This is a guest post from David Bakke. David is always looking for ways to save money and live frugally. He shares his tips and strategies on Money Crashers Personal Finance.

During my journey to escape $30,000 worth of personal debt, I wore my frugality like a badge of honor. I had no problem bragging to people about all the ways I saved money, regardless of their quizzical reactions. I was on a mission, and I achieved my financial goals as a result.

Once I became financially fit, I thought I was a frugal guru. Oh, how wrong I was. Since then, I’ve uncovered a number of new, even strange, ways to save money. I’ve now gone to the extreme with my money-saving efforts. Here are five of the odd methods I’ve implemented to save some extra money each month.

1. Bring garbage to work
When I moved into my current home, I found that garbage pickup would cost me $300 per year, so I decided to go a different route. I recycle all paper, plastic, and glass, and I compost a lot of my organic waste to be used in my backyard garden. Whatever is left gets tied up in a bag and goes off to work with me each morning. I deposit it into the Dumpster behind my office, and voila – $300 in annual savings. Just be sure you get permission from your employer to do this (at least, if they pay the bill) or find out who owns or rents the Dumpster and ask them if it’s okay.

2. Put bricks in the toilet
Due to some upcoming infrastructure improvements in my city’s water system, water bills are expected to as much as triple in the near future. So to cut down on my expenses, I put a few bricks (wrapped in plastic bags to prevent clay from entering my plumbing) in my toilet tank. This displaces water in my tank, and I use less each time I flush. This doesn’t save a ton of money, but it can add up significantly over time – plus, it’s more environmentally friendly.

3. Recycle shower water in the garden
I shower with a strategically placed five-gallon bucket, which catches a lot of the water I use. I then use this to water my flower garden. Again, this won’t save you millions, but every little bit counts.

4. Use coupons on (first) dates
I’m a divorced single father, and I finally got fed up with wasting money on first dates that never went anywhere. Too many women on online dating sites are out for a free dinner and that’s it. Therefore, I use a coupon on any first date I go on whenever I can scrounge one up. For the ladies who react negatively to this practice, oh well. The way I see it, I wouldn’t want them for a long-term partner anyway if they can’t understand the value of a coupon.

5. Return almost all gifts
Most of my friends and family know that I prefer gift cards as gifts, but some still insist on buying me actual items. As an avid Internet reseller, I’m pretty good at finding the cheapest price on just about anything, so I usually return most gifts I receive and repurchase them at a cheaper price. So actually, I make money on the gift and still get to keep an identical item. For those gift-givers who don’t include a gift receipt, I figure out where the item was purchased and can usually get store credit or sneak a return through.

Final thoughts
Look, no one is going to save money for you. Your friends won’t and your family won’t. Therefore, this job is completely up to you. You can go the extreme route like I do, or start slow, but the important thing is to start saving money today.

What odd things do you do to save money?

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