51 Unusual Money-Saving Tips from Readers

By Paul Michael on 21 September 2009 (Updated 27 June 2011) 112 comments

As a writer for Wise Bread, I get a fair number of emails that actually offer advice, rather that asking for it. Most of the time that advice is sound. Usually, I will either already know about it, or feature it in an upcoming article. But occasionally I get stuff that makes me scratch my head. (See also: Frugal Uses for a Camera)

"Are they serious?" I wonder, "or are they playing with me?" Well, rather than let these nuggets go to waste, I thought I'd share them with you all. Maybe you can help sort the good eggs from the bad. Some are obviously more absurd than others though, and remember, these didn't come from me. They're from some of the more "inventive" readers of Wise Bread (you'll soon see what I mean…No. 3 is a perfect example). I have put my own notes in parentheses on some of these — I just had to comment.

1. Use furniture wax on your car.

Just spray it on and shine it to a quick buff! Much quicker than car wax and it's just as effective!! (Hmm, just as effective? Somehow I doubt that…)

2. Marry someone frugal.

If you're having trouble with money, seek out a partner that has a great financial head on their shoulders. If you're in debt, they'll help you get out of it. If you throw money away, they'll help you save.

3. Don't waste money on toilet paper. Use newspaper, junk mail, bills and more!

There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from wiping your butt on a credit card mailing or an electricity bill. And it helps the environment as well as your pocket!

4. Unplug everything In your home when you're not using it. Even clocks!

Before I go to bed at night, I spend 10 minutes walking around the home unplugging everything that isn't in use. That includes the TV, the DVD player, the toaster, the computer and even the alarm clock on my nightstand if I'm not at work the next day. Saves me a bunch of money every month as these items all drain power.

5. Turn your old wine into vinegar.

If you've got some old wine laying around that isn't drinkable, you can turn it into vinegar. Just pour it into a container, preferably a barrel, and let it age. Voila, fine vinegar!

6. Top-up your condiments with packets from fast-food restaurants.

You always get a bunch of extra ketchups, mustards, mayos and other condiments when you eat at a fast-food joint. Don't throw them away. Open them up and pour them into your bottled condiments at home. You'll be surprised how much longer your bottle of ketchup will last.

7. Ladies, order LARGE meals on dates!

Hey, when you're taken out to dinner make the most of it. I know I do. Just order a large meal and take half of it home in a box or doggy bag. Two free meals for the price of one.

8. Spend less money than you make.

Need I say more? (Nope, and this is shortest tip I've ever received.)

9. Double your toilet paper by separating it.

Buy 2-ply paper and pull it apart to make 1-ply. You can get four rolls out of one double-roll. (Is this even worth the time and effort?)

10. Limit toilet paper usage to two sheets per wipe.

Put a sign above the toilet at home reminding people exactly how much to use each time. (There's frugal. There's cheap. This one needs a new category.)

11. Cut your own hair.

It's not difficult. Also cut the hair of your children and the rest of your family. You'll save a small fortune.

12. Use the free envelopes you get with bills and junk mail.

Cover the company's address with a label, put on your own stamp and use it for whatever you want.

13. Get free lemonade whenever you eat out.

Order a glass of water with extra lemons, pour in some sweetener from the beverage holder and hey presto, lemonade for free! (I know for a fact that some people actually do this and most waiters hate it.)

14. Free umbrellas are always available.

Just pop along to your local library and tell them you lost one. They usually have a stash in the lost and found section — say yours is black and small and they'll almost always have one. Score! It also works for sunglasses. (I'd say this one is stealing. But some people disagree.)

15. Buy something for $1. Sell it for $2. Repeat.

(More money-making than money-saving.This one actually came from a friend of mine. It was a joke at the time, but to be honest I think he's right on. Buy low, sell high, repeat, retire. It should be taught in every school.)

16. Plant fake flowers in your garden.

They last for years, require no maintenance and are in full bloom in winter.

17. Use old toilets as flower planters.

They look bold and attractive (??) and are usually available for free on Craigslist.

18. Use your employer's resources.

It's not stealing if you use them at work. Don't bring your own headache pills, tissues or drinks. Your employer should provide them all and you should take full advantage, including the endless supply of free coffee and tea!

19. Turn off your car engine at red lights.

You will save a bunch of gas over time instead of leaving the engine idling.

20. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

There's no shame in going through the neighbors' trash once it has been placed outside for collection. It's public domain, and you can pick up some great things that other people just don't want or need any more.

21. Free food from the grocery stores.

They throw away perfectly good food every night. You can eat like a king for free on the bags of food they throw away at the end of the day.

22. Take a "vacation" at Christmas to save money on gifts.

Just let everyone know you're going away for the holidays and will exchange gifts when you return. Then lay low, buy all of your presents in the after-Christmas sales for way less money and have a very happy New Year!

23. Keep one cup from every fast-food restaurant you visit.

Whenever you go back, just take the cup in with you and refill it at the fountain. You'll never have to pay for a drink again! (I'm sure this one is stealing.)

24. Cover your floors with carpet samples.

You can pick them up very cheap, and sometimes free, from most carpet and hardware stores. Just arrange them in squares and glue them down. Great for a basement, playroom or even a hobby room. Also works with wallpaper samples.

