Frugal Living 

5 Ridiculous Ways to Save Money

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Toilet paper... roll?When it comes to frugal living, it’s possible to save money if you make certain lifestyle choices. Without kids and pets, you could save a lot each year. But many of us like the emotional benefits that come with some expensive decisions, like having a mortgage for that home you bought, and sending the kids to college.

That money spent has to be made up somewhere. Some people decide to make more money as a way to offset those costs. Others, though, take frugality to the next extreme. While there are some quite sensible things you can do to save money, there are also some crazy ways to be frugal. Here are some of the more ridiculous ways that some people save money:

1. Toilet Paper

One of the more common strategies to save on toilet paper is to buy two-ply, and then separate it out. That way, you now have one-ply toilet paper, and it should last longer. I’m not actually sure if this would work, however. Wouldn’t you need more toilet paper if it were that thin? I suppose if you had the, er, discipline to a two-ply amount with one-ply it would save you money.

Another interesting idea is to use cloth toilet paper. It sounds kind of gross, it’s true, but is it really that much different than using cloth diapers? You could even get a diaper pail to help out with your cloth toilet paper needs.

2. Take the Condiments from Restaurants

Many restaurants offer packets of ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, relish, sweetener and other items. These are free for the taking. You can just swipe and go. Some restaurants no longer set the condiments out because of this. However, in most cases you can ask for a little extra. Not bad. Go in, order something off the value menu, and then take a few extra packets of what you need. Spend $1, and get several days’ worth of condiments in one go.

Why stop at the condiments? You can save on napkins by taking a few from the dispensers. Might as well get the best bang for your buck.

3. Reuse Liners

You can use the liners from cereal boxes in lieu of sandwich bags, or other storage bags. Even better: Those huge bags of generic cereal that you get at the store can save you more. It’s even possible to save the packaging from bacon, wash it well, and then use it to freeze other meats. It will reduce what you spend on saran wrap and storage bags.

4. Stop Using Shampoo

This one is actually something I might consider. There is a movement away from shampoo right now. You can save quite a bit if you just stop using the store bought chemical stuff. You can use various items instead of expensive shampoos and conditioners, including baking soda and vinegar.

It’s also possible to reduce what you spend on soap by washing less. Take a shower every other day (and save on water), or just soap up once or twice a week. Do you really need to use soap if you are washing away most of the sweat with a shower?

5. Shop the Lost and Found

A number of places feature lost and found boxes. Libraries, churches, and stores all collect lost items. If you need something, you could go shopping at lost and found boxes. Check to see if there’s something you need or want, from a new pair of earrings to an umbrella or a book. You can’t beat the free price!

What do you think of these extreme frugality tips? Are they feasible in your life? What are some of the more outrageous frugality tips you’ve heard?

(Photo: Micah Sittig)

{ 38 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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38 Responses to “5 Ridiculous Ways to Save Money”

  1. DMoney says:

    Everyone, please take a damn shower. Everyday.


    – The World

  2. These are some pretty crazy ideas… don’t think I’ll be trying any of these…

    A 6th option would be to “live in a van, down by the river” 🙂

  3. Dave Hilton says:

    I have cut back on a lot of things in my life. But, although this may be TMI, toilet paper is not something I skimp on…ever!

    In my world- you can never have too much toilet paper! Thanks to some bad experiences growing up and in college, I freak out if we have less than 20 rolls in the house!

    Now, that doesn’t mean I think you should use half a roll each time you do your business- you should only use as much as you need.

    I even carry a roll in my car and usually put an extra roll in my bag when I travel…

  4. Yosef Dahne says:

    I very often enjoy Bargaineering. I appreciate the work that goes into it and I have looked into and shared some of the tips. But two of the tips given today seem to verge on stealing, in my opinion. Going to a restaurant and free-loading off the condiments seems to me like a form of theft. Of course one is entitled to use as much condiments as one wishes for the meal IN THE RESTAURANT. But to take extra for home? The restaurant owner did not put the condiments out so you could furnish your cupboard. If someone just came in off the street without buying anything and took condiments the restaurant owner could rightfully object that they are not ‘free’ to anyone, they are only there for the purpose of improving your meal experience. If you can take 1 extra ketchup, can you take 100 extra packets? It’s a slippery slope of theft if you ask me. And to take from the lost and found as if it were a store? Ok, many places have stated policies that if something is in lost and found a certain amount of time, it’s ok to take it. But this looks different. What if someone just lost an item that day or the day before? They may be coming back for it.

    • Norm Ewing says:

      Taking condiments in excess from restaurants not only is theft, but it will also result in menu prices being raised to cover the expense; that hurts everyone in the long run!

  5. cvargo says:

    Isn’t taking something from the lost and found still considered stealing? Most places have a lost and found to hang onto an item until the true owner claims the lost item. that seems really dishonest

    • Matt M says:

      Yeah I don’t think taking something would a lost and found is frugal I think its stealing.

  6. Tony says:

    Taking from the lost and found is stealing. As is taking extra supplies from a restaurant that you don’t intend to use there.

