20 Crazy Ways to Save Money

by Jamie Simmerman · 14 comments

Our family sometimes comes up with some pretty crazy ideas to reduce spending. It’s fun to make a game of saving and talk about crazy ideas for saving money.

Some of the best ideas come from my middle-school child — and even the youngest has quite a few ideas that add up over time.

Here are a few of our favorite crazy (and creative!) ways to save money:

1. Check soda pop machines for loose change. Even the area around vending machines often reveals dropped coins or forgotten change.

2. Check the parking lot and car wash vacuum areas for dropped coins. Those “free” pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters add up over time.

3. Set up aluminum recycling bins at the homes of friends and family. If you have friends or family members who don’t recycle cans for cash, have your kids set up a special recycling bin for them. Collect the cans weekly and save the money for a special project or reward. You can even use the money to throw a BBQ or dinner for those who participate.

4. Use pallets for projects. Wood pallets (or skids) are very versatile for building projects and are often free for the taking. We’ve used plastic pallets to craft winter shelters for stray cats and installed pallet flooring in a hunting cabin for next to nothing.

5. Recycle old clothing and sheets into rag rugs and sleeping mats for camping trips.

6. Skip a meal once a week.

7. Drink water instead of soda, milk, or juice. Tap water is free and better for you than sugar-filled drinks.

crazy ways to save money8. Eliminate all snacks and junk food from your budget. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, or make snack bars instead of expensive packaged items. Whenever possible, skip snacks all together to reduce caloric intake and save money.

9. Stay home. Do all your errands on the same day and eliminate the expense and time it takes to run to a store or leave home. Planning helps you be more productive and spend less.

10. Shop for school clothes at yard sales and resale shops.

11. Once a week (or month), have electricity-free family night where you eat by candle light and turn off the TV and electronic devices. Play cards, tell stories, go for a nature walk, or play with the dog — but don’t use any electricity for an entire evening.

12. Cancel all subscriptions to see which ones you actually miss, and which ones you can live without.

13. Eat smaller portions at mealtime.

14. Grow indoor plants, like cacti and Peace Lilies, to help clean the air in your home instead of buying expensive air purifiers and filters.

15. Use coconut oil as a hair gel, conditioner, make-up remover, and moisturizer instead of buying separate (and expensive) products.

16. Use inexpensive generic baby oil instead of shaving cream.

17. Hold contests to see which family member can keep the same lip balm and ink pen the longest without losing them.

18. Make your own laundry soap or mix your favorite laundry soap with Borax and washing soda to make it last longer (use less with each load).

19. Stop buying trash bags. Use shopping bags as trash liners instead. You can always ask your friends and family to share their stash if you run out.

20. Have a friend take your family pictures, school pictures, or baby pictures instead of paying a photographer.

What crazy ways have you found to save more money?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Joanieonthebeach says:

    My husband + I have been retired for 5 years, no pension, just 401ks + savings. Retired at 65 y/o while we are still young enough, paid off 2 cars and our <1,000 sq. ft. home in Rhode Island, never kept up with the Joneses, married at a courthouse in Newport, RI-no fancy wedding-and we're still here! I'd say to invest in the stock market, learn how to cook your own meals, buy very good clothing (they last longer + learn to sew when they tear), get rid of the gym membership (75-80% of what you look like is what you eat) + learn to walk for exercise, and don't smoke or drink alcohol. Keep track of what you spend you monies on–you'd be surprised!

  • Tina says:

    There are soo many tips here LOVE IT!! One things I always do: always buy a roasted chicken every month from Costco. It is cheaper than a whole chicken uncooked .

  • Kate says:

    I have looked for loose change all my life; a good place to look is in the parking lots of schools, and an even better one is in the (empty) drive-through lanes of fast food places. You’d be surprised at how many people drop their money trying to hand it into the window. My grandson used to look beneath carnival rides that lurch and tip far above the ground; money falls out of people’s pockets there sometimes. My brother used to make good money when he worked at the grocery store in a small town near the Canadian border. People would drop off Canadian beer bottles and his boss allowed him to set them aside — and when he got a goodly load, he’d drive to Canada and turn them in, sometimes buying a case of beer with the money. A couple of ladies here at the Senior Residence have the bottle concession and regularly turn in all the bottles they are given by those of us who only drink one or two bottles of pop per month. Finally, a tip many people do not think about: put your ketch bottles, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and dish soap bottles in the rack upside down, so you will get every last drop from the bottle.

  • lynda says:

    I make toothpaste out of coconut oil and baking soda. My teeth feel cleaner, the coconut oil helps the gums, and no added chemicals.

  • Arminius Aurelius says:

    My main meal dinner consists of a lettuce , tomato , sliced green pepper and a bit of oil and vinegar or salad dressing . [ healthy ] Have all my life limited myself to no more than 3 or 4 ounces of meat . Then with a vegetable and rice or potatoes , it is filling . I rarely go to a restaurant except when I have company . Often they give you a large portion or two of meat . Instead of stuffing my face I have the excess put into a takeout container . The other night ordered Veal Parmigian and was able to take home enough for 2 more dinners . Why stuff yourself [ 10 to 14 ounce portions ] and eventually get FAT .

  • Jamie Simmerman says:

    Jay, if someone left a coupon for $0.25 or $0.50 laying next to a product you were buying, would you pick it up? Same concept. Yes, it is for working people. My habit of looking for loose change once netted me a $50 bill stick on a bush at a gas station.

    • Grace Claudia Autumn Rosie Jemima Esmerelda Holly Cecilia Gordon-Lennox says:

      That is what it’s called.
      Would you take money from someone’s wallet?
      Same concept.
      And I would never pick up anything of someone’s (If I did, I would give it to the establishment I found it or the police station or contact that person).

  • Jay says:

    Scrounging vending machines and parking lots for loose change seems a bit desperate…just sayin. Is this post for working people?

  • fredjohnson says:

    No thanks. Not interested in doing any of these things.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, in other words “act homeless even though you aren’t yet.” These are not paths to financial success. Looking around for quarters, really?? Anyone who’s strapped enough to need these kinds of ideas will come up with them without any help. For me at least, the major benefit of financial planning is NOT having to do these things.

  • Ruth Cooke says:

    Join a church or other community where folks share with one another. I have been given a matching couch and chair set, a matching washer and dryer set, a complete business wardrobe in my size, a huge pile of wool and material for sewing, knitting and other crafts, a sewing machine, and small items too numerous to mention, just by asking.

    If you need something, before you shell out hard-earned cash, use Kijiji, Freecycle, or Craiglist to see if someone in your area is offering what you need for free or super cheap. If you click on my name, it will take you to my blog where you can see how crazy I get. I managed to get enough material to renovate my son’s back yard for about twenty five bucks or so in gas. 😀

    Finally, keep your place clean and decluttered, and take care of your stuff. If your place is clean and organized, you won’t spend $$$ on multiples of things you KNOW you have but can’t find, food won’t pass the expiration date before you’ve even opened the bottle, and you won’t trip over stuff on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, saving you both hospital costs and replacement costs for whatever you fell over and broke.

  • Dave says:

    Good Stuff.

  • zimmy@moneyandpotatoes.com says:

    I don’t think these “Crazy ways to save money” are all that crazy. I have always checked vending machines off types for money my entire life.

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