Part of living lightly is learning how to save money. But sometimes in our efforts to save we figure we need to learn how to save money fast, and this can be unhelpful.
So today I want to share with you 10 of the worst ways to save money and pinch pennies. I was trolling the internet’s spider webs and came across some really interesting ideas about how to save money on everything and I thought some of them were particularly ridiculous.
I’m all for learning how to save money on food and gas bills and all sorts of things, but you’ve gotta use a bit of common sense too. Call these the 10 how not to save money tips.
Some of you might think that these are good ways to save money on a tight budget, but I don’t think they are. With each of these 10 worst ways to save money, I’ll give you a real solution to save money without being a penny pinching time stealing tightwad.
1. Picking up pennies
Just don’t. How many ways can I count about why this is a bad idea. First of all, a penny ain’t what it used to be. Secondly picking up pennies is like picking up dog poop with your bare hands. Really, they’re filthy.
One guy I read about boasted about how he picked up about $35 over the course of a year. At an average wage of around $10 an hour that’s 3.5 hours worth of work, but get this, it takes him every lunch hour for 30 to 40 minutes with his head down picking up pennies and nickles and dimes.
I won’t stoop for less than a quarter. Really, It’s not about being ungrateful or super rich, but you’re wasting your time when you could be doing better things. Plus you don’t know what you’re picking up with that germ laden ha’penny… which is really pretty much about all they’re worth!
Rather go out for a healthy walk and enjoy the parks and watch the ducks. And pack a lunch and don’t buy coffee everyday, that will save you way more than $35 a month that you might find picking up pennies.
2. Getting drunk to save money
This one really sounded crazy to me and I think it is. You head out with friends to the local bar and notice that it is happy hour from 4pm to 7pm or something. You get there at let’s say 5:30pm and decide to down 6 drinks between then and when happy hour ends so you can save money.
First of all, you’re drinking way too much and I’d suggest that this is indicative of a drinking problem. Secondly, are you really saving that much money?
If you save 50% off the cost of a drink and let’s say that drinks are regularly 8 bucks, so you’re only paying 4 bucks a drink, you’ve saved 6 x $4 which is $24.
How about you rather only have 2 or 3 drinks. The first one will still be at happy hour prices and maybe the second or third one you’ll have to pay full price. You’re still only drinking half as much and saving $16 to $20 plus less likely to create an alcohol abuse problem.
3. Skipping meals
I understand that sometimes, one of the easiest ways to save money is to miss a meal. But I think that’s been penny wise and pound foolish as my grandmother used to say.
Why not rather eat a healthy and simple meal instead of skipping one. Even a bowl of rice is inexpensive, filling and wholesome. Skipping meals might be a viable weight loss strategy a la eat stop eat and other such methods but for saving money, I think there are better ways.
Rather skip that unhealthy, fat laden and fried fast food meal that cost you $8 or so and have a bowl of rice, a glass of water and some steamed frozen veggies for half the price or less.
4. Re roasting coffee beans
At OPOB we believe in living lightly but also living in abundance. So that means enjoying some of the finest coffee that money can buy but not drinking a gallon of it. A cup of delicious world cup coffee is one of life’s greatest little pleasure.
Some might think that one of the simple ways to save money is by re-roasting coffee beans. Yes, people actually do this.
I just think it’s a bad idea and not worth the trouble or the effort. Plus, how much is it costing you to bake those beans again at 350 for a half hour or so. That’ll add up.
It’s not always about saving money though, but saving time and enjoying the best of things at true value.
5. Making your kids pay for dinner
I’m all for teaching kids to be responsible for their money and income and teaching solid financial habits that will help them learn to earn and save down the road.
But getting kids to pay for their own dinners is jut downright foolish. First of all, the money is likely coming from your own pocket and secondly you’re not really giving them full ownership in this aspect of financial control.
I first heard about it when a family was on vacation and they were telling the kids that they’d have to be paying for dinner from then on.
