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Extreme Frugality: Living in a Cardboard Box

Last year at this time I wrote to you about how we blew all of our assets. I have learned my lesson and this year we have buckled down hard. There will be no trouble with Ferrari’s this time around. This year April 1 is all about being as cheap as possible. We’ll pay off that debt and retire before you can ask what day it is.  We’re going Extreme Frugality!

It all started while watching a show on TLC in a Department store window called Extreme Cheapskates. That show gave me all sorts of solutions. Besides with no job I did not have a lot of options.

So the first thing we did was scrounge in a dumpster behind a restaurant for food. After all you can’t make a plan on an empty stomach. Everyone knows you need a plan to improve your finances. I realized quickly I had some basic questions to answer. Where to live? How to get water? What to eat? What job will pay the bills?

Where to Live

After a hardy meal of someone’s leftover restaurant lasagna we stumbled across a collection of large cardboard Amazon boxes. Aha! The perfect home. We compiled our card board boxes in a remote location on a bit of public land. Sure our boxes do not provide heat, electricity, water, or air conditioning. But it’s cheap. Added bonus, the big Amazon logo makes a very good stand in for a poster in our kids bedroom. No need to decorate the walls!

We setup our home near all the important places, our job, sources of food, and more boxes so we would not need a car. In fact we are so close we don’t even need to splurge on one of those expensive contraptions called a bike. We can walk there. It’s too bad we will occasionally have to pay to replace our shoes from all the walking.

Source of Water

We have setup a rain barrel I also found in the trash for water. This keeps us in a regular supply of water, though unfortunately each time in rains it is a bit detrimental to our home’s integrity. As such we’ve made sure the public land is not far from the recycling center with the cardboard boxes. We can always build again if we have too.

Food sources

We continue to scrounge from the local restaurant dumpster for food. If we get lucky sometimes some wealthy person orders the crab and doesn’t eat it all. Maybe some day I’ll get more daring and see if I can grab the leftovers before the bus boys clear the tables. It would avoid the ants we sometimes get in our food. My wife also does extreme couponing so one day a week we have a non pre picked over meal. She only spends about 60 hours a week picking out coupons to get the cost under 5 dollars. Cha-Ching!

A Job

Meanwhile I have found the perfect job for me. I am now begging on street for about 2 hours a day. I earn a good living of 10 dollars an hour or so depending on the kindness of strangers. With free food and free lodging that money goes far. So I figure in total we spend about 25 dollars a month. After we pay off the million dollars we owe from last April 1st we should only need one additional year to retire. I’m counting the centuries.

Heat Sources

In the winter cold heat can be a real issue, especially when living in a cardboard box. Thankfully we can get plenty of logs from the fallen down trees on the public lands. We just have to be careful not to burn down our home. Totally free firewood really keeps the cost here at zero.


We do still need the ocassional entertainment like writing this blog and watching TV? All work and no play would make someone nuts. As such our little home is also not far from a public library. Hours of internet plus free air conditioning and heat when the temps are not quite right for our home. I tell the kids to soak up as much hot and cold as they can so they don’t get cold in the winter when we get back to our box.

Hygiene and Clothes

But what about showers you ask? Well there is a stream on the public land, so we just take a dip when needed. Besides, people don’t mind much if you smell when you are a beggar. This is especially true when you make most of your clothes out of dried leaves. Hey, its the latest style! Sadly I have yet to determine how to make this work for shoes.

This April Fools post is largely tongue in cheek, but I do wonder sometimes if this is how people perceive those that are frugal. I have touched on each of the stereotypes in turn: Lazy, takes forever to make a million, and extreme self deprivation. Needless to say none of this is reality for myself or my family, nor would I suspect it is for most frugal people. My apologies if anything in this post offends, and any and all simularities to someone real or imagined are purely coincidental.


  1. Troy @ Bull Markets
    Troy @ Bull Markets April 5, 2018

    Living in a cardboard box can get expensive 😉

    I saw this metal shack here in downtown Sydney sell for $1.7 million.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance April 8, 2018

      I believe it. After staying in Melbourne for a few months I can’t see how normal people survive in these cities.

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