The thing is: those things may appear bizarre to us, but it’s not bizarre to them. It’s a conscious choice they’ve made to become their best frugal selves. And for the record: we are all guilty of bizarre habits. Some people are crazy about folding clothing a certain way, or keeping their book collection meticulously alphabetized (in my youth, I also used to organize all my VHS tapes by production company. Suffice to say, no one could ever find anything but me) – and there’s honestly nothing wrong with that.
So really: we’re all a little weird. And that’s okay. I also do weird things, specifically around saving money and I welcome you to judge me because really, our oddities is what makes each of us special.
Bizarre Habit #1:
Using Outdated Technology for as Long as Possible
“What the hell are you using? A fax machine?” exclaimed a friend when I pulled out my phone during a social outing. In my hand I had my trusty phone from 2013.
I absolutely HATE buying new technology because it’s expensive and once you buy it, within 6 months you’re out of date. In fact, I recently discovered that Microsoft Office is now subscription-based, which frustrated me and had me walk out of the store.
Tech is changing too fast and as long as I can communicate generally with the outside world efficiently, I don’t need the latest gizmo. Instead, I relish owning something and using it for as long as possible. My laptop is a 2011 Macbook Pro (still going strong), and my cell for the longest time was a device over 5 years old. I have zero intentions of replacing any of my tech unless the old device dies (this is why it’s important to back things up, though).
Bizarre Habit #2:
Not Flushing the Toilet Immediately After I Pee.
Some people might think this is gross, but trust me, I’m not 100% on the “If it’s yellow, be mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” train.
In my minor attempt to save the environment more so than my wallet (I don’t pay utilities, but I want to get into good habits), after I’ve “done my business” I’ll usually ask my girlfriend if she needs to go. If she doesn’t, down it goes. If she does, I’ll let her do the flushing.
I know, gross, right? But for us guys, it’s actually not that bizarre – when we use some types of urinals, we usually wind up peeing on other people’s urine… so is it really that gross? Plus, toilet water really is actually sort of a big waste.
Bizarre Habit #3:
Lining up at 7:45AM on Saturdays for Museum Passes
I wrote about this one in a post called “Staying Entertained in Toronto on the Cheap” and touched out in again in a post about laziness. Basically, the Toronto Library offers free family passes to all the major cultural attractions in the city. The catch is it’s first come, first served at open on Saturday morning, which for my library is 9AM. If I show up at 8:30AM, I’m already too late. 7:45AM though is the sweet spot.
I can certainly afford to pay to go to these institutions, but two tickets is $60 usually, which is more than what I make in an hour at work. So sure, I’ll kill the 75 minutes in line to save the money.
Bizarre Habit #4:
Buying Movie Gift Cards for the Bonus Coupon Offers
Every so often, Cineplex will offer coupons if you buy gift cards. I’m all over these offers, spending about $60-$90 on gift cards for myself each time to get the vouchers.
The vouchers are pretty good: BOGOs, free popcorns, free upgrades, and bonus loyalty points, which all amounts to over $30 in savings. A movie ticket costs $14 already, so if you’re a movie fan who’s going to spend the money anyway, why not try and get more for your money?
Bizarre Habit #5:
Gathering Other People’s Beer, Wine, and Liquor Empties
Yes, I know. In Toronto, gathering other people’s alcohol bottle empties is typically associated with old Chinese ladies, but while they actively go out to find those cans and bottles, I’m more a “stumble upon” type of guy. I won’t go digging into bins, but if I see them lying out in the open, I’m all over them. I’m also very fortunate to be living 3 minutes on foot from a recycling collection point. I’d almost be stupid not to take advantage of the opportunity!
Contexts in which I engage in “stumble upon and pick the empties up mode” include:
- Whenever I walk past my building’s recycling bins. It appalls me how lazy people are when the collection point is so close.
- At friend’s house parties when I know the empties will not be returned. My friends think it’s bizarre, but they still hang out with me, so it’s all good?
- When I go for walks on nice sunny days and I see them lying about and I’m heading home anyway.
Since I started gathering empties using my “stumble upon” approach over the last 6 months, I’ve probably gained at least $25 in loose change. The way I see it, all of these actions are ensuring that things get properly recycled and that our streets remain relatively litter-free. If anything, it’s a public service!
So those are my borderline crazy frugal hacks. What about you? What are your frugal oddities? I promise not to judge – in fact, I’ll probably celebrate it and maybe post some of my favourites from your comments!