7 Crazy Money Saving Ideas (That Aren’t Really So Crazy After All)

by Kelly · 16 comments

in Money & Spending

The blogosphere is full of money saving ideas: good ones, great ones, evident ones, easy ones, hard ones… and crazy ones. But some of the ideas for saving money that might seem crazy at first glance really aren’t so crazy after all. I’ve been gathering some of the silliest seeming money saving ideas (and some of the best, as well!) to show you why you might want to take a second look at these ideas for saving money that really aren’t so crazy after all.

1. Go to the bathroom before you leave work (or any other public place).

  • Why it seems crazy: If you’re going to this extent to save money, aren’t you going a bit too far?
  • Why it really works: It may seem like such a small thing that it won’t have any impact. But each flush can use a considerable amount of water, not to mention all the toilet paper that can be involved! Multiple that by each member in your household, every day you leave the house, and this little thing has the possibility of saving you more money than you think.

2. Stay Married. The Dough Roller has a great list of 51 Painless ways to Save Money. Number 51 on the list? Stay Married. He says

Yes, I know that some marriages end because of abuse and other extreme circumstances. “Isn’t marriage about love”, you ask. Sometimes. “You don’t know my situation”, you say. True. But I lived through the emotional and financial pain of two divorces as a child, and I’ve been married to the same women for more than 19 years, so I know plenty. Am I telling you not to get a divorce? Of course not. I am telling you that divorce will wreck your finances and your spouse’s finances.

  • Why it seems crazy: Staying married just to save money? That’s not crazy, that’s insane!
  • Why it really works: As pointed out in the original post, divorce is expensive. Money shouldn’t be the only reason you don’t get a divorce, but you should think about the financial impact a divorce would have upon your life.

3. Hide Your Credit Cards. This idea comes from The Simple Dollar, and it seems crazy in its simplicity. How can hiding your credit cards save you money? Can’t you simply go find them again? Trent says:

Don’t keep plastic on you until you have the willpower to not use it even when you’re sorely tempted.

  • Why it seems crazy: Hiding your cards isn’t the same thing as canceling them. If you want to, you can still use them.
  • Why it really works: Even pausing for a moment can help you not spend money, especially if you have to go physically get the credit card. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

4. Stop buying lottery tickets! This is Money, a UK website recommends not buying lottery tickets, pointing out that the chances of winning are so low, you might as well be burning your money. If you still want the thrill of the unknown, they advise buying one, not ten.

  • Why it seems crazy: This is such a small expense- and the dream is so big!
  • Why it really works: As with so many other things, the little stuff does add up. If you really don’t want to stop doing whatever little thing is your equivalent of lottery tickets, then make sure you have a line for it in your budget.

5. Turn your car off at stoplights. If the wait is going to be longer than 30 seconds, not having your car idle will save more gas than turning it off and back on again. The Bargainist recommends doing so for waits of a minute or more:

One of the worst offenders in lowering your gas mileage, idling gets you zero miles per gallon. If you are going to idle for a minute or less, leave your car on, but if it’s going to be much longer than a minute, you should turn off your car.

  • Why it seems crazy: Turning off your car for just a few seconds is a hassle, and can’t really save you money. Can it?
  • Why it really works: It can save you money actually. Along with a whole host of other sensible driving measures, like making sure your tires are correctly inflated, lightening the amount of things you carry in your trunk and driving at reasonable speeds, you can save a lot of money with this not so crazy tip.

6. The Bargainist has another crazy idea for saving money on meals out that makes a lot of sense: use the meat from your dish the next day to make another meal.

Make a second dinner on leftovers. Start by eating the veggies and fries or bread, then eat the actual meat item last. You might be so full from the warmup stuff that you don’t eat much meat. Then take the meat home and use it for a second dinner the next night. Two dinners for the price of one!

My problem with this is that I have so little self restraint that I usually end up finishing my plate! But there have been times that I’ve brought home chicken, ham or other kinds of meat, and it’s a wonderful addition to a casserole.

  • Why it seems crazy: If you go to a restaurant, it’s to eat your meal, not take it home. That’s called take-out.
  • Why it really works: With the sizes of restaurant portions, it is certainly possible to only eat half of what you’ve been served. Whether you eat half the meal and take it home for the next day’s lunch, or save the meat as suggested above, this is a good money saving tip.

7. Use a piggy bank. Or envelopes. Or your sock drawer, or under the mattress or where ever it is that you stash money! The tip is to put away every $1, $5 or $10 bill that comes across your path (your choice). MP Dunleavy at MSN Money says:

Play money games. Whenever you get a $5 bill, put it aside. Or do it with ones, with quarters or all your spare change. You’ll have a nest egg before you miss a nickel.

  • Why it seems crazy: Saving every $5 bill that you come across means that you can never break a larger bill unless you’re ready to dedicate your change to savings. And how much can you really save from $5 bills anyway?
  • Why it really works: Surprisingly, you can save quite a bit in a very small time. The constraints mentioned above aside, it’s not that difficult either. My father has been doing something similar for years, by putting aside pennies and dimes, and he has saved thousands of dollars over the year. My mother, on the other hand, has been putting away $5 and $10 bills for about a year, in two specific savings accounts, and is almost to her goal of being able to buy a new Apple laptop cash.

More Great Money Saving Tips posts:

As I said before, there are thousands upon thousands of posts in the blogosphere on saving money, living frugally etc. Here are two of my favorites:

What’s your favorite crazy money saving idea that’s really not that crazy?