25. Spill your drink at a bar or restaurant.

Wait until your beer is around one-third full, then get in the way of a member of the wait staff and make sure they "make" you spill your drink. They'll usually offer to get you a free replacement, and it will be FULL! (Yep, this one is really dishonest.)

26. Keep a pitcher close to the sink.

When you're running the faucet waiting for the hot water to come through, let the pitcher catch the cold water. You can use it later to water plants, flowers or boil pasta.

27. Donate your clothes then buy them back.

The local charity will clean them for you, and you can just pop back in a week, buy the ones you want for a few bucks. It's cheaper than a dry cleaner. (I think this is a joke...but the guy sounded as serious as a funeral.)

28. Train your cat to use the toilet.

It's easy to train a cat to jump up onto the seat and go into the toilet. It will save you a fortune in cat litter. Getting him to flush is the hard part.

29. Get your paint at one quarter of the price.

So this one is sneaky but it works. Pick out the exact color you want and get it mixed in the quantity you want. Take it back the next day to the hardware store you got it from and say the shade is off. They'll give you a full refund, and also put the "bad tint" on the sale shelf for $5 a can, roughly $15 less than the full price. Just go in the next day and buy all your paint back! Score!! (I'm sure it works, but man is that dishonest.)

30. Free flowers for birthdays, weddings and more!

Just go to a nearby cemetery and swipe some new flowers from a grave. The dead people won't miss them and someone else will get a smile from them. (Karma anyone?)

31. Use Canadian coins in laundromats and soda machines.

The exchange rate will give you a saving. (This must be really old. Our currencies are now so close it would not be worth the effort.)

32. Old hair makes great stuffing for pillows.

If you don't cut your own hair, the local barber shop or hair salon will gladly give you the cuttings from the floor. It's soft, free and biodegradable.

33. Newspapers make great blankets.

They're not just for homeless people. If you get chilly at nights, slip newspaper pages between the sheet and duvet. Newspaper is a tremendous insulator.

34. Shop at midnight.

Those late-night hours are great. You'll have no lines at the checkout, no crowded aisles, and your pick of the bargains and markdowns that are being put out for the next day.

35. Flush with less water.

Place a common house brick inside a plastic bag and seal it. Repeat this seal with another bag, just to make it super water proof (you don't want brick corrosion). Put this in your toilet's tank and it will save you a lot of money on your water bill over the years.

36. Learn to speed read.

You'll be amazed at how many new books you can read for free if you increase your reading speed. I spend an hour or two at Borders almost every evening and usually get through two brand new books every week. No charge.

37. Go through the trash at a college campus on move-out day.

College kids throw things out with no regard for their worth. They just want them gone, and they don't want to move them. I have picked up refrigerators, microwaves, desks, chairs, shelves and even TVs!

38. Negotiate your hours at work.

Rush hour driving is a gas guzzling experience. Train tickets are also more expensive at rush hour. See if you can start early and leave early. You'll work the same hours but save commuting cash!

39. Chop your veggies before you check out.

Most of the time, the real weight from your broccoli, beets and other veg comes from the thick stalks and stems. Cut them off, you'll cut the price by at least half!

40. The ice cream con job.

To most kids, the sound of the ice cream truck is a sign to come inside and beg for money for an overpriced popsicle. But not in my house. I told my kids that when the ice cream truck plays a tune, he has ran out! Then, I give them a much less expensive popsicle from my own freezer. (But means that one...one day, they will find out!)

41. Drive at 55 mph on the highways.

It may take you a little longer to get where you're going, but this is the optimal speed for good fuel consumption. You'll get a way better mpg from your car.

42. Don't throw away old, bruised and soft fruit.

They can be great for making smoothies, muffins and other snacks and drinks that require flavor without needing the fruit to be in perfect condition.

43. Use your electric oven wisely.

These things take so long to cool down that you can actually turn them off 5 minutes before the cooking time is up, and your dish will come out fine. Also works well with toaster ovens.

44. Dump your partner at the right time.

If you're thinking of quitting a relationship, make sure you exit before any major anniversaries, birthdays or anything like that. The last thing you want to do is buy an expensive present right before you go your separate ways. (I'd call that one a bit mercenary.)

45. Go at least one year without buying clothes or shoes.

I'm serious! Usually, you're just buying on impulse anyway. It's been proven that most of us only use about 20% of the stuff in our closets, so why add more to that unused portion? After a year, you will have saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

46. Guys, don't get married.

There may be tax breaks but when you're single you're rolling in money, even on a low salary. Get married and it will all go away. For a start, women need way more money than men, including toiletries, clothes, shoes, hair styling and more. Most women can't go five days on one big batch of chili or spaghetti — they want variety. And salads cost a fortune too. Once you start having kids, kiss goodbye to any extra cash you did have. Seriously, stay single. It's the best way to save money. (Have to point out as a happily married guy with two kids that I do not agree with this one at all. But I do like big batches of chili!)

47. Do the gift-giving lottery.

Simple premise but it saves all of us a fortune in my family. We put all the names in a hat at Christmas, and then each pick out one. Kinda like secret santa, but without the secret. And that way, you're all not buying gifts for everyone. Big waste of money that holiday.

