Last week, I wrote about the dismal odds you face when trying to play the lottery. That article included a lottery simulator built by the GRS technical elves, a widget inspired by the lottery simulator over at Cockeyed.
I’ve mentioned Cockeyed several times over the years. It’s awesome. Cockeyed is the home of Rob Cockerham and his crazy projects and pranks. It’s the sort of site you can spend hours exploring — and still go back for more.
Since Rob was a good sport for letting us borrow his lottery simulator idea, I decided to dedicate this edition of Spare Change exclusively to his site. That’s easy to do, too, because over the years, he’s produced plenty of personal-finance related material — and a lot of it’s funny!
For instance, Cockeyed has an ongoing series of “How Much is Inside?” reports, in which Rob tries to figure out how much air is inside Cheetos and how many feet of celery stalk can you fill with one jar of peanut butter. Some of these involve money:
- How much do sandwiches cost? — In which Rob tries to see how much money he saves by bringing his lunch from home.
- How big is a million dollars worth of $100 bills? — In which Rob and his friends try to figure out how much space a million dollars would take up.
- How much is inside a shopping cart? — In which Rob learns how much you can earn from redeeming a shopping cart filled with aluminum cans.
- How many cups of beer can you get out of a keg? — Okay, so this one’s not really money related. But haven’t you always wanted to know?
Or maybe you’d care to browse Cockeyed’s library of how-to guides. Some of these are goofy, but some are actually useful. Here are some examples:
- How to fix a broken fence
- How to paint a room
- How to change your brake pads
- How to fight a speeding ticket in court
I know that’s a lot of links already, but I’ve saved the best for last. Here are my favorite money-related stories from over the years at Cockeyed:
- Want to save gas? Drive slow! In which Rob conducts an experiment to see if reducing his driving speed actually saves money. And it does. After I bought my Mini, I conducted a similar experiment with similar results. (I also found that the biggest drag on my gas dollar was using my brakes. By being smart about how I used my brakes, my gas mileage soared!)
- Eating out vs. Eating in. Rob spent a month only eating home-made food. Then he spent a month only eating in restaurants. Eating at home, he spent $11.55 per day ($8.65 without alcohol). Eating out, he spent $20.08 per day. The biggest surprise, he said, was how much longer it takes to eat in restaurants than it does to make your own food.
- Costco vs. Sam’s Club: Warehouse store price comparison (see also: Wal-mart vs. Target)
- Why buying from Rent-A-Center is like using the worst credit card ever
- The torn-up credit card application — After I first wrote about this article in 2006, I promptly went out and bought a paper shredder. Ever since, I shred anything sensitive.
- How pyramid schemes work
- On a related note, how a Craigslist vehicle scam works
- Your friend didn’t get mugged in London — Analyzing an e-mail money scam.
- Why Cash4Gold is a rip-off — I wish my mother had seen this article before trying to sell her stuff to Cash4Gold…
- Behind the scenes of the Herbalife work-from-home scheme
- How to return your Kirby vacuum cleaner and cancel the sales contract. (I know from experience that this advice applies to most (all?) door-to-door sales contracts.)
Last of all, here’s a recent winner. Rob won $1,000 in a costume contest — only he didn’t win $1,000 in cash. He won $1,000 in slot play at a local casino. So, he decided to make a project out of it. He documented how he played $1,000 on a slot machine — and how he managed to turn that into $1,534.
That should be enough Cockeyed for anyone. If you’re like me, you’ll be obsessed with reading Rob’s site now and won’t be able to get anything done. Sorry if I spoiled anybody’s work day…
This article is about Spare Change