If you're ever depressed, spend some time in our Fool Community of discussion boards. You'll likely run across people who make you laugh -- often while they teach you something. That happened to me recently, when I stumbled upon a certain discussion on our Living Below Your Means board. It was launched when one member invited others to share stories of the most frugal person they know.
Here are some snippets from the many responses:
FoolYap said: "My dad's been known to demolish some old, past-its-prime building on the farm, and recycle the pulled nails by pounding them out (somewhat) straight again. I have nightmares about the day when my parents die and I'm surrounded by three acres of plastic buckets and coffee cans full of rusty random bits to sort through and dispose of."
Jennie104 nominated her brother-in-law, saying, "[He] has a black rotary dial phone that he bought at a yard sale for $1.00. It also actually costs about a dollar less per month on his phone bill to use that instead of those newfangled pushbutton phones." He also "Calls different gas stations in town to check on gas prices (lowest one wins). Can't do it online because he has no online!" To be fair, she added that: "But.... He has four [Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HDI ) motorcycles], a brand new pickup, a refurbished (i.e. running) Model A, my sister has a new SUV, and his daughter just went off to college. ALL PAID FOR IN CASH."
RosemarysBaby said: "My grandfather regularly 'shopped' at the dump. He would bring home sets of towels, pots and pans (I have 2 pots that I use all the time that he found at the dump).... Despite the fact that both of them probably made only slightly more than minimum wage their whole lives, they passed away with a surprisingly large amount of money."
Rizzo21's most frugal nominee was: "My rich uncle who owned a factory and sits on several boards of directors. Conventional wisdom has it that he's worth a couple million, but I know he drives a 10-year-old car, has lived in the same modest house for 50 years, and uses an old wallet held together by duct tape. No Rolex or expensive palm pilot, just small pieces of paper folded up in that decrepit wallet with everyone's phone numbers/addresses on them."
Sugarski shook her head about her mother-in-law: "Her house is carpeted, and she has a long-haired cat, but she won't get a good-quality vacuum cleaner. The mattress we sleep on is 20-plus years old, came used from a nursing home, and is as supportive as a handful of cooked ziti, but it's beyond her why we don't sleep well in it."
In another discussion, titled, "I'm so frugal, I.", 4site noted that,"[I] wear my pants and jeans several times before washing them, as long as they are not dirty, why waste the water, soap, and (since I am a renter) money washing? I do wash the shirts after one wearing though, since sweat smells. Buy some food items from your Target (NYSE: TGT ) or Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) stores -- you'd be amazed at how much cheaper they can be compared to the local grocery stores on certain items."
Mjsr said: "[I] make my own household cleaner instead of buying store brands" and "make the dog go out and get the paper to save wear on my slippers."
LongtimeFoolcontributorSelena Maranjianowns shares of Wal-Mart.