My initial “Squirreling Gone Wild” post was regarding my college buddy from way back when, who would routinely fill up his gas tank at one penny over a whole dollar amount, and then take a penny from the jar at the counter. As I mentioned – can’t recommend that to adults, but I got a kick out of it 🙂 Additionally, while a bit nuts (pun intended), its an example of extreme squirreling.
After going through that story, another example came to mind, so I thought I would add a second “Squirreling Gone Wild” post.
This second example involves the same college friend. This guy, after college (early 90’s), would try to save money in most situations, though not all. For example, he bought an expensive car right out of school, with a sticker price equal to 60% of his starting salary. He later learned his lesson, and within a few years had made it a practice to buy only used cars for which he paid cash and got great deals.
Anyway, back to this second example of extreme squirreling. During this post-college stage, one of the areas where he did try to pinch pennies was with food. Now, he might go out with a group once in a while and have no problem spending on a fun evening out. All was normal there. That said, on other days, he would try to eat at home (smart) and get deals outside where possible (clever, though not always wise).
His eating at home deals took the form of coupons on top of sales at the supermarket. As a post-college student, he would save good coupons and wait for deals on frozen entrees. For example, there might be a deal for a Lean Cuisine-type of entree at 2 for $3. He would bring in a coupon for say, $0.75 off an entree. Then, the supermarket would double those coupons. He would net out at ZERO spent on a meal. He relished those “arbitrage opportunities”, as he called them.
For eating out, he would go to a happy hour and eat the “complimentary” buffet. He scoured the area to find two that offered food with the purchase of at least one drink. This was usually one day of the week, in the early evening for 2 or 3 hours. He would skip lunch on that day or maybe just eat an apple or something small (not smart, but he did it), and then just load up at the buffet. He would buy the compulsory drink for $1, and then fill up with mini burgers, pasta, nachos, etc.
His other favorite was going to a bagel place to get a bagel and cream cheese for lunch. Again, not the most nutritious lunch, but he used buy one get one free coupons, and had the other one at dinner or lunch the next day. Bagels that are a day old are not too great in my opinion, and he would complain that they were chewy. But as frugal as he was, the thrill of saving would apparently override that issue:) To make the deal better, he would use their loyalty punchcard of buying 6 and getting the 7th free. They punched the card even for the second ones of the buy-one-get-one, so he could go there 3 times and get 7 bagels w/cream cheese. At about $1 per bagel, he would get 7 meals for $3.
To recap, he could work it out to look like this in the perfect week:
2 frozen entrees ($0)
2 happy hour buffets ($2)
7 bagels w/cream cheese ($3)
All told, that’s 11 lunches/dinners for him through the week, and remember that he would skip lunches on the happy hour days and essentially eat a piece of fruit or another small snack. 6.5 days of lunches/dinners for the price of a little more than $5.
He was over the top. Otherwise cool guy, but I (and others) thought he was a complete nerd when it came to saving money, and hazed him for it. But as I mentioned before, as this guy has matured, he has done quite well in his life overall – doing very well financially, in absolutely great shape, and has a nice family. He has obviously learned to channel his energies appropriately. But I know the real story of what he was once like 🙂