Everyday Living Tips | Frugal Living

18 Crazy Things We Do As Extreme Savers

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Some of the best extreme savers know that you have to chase money to save money.

Hey, no laughing because one day we’ll be debt-free and you’ll have nothing to laugh about.

Although we’ve heard it all when it comes to being extreme savers nothing feels better than winning.

For those of you who are already shaking their heads at “Extreme Savers” let me explain.

Debt-Freedom Gives You Choices.
Debt-Freedom Gives You Choices

Extreme Savers Cash In For Debt Freedom

There is a simplicity to the process where extreme savers have taken the time to understand the system.

What system you ask?

Well, the system of consumer marketing, living below your means, and saving money wherever you can.

The idea is to earn, save and invest.

Becoming extreme savers wasn’t easy for us but the more we pushed the easier it became.

We lived in a room after we married for two years and that’s where our best money-saving plans began.

Today I want to talk about the unconventional ways we took on the family title of extreme savers.

What we once believed only crazy people did to save money has now become somewhat normalized.

Canadians are struggling to pay the bills as grocery prices, gas, rent, interest rates, mortgages are all on the rise.

Some of you may not know what you’re going to do day by day and that money stress can cause anxiety.

I know because I lived through that scenario when I moved to Canada not knowing what path to take.

Below are many of the ways we either earned money, saved money or cashed on on silly money making opportunities.

Time Was On Our Side

We have never been the couple needed something done right away nor did we fuss about having less.

As a newly married couple without any children time was on our side to save money so we took the leap.

That was back in 2007 and by 2013 we were debt-free including our mortgage, had a baby on the way and I had my foot in the door at my dream job.

Fast forward to 2021 and life is good but still comes with those stressful moments of uncertainty.

We’ve shifted a bit from worrying about finances to what happens if we die or no longer can work.

Any blip in our story could cause our financial plans to collapse although we’ll still own everything we have without debt.

My point is that you never stop worrying about money because stories can change and quickly.

This is why it’s important to stash money away for emergency savings and invest what you can afford.

Extreme Savers Don’t Need Everything Now

You probably know someone who bought a new house and wanted to renovate before they moved in.

We weren’t that couple at all even though there are plenty of projects around the house to get done.

The decision to wait, plan and create a budget that helped us pay off our mortgage was more important.

Besides growing up in the 70’s and 80’s where nothing matched and life was simple hardened us.

Our parents didn’t have fancy rooms, updated kitchens and bathrooms. We made do with what we had and that was the end of it.

Of course there were kids our age who lived in what seemed to be a mansion or castle to us.

We didn’t care because we were kids and there was nothing we could do about it.

You get what you get and for our parents the least amount of debt was a good starting point.

Even today we renovate based on the amount of savings we have each year.

Typically that ends up being one major project like the new wood fence I put up two years ago.

We saved thousands of dollars by cutting out the middle man and it was worth every ounce of sweat.

Let The Spenders Spend

Some people may criticize our extreme savers attitude however debt-free feels better than worrying about what anyone else thinks.

Catch my drift? You have to lose that mindset to get ahead of the game just as we did.

From creating a budget spreadsheet to finding ways to save on everything we have earned the debt-free title.

Let’s go over many ways we took extreme savers to the next level and cashed in.

Rented A Basement Room

Of all the ways we saved money this was probably the biggest savings option for us at the time.

With me going back to school at just gone 30 years old earning money working in the same field it bought us time.

Time allowed us to save for a huge down-payment for our first house and pay off a vehicle.

Family often asked how we were able to live in a basement room every day which was fair.

The reality is we didn’t like it but it was the only way at the time to save money and reduce stress.

After I was done school and was well into my new career role it was time for us to start a new chapter.

We bought our first house together on one income which became a lifesaver for us as Mrs. CBB lost her job.

Company downsizing along with medical problems was the first big blip in our financial plan.

So, you see we’ve been there done that but took the time to make sure we had that Plan B in place.

Our plan B included becoming extreme savers above what we were able to do when we rented a room.

As you begin to read how we took the extreme savers title to the next level consider how the small stuff adds up.

Washed and Waxed Vehicle At Home

While renting our room we would take our vehicle to the car wash up the road for a wash and wax.

It was one of those drive in DIY car washes which was about 50% less than an automated car wash.

I didn’t mind doing the job myself as I found it relaxing even though I was racing the timer.

Everyone knows it’s a race to the finish in the car wash bay so we go as fast as we can.

Sometimes I would mess up and have to add more money to the hungry timer just to finish the task.

