My dad once told me a story of this guy at his work who was so thrifty that he ate only bologna sandwiches for the last 20 years. That’s it. Two pieces of white bread, a piece of bologna and some mustard. (Not even any cheese!) Every day. His coworkers used to say that he was so tight with money that if you squeezed him, quarters would fall out of his butt. Crude, I know. When he died, they went into his house and found almost a million dollars stashed under his mattress.
I don’t know if the story is true, my dad tends to exaggerate, but it’s the ultimate story of odd thriftiness. I’m not suggesting you only eat bologna sandwiches because I can’t believe the guy didn’t get scurvy. I’m also not saying that you die with a million dollars stashed under your mattress because you do need to live a little. But I thought I’d share some less extreme, but still a little weird ways I’ve found to save cash.
- Don’t wash your hair: My hair stylist actually suggested this one and it has saved me a ton of money. I went from washing my hair every day to washing it once a week. My hair is so much healthier now, less dry and I save an hour a day. And I know what you are thinking: But my hair is oily! George‘s hair was too, but when I convinced him to quit washing his hair so much, his body regulated itself and produced less oil. You’ll go through a gross stage where your hair looks terrible for about a week, but see it through. I’ve yet to go completely shampoo-less, but some people swear by it!
- Don’t coupon: Believe it or not, couponing can lead to overspending. Those $10 off $100 deals can be a trick to get you to spend more than you planned. Expiring offers, like those from Groupon or Living Social, can also put pressure on you to make an impulse purchase. And believe it or not, some coupons aren’t actually a “deal.” Coupons are usually for name-brand items, and sometimes even with the coupon, the generic brand is cheaper. Ridiculous! Read more about why I don’t coupon here.
- Unsubscribe to junk mail and email: Unsubscribe to retailer emails through Unroll Me and junk snail mail through Catalog Choice. The junk mail will never even make it to your mailbox or inbox, taking away the temptation before it happens! It’s also a great tip to keep down clutter.
- Shop under a time limit: Shop before you have to be somewhere or set a stopwatch and give yourself a limited time to shop. There’s less temptation when you know you need to just get 5 things and get out. Sometimes I’ll shop on my lunch break and store the food in the break room fridge at work. It gives me a chance to get out of the office and shop on a deadline.
- Flush less: If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down. Nuff said.
- Put a water bottle in your toilet tank: Ok, after this one, I swear I’m going to be less gross. A capped water bottle filled with sand in the back of a toilet tank can displacing enough water to save 10 gallons a day. That’s a savings of almost $100 per year! Sometimes it pays off to be slightly gross.
- Displace water in your tub (or bathe together!): Displacing water in your tub can also save some dough. I’ll let you decide what or who to help you displace the water 😉
- Cash only: Challenge yourself to operate on cash only. By doing everything from paying bills in cash to using cash for groceries, you’ll see exactly where your money is spent. It might be a little more hassle, but the convenience of credit and debit cards can lead to overspending.
- Save condiments: If you eat out, save your leftover condiments. My paternal grandma, god bless her, didn’t pay for a single condiment in her entire life. She had a giant Ziplock in her fridge full of ketchup, mustard and mayo packages. She also freshened her breath with the parsley garnish on her plate. As a kid, I thought it was the weirdest thing ever. But now, I know, she was a smart lady. Smart enough to raise five kids on a single income home. Which leads me to…
- Think like your grandma: I don’t know when it happened, maybe the ’80s, but people started to get spoiled. We had a boom economy and “treat yo’ self” was the norm. Maybe they said it differently, “Like totally, treat yourself, dude,” but times were easier. Now, it looks like that time was the exception, not the norm. We need to learn how to make do and mend like our grandparents.
- Make friends with thrifty people (and stay away from the big spenders): I’m not saying you should ditch all your rich friends because you might need to use their yacht one day, but being friends with like-minded thrifty people is much easier. Your big spending friends influence you to spend more whether you realize it or not. Hanging out with my friend, Gabby, who is ultra-thrifty has has challenged me to be thriftier too. She is a Craigslist ninja!
- Eat raw: Uncooked veggies are significantly cheaper than meat. Plain and simple. You don’t turn on your stove, so you save energy costs and we all know how much cheaper veggies are than meat. If this idea is hard for you (it’s totally hard for me! I’m a big omnivore), challenge yourself to just eating one day or one meal per week meat-free. Even Martha does “meatless Monday,” so you know it’s a good idea.
- Forage: I’m no foraging expert, but truly getting back to the land can be an educational, money-saving experience. I wouldn’t recommend you go at it alone, though. You don’t want to end up all Into the Wild, but there are mycological (mushroom hunting!) and foraging clubs across the U.S.
- Reuse disposable items: Tinfoil, Ziplock bags, saran wrap and other “disposable” items can all be reused. I, personally, wouldn’t reuse them more than a couple of times because I worry about chemicals, but I had a friend who said his mom still had a package of tinfoil from the ’70s because she always reused it. That’s thrifty, ya’ll.
- Reuse coffee grinds: This is one of my favorite tips because, well, I love coffee and I have super dry skin. Coffee grinds are a great exfoliator. My skin glows after I slough some on. The jury is still out, but I also heard that coffee grinds can help cellulite ANDDDD those delicious, fragrant grinds can also be used in your garden as fertilizer. Is there anything coffee can’t do?
- Shift your thinking: I once read that if you begin thinking of yourself as a fit person, you’ll become more fit. If you tell yourself you “don’t” eat something instead of “can’t” eat something, you are taking away the negative emotion and empowering yourself. It works the same with money. Begin thinking of yourself as a saver and you’re more likely to actually save. Try telling yourself that you “don’t” overspend instead of you “can’t” overspend. It’s liberating.
- Get Scroogy: The holidays are coming up and it’s oh so easy to walk into the nearest Target and drop $200 bucks on decorations. Try making your holiday decorations out of stuff you have around the house or forgo decorations all together this year. You could also make it clear to your friends and family that you won’t be partaking in present exchanges this year. They’ll probably be disappointed, but explain your reasoning and they’ll get over it. If you’re crafty, you could also try your hand at making gifts this year.
- Pick up every coin you find: I have a friend who literally throws pennies away. She also won’t pick up change on the ground. WHO DOES THAT. Last year, my mom picked up every coin she saw on the ground, put it in a jar and at the end of the year, it added up to almost $12. That’s free money!
- Go to bed earlier: This is a toughie for me, but I know if I go to bed earlier and get up earlier, I’ll be taking greater advantage of the daylight and using less electricity at night.
- Make it a competition: Start a saving competition with your family or friends. See who can save the most money each month. Make sure there is a prize at the end, so you all have that incentive. May I suggest a weekend trip together?
- Bonus tip! Live in an Airstream. No really! We do it and it’s been the biggest money saver in our lives. Want to read more about how we live? Start here.
What weird, crazy or out of the box tips or tricks do you have to save a buck? Let me know in the comments!
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