You can usually get a small discount at the drive-thru. No coupons needed, and nothing needs to be on sale. The discount usually doesn’t apply if you make a purchase inside the restaurant.
How can you get this modest discount?
Well, one of the earlier episodes of the Squirreling Gone Wild series focuses on the extreme frugality of a friend of mine from back in the old days. In this 22nd edition of the series, I share my own dive into the abyss – which was really for fun anyway.
So, in my quest to drop my previously excessive (in my opinion) caffeine habit, I decided to drop the usual suspects in my previous choices: soda and coffee. To make that transition easier, I switched to one decaf coffee every few days in the month of January. The strategy worked very well, as I’ll share in a future post. Anyway, I purchased the decaf coffee by making my way to the drive-thru.
The first time I did this, I ordered the coffee at the speaker, and was told the cost would be $1.07. As I pulled up to the window to pay, I noticed something bright and shiny on the ground. Looking closely, it appeared to be a coin!
While I had previously derided such behavior, when presented with the opportunity to pick up a coin, my instincts took over. The car door opened, I reached down to look at the coin, and saw that it was a dime.
I paid the $1.07, kept my shiny new dime, and drove off with my decaf coffee. It occurred to me that effectively, that was a nice little discount!
So, with that in my mind, I searched for change on the ground with purpose on my next trips. As I found change, I thought it would be fun to keep track of how much was picked up on each trip.
There have been 9 drive-thru decaf coffee purchases in 2010. Here are the results:
- Visit 1: $1.07 spent, $0.10 found
- Visit 2: $1.11 spent, $0.03 found
- Visit 3: $1.07 spent, $0.01 found
- Visit 4: $1.11 spent, $0.13 found
- Visit 5: $1.07 spent, $0.02 found
- Visit 6: $1.07 spent, $0.05 found
- Visit 7: $1.07 spent, $0.20 found
- Visit 8: $1.11 spent, $0.00 found
- Visit 9: $1.07 spent, $0.12 found
All told, the nine visits for coffee totaled $9.75 in expenses. The total money found totaled $0.66. That’s a 6.8% discount.
Does this seem like a total cheapskate maneuver? Ok, I agree that it is. I became a real Squirreler here in 2011.
Maybe I enjoy these “arbitrage opportunities” (as a friend once called these) a bit too much. Why did I get a kick out of this gambit? I felt like Costanza on the Seinfeld series, with a scheme like this.
Doesn’t matter, it was all in fun. I felt like the ultimate cheapskate when I tried to pick up coin that was stuck to the ground in front of the drive-thru window on one of those visits. I looked up and saw a disapproving look by the lady taking the money at the window. Felt like I was being scolded by that look at hers.
“What a cheapskate!”, her eyes seemed to say, as I looked back up. I sheepishly handed over my $1.07, got my coffee, and drove off feeling busted.
I actually saw the same coin on a future visit, and opened the car door to grab it a second time, I’m almost ashamed to say. It was stuck to the ground. I wonder if it was there as a joke, like a coin that people glue to the ground so they can laugh at the misers that try to pick it up.
Before you wonder what I would do with that $0.66, here you go: I gave it away. Well, actually I gave away more, as I walked back in the restaurant and dropped a $1.00 bill in a charity donation box. All the change was picked up at the restaurant’s drive-thru, so I thought I might as well throw the something in the box. Every little bit counts, right – even if donated?
Moral of the story:
It’s not that we should all rush to the drive-thru hunting for coins. Rather, it’s that it goes to show that literally and figuratively, sometimes there really is money just laying around, right there under your feet:)
What is the wackiest thing you have done to either save a few coins, or pick up loose change?