48. Become good friends with your neighbors.

They will always have things that you can borrow instead of buying them. My neighbor comes over to use my edger, and I use his cultivator. Works great.

49. Tear baby wipes, make-up wipes and all other wipes in half.

They're just as effective in a smaller size and they will last you twice as long.

50. Go on a one-day-a-week fast.

That means only six days a week of meals instead of seven. Over 52 weeks, that's over 150 combined breakfasts, lunches and dinners that you don't have to buy. And you'll lose weight too! (Umm…talk to your doc on that one. Sounds unhealthy to me.)

51. Shop with a friend.

All those BOGO offers are great, but only if you need two. Instead, split them with a buddy and split the bill. Score!

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Guest's picture
prufock

#7 - Hope you're not looking for a second date.
#19 - Unsafe and probably illegal.
#30 - The flowers aren't for the dead people, they're for the mourners.
#46 - If only this was true, I'd be "rolling in money."

Fun list!

Guest's picture
Hanna

Well these are definetly unusual. Probably won't ever do #9 though...

Guest's picture
Hanna

Ah sorry I meant #3, there are a lot of toilet-related ones in this list

Guest's picture
Kristen

I'll be honest we do number 26. We have Nalgene bottles in the cabinet by the sink and if I need hot water I fill them up as I wait for the water to heat up. We then use the water bottles to fill up the dog bowl and water the plants. It takes no extra time and very little effort.

Guest's picture
Leslie

We do number 26, too! I got into a habit of it two years ago when we had a massive drought in Alabama and the Water Works Board was surcharging any household who went over a certain usage amount. Now that water levels are back to normal, I just haven't gotten out of the habit. Its good conservation of resources and its saves a little bit of money.

Guest's picture
Lisa

I agree with Kristen. We do this too. We go through so much water waiting for the hot to come up from the basement so we fill bottles and use it for the same kinds of things. I even save the water from the canning pot after I have canned a bunch of salsa or tomatoes and water the flowers /shrubs outside with it after it cools down. It actually SAVES me time not having to wait to fill up the watering can outside with the hose!

Guest's picture

19 & 21 are illegal in some locations. Read up on your town/state/county before attempting this. It won't save you money if you end up getting fined.

Guest's picture
JimmyDaGeek

I think the description you're looking for is: asinine!

Guest's picture

What you want to look for is a "pure" paste wax, without additives. Then it is right for car and furniture.

Guest's picture
JimmyDaGeek

Have we become so PC that we can't call stealing and lying "STEALING and LYING?"

If you arrange a transaction so that the other person loses and you gain because you are lying, that is stealing. It's no different than switching price tags in the store, or putting multiple items in a bag or putting things at the bottom of the cart, hoping the cashier won't notice. Stealing is taking what is not yours or shouldn't be yours.

Guest's picture
Guest

To whomever provided idea #46 (for guys, don't get married) I have to say that as a Married Woman, I get very frusterated with my husband for doing exactly this. I would happily make 1 or 2 big casseroles, chili, stew, or any other delicious dish that makes lots of food and eat it all week. But if I try, hubby complains and will go to the nearest drivethrough after day 2.

Guest's picture
Kevin

@guest Try the old morphing chilli trick. With very minimal effort and cost, one huge pot of chilli can spawn spaghetti sauce one night, burritos another night; any ground beef-based meal that you know, you can extract from the giant chilli pot. It' sjust a matter of mixing in some extra sauce, spices, chopped veggies.

My wife loves the giant chilli pot thing; we do it when we have really busy weeks (like last week, preparing to move) and when we have poor weeks (two weeks ago, after renoing the new house)

She usually helps me devise new and interesting meals to extract from the chilli, but it really helps to have a good working knowledge of spices.

Guest's picture
Guest

Now if you could just come up with some more ideas to replace some of the others on the list.

Guest's picture
Ms. Pants

While a small number of the items on this list are useful, the majority border on ridiculous and/or flat out shady.

A good list to use when determining the viability of a potential mate, however. If he does more than X amount of things on this list--DELETE!

Guest's picture
Chris

Home Depot does not accept returned paint anymore, but when they did, they added a little extra tint to any paint that was returned for this very reason. People were returning it and then buying it back. So they added extra tint so it was no longer the color the people wanted. But they don't even accept returns anymore, so it's a moot point.

Guest's picture
Guest

I used to live next door to a cemetery. They toss the flowers after a few days into a big heap behind some trees. I used to go collect the newest nicest flowers to dry and also get the ribbon, floral foam, wreath forms and stands etc.. I felt that once it had been tossed, it wasn't disrespectful, was keeing more junk out of the landfills and that in my own special way, by drying the flowers and using the ribbons that it was a better tribute to whomever had died, than to have the stuff just tossed in a trash heap.

Guest's picture
Amber Storck

I agree. And I'm glad you didn't take them right off of the graves directly like some other people do.

Guest's picture
Kevin

How much toilet paper should you use? Exactly as much as you need to get your backside clean. Sometimes you need more than other times, like when you've eaten nothing but chilli for the last 6 days.

