Squirreling Gone Wild: The Frugal Olympics

With the world’s attention on the Olympics later this summer, many people will admire the amazing abilities and accomplishments of those who

Run after those pennies!

are able to compete atthe highest level in their sport. It takes a rare combination of talent, hard work, and desire in order to reach the pinnacle of success.

Perhaps we can follow the lead of the world’s best athletes, and apply those principles to personal finance.  One way would be to try to become a frugal athlete, as we train to be the best we can be when it comes to saving. We can all get better, right?

Well, we most certainly can get beter – at least most of us, anyway.  Of course, to reach the heights of ability, we would have to compete against the best of the best.  What I’m referring to is the Olympics of saving money.

These “competitors” are the ones who find way to take saving money to the next level.  The most hard-core examples of saving money that I’ve encountered are profiled here in the Squirreling Gone Wild series.  These are situations that I’ve seen where people have taken some extreme measures to save money.  There have been 33 editions of the series to date, and admittedly, I’ve been the subject of a few of the posts :)

With that in mind, I went through the posts to date, and revisited some of the approaches people took to save a few dollars…or pennies in some cases:)  After a difficult review, I’ve found three extreme frugality practitioners that can be declared the medal winners in the Frugal Olympics!

Here they are, counting down to the top spot:

3rd Place – Bronze Medal:  The Bird Brain.  This guy didn’t want to spend money on a pet, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, he went so far as talking about buying his kids an old pet bird so it would die soon and he wouldn’t have to spend money on recurring food costs. You can read the full story to get an idea of how excessively (shamefully?) frugal this guy’s mind was.

2nd Place – Silver Medal: The Crafty WaitressOn a business trip I had taken, a waitress tried to secure a better than 50% tip on a bill that was less than $10.  Her first tactic was to bring me 2 $5 bills as change after I gave her a $20 bill for a check that totaled $9.83. With her second tactic, she tried to play the delay game by telling me it would take her quite a while to break one of the $5 bills into singles.  I handled the situation, as you can read.

1st Place – Gold Medal: Take a Penny for Free GasThis guy, back in the day, took one cent from the “take a penny” jar every time he went to the gas station. He deliberately filled up to one penny over a whole dollar amount, then paid cash. Except, of course, for the penny he took from the jar on purpose. His reasoning was that eventually this would get him to a free gallon of gas, after all his incremental efforts.  That’s about as “extreme frugal” as you can get!

So there you go. These are the medal winners in the “Frugal Olympics”:

There were two others that merit special mention, but couldn’t make the top 3.  One was my own frugal excess in the drive through discount, where I regularly picked up loose change while getting coffee at the drive through.  You can might find enough money under the window to add up to a decent discount! The other one was The Extractor, who was truly a gold-medal talent, but I have to disqualify this one as I was the one who was the victim of the extraction! You can read that one to see the painful details :)

My Questions for You:

Which of the Squirreling Gone Wild situations were the most notable examples of extreme frugality to you?

Would you pick other “medal” winners from what you’ve read of the other editions of SGW?

What is the most extreme example of frugality that you have personally ever seen or heard of?



  1. says

    Funny – buy an old bird so it dies soon. BUT the guy had a good point, you buy a pet for life and sometimes that can be a long time. I wrote a post for Prairie Eco Thrifter about how much our ‘free’ kitten cost us over its 18 year lifespan – and trust me, it was significant!

    • Squirrelers says

      Marie – those costs can really add up, which is why I think that guy was panicking a bit. A creative way to be frugal! Not one I’d recommend of course.

  2. says

    I wouldn’t call those people frugal at all. If anything they are disturbingly cheap in my view. In the case of the 3rd place finisher, anyone who would do that to their children is borderline unfit as a parent. Nevermind tricking family members, he was going to purposefully put his kids through hell, since most of us know that kids get attached to pets rather quickly. He would intentionally bring home a pet that would purposefully dies and break his kids’ hearts, then what? Tell them he wasn’t going to replace it? That’s so far beyond wrong, I’m not sure there is a word for it that, other than a few choice phrases that aren’t suitable for some people’s ears.

    • Squirrelers says

      Eric – I can see the guy wanting to get an old pet as being “out there”. The other 2…well, I thought the watiress was shifty, as I had to deal with it. The take a penny one….not disturbing to me. Just an example of extreme frugality. Really, overall I personally think all these types of stories are funny in their own way!

  3. Squirrelers says

    C.D. – well, then it’s a good thing that it wasn’t me who engaged these extreme frugality measures. Anyway, I do have to say that despite being the victim of crafty waitress, I don’t find it so offensive as to miss the humor in her efforts!

  4. says

    I have experienced a lot of “crafty waitresses” and waiters. Some of them are service crews of fast food chains, I won’t mention which. They will not give your change worth a penny, dime, or nickel because they do not have “sufficient coins”. But come to think of it, how many customers become their “innocent victims” with this trick? Imagine how much extra money they would “earn” in a day.

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