Ask the Readers: Silly Ways to Save (Chance to win $20)

By Linsey Knerl on 17 August 2010 (Updated 23 August 2010) 66 comments
Photo: _PaulS_

***Congrats to our winners!***

  • Guest - I entertain myself for free on weekends by going to "grand openings" -banks, stores, and new housing developments. Usually there is food, raffles, gifts or coupons for services, and entertainment. You get to meet some interesting people, win some prizes, and I'm not spending money at the mall.
  • @MichaelStapp I really needed to get to Chicago, about 32 miles away. I rode my bike behind a bus to save $20
  • Facebook winner: Abbey Von Gohren

Saving money is all the rage.  People from all walks of life are talking about how to cut pennies and dollars from their total cost of living, but some ideas are.... not so effective.  In fact, many are down right silly!  Have you heard of a money-saving strategy that is more ridiculous than budget-changing?  We want to know about it!

What is the silliest way you've heard of (or done) to save money? Is there a method you've heard of that is more hype than helpful?.... Let us know your thoughts in order to be entered to win one of three $20 Amazon gift cards!  Feel free to link to a blog post, if you've written on this topic! We'll include it in our post upon the conclusion of our giveaway!

Win one of three $20 Amazon gift cards:

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well -- but you don't have to for entry.)
  3. Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, Aug 24th at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be announced after Aug 24th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)
  • Only those who have "Liked" both our Facebook page and the contest update will be entered.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
K Lovato

I buy paper napkins, and I've opened them up on the folded seam and cut them in 1/2 to make them last longer.

Guest's picture
Trang

Collecting aluminum cans---seriously? I saved up cans from 6 months' worth of daily soda drinking and got $3.... I'm now just throwing them into the recycling bin.

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Betty

I used to only record half the amount of my deposit in my checking account. This made it sooo difficult to keep track of.

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BudgetNazi

my husband used to travel for work and get a per diem. No matter what he spent on food....I would pack a duffle bag of cheap food that he would take for breakfast and lunch and he would spend a limited amount on dinner...MONEY MAKER there baby!!

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David

When gas prices were really high here in California, more than four dollars, I heard of people turning their cars off at red lights to save gas.

Guest's picture

After I stopped working last year (and therefore stopped paying into my employer-matched IRA), rather than withdraw my funds right away, which would mean paying taxes on it because I'm nowhere near retirement age yet, I left my funds there. It was a Target 20-- something fund that rebalances every year according to your age, but it also charged $25 every time it rebalanced, such that by the time I finally got around to withdrawing it, taxes be damned, I only got a check for $13 back.

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Jan B

I cut my disposable facial cleanser washcloths in half and get twice as many. I tried cutting into quarters, but they were too small to use. After using, I then use to wipe out the sink.

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Jan B

I cut my Oil of Olay disposable washcloths in half. . . sometimes in quarters; althought quarters are too small.

Guest's picture
Lynda

Washing used ziplocs. Ultra "cheap" when I first heard about it but it totally makes sense!! -Lynda

Guest's picture
Lynda

Washing used ziplocs. Ultra "cheap" when I first heard about it but it totally makes sense!! -Lynda

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David M

Totally makes sense to me as well - do this all the time. However, I do not do if I had meat in the ziploc bag.

Guest's picture
Guest

The most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of was when a friend took out a loan because the rates were low,,, no particular plans for the cash,, just low rates and she seemed to think some extra spending money would be fun????

Guest's picture
Tova

My friend's grandfather used to sneak through the back entrance of the hotel next store with his buddies so they could play poker. Every time, they stuffed their pockets with paper matchbooks so they would never have to buy matches....

Guest's picture
Guest

I have heard of buying 2 or 3 ply toilet tissue and separating them to make 2 or 3 rolls of tissue.

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Olivia

Besdes all the "normal" things, reusing ziplock bags, aluminum foil, glass jars for canning, I make jelly from a canned or jarred fruit's juice. Mango/peach is a favorite.

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Dan

I new a guy who would take two-ply toilet paper and separate it into two rolls. A bit dicey if you ask me.

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Guest

My mom uses cheap disposable razors for years. They are so dull I don't know how they are even affective anymore!

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I've heard of people who advocate buying multi-ply toilet paper and then separating the plies so you get two rolls out of one.
I've also heard the suggestion of taking extra condiments at fast food restaurants so that you don't have to buy your own. If you can afford to eat the fast food, you can afford to buy ketchup and mustard (especially combining sales and coupons, that stuff can be free or close to it.)

Guest's picture
Betty D.

Taking the condiments = stealing.

