We all know love makes people do crazy things, but the lengths people will go to in order to save a few pennies here and there might be even crazier. Considering the average American household is $132,000 in debt, learning a few money-saving tips couldn’t hurt. The nation’s savviest penny pinchers aren’t afraid to go to extremes to cut corners. Although some tips might require swallowing your pride, many also help reduce environmental waste. The following money-saving tips might seem strange, but they actually work.
1. Keep a pitcher close to the sink
Instead of wasting water while you’re waiting for your tap to turn hot, collect the cold water in a pitcher. You can use it later to drink, cook, or water your plants.
2. Pee in a bottle
The expression, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” isn’t without merit. Not flushing when you pee can save gallons of water each day. But if you really want to save money and help the environment, try peeing in a jar or bottle and using the waste on fertilizer — a two-for-one special.
3. Say ciao to your Charmin
Speaking of bodily functions, why waste money on toilet paper when you probably have spare newspaper, junk mail, and bills lying around? Discomfort aside, toilet paper really is a waste of money if you think about it.
4. Unplug everything
While it doesn’t waste as much money as leaving on every light in the house, keeping your appliances plugged in can add up. According to the Department of Energy, these devices comprise up to 10% of your electricity bill. In order to make life easier, try using power strips, so you can switch off multiple devices at once.
5. Dumpster dive
According to NPR, retailers waste a whopping 10 percent of the edible food in America each year. The main reason? Picky customers. Most stores throw out food at the end of the day, so you can either take the scavenger route and dumpster dive or ask your local store manager if you can take a look at closing time. That overly ripe banana nobody wanted to buy could be your breakfast.
6. Sit out the party
Saying no to birthday parties (or weddings, depending on your age) can be difficult. But the costs for social occasions that you feel lukewarm about can add up. Unless you think saying no will truly damage your relationship with the host, try sitting out a few parties of third cousins or co-workers you barely know.
7. Take a vacation at Christmas to save on gifts
The holidays can lead to excessive expenditures, especially if you spend them with extended family and feel pressure to buy everyone a present. Try taking a trip instead of avoiding the gift grab. You’ll save money and headaches over family arguments, and you’ll get a nice vacation out of it.
8. Freeze all your dry goods
You’ve probably heard freezing coffee keeps it fresh, but did you know just two weeks in the freezer could help your flour stay good for an additional two years? Same goes for sugar, grains, and baking mixes. Although all of these goods will expire eventually, chances are you’ll use them before they go bad.
9. Make your own cleaning supplies
Vinegar and baking soda can achieve almost anything your cheap cleaning products can. Before you run to the store, try making your own cleaners at home. Best of all, they’re less toxic and less expensive than organic brands.
10. Potty train your cat
The average cost of litter for a cat owner is $165 dollars a year. That’s over $1,500 dollars over a cat’s lifespan. One way to save money on your feline is to potty train him or her with a Litter Kwitter system. The method isn’t meant for all cats, but vets say it’s legitimate.
11. Get permanent makeup
According to Mint.com, the average woman spends over $15,000 dollars on makeup in her lifetime. That’s more than enough to buy a used car. One solution is to go for a more natural look. Or you could save a couple thousand dollars and get permanent makeup surgery. On average, procedures cost between $400 and $800.
12. Wash clothes in the shower
Instead of just hand washing your delicates, try handwashing everything. It’s a good workout and, if you do it with your bath water, you’ll wind up saving money. In terms of water use, a 10-minute shower uses approximately the same amount of water as the average-sized washing machine.
13. Paint your roof
If you can’t install solar panels to make your energy use more efficient, try painting your roof white. Because the color will reflect more sunlight, you’ll reduce your energy bill anywhere between 10% to 40% in the hot months.
14. Use the fridge and freezer for non-food items
Once again your freezer comes to the rescue. Clothing, lipsticks, candles, and batteries are all items that last longer when stored in the cold. Be wary of what makeup items you store in the cold, though. Although it can extend the shelf life of items, such as nail polish, the cold also can compromise the integrity of some of your favorite beauty products.
15. Join a memorial society
This might sound grim, but if you join a local affiliate of the Funeral Consumers Alliance or a similar group, you could save thousands of dollars on your funeral. The alliance negotiates contracts with several funeral homes to bring you a lower price. Affiliates can be found in most states.
16. Head to Mexico for dental work
Not all trips to Mexico are to hang out on the beach with a margarita. According to The Washington Post, thousands of Americans head to Mexico each year to get dental work. Getting your procedure south of the border will cost you about a quarter of the price you would have paid in America. Many of these dentists have been trained in America, so you’re still getting a quality operation. It’s something to keep in mind if your health care is at risk.
17. Put your spending on ice
You don’t need your bank to freeze your credit cards to curb your spending. Just pop them in the freezer yourself. Kerri Moriarty, head of company development at Cinch Financials, suggests submerging your card in water and keeping it frozen as a contract with yourself not to use the card. No defrosting allowed.
18. Save your pennies — only
Instead of saving all your spare change, challenge yourself to save only a certain denomination, whether that be nickles or five-dollar bills. Turning the habit into a fun game will make you more actively think about how you’re spending your money.
19. Make your haircut pay for itself
This tip might work better for women. If you have undamaged hair over 10 inches long you could make up to $4,000 selling your hair.
20. Sell your blood
Yes, you could do the charitable thing and donate your plasma. Or you could get $50 to $200 per donation at a private donation center. It might hurt more than donating your hair, but you can do it far more frequently. Most private centers allow one to two donations a week.
21. Rent out your friendship
Why hang out with people you like for free when you could be getting paid for it? Rentafriend allows you rent out your platonic companionship for whatever rate you chose. If you’re willing to get even more personal, professional cuddlers can make a reported $60 an hour.
22. Check out a screwdriver alongside the latest bestseller
It’s not common, but libraries in several major cities, including Oakland and New Orleans, have community tool-lending programs. You can pick up a book on how to build your Ikea bookshelf while you’re there.
23. Couch surf
Thanks to the internet, couch surfing no longer is limited to your network of friends and family. Sites, such as couchsurfing.org, allow you to find people from all over the world to stay with for free. It might sound a bit sketchy, but users of all ages and genders swear by it.
24. Reuse cereal box liners
According to Stretcher.com, your Cheerios wrapping can double as a sandwich bag or cover for microwavable food. You’re helping the environment by reusing plastic, too.
25. Stock up on free condiments
You’re probably already doing this even if it’s not intentional. Instead of wasting all the extra packets tucked into your carry out, why not save them? You could be saving over $100 a year on ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce, and all those delicious specialty sauces you can’t even buy in stores. It might be worth noting, however, though you might end up saving a dollar or two on ketchup, those little packets cost store owners about 3 cents each.