Often times we treat life the same way and forget or miss opportunities along the way.

Once we moved I no longer went to a car wash that made me feel I was an Olympic contender.

Washing and waxing my truck and our minivan (RIP) was much more relaxing and cheaper.

I’m not sure why people think I’m cheap for washing our vehicles at home but who cares.

It saves us money and I get to control the time it takes and how good the outcome looks.

Extreme Couponing

What started out as saving money on everyday products turned into a massive stockpile that we still use today.

Back in 2010 was when extreme couponing started to take over our grocery bill and we have no regrets.

We were yelled at, laughed at and perhaps pissed people off because we used coupons but there was nothing stopping us.

The amount of money we saved using coupons paired with credit card rewards and in-store rewards is incomprehensible.

Related: Canadian deals, coupons, rewards and discount codes

That one year we got hundreds of free toilet paper rolls, toothpaste and used the Scanning Code of Practice still blows our mind.

Since then we’ve moved on to using coupon apps along with tear pad coupons, rewards programs, and credit card rewards.

Related: How we saved almost 6 million PC Optimum Points

Online shopping has also been a huge source of savings especially when we factor in discount codes, rewards using a credit card, and no driving.

Gas prices are going up and sitting behind the computer to shop has become somewhat of the norm.

Although we aren’t extreme couponers these days there are plenty of ways to continue saving on everyday household items.

Tested Food And Drinks

For years we were getting calls monthly to test different food and drink products at facility.

The cash money was great and all we had to do was sit at a window and wait for the product.

We were surrounded by white walls, light above our heads, computer and a magic window.

All we had to do was follow the process lined out on the screen and that was it.

Testing some of the upcoming products was pretty cool although one time it was espresso.

Both of us left the facility so wired we never touched a coffee for the rest of the day.

In about 15 to 20 minutes time we both earned $75 cash which was an extra $150 for our budget.

Our biggest haul was 10 bags of winter driveway salt along with $100 cash each.

That took one our hour of our time. Cha-Ching!

Free Stuff On The Curb

Nightly walks are not uncommon for both Mrs. CBB and I and we occasionally spot free stuff on the curb.

I’ve picked up a free lawnmower, edge trimmer, push lawnmower, wood post and countless other items.

I don’t know about you but nothing bothers us about stopping to look at stuff on the curb.

Where some people see extreme savers we see extreme savings.

Focus Groups And Experiments

Cup of espresso coffee
Espresso Tasting For Cash – Extreme Savers

Let’s start with the experiments or studies that we participated in. They aren’t as bad as they seem in the movies.

Do you remember the movie “Fun with Dick and Jane“?

It stars Jim Carey and Tea Leone a married couple who go to extreme lengths to get money after he loses his job.

At one point in the movie Leone participates in a beauty experiment to earn cash money.

It all goes wrong and her face swells up and overall a disaster but she gets paid.

We’ve never experienced anything like that so don’t let it deter you from joining.

The most lucrative experiment we participated in was for 3 months where we visited once a month for one hour.

They were testing how our brain reacted to sugar before and after while playing video games.

That paid us each $300 so an extra $600 for 3 hours of our time and 3 sugary drinks. Not too shabby.

There was also a focus group based on smoking that paid us $100 each.

Honestly, there were so many that we participated in and we loved doing them.

We still go to this day if we qualify because you have to qualify first as they look for specific people.

Extreme Savers Shop Thrifty

shopping secondhand clothing
Thrift Store shopping

Second-hand shopping used to be a taboo topic for people who were embarrassed to shop at one.

Today, Canadians realize the benefits of saving money on items that are used or new.

The only embarrassment comes from with-in because no one really cares where you buy your stuff.

If you have friends who live a lavish lifestyle far greater than what you could imagine and judge others what does that tell you?

There’s never a need to keep up with anyone especially when it comes to lifestyle.

Shopping at thrift stores has allowed us to dress sharp and spend far less on everyday essentials.

Resell Items For Profit

Over the last two years we’ve settled down with resell items for profit only because of the pandemic.

This has been a very good profit making opportunity for us especially when we find something we know will sell.

In our case it was wood toys made by high-end companies such as Melissa and Doug, Simplex, The Learning Journey etc.

For example we would pick up a Melissa and Doug toy for $3 and sell it for $20 on 50% off days.

The money we earned by reselling we would put towards buying second-hand items for our home.

Clothing for our son was big expense as he grew out of them quickly but we paid next to nothing for them.

We would turn around and sell the clothing for profit or a just to get our money back.

