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I figured this thread would be good for a laugh.

Me....In college I would rollerblade to the grocery store, take off my blades, buy my groceries, put the blades back on, and push the cart home, unload the groceries, then put my blades back on and push the cart back to the store so that I would get my quarter from the cart. HA! Then of course I would have to blade home again.... the exercise was good for me.
 

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Great thread!

When I was younger, I used to always check the telephone booth coin dispenser for quarters left behind!


Just recently, I went to two separate macdonalds drive through solely for the free coffee. :)
 

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My sister and I used to hold competitions (in university) about who could feed the household (we had roommates and we shared meal prep) the most cheaply. It was years before I could bring myself to eat brown rice and lentils again. :)
 

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I can't think of anything I've done that's silly enough to be worth mentioning, but I had an acquaintance whose car would routinely run out of fuel (several times a year) because he kept driving around town when his tank was nearly empty, shopping around for the station with the cheapest gas price.

I'm sure he wasted more money on gas by driving around than he would have if he'd settled on a higher price, and certainly spent a lot more on the occasions when his car had to be towed. And one time he got rear-ended when he ran out of gas in the middle of a busy road, so those expenses need to be added to the picture as well.

A great example of how extreme cheapness can cost you more in the long run!
 

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Yeah - What economists call the "consumption vs. expenditure puzzle." Yes, you can save on gas by driving around and finding the cheapest gas station...but this only works if you completely discount the input of your *time.*

Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, writes about this issue extensively.
 

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Yes, you can save on gas by driving around and finding the cheapest gas station...but this only works if you completely discount the input of your *time.*
Not just your time, but all that time you're driving around you're burning gasoline, and very inefficiently at that, since fuel economy in city driving is so low. So you're losing money every minute you drive around looking for that bargain gasoline.

I actually think from a practical perspective, most of us can safely discount the value of our time unless we're paid by the hour; I take a dim view on this aspect of opportunity cost as it's not relevant to most people. Yes, you could put a dollar value on your time if you could be doing something else that earns you money (or at least doesn't spend it), but most people don't do those kinds of tradeoffs in real life.
 

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What Hurst writes about is "consumption vs. expenditures" and specifically what is called the "retirement consumption puzzle." The puzzle is that people tend to spend much less in retirement than they did when they were working - as much as 30% less. Why is the drop, coincident with retirement, so great? (It isn't that people perfectly time their mortgages to end at retirement, for example.)

The answer economists have come up with is to distinguish between consumption and expenditures. So when you are driving around looking for cheap gas to save on your gas expenditures, you are consuming time (as an input). (And, as you point out, you are also consuming gas...)

Whether or not you value your time with some kind of imputed hourly rate isn't the issue - it is that time is an input to these kinds of attempts to reduce (money) expenditures.

I think this is a useful way to think about my expenditures generally - especially given that as a working mom my time is inherently limited and highly in demand. I will sometimes substitute cash for time to get something done.

Coming back to say that it isn't as though I place a (discounted) monetary value on the time I spend "searching for bargains." It's more that I recognize that there are times and circumstances in which, in order to save money, I have to spend time - and I can make the tradeoff once I'm clear about it.
 

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Coming back to say that it isn't as though I place a (discounted) monetary value on the time I spend "searching for bargains." It's more that I recognize that there are times and circumstances in which, in order to save money, I have to spend time - and I can make the tradeoff once I'm clear about it.
Ah, that makes sense, and I agree. If you have more time, you can spend more time focusing on ways to live more frugally.

I think it follows a sort of bell-shaped curve over our lifetimes: when we're young we generally have more time than money (it amazes me that I once was able to live fairly comfortably on an amount equal to one-fifth of what I now pay in income tax every year), but in that case it's mostly a case of "doing without." In our working years, we usually have more money than time. Then in retirement we have more time than money again, but now we have a lifetime of experience (and possessions) so we don't necessarily have to do without, we can just spend more time figuring out how to meet our needs with less money.
 

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I haven't actually done this in earnest, but I walked by a drive-thru the other day and noticed a coin or two on the ground that I picked up. One could make a habit of this I imagine, so long as you were passing by anyway.
 

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I have a relative who scopes parks and schoolyards early on Saturday and Sunday mornings for empties (beer and liquor bottles) that she can return for the deposit. She finds quite a few.
 

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When I was about 9 years old I learned about conservation (reduce, reuse, recycle stuff) at school. I came home and brightly suggested to my father that we should reuse the loose kitty litter that collected in the bottoms of the plastic bags, after cleaning the litter box.

The look he gave me: priceless. (Though I didn't realize it at the time. My mom loves telling this story...mainly to boyfriends and such during my teen years.)
 

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I guess the cheapest thing you can do is get things for free.

