Dumpster Diving
It’s good to be cheap. It really is, and don’t let anybody tell you differently. As long as you’re not mooching off of others, or causing any pain, you feel free to keep that wallet in your pocket, but know the limits. There are great ways to be frugal without the negative connotation of being cheap; however, these 4 things will put you on the fast track to being labeled a cheapskate. You may be tempted, but please, for everyone’s health and sanity, don’t do it!

Newspaper-Towels

Hi. I’m a used newspaper. I’m covered in toxic ink, so toxic that I burn green in the fireplace. I’ve also got a lot of dirt and germs on my pages. You may want to use me as your free paper towels in the kitchen, or to absorb the grease from your bacon or friend tortillas, but don’t. It’s just not sanitary. If you want to be cheap and eco-friendly, buy a hand towel.

Newspapers leech ink, so they’re really not good for use in the kitchen. That’s not to say that old newspapers have no uses. You can actually use them to clean your windows, start a fire, bulk up your compost pile, wrap presents, make Paper Mache crafts, dry your shoes, or absorb wasted grease before throwing it in the trash. Just keep them away from your food.

Saving Wounded Soldiers

No. Whether it’s mid-party, at a bar, or the next morning, saving leftover drinks is a big fat no. You might want to say that alcohol kills everything, but it doesn’t. You don’t know whose lips were on that glass, or where those lips were right before the party, and you certainly don’t know what bacteria was growing overnight. Stay away from wounded soldiers, and certainly don’t save them at bars.

Dumpster Diving

I knew a group of people in college who were not afraid to dumpster dive for their food. Just imagine: a whole pizza pie, in its box, just sitting outside the pizza shop; a discarded birthday cake, untouched behind your city’s best bakery; hundreds of day-old vegetables behind Whole Foods, all for free! Okay, okay, I get it. You’re poor and you’re hungry, but let’s be realistic. We don’t really know why those foods were discarded. Maybe that pizza was accidentally made with rotten cheese. Someone most definitely sneezed on that birthday cake – or maybe the hard-working baker spit on it after realizing it was supposed to be chocolate cheesecake instead of vanilla cheesecake. And the vegetables? Well, we’ve had an awful lot of E. Coli outbreaks and recalls in the last decade, so I wouldn’t recommend taking any chances. There is a plethora of food safety issues associated with dumpster diving, so I’d stay far away from that method.

Now, if you hate to see that food go to waste, you have two options. Contact the owner of the shop, restaurant, or store, and ask if they have policies regarded disposal of the foods they can no longer sell. If they’re willing to set it aside for you, that’s great, but it is highly unlikely. Try your best appeal, and then give it a different approach. If it is pre-served food, meaning it was never out for people to consume and contaminate, there’s a chance you can acquire it to donate to homeless shelters and animal centers. You should be able to set this up through your city and the local shelters. It might not be for you, but at least it’s for somebody.

Reusable Containers

Okay, so you want to reuse your Starbucks cup for a week so you can get cheap refills. Not so terrible, but it’s borderline. If you keep it a secret, you might be okay, but it’s best to trash that cup before it starts disintegrating in your hands. Go buy a cheap reusable travel mug instead.

There are a lot of disposable containers you can reuse without getting funny looks, just like your grandma did. You can use Country Crock tubs, large yogurt containers, hard plastic ware, and even the occasional water bottle many times. Don’t put them in the dishwasher or the microwave, and you’ll be fine. What you should never do is serve someone else using these disposable containers.

You don’t need a stash of disposable water bottles in your room, because we all know you didn’t wash away your germs. Instead, if you’re in dire need of cups, cut the tapered top off the bottle, wash it out, and use if for your Everclear-and-Gatorade concoction. Remember that these containers will start to leech harmful toxins once they’ve begun to disintegrate, so keep them away from heat, and discard after a few months.

And just a few other things you don’t want to skimp on if you’re trying to save money:

Soap – Bathroom, kitchen, shower, whatever. You need it.
Toilet Paper – Come on, just use what you need.
Cleaning Supplies – You know what happens when you add water to your bleach spray? It reduces the concentration and the effectiveness. Cleaning supplies come a little watered down, so don’t make your own concoction.
Dirty Laundry – It’s dirty. Don’t wear your underwear over and over. Just don’t do it.

Stay tuned for some Cheapskate Do’s coming soon!