Extreme Savers Forage Food

edible foraging Canada
Foraging For Food In Canada

You’re considered part of the extreme savers club if foraging for food is a fun day out.

We’re that couple and love to source food from the earth that is free such as asparagus, fiddleheads, berries, mushrooms, wild garlic, and dandelions.

We don’t have to go far to find crab apples and serviceberries as they grow on trees around our property.

Asparagus we find in the ditches of country roads and fiddleheads, mushrooms, and wild garlic in the forests.

shaggy mane foraging
Foraging Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

There is so much out there as long as you know what you are looking for.

Join a local foraging club, online Facebook group, or read a book or online information about foraging in Ontario.

It’s definitely rewarding and you get exercise at the same time.

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking cold turkey was tough for us but we did it and not only did it lower our life insurance premiums but we feel better.

We’ve stopped adding up how much money we saved not buying cigarettes and lighters over the years.

After we hit the thousands of dollars mark we really caught wind of how much money we blew away.

This may not be an extreme savers win but for us, it felt that way because we saved potential health problems and money.

Got Rid Of Cable and Home Phone

Recently, we decided to get rid of cable and our home phone as they weren’t benefiting us at all.

Each month we’d spend money we didn’t need to because we didn’t have time to watch cable.

The home phone was all scam calls or a doctors office ringing us up for appointments.

Now we pay Rogers for unlimited internet and watch what we want online and that’s good enough.

Is that extreme? I’m not sure but for us it was since we’ve never gone without either before.

Extreme Savers Negotiate Whenever Possible

When we did have services with Rogers we would negotiate at the end of the savings contract.

That was probably one of the phone calls we would dread as if we were begging for savings.

They certainly put customers who want savings through red tape but it was always worth it for us.

Other times we’ve negotiated food near expiry at the grocery store especially Zellers when they were around.

The farmers market is another great place to negotiate as vendors are ready to make a deal.

Paying cash for a service is another way we’ve negotiated a cheaper rate such as buying in bulk from a landscaping company.

My new truck that is fully-loaded and was the model for the dealership cost near $90,000 but I negotiated $47,000 cash.

I know some of you may say, Mr. CBB why would you buy a new vehicle that depreciates in value?

Well, the price was right and I know it will be around for a long time plus it was second-hand as it was used for test drives.

The mileage wasn’t even near 10k so it was a smashing deal for us as we had just lost our 13-year-old minivan.

Lastly, we negotiate for anything we purchase online from Kijiji or any buy and sell groups on social media.

Product Complaints

If we buy a product we don’t like or it didn’t live up to the standards that were advertised, we let them know.

Writing a complaint email or letter to a company about a product they manufacturer actually helps them.

They love feedback from customers whether it’s great or not so great so they can improve their product.

Not only that but many of them thank you for the time you’ve taken to share your experience with their product.

Over the years we’ve gotten our money back on something that wasn’t up to standard and free product coupons in the mail.

Being nice to companies is a smart way to save money especially on products you’ve never tried before.

Extreme Savers Do DIY Projects

Whenever possible I renovate and take on home projects that I know I can do to save money.

Our neighbours were laughing (in a cool way) at me when I was building our rock garden.

Not only did I go and pick out every rock on our property but I also installed a small retaining rock wall.

I dug the front yard, turned the soil over, removed weeds and grubs and laid new sod.

It was hard work but saved us thousands of dollars in landscaping costs.

I’ve also fully gutted and renovated our second-floor bathroom and built a wood fence, deck and sealed our driveway.

When it comes to appliances I’ll tackle a breakdown as long as I know what I’m doing.

Related: How To Repair A Refrigerator That Won’t Cool or Freeze

Online Surveys For Cash

There are SO MANY opportunities for Canadians to earn money with online surveys for cash or gift cards.

I’ve conveniently put all of these survey and savings opportunities on one page on the blog so you don’t have to look far.

Related: Canadian Savings, Deals, Surveys, Discounts and More.

For those of you who have the time and don’t mind earning money they are opportunities.

Garage Sales For Extreme Savers

If you’re part of the extreme savers club you likely enjoy garage sales where there are always bargains to be found.

Although we stick to our neighbourhood these days for garage sales just about every city has them on the weekends.

Saturday is the most popular day of the week to host a garage sale so we’d map out a plan and off we’d go.

Garage sales are also another place you can negotiate prices as homeowners want the stuff gone.

Extreme Savers Garden Swapping

organic rhubarb
Bunch of organic rhubarb from our garden

This is unique but a great way to save money especially when you space is tight on your property.

This year we are participating in a community garden but also swap our bounty with neighbours.