That being said, what people probably REALLY need to address is how much toilet paper they think they need as a buffer between their hand and their own nether regions.

If you plan to wash your hands afterwards, you can overcome the fear of having less of a TP buffer.

Paul Michael's picture

everyone plans to wash their hands afterwards. If not, I know why Donald Trump won't shake hands any more.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've seen several people in public restrooms not wash their hands after a number two. Gross!

Guest's picture
Dianna

well, that's a whole lot of stupid up there.

although! i did once make a really cool area rug out of carpet sample squares, cut in designs and stuck together with duct tape on the back. don't expect this creation to last for years, but if you need free/cheap floor coverage, it can be a fun project.

Guest's picture
Aaron

What I like to do is go somewhere that you can get the salad bar for a couple of bucks with an entree. While I am there, i fill up on the salad bar, and then take the entree home with me. 2 meals for pretty cheap. Not too shabby. Always impresses my friends too.

Guest's picture
Joe

Some of these tipsters really should be arrested.

Guest's picture
falnfenix

i'm sorry, but i MUST respond to many of these.

1 – doesn’t last anywhere near as long as automotive wax. may also harm the paint.
2 – relying on someone else to fix one’s spending habits is foolish, and may very well cause an end to the relationship.
14 – this is theft.
16 – tacky, but if you don’t live someplace that has an HOA, no one can stop you.
17 – see #16. an HOA would fine the crap out of residents who did this.
18 – not all employers provide things like this. many have turned to keeping a kitty for coffee and tea purchases.
19 – wastes more gas than it saves. also puts unnecessary wear on the starter.
20 – this depends ENTIRELY on the laws of the area…and, seriously? creepy. get the hell out of my trash, thanks.
21 – again, depends entirely on local laws. some states consider this an illegal practice and will arrest offenders. please research this before doing it. if legal, don't take more than you need - there are plenty of people out there who must do this to survive. furthermore, many places are moving to compactors, so choose your diving locations carefully.
23 – theft.
25 – seriously, what makes people think all of these theft-ridden ideas are good?
27 – this is laziness, not frugality.
28 – getting the cat to STOP flushing is even harder…once they realize what fun it is to flush the toilet, they’ll keep doing it.
29 – again, i’d lump this in with theft.
30 – i’m not going to say what i’d LIKE to say, but this is really, really wrong.
39 – how do these people propose disposing of the stems? furthermore, why not eat the broccoli stems? there’s plenty of nutrients there!
41 – this isn’t terribly safe, depending on the highway.
49 – stop using wipes entirely, and switch to cloth – this will save the most money.
50 – this is how a friend of mine managed to give himself Crohn’s in college. bad idea...he's now dealing with a lifetime of steroid medications to keep him as healthy as possible.

Guest's picture
Juerg

I'm probably too late to the party and my comment will not be read anymore. Anyway, I have to disagree with your assessment of #19: Cutting the engine everytime you have to stop because of a red light is a very effective way to save a lot of money in the long run (not to mention the environment which will be grateful as well). Here in Switzerland, there has been an extensive campaign a few years back urging people to switch off their engines at red lights. Neutral experts and engineers from the automobile industry confirmed that there is absolutely no danger to or excessive wear on a modern engine. And it will demonstrably save gas, as long as you don't press the pedal when re-starting the engine (which you don't need to do because the ignition of any modern car is computer-controlled and will inject exactly the right amount of gas). This is why TCS, the automobile club of Switzerland (i.e. hardly a bunch of zealous environmentalists) recommends cutting the engine everytime you have to stop at a red light.

Guest's picture
Jessica

What about the added wear-and-tear you are putting on your starter? If you stop your engine at each red light, you are going to need to spend money replacing your starter a LOT sooner than normal. I'd say that the cost of the replaced starter outweighs any savings you would get from gas.

BTW - my husband is an automotive tech

Paul Michael's picture

a lot of silly ideas in the list. But if they can cause meaningful discussion or raise interesting points, that's cool. I, for one, had no clue about the retinting of returned paint.

Guest's picture
Amber

Well obviously as a woman I'm going to be offended by #46 but I think that guy needs to take advantage of the advice offered in #2. There are frugal men and frugal women and plenty of spendthrifts for both sexes.

I'm the one that makes us eat the leftovers, clips the coupons, recycles the bags and take-out "tupperware" and printouts.

It's incredibly sexist to say women are less frugal than men. Yeah, maybe I want both shampoo and conditioner where you only want shampoo but I'm going to find it on clearance and use a coupon and get it for free. It's too bad that guy's wife and he can't have a real conversation about cutting costs. My fiance and I happily battle it out to see who can save the most!

I'll also add that my dear to-be-husband is a big fan of getting the large soda at the start of a road trip and refilling the cup whenever he needs a drink. I don't think this is definitely stealing but instead borderline. First, none of the employees have ever complained even though they probably knew he didn't get the cup there. Two, the cost of the cup itself is far more than the cost of the soda to fill it. There is maybe 7 cents worth of syrup and carbonated water in every humongo soda from Burger King.

Plus, if they don't charge for refills and he doesn't want to buy a new cup (which is wasteful and has a larger tax on the environment), the only real solution is to hold onto the thing.

