When my husband and I decided to pay off $117,000 of student loans in three years, we knew we’d have to do things a little differently.

As Dave Ramsey says “live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else.”

We’ve found many ways to save money.  Here are a few of the craziest things we’ve done in the name of frugality!

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I drive an 18 year old car.

I still drive my very first car.  It’s full of rust, the heat/AC is out half the time, and it’s usually making some sort of bizarre noise.

It’s definitely what most people would consider embarrassing, but it’s worth it not to have a car payment!  Because the car is old, my tabs and car insurance payments are dirt cheap.

18 inches of snow did a great job of covering up the rust.

My husband used to drive a goofy looking Smart car.

I never would’ve guessed that my husband would end up owning one of the slowest cars ever.  My hubby loves fast cars and used to drive a supercharged, snazzy looking orange car (aka The Pumpkin).

Related Post: 5 Reasons Why We Bought a Smart Car

When The Pumpkin’s transmission died (again), we decided not to spend thousands of dollars on repairs for a car that already had nearly 200,000 miles on it.

Instead, we carpooled for a couple months while we saved up $4,000 as quickly as we could…so we could purchase a used Smart car with cash.

smart car small red

The Smartie

We’ve never paid for a vacation.

In the 10 years that my husband and I have been together, we’ve never paid for an actual vacation. We’ve taken many short road trips, but we’ve only been on three “real” vacations together.

Our trips to South Carolina, Arizona (our honeymoon), and Hawaii were made possible by my in-laws’ timeshare.  We are SO grateful to them for this.

Related Post: 5 Ways to Save Money While Traveling

We can’t wait to finally make traveling a priority once we’re debt-free!

I’m on a three year spending ban.

Okay, I know this sounds a little crazy to some people, but I swear it’s not as insane as it sounds!  The “spending ban” is just a general rule that I like to live by because it saves money and it makes budgeting MUCH easier.

I usually don’t spend money on non-essentials, such as new clothes, books, or outings with friends.  That being said, I do occasionally make exceptions for birthdays, other special occasions, or “just because”.

As we continue to pay off more debt (only $30,000 left to go!), I feel more comfortable being a little less strict about the spending ban.

Related Post: My 3 Year Spending Ban: 25 Things I Stopped Buying

We get free stuff or buy secondhand.

Our desk area doesn’t exactly make for a picture perfect Instagram image.  I bought the desk at an estate sale years ago, we got the filing cabinet for free from the side of the road (it was a little dirty, but it was fine once we cleaned it out), and my desk chair was purchased on sale for 50% off.

Because I’m on a spending ban, I rarely buy new things.  When I decide to make an exception, I almost never pay full price.

I’ll instead buy things on sale, use coupons, shop garage sales, or use websites like Ebates and Ibotta to earn cash back on the purchase.

I stopped dyeing my hair.

This might not sound crazy unless you know me.  I started dyeing my hair at 14 and finally stopped at 26.  I love dyeing my hair and I’ve had every shade of (naturally occurring) hair color possible (blonde, brown, red, black).

I’ve never been a huge spender, but my hair was one thing I used to splurge on A LOT.  Since we committed to paying off debt, I stopped dyeing my hair and went back to my natural ash blonde hair color.

I also only get my hair cut once per year by a friend who does it for free.  She’s learning how to cut hair and I get a free haircut.  It’s a win-win!

I buy toiletries and cleaning supplies at The Dollar Store or make them myself.

I used to stock up on toiletries (lotion, perfume, etc.) at Bath and Body Works for around $50.  Now, I buy my lotion and perfume at The Dollar Store for just a couple dollars.

Another thing I’ve tried to save money is making my own laundry detergent.  This is much cheaper than buying detergent at a store and it lasts longer.

We’ve never paid for cable and don’t plan to.

My husband and I live with my parents, so there’s no need to pay for cable currently (my parents pay for it).  I

n the time we’ve lived with them, we’ve watched cable a handful of times (only when the internet is down and we can’t get Netflix to work).

When we buy our own home, we won’t be purchasing cable.  We’d never use it and it’s ridiculously expensive.  I’d much rather continue paying just $12/month for Netflix.

I skipped dental insurance for a year.

I’d never encourage anyone to skip out on medical insurance because the risk is too high.  Even if you’re generally healthy, you could end up needing surgery or something and then you’d be out thousands of dollars.

The risk of going without medical insurance is high and the potential benefit is also high (your insurance could cover thousands of dollars’ worth of medical expenses).

Dental insurance is a different story.  For many people, the risk of going without it is fairly low and the potential benefit is also low.

I have dental insurance now, and the maximum coverage benefit is $1,000.  If I were to get, for example, $20k of dental work done, I’d be paying $19k of that out of pocket anyway.

Is it worth it to pay $300+ per year for premiums just to get coverage that maxes out at $1,000?  Debatable.

We live in my parents’ basement.

This in itself is not so crazy…1 in 3 millennials live with their parents, primarily due to unprecedented levels of student loan debt.

Being a boomerang kid isn’t unusual, but there are a few things about our situation that might be a little out of the norm.

For one, we live in Minnesota and my parents like to keep their heating bill low during the winter.  That means it’s usually about 60-65 degrees in the basement for half of the year.

We have plastic covering all of our basement windows to reduce the amount of heat that’s lost through windows, and we put towels underneath the doors.

My husband and I both wear multiple layers of pants, tops, and footwear (socks and slippers) to stay warm.  It’s not ideal during the winter, but living in a basement has it perks during the hot summer months!

Is this extreme frugal living?

We’ve done a lot of different things to save money – these are just a few of the craziest things!  What do you think?

Is this extreme frugal living…or just a typical amount of frugality?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done to save money?

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