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You’ve probably read and heard a lot of tips on what you can do to save money.
Cooking at home, budgeting, meal planning, and the like all seem so repetitive and maybe even boring to you.
Today, I will talk about the 3 weird things that Mr. FAF and I do or have done to save money.
These are the things people normally avoid or scoff at.
If you’re diplomatic, you will say it’s unconventional. If you’re frank, you’ll just say it’s straight out weird.
But for us, it helps us cut costs and has become part of our habit and identity.
Without further ado, here they are:
1. Use toilet paper as napkins
When Mr. FAF and I first started dating, we were eating dinner together one time, laughing away at our jokes in Mr. FAF’s shared apartment. Then some food left its mark on Mr. FAF’s cheek.
Mr. FAF stood up, took out a roll of toilet paper from his room, and tore out 3-4 sheets to wipe his face.
I was in shock.
We were on a date, and he just acted like he was all by himself. There was no excuse, no embarrassment, and no apology.
Mr. FAF then went on laughing and talking, but the rest of the night just wasn’t the same for me anymore. Still I decided to marry him.
It was almost four years ago. Now I’m used to using toilet paper as napkins like him. Actually, when I thought about it, my parents used to do the same thing when I was young because it was just cheaper than tissues. It’s pretty common in some Asian countries even now.
After all, it’s clean paper. The only difference is that it’s rolled up and tends to be used more in the bathroom. Two packs of Vanity Fair napkins retail for $7.75 ($0.02/Count) on Amazon. You can use 4 sheets of Kirkland toilet paper for $0.00188/sheet * 4 = $0.00752. It’s almost 1/3 of the price of a napkin ($0.02)
When we have guests, however, we do take out the generic-brand napkins we bought for special occasions so that our guests won’t feel awkward. If it’s just me, Mr. FAF, and Baby FAF, we’re happy with the multi-purpose Kirkland bath tissue.
Who needs napkins when we have Kirkland bath tissue? Apparently, we don’t.
2. Not wash our car
Now you may think it’s gross, and that our car must be really dirty. But it’s not. We clean the inside of the car often and don’t keep trash or food inside it. However, we don’t want to spend $5-$30 or more just to make the car look nice.
Instead, we just let the rain do its job: washing the car for us. Whenever it rains, we jokingly tell each other that our car is getting a shower from nature.
If some stains are just too hard to get off even in the rain, we will wash those spots ourselves. Usually, it’s because some birds decide to do their business right above our car. It happens every once in a while.
3. Live in the office
I don’t recommend this to anyone. Mr. FAF used to share an office (with closed doors and no window) with a colleague. His colleague worked from home most of the time, so Mr. FAF had the office to himself 99% of the time.
At one point, we needed to save a lot of money to prepare for Baby FAF’s birth. Mr. FAF and I weren’t living in the same city at the time. In order to save on rent and utilities (about $350-$450/month in total if he could find a place), Mr. FAF decided to (secretly) live in his office for a month.
This is what he did to maintain a normal life:
— Bedding: Mr. FAF kept a simple set of bedding (a thin foldable futon, a pillow, and a blanket) in his office cabinet. He took them out at night and put them away during the day.
— Heating: It was during the winter. Luckily, the building management never turned off the heat completely since there were always people working in that building. When it did get too cold, Mr. FAF used a space heater to warm up the place.
— Food: Mr. FAF would buy groceries and cook at his friend’s place on the weekend. He then put the food in the fridge in his office kitchen. He also kept a rice cooker and breakfast food in his office.
— Shower: Mr. FAF had access to a free gym, so he showered there every day.
— Parking: Mr. FAF would move his car to a different parking spot every day to avoid attention. He never had any trouble with that. Other than that, he also saved a lot money on gas and parking tickets. The commute time went from an hour every day to zero minute.
However, it wasn’t 100% perfect. Mr. FAF would have trouble sleeping at night sometimes. He’d feel anxious about security guards checking his office randomly and found out he was living there (which fortunately didn’t happen).
Sometimes the food ran out faster than he thought, so he’d have to make a one-hour trip to his friend’s house to cook or buy some cheap food to get by. He’d feel bad for taking up the kitchen space at his friend’s place, especially because his friend also had roommates.
