What exactly is Extreme Frugality?

Extreme frugality is being practiced by a lot of people nowadays. But why? To answer the question, let us first define the word Frugality. Frugality is the process of forgoing certain benefits, services or comforts in order to save money. Being frugal encompasses certain approaches and techniques highly useful to save money. Being frugal and saving money is a good habit in current economic times. There are many times that people go too far in being frugal for unpractical reasons. This is where the process of extreme frugality comes into play. When individuals forgo more than what they can handle, they are practicing extreme frugality. People often perceive being extremely frugal as something negative. It is good to save money but not go to extreme practices in order to save it.

Extreme Frugality

There have been many documented cases where frugality has taken its toll on people to extreme measures.

A frugal lifestyle is the product of current economic conditions, high unemployment and the rising costs of living. However, there have been many documented cases where frugality has taken its toll on people to extreme measures. Some common examples are spending more than 20 hours per week cutting, sorting and planning shopping scenarios with coupons, a process known as extreme couponing. The following list represents the most common extreme measures of frugality:

  1. Not buying essential and necessary items unless they are on sale.
  2. Having dinner at relatives’ or friends’ homes on a constant basis.
  3. Abusing free Wi-Fi in public areas for countless hours to avoid paying internet service.
  4. Compromising values, ethics and other stances just to save a few dollars.
  5. Letting other people pay for one’s own check at a restaurant.

What are the causes of Extreme Frugality?

The major cause of extreme frugality is the sudden occurrence of income loss. Unemployed people or people with no income have a higher chance to practice extreme frugality on a constant basis. Apart from economic factors, once an individual has fallen into being extremely frugal. It is hard to destroy the barrier due to psychological reasons. Individuals who fall into extreme frugality keep practicing it due to their psychological needs.

The psychology behind extreme frugality is determined with results. Individuals feel satisfied, rewarded or somehow alleviated when saving money. There is a direct correlation with saving a lot of money and focusing on extreme frugality. However, the approach not a healthy approach. It puts at risk many important areas of the individual’s life just to save money.

Education, socioeconomic status, family history, and life experiences are also other causes of extreme frugality. The environment from which an individual has lived his or her entire life directly impacts how he or she thinks about how to save money. Several other factors contribute to this occurrence and the possibility of individuals to stay frugal for the rest of their lives. These factors are highly dependent upon ideologies, willingness to work hard, and live well.

Statistics and Extreme Examples of Frugality


Unemployment is a major contributor to extreme frugality.

Real-life examples of extreme frugality and their respective statistics give an insight into knowing how far this practice has taken its toll. The following list represents the most conventional extreme examples of frugality highly visible in today’s population:

  1. Not using toilet paper and opting for reusable cloth instead.
  2. The preference to sleep on the floor instead of sleeping on a bed.
  3. Urinating or defecating in public places instead of using the toilet to save water.
  4. Eating minimal portions of the least expensive food on a daily basis.
  5. Eating expired foods to avoid spending money on new food items.
  6. Focusing more than 20 hours per week on being frugal.
  7. Reusing dirty and used underwear to avoid washing them.
  8. Collecting hundreds of product samples to avoid buying the product.
  9. Lacking basic items such as soap, food or water just to save money.

Given these extreme examples, it is also necessary to note how prevalent they are in terms of practice around the United States. Majority of people would believe that the number of people practicing these approaches is minimal. But, statistics do speak for themselves and are quite significant in volume.

Several statistical studies have determined that out of the 15.3 million people unemployed or in tough economic circumstances, an approximated 20% practice extreme frugality. This statistical result represents that there are approximately 3 to 4 million people in the United States who practice extreme frugality on a constant basis. This is a small fraction of the population. But it is still quite significant given the extension of its results and effects on the same segment of the population.

Another important characteristic about extreme frugality is the fact that its practice is highly dependent upon economic circumstances and socioeconomic status at the individual level. Experts have seen higher levels of extreme frugality during crises and harsh economic times while lower levels are natural within a prosperous and well-conditioned economy. This trend leaves us with the conclusion that extreme frugality tends to grow and shrink several times of the year to extreme levels and non-existent levels. The practice has a high degree of variability and the statistics constantly change dependent upon economic progress.

Has Extreme Frugality Gone Too Far?


Frugality is directly correlated with bad economic times.

Extreme frugality will be present regardless of how radical economic circumstances may be at any given time. It is important to note that extreme frugality is currently going too far given the numbers and statistics mentioned. It is very likely that those numbers will reduce overtime. Factors such as creation of employment, career prospects, development of new ideas, international trade and others give extreme frugality a temporary end. Likewise, when unemployment persists and other negative economic factors come into play, extreme examples of frugality will grow and be more visible.

The correlation represents that extreme frugality right now is growing and going too far in many scenarios and cases. People must avoid going to extreme scenarios just to save a few dollars. People should remain competitive, aspire for better things, work intelligently and constantly seek new opportunities to prevent behaviors such as these. Having the idea that saving money is great but always with the right and non-extremist approach is even healthier in the long run.