Guest's picture
Beth

Instead of learning to speed read, there's this awesome place called the library where you can get all the free books you want. And you can take them home to read! Much better than spending all of your evenings hanging out in a bookstore, annoying the employees.

Guest's picture
Guest

As a former Borders employee (now at an indie), I gotta add that this is totally on-point. Not only are people who do this annoying the employees, but they're also (in the cases of books where we don't carry a lot of copies) making it more difficult for other customers to find and purchase the books they're looking for. Most of the people who do this kind of thing end up damaging the books, which means we have to send them back to the distributor. Even if the book isn't damaged, we still have to re-shelve it, which means we're not as available to help customers.

Even large chain booksellers are hurting in this economy; if you want ANY bookstores to stick around, stop undermining their ability to stay in business.

Most libraries now carry many, many copies of popular new books on their release date, and allow online holds on a book that's still "on order". This means you can place a hold on a new book well before the release date, and go in to pick it up on the day it's released in the bookstores. For free.

Plus, most libraries receive funding based on usage--the more a community uses the library, the more resources they're able to provide. Your taxes already pay for the library, so it's "frugal" to maximize your usage. And good for your library, too.

Guest's picture
Guest

Comment 23 is meant to be a reply to 15.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

#3 isn't that weird when I was young and lived in China.  A lot of public restrooms usually didn't have toilet paper, so you have to bring your own various papers to wipe yourself.  newspapers worked well. 

Guest's picture
Guest

According to legend, Merv Griffin used to do that. By all accounts, he was very frugal. When staying in a hotel (even his own), he would donate his clothes to a charity rather than have room service pick them up for laundry service. He'd go back to the charity the next day, his shirts would be clean and pressed. He wouldn't have a steep room service bill (or have to tip). Don't know if it's true, but I've heard it.

Guest's picture
Guest

I just have to chime in on this. Most of this list is dishonest or unethical or just plain theft. I hope every idiot who tries this stuff gets arrested.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm someone who needs my comfort. I just buy my toiletries in bulk and I buy eco-friendly as it is significantly cheaper. A lot of that stuff is either crazy or not worth the effort. I did get a good laugh though.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Ahh... Paul.  You made my day.  Hubby and I just made another batch of chili last night, and plan on eating on it for the next 3 days or so.  This is one thing that we have found we enjoy doing together.  Sometimes, he cooks -- sometimes, I cook.  Our chili's are a bit different, but what we do with it is ALWAYS the same.  We have chili on day 2 (never eat it on day one, it needs time to marinate in the fridge), eat it over some good pink-skinned hot dogs with onions and mustard on day 3, eat it in a cornbread casserole on day 4, and sometimes, after a late night of working hard on the farm, we'll just eat what's left while watching British comedies when the kids are in bed.  It's the ultimate date night :)  I know that I married my soulmate -- thanks for the reminder!!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
Laurel Larsen-Sokes

This won't work in every state, only those that have cash refunds for bottles and cans. I took a small garbage bag full of pop/soda cans and bottles up to the outoor recycling machine. I always recycle my plastic bag, but also found 5 very good quality heavy duty garbage bags that other people had left behind in carts after putting their cans/bottles into the machines for cash back. Most people are going into the store to shop or cash in their receipt for the bottles/cans and don't want to take a big plaastic bag with them. These normally get tossed out as litter by the stores than manage the machines.

Guest's picture
Guest

#20. Be very careful, with the increasing rise of identity theft going through someones trash is illegal in some areas. Where I live the cops cannot go through the garbage unless they have permission or a warrant.

#50. At my house on Wednesday and Saturday nights. I do not cook for anyone. Everyone picks out what left over they want to eat. I always have left overs,so that they do not get thrown out or go bad, 2 days out of the week is leftover night. I know I could cook less at meal time buteverytime I do some one wants more. So when planning meals I only plan 5 a week and we do not have to starve ourselves for a day which is not healthy.

Guest's picture
Margaret

As a woman I'm not offended by #46. If a man values his cash over meaningful relationships, he should stay single! Forever!

Guest's picture
Des

@Amber

REALLY!?!?!? You can actually convince yourself that what you describe is not stealing? Just because a restaurant charges more for soda than it costs them doesn't justify stealing it! That's like trying to sneak into an all-you-can-eat buffet the next day. "Well, the food is overpriced, and the minimum wage employees are too scared to say anything about it, so it MUST be ethical!"

Guest's picture

What a fine and hilarious list! I'm thinking this post will get 100 comments easy!

At some point, one has to wonder what constitutes scamming, and when does trying to save money go too far.

Great post. Love it.

Guest's picture
Jim

#19 - For anything under 1 minute you're probably wasting more money than saving. Unnecessary wear and tear on the starter alone would likely cost more than the 1-2¢ in gas savings. For longer periods over 1 minute you'll start to save money.

Guest's picture

# 14 about scoring free umbrellas is a theft.

Guest's picture
Guest

Lots of those envelopes are barcoded to go back to the company that sent them. You need to cover it up if you don't want your letter making a bunch of unwanted stops.

