cheap things I've done to save money

15 Ridiculously Cheap Things I’ve Done to Save Money

We’ve all done silly things to save money.

Tawnya here, and if you’re anything like me you’re always looking for little ways to cut costs and put more money back in your pocket.

After all, Money Saved is Money Earned and every little bit adds up.

While most of our savings tips are designed to help you save big money, it’s important to acknowledge that little savings can also make a big difference.

In isolation it may seem like you’re putting in more effort than it’s worth, but just like coins in a change jar all these little savings can add up to something pretty substantial over the course of time.

In fact, the old adage a penny saved is a penny earned would be more appropriate for this list.

Hey, in the end money is money, and collectively these ridiculously cheap things I’ve done have saved me a pretty penny over the years.

Take a look and see if you’d be willing to do any of these things to save yourself some extra change.

 

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Give My Garbage to Others

I’ve never had garbage service in my life.

Never.

Growing up in a rural area meant that we had to take care of our own garbage, and we handled that by using the “dump,” or the local waste management center.

Every month or so, my parents would pack all our garbage cans into the truck and take them to the dump, where they paid a small fee to dispose of all their garbage.

Even later on when garbage service became an option, my parents opted to pay the smaller fee and put in the extra time to use the dump as opposed to paying $50 a month for garbage service.

Fast forward several years and I’m still skimping out on that $50 a month service, only I don’t have nearly enough garbage to use the waste management center.

Instead, I dispose of my garbage for free.

How?

Through many means.

Now before I go on, I want to preface this by saying that the only way I can get away with this is because I’m single and don’t have a lot of garbage. If I had multiple people living with me I’d definitely splurge for garbage service or use the waste management center. But as it stands I’m single so I’m going to get away with this as long as I can.

I use others to dispose of my garbage for me.

I have great family and friends who are willing to help me save a few bucks by taking my garbage. Again, I have minimal garbage so this works for me, but even this small amount saves me big money.

Money saved = $20 – $30 a month.

 

Recycle at Work

Recycling service generally comes with garbage service, but without garbage service I’ve had to get creative with this one too.

Growing up my parents always burned all their paper waste, returned bottles and cans, and took any other recycling material to the dump (to be recycled).

Being closer to town means that burning my paper waste isn’t always a good option, although I have done it on occasion when safe to do so.

However, my typical means for recycling is at my work. Being as I want to do my part to protect the environment as much as possible and recycling services are included free in garbage services, I don’t feel bad about adding my unwanted paper waste and minimal other recyclable waste to the bins at my work.

Money saved = $0, but helping to protect the environment.

 

Print at Work/School

I’ve used this neat little trick since I was in college, and it’s saved me literally thousands over the years.

I never pay to print anything. In fact, I don’t even have a printer at home.

I did own a printer when I first began as an undergraduate, but I quickly figured out that I could save tons of money on ink and paper if I used my free quarterly printing allotment.

You see, in college you’re typically allowed to print a certain number of pages a term free of charge, and it’s one of the biggest saving methods a student could use.

In addition, I had access to a printer at the Writing Center where I worked, from which I could print all I needed for free and without using up my quarterly allotment.

I continued to use college and work facilities to print all through undergraduate and graduate school, saving me thousands in costs while my personal printer sat collecting dust.

Now, without school assignments to turn in I rarely have need to print for personal reasons. But if I do, I still avoid the costs by using a family printer, and very rarely, my work one.

Money saved = $2,000 over 12 years.

 

Borrow Items

I’ve already hinted at this method in several of the items above, but it’s worth its own category because it’s such an effective money-saving method.

I had an entrepreneurial professor in college that said the biggest part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to use OPR’s.

Other people’s resources.

I’ve taken OPR’s to the extreme by using them every chance I get, especially as I’ve adjusted to homeownership over the past couple of years.

The thing about buying your first home that you don’t realize is that the house is just the beginning. You also need to purchase items for the house that you probably didn’t own before, including tools, yard-care items, and so on.

Luckily, I’ve been able to skirt around the cost of acquiring all these items because of OPR’s.

I have borrowed many items from friends and family in the 3 years I’ve owned the house that have saved me hundreds of dollars, and I did it because these items were not things I’d regularly need.

I do have a basic tool set and basic yard equipment, but beyond that if I need a more advanced item I call on family and friends to help me out.

When part of a tree fell I used my grandpa’s chainsaw. When my drain clogged I borrowed a snake from my friend. When I needed to trim a bunch of blackberries back, I borrowed my friend’s brush cutter. Needed to clean the gutters, borrowed a ladder.

The list goes on and on.

If you can’t borrow an item, another idea is to rent it from the local hardware store. Home Depot and Lowes offer rental equipment so you can get the job done without having to buy the tools needed.

Money saved = at least $200 overall.

 

Share Memberships

Speaking of borrowing, the idea of sharing things goes beyond tools and household items.

