9 People Anonymously Admit Their Worst And Weirdest Money-Saving Habits


Recently, I watched someone I was out with swipe a shit ton of ketchup packets from the table at the diner. When I asked why the hell he needed ketchup to go on his *insert meal that would be objectively disgusting with ketchup on it here*, he said “I don’t – I just take these whenever I see them. I never buy ketchup.”

LOL. I found this to be either brilliant or insane, but I couldn’t quite tell which. I don’t do anything massively crazy in order to save a buck. The craziest thing I probably do is microwave cups of coffee so I don’t need to waste time and money making more when mine gets cold, which doesn’t even seem weird to me, but my boyfriend treats it like a huge coffee-sin.

I asked him what weird things he does to save money. He said that when he wants to buy something, he waits one day for every hundred dollars the thing costs to think about it. So, if an item costs $500, he waits five days to think about the purchase before making it. If he still wants it then, and has the money for it, then he goes for it.

This seems pretty reasonable to me. However, taking time to make an informed decision and intentionally purchase a desired item hardly seems like a weird habit – it actually seems like a pretty good one. I wanted something juicier than that.

So, I set out to ask a bunch of frugal weirdos like myself to anonymously (don’t worry — I changed their names) what kind of strange habits they have picked up in order to help save them money. Here is what they had to say.

(Side note: after hearing these responses, I realized that I have done at least most of these things before. Oops. Maybe we’re all a little weird about money.)

1. “I turn the heat off in my home before I leave, but I live in Massachusetts and it is freaking freezing, so I know that is really unsafe to do. Pipes could burst and stuff, but I pay so much for heat and I just will do anything to keep it from being so expensive. I’ve been told to just keep it lower when I leave, but I feel so guilty that I’m spending money to heat an empty home, so I usually just shut it all the way off. I know it might end up costing me money, so yeah, it isn’t a good habit.” – Elizabeth

2. “Only use cloth wipes and diapers for my baby girl. I don’t think this is bad or weird at all, but I get a lot of confused looks and comments from friends and family who don’t think it is hygienic. But I think it is, and it is better for the environment, and definitely saves me money, which is important now that I have a daughter.” – Kelly

3. “I only flush the toilet if I go number two. I pretty much will pee on top of pee and only flush once at the end of the day, because it bugs me to think that I am using a toilet full of clean water each time I go. It feels like a big waste. Also it saves me money to not flush all the time. I do if I have guests coming over, and I don’t tell my guests ‘hey, please don’t flush’ – I let them do what they want so they don’t know I’m insane when I’m home alone.” – Evan

4. “I think when I stopped washing my hair with regular shampoo, it was partly an attempt to save money. I have saved a ton of money since then because I wash with baking soda, which costs like $2 for a giant box of it that lasts months.” – Cara

5. “I reuse things that are supposed to be disposable a lot. I know a lot of people do with like, takeaway food containers. I do that for sure, wash them and use them to bring lunch to work. But I also sometimes reuse coffee cups I get at Starbucks or something. I’ll drink my coffee, bring the cup home, rinse it out and let it dry, and then fill it with coffee I make at home the next morning. I think this is just the disgusting equivalent of having a reusable travel coffee mug. I had one, but it broke and I just didn’t get around to getting a new one, so I just have been using paper ones from times when I get coffee out for a few months now.” – Jaime

6. “I save everything because I’m afraid I’ll need it someday. I think it goes deeper than money-saving, but I hate the thought of needing something one day and having to spend money to buy it because I threw away the one I had. It makes me into a bit of an anxious hoarder.” – Grace

7. “I use my tea bags more than once. Is that normal?” – Leena

8. “I don’t think this is weird really, but I eat leftovers for like six days in a row if possible. Anything to spend less money on groceries. I don’t throw things away unless they are like growing visible mold.” – Taylor

9. “I don’t turn on any lights in my apartment until it is dark outside. I get pretty good natural light though, so maybe this isn’t possible for everyone. This isn’t bad though, just different.” – Hunter

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

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  • Back then before I started using truvia, I would stock up on so much splenda that I never had to buy it. I was a 3 cups of coffee grad student at the time so that was a LOT of splenda.

  • Megan Stacey

    I find it really hard to balance saving money and minimizing packaging waste. Usually they go hand in hand (buying in bulk, buying refills for existing bottles, etc.) but I know I couldn’t do the free ketchup packets because I would go insane throwing out a piece of garbage every single time. I’m weird about Splenda for that reason too, even though I definitely prefer it!

    I also just moved in with my boyfriend and had to take stock of the ELEVEN travel toothpastes in our bathroom because I used to be friends with a dental hygienist who would swipe them for me for free. I prefer the tiny tubes because I travel with a carry-on so often that I don’t want to think about it, but seeing them all piled up is causing me actual anxiety.

    • laura

      I really struggle with balancing getting cheap/free stuff vs. packaging waste as well. I go through phases where I sign up for a lot of free samples, but then I feel guilty about throwing away all the wrappers for these little individually wrapped things.

