The first two “Squirreling Gone Wild” stories were examples of extreme ways to pinch pennies, both by an old college buddy of mine from 20 years ago, with whom I am still friends. This third story in what is shaping up to be a periodic series, is yet another example that involves – you guessed it, the old college buddy!
This one, on the other hand, is a bit different. A bit more opportunistic, and again, not for everyone. Nevertheless, some good can come from it in our modern day application of these approaches.
So, what else did he do, besides the gas station penny scheme and food couponing I illustrated in the first two “Extreme” posts? Well, he looked for money in strange places. Mostly, it was for effect and shock value, as he knew that it would get a laugh out of us or push some people’s buttons. But he did, on occasion, try to search for coins in offbeat places.
Here’s where he looked:
1) Under the Drive through window. Yes, he really did this. I was with him only once when he did this, but I know he did this other times. Anyway, he had previously worked at a major fast food chain while in high school, so he came to find out about the idea that loose change can be found under the drive through window. Apparently, enough people would drop a coin or two here and there that there was often a decent collection of change by late in the day. He claimed he could pay for his meal with what he found by the window, and I recall him coming close on that occasion.
2) In vending machine coin returns. He would quickly reach down and check them periodically, sometimes finding a quarter here and there. As a corollary to this, he would look at vending machines to find instances where a bag of chips or candy bar was hanging down, having not fallen down when someone before him had put money in. He would then put money in to buy one, and get two for the price of one, as he got the one hanging plus the one behind it which he paid for.
3) In parking lots. For this one, I actually just remember one instance, where he found a $10 bill laying in the lot. He grabbed, held it up, and said “YES!” with the look of someone who found treasure. Pure satisfaction for him, I still remember his reaction.
4) At a movie theater concession stand or fast food restaurant, on the floor by the counter. He probably found some pennies or other loose change here and there.
5) In front of parking meters. Yes, sometimes people drop coins by the curb and don’t pick them up. He told me about this, but I never saw him do it.
You get the idea.
Juvenile? Yes, I certainly think so. What adult wouldn’t think so? I’m not even sure if its ok to take loose change like that from private property – I wouldn’t do so. Regardless, it was all part of this guy’s shtick, and I theorize that it was partially a way for him to draw attention to himself and partially an aspect of him truly being frugal.
Besides being a story of extreme penny pinching (or something of the like), its also a lesson on how money can show up in the most unusual places, often there for the taking like low-hanging fruit, so to speak. As adults, here is something we can do with money we happen to find (not his way!) or obtain as a total surprise or through luck: GIVE IT AWAY.
Yes, give it away. Whenever we come across something unexpected – whether its finding a $1 bill in a public park, or winning something in a free-entry contest – why not give it away? Accumulate it through the year, then at the end of the year, give it to a charity or organization that will make sure that a needy person or family will benefit. Keep loose change/bills found like this in a charity jar, other items in a special container, and then donate toward the end of the year.
A little giving is always a good thing:)
This post was included in Money Hacks Carnival #113 at learnsaveinvest.com