When it comes to saving money, I admit it – I’m a freak. If there’s any way to save even a buck or two, I’m all over it. My friends say I’m just plain cheap, family members call me a tight wad, but I could honestly care less – mainly because the name-calling tends to stop when they see what I’ve done with my savings.
I’ve traveled to five different countries, I always have the latest electronic gadgets on-hand, and since I can get by on so much less, I recently quit my day job and now work from home full-time. Saving money is a skill, but extreme saving techniques, like the ones I preach, are an art form. Here’s what I do to rescue all those pennies and get them to work for me:
1. Take My Garbage to Work With Me
When I was a child, my parents never paid that extra fee for waste pickup, and I simply refuse to do so now that I’m an adult. To avoid this expense – and to avoid trash from piling up in my front yard – I bag my garbage up each day and deposit it in the dumpster behind my office. I save more than $300 per year with this idea alone.
2. Use Shower Water for Plants
I live in the south and I take a tremendous amount of pride in my backyard home garden. To save on the water I need for my plants, flowers, and vegetables, I place an empty bucket in my shower and collect the water I use, and give it to the garden. I don’t break the bank with this one, but it’s a lot better for my wallet and my planet than simply letting all that water go down the drain.
3. Re-Use Coffee
Ever make that full pot of coffee and only end up drinking half of it? Instead of pouring out my leftover brewed coffee, I freeze and use it in cold coffee drinks. I pour it in ice trays to make coffee ice cubes, and sometimes I grind them up in a food processor, mix them with cream, and enjoy a tasty frappe. There are even ways you can reuse coffee grounds at home.
4. Eliminate All Household Chemicals
I bought a large bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. It’s perfect for just about every household cleaning job, which means you can forget about the days of buying five different detergents for five different jobs. I’ve eliminated every other household cleaner, and I now use this item to clean my windows, toilet bowls, countertops, and dishes. You can even use it for laundry detergent. It costs pennies on the dollar and not only saves me money, it’s made my household more environmentally friendly.
5. Re-Use Aluminum Foil
When you cook covered dishes in the oven, try spraying the bottom side of the aluminum foil with Pam or extra virgin olive oil to reduce sticking. When you’re done cooking, simply fold it up and save it for your next meal. This may not be a game-changer, but those pennies do add up.
6. Load Up on Samples
If you feel like a light meal, why pay for it? Visit markets like Trader Joe’s where samples are always available and take advantage of whatever they have on offer. The last time I was there, I had a nice snack of organic pigs in a blanket, Greek yogurt, and even a mini cup of coffee – and all for free. If you like any of the items enough, stock up. Otherwise, consider it a nice meal on the house.
If you put your mind to it, you can find ways to save in essentially every area of life, you just have to train yourself to seek them out. Anything you spend money on – and I mean anything – can be gotten for less. The next time you fill up your gas tank, buy flowers for your mother, pick up a bottle of wine, or even just a bag of potato chips, ask yourself if you can find it somewhere at a lower price. Chances are, you can.
What weird ways do you save money?
David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance. He’s always looking for new ways to save money and live a frugal lifestyle, and shares his insights on the blog.