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Garbage in dumpster (Jupiterimages/(c) Jupiterimages)
Garbage in dumpster (Jupiterimages/(c) Jupiterimages)

Community callout

'Inspect it for bed bugs,' and other tips for saving money Add to ...

What lengths would you go to cut costs? Would you reuse your tea bags or not flush your toilet?

Those suggestions and more were offered up when The Globe and Mail asked readers to share the weirdest things they do to save money. It’s expensive to be part of the rat race, but Globe readers have come up with creative ways to save money at work.

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“I collect Stouffers entree boxes from my work's recycle bin to collect reward points that other people discarded. I have collected a few $10 grocery gift cards just from being a garbage digger. Ah, don't tell my boss that I patrol the kitchen's recycle bin during office hours,” writes a Richmond Hill, Ont., reader, whose identity we are protecting from her boss.

Sandy, a reader in Coquitlam, B.C., says she rides her bike to work to save on car expenses and to keep fit without paying for a gym membership. Not so strange, right?

“But I also shower at work,” she adds. “Therefore, I'm using the company's hot water, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and electricity for my hair dryer instead of my own.”

It’s great when you can save on personal hygiene, but can it be taken too far? One reader said she uses mayonnaise as a hair conditioner and face cream.

Another, Kurstyn in Dartmout, N.S., uses olive oil: “I use it as a body moisturizer, a bath oil, an eye-makeup remover, a face mask, a hair mask and a face moisturizer. I even mix it with a little bit of castor oil and use it as a cleanser. The possibilities are endless!”

Kurstyn adds that baking soda makes a fine exfoliant, teeth whitener, dry shampoo and face mask. 

Out of perfume? Connie in Toronto has a suggestion: “I used kitchen vanilla as a perfume once when I had run out. It’s living like the old folks back home did ’cause they remembered the Depression and eating squirrels and armadillos.”

Okay then! Food does add up, and Globe readers have some suggestions for saving there as well.

“I am the master at couponing, not tipping, only buying things on sale and only ever ordering the ‘special,’ even if I don't like what is on it, letting my friends buy me little items like coffee and never offering to pay when it is clearly my turn to do so,” boasts Kyle in Saskatoon.

Kyle’s friends, are you reading this?

“Always take the free ketchup packs at the drive-thru, even if you are going home to eat and have a perfectly full ketchup bottle at home,” suggests Marlene in Langley, B.C.

Denis in St. Lazare, Que., has a suggestion for cutting down on your coffee budget: “You can reuse Keurig K-Cups up to 10 times before the filter inside the cups disintegrates.” Good to know!

Not all grocery savings are worth it, though, says Jessica in Windsor, Ont.: “I ran out of money and had to resort to eating fruit-flavoured Mentos. It was not a good idea and I do not recommend it.”

What about saving on household goods? Globe readers are not above picking day-old newspapers out of other people’s garbage, or even furnishings: “If I see plants or furniture that have been discarded, I will inspect it for bed bugs and take it home,” one reader said.

Need a loaner? Lisa in Winnipeg has a suggestion: “If I only need something for a short period of time, I buy it from Costco. They have a no-hassle return policy. It's a great way to try before you buy!”

Thanks to Globe readers for their unabashedly cheap tips. Got your own tip? Add it to the comments section.

Follow on Twitter: @diannenice

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