Guest's picture
Guest

At the risk of sounding too cheap, in college I used to go to the gym sometimes just to use the shower facilities. I managed to cut my water bill down to something crazy like $2 by avoiding showering at home.

Guest's picture
Candice

I often take used envelopes and use them to make lists - especially grocery lists! The extra thickness makes it easier to cross off items on the fly!

Guest's picture
Wunderle

If your local supermarket has a salad bar, most likely it will have cheeses like feta and bleu that are much cheaper by the blanket salad bar price than the same products in the fancy cheese section. Sun dried tomatoes, too.

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Mary Jo

I reuse Ziplock bags to save money

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Alison

My mom collects the unused ketchup packets whenever we eat fast food. She cuts them open and squeezes them into our ketchup bottle when she gets home!

Guest's picture
Emmy

My husband and I only go to matinee, even though that is when all the kids go to the movies.

Guest's picture
Mariel

I talk to people, because it is a cheap way of getting things (some people want to exchange things with you, others may be moving and throwing things away, others may be able to teach you stuff for free, other times it is just a fun thing to do, and it also hepls you learn about others, and most important, about yourself)

Guest's picture
Kate

Saving every little bit of food leftover after a meal, even if it's just a bite or two of something. Honestly, how much could that cost, and when are you going to eat all of the miscellaneous leftover bites?

Guest's picture
Abbey

I think it's kinda silly that I go to the trouble of cutting the ends off of toothpaste tubes just to get the last scrapings in the corners.

Guest's picture
Mary

I mend athletic socks. They are fairly inexpensive, but I can get a few more months out of them by mending them while the holes are still small.

Guest's picture

One silly way to save that I've been doing for about two years now is using shredded paper for cat litter. Yes, it only saves about $6 a month, but there are benefits: first, one cat that has severe asthma doesn't wheeze and cough nearly as much without the daily stress of clay litter 'fog'. Second, we use paper from junk mail (NOT colored inks or slick paper, please) and our normal office routine of using both sides of any sheet of paper before disposing of it. This also means we really don't worry about an identity thief going through the trash. (Who's going to try to piece together shredded paper with -ugh- cat poop on it?) Third, the paper is lightweight and is changed out daily, substantially reducing odor. What does the $36 or so saved go on? You guessed it - cat food and treats.

Guest's picture
Bob

To buy school supplies for my kids I have been doing the following:

I buy used ink cartridges on ebay. Lets say for example 272 used inks for $78. (http://cgi.ebay.com/Lot-272-HP-Mixed-Models-Empty-Used-Ink-Cartridges-/2...). Then I go to staples every month and redeem the maximum amount (which is 10)- they give $2 for each cartridge (It used to be $3- but the math alone 272 x $2 = $544, then subtract the $78 upfront cost for a net gain of $466). I have my mother-in-law and friends do this for me as well. This summer alone I have "earned" over two hundred dollars in school supplies, which only cost me $78! A lot of work, but worth it!

Guest's picture
Shanna

I don't think there are any 'silly' ways to save money...if it's saving you money, then it works! Keep doing it!

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I have a lot of coworkers who constantly load up on napkins, plastic utensils and condiment packets when they get lunch to-go. They claim that they are saving loads of money, but I find it embarrassing and "wrong".

Of course, it is really nice when I forget to pack myself a fork for my brown bag lunch. But I can't help feeling like they are stealing from businesses.

Guest's picture
fairydust

I've learned the power of coupon overage. Some stores, like Rite Aid, offer coupons for $X off if your order reaches $YY or more. They also have rewards +Up bucks that are like cash. If you plan a shopping trip well, you can use the +Up bucks matched with deals in their weekly flyer and stacked with manufacturer's coupons for those same items plus the $X/$YY and end up being owed money by the store - that's the "overage". Since the store won't give you that money back in cash, I use the overage to get items we need, like milk, eggs, toilet paper, etc. I'm actually saving money by getting other items for free.

Guest's picture
drmomof2

When I bring my lunch to work, I use plastic utensils and then wash them for reuse!

Guest's picture
Jennifer

My mother used to save ketchup packages from fast food and squeeze them into a full size container.

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judyyy

I think it is silly and disgusting when people reuse toilet paper!

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terri dougan

My friend made a deal with the local car washes. She empties their vacuums and collects all the coins. It really pays off. There are tons of coins in there. And you only have to do it every few months. It is a dirty job, but all that money goes in the piggy bank.

Guest's picture

Cancel your waste pick up service and take your trash to work with you--a good idea on paper, a little smelly when put into practice.

Guest's picture
Plum

In grad school, I used to take leftover receipts, etc., to use as grocery lists. I'd write over them multiple times in different directions. Seriously, I bet I saved all of $1 doing that for 2 years.