Guest's picture
Jaime

Not as big a deal as some of the others, but I've done it. Not necessarily as a way to save money, but because I wanted lemonade and it either wasn't offered, or had way too much sugar in it. Not sure why it should bother the waiter, unless I don't tip him/her - which is a completely different issue.

Guest's picture
Ellen

I challenge someone to try all 51 of these for a year and then report back the results. Here are my questions for whoever does it:

What kind of irritations are you noticing from wiping with newspaper?

How many times have you been asked to leave McDonald's?

How calls have you gotten after a first date? (or even phone calls from former friends)

How often do you have to rescue your cat from drowning in the toilet?

Is it hard to sleep with newspaper crinkling all night long?

Guest's picture
Guest

@Margaret

So a man should happily turn over his money for a relationship? There's a name for women that feel this way, they're even legal in Nevada.

Perhaps #46 should be changed to "Guys, don’t get married to the wrong woman"

Guest's picture
Dario

#50 is unhealthy and most likely will not save you money or help you lose weight -- if you fast for one day, you're likely to binge the next day.

#32 sounds like a good way to get lice. Gross!

Guest's picture
steig

I *hate* tips, that in the name of frugality encourage people to rip others off. Thanks for ripping me off in the paint store! All those costs get passed on to future customers.

I saw a tip once on how to save on landscaping: Take plants out of other people's lawns. Great Tip! They'll feel violated, and you'll have a plant.

I seriously can't wait to spend a few hours putting the contents of my ripped off ketchup packets into a bottle. Whee!

Guest's picture
Heron

A lot of these are not only dishonest, but also mean-spirited. #25 is the worst - making someone mop up your spilled drink so you can get a free beer? Ick.

Guest's picture
Honey

Hardly. I brown bag it EVERY DAY and my boyfriend won't eat leftovers...even if he says he will, miraculously he gets home that night and "doesn't feel like it."

Guest's picture
Nantares

Regarding #3, setting aside the issue of smeared newsprint on your private parts, is this even remotely okay for the plumbing?

Guest's picture
Jessica

If you have to explain why it's not actually stealing, it probably is.

Guest's picture
Guest

Oh my gosh - some of these tips are absolutely precious!

Although I don't mind using just two sheets of toilet paper (there have been numerous times when I couldn't use any at all! I've learned to be frugal in this dept), but using old envelopes?!? Ouch.

The Canadian coin in the laundromat is a keeper too! Too funny.

Oh yeah - and ordering the biggest meal I can find on the menu because I'm on a date with somebody else who is paying is sure to endear me to my potential partner for life....(tee hee!)

Guest's picture
Melissa S

19. Turn off your car engine at red lights.

Haha, it'll save you gas... but you won't make up for it when you have to replace your starter WAY more often than is usual.

Guest's picture

#19 -- Most of the wear and tear done on an engine is during start up, when it's cranking itself and running with little gas and nearly no lubrication.... GREAT way to grenade your engine faster than normal, though! So keep it up cheap ass, you'll need to replace your car years earlier with all that gas money you saved!!

*Roll eyes* Are you f'ing SERIOUS here? People, come on....

#1 is just heresy to me too. Cars are some of the most expensive items we own, but most can't seem to take the time to properly care for them? Ugh, how horrible.

@comment 42 -- LOL, "They'll feel violated, and you'll have a plant." I don't know why, but that is one great line.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm actually surprised these ideas were posted on WiseBread, a website I respect.

Guest's picture
Guest

These tips seem to fall into 3 categories. Ones that made me laugh out loud like number 3.
Uh, excuse me but I missed the news today. Do you mind if I just read your butt? LOL
The others I just pity. Except for the third and least prevalent category: the ones that seemed like a good idea such as 26 and 43. As far as the comments go I love the idea expressed by Kevin in number 13 and I wish I could find a lady like Amber #21 (except her making excuses for stealing) down here in Texas. It has been hard though. Maybe it is the toilet flower pots that line my driveway or how I dole out 2 squares of toilet paper when they need to go to the restroom LOL. Ellen #39 you forgot the question: How many times have you been arrested or fined? And finally #50 lighten up. These were not put here as things he believes we all should do but make us laugh and show us the funnier side of frugal living.

Guest's picture
Sandra

There is a line between frugality and dishonesty (Amy Dacyczyn has a great section on this in her book Tightwad Gazette). I'm shocked by the number of "tips" that are dishonest and/or downright illegal. For shame.

Guest's picture
taxman

85% of these are totally lame ideas. Most of the rest are illegal. The people that come up with these ideas may save money with their bizarre methods but with the money they save they will paying for a psychiatrist one day. These people defenitely aren't running on all cylinders.

Guest's picture
Another Beth

I totally agree with comment #40 about marrying the wrong woman. Though oddly enough, that tip does highlight how we women get screwed over. Not only do we earn less, but we're also forking out for monthly supplies, underthings, make-up, etc. It's insane.

I wouldn't follow most of these tips due to the question ethics or "ew" factor, but the soft fruit one makes sense. Soft fruit works better than hard fruit in freezer jam. (you're just going to mash it up anyways).

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Guest's picture
breilly

Sorry but you are NEVER too poor to have quality TP in your bathroom.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've read some of the highest quality toilet papers do not properly disintegrate and can clog up a septic tank. The same goes with flushable wipes which have been known to even clog the drain lines from the house. We stick with mid-grade toilet paper and save money in paper and costly plumbing services.

