Extreme Savers – A closer look

By glblguy

Extreme Danger
Photo by: AZAdam

This is a guest article by PT who blogs at Prime Time Money – a place where those in their prime can come to discuss money and all things personal finance. Consider subscribing to Prime Time Money via RSS.

Biking to work, cutting your own hair, growing your own veggies, buying your clothes on EBay. While most of us don’t live this kind of lifestyle, some people do go to these extreme measures to maximize the amount of money they can put away into savings. CNN Money did a series of articles focusing on these people they deemed “Extreme Savers.”

I’ve put together the complete list of these Extreme Saver profiles over at my blog, Prime Time Money. If you’re like me, you’ll get plenty of use from viewing these profiles: discovering new ways to save and hopefully being inspired to find your own path to extreme savings.

CNN Money did a good job of gathering savers from all walks of life. The ages range from early twenties to late fifties. Some are married with kids. Some are single. There are consultants, engineers, and even a research scientist. And just about every area of the country is represented, even a fellow Texan.

What’s impressive to me is that these people were able to save a great deal even though they have mid-level incomes. Most in the series were living off incomes of less than $60,000. For instance, Greg and Tara Black, a Virginia couple in their mid thirties have a combined income of $48,000, but have amassed over $220,000 in combined retirement and short-term savings.

The savers also use second streams of income to fund their savings. Rick Kuhlman, a 33-year-old computer help desk supervisor, is a part time financial adviser. Others use rental properties to bring in more income.

However, the main emphasis of the profiles is on how the people are able to save (or spend less), not necessarily how much they’ve saved or their incomes. So here are the goods… I thought I would list out some of their savings methods for your enjoyment (listed somewhat in order of extreme-ness):

  • Cook at home
  • Use the warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco
  • Use the library for books
  • Use online movie rental services like Netflix
  • Buy from discount clothing stores
  • Dine-out only two or three times a month
  • Utilize free entertainment like events, museums, and parks
  • Use coupons and apply for all rebates
  • Bring in leftovers to work
  • Walk and Bike to work and around town instead of drive
  • Use cash back credit cards
  • Purchase big ticket items like a boat at auctions
  • Install florescent light bulbs
  • Use the Internet to compare prices of non-perishables
  • Shop flea markets and used furniture sales
  • Rent videos only from the library
  • Grow your own veggies
  • Buy clothes on eBay! (yes, fifty cent shirts)
  • Cut your own hair
  • Hang clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer (kind of old school, huh?)
  • Drink only two alcoholic drinks per month during your one evening out (boring…)
  • Build your own home (this profile, pictures included, is worth a look)
  • Live without cell phones or Internet access in your home (that’s just crazy!)

Wow, I don’t think I could ever do that last one.

Perhaps the best method is starting a savings plan early in life, like Jessica Nixon, just twenty-three, who started investing in stocks in high school.

So what are they doing with all the money they save? All the savers seem to have at least one short-term savings goal. Like the youngest saver, Jessica, who wants to purchase what she calls a “17-foot runabout boat” soon. Others are saving up for a house. Ultimately though, saving for the long-term is what most of them are all about. Brian O’Reilly, just 28 years old, hopes to semi-retire by age forty. Rob and Michelle Parker, a Florida couple in their thirties, plan to retire in ten years.

I have to say, the most inspiring profile comes from Holly Ordway, a thirty-year-old writer from San Diego, who, along with her husband, is able to save $70,000 a year of her six-figure income. Nice! For Holly, it’s not about living a cheap or miserly life. It’s about frugal living. Holly says, “Being frugal is all about making good choices with your money…” She claims to filter out the incoming consumerism message by not listening to much radio or TV, and not reading magazines. I bet she’s reads Money magazine. :)

In addition to the eight main profiles, CNN Money also did an article on Extreme Savers with twins. Those are also worth a look, if only for the cute twin pictures.

In addition to these Extreme Savers, these other great lists over at Prime Time Money may be of interest:

Now that you’ve seen what these supposed “Extreme Savers” do, share your thoughts on these profiles or list some of your favorite tips below in the comments.

12 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Extreme Savers – A closer look”

  1. Lisa Spinelli Says:

    I’ve just started extreme saving this year (yes, a resolution). I call it my Money Miser Program. So far I have accumulated $735 dollars through extraneous means, such as returning my bottles, applying for credit cards with sign-up bonuses, finding coupons and rebate offers for things I am already going to buy…etc.

    I thought I was doing pretty well! I think I need to check out some of those Extreme Saver Profiles.

    Thanks for the post,

  2. Lynnae @ beingfrugal.net Says:

    We do a lot of these already. One thing I want to try this summer is growing our own vegetables. I think it would make a great family project. I’m definitely going to have to enlist in my family’s help though. I can’t grow a plant to save my life. Fortunately my daughter seems to have a green thumb. :)

  3. Four Pillars Says:

    Two drinks a month? No internet?

    No thanks.. :)


  4. Early Retirement Extreme Says:

    Hmm, I do all of this except …

    We rarely use coupons because we get store brand on discount which is usually cheaper than coupons anyway. We eat out maybe 1 month on average – no drinks. We do have internet and cable (ARGH!), but I’d like to ditch the phone and the cable (biggest time waster ever invented). I intend to build our own house, currently we rent. And I buy books because the reading I prefer is never available at the library, I do get 90% of my books used on amazon.

    BTW Money Magazine and the likes are usually more pedestrian. They start calling people extreme when they save just 30-40% of their income ;-)

  5. dawn Says:

    The list of ways you listed as “extreme” methods of cutting back expenses, doesn’t seem so extreme to me. We don’t have cell phones, or cable television… but we do have internet access at home & and my hubby does imbibe in more than two toddy’s a month. (Not an excessive drinker by any means though). Is this sort of lifestyle choice really considered extreme? Or is it the combination of this lifestyle choice in conjunction with the saving?

  6. Bill Says:

    If you want extreme buy the Tightwad Gazette book.

  7. PT Says:


    Great job presenting the post. Thanks for sharing your space.

  8. Ben Says:

    Sometimes old school is the best. Hanging out the washing to dry is perfectly acceptable and is kinder on your clothes than continually using a dryer to dry them. I have some socks that are over a decade old (they are the most comfortable socks that I have ever owned) and are quite wearable because they have always been air dryed.

    Left overs for lunch rule – even more when they have home grown herbs and vegetables in them. I’ve been cooking meals for two and a half decades and I prefer my cooking to most of the take away and restaurents in my area. The other week I cooked up some very tasty pork chow mein that provided four dinners serves and two left over lunches at a cost of $1.43 per serve. Buying the equivalent take away meals would have cost $4.95 per serve for the four dinner serves only (the preparation and coooking time was ten minutes longer than getting in the car, driving to the take away food place, waiting for the order to be cooked and getting back in the car to get home).

    I don’t know why sensible living suggestions are considered extreme.