    You might as well add “shoot old lady in the face and take her purse” to the list. Though the bullet will cost you $0.30 or so, so perhaps the frugal thing to do is use a homemade shank fashioned from an old toothbrush…

    I expect more from this site that this kind of advice…

    • Steve says:

      “You might as well add ‘shoot old lady in the face and take her purse’ to the list.”
      Now that is EXTREME saving!!!

      I guess the article title is meant to be taken literally…

  7. dave says:

    I would also like to add to the list: Shop recycling bins for old newspaper and use for toilet paper, Shoplifting from the Salvation Army, or my personal favorite, selling library books on ebay you checked out with your friends library card.

    • mannymacho says:

      Hey, why not take advantage of the recycling bins? You can always return the newspaper when you are done 🙂

    • ziglet19 says:

      Sort of off-topic, but my husband bought a used book of the internet for use during gard school. My sister, a univeristy librarian, discovered while visiting us, that the book my husband had purchased had been stolen from her library! Crazy! Who steals books from a library to re-sell?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have never sent a reply before but felt the need to comment after I read this. I can’t believe these suggestions! Taking from the lost and found … Condiments and napkins YOU don’t pay for. I think these suggestions are called stealing. I never expected something this low from this site. Miranda, I don’t know what you have written before.. Having said that I question your values!! I need to be frugal and save, yet need to teach values to my children.

  9. Shirley says:

    5 ABSOLUTELY Ridiculous Ways to Save Money

  10. Glenn Lasher says:

    A woman I used to know came from a family that kept horses. She used to use (and probably still does) the shampoo that they used for the horses. She told me that it was significantly cheaper and that you could get it by the quart or the gallon. I couldn’t argue witht he results; she always looked good.

  11. suresh says:

    these are really crazy ideas. we may get peanuts by saving this. But I still like the idea of putting it as an article

  12. Jim M says:

    Thanks Miranda for providing the basis for a meaningful discussion on ethical issues related to extreme frugality – apparently, when you said “ridiculous” you really meant it.

  13. Miranda says:

    Interesting discussion. I would never actually do any of these things. However, I know people who have done each of them. It is interesting, the line between being “frugal” and then demonstrating what some might call “crazy.”

  14. VeganEater says:

    I never buy napkins for the table: whatever the takeout food provides is usually enough for the time being. Could never understand why restaurant owners put a whole bunch of them into the bag, but if they want to waste – why not reuse?
    Never buy garbage bags either. All the plastic that goes to garbage almost makes me cry, I reuse/recycle every single bag. Also helps with dog poop – never buy those fancy doggy bags, just roll a plastic bag into a super tight tiny little roll and tuck it into my purse or car 🙂

    As for RIDICULOUS saving tips….
    I recently learned about selling “well worn shoes” on ebay…. turned out, there are some … khm…. shoe lovers out there who LOVE heels with lots of wear (read: feet smell) in them. Instead of throwing those out, a girl can make an extra buck 😉 They have to be sexy pumps though…

  15. tom says:

    You are REALLY a sick person! Even people in a 3rd world country would be appalled at your discusting suggestions. Most of them are grossly unsanitary and idiotic!

  16. Commonsense says:

    Are you people really that naive that you didn’t get the point of this blog? She wasn’t suggesting that you do these things. You might look up the definition of ridiculous.

    • Shirley says:

      causing or worthy of ridicule or derision; absurd; preposterous; laughable: a ridiculous plan.

  17. Julia says:

    Absolutely ridiculous ways to save money is right. But I’ve saved condiments and napkins from take out meals. I also make my own laundry soap. I save a lot of money monthly & it’s dye and fragrance free. Also I save grocery bags for small trash can liners. I try to save every chance I get, but taking things that aren’t mine is out of the question.

  18. Eric K says:

    Folks, read the headline: “Five Ridiculous Ways to Save Money.”

    I don’t believe this article was meant to be taken seriously.

  19. Oh some of ya’ll need to lighten up. This was meant to be an amusing post and is amusing.

  20. Nancy says:

    I will not be using these tips. I agree with Yosef. I

  21. cookie says:

    Lady are you on crack! These aren’t tips they are crimes. Small crimes but none the less crimes. You need to re think your position.

  22. Linda says:

    Doing these types of things for saving money is only waste of time. By the way I enjoyed reading this post a lot. Thanks for this post.

  23. J says:

    After reading this article, my wife and I researched the no-shampoo idea, and have adopted it. We created the baking soda paste with apple cider vinegar and have been using it for a while in place of store-bought shampoo. Since then, we’ve saved money on shampoo, quit pouring sulfates on our heads, and actually have noticed our hair is in better shape. Sodium laurel sulfate is also in toothpaste, and I’ve had to stop using any toothpaste that contains it, as it gives me an outbreak of canker sores. It seems crazy, but I challenge you to try it one time and see how your hair feels. You won’t think it’s crazy after you try it. And if you do try it once and you don’t like it, then just get back in the shower and re-wash your hair. What have you lost? Five minutes of your time?

  24. Barb says:

    I take wrapped, full, toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes from Hotels when I stay there and save on TP all the time. Most public restrooms have this options too, motels, malls and dept stores are the best bet as many places have secured tp bins now.

  25. Vic says:

    I use leftover hot sauce packets from TacoBell to marinate my pork chops. Fire sauce is especially delicious!

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