Eventually, Mr. FAF found a cheap room for $250 including everything. He gave it a lot of thought and decided to move there. I whole-heartedly supported his decision and encouraged him to do so since he started to have insomnia.
We still use toilet paper as napkins and don’t spend money on a car wash. But I don’t think we want Mr. FAF to live in an office ever again.
It was a stressful time for us. I’m glad we saved up almost $500 from Mr. FAF living in his office (technically homeless). But it came at the expense of his health.
What about you? Do you have any unconventional ways of saving money?
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32 thoughts on “3 Weird Things We Do To Save Money”
I use reusable clothes as napkins. Nobody uses these anymore so they were given to us for free by someone who didn’t need them anymore. They are super cheap at the thrift store. They hardly take up any space in the wash and don’t add a load since we are washing anyway. And guests think we are fancy and not cheap when they come over.
These are great ideas! My mom used to use old clothes as kitchen wipes and such. It never occurred to me you could use reusable clothes as napkins. You must be really resourceful to give the clothes a new look. =)
This must be an unspoken Asian thing among Asian moms. My mom used old clothes for rags all the time!
haha my mom does that until this day! She has a collection of colorful old clothes to use as rags. One time I saw her collection and teased her a little bit. 😀
Love this! I don’t use toilet paper as napkins, but we use paper towels. Most times we don’t need anything, so I don’t want to buy special napkins. The only person who consistently needs a paper towel is my two year old. 🙂
Hi Liz, so glad to see you here! =) Paper towels work great too. My son is also a bit older than two and will probably need a lot of wiping when he comes home from China in the summer. We will need to figure out a frugal solution for that too!
Second this one! I use toilet paper as tissues and paper towelettes as napkins.
That is pretty awesome. I can beat #1, though. I don’t use napkins at all, heh heh. Our kid has a stack of little towels to use and I don’t really need any napkins. Well, when my nose is runny, I use the TP. That’s okay because I’m used to seeing TP on dining tables in Thailand.
#3 is pretty crazy. I haven’t done that, but my parents lived in their van for several months after they sold their house… That’s super cheap too.
haha I usually don’t use napkins or toilet paper either. But when Mr. FAF comes to visit, I see 2-3 rolls of toilet paper laying around everywhere!
I do use TP when my nose is runny since TP is so soft! Your Thailand experience reminds me of a time when we were in China and stopped by a restaurant on the side of the street in a rural area since we were starving. They also had TP on each table, and there were flies everywhere @_@. I totally lost my appetite that time. -_-
Oh man, #3!!! The grand life of temporarily slumming it! I have had a few times like this in my life, and when I look back I really wonder how did I have the resolve to live like that? I’m so glad I’ve moved forward with my life and (hopefully) never have to do things like that again!
Hi Jing, thanks for sharing for your experience! Sometimes when I look back on that experience, I feel so grateful or Mr. FAF and what he has done for our family. We hope to not need to do that again. That’s one reason why we always try to be frugal so that we have enough cushion for an emergency. =)
Like your previous two commentors, we don’t use paper napkins for our nose, mouth or #1 (for the girls). I have (three sets) of colour coded cloths. I bought towel material on sale at the fabric store and serged them myself. The material cost $3, the serger was $25 (it came with a bag of thread and I could sell it tomorrow for $50) and an afternoon of my time. I love to sew so I would have spent my time doing it anyways. I got 40 towelettes per colour or 120 total. Even if you add the cost of the serger in the total and the extra washing (I’m sick so the math escapes me), I’m saving money. Looking forward to following along and collecting more ideas. Besos Sarah.
Hi Sarah, that’s a lot of great ideas to save on napkins. It’s amazing how you have come up with a system that works for you.
I’m so sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well. Hope you’ll get better soon! 🙂
#1 “Still I decided to marry him.”
Oh my God hahahaha!!! I wouldn’t – I would have just died laughing when he came out of the bathroom.
#2 That’s what driving around in the rain is for! Eco friendly!
#3 Actually since we do Airbnb my hubby is slumming at work more now to save hot water for our guests. He eats all 3 meals there and he works out there too. He only comes home to sleep but I’m trying to talk him into sleeping at work so he can avoid the commute (and work 1 whole day less a week.) I don’t think his company will go along with it but a girl can dream!
