10 Unusual Ways to Save Money

To cut hundreds of dollars from your monthly expenses, think outside the box with these ideas.

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Everyone has heard of the typical ways to save money: avoid your local coffee shop, unplug appliances when you aren’t using them, don’t buy pre-cut fruits or veggies, and more. But what are some non-traditional ways of saving money? Here are ten uncommon ways to save that you may not have thought of.

[In Pictures: 10 Things You Should Always Buy in Bulk.]

Share With Your Neighbors

When it comes to buying food or paying for things such as the Internet or Netflix, rally the troops (aka your neighbors) to save some money. Split the cost of Internet and Netflix with a few neighbors, buy food items in bulk then divide the food and bill, or rotate dinner-making responsibilities between different houses to save money on food expenses. (See also: Beginner’s Guide to Bulk Buying).

Don’t Grocery Shop Until the Kitchen is Empty

This tip is drastic and not for the faint of heart. After your next trip to the grocery store, do not make another trip until you have eaten everything in your fridge and pantry. This way, food won’t go to waste and you won’t be throwing money away.

Reuse Plastic Bags

If you have extra plastic bags from the grocery store, reuse them as trash bags (or poop bags if you have a dog) instead of paying for trash or poop bags. If you use Ziploc bags, take the time to wash them out and reuse them a couple times so you have to buy them less often.

Only Drink Water When Eating Out

Instead of paying for a soft drink or other beverage when eating out, just stick with water. If you need a little flavor to your water, ask for a couple lemon wedges. Don’t pay $3 for a glass of Pepsi (which will inevitable be served with a ton of ice so you won’t even get that much Pepsi) when you can just get water for free.

Take Advantage of Fast Food Packets

Whenever you hit up Carl’s Junior, KFC, or Taco Bell, grab some extra packets of ketchup, mayo, mustard, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. True, these packets are small, but if you grab enough of them, over time you will have quite a little stash at home and you won’t need to head to the grocery store the next time you need condiments.

Use Hand Sanitizer

Carry hand sanitizer with you in your purse or keep some in your car. Use it whenever you grab a basket at the grocery store, open a door, or touch a surface many other people have touched. This will reduce your chances of getting sick and having to pay for a doctor’s visit or medication.

Avoid Paid Parking

Why pay for parking when you can get it for free? The next time you are about to pay a parking attendant or meter, look for free parking instead. Yes, you may need to walk a little farther to get to your destination, but it will save you money and give you a little exercise, which is always a plus.

Use Old T-Shirts as Rags

Next time you need a rag for cleaning or a dishtowel, don’t buy one. Instead, wash an old t-shirt you never wear anymore, then cut it up and use it to clean your bathroom or dry your dishes. There is no reason to pay for new rags or dishtowels when you can just recycle your old t-shirt and save some money.

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Stop Drinking and Smoking

Drinking and smoking can be expensive habits. They can also be bad for your health. Avoid the alcohol aisles at your grocery store, stay away from the liquor store, and do whatever it takes to stop smoking. Not only will this save you money on a daily basis, but it may also save you money on future expenses such as medical and auto insurance.

Displace the Water in Your Toilet

Fill a water bottle with some sand, put the cap back on, and stick it in your toilet tank. This will save you up to one gallon of water every time you flush and will consequently reduce your water bill.

Ashley Jacobs is a college finance columnist for personal finance blog Wise Bread. Follow her latest tweets on @CollegeCents.