Guest's picture
Kristine

Waited until I got to work to "go", because I was running low on TP at home, and already at budget for the week. Silly, and uncomfortable.

Guest's picture

I reuse each side of the paper when printing. My work throws out the junk faxes.

Guest's picture
KimmiCaron

I used to save teabags and reuse them.... it was a pain, had to keep them in a cup on the sink and sometimes people would throw them away or put a dirty spoon in the cup, thinking it was just garbage. Did this for an entire month till I realized that I was only saving a penny or two a day. True, a penny saved is a penny earned but I could just go for a walk and pick up pennies and make a lot more than that!

Guest's picture

It is silly to "save money" by either :not buying your blood pressure (or other needed) prescription medicine, or by "cutting doses in half", "skipping doses", doing without... etc. It is also very silly, even if you KNOW you do not have the money to pay a doctor, to "not go see a doctor" when you (or one of your family or children) actually truly NEED to be seen by a doctor or go to the hospital. People's lives are much more important than "saving money".

Guest's picture
Michael Stapp

I really needed to get to Chicago, about 32 miles away. I rode my bike behind a bus to save $20, when I could have ridden my bike behind a cab and saved $46.30!

Guest's picture
Guest

I make my grocery list every week and stick too it. We used to spend a ton of money giong to the grocery store every night and buying food now we average $60 a week on groceries. And, lets face it, no one likes to go to the store afterwork!

Guest's picture
Heather

I have bottle of brand name kitchen counter spray that I re-fill every so often with baking soda and water, it cleans just as well- if not better than the brand name. My boyfriend would die if he found out

Guest's picture
Lauren

I used to reuse plastic baggies, but I got tired of washing them out and letting them dry, so I just make my lunch at work, and presto! No more plastic bags!

Guest's picture
Sushi

I've known people who argue at the counter when the price isn't what is displayed on the shelf, no matter how little the difference. I've seen her get in arguments over five cents.

Guest's picture
Stefanie

When we have no napkins left, I pick them up wherever I am that has a bunch for the taking - coffee shops, restaurants, etc. It saves some time and money between trips to by the napkins at the Dollar store across town.

When I was growing up, my grandmother's cousins (older people - in their 80s at least) would always take the sweetener packets from the fast food restaurants they'd eat at - it would embarrass my grandmother to no end.

Guest's picture
Ron Carnes

The "silly" way I (and a few close family members), save money is to pick out a number (or any number configuration we may choose), and then - every time we get change, like from the store, a restaurant, gas station or any other place that happened to give us dollar bills back as part of our change... we immediately look at the serial number on those bills for "our" numbers! For example: Let's say that my number that I chose was the number "2", from that day on - any time I got a dollar bill with two 2's anywhere in that serial number line - I would save that dollar bill. I would immediately fold it in a special way, stick it back into my wallet in a different place than where I keep my "regular" bills, then when I got home, I would transfer the bill (or bills) into a special jar that I keep near my bed. One wouldn't believe how fast the bills add up! I have even gone a step farther, in that I also keep any "double - double". Which is to say that whenever I get any combinations of ANY numbers that show up on the serial number line two or more times... it is a "keeper" too! So, maybe the new bill that I've just gotten has two 5's and two 1's in the serial line... KEEPER!!!
It can be more than two of the same numbers... such as three 7's, and two 3's... just as long as it is at least a "double-double". Sometimes I'll do a little "switch-up", and check the numbers on a Five or a Ten dollar bill (just for fun), but there are days that I end up with 15 dollar bills to fold and stick away! I saved up well over a thousand dollars in about a year doing this, and it isn't really "painful" at all doing it this way! A friend of mine - who is a little "mentally challenged", has taken to this "game", and has really enjoyed looking for all the "KEEPERS" that might come on the change they receive - and the best part... this person has NEVER been able to save any money on their own for 51 years... but to date now - has saved enough (in a little over three months), to be just $12.00 short of $240.00!!! PAINLESSLY! Interestingly - this little "game" makes you more aware of how you spend your loose change! We have noticed how we now will almost subconsciously will look for a water fountain at a store, rather than throw $1.45 away on a bottle of pop! SO - that's MY silly way!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi,
To Ron: I think your serial number game sounds like fun. I have been doing $15 Tuesdays for a couple of years now. On Tuesdays, if I can afford to, I take out $15 from my checking and add it to my savings account. I also take the money I have left over from one pay cycle (usually about $20) and add that to the same savings account that I don't withdrawl from, unless I need a new furance ignitor switch! Those are my 2 biggest and most successful ways of consistantly saving money, however I also do it randomly if I have the funds. I've saved about 3k since I decided to stop living paycheck to paycheck and living within my means. This all started from increasing my deductible on my new car to $1,000 when I didn't even have $100 in savings. That was a nice kick in the pants that I needed.

