Just about everyone – with the possible exception of that lucky 1% – like to save money. You may have read a bunch of those money-saving tips like the importance of taking a list when you go grocery shopping or using coupons. But here are 10 offbeat and kind of funny ways to save money.
1. Look through lost and found departments in various locations
Schools, public pools and libraries are great places where you can pick up items – literally at a steal.
2. Freeze your credit cards
Put those credit cards into small containers filled with water and freeze them. If you’re not big on self-control this would help keep you from buying stuff with those cards as you would have to take the time to thaw them out before they would be available.
3. Leave your wallet at home
When you go out to lunch or dinner with friends, pretend that you forgot to bring your wallet. Do this once a month and you would probably save a bundle of money over the years. However, you might also need to make new friends as your old ones may eventually figure out what you’re doing.
4. Fill up with food samples to your local gourmet grocery
If you’re not too fussy about sharing with other “shoppers,” you could lunch your way through your favorite gourmet grocery just by nibbling on free food samples.
5. Look for change in vending machines
Check all the vending machines in your area for change that people forgot to retrieve and for loose food items. But don’t ever shake machines, as this is likely to get the attention of the nearest security guard. If you watch vending machines carefully, you may find packages that are just ready to fall out so that if you buy the next one you get the first one as a free bonus. Be sure to check under the machines for coins as people sometimes pick up fewer ones than those they dropped.
6. Get rear-ended
If you are on a major freeway and run out of gas, you could get rear-ended. This could get you a new car courtesy of the other person’s insurance company
7. Take extra packets of the salt, sugar, sugar substitute and ketchup that are available at many restaurants. You might also help yourself to crackers, plastic utensils, napkins and nondairy creamer.
8. Take toilet paper from work
You can take toilet paper from where you work if you take only very small rolls that are almost finished. No one would probably ever notice this.
9. Keep all electric appliances in your home unpluggedUnplug everything in your home when you are not using them. If you leave appliances, printers and computers, etc., plugged in, they use phantom energy, which can really add up.
10. “Borrow” magazines from your dentist’s and doctor’s offices. If this makes you feel guilty, just take them back when you have finished them.
On a more serious note
There are some other kind of offbeat ways to save money that work and are not so humorous. For example, you could switch to cloth napkins. This would eliminate the need to keep buying paper napkins over and over. Just use your cloth napkins several times then toss them into the washer.
You should also not have to pay a dime for your banking services. There are many banks that offer free checking accounts and debit cards under certain circumstances. For example, you may need to have your paycheck automatically deposited into your account to qualify for free checking and a free debit card but that can actually be very convenient.
Forget movie theaters
Skip the theater and subscribe to a service such as Netflix. It offers two options – to either get your movies on DVD or to have them streamed to your computer. We have the streaming type of subscription that costs only $7.95 a month. And no, you won’t be able to get movies at the same time they’re in theaters but if you’re a bit patient, you will eventually be able to see them.
Join a car pool or ride share
Want to cut down on your transportation costs? Maybe you could join a carpool and use it several times a week. If you can find just one other person where you work that lives relatively close to you, the two of you could ride share, which would cut your fuel costs in half. Failing all this, there might be public transportation close to you that you could take to work several times a week.
Consolidate your errands
Do you consolidate your errands or just drive around helter-skelter several times a week? If you do all of your errands at the same time, say, once a week you will definitely cut down on your gas cost. If you do this, be sure to start with the store or errand that’s furthest away from your home and then work your way back.
Have a separate account
If you get money above your normal earnings – in the form of a gift, a bonus or a tax refund – stash it away in a separate checking or savings account. Then use the money to pay down your debts or to cover unexpected expenses.
Cut down on meat
Try eating less meat. You don’t have to be a vegetarian but if you have breakfast for dinner – with eggs and pancakes – or substitute beans for meat at dinner, you will definitely save money. We eat a lot of chicken in place of beef and figure that it saves us anywhere from $3-$5 a week. And we now eat more fish but that’s for health reasons more than to save money.
Finally, here’s a video with some other helpul tips for saving money.