I use coupons all the time and I also call stores on the Scanning Code of Practice.

Basically if a store makes a mistake and the price at the register is higher than the shelf price you get 10$ off or if the item is less than $10 you get it for free.

So this method of shopping has drawbacks, basically you have to remember the price of everything and then be willing to stop the line up at the grocery store while the cashier calls the floor stocker to go check the price and then you usually have to wait for the manager to come to approve you getting the item for free.

So anyways for several weeks the Metro had baby food jars on sale then when you would go to the register it was higher. So I went there like every day until they changed it. And I every kind of baby food was a new item... So I got tons of free baby food.

I also made my own baby food but honestly it is nice to have some around for trips or laziness :)
 

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1. Pick up coins on the road
2. When there are lone shopping carts in the parking lot push them back to get the quarter.

:D

This post make me laugh
 

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When I lived in the Boston area, I had a housemate for a few years who kept a map on the wall that showed the garbage collection days for every town within an hour's drive.

He'd go out early every morning with his pickup truck and troll the streets on garbage day looking for good stuff that people had pitched out. He made some amazing finds: he was a carpenter, and he picked up his table saw, a band saw, and a drill press for free--all in excellent working condition--over the years, plus any number of bedframes, sofas, couches, etc. that he kept in storage for when he eventually bought his own house.
 

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He'd go out early every morning with his pickup truck and troll the streets on garbage day looking for good stuff that people had pitched out. He made some amazing finds: he was a carpenter, and he picked up his table saw, a band saw, and a drill press for free--all in excellent working condition--over the years, plus any number of bedframes, sofas, couches, etc. that he kept in storage for when he eventually bought his own house.
We like to do this too, on a lesser scale. Usually just a walk around our immediate neighbourhood. Large-item pickup day brings a lot of hidden treasures to the curbside. Got a solid wood dresser that I restored, etc, and just 2 days ago an Exersaucer that just needs a wash and a 75cent replacement part. Nice bundle of assorted hardwoods another time.
There's some jesting in the house about getting a nice Honda Ridgeline and installing a jib crane in the back - going pro.
 

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some of these practices, like collecting & restoring usable articles from curbs, are near-priceless because they serve so many purposes. On the one hand they provide a new life for an object in a new home. And often, in the case of wooden furniture for example, what is being discarded was built years ago from solid and valuable wood such as maple, pine or walnut, whereas most furniture manufacturing today uses engineered and veneered wood product that can off-gas for years to come. Perhaps most importantly of all, such practices rescue the discarded articles from being tossed into landfills, and so they are a form of husbanding and caring for the earth.

i'm a knowledgeable gatherer of wild edible & medicinal plants from the country. This is not a cheap practice when you factor in the high cost of reaching the country in the first place. I'm also a passionate gardener. My contribution is that the cutoff tops of beets, turnips, radishes, cabbages and other brassicas and roots will grow excellent baby green salad leaves if you plant them in pots. Even in winter, on a sunny kitchen windowsill.

usually the cutoff will generate 3-4 crops of greens before it finally fails (the thing cannot root permanently.) One year, though, i had amazing radish tops that grew into strong healthy green-leaved plants like radiccio and lasted all summer, even producing pale pink clusters of flowers that were highly edible.
 

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Humble! That is exciting news. I *love* radishes and am going to try this now!

By the way, related to your name: "humble pie" apparently refers to a pie made from "humbles," or offal (sometimes called "variety meat" in North America - organs, not muscle meat). Eating "humbles" is a very cost-efficient way to get protein, and I am personally interested in incorporating more organ meats into my diet...I have a beef heart on order at my local butcher.

I am also a volunteer historic cook for the City of Toronto's museum programs, and spend a lot of time investigating and testing historic (thrifty!) recipes.

Back when Freecycle was a new thing I was featured on CBC's "Marketplace" talking about giving and receiving via freecycle. A surprising amount of the stuff in our house is freecycled or curbside finds...it helps that my husband is trained as an industrial designer and is often able to fix/restore discarded items.

A thread after my own heart. Beef heart, that is...
 

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Eating "humbles" is a very cost-efficient way to get protein, and I am personally interested in incorporating more organ meats into my diet...I have a beef heart on order at my local butcher.
True, although avoiding meat in general is even more thrifty. I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but for about 10 years I rarely ate meat (red meat maybe twice a year, chicken once a month, fish every couple of weeks) simply out of habit, no particular motivation for health or ethical reasons. Then I met and moved in with a French woman who likes to eat meat, and my food budget quadrupled. In recent months she has decided to cut back on meat as she finds she feels healthier without it, and I've definitely noticed the effect on my wallet (I buy all the groceries here and do nearly all the cooking).
 
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