Have you ever wanted to both hug something, then punch them square in the face for the way they act? Recently I got to reading “Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets” by a colleague Phil Villarreal over at The Consumerist and a few of his tips just really got me steaming. For example:
How an ice cube can multiply your fry order
Phil goes into how he gets fries from a fast food joint, along with a drink. He then eats a few fries, then throws an ice cube from his drink into his fries. It makes the fries soggy, then he goes and complains about the fries to get new ones. He then eats the soggy fries AND the free, unearned fries.
Having worked in fast food for a few years in high school and college, I wonder now if anyone pulled this trick on me. If I found out, I think there would be some “extras” included in the new fries…but then I guess that would earn me a punch in the face.
How to “win” at potlucks all the time
Basically, this tip involves such tactics as avoiding the signup list for office potlucks, or signing up for something someone else already signed up for…and then not bringing it. He’ll even buy something he knows no one will eat and then return it to the market the next day. This is a fast track to a PUNCH IN THE FACE from yours truly!
The art of the well-timed breakup
Ok, seriously, breaking up with or having a big fight with your partner right before a major holiday or their birthday just to save on a gift? Would you date this guy or girl? Ok, so I just happened to have a fight with a girlfriend about 15 years ago right before V-day, but that was unintentional, and I got her a gift when we reconciled anyway. But to purposely screw over your relationship for a couple bucks for flowers? That deserves A PUNCH IN THE NUTS!
However, I will admit that Phil has some great, HONEST, frugal ways to save money and NOT screw others over (for the most part). For instance,
Watching women’s sports
No, this isn’t sexist, it’s frugal. Phil has a point that women’s sports cost a mere fraction to attend compared to the men’s counterparts. Granted, there’s no pro women’s football, but when it comes to women’s basketball or soccer, you can have a very cheap date, watch a good competition and earn brownie points with your lady (unless she’s a huge sports nut that only wants to see the guys). My recommendation…women’s indoor volleyball. Phil agrees too, but you’ll need to read the book to find out why 🙂
Dorm kids’ trash is your treasure
At the end of the college semester, drive around the dorms and find loads of barely used furniture, books and what have you for free, all near the dumpster. I say “near the dumpster” because you need to make sure someone just didn’t leave stuff by the curb while they get their car.
Here’s a funny story. Back when I first moved to the DC area and my wife and I were renting an apartment, I was walking down our hallway when I noticed our neighbor had a nice pair of strappy heel shoes next to a tied up bag of garbage. I figured that both were destined for the garbage chute, so I snagged the shoes…which were just my wife’s size. Little did I realize that our building was full of Asians whose custom is to remove their shoes outside of the apartment. I didn’t realize this until years later, and by then I would have no idea who that neighbor even was.
We still have the shoes, and they look great in her summery dresses 🙂
Same story goes for this same building when I found a perfectly good Dirt Devil vacuum next to the garbage chute on our floor. Turns out the cleaning lady probably just left it there while she worked on another floor! Gulp!
Ok, I’m a bit cheap myself, so I’ll give props where they’re due, but some of the “Stingy Scoundrel” ideas are just plain illegal. Things like taking ketchup packets to fill your ketchup container at home sounds exactly like stealing, no matter how you rationalize it. And I would think swapping your scratched up DVDs for new ones from Netflix goes against their terms of service, and again it’s stealing. (although Netflix does decontent their DVDs so you’re getting less features on your “new” disc).
So Phil, I’ll give you a big, manly hug for all your good ideas at saving some moolah, but I’ll warn you, if I ever meet you in person, I’m punching you right in the face. Then you can find a way to steal from a hospital when you have a broken nose and jaw.
(Oh, and yes, I really did enjoy the entire book for both its entertainment and educational value, regardless of how wrong some of the ideas were).