David Bakke is an extremely thrifty guy currently living in Atlanta. He writes about money matters on Money Crashers Personal Finance.
When it comes to saving money, I readily admit I'm a fanatic. I recently paid off more than $30,000 in credit card debt, and in the process I mastered the skill of cutting costs in every corner of life. It's paramount for me, and though I refuse to do anything morally debatable, generally nothing is off limits when it comes to saving money.
Some may border on the bizarre, but they work. Take a look:
1. I Cut My Own Hair
This is simpler than you'd imagine: I just invested in a cheap hair clipper and switched to a buzz cut. Once every few weeks now, I wet down my scalp and start shearing away. Doing this can save, at a minimum, $100 per year – lots more depending on how much you pay for a cut. You also save time since you no longer have to make trips to the barber. Plus, with a buzz cut, you no longer have to comb your hair, and it's much more comfortable in the hot summer months.
2. I Reuse Printer Paper
Far too many times, documents are printed out, read, and discarded. Essentially, they're garbage after that. Such is not the case with me. Any printed sheets I no longer need are cut into quarter-size pieces, making for an endless supply of free note cards. You can also cut your printer paper supply needs in half by printing on both sides of the sheets. You save money, and it's good for the environment.
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3. I Take My Garbage to Work With Me
This may sound unsightly, or even unsanitary, but that's really not the case. My household generates very little true waste, especially after you factor in recycling. Each day's garbage is deposited in a local dumpster, located behind my office. Snicker if you will, but annual waste disposal services can cost households upwards of $250, so consolidating can go a long way toward saving.
4. I Strategically Open and Close Windows
This generally doesn't apply as much during the dead of winter or the middle of summer, but in the other seasons, you can lower your home energy costs just by maneuvering your windows and doors at optimum times. Open them in the morning so the cool air can circulate until it starts to heat up, then open them again in the evening once it has started to cool down. Simple as it sounds, it really does make a difference.
5. I Save and Reuse Supplies
Whether it's my kid's birthday party, a Halloween celebration, or even the aluminum foil I use to cover casseroles, I am obsessive about reusing common household items. All the leftover holiday decorations get put into storage for the following year, and I reuse my aluminum foil several times when cooking. You can get really creative if you put your mind to it – everything from using old plastic bags for pet waste to taking small store containers and using them for leftovers.
6. I Regift
Although I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, I enjoy when I open a gift and see it's something I know I'd never use in a thousand years. The reason is that I know I can just pass it on to the next guy. Now, this isn't without forethought. I always do my best to match up the regift with someone I think might actually need or want it. The bottom line is both a happy friend and money saved.
7. I Always Eat Appetizers When Dining Out
Instead of ordering an entrée, which is generally pricey and too big anyway, I almost always order an appetizer. As long as you politely take part in the freebies offered at the beginning of many restaurant meals, an appetizer should fill you up just fine. Along with being cost conscious, I try to remember the goal is to enjoy the company, not gorge myself.
If you were expecting to see things like cutting dryer sheets in half or making my own soap, I apologize – however, those are currently under consideration! Seriously, though, what you won't see on my list of ways to cut costs is anything that borders on illegal or unethical. I never sneak groceries past the self-checkout counter, and I always correct mistakes if too much change is returned to me. There is a right way and a wrong way to save money. Although the list I've just presented indeed borders on the strange, these savings most certainly add up over time.
What other odd measures do you employ to save money?
Editor's note: While we'd never toss our garbage into the workplace's dumpster (nor should you) – we did find David's list pretty entertaining. :)