I’ve also saved a ton of money by sharing memberships.

Now, you won’t be able to share every membership, but for those you can share it can save you a good chunk of money.

For instance, I have shared Netflix and other streaming memberships to significantly save money. In my case, I typically don’t watch Netflix or other movie/show streaming services so my friends have been very generous in allowing me access to their memberships if there is something I want to watch.

I’ve also known people to share Amazon Prime memberships and gym memberships. In fact, there’s a local gym in my area that will let you share your membership with up to 5 people.

Long story short, anytime you can share a membership with someone you can greatly reduce your costs, and in some cases, eliminate them. Just make sure you’re willing to give as well as take.

Money saved = $10 – $20 a month.

 

Take Advantage of Free Benefits

This one typically does require spending some money in order to gain access to the services, but it’s well worth it in the end.

How many of you regularly get your oil changed? I hope the answer is 100% of you who own a car.

But really, the bigger question is where do you get your oil changed? I use Jiffy Lube, and there’s a very specific reason why I do.

Free fluid top-offs.

Now, Jiffy Lube is not a service I would recommend for anything other than basic fixes (lights, wipers, etc.), but for oil changes they provide a great service. The best part about that service is you can stop in any time and get free fluid top-offs.

I drive older, high mileage cars, and those cars tend to burn/leak fluids, especially oil. Instead of buying oil at the store for $8 a pop, I drop by Jiffy Lube and let them fill all the fluids for free.

They’ll top off your oil, wiper fluid, and coolant, all at no extra charge.

Another service I use which doesn’t require you buy from them is Les Schwab’s free tire repair.

Les Schwab is a Northwest company that specializes in tires, brakes, and other similar repairs. Although they can be on the expensive side with their repairs, they offer one of the best perks around.

If you have a flat and it’s repairable, they’ll fix it for free.

What other free services do you take advantage of?

Money saved = at least $500 over the years.

 

Attend Events for the Food

I’m sure all of you have done this at some point in your life, especially in college.

Events happen all the time. Church events, conferences, sports, neighborhood, community, family, on campus, the list goes on and on.

And they all have one thing in common: free food!

Have you ever attended one of these events primarily because of the food?

I have.

Now I will say that I don’t do this very often anymore, but especially when I was in college I went to many events primarily because I could take care of a meal for free. I’ve even gone to events I cared nothing about with friends just because there was free food.

Hey, a girls gotta eat!

While I wouldn’t recommend becoming an “event crasher” just to get free food, I would recommend you keep your eye out for events you might be interested in, or consider accompanying a friend or family member to an event knowing that you’ll typically be rewarded with a nice meal.

Money saved = at least $500 since college.

 

Pick and Freeze Fruit

Many people pick fruit in the summer, but most also pay for the fruit.

I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, U-pick fruit is a great option to get a ton of fruit for a low price. But why pay when I can get a bunch of fruit for free?

Specifically, blackberries.

Anyone who knows anything about blackberries knows that they grow like crazy and are difficult to contain, let alone kill off. Blackberries grow everywhere around Portland, and I have a few batches to choose from when it comes to berry season.

The first is at my house. The lot next to me is full of blackberries, some of which extend over the fence into my yard. Another option is along the fence above the track and field at the local high school where I walk my dogs. Furthermore, my parents own 5 acres in the country and have multiple blackberry patches to choose from.

Granted, it’s only one type of berry, but I can pick more than I know what to do with every summer. Typically, I can freeze several pounds for use throughout the winter (when fruit is most expensive), as well as give some to family and friends.

I haven’t yet explored selling my berries, but it’s another option with such an abundance just sitting around.

Money saved = $200 over the last 5 years.

 

Go for a Lunch Buffet and Stay for Dinner

We’ve mentioned this strategy before in our article on saving money traveling, but it can be used locally too.

Do you eat at buffets?

While it’s not the best option in terms of your health (especially if you do it all the time), you can get a great value for your dollar.

Especially if you pay a lower price for admission.

Every buffet I’ve ever been to charges more for dinner than lunch, but only some of them have restrictions on length of stay or close between the meals.

That means that in many cases, you can pay the lunch buffet price, but stay for the dinner buffet food. I’ve done this a couple of times in Las Vegas, as well as locally. The trick is to get there about 45 minutes before the price change, and to be prepared to take your time and stay awhile.

If you time it right, you can have access to both lunch and dinner foods while only paying for the lower-priced lunch meal.

Money saved = $50 – $100 total.

 

Shower at the Gym

Okay, this one is a little extreme, and I promise that I DO NOT normally skip showering or other personal hygiene items at home just to save a little money.

However, I do know of people who do.

In fact, I’ve known people who pretty much only shower at the gym because they go before work and use the gym facilities to get ready for work. I’ve even known people to shave and use the shampoo and soap at the gym to save on buying those products at home.

