When times are tough, people typically rein in their budgets. While most people cut everyday extravagances like gourmet coffee or premium cable channels, others take frugality to the extreme. Here are some unusual ways people are trying to save money:
Toilet training your cat: Buying kitty litter will put a dent in your wallet. Cleaning up the box is another pain. The ultra-frugal are addressing the issue by toilet training their cats. If that seems like too much work (or Lord Fluffington proves uncooperative), you could try making your own kitty litter instead.
Reusing toilet cloths: Some penny-pinching consumers have switched from toilet paper to cloth napkins, which have the added benefit of helping the environment. The same principle applies to paper towels, though with less of the ick factor.
Green-minded savers say that wiping with cloth in the bathroom is similar to using cloth diapers on babies instead of disposable ones. Wallypop, a family business in Des Moines, Iowa, sells colorful wipes in a variety of fabrics. The reusable towels are machine washable.
Picking up plants from funeral homes: Fresh flowers can brighten up a home, but they can be expensive. The obvious solution is to grow your own, but that's messy and takes time. Some people have tried calling local funeral homes to see if they can take plants left over from funerals. Mourners seldom take home all their flowers, and funeral directors might be happy to unload the bouquets.
Turning pet hair into clothing: Knitting can be a wonderfully frugal way to outfit your family. If you're an extreme saver, there's a way to avoid buying yarn. Kendall Crolius tells readers how to turn extraneous pet hair into yarn in her book Knitting With Dog Hair. The book's tagline says it all: "Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than from a sheep you'll never meet."
Baking cookies in cars: If you have a sweet tooth and live in a warm climate, you could cut the cost of your treats by making them in a solar oven. These metal rigs use the sun's rays to cook food for free.
The Baking Bites blog takes this idea a step further by showing you how to bake cookies in your car on hot summer days. The process might leave your vehicle smelling of chocolate chip cookies for the rest of the week, which some people might consider a good thing.
Although it's wise to cut expenses when the economy spirals, some things shouldn't be discounted. But it's up to you to make that distinction.