Craziest Things to Save Money

craziest things to save moneyWhat’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to save money? Some people will take epic steps just to save a few bucks. One of the things that has resonated with our listeners on the Clark Howard show is extending the use of your disposable razor. We’ve had people call in that have been using a 19 cent razor for over a year! One of our listeners even created a product that dries out your razor to extend its life. This penny-pinching razor madness has turned into a phenomenon and taken on a life of its own. Using one cheapo blade that costs less than a quarter for that long seems just a bit insane to me although I do love to see the passion that people have to save a few bucks though.

Another listener once told me they dry out their previously used coffee grounds and brew another pot with them. That’s a little crazy too, right? I mean, how far is too far to save a buck?

What about diving headfirst into a trashcan? About 7 years ago Wendy’s advertised a special offer with Airtran Airlines. If you could collect 64 Wendy’s cups you got a free flight on Airtran to any of their domestic destinations. That was a pretty sweet promo! My buddy Travis took to the dumpsters behind Wendy’s after closing time more than once during that promotion and scored himself a few free flights. That’s kind of crazy too but a free flight is a pretty sweet reward. If I could go back in time I think I would have joined him for that crazy money saving venture. Speaking of dumpster diving, did you know that some people dumpster dive for food? It’s called Freeganism and it’s been around since the 90’s. Count me out for that one.

I got to thinking about this because, as I mentioned on Twitter the other day, I’m about to start cutting my own hair when I can gather enough courage. I know lots of people do this. But I’m nervous! Plus, haircuts only cost about $12. So am I being too cheap? I do have to look at least semi-professional (yes, even in the radio biz).

bad haircut

I don’t want to look like this!

But now I guess I have to reveal the craziest thing I’ve done to save money. I couldn’t come up with one ludicrous thing so I’ll name a few. I made my pregnant wife walk a couple of extra blocks to all (and there were many) of our doctor appointments to save a $5 parking fee. Too much? Maybe, but she was a great sport. I fill up a couple of water bottles before I leave work too. Every day. Is that weird? Maybe. But it is all in the name of cutting my water costs. I’ll forsake the convenience of a car and take the bus on trips whenever possible. I once got my head shaved to raise money for charity. Crazy? I thought so. You might have caught on at this point –  I don’t want to screw up the hair!

So what is the craziest thing you’ve done to save money? Taking ketchup packets home from the fast food restaurant? Do you unplug everything before you leave the house? Do we have any dumpster divers out there? Maybe you have a no new clothes policy and only go to the thrift store for your threads. Whatever your cheapskate indulgence is I would love to hear it. Tell me about it in the comments section below! Maybe I’ll pick up an extra odd frugal favorite to annoy my wife even more :)

[photos courtesy of AlwaysHallways and Pixie]

25 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    August 16, 2013

    My sole income is less than $10,000/yr. from Social Security but I love going to Starbucks. I bought a 16 oz. thermos from Wal-Mart and fill it at home with coffee. Later, I drink it at a Starbucks. Savings: Approx. 300 days x %1.75/day = $575/yr.

    I get my Claritin (in the form of its generic Loratadine) from Costco for approx. $15/year (365 pills.) Savings: At least $75/yr.

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  2. Avatar
    August 16, 2013

    I don’t think packing your own water bottles is extreme, especially when your option is to succumb to the soda fountain. But, because of my addiction to the bubbly deity, at one job I once did invest in a $4, 64-oz thermal mug from Speedway gas stations. Refills are $0.79 as opposed to paying $1.49 for using one of their disposable cups, and I’d typically made 2-3 visits a day since the station was right across from my office.

    In fact, I should go find my mug and start doing that today, I just realized how much cash I’ve wasted over the last two years! DOH! Seriously, I just thought about it, and I’ve probably spent $365/year more than I needed to just because I forgot about that stupid mug! Which tells you a lot about what I’ve been splurging on, hey?

    I spent a summer as a videographer for a series of show horse & jumping competitions in Lexington. The Kentucky Horse Park is notorious for having only really expensive, really mediocre food, unfortunately. I would have figured that people who have that much disposable income to spend not only on expensive horses, but their expensive care and transportation for nothing more than ribbons and status, would have demanded better food or prices, but I guess not. So I packed my own lunches of sandwiches and chips, as well as a cooler full of water bottles, so I didn’t have to spend $20/day on food and drink.

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    • Avatar
      August 16, 2013

      Also, while I’m not into Freeganism, I will admit to occasionally snagging a few good deals out of a (very clean) dumpster, in my younger days I would spy a bakery throwing out some still quite-edible donuts because they didn’t sell.

      I do still dumpster-dive though, but for furniture and electronics. Helped a friend move into a new apartment and spotted a pretty nice king size mattress and box spring set out at the dumpsters, apparently previous occupants had to abandon it. I feel sorry for them, but their loss was my gain of about $700.

