10 Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Saving Money

For many people, sticking to a tight budget often requires moving out of their traditional comfort zone.

Studies have shown that thinking “outside the box” can provide many creative ideas for keeping a household budget on track — usually in ways that you might not otherwise consider.

Here are ten out-of-the-box ideas that I’m implementing — or at least strongly considering — in order to ensure my household finances remain on track. If you’re smart, you should too:

1. Two words: Restaurant condiments. Why buy condiments when all of the fast food restaurants give away ketchup, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper and three kinds of salsa for free? Psst. Take two big handfuls of extra napkins to save even more. (Just don’t let the help see you.)

2. Make your own toothpaste. Here’s an easy-peasy recipe I like: Take one teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with two cups of Skippy peanut butter. Why peanut butter? Because on a per-unit cost basis, peanut butter is one-third the cost of regular toothpaste. And the kids love it. (Caution: To prevent chipped teeth and costly trips to the dentist, always use the smooth variety.)

3. Stop paying for Internet service. Why pay for Internet service when you can “borrow” it from your neighbor? I do. It takes me forever to load a page now, but the good news is I haven’t had to make an Internet service payment since last December.

4. Quit wasting money on stamps. I used to spend hundreds of dollars a year on postage. Not any more. When I mail letters now, I swap the return address with the destination address; my intended recipient then gets stuck paying the “return postage.” Heh. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

5. Golf at night. Hey, green fees aren’t cheap. That’s why smart duffers like me take wait until sundown to take advantage of those unguarded golf courses and play for free. True, the conditions are less-than-optimal, but night golf has its benefits. For example, it makes cheating easier. It’s also perfect for the visually impaired.

6. Ditch the mortgage. The average mortgage payment in America was $865 in 2013. Over 30 years, that amounts to $311,400. For what it’s worth, a six-person cabin style tent starts at $219.97. That’s a savings of $311,180.03 over the same period — not counting the property taxes!

7. Three words: Dine and dash. Frugal teenagers and community scofflaws have been using this tactic to save money for generations. Just remember: The slowest runner in your party must be faster than the dining establishment’s fastest waiter or waitress. You’re welcome.

8. Forget Santa Claus. This is the gift that keeps on giving. Parents will save thousands of dollars by simply denying Santa’s existence. For parents who have already carelessly sold the Santa Claus myth to their kids, there is always Plan B: Tell the kids that Santa died.

9. Consider adoption. It now takes approximately a quarter-million dollars to raise one child. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until it was too late. I recently put my teenagers up for adoption on Craig’s List, but there were no takers. And please, folks — no letters. I’m adopted and, as far as I’m concerned, the trade worked out great. Well … at least it did for me.

10. Don’t stop at the kids. If you live in a non-community property state, or if you were smart enough to get a prenuptial agreement, you might as well divorce your spouse too. Or not.

Photo Credit: andrew malone


  1. 1

    Wheezer says

    Okay, Len… I get it. It’s April Fool’s Day. lol

    For a moment there I thought you had fallen off your rocker! By the time I got to “Dine and Dash”, I finally figured things out. (I know, I’m a little slow.)

    As always, another great read.


  2. 2



    Yikes! And I thought most folks would have figured it out by the time they got to the night golfing — although I really have done that in the past.

    Thanks for the kind words!


  3. 4

    Jeff S. says

    I’ve done the night golfing too. People really shouldn’t knock it until they’ve tried it – just bring lots of balls. lol

  4. 5


    @ Jill: Thanks for your vote of confidence. Not everybody thought it was funny though. I got a nasty-gram from a reader who decided to unsubscribe my blog from their reader. I know, you can’t please everyone! :-)

    @Jeff S.: I wonder how many people know they do make golf balls that light up at night. Those that are interested can check out this link: http://www.nightflyer.com/


  5. 7


    Actually, in regards to the second point, there are much more things you can make yourself.
    You can grown your own vegetables, make your own home cleaning products, etc.

    Selling your kids, doesn’t work in all countries, but I found it very interesting that you mentioned it.

  6. 8


    @Anna: Sorry for the late reply. My e-mail comment notification was misplaced in the wrong file and I didn’t see your comment until now. I know — bad excuse. I’m gonna blame it on my neighbor’s lousy Internet provider. I hope he upgrades soon.

    If you haven’t abandoned me, please let me know if you liked the toothpaste!

    @Tom: That’s true, Tom! Good puts. There really is no limit to the do-it-yourself stuff you can grow/make to save money.

    For example, in addition to growing your own veg and making your home cleaning products, I am currently in the process of building my own airplane. After which I will begin building my own airport. 😉

    And Tom… I didn’t say “sell” the kids. I said put them up for “adoption.” But I like your idea better because you can actually make a profit. You are right that you gotta be careful which country you attempt the sale, otherwise you could become one of the dubious stars of my new absolute favorite television show, Locked Up Abroad. That show is the bomb!


  7. 9


    Ten very tactful and interesting views on saving money. I’ll go for the conventional way that my grandmother taught me when I was a teenager. She used to always tell me, “If you don’t have it, don’t spend it!” I think that has stuck with me for a long time and it really kept me out of some sticky situations. If everyone would have had this mindset maybe the economy wouldn’t be in the state it is in now…but probably not. Lol

    • 10


      Tactful, eh? That’s a good way to put it, I guess! LOL And you’re right: spending tomorrow’s money today is what got lots of people, and the country too, into all this trouble.

  8. 11


    Easy for me to relate to “ditching the mortgage” and “living under the stars.” First, ditched the mortgage in 1996 and moved aboard a small sailboat. Kept that vessel for 3 years, then bought a bit larger one and have lived aboard that one ever since. First, “at anchor,” then on a mooring ball — in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL (keys). Make my own electricity using solar. Carry my water to the boat, etc. Garbage service, weekly boat pumpouts, car parking, mail delivery all part of monthly mooring-ball fee of a bit less than $300. As for “under the stars,” went car camping for over three months this past summer, from the Florida Keys as far north as Nova Scotia, then west to Michigan and Wisconsin, then back here. Preety cheep, though my 4-person tent (Big Agnes) cost a bit more than the one you mentioned. For more info, check out the web site I’m working on: thecarcamper.net.

    Anyway, I like your site and what I’ve read so far.

    Phil S.


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