Ever gone dumpster diving behind a college dorm? How about becoming friendly with the dollar menu? It may sound gross, but there are a few “dirty” ways you can really save a buck.
If you don’t have as much money as you want to, maybe it’s because your standards are too high and hands are too clean. The more creatively dirty you’re willing to get on marginally embarrassing ways to cut costs, the more cash you’ll be able to free up for more important things, such as soap. Lower your standards, dispense with your inhibitions and embrace desperation and you’ll see all sorts of opportunities open up before you.
To help you get into the frame of mind of saving net funds by indulging in gross practices, try these five nasty — yet rewarding — ways to save money:
Adopting roadside furniture.
When man and couch file for divorce, the abandoned sofas tend to take a seat on curbsides. There’s a reason, after all, the brand name of a popular recliner is La-Z-Boy and not Responsible Lad. It’s expensive and time-consuming to haul discarded furniture away, so people just dump it wherever and wait for its next lucky owner to claim it. That’s where you, and the pickup truck you borrow from a friend, come in. Just claim the possibly stinky furniture, and you’ll eradicate the need to spend hundreds on a new couch or chair. Just beware that your new bedbug roommates aren’t cool with splitting the rent.
Getting medication and surgery in Third World countries.
Although those who happen to have great health insurance love to declare that we have the world’s best healthcare system, those with mediocre, awful or no insurance tend to disagree. That’s why many heads to other countries, with less bureaucracy clogging the pipeline between healers and heal-ees, as well as admittedly less stringent licensing standards, to score cheap procedures and drugs. As long as you’re OK with your surgeon moonlighting as a goat farmer, you can score your new knees and pain meds for a song.
Dorm dumpster diving for appliances.
Some swear Black Friday is the best time to find electronics deals. Not so. Early December and mid-May are much more ripe for savings, provided you’re willing to shop outside residence hall garbage bins, dodging overzealous campus security guards who are just jealous that you’re scoring all the great loot before they can nab it for themselves. Students who bought stuff they care too little about to take back home with student loans they never plan on repaying tend to abandon their goods when they move out. True, your new microwave may be smeared with Ramen noodle waste, and your top-of-the-line desktop may be doused in week-old beer, but you can’t argue with the asking price of anything.
Subsisting on the saddest of fast food.
Dollar menus seem like a fantastic thing for consumers, but to the fast food items themselves, they’re probably seen as sad destinations for social outcasts. The low-rent corner of the menu, then, is dismissed as the unsavory ghetto by the likes of Six Dollar Burgers and numbered combination meals.
To save a buck, or five, do not give into appearances. Should you choose to do so, and should your tolerance for sodium be high, you can land three meals in as many dollars a day. Or, if you’re the gluttonous sort, you could wolf down five slimy-yet-satisfying dollar menu burgers for the cost of a fancy burger, ketchup, and fries.
Filling out your wardrobe at garage sales.
Hipsters like to declare their superiority by avoiding the mall in favor of thrift stores, but you can pummel those self-righteous punks at their own game by going a level lower and dismissing fancy retail shops for snatching up your neighbors’ discards. The prices are lower, the wares are even more street-credible (meaning ugly) and authentic (meaning worn until threadbare), and as a bonus, not everything you find is disgraced with sweat stains. Just resist the temptation to buy underwear. Or not.
Clayton Jones is a Chicago-based freelance writer with 4 years experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health and sciences, Internet and technology, political and career management sectors.
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