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What is a Grocery Store Loss Leader? How Does it Save Money on Groceries?

When I got on out on my own in the big bad world, I quickly learned that things cost money.  Shocking, I know.  I wanted to learn how to save money and eagerly dove in to read what everyone considers the epic and all time frugal living and money saving guidebook The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (you can learn more about it here.) ( Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience .)  Despite the preachy tone in the later chapters of the book (when you can tell she admitted to be burned out on writing her newsletter in the 90’s) and a few of the now outdated tips (floppy disks!) there are still some decent frugal hacks in her book that are useful today.  For example, Dacyczyn’s  (she pronounces it like Decision )  greatest money saving tip is how to save money on groceries by only buying the Loss Leaders.  Only problem is Dacyczyn doesn’t tell you what  a loss leader is and how to find them in the  store.   Save this money saving idea to your Pinterest boards f

10 Extreme Cheapskate Money Saving Tips You Won’t be Embarrassed to Try

Last weekend I was sick and got sucked into watching several reruns of the show Extreme Cheapskates (I included affiliate links in this post for your convenience) because I couldn’t find the TV remote buried somewhere in my blanket nest on the sofa.

It confirmed my sneaking suspicion that The Learning Channel turned into The Laugh at Freaks Channel. 

Jordan the bartering guy confirms Extreme Cheapskates set up scenarios to make him look like he won’t pay for anything when he actually does, in his blog post My Media Guy TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates: The True Story.

Worse is Broke Rich Girl’s experience that TLC lied to her when she declined to apply to be on the show. Extremem Cheapskates production people said they wanted her to “be the voice of reason” and later on in the process told her they wanted her to sign up for on line dating as a way to get free meals and show it on TV.  How sleazy is that?!

She declined. You go girl!

10 Not So Extreme Frugal Hacks for Normal People  

The thing is, if you strip away the fake jacked up borderline illegal and unethical craziness of reality television there are some general budgeting ideas that will help you save a little money, that don't sound so extreme or crazy, and will keep your ethics intact. 

10 Not So Extreme Budget Lessons from Extreme Cheapskates
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Some may not be new to you or things you already do, others may be something that don’t apply or you don’t want to do. That's cool.

1. They Make Financial Goals – Extreme Cheapskates rarely or barely mentions this because TLC wants to make the people they feature look like miserly money hoarders. If you pay close attention, you’ll see financial goals like:
That doesn’t sound so crazy does it?

Financial goals are a good thing to keep in mind when you are on the fence about making a splurge on something that is a want instead of a need.

2. They Keep Track of Expenses – Extreme Cheapskates makes updating personal finance spreadsheet or Quicken a little OCD. Possibly, but you aren’t going to get an accurate picture of how much money you have,  where it is going, and the progress you are making toward your financial goals unless you write it down somewhere?

3. Many of Them are Minimalists – Considering quality verses quantity of the item usually leads to a better return on the investment and in turn saves money because you don’t have to keep replacing the item. But let's face it living by the popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up sounds less crazy on TV than if you repackage the same thing as OMG Lisa only has 5 knives in her kitchen! it sounds extreme.

How to choose a good kitchen knife
By the way, those 5 knives in my kitchen are a block of quality kitchen knives like these and a knife sharpener to replace my former drawer full of cheap knives that dulled and couldn't be sharpened.

4. They Do Not Waste Things –  In my experience generating less household trash for environmental reasons also leads to saving money. For example:
  • Unplugging small electronics after each use (when appropriate) reduces the amount of electricity appliances draw from the outlet when not in use (commonly called vampire power.) Doing so helped my family reduce our yearly utility bills by 30% and we've kept our use low 8 years since. 

  • Flushing the toilet less frequently – there are plenty of folks who if it’s yellow let it mellow for environmental reasons or live in a drought area. It’s not for me but TLC knows it is weird enough to make good TV.

  • Composting food scraps and yard waste into free gardening fertilizer. Which one sounds crazy extreme? 
  1. Lisa turned the 100% clay soil around her home into rich gardening soil by fertilizing with DIY compost and compost tea.
  2. Lisa is so cheap she lets food scraps rot and buries it in her yard and flower pots!

  • Donating or selling items they no longer use. Personally I'm better at donating than selling stuff when it should probably be the other way around...

  • Add your tips to the comments section below!

5. They Do Not Replace Items as Often (especially if they focus on quality vs quantity,) Fix Things When They Brake, or Repurpose Old Items – If you aren’t handy, chances are you know someone who is or can hire a repair person to do it for you. I’m pretty good at DIY on my blog Condo Blues because I believe smacking stuff with a hammer is cheaper than therapy (plus you get a custom remodeled bathroom when you are done.) In the case of my DIY bathroom remodel, saving money by doing it myself in one area meant I had the funds to splurge another - hello granite topped vanity!

6. They Share or Borrow Things - Using a public library is an excellent example! Using our tool lending library for tools we'll probably only use once cuts down on garage clutter and the small fee was cheaper than a tool rental shop.

budget landscaping hack rent garden tools from a free tool library

7. They Use or Reuse What They Have First –  Most of the items of my personal 12 Things I Do Not Buy list are disposable things I replaced with a reusable. Our family philosophy is to get an extra reuse out of as much as we can before we throw it away for space saving and environmental reasons but I'm not crying in my oatmeal when it gives a few extra bucks for our Travel Fund and allows us to pay cash for fancy vacations.

reuse old towels instead of paper towels
I washed, cut, and hemmed old towels to use instead of paper towels. I have a roll of emergency paper towels for anything involving bodily fluids because I’m squeamish. I have had the same roll for almost three years.

8. They Don’t Care if Others Think They are Weird for Not Keeping Up With the Jones – Often TLC edits a voice over to play over different video to make the people on the show on look like cheap freaks (not cool TLC!)   And yet, to be fair, some of Extreme Cheapskates ways to save money are not for everyone  and can honestly be put in the excessive category. Personally dumpster diving for food or washing and reusing paper towels is not my thing but who am I to judge when I fertilize my vegetable plants with liquid rotted food and plant matter?

26 weird ways to save money
Some of these 26 Weird Ways to Save Money aren’t for everyone and that’s OK.

9. Willing to Work a Little Harder - In all honesty “cheapskate” activities  such as cooking dinner from scratch every night, DIY, gardening, canning and preserving food, baking bread, hunting, fishing, etc. are also considered hobbies people do simply because they enjoy them.

how to make dried butternut squash dog treats
Lacey likes it when I make dried butternut squash dog treats from extra garden squash.
Her vet gave me a gold star for giving Lacey healthy dog treats. A win win! 

10. Comparison shop – TLC specifically did want to feature the people on Extreme Cheapskates shopping sales, calculating and comparing unit prices, using coupons, and shopping non traditional stores because they feature that on their show Extreme Couponing, but chances are they do.

how to find and calcuate the unit price to save money
I am very bad at comparing unit prices when I grocery shop. 
I wrote this post to help remind me to do it.

What are your tips?

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