Well, the kids don’t really have a say in a) going on vacation or b) choosing how to spend that money other than on which type of restaurant they’re going to.
Rather give them ownership of their pocket money and give them full control of how they can spend it.
I use coupons to save money when I can, but I don’t go out of my way to save money by couponing. Really, just plan out your purchases better.
Extreme coupon clipping has become almost a spectator sport, time to put an end to it. It is part of a hoarding mentality and might be considered a psychological problem in extreme cases.
We’ve all seen those couponers who have a garage filled with stuff they’ll never eat. Rather shop when there are sales, use coupons appropriately but buy healthy, quality purchases. Our time and our health are our greatest wealth, not saving nickles and dimes by couponing on time.
7. Sleeping in your car or office
Times are hard I get that, but that doesn’t mean that sleeping in your office or car is a viable solution.
I know some folks are homeless and don’t have a real choice, but those cases are extremely rare. There are hostels and homeless shelters and other aid available for the real destitute.
No, I think many folks think that living in their car or office is a badge of honour and it saves money. Well, cars are expensive to run, I bet you could save $300+ by not owning a car. In most places that is likely enough to rent a room somewhere.
A car is not a necessity. And if you have an office job, you likely have enough money to rent a room someplace. Quality of life over quantity of pennies.
8. Dumpster diving
I know you can make a little extra money by dumpster diving an it is amazing what a lot of folks will throw out, however, it is one of the worst ways to save money.
Let’s say you find a chest of drawers that you like. It’s in the dumpster for a reason, there is probably something wrong with it even if it is just cosmetic. So now you’ve got to haul it out, spend some time and/or money to repair it before you can enjoy it or sell it for a few bucks.
If you like doing that kind of thing great, I’m not here to judge. But don’t kid yourself that you’re doing awesome saving a ton of money. You aren’t. Better to spend 5 minutes in Craigslist and buy a chest of drawers for $10 or so that is in good shape if you need a chest of drawers.
9. Using used vegetable oil for your car
This one seems to be trendy but it is another way to be penny wise and pound foolish. Some folks suggest that you can save around $500+ by using restaurant’s used vegetable oil.
First of all, you’ve gotta adapt your diesel car to run on vegetable oil. Secondly you’ve gotta get friendly with a few restaurants to find your pimp who’ll give you the oil. Thirdly you’ve gotta store that veggie oil somewhere.
A restaurant isn’t going to let you come by every week for 10 or 20 gallons so you can fill ‘er up. No, you’ve gotta take buckets full and then store it before you use it.
The IRS figures mileage at about $0.51 a mile. So if you just drive 1,000 miles fewer a year then you’re already saving your $500 that you might gain from using veggie oil. Plus you’ll keep clean, be driving less and probably walking more. Win win all around I reckon.
10. Gym memberships to save money on healthcare
This one might seem weird at first but it’s not. Many people are happy to plop down $50 or more for a gym membership every month which they use maybe 3 times a week on average if they’re diligent.
No doubt that aerobic training and anaerobic training are helpful in preserving our long term health. I’m not doubting the goal, just the method. Folks who work out feel good about themselves and so they should, but what happens is they’ll then treat themselves with steak dinners, fast food and other junk food as rewards.
Even if you don’t do any of that, saving money by going to the gym for your health can easily be attained with calisthenics and other easy to do at home exercises.
Save money by working out at home and doing bodyweight exercises and going for long walks and runs around the neighbourhood. Nothing wrong with a gym membership if you love the social aspects and some of the specific exercises. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that it is a great way to save money on your health care costs. It’s not.
The easiest ways to save money are not the most complicated. And these 10 worst ways to save money are somewhat complicated. My best advice to you is to enjoy life. Enjoy the quality of a good meal that costs a little extra. Enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee rather than a gallon of swill. Indulge in a glass of excellent wine rather than a keg of generic beer. Enjoy life abundantly and lightly by savouring the small things and splurging occasionally on the big things. That’s how you save money long term and enjoy a rich life in the short term.