Extreme Frugality: The Crazy (Legal) Things I’ve Done to Make and Save Money
If you ask my friends and family what one of my best assets is, they may likely say that it is my ability to save a dime. Sometimes a penny.
I’ve been getting better over the years – and no, I don’t mean getting more reasonable, I mean getting more crazy about my mula.
I admit that I’m not as good as the people on the TLC show “Extreme Couponing”… though I have been known to dumpster-dive for a coupon. I also believe in upholding certain standards (no stealing, no lying, etc.). However, I can say that I am more willing to take that extra step every now and then.
If you want to take that step as well, here are some techniques for you to try:
- One man’s trash: Sure, it’s great to hold a yard sale to sell of some of your items. But how about selling someone else’s items? I’m certainly not telling you to steal from other people. But that junk on the side of the street with a “FREE” sign hanging off of it? Someone else is bound to want it, even if it’s not you. I’ve hauled desks, bookshelves, microwaves, and other abandoned items off of the street by myself (not always easy), taken them to my abode, and posted them on Craigslist for some extra bucks.
- It’s not just a job: I don’t just work for my job, I make my job work for me. I make sure to take advantage of all of the benefits. I’ve held jobs that provide free transportation (public transit passes) so I don’t have to drive and pay for all of my regular car expenses. In college, I’ve been a Resident Advisor to get free housing and food. Do some research!
- Take it to go: Hate paying tips? Take it to go. If it’s cold food, you don’t have to pay tax, either (that’s why I don’t get my subs toasted at Subway).
- Let’s make a deal: You’re shopping at the store. Dress got a snag? Cereal is expired? Talk to the manager and see if you can get a discount or better.
- Do good at Goodwill: Goodwill and Salvation Army are my favorite places to go. Not only are you helping a good cause, but you can find normally expensive clothes at ridiculous prices. I wear basically all Banana Republic and J. Crew at work and people are always surprised when I tell them how much I spent. I don’t really care if it is not the current line or style (and you shouldn’t either if you’re reading this). Don’t be discouraged if you’ve gone before and you didn’t like the selection or the ambiance: all stores are different depending on where they are located and the kind of people who donate clothes there. Take the time to head to the more ritzy area to find the Goodwill store there (don’t forget to take the bus and use your free pass!).
- Get back to class! You can save all over the place with student discounts. You can enroll for community college classes and use your Student ID to get deals on restaurant food, tickets to events, computer software, and more.
- Save a life: I’m sure you’ve heard of getting paid to donate blood and stuff (I’ve actually never done that)… but, I mean, if you literally save someone’s life, they’re going to owe you, right? Maybe they can repay the debt in gifts?
- It can't hurt to ask: Rarely have I been turned down when I have asked for a refund or a discount. I've gotten some overdraft charges waived when I called the bank and asked. I had a $15 coupon expire and I called to get a new one - and they gave me one!
As I mentioned in my disclaimer earlier, I am not the most extreme in my tactics (I’ve never baked cookies inside a car on a hot day to save electricity or gas). But I did want to share a couple of tips in case they are useful. I encourage anyone to share their input or any of their own tips!
I also want to add something that I feel has helped me save money over the years - don't fall for gimmicks like "buy one, get one half off" or "get the third one free". If you don't need it, don't buy it!