in Jacksonville, and traditional rental properties in North Carolina. He plans to continue to invest in both Denver and Jacksonville for years to come. Craig's story has caught the attention of several media outlets, including The Denver Post, BBC, Money Magazine, and many other real estate/personal finance podcasts. He hopes to inspire the masses to grab hold of their finances and achieve financial independence. Follow his story on Instagram @thefiguy!
    Chris Collins Multifamily Investor from Redondo Beach, CA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Glad that you are putting out some extreme savings tips. Some others: -Live YOUR rich life, not what you’re ‘supposed’ to live. Do this by spend on what you LOVE, cut RUTHLESSLY on anything else. You love Starbucks? It’s your religion? Go for it! Buy your $4 latte. BUT…You don’t really watch that much tv? Cut it entirely! You don’t ‘care that much’ about what car you have? Sell your car that’s on payments and buy an older but reliable Honda/Toyota for cash and stop paying car payments and expensive insurance premiums! Read Ramit Sethi’s “I will teach you to be rich” for more on this. -Combine cell phone plans with your extended family for a family plan discount. -Get on the credit card points game. Use your credit card for EVERYTHING, and learn how to strategically build up points with purchases with different cards, then use those points to strategically pay for flights, hotels, etc, when visiting your properties. Check out for more, great ebook on there for free that spells it out. -Negotiate EVERYTHING in your life, now! This week! Call auto/home/health insurance, cell phone plans, your landlord even, cable bill, etc. and simply ask for a lower bill. “I’ve come on some hard times, any way I can get a discounted rate? I’ve been a great customer for X years…” (Again, see Ramit’s book). This is a great way to save serious money for very little effort. -Sign on to or or something and see just how much you pay for ALL THE stuff in your life. This can be a great audit and revealer of where your money goes. -Focus on a BIG win…Consider if your job could manage to give you a raise. Why save $10 here and there when you can make an extra $10k/year possibly?! Consider picking up a side hustle. Same principle, why save $10 when you can make an extra $1000/month. Go get em!
    Renee Barron Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I save a LOT of money on entertainment by volunteering as an usher at the local theatre. Tickets for national Broadway tours range from $40-$150+. I can see the same show for free just by arriving a bit early and showing patrons to their seats for 30 min. Mystery shopping is also a great way to dine out for free. Companies will reimburse your meal up to a certain limit in exchange for a detailed report on quality, cleanliness and customer service. You don’t need to sacrifice your quality of life to save!
    Laura Verderber Rental Property Investor from Fairhope, AL
    Replied over 2 years ago
    @Chris Collins. Great tips. I use the credit cards points and the negotiate everything tactic all the time. No need to be a bulldog about it, just ask politely. Sometimes you won’t get any results but a lot of times you will. I’ve saved hundreds from credit card points and thousands from negotiations. You have to learn to get over your embarrassment! My husband is too embarrassed to negotiate but he’s happy to let me do it, haha. @Craig Curelop What you call rent hacking I know as sub-letting and as a landlord, I say no eveytime. The quality of tenants will be somebody’s buddy, that may or may not pay rent on time, does drugs, brings pets or girlfriends, or trashes the place. I prefer having more control over who actually lives at my properties. I’m speaking from past experiences.
    Harriet Nanfuka from Hopkinton, Massachusetts
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you for the tips. I do not have to skip vacations, I drive and camp in the tent all summers. Way better than cigarette smoke smelling motels and hotels with miniature pools. That means I can cook, safe money in food and not east junk food while on vacation. The money I would have spent on he room I use for cite seeing and spend on activities I do not have to skip on organic food, I am criticized lol the time for pending at Whole Foods or other healthy stores. The trick is to only buy when it’s in sale. Sometimes gra fr meat I discounted as low or even lower than conventional meat, that’s when I go crazy and stick enough pounds or a month. I check the sale flyer every week and buy especially the organic and it grass get meat plus wild caught fish when I sale. Iam in my way to saving for my first property
    Gloria Imogie Accountant from Romeoville, Illinois
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Craig, You speak like a true African. I grew up this way, living very lean and frugally. However, the American lifestyle had influenced me in the past that I had to reevaluate the way I live. Thanks for sharing these saving hacks.
    Greg Gaudet Rental Property Investor from Pukalani, HI
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I love being conservative. I’d like to add that I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch at work for 4 years so I could save for my first down payment. I did the math and I calculated that my entire lunch cost me less than $1 a day! While my co-workers often spent $10, 12, or even $15 every day! $12 a day over 260 days is over $3,000 a year, so this method ALONE could help you save enough for a first time FHA owner occupant loan in just 1-2 years! Regarding the cutting your sponge technique – I’ve always torn my paper towels in half. Most of the time, even though they already come in half sheets now, you don’t need that much of a paper towel. I would tear the half sheet in half and effectively use a quarter of a paper towel to wipe small spills, dry my hands, wipe the counter, etc. Although this year we decided to stop buying paper towels all together; now we’ve bought a bag of 100 terry cloth towels that we just reuse, then throw in the wash with our towels. Should make an even bigger impact, not just on our savings but also hopefully for our planet. Credit: I didn’t come up with the paper towel savings; that was my moms idea. She taught us to do that after my dad died and our household income dropped by 80%. And I’m very grateful that she raised me to be aware of my spending and consumption.
    Hans Brandt
    Replied 11 months ago
    You missed the funniest one of all! I bought a mini van with out back seats. I lived in it for a year and a half to save money....To buy a house cash. My forth house. Had I discovered this sooner I would of had so much more by now. Nothing better than living in a van! Best time of my life!