For example our neighbour grows zucchini where we do not so we swap for crab apples.

Our rhubarb plant is insane and another great garden swap for cucumbers, beets and lettuce.

Get to know your local neighbours or start a Facebook garden swap group and start saving and swapping.

Started A Blog

Canadian Budget Binder logo

Lastly, I started Canadian Budget Binder to share our journey as extreme savers in 2012.

Fast forward 9 years and I’m still here sharing our wins and losses with all of you.

This blog has gone from earning me zero dollars to a 5 figure business each year.

Although there are bloggers who earn enough money from blogging to quit their day job, I’m not one of them.

I love my career and the defined benefits plan that comes with it and can’t see myself blogging full-time.

Although for those of you who want to earn 5 or 6 figure incomes blogging it’s definitely a possibility.

It’s not easy to blog and earning money takes time but when it’s rolling in while you sleep it’s worth it.

Writing about what I’m passionate about and having people read what I write is amazing.

I’m true to my blog and followers who want the same things as we do, debt-freedom and choices.

This blog is not necessarily an extreme savers necessity but certainly, a dream come true for me.

Getting paid to do what you love is fantastic. I’ll be sharing my blogging journey with all of you soon.

Related: How I made my first $100 blogging on Canadian Budget Binder

That way those of you who want to learn how to earn money blogging can start minus my mistakes.

Yes, I could have been earning far earlier than I did but we learn from our mistakes.

Related: Mistakes I learned From Blogging Over The Years

Reality Life vs. Fantasy Life

Living in a fantasy life buying big houses and spending money that isn’t available is living a fantasy life.

The reality life is understanding why you don’t want to carry that fantasy and that it’s not needed.

I’m sure it’s safe to say that winning for us meant allowing us the freedom to make choices.

The fastest way to save money is to not spend it.

So if anything comes from this post let it remind you about the choice to be real or living a fantasy.

Discussion: What are some of the craziest things you’ve done as extreme savers? Share your stories below as I’d love to read about your journey.

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  1. many years ago you said that you will never buy a smart phone for your wife because she does not need it. also you were not used the idea in spend money in makeup ( in excess). Your wife spend hundred of dollars in beauty and your son has a tablet and you mention your wife has a 1000 dollars phone. I guess is because your blog make you affluent you can spend in frugalities. Time has show me that you change in the way you spend money even if you save. I admire the way you pay your mortgage in 5 years the way you save alot in the past all your passion when you wrote about it, lately I find you blog more money oriented and not the same that use to be. Thanks for your hard work and passion in the past years. I will stop being a reader of Canadian budget binder.

    1. Hi Ruth,
      First off, I’m sad to see you go. I also think that you misunderstand that frugal is different for everyone. I also feel you are judging us without really knowing what our family is going through.
      Yes, we are debt-free, and we sacrificed lots over the years, and at times, we enjoy spending some of our money, especially now that we have a child. The blog has nothing to do with this, and I spend countless hours researching and talking to other professionals to share what I feel are informative blog posts with all my readers. I’m always learning. It was me who didn’t have a phone in Canada, not my wife and the only reason I got one was because my employer thought it would be helpful to reach other colleagues in the facility. I took Mrs. CBB’s old phone, and she paid cash for a new one. She needed a good phone to monitor her dying mother on camera hours away, and we used it for business purposes. We also got rid of our home phone and have no cable. Cell phones are not cheap, and we don’t have a plan or data with Mrs. CBB’s phone. My phone does as it came with a $21 plan with data which was an excellent deal. We also got rid of our second vehicle to save money. You will see health and beauty products increase because my wife has a severe allergy which means she can only purchase certain products for her skin, hair and laundry. Mrs. CBB hardly, if EVER, buys makeup, so I’m not sure where you are getting that information from. In fact, she only wears a bit of coverup as her skin is sensitive. She also lives with a life-long disease that requires certain products that she has to pay for from time to time. These are just new from over the past few years, so we separated our budget categories. Every budget will always be different, and we can’t compare, which is what I’ve always said. It’s based on so many factors. I’m not sure if you expected us to live off the same budget forever, as that will not be the case because life happens, health issues have been our biggest expenses. We are renovating our house slowly, which is expensive, and our son has Autism which has cost us quite a bit of money over the past three years. So, our life behind the scenes is more than just being frugal which you don’t know about. I’m sad to see you go over us buying a phone for our business and personal family life that I haven’t felt the need to discuss in full as it’s personal and sensitive. I”m sad that you don’t think we are frugal when we are. Take care.

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