#1 – You made me lol at 8 AM in the morning! He was so natural and unapologetic that I couldn’t even laugh at that time =)))
#2 – Agreed!
#3 – lol Mr. FAF usually stays at his office until 10:30-11 PM, so sometimes I’ll ask him if he’ll just sleep in his office, and he always says No. I guess he still has flashbacks about the whole office living experience a while ago.
I saw on your blog that you’re a FT AirBnB host. It’s amazing that you and your husband are doing so well at it. Look forward to reading more about your AirBnB hosting experience! 😀
My wife normally grabs a handful of napkins when we go out somewhere. We normally need only one or two so over time we have started to accumulate more napkins. So it’s turned out that we essentially have free napkins at this point. But I will definitely have to share the toilet paper tip 🙂
That’s a great way to save on napkins as well! When we go to a restaurant, I usually just use one napkin since I think it’d be a waste to use more. Mr. FAF, on the other hand, likes to take a stack of them to our table.
I usually take the clean ones home since the restaurant won’t want to keep the napkins we have touched anyway. We have some in the car too! =)
If you don’t mind getting wet, head out to your car with a bucket of soap and a sponge/cloth the next time it rains. The rain by itself does a fair job, but using some soap will make it shine.
I admit that I take more plastic forks than I need when we get carry-out. Sorry Chipotle!
That’s a great idea, Mr. Need2Save! It will also help save water too. We might have to try that next time it rains.
Lol that reminds me. I still have some ketchup pouch packs and napkins from KFC we got half a year ago lol. I’m waiting to put them to good use 😀
Lol, very nice post! Using toilet paper as napkins is a really good idea! 🙂
Haha thank you for the compliment! I have never met or heard about anyone else in the US doing that, but I guess it works for us. 😀
This is kind of weird, and a little sad. I will sometimes fry small amounts of food in a lot olive oil just to get cheap calories. Don’t judge.
That’s a great idea! This is a judgement-free zone, so don’t worry 🙂 Thanks for sharing your frugal win! ^.^
Why bother frying it? Just pound the olive oil straight! Save the cost of electricity/gas for the stove. That’s true cheapskate. 🙂
We’ve rarely used toilet paper as napkins, but we do use it to blow our noses all the time when we’re sick. It’s much cheaper than buying tissues and one whole roll of toilet paper lasts for days 😀 We also keep t.p. in our car and in the kitchen (it’s cheaper than paper towels).
We use TP to blow our noses and keep it in our car too! At the end of the day, it’s clean paper. I think it’s just the category the paper is supposed to be in that makes people feel a bit weird about it. But I’m fine using TP for multiple purposes. 😀
Haha, me and my wife also use toilet paper as napkins. Like you said it’s cheaper and it’s no real shame because its the same effect as napkins. Kirkland Signature…can’t beat it. We don’t wash our car as well, it was more my wife’s idea since she thinks its a waste of water use. I didn’t really embrace it at first because I had this feeling that a clean car made it feel nice. But after not cleaning our car for six months, it doesn’t bug me if it’s clean anymore because we always tidy up the interior.
Haha I didn’t know we all had so many things in common. Unless it’s spring, and there’s a lot of pollen in the air, I usually can’t tell if our car is cleaner or dirtier than other cars in the parking lot (or so I hope). =)
It would for sure save a lot of money living in the office. But that would be stressful. And sometimes you just want to get out of the office and have some time away. Kind of makes that difficult. But everyone has different strategies for saving money. Fun seeing what kind of things people come up with.
I totally agree with you on the stress. Mr. FAF didn’t sleep well in the office at all and started to develop insomnia. We stopped that strategy after a month since it wasn’t worth all the trouble. But yes, we get creative when things get tough! 😀
Your frugal tips are right up my street…..most of them anyway. I have not bought paper towels in ages. When I do, you’d think I have some monsters in my home who eat them. So, we avoid buying them and we are still alive. Keep up the good work.
Haha… I had to laugh at the toilet paper napkins.
Toilet paper is a multiuse product in our house too. Mainly as Kleenex.
I also use it to pre wipe gross things in the bathroom before using spray and a cloth.