      I picked up a great 47″ tube TV right off the curb, took it to a repair shop and paid $30 to have the power supply replaced. After several years, my kids now use it in their bedroom to play video games. Spoiled, they are.

      I don’t see much of this anymore, hopefully because of good recycling habits, but I used to score a lot of free computer parts simply bailing them out of a curb or dumpster. I may not have the latest or greatest PC, but I always had a backup when a CD-ROM drive or monitor died. I think that age has passed, though, with the rise of the laptop, netbooks, smartphones and tablets. Heck, even Dell is now considering pushing a $100 Android PC on a stick the size of a pack of gum. Just plug it into any HDMI port on a TV or DVI port on a monitor. Amazing how far we’ve come.

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    • Avatar
      August 16, 2013

      Yeah, but I might fill up 3 bottles every day before I leave work. Is that a little bit weird? And I’m glad I was able to remind you about your money-saving mug!
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…How Much Should You Have in a Rainy Day Fund?My Profile

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      • Avatar
        August 16, 2013

        Nah. Weird is BUYING three bottles of water a day at $1-$2 each when you can fill up your own for probably just a penny. In addition, as Clark has talked about more than a few times, the purity of that bottled water may be very questionable! At least you are reasonably more sure that your own tap water from your house is drinkable. With the money you don’t spend on bottled water, you could even invest that in a nice water conditioning system in your home!

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      • Avatar
        August 29, 2013

        I buy my water by the gallon. It is 67 cents per gallon at the grocery store and just take it with me to work and drink out of a reusable cup I keep in my desk. I have been doing this for year.

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  3. Avatar
    August 16, 2013

    Oh Joel….so glad we connected. :) I installed a screen door on the front of our house so we could turn off the A/C while we’re in the living room.

    We just bought the house, so we’ve been doing a lot of work on it. We bought Lowes gift cards at a discount at ABCGiftcards.com (we bought in bulk, which scored an extra percentage off), and then applied for the USPS address changes to score 10% off coupons.

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    • Avatar
      August 16, 2013

      Awesome stuff Katie. I usually use Cardpool.com, similar to your ABCGiftcards.com. Combining that with the address change coupon is a smart move! I might be guilty of nabbing an extra USPS address change envelope just for the coupon :)
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…The Top 20 Things to Watch on NetflixMy Profile

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  4. Avatar
    August 16, 2013

    I am one of the razor savers. I’m rockin’ a Mach 3 blade now that’s going on 3 1/2 years old.

    Minutes before I began reading this blog post, I happened to plug a room air conditioner into my Kill-a-Watt to see just how much phantom energy (money) it’s wasting. It’s running upstairs right now. With that said, I unplug everything I’m not using right at that moment, except for the home theater so I don’t lose my settings.

    Speaking of room air conditioners, we do not use our central air conditioner nor central heating. We only use window units, room air conditioners, and space heaters. There’s only two of us in a 3/2. We’re usually together in the same room when we’re home. There’s no reason to heat/cool the entire house. Doing it this way saves us lots of money. You might be surprised just how cool one well-placed energy-efficient window unit can keep a house for very little money.

    Concerning cutting your own hair Joel, I do it, but my hair isn’t as nice as yours. I simply cut it to the scalp every week using beard trimmers. Believe it or not, I used to spend $40 every two weeks on a haircut. My hair was really short back then too and I thought “why am I paying someone else to do this?”. So I wised up, bought an $11 pair of beard trimmers, and started doing it myself. Since I’ve stopped going to the salon ten years ago, I’ve saved over $10,000.

    Cars is probably my most effective area I save money in long-term. I simply don’t care what other people think about what I drive. My pride comes from how much I’m saving every single month. I drive a 1990 Nissan pickup. I bought it for $200 (yes, $200) in 2004 with 93,000 miles on it. Just last week it tripped 240,000. It still gets 20mpg – all while constantly pulling a cargo trailer. Original engine, original transmission, still going strong. Kind of funny to think that in a year and a half it’ll be eligible for an antique tag – which, of course, I won’t spend the extra money on.

    Clothing is another area that I try my best to save money on. I usually hit the Goodwill store for any clothing items I might want/need (although I usually only buy clothes every 5 – 7 years – still wearing Structure cargo shorts from 17 years ago). I save so much money by not buying clothes very often coupled with buying them at the Goodwill store when I do.

