Author Topic: Saving strategies in a big city  (Read 2770 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Saving strategies in a big city
« on: February 23, 2016, 09:45:47 AM »
I'm new to this whole MMM thing and was referred here based upon lifelong frugality.  Seems like an appropriate forum for my passions.

I wanted to list a couple of strategies that might be useful if they're not already popular practices.

My background: I moved to a major metropolitan area a year ago, and received warnings about the cost of living here, but I've found the costs to be much exaggerated and/or compeletely false. I'm a full-time graduate student with a part-time position. I split a small studio with my partner. My rent is basically the same as it was in other smaller cities as a result. Below are some ways I've made this year manageable.

Bike Share: cost me $50 annually as student. I ride through the winter and summer and never have to worry about repairs.

Computer: my computer broke the day I moved here and was faced with the dilemma of repairing it (around $100) or buying a new one  based upon my new needs($400-1000). Instead I used my school's computers for a year for free (was more productive as a result). Then a couple months back I received an email from the school about a computer sale. I guess they received free or discounted computers from manufacturers and couldn't resell them, but they could give them away (and charge $25 for the labor of wiping the computer clean). In the end I got a used $1000 computer for $25. Well worth the wait.

Eating out: Restaurant business in my area is always booming. New places move in all the time and mail promotions to nearby residents. Restraunts always give away free promotions to attract new customers. As someone who likes eating at different places, I often have the luxury of eating out for free every weekend. I once found a bunch of gift certificates to a restaurant that moved into the area in a trash can. I ate there for a handful of weeks for free with those gift certificates.

Found stuff: I walk for fun and I walk long distances. A perk is coming across lost stuff on the ground (fitbits, gloves, hats, etc). I post on craigslist "found..." but usually no one claims it. I resell after a certain period of time. I've made just under $1000 this year alone on found stuff.

Free stuff: I let friends know I'll take their stuff and resell it if they're getting rid of it. This has worked with my more easy going friends. Also, I search craigslist with the keyword "moving". People are always desperately getting rid of great stuff for no cost just because they're moving. I always flip it on craigslist or sell elsewhere.

Cleaning: We recently packed up all of our silverware, bowls, plates, glasses, etc. We both only have our one of everything and we rinse it after use so it never gets dirty. It saves so much time, money and stress (since we don't really do dishes anymore). Also, we don't use shampoo and usually find free soap here and there when we need it. Toilet paper can be found anywhere...

Sold my clutter: There is a website called that has a similar forum as MMM but it seems like BPL's sell/buy thread is much more active. We paid $5 to use the forum and were able to sell old backpacking gear and clothes for around $1500. People actively use the buy/sell thread and you're able to sell things without ebay taking a cut. I highly recommend!

I do other stuff but don't have time to list all of it. Regardless, I've found that living in a high cost / high population density city actually allows me to reduce my cost of living.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2016, 06:57:27 AM by JMHow01 »


  • Bristles
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Re: Saving strategies in a big city
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2016, 01:54:05 AM »
Bike, computer, declutter, buying/selling: of course.

For valuable items found (fitbit device) should you not take to local police lost property (most likely item would not be claimed and returned to you after some weeks) to give owner more of a chance to find? Clearly not necessary for small clothing items.

Not sure about the restaurant idea, eating repeatedly at the same place doesn't seem to be in the spirit of one voucher per customer?


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Saving strategies in a big city
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2016, 12:50:48 PM »
Yeah, I guess taking to the police dept. would be a better approach moving forward. My friends mentioned using craigslist, because it's a common place to list lost stuff.

The restaurant situation though, I'm not sure. I read the fine print and it didn't say anything about one voucher per person, unless it's implied. These were gift certificates and not coupons.
It's also a one-off situation. There won't always be new restaurants opening offering free gift certificates. I appreciate that you saw an opportunity and exploited it, but "exploit' is the key word here. Had you mentioned the situation to the owner of the restaurant, I doubt he would have been happy with the way you were exploiting his promotion. I don't love that you didn't think through the fact that you were probably taking advantage of a small-ish(?) business.

It's 100% A-okay to figure out savings loopholes to keep as much of your money in your pocket as possible, but it's a lesser skill to take money out of someone else's pocket, just because you can.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Saving strategies in a big city
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2016, 02:47:51 PM »
1. You didn't mention that the restaurant was a national chain, so my comments are clearly a little off, but the thinking behind my reasoning still stands.

2. Notice the difference between the birthday freebies and the original scenario is quantity. In the new example, a lot of places are willing to give you a little something on your birthday, to entice you to sample their wares, in hopes you'll return on your own dime. Quid pro quo. The original example was more you being exploitive, IMO. More importantly, it's not likely to be repeatable and thus less likely to be a useful strategy for others to benefit from.

The point of your post was to help others, wasn't it?

Feel free to post as many other strategies as you wish, but remember that some people care about treating others fairly in life. Just because a person is racing to FI does not make it 'mustachian" for them to cheat others. NOT saying you did, but the ground around your gift card strategy felt a little spongy, which is why I called it out.