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Weird things I've done to save money. I lived in my car, stocked up on fast-food condiments and more.

What weird things have you done to save money? The personal finance blogging world often throws around different ways to save money. Cut cable! Brown bag your work lunch! Unplug things when not in use!

What do you value most? What are you okay with getting rid of? I’ve heard of people even going as far as taking toilet paper from public bathrooms in order to save money. Ummm, okay, not for me.

Saving money all comes down to your own personal taste and priorities. It’s always funny when I see articles about saving money and in the comment section, there’s usually some disapproving comments about how saving money on this or that isn’t worth the effort, dumb, and so forth.

Why would you do that to save money! It’s not even worth it!

What? That’s crazy! No way I would do that. 

Well, if there is a thing living in Thailand so far has taught me, it’s that 1. hot water is not necessary for a shower 2. 20-30 showers are not a necessity and 3. Many Thai people either don’t have internet at their home or their internet isn’t fast enough to sufficiently stream Netflix *gasp* *chills* 

Let’s go through some of the ways I’ve gone about saving money.

1. I lived in my car for my first year of college

Probably the most extreme thing I’ve done to save money. During my first year of university, I didn’t get enough financial aid to cover room and board for the school year. Rather than take out some private loans (with crazy interest rates), I decided to live in my car.

It wasn’t ideal but I made it work. I hung out in the university library a lot, which had air conditioning, wi-fi, and big desks to work on (the necessities 🙂 ).

2. Getting a job that provided a free meal

Going through university usually means the rite of passage of working low-rung, minimum wage jobs. When I arrived at my college town, I started looking for jobs. I quickly found one at McDonalds (you want fries with that?) and got a free meal with every shift.

Usually I got to add extras to the food and even take some home. It made living the broke college life a little easier.

3. Saving condiments from eating out

Most of the saved condiments came from McDonalds that I took after finishing a shift.

4. Dollar Menu loyal

Sadly, the McDonalds dollar menu no longer exists in most places. Back in college though, it was alive and well. There were McDoubles, side salads, sundaes, small fries, large drink, pies, and 4 piece chicken nuggets, all for $1.00 each. I would usually pair up a “main dish” with fries or a salad for $2.17.

5. I kept store cups

I only kept a McDonalds cup. I would keep it in my backpack, order my food, then take it out and fill it up. It’s stealing, I know, I know. The habit died when I graduated from university.

6. Not washing my hair as often

This can be gross for some people, but it worked for me. I usually washed my hair around two times per week while in university.

7. Getting a “dumbphone”

The opposite of a smartphone. At one point a few years back, I decided to cut more expenses and felt I needed to get rid of my “expensive” $38.50 cell phone bill. I opted for a flip phone and got on a $10 a month plan for several months.

I now realize my “expensive” cell phone bill was probably half the cost of what most paid for theirs. You live and you learn.

8. College campus move out days=gold

At the end of the semester or school year, lots of students would throw out or leave a bunch of the school supplies, appliances, furniture and more (that their parents probably bought them).

Me and a friend went through at the end of one year and gathered up a bunch of school supplies, a small table, and a microwave.


Looking back at the somewhat weird things I’ve done to save money, it makes me curious as to what others have done. During my serving days, I know a big one many people seem to do: ghetto lemonade.

Ever heard of it? It involves getting the free water, then asking your server for more lemons (I can confirm, waiters hate this), then adding sweetener and the lemons to your water. Wha-la! DIY lemonade.

What weird things have you done to save money? 

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Colin // RebelwithaPlan

Colin Ashby is the writer behind Rebel with a Plan, a website dedicated to people who choose to rebel against the norm of living in debt and feeling financially unenlightened. He believes everyone has an eccentric quality to embrace and that lattes are sometimes a necessity (despite what the personal finance community tells you).

Latest posts by Colin // RebelwithaPlan (see all)

4 Comments on Weird Things I’ve Done to Save Money

  1. Rudy - Smart Money Today
    June 10, 2016 at 9:54 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Colin, good post.

    I like your n.2 saving tip and I’ve personal experience to get free meals by having worked internationally as a Chef.

    However, having daily meals at McDonald isn’t going well for your wealth, and as you know, medical care is expensive now a days.

    Having meals and accommodation payed for by the employer is a massive help to reach financial independence at young age.

    I retire from my corporate job at 31.

    One more tip i would add is to get employment with good benefits like medical care and pension plan.

    Keep up th good work.

    Reply
    • Colin // RebelwithaPlan
      June 11, 2016 at 11:47 am (3 years ago)

      thank you. Yeah, finding employment with good benefits makes life things so much easier.

      Reply
  2. From Pennies to Pounds
    June 14, 2016 at 9:38 am (3 years ago)

    I have never heard of ghetto lemonade, that is hilarious! Aw I can’t believe you lived in your car, but I bet you saved an absolute TON of money.

    Reply
    • Colin // RebelwithaPlan
      June 17, 2016 at 4:53 am (3 years ago)

      Yeah, it was a challenge but university dorms are SO EXPENSIVE! Thanks!

      Reply

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