We asked Consumerist readers to share the sickest, grossest, and sketchiest things they’ve ever done to save money. Over 250 comments poured in and most of them had to do with things that people have reduced themselves to eating at one point in the past.
This was one of the most entertaining comments threads I’ve read here in a while and it was hard but I have whittled them down to the 27 sickest:
27. I’d save the excess milk from my cereal in the morning to be used the next day (and maybe the next).
26. Called Fast Food 800 #’s to complain about their horrible dining experience and got free meals
25. Flipping your underwear inside out instead of doing laundry
24. The sickest thing I’ve ever done to save money was eat bits of other peoples’ lunches that they left behind at one of my old jobs several years ago.
23. I was in school and didn’t have health insurance. I got this nasty mole (one of those dangly ones) on my NOSE and couldn’t afford to get it taken off. So I iced it and cut it off with an Xacto blade that I had sterilized with alcohol. There was lots of bleeding but it worked. And then it came back (!!) and I had to do it again. This time it didn’t come back. It’s amazing what a poor girl will do for vanity.
22. Dish soap instead of shampoo
21. Used to dig through the butts in my car’s ashtray when I was out of smokes.
20. Turned to eating Mac ‘n cheese….. The catch was that there were tiny bugs in it. So I took a strainer and the bugs went though, while the noodles were just fine. Yeah, that was a bad time in my life. I was so poor I couldn’t afford to throw away a box of Mac N cheese.
19. I’ve seen guys who had no cash for laundry take about 20 loads and jump on it to get it into the washer so it’d fit. Dumped in some soap, added their 50 cents, and the machine… caught on fire. Filed up with water, but the belt couldn’t move the agitator, so it burned out the belt – smoke and all kinds of stink coming from the machine… their clothes basically got wrecked…
18. Rummaged through the garbage next to the mailboxes of our apartment complex to find discarded coupons.
17. Had a roomate that ate a 5 day old McDonalds Quarter Pounder that he forgot he left on his bookshelf. It didn’t look any different!
16. Dated a horrible person because she was rich and would pay for dinner out 6 nights a week
15. Rice with cinnamon for breakfast, rice with soy sauce for lunch, rice with ketchup for dinner. If I was feeling very saucy (!) I would mix the soy sauce and ketchup.
14. One winter we ate rabbit about 6 times per week and I was sucky at cooking it.
13. Saltines for a dime a box from the day-old store was the only thing I ate for six weeks. Haven’t been able to stand any kind of crackers since then.
12. I once ate a whole blueberry pie while sitting in a toilet stall in a grocery store. I was extremely broke at the time. I took a night job at the grocery store to make some extra money and because I though I would be able to sneak some food home. Getting food out of the store ended up being very difficult because they were careful to watch you while leaving. It was pretty easy to eat stuff while in the store though. You just needed a decent hiding spot.
11. I drove from WA to Alaska one summer. I bought a sleeping bag in Canada, used it every night for nearly a month, then returned it on the way home.
10. My uncle lived on unsweetened kool-aid and homemade biscuits for two years. The biscuits were flour and water – that’s it.
9. My ex boyfriend would take ketchup packets from fast food restaurants and make ketchup soup out of them- basically, ketchup and water.
8. Using coffee filters instead of toilet paper.
7. Grossest thing I’ve ever done to save money was pick popcorn buckets/drinks out of the trash at the movie theater to get refills for $.25 or free depending on the movie theater my friends and I used to sneak into. That was when I was 13 though.
6. Had no insurance in college… needed to get rid of a skin tag. Dental floss and canned air. Floss around the base and spraying the can upside down provided the freezing effect. Pull each side of the floss and voila… you’re done! It bled pretty well but toilet paper and some borrowed neosporin did the trick.
5. On a snowboard trip, not wanting to pay the exorbitant prices for lodge food, I made Chili out of condiments… – -Nab a paper or styrofoam cup from the actual food line, fill it with hot water for tea (they’ll only charge you for a tea bag, not hot water). Then hit the condiment bar for ketchup, stir this in the hot water until its dissolved, crush up a couple crackers to thicken it, pickle relish and onions for veggies, salt and pepper to taste (adding in some brown mustard will give it some spice as well).
4. Went without health insurance. For 12 years. Turned out to be a money saving decision, but I don’t necessarily recommend it.
3. When we were living out of a motel last year with no money and still waiting for food stamps to kick in, we ate nothing but oatmeal cooked in a crock pot for a week straight. No salt, no sugar, no cinnamon. Just water and oats.
2. Once for about a week I used an old t-shirt I found in my shed as toilet paper.
1. My friend did some drug trial – and actually had a spinal tap as part of it.
For more bad advice, don’t forget to also check out 28 Of The Worst Money-Saving Ideas Ever