Believe it or not, back in my 20’s I knew nothing about budgeting and very little about investing. The only thing I knew was that I needed to spend less than I learn. Whatever money I earned from working, I’d make sure that I spent less than that amount, often a lot less. To save as much money as I could, I often did some very weird things.
Here are nine weird things I did to save money in my 20’s.
Moving back with parents
When I graduated from university, my parents convinced me to move back home with them. It wasn’t because I had no job. In fact, I found a full-time job quickly after graduation. Because my work was just about 20 minutes from my parents’ place, it made some sense to move back home to save commute time.
Furthermore, after some quick calculation, I quickly realized how much money I could save by living at home. So for 1.5 years, I continued living like a poor student, paid no rent, ate food for free, and spent very little money. I definitely have to thank my parents for allowing me to do that.
Occasionally I would find excuses not to go out with friends. While living at home, I could achieve a very high savings rate, which certainly helped to set me up well financially.
I will fully admit being able to move back with my parents while working full time was one of the many privileges that I had.
Sleeping in airports and train stations
During university, I had the chance to work in Germany for eight months. I was earning €800 per month as a Co-op student. But after rent and the monthly tram pass, I was left with only €390 to live on and for travelling.
This was a case of living on an extreme budget. So, while I was living in Germany, I was very careful with my everyday expenses. I wanted to spend as little money on everyday expenses so I could afford to travel around Europe. While travelling, I was extremely frugal as well.
Frequently, I would purchase very cheap airfares from Ryanair or EasyJet so I could explore different European cities. To save as much money as possible, I occasionally skipped hostels and slept in airports and train stations.
Sleeping in airports wasn’t that unusual but let’s just say that I had received many odd looks from other people for sleeping in a train station.
When it came to safety, sleeping in the airport was pretty safe. Sleeping in train stations could be a bit iffy so I typically wasn’t sound asleep while sleeping overnight in a train station.
Drying clothes on a drying rack in the midst of winter
When I finally moved out from my parents’ place and shared an apartment with a friend, I was trying to save money whenever I could. Instead of paying $2.50 for each dryer load, I would dry my clothes on a drying rack.
To speed up the drying time, I would open my bedroom windows. Perhaps a surprise to some, I would do this in the winter too. I would turn off the heat and open my bedroom windows.
Vancouver winters can get cold (near 0 degrees Celsius or below occasionally). To combat the cold, I would wear a thick jacket in my room. At night I would sleep in my -12C down sleeping bag. My roommate must have thought I was crazy. 🙂
Camping out on the street for deals
If you’re a Canadian, you’re probably heard of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). If you haven’t, it’s one of the biggest outdoor stores here in Canada (REI equivalent if you’re an American).
MEC used to have semi-annual sales called Gear Swap. At Gear Swap, people could sell their used outdoor gear and MEC would often sell their rental gear. The outdoor gear was heavily discounted, often as high as 90%.
Because the deals were so good, to get the highly desired gear (i.e. skis, canoes, etc), many people would camp out in front of the store the night before. Yours truly did the same as well. I must have camped out in front of the Vancouver MEC store 4 or 5 times so I could be the first 15 people in line to get what I wanted.
Just how crazy were the discounts? I purchased a pair of MSR snowshoes for $20, regularly priced about $300; I purchased a tent for $20, regularly priced for $400.
Thanks to Gear Swap, I saved over $2,500 for all my outdoor gear.
During my university days, I “borrowed” a neighbour’s unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot, so I didn’t have to pay for the internet. The neighbour’s Wi-Fi was very reliable though – the said neighbour would unplug the wifi router at exactly 11 PM every night.
As a result, I had to make sure I got all the work done that required internet before 11 PM.
Sampling at Costco
I have been a frequent shopper at Costco because Costco offers some of the cheapest groceries in Canada. By signing up for the Costco Executive membership, we can earn 2% on almost everything we purchase.
In my 20’s, I would frequently go to Costco after work so I can get the free samples. I would walk around the Costco warehouse a few times, visiting the sample stands at least a few times. Often after visiting these sample stands a few times, I wouldn’t need to buy dinner. That also meant I put money toward investing.
Calculating the most efficient way to get drunk
Needed to get drunk fast and cheap? What’s the most cost-efficient way? Easy, by consuming the highest percentage of liquor available. Say hello to Barcadi 151!
Boy, that stuff burned, but it sure was effective! (It’s 75.5% alcohol in case you’re wondering).
Wearing clothes for multiple days
Yes, it sounds weird. However, since we don’t sweat that much during winter, why changing clothes every day? If it still looked clean, continue wearing it.
When in doubt, I would smell the clothing item. If it still smelled “fresh,” continue wearing it. This weird practice certainly reduced the amount of laundry I needed to do.
Whenever I went out with friends, I would pre-drink. At bars or nightclubs, I would either order the cheapest drink available or nothing at all. I have to confess, as a way to save money, occasionally I would leave my wallet at home and only bring my IDs so I couldn’t spend any money even if I wanted to.
Dear readers, what are some weird things you’ve done to save money?