Guest's picture
marvelgirl

I can't believe some of the items on this list! I'm all for saving a buck, but stealing from graves? Or, apparently just about anywhere from the local hardware store to the corner bar. I agree, though. You don't have to pay a lot of money if you're a career thief. But incarceration sure sucks!

Guest's picture

#38 is by far the only feasible and honest tip. My Well Of wealth

Guest's picture

These are hilarious, they're quite funny. I'm assuming that if one followed all of these tips, they'd be quite the character. I can see where collecting these tips one by one doesn't make the person offering the tip seem unusual, but seeing them all together is quite interesting.

thanks for the collection of oddball tips-
Little House

Guest's picture
guest

Are most of these supposed to be jokes? Especially No. 3, I think it is, about using statements for toilet paper? I can't help but think that is KILLING the environment, due to the extra processing such paper would mean. Not to mention, you're probably not doing your plumbing any good.

I think about the unplugging of appliances. How much time do you spend in the morning resetting all the clocks involved?

I'm all for saving money and getting out of debt. Lots of other people are, which is why there's a wealth (haha) of advice out there, on web sites such as this one, and lots of books. Check out Financial Purity for great tips on understanding how people get into debt, the best ways out of debt, understanding the basic Biblical principles on money and how to develop your own money vision, etc. etc. Great common sense advice -- and it doesn't include using nasty stuff as toilet paper!

Guest's picture
Guest

I think an even better article, would be a revised version, with legal and ethical alternatives to many of those 51 tips. Sure was a good laugh though. Thanks, Paul!

Guest's picture
Rae

With the exception of the "Spend less than you earn" tip, almost every single one of these struck me as unethical, illegal, or just plain smarmy.

The most memorable, usable exception to my above statement is #26. Although the water heater in our apt. takes so long to put out warm water that we'd need more than a single pitcher some days, this is actually an awesome way to reduce your water bill and help the environment. I'd never thought about doing it before, but I will start using it. (And maybe it'll help me remember to actually water my plants.....)

Guest's picture
Shannon

Those are great tips! Something else I've learned that has really helped when I was trying to save money is switching to a prepaid cell phone plan. It's a growing field. Especially with companies such as TracFone pairing with Virizon Mobile to create the Straight Talk plan. The plan includes unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 30MB of data for $45/month. It's a great deal on the most reliable network!

Guest's picture
Guest

these "nuggets" of wisdom just made my day. i'm forwarding this list on to friends and co-workers right now... and hoping that they will have the same amazed-or-horrified look on their faces when they read them.

Guest's picture
Olivia

I saw a video, think it was on UTube. A couple could not figure out why their water bill was so horrible, until the man stayed home sick from work one day. He caught their cat repeatedly flushing the toilet and watching the water drain.

If you turn the envelope inside out that works. Carefully slit it open along the glued area (without cutting the paper) and reglue it inside out. You just have to glue the flap onto the inside instead. Cardboard boxes work well inside out as well. Especially useful if you need a size you don't have on hand.

As Paul said, these were not his suggestions. So keep the useful and toss the unethical or weird.

Guest's picture
ADD

These are the worst, stupidest tips I have ever read. If it was April 1 I would understand why they were thought worthy of sharing.

Any more half-baked crap like this, and I'll be unsubscribing.

Paul Michael's picture

This is a list of tips from readers of Wise Bread that I have collected since I started writing for the blog. I thought most of you would find this list interesting. I am in no way endorsing these, as you will know if you read the introduction. I'm sorry if anyone finds this offensive, the intent was to let you all into my world for a little while and see what comes across my inbox on a daily basis. If you want to put me on probation, that's fine. But don't punish the other writers, that's unfair and a little knee-jerk.

Guest's picture
JessicaP

I've been working on being a more frual person for about 6 months or so. It's been a great experience so far... I have more money, less junk, etc. I started this journey to change my life - not to rip off other people. I would NEVER steal drinks, paint, umbrellas, or books.

Want to read a free book? Then go to the library (and NOT because you're there to rummage through their lost & found!)
Want a free drink - use a water fountain.

Frugal isn't supposed to equal shady.

Guest's picture
Ruth

This list is hilarious! Gave me a good laugh. :)

I've totally put a brick in my toilet before.

Guest's picture
Robert

Here's a money-saving tip: READ! Reading is cheap, enlightening and takes up quite a bit of time that would be spent purchasing iPhone apps and watching movies at $10 a pop. Try it--you'll thank me :)

Guest's picture
Guest

LEARN TO READ, YOU IDIOTS! NO WONDER YOU ARE IN DEBT, BECAUSE YOU DON'T READ THE FINE PRINT.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just go to DaveRamsey.com and in the search box type in drive free and watch the "drive free, retire rich" video.

Guest's picture
Danielle

#21 is a direct rip-off from "Look Who's Talking," including the "eat like a king!" line. I'm guessing it's a tribute...

Guest's picture
El

Some of these are pretty crazy. I just read another article somewhere else that suggests using baking soda and vinegar for a lot of cleaning needs. (http://tiny.cc/jQv88) It even says you can use tea bags as air freshener... hmm, not as crazy as wiping with newsprint I guess.

