Q&A: Victoria Hunt of “Extreme Cheapskates”

  • Photo by Tim Johnson
By Columbus Alive
From the October 25, 2012 edition

Victoria Hunt was recently featured on TLC’s reality series “Extreme Cheapskates” for the radical lengths she goes to save a few dollars. Those dollars have added up, and Hunt is a millionaire — a millionaire who Dumpster dives. But Hunt’s reasons for her cheapskate ways aren’t just to save money; it’s also about being environmentally conscious.

I started these methods in my early twenties. I was a single parent with a small baby. When I got a good career going I immediately set up a life budget. I put in all my income and projected all the way out to 110 [years old]. I covered everything — inflation, helping my son with a car when he’s 16, helping him with college.

As I got older I really missed my original calling. I really wanted to be a park ranger and be out in the wilderness. Trying to waste less brought me back to nature — saving money and wasting less go hand-in-hand.

The thing that I’m really getting notoriety for is peeing in a bottle. I love the art and science of making compost, and putting urine in there makes it work much better. But I don’t have to flush as much. I did the math: Here in Columbus, where our water bills have gone up 35 percent the last three years, it saves a couple dollars a month.

I have three chickens. I Dumpster dive to save on the cost of feed. I love my eggs. Before I had my chickens, people always told me I had to have fresh eggs. Now, I get ill tasting regular eggs. You can definitely tell the difference.

There’s this unspoken ritual we do in America: If we don’t want something but don’t want to throw it away, we set it by the garbage can or at the end of the street. They’ll put out a stereo or a vacuum cleaner. Instead of buying a new one and burning the oil to make that stuff, I take it home, clean it and use it.

Besides “Extreme Cheapskates,” I’ll be appearing on “Steve Harvey.” I was also on “Anderson Live.”

Somebody had thrown away really high-quality children’s clothing. There were 100 pieces in there. I washed them and I’m waiting for someone in my life that needs them. That’s like hundreds of dollars there. When I’m doing “Steve Harvey” next week, they want to recreate Dumpster diving, and I’m taking the children’s clothing. I’ll ask the producer if I could offer them as a donation to someone in the audience.