    Probably my very best money-saving story/victory of all time involves the Goodwill store. For several years I had been wanting and looking for a medium-gray two-button suit. I shopped around and found that my prices were between about $120 – $250 for the exact style I wanted. I’m extraordinarily picky when it comes to suits (two-button, notch lapel, center vent, etc.). I know, who would have thought considering my overall outlook on clothes? But even at those prices, I wasn’t finding what I wanted. I had to compromise one or more of the features I was looking for unless I got up into the $350+ range which wasn’t going to happen. Until I found one at the Goodwill store. It was exactly what I was looking for and it fit (which is very hit and miss at the Goodwill). The suit was/is a Brooks Brothers medium-gray three-piece suit. It costs $1198 off of their website right now. I bought it for . . . $12.94.

    If the guy who turned this suit into the Goodwill store in Roswell, GA reads this . . . I love you.

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  5. Avatar
    August 18, 2013

    I offered to cater the opening reception for an appraiser’s conference in Indiana. (I’m a personal property appraiser who specializes in textiles through PAAQT — http://www.quiltappraisers.org)
    I live in Colorado.
    The conference was in Shipshewana, IN, in Amish country. No big grocery stores, or easy access to items. So…
    Bought food in Colorado, including several large boxes of cookies — some fancy kinds, like macaroons, plus your usual choc chip and oatmeal. Drove 18-plus hours to Shipshewana, where I met my mom and cousin (who had driven down from Grand Rapids, MI). They helped me do the reception.
    After the reception, Cousin took the meat and cheese trays back home with her — but I kept the cookie trays. Every day, during a break in classes, I’d make coffee and bring out the leftover cookies for the appraisers. Our lunch caterer (not me, thank God) also brought cookies, which I’d snag at the end of lunch, and add to the trays.
    By conference end, although the cookie level had gone down considerably, we still had at least two dozen left. So I packed them up…and drove 18-plus hours back to Colorado. Where Husband cheerfully has munched on them over the past week.
    Because I couldn’t bear to waste a single cookie. (And they’ve actually held up very well.)
    So is that a little weird, frugal-wise, or what?
    Cindy Brick recently posted…The Value Of InstinctMy Profile

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  6. Avatar
    August 20, 2013

    Probably the cheapest thing I’ve done is not have a smart phone. I have a “burner phone” aka old school flip phone that I has $100 of pre-paid minutes on a Verizon plan for 12 months. That phone is to make quick calls and to have something reliable for an emergency.

    To get my technology fix I use my iPod Touch. Smart Phone minus the phone. With it I can download apps, search the web and I have a texting and calling app. And I’ve signed up for a FreedomPop hot spot so I can use my iPod anywhere, anytime for $3.99 a month (500MB worth that is).

    Compared to my old basic plan of call and text, I’m saving just over $650 a year and versus a smartphone plan on a big carrier, I’m saving around $1000 a year give or take. Not too shabby for something that is currently working perfectly for my needs!

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    • Avatar
      August 20, 2013

      Nicely done Emily. Working the system quite well. You digging the Freedom Pop hotspot?
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…Cheapest Baby on the BlockMy Profile

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      • Avatar
        August 21, 2013

        I’m yet to receive it. I had a hot spot “mifi” device from Enflick TextNow and it worked well until I had to charge the device and it never turned on again. I had 2 devices and they did the same thing – worked then never turned on again. I’m hoping to have better luck with Freedom Pop. Fingers crossed!

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        • Avatar
          August 21, 2013

          I used their home router for a couple of months and it worked really well. I hope their portable device works just as well for you.
          JoelLarsgaard recently posted…Great Customer Service Changes EverythingMy Profile

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          • Avatar
            September 19, 2013

            Just a quick update – I received my Freedom Pop hot spot device and it’s working much better than the Enflick device for me. Freedom Pop also has a free app that tracks usage so if you’re watching that you don’t have to pay the 2 cent a MB over usage fee or the $1.99 a month Usage Alerts.

            I don’t see an end to using my iPod as a “smart phone” any time soon! Money in the bank.

          • Avatar
            September 20, 2013

            That is awesome Emily! Thanks for sharing. Hey, if you ever want to write a guest post about how you are using the internet/phone system to your full frugal advantage I would love it. The readers here always love ingenious ways to save big money every month. I would love to see a breakdown of how much you are saving and hear a bit about the possible inconveniences, if any, you’ve had with your creative system. Thanks!

  7. Avatar
    August 29, 2013

    Talking about unplugging things in the house. You don’t even have to leave the house to do this, but one summer I tried this. We would be gone from home for 12 hours every day, so I tried something. I would unplug everything we were not using and I would throw the switch on the hot water heater and turn the air conditioning up to at least 80 degrees but I wouldn’t turn it off entirely. During the winter I would turn the heat off completely because the heat is immediate but cooling a house takes longer. It works, I couldn’t believe the savings. Plus I was on the budget billing with the electric company. At one point during the winter, they owed me money.

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  8. Avatar
    April 30, 2014

    Probably the cheapest thing I’ve done is to have a big debut party with a small amount of money in my pocket. But it went well and grand because of my friends and relatives who provided some items that I need.

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