Guest's picture
Margaret

@Guest

"So a man should happily turn over his money for a relationship? There's a name for women that feel this way, they're even legal in Nevada."

Did you read my comment? I said meaningful relationships.

Whether being married is more expensive than being single is not the point. Anything worthwhile in life will cost you something, whether money, time, emotional investment, etc. No, I am not advocating handing over all your major credit cards to the first woman that comes along, but if you can't understand that to be in a worthwhile relationship will cost you something, then you truly are better off alone.

Guest's picture
Mary

The tips about peeling toilet paper down from 2-ply to 1-ply got me thinking about how much I dislike thin toilet paper. Especially scratchy thin toilet paper. But an article I read this morning changed all that - I never knew that the softest paper comes from old trees, because they tend to have longer fibers, which make softer paper. So that soft wipe means the death of old-growth trees.

I will be buying tp made from recycled paper from now on.

The article:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32997234/ns/us_news-washington_post/

Guest's picture
Guest

When I met my inlaws for the first time in 1981 and in rural Alabama, I had to use the bathroom. As I was walking to what I thought was the bathroom, my Mother in Law handed me the Sears catalog. My new husband said the outhouse was behind the barn and to bring a gun. OH MY!

Growing up in a very large city, I was absolutely flabbergasted.

I passed.

Financial Samurai's picture

Hilarious! Now if we all made bucko bucks... we'd never have to even bother! :)

Keigu,

Financial Samurai
"Slicing Through Money's Mysteries"

Guest's picture
Yo

I actually dry-heaved at the "hair as a pillow" tip.

Um, some of those were good...some of them too hard and others...morally ambiguous (and that's being generous). Thanks for the fun:)

Guest's picture
Jessica

In regards to #35 - Instead of a brick in double bagged plastic baggies... take a milk jug and fill it with water and put it in your toilet tank.

You will save a gallon of water per flush, and you won't have to worry about the baggies leaking and the brick dissolving. If the milk jug leaks... oh well!

Guest's picture
Allie

It really bothers me that so many of the "tips" listed here are effectively theft (or otherwise shady). What bothers me the most about this is that you actually posted those tips with valid, honest ones rather than discarding them and finding better ideas to fill up that space with. Despite you labeling some of the tips as dishonest or whatnot (and despite your introductory statement that these tips are not necessarily ones you agree with), the fact that you share them anyway gives the appearance of implicit approval.

I'm completely disappointed in Wise Bread for letting this article go through.

Guest's picture
Clair

Maybe I'm slaphappy but this is cracking me up so much I'm actually crying! Thanks!

Guest's picture
Beth

I started out chuckling, but this list became depressing very quickly. Are there that many people willing to be dishonest, tasteless or repulsive just to save a little change? I didn't find it useful at all.

Guest's picture
Meg

#7 -- just 2 meals for the price of 2 (relatively expensive dining-out meals), for those of us who don't mooch off our dates. It used to be that men paid for dates because we couldn't work, and therefore *couldn't* pay. Why are they still paying now...? I know there's a wage gap but I have a funny feeling that doesn't have much to do with it. If you can't afford to eat somewhere, go somewhere else!

#30 -- if you're in a rural area, you can probably pick wildflowers instead (depending on the time of year). There are lots of pretty wildflowers around my place. This method might not get you the same kind of flowers you'd get from the florist, but at least you're not stealing from dead people.

#23 -- not only is this stealing, the cup would get really gross really fast.

#32, 33 -- eww. If you're that hard up for money, you can buy cheap bedding from most thrift stores.

#36 -- some bookstores actually want a few people to sit around and read. This is why they have coffee shops and so many comfy chairs inside. Reading the book in the store might mean you don't buy the book, but it makes the store seem warmer (less corporate) and the books seem more interesting, attracting other customers. Of course, not all bookstores feel the same way about this, and I think it's inappropriate to do it in bookstores that don't encourage it. And in the ones that do, it's important to make sure you're not wrecking the books (obv. nobody wants to buy a dog-eared, creased-spine book), and to remember that store's generosity next time you're actually looking to buy something.

#46 -- true or not (most likely not), isn't the whole point of frugality so that we can save money to do the things that are important? If getting married to a particular person isn't important to you, you shouldn't even be considering it in the first place.

The Canadian coin thing was funny to me. I'm Canadian, and sometimes American coins are mixed in with our change. I use them just the same as I would Canadian money. I guess that makes me a spendthrift! :)

Guest's picture
Guest

To This comment:

Instead of writing a whole paragraph detailing your ignorance, why don't you simply reread the intro to this article? What's that you say, you don't have time to read the whole thing? You don't have to read everything because you understand the gist of it? I bet you thought the exact same thing when you "read" your new insurance policy or mortgage contract.

You sicken me.

Guest's picture

Thanks a lot for such a nice and interesting posting . I am agree with u blogger that due to financial crisis period many Americans go outside for medical care to save money now a days and i think they do the right thing .I appreciate it .

http://studentsblog2.blogspot.com/2009/10/guidelines-on-how-to-save-mone...