I personally haven’t had a gym membership for years because I wasn’t able to use it enough to get value out of it, but when I did I used the locker room facilities to the max. There were many a time when I would work out in the morning and shower at the gym, thus saving me some water and product at home.

It wasn’t a lot saved but remember that every little bit counts.

Money saved = $25 – $50 over the years.

 

Use Free WIFI

I’m using this trick now as I sit here writing this article, and I know many people take advantage of it on a daily basis.

Free WIFI.

While I do pay for WIFI in my home, I regularly take advantage of the WIFI offered at businesses. I’ve used the WIFI at universities, work, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and a plethora of other places.

There was even a time I connected to a neighbor’s WIFI.

Although I can’t avoid paying for WIFI now that I have a business and stream all my television, there are many people who do without that $50 a month expense by using the free WIFI offered by businesses.

Money saved = potentially $50 or more a month.

 

Save Condiments from Restaurants

I’m sure many a poor college student has used this trick to an expert level, but I continue to use it as a single adult even today.

I save condiments from restaurants whenever I can so I don’t have to buy them at the store.

I don’t do this without first purchasing something from the restaurant (I’m not that cheap), but I’m not shy about stocking up on supplies when I do.

I’ve grabbed sugar packets from Starbucks, salt and pepper from McDonald’s, and various types of hot sauce from Taco Bell. I’ve also saved extra/unused dipping sauces from several restaurants.

Another big one for me is napkins, and I always grab a few extra every time I eat takeout.

If you’re really looking to penny pinch, you could also collect plastic wear from your takeout meals.

Money saved = $25 – $50 over the years.

 

Use School/Park Facilities to Play Sports

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it bears mentioning.

Parks and schools are not just for kids.

I struggle to workout unless I’m playing sports or outdoors. I just don’t get those endorphins unless I’m competing in some way. I also don’t want to pay $45 a month for a gym membership to play sports occasionally.

So, to avoid it I take advantage of parks and schools when I want to play basketball or catch.

While using park facilities is limited to good weather, many schools offer open gym times where members of the community can come together to play pick-up games for free.

If you only like playing sports, consider dropping that gym membership and utilizing your community resources instead.

Money saved = $45 a month gym membership.

 

Repair Your Clothing

I have no interest in learning how to knit, sew, crochet, or any other kind of seamstress/tailor activity. But I also like to get maximum value and usage out of my items and save money.

Grandma to the rescue!

My grandma has saved me hundred of dollars in clothing over the years by her willingness to patch holes, sew on buttons, replace zippers, and even make new clothes on occasion.

Her specialty is patching jeans, because I tend to wear my favorites so much that they sprout holes, and not in desirable places.

Minimally patched pants are still used for work and other public activities, while pants with major repairs are used as work pants.

Money saved = at least $200 over the years.

 

Use Student ID Card for Discounts

Last, but certainly not least, I use my Student ID to get the student discount whenever I can. You’re probably thinking, so what?

The thing is, I’m no longer an active student, and haven’t been for many years.

Now, I have been taking continuing education classes through the university where I obtained my Master’s degree, so I guess technically I can say I’m a “student.”

Whether I’m technically a student or not, I still have my Student ID card and carry it with me just in case I can use it to save a few bucks. You never know when a place will offer a student discount.

For instance, I recently used my Student ID to get a discount on museum admission while on vacation with my grandma in Victoria, BC. That Student ID saved me around $5!

Money saved = around $50 over the years.

 

Moral of the Story

I consider myself a frugalist as opposed to cheap, but that doesn’t stop me from doing some ridiculously cheap things to save money.

After all, every little bit adds up. Combined, these 15 ridiculously cheap things I’ve done to save money have saved me a pretty penny over the years, which I’ve used for other things.

Taken collectively, I’ve saved around $3,650 over the years and I continue to save around $130 a month.

It doesn’t seem like much individually, but it can make a big difference long-term.

What could you do with an extra $3,600? What about $130 a month?

Talk about Money Saved!

 

 
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Tawnya Redding

Tawnya is an elementary special education teacher by day and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned by night. She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University and has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer. Tawnya and co-blogger Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. They teach people how to save money money, save money, and understand money.

2 thoughts on “15 Ridiculously Cheap Things I’ve Done to Save Money”

  1. I do love a good deal. Another is to buy used when you can. Normally you can purchase off Facebook or craigslist at atleast a quarter of what you pay new. I’m always finding screaming deals which come in handy for birthdays and holidays.

  2. The Veteran Spouse

    These are great tips! I repair my clothes as well. I also buy clothes from thrift stores and yard sales instead brand new. If I do but brand new, it’s usually on clearance and I try to stack that with a coupon if I can. I can usually get clothes for a few dollars. I’ve probably saved hundreds of dollars this way. When I save extra money it either goes to our emergency fund or investments depending on our needs at the time.

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