1 Amanda March 27, 2009

Believe it or not, I have actually thought about the bathroom tip before myself. When I was working, I always made sure to go to the bathroom before I left to go home.

One way to ensure leftovers when you go to a restaurant that serves generous portions is to ask for a to-go box when your food arrives, and go ahead and put half the food from your plate into the to-go box. It will also help avoid overeating.

<abbr>Amanda´s last blog post..How to Easily Keep Track of Your Monthly Bills</abbr>

2 Kelly March 27, 2009

You’ve raised some excellent points Bette! As with other things, it’s important to always act in a way that’s best adapted to your situation.

3 Bette in the Midwest March 27, 2009

Some good ideas here, however, the one about turning off your engine at stop lights leaves me a little unsettled. For one, I doubt it really saves anything significant, and secondly, this may be dangerous, if not illegal (one could check with the Dept. of Transportation or State Highway Patrol just to be sure).

When the light turns green and a passel of vehicles are sitting there trying to restart their engines and then get in gear and then make it through the light… well, not good for traffic flow! And if one needs to move quickly to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle to avoid an accident (which are VERY common at intersections), there really isn't time to do that if you are sitting there at a full stop with your transmission in park.

I might consider this idea for when it is necessary to wait in a line, such as at the bank drive thru, etc., but not on a road designed for traffic. Roadways are for autos that are "on" and able to move; parking lots are for autos that are, well, parked.

4 Craig March 27, 2009

I have been trying to have leftovers hold over for another meal. Or combine multiple leftovers for a meal, saves money that way.

5 Jack March 27, 2009

another great idea is just to hang up some of your towels instead of sending them to the dryer. Just put them on hangers on the shower rod.

Jack´s last blog post..Not spending but not saving either

6 Jerry March 27, 2009

I am DEFINITELY doing the piggy bank idea. I just hadn’t thought of it. Times are tough for a lot of people and resorting to some *crazy* ideas as insurance to keep themselves financially afloat. We can all do these things and more. It’s not revolutionary but it will lead to an extra few dollars in your account. That’s always a good thing.

7 Coco March 27, 2009

Hi Kelly,

Great tips as usual. They don’t sound as crazy as they should to me… I practice most of them (except car thing, b/c I don’t drive).

I love your blog so much that I have just tagged you for the Attitude of Gratitude Award.

If you are unwilling or unable to participate, no hard feelings. I just wanted to let you know you have contributed to what I know, how I operate, have set an example or somehow invested in me as a blogger. ! Thank you so much.

Coco´s last blog post..Attitude of Gratitude Award!!

8 Amiyrah March 27, 2009

I do tip number 7 all the time! This is how I pay for the giveaways on my blog. I see it as “found” money, so I love sharing it with my readers. Even though I do a giveaway every month, I still have most of that “spare change” money left over to save.

Amiyrah´s last blog post..It’s my Apple Pie…

9 marci357 March 28, 2009

I also ask for the to-go box when the food arrives, on the rare occasions I eat out. Have of everything (at least) goes into the box right away, except for salads which I will eat at the time. Sometimes I am lucky enough to make parts of two or three meals later at home, especially sometimes 3 breakfasts.

10 Keith March 28, 2009

Great article Kelly ! Many great tips here. I definitely do the left over thing. That becomes especially useful when I take leftovers for lunch the next day! That saves a lot of money because eating out gets expensive.

Keith´s last blog post..16 Symptoms Of A Successful Person

11 Shevy March 29, 2009

I was looking online for something on the idling thing because there was some kind of campaign a while ago here about turning off your car if you were going to idle for more than 15 seconds but I couldn’t find it. I did, however, come across similar information from the State of California Energy Commission stating that 10 seconds of idling uses more gas than restarting your car.

I think you just have to be sensible about how and where you use it. I sometimes turn off the engine when I’m in a left turn lane and know I won’t be getting through until the next cycle of the lights. I also try to start up again just as the opposing light starts to turn yellow so I’m back in Drive before my light turns green.

I have to say I’m really tempted to do a post about why each of those 7 things would be a bad idea!

12 Emma @ Baby-log.com March 29, 2009

I like these tips Kelly, they make sense, well maybe except for #5. It doesn’t seem crazy, just too inconvenient. Thanks for putting this post together!

Emma @ Baby-log.com´s last blog post..Teaching a toddler to sleep alone: an unexpected turn

13 Kristin March 29, 2009

Hi! I just recently discovered your blog as a result of blogging for my class group blog about cheap things to do in Austin, TX and ways to just save money in general! Your blog has given me some great material and ideas for life and for blogging! Thanks and feel free to check out my blog!!

14 Jennifer March 30, 2009

Though my husband and I have no financial worries, our major source of arguing is over money.The irony is that divorce creates greater costs for this principle source of marriage breakups. Love is free!!!
PS to Kelly_Do you know the trick of exiting autoroute at Crolles before reenetering to get a free Euro? He loves that one!

15 Confessions of a Mom March 31, 2009

This is too funny “toilet at work”. I had to Tweet that! The rest are good ideas. Thanks for a great article.

Confessions of a Mom´s last blog post..Say It With Pictures

16 Jay April 11, 2010

Wow, these are some ridiculous money saving ideas. I’m as frugal as anyone, but the day I have to start worrying about when I take pee to save money is the day I die.
But… I might be completely wrong. Did anyone hear about the European Airline that is going to eliminate 2 of the 3 bathrooms on its planes and start charging? Maybe it really can save money! http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/the-problem-solver/2010/04/paying-to-use-the-plane-potty.html
.-= Jay´s last blog ..Free Coffee Samples =-.

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