Ten Unorthodox Ways to Save Money and Reduce Debt

Back when I was 3 billion dollars in debt I had to use all the tricks in the book to get my bank account to positive.  My family and I clipped coupons, stopped eating out, and even moved our “family fun night” from a strip club to a bar.  It wasn’t enough.  We had to go even deeper.

I spent countless hours pouring over our budget, carefully checking every expenditure, every dollar.  I talked to numerous financial planners and read dozens of blogs.  They all said it was impossible, that I would never make up the 3,233,422,030 dollars that I owed. Their negativity pushed me even harder.

Like a Crossfit champion trying to finish one more WOD I persevered.  Through a combination of “Goodwill Hunting” level math skills and ancient Amish wisdom I crafted a list of money saving techniques that helped us save even more.  I’m going to share that list with you today.

You won’t find these techniques on any other list of “tips” or “tricks”.  Not only are they original, they are also revolutionary.  They are so clever, so “outside the box” that you need to be careful.  Careful not to break your jaw when it drops to the floor.

1. Buy Cheaper Meat

No, not chicken livers or pork perineum, cat food.  It’s the ultimate cheap protein.  We mix it with hamburger helper, make Fancy Feast tacos, and put it in smoothies.  When our kid’s friends come over for dinner they can’t tell the difference!  Super Saver: Instead of paying for meat pick it up for free at the humane society puppy giveaway.  

2. Find a Cheaper School

Obviously private school is off the menu, but you can do better than public or charter.  We found a school that actually paid us to look after our kids.  Sure, it’s in a sketchy warehouse, and our kids come home exhausted after 12 hours of “learning”,  but as long as the money keeps coming in we don’t mind.

3. Cancel Netflix and Amazon Prime

Just kidding.  This is a list about saving money, not descending into barbarism.  I always pay the Netflix bill first, after which comes (in order) groceries, cat food, veterinary expenses, and children’s medical.  

4. Cancel Cable

Well duh.  Cable is like Netflix, except you have to wade through crappy shows and commercials to find the programming you want.  First call your cable company and tell them to go to hell.  Then write a long rambling letter to Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings telling him how much you love his company.  Offer to include a notarized copy of your soul in the next DVD you return if they add “The Wire” to streaming.

5. Stop Paying for Pest Control (and Cat Food)

If you have cats you should not be paying for pest control.  Simply stop feeding them and the number of rodents (as well as birds, insects, and neighbors dogs) in and around your house will fall to zero.  Be careful though, after a few weeks our noticeably leaner tabbies started staring at our youngest in an unnatural way.

6. Candy For Dinner

Saving money is about math, and nothing makes more mathematical sense than candy.  Candy bars and other sweets are what is known as calorie rich, meaning that you get more food  for your dollar.  In the same vein, fruits and vegetables are a caloric wasteland.  Simply put, it’s a lot cheaper to fill up your family with candy.   

A “Whatchamacallit” wedged between two Snickers is tastier and cheaper than a sandwich.  Try substituting a chopped up “Milky Way” bar for fish in tacos, or microwave two Reese’s peanut butter cups to get a burger patty.

7. Never Go Into Whole Foods Again

Don’t even browse the tasteful seasonal display outside the store.  You don’t need a holiday wreath made out of kale, or flax seed firewood.  From now on you buy in bulk at Costco.  No, they don’t have a tapenade bar, or anything resembling a vegetable at their snack counter, but you can get a dump truck full of mouthwash for two dollars.  Super Saver: That extra mouthwash can be used for antiseptic, potpourri, and mixed drinks.  

8. Stop Giving Conventional Gifts

Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, the cash you need for those special occasions really adds up.  Instead of gifts we now give out task coupons, like “Good for one backrub”, or “I will mow your lawn”.  We do the same for our kids, only they get coupons like “Get out of the basement free”, and “Get dinner tonight”.  Super Saver: Give them a 30 day expiration date.

9. Counterfeit Allowance

Give your kids fake money for their allowance.  Kids are so stupid they couldn’t even spot a bad forgery.  You could literally photocopy a couple five dollar bills and cut them out with scissors; your kids would be none the wiser.  Don’t worry about spending them, nobody checks low denomination bills.  If somehow your kids  do get caught claim ignorance, and blame their grandparents.  Super Saver: black and white copies are cheaper, and just as effective at night.

10. Santa is Dead

As I mentioned previously, we told our kids that Santa was dead to save money during the holidays.  However, we didn’t exactly “tell” them.  Using a stolen Santa suit and a paintball gun we re-enacted Santa’s tragic and bloody death at the hands of a terrorist.  We killed two birds with one stone by explaining to our kids that the terrorist broke in because they have been doing a bad job cleaning the dishes and mowing the lawn.  Super Saver: Use cow entrails to enhance the realism of Santa’s demise.

BONUS: Replace the Tooth Fairy

Instead of the tooth fairy, introduce your kids to her evil cousin: the Tooth Devil.  This nefarious little gremlin visits bad boys and girls who have not been brushing their teeth.  He punishes them by smashing toys and stealing allowance money.  Once you instill the fear of the Tooth Devil in them, your kids will be saintly about their brushing, and you will never need to take them to the dentist again.

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