Guest's picture
Sarah

Our family uses reusable toilet wipes (http://living.wallypop.net/wipes) and I use cloth menstrual pads. They do save money (particularly the pads), and are also super comfortable. I started out with both in an attempt to save money, but I've stuck with both because they're awesome.

Guest's picture
Nancy Matteo

I rip the fabric softener dryer sheets in half before using them. I also cut the scouring pads in half.

Guest's picture
Jenna

The silliest-and slightly horrifying way I've seen someone save money: I used to drive past a graveyard on my way to work each day. Two houses down from the graveyard, someone had very obviously stolen the plastic flowers from the graves and PLANTED them in their own yard. Creeeeepy. :D

Guest's picture
Gwen

Two off the top of my head:

1. I drink a lot of English tea, and to stretch the use of each bag, I leave them in the pot and just add one less to my next pot full. My first pot has 4 bags (big pot), my second I add 3 (so there are seven in there), and if I have a third pot I put in 2 (so 9 altogether). I don't leave them for too long, don't want to get food poisoning!

2. I dye my hair lots of funky colors (purple right now). Since I go back and forth between permanent and semi-permanent, I save the color conditioner from the permanent dyes for when I use semi-permanent, since I need it more then!

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Kelli

Like someone else mentioned I've heard of people separating their multi-ply toilet paper and using it single-ply to save money. A) I would never take the time to do this and B) I'm sorry, but I like multi-ply for hygiene reasons! To me (and this is just my personal opinion. I know many people can survive just fine without it, but I am not one of them.) I think going without AC in the summer is a silly way to save only because I'm the warmest person ever and this summer in particular has been extremely hot and humid here. I need my AC to be able to sleep at night and function during the day. Plus, if the house starts to feel too sticky, it can make your food get all soggy and weird which would end up costing you if you have to throw it out and waste it.

Guest's picture
Mommytutu

I make my own laundry soap for pennies, only need 1Tb, it works much better and it doesn't irritate my child's sensitive skin. I use vinegar in place of fabric softener. We also use vinegar for all cleaning - counters, floors, windows etc. Works great and no chemical fumes. (and no, our house and clothes do NOT smell like pickles)
If we don't make dinner we order take out rather than eat in a restaurant to avoid overpriced drinks and tipping.
I shop online when possible, getting better prices and I don't have to pay sales tax for stores not located in my state. That saves us loads of money.

Guest's picture
Carrie

I've done this in the past and would still consider doing it: When running low on cash for gas, I will go to my son's school and wait in the parking lot for him to get out, sometimes even two hours before the bell, to SAVE the gas I would use in driving the 14 miles to home and back! I'm a SAHM and it works for me. As long as I've got a book and a bottle of ice water (for temps in the 90's---we're in the South) then I'm fine.

Guest's picture
jamie g

I think the silliest ways to "save" money are delaying a cost of something that you NEED now, that you will eventually buy anyway, and that makes you suffer NOW for not having it. For example, I didn't want to shell out ten bucks for a new umbrella when I lost mine. After many times of being rained on, I bought a new one. I didn't save any money in the end and I could have saved myself some discomfort up front.

Guest's picture
Charlotte Prescott

It's kind of hard for me to decide what is "silly," and what is not. I started paying bills online to save postage; then when rates kept rising it seemed more sensible. I saved a relatively small amount of money by sharing a cabin with dh and teenagers on a cruise; then when illness struck in the middle of the night, was very glad we were all together. I started knitting to be able to give better gifts for the same amount of money, and discovered a lifelong hobby.

Silliness seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Right now, it's all good.

Guest's picture
Sweta

My library has a box labeled "recycled paper" where they put paper that has been printed on one side. Everytime I go to the library, (about 2X/week), I grab a huge stack then put it in my printer upside down to print on the blank side.

Guest's picture

I buy a lot of my craft supplies at the dollar store (and blog about them to bring in some extra cash).

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Serena

This isn't exactly silly, but practical: I save used fabric softener sheets and use them to wipe down my shower and other bathroom surfaces.

But here's something REALLY silly: I've known young college-age kids to get married just to get a discount on financial aid or other assistance. CRAZY!

Guest's picture
Guest

I entertain myself for free on weekends by going to "grand openings" -banks, stores, and new housing developments. Usually there is food, raffles, gifts or coupons for services, and entertainment. You get to meet some interesting people, win some prizes, and I'm not spending money at the mall.

Guest's picture
Guest

Happy to be the winner- the e-mail address is correct. Thank you.