  • jdub

    Lol I just ate leftover turkey+rice yesterday that I had used to make burritos… 4 days ago. If it’s not stinky, it’s fine.

    • GBee

      I need to see mold before I will throw away any food.

      • Sara Jane Breault

        Anyway, cooked leftover are good for at least 7 days sooo…. 😉

      • jdub

        I work for a food company– even if it has mold I ask myself “is this like cheese, can I just cut it off?”

        People waste a lot of food unnecessarily. Best Before dates are just gentle suggestions– it’s the production date you shouldn’t ignore 🙂

  • GBee

    I get off at a father metro station to save $0.10 (and I use pre-tax money so it’s actually an even more negligible amount). But yay exercise!

  • Sara Jane Breault

    I have that habit of just going without stuff. Like, I know I need to buy new pantyhoses but I’ll wear legging with boots instead because it doesn’t fit in the budget this month.

    • Roselyne

      Pantyhose rips so easily it’s not even funny, it’s a total waste of money. Actual tights (I’ve had great experiences with Lands End tights, oddly – 3 years and they’re still holding up, washed on delicates and hung to dry) or leggings is 100% better – warmer, cheaper, significantly less cost-per-wear.

      Plus, like, WINTER. It’s cold. Leggings are clearly superior.

    • Anni

      If you wear opaque tights, you can fix small ladders with some black nail polish! This was a high school trick where we had to wear black opaque tights in winter and we would all patch up runs in our tights this way.

      • Holly Trantham

        Also clear nail polish works for any color tights 🙂 Learned that from dance class!

      • Violaine

        If they’re opaque tights, they should be thick enough so that you can sew them and fix them.

  • Caitlin

    If using tea bags more than once is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

  • nycnative

    I love this. I am the person who swipes a shampoo bottle from every nice hotel I ever stay in because I somehow feel I’m saving money to use that at home instead of buying a new shampoo bottle, which costs $6. We’re all frugal weirdos somehow.

  • Amelia Wasserman

    To curb spending cravings I keep a Google doc of all the things I have an urge to buy and the date I added it. My rule is I have to wait at least 1 month to buy it. It is amazing how long some of those things have been on the list. It took me a whole 9 months before actually purchasing a new pair of black slacks for work.

    • Kendal

      Do you add prices to those things, too? I’ve heard that’s an effective way to curb unnecessary spending, since you can tally up the total you would have spent had you given into the impulse!

    • Liz

      I do this too. I find having a list makes me not impulsively buy something, even if it would be useful to have! I can prioritize and decide what I need and what I end up not needing. Many times I take my list to a thrift store as well.

  • SN

    Oh shit. I definitely turn the heat off before I leave home, and I have never once thought about pipes freezing. AND I LIVE IN CHICAGO.

    • Sara

      Whoa, girl. It’s in my lease that I have to keep my heat at a minimum of 55 degrees at all times.

  • Violaine

    I buy food that’s reduced and that is going to expire on the day, and I freeze it to eat later…
    I cut my tubes of face cream and lotions so I can use them to the last drop!
    I mix water with my shampoo once I have used it a bit, so it becomes more liquid and lasts longer.
    I always repair my socks (multiple times!) and my tights if they’re thick enough to be fixed – instead of getting new ones.
    I recycle everything I can – lately I have used used boxes of milk and empty cans to plant herbs and cherry tomatoes instead of buying proper planters; I use old jumpers that are too used to be donated as blankets for my cats instead of buying them cat baskets, etc.

    I’ll come back, I am sure I have other ones!!

  • Kendal

    My husband left my lunch tote at his parents’ house in NM, and ever since I’ve been using small brown shopping bags. I pack glass containers so it’s pretty heavy and the bags wear within a few weeks. But I just can’t bring myself to buy another lunch box, especially since the one he forgot was free to begin with!

  • Kimberlynne

    AHHH!! The first one stresses me out so much. I lived in Michigan and DEFINITELY had my pipes burst once. It’s miserable. Especially don’t do this if you live in an apartment. Generally it’s okay because the surrounding apartments will keep your warm, but if a bunch of people turn of their heat (like if they’re away for Christmas), then a bunch of the pipes could break. This happened to a whole block of apartments when I was in resident relations at a complex and it was THE WORST! Even if people’s pipes didn’t burst, their apartments got water damage from other people’s pipes. Please please please, just keep the heat on low.

  • bextannya

    #5: seems a bit ironic to be reusing disposable food and drink containers to save money, because you’re essentially spending money to be eating/drinking out, rather than spending upfront to buy a reusable container and cook/make your drink at home. Just my two cents!

    #6: I know that in Montreal, there is this lending community within your neighborhood. Instead of holding onto all the stuff you *might* need, you could get rid of most and should you ever need to use a drill/*insert other object here*, you can what, and borrow when you can!

    This is all my opinion, of course! Doesn’t mean that it’s the best solution for anyone/everyone 🙂

  • Amanda

    In the winter, my husband and I keep our house at 15 C (don’t know the F equivalent, sorry) when we aren’t home, and 18 C when we are, and turn everything off in the summer.
    And we always keep the extra napkins from take out dinners.