By Raine Parker
When it comes to saving money, most of us know where to start. Eating out less, going to the library, buying fewer clothes, and hypermiling are all traditional ways to cut back on spending, but what if you need to dig a little deeper in order to save more? Below are extreme and sometimes controversial ways to save money on a daily basis.
- Get a roommate: Even if you have to move, getting a roommate will subtract a huge amount from your rent, utilities and other living expenses. Make sure your new roommate is as committed to you when it comes to saving energy, though.
- Get married: Getting married can reward you with tax benefits, will alleviate rent costs and can help you save on food, entertainment and other daily living costs. Just don’t marry someone who’s carrying lots of debt, because that will become yours too.
- Give up your pets: Pets are cute and fun and can even contribute to healthier, calmer lifestyles for their owners, but they’re also expensive. Give up your pet to your parents or a friend so that you can save on vet, food and boarding costs.
- Stop drinking: Alcohol — even cheap alcohol — can hurt your budget. Save it for special occasions, and eliminate weekly or daily drinks.
- Stop smoking: Smoking is also expensive, in the short- and long-term. Depending on how much you smoke, you could be buying packs a day, and should also expect to pay more in health insurance and medical bills in the future.
- Bring your own food and snacks: Bring your own snacks to the movies, pack your lunch rather than going out during work, and head to nightspots that let you bring your own food. Picnicking is also a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon without going out to eat.
- Go without heat or A/C: Dress in layers and pile on blankets during the winter, and use fans, ice cubes and water spritzers to keep you cooler during the summer. (Editor Note: just be careful not to let your pipes freeze or you’ll have to spend all that money you saved!)
- Get rid of your TV: Cutting cable out of your budget can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Once you’re used to the sacrifice, take it one step further and get rid of your TV altogether to save on energy costs. You can always watch DVDs and even regular TV programming on your computer.
- Steal Internet: Sure, it’s a controversial way to save money, but if you can find a stable connection from a neighbor, the risk might be worth it for you. (Editor Note: For many internet providers, this is actually against their terms of service and can get your neighbor booted. It’s also illegal in some areas!)
- Swap with friends: From music and DVDs to laundry detergent to clothes, set up a swap network with your friends. Take turns buying what you need, and then pass it around the group to cut spending.
- Record every expense: It’s tedious, but writing down every single expense — from gum to gas to withdrawals — will help you figure out where you need to stop spending.
- Turn in your pennies: Keep loose change and deposit pennies, nickels and dimes when you have enough.
- Eat packaged food: We all know that fresh — even organic — food is healthiest, but when you’re on a serious budget, you can buy packaged food in bulk for less money. Stock up on peanut butter, ramen noodles, rice, beans and the big bags of frozen vegetables that will last longer.
- Walk or ride your bike: Eliminate the need to budget for gas by walking or riding your bike everywhere that you possibly can. (Editor Note: This would be a bit hard on my 30 mile highway commute!)
- Don’t do or buy anything without a coupon or discount: Pledge to limit your activities and shopping according to whether or not you can get a discount. Look for coupons, free movie passes, sales and promotional rates for everything you buy. (Editor Note: But be careful to not buy stuff just because you have a coupon)
- Buy according to the season: You’ll save money on produce if you buy fruits and vegetables in season, but you can find the best deals on Christmas decorations, travel, clothes and even homes when you buy them during the off-season.