Introducing Thrifty Thursdays

One of my favorite things about The Simple Dollar is all of the tips, tricks, hacks, and analysis Trent has written over the years on how to save a buck.

From how to make your own beer or pizza dough to how to make your own soap or laundry detergent, each of these nuggets of wisdom offers us a window into what it actually takes to live a frugal life.

While the pursuit of financial independence is a serious subject, it doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. When I read Trent’s detailed economic analysis of turning off your lights, I found myself laughing out loud. It reminded me how comical we can all be in the pursuit of expanding the gap between what we earn and what we spend.

So, in that spirit, I would like to kick off a competition of sorts. I invite you, our readers, to submit the most amusing, funny, or outrageous ways you or someone you know exemplifies “thriftiness.”

Have you or a friend ever done something to save a buck that you’re a little embarrassed by? Ridiculed by family members for? Or exceptionally proud of? Send your penny-pinching highlights to We’ll feature a few of your stories each Thursday in our new “Thrifty Thursday” series, and we can all share a good laugh — and maybe learn a couple of new tips, too.

Today, I’d like to kick it off with some stories about one of my heroes — my dad.

You Might Be Thrifty If . . .

As the second oldest of 11 kids growing up in a rural town, my dad will gladly tell you that he grew up during the Great Depression. Of course, he was born in the 1950s — about two decades after the start of the Great Depression. But even though he has no physical connection to that time period, the Dust Bowl mindset persists, and from it comes a few of the thriftiest habits I’ve ever seen.

My Dad’s Top Five Thrifty Habits

No. 1: When he goes shopping, he doesn’t consider something a great deal unless the store pays him. He has actually achieved this goal on more than one occasion, by returning items or writing letters and then getting the item fully replaced or refunded — along with an extra gift card for his time and trouble.

No. 2: He has been known to haggle with Home Depot store managers for days to get them to match a price on a drill — a $5 difference, I might add. I have pointed out that his time is worth more than the $5 difference. However, he rather enjoys the game of getting the absolute best price every time.

No. 3: He regularly drives more than 10 miles out of his way to save two cents per gallon on gas. Again, I’ve used the “your time is worth more than you’re saving” argument (not to mention the gas used getting there), but to no avail.

No. 4: I’ve witnessed him go to McDonald’s before a long car ride, then stop a few hours later and hand the drive-thru attendant his empty soda cup and ask for a free refill. He’s apparently not embarrassed by this, even if family members are.

No. 5: (This one is actually genius, I think.) Over the course of my brother’s college education, he put all of the tuition bills on his Cabela’s credit card (and paid it off right away each time), so he could earn as many free points as he could. He was able to buy thousands of dollars worth of hunting and fishing merchandise for free.

That’s my dad in a nutshell. He has truly shown me how to relish in the art of the deal. He genuinely loves doing this, and has the self-awareness to laugh about his habits — especially No. 4! He personifies simplicity and frugalness, even if he takes it to a bit of an extreme.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think of my dad’s thrifty habits – do you do any of these yourself? And remember to email us at with your thriftiest behaviors or stories, for a chance to have them featured in our next Thrifty Thursday column.

Happy reading!

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