Cait’s Extreme Frugal Tips


Many people consider themselves frugal, even cheap. However, I don’t know anyone so unwilling to part with money as my sister, Cait. Getting her to spend money on anything is a challenge. Her techniques are a little extreme, but they’re worth sharing.

Cait’s extreme frugal tip (CEFT) #1: Eat a plain peanut butter sandwich for lunch every single day.
She’s been doing this for the last three years. Sometimes she throws in an apple or some other fruit, but that usually comes from the thousands of pounds of fruit that come through the distillery where she works. Her coworkers cajoled, teased, and finally gave up trying to get her to indulge in some variety. The only exception is when work buys everyone lunch, in which case, she puts her packed peanut butter in the refrigerator for the next day.  According to her, “after about three days a sandwich will start getting a little funky, but they do last quite a while.”

Cait buys peanut butter in bulk and keeps the rest of her food bill modest by eating simply. Usually “simply” translates to “lots of beans.” She used to allow herself a latte on Friday mornings, but recently traded that expense for a burrito at Chipotle every other week. The only other time she eats out is with friends, but work keeps her so busy that there’s little time for that. Even when I visit, half the time she makes dinner at home rather than go out. I don’t mind, though. She’s an excellent cook.

CEFT #2: No heat, more blankets
In the winter, she doesn’t heat her apartment. I’m not kidding. She’ll turn on the heat in the living room a little if I spend the night on her couch, but when I walk into the room the temperature gauge on the space heater she doesn’t use usually reads about 50 degrees. She would much rather curl up with a pile of blankets than part with just a few dollars to keep the end of her nose from freezing. As she puts it, “I’m home for maybe two hours a day when I’m not sleeping, between work and the gym. Why waste the money?”  To be fair, her heaters are very inefficient, so this tip is as logical as it is frugal.

CEFT #3: Interwhat?
Cait has no Internet. In fact, her friends that live across the street bought her a range extender for Christmas one year so she could share their Internet. However, her computer is almost eight years old and didn’t work with the extender. She’s unwilling to buy a new one because A) she doesn’t run anything that really needs a faster/better computer, and B) right now there’s nothing in her apartment worth stealing and she’d like to keep it that way. Instead, she shows up early to work every day, makes coffee, checks her email and Facebook, and says that’s all she really needs.

CEFT #4: Dress like a lovable street urchin
Cait doesn’t even buy clothes if she doesn’t have to. She patches her pants, especially work pants that have a tendency to get very dirty. I believe the last pair she bought were from Bi-Mart (a NW discount retailer), and probably cost about $20.

She might sound a little nuts, but the little pain in the neck’s Scrooge syndrome often results in her stashing away half her paycheck. Crazy like a fox.

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