Petty things I have done to save money


Back in the good 'ol days I used to be broke and did several things to save money. Sometimes I was just being petty.

If I had a car battery that was weak and wouldn’t take a charge I would dissolve epsom salt in distilled water and add it to the cells, it broke up sulfation and often I would get another 6 months to 3 years out of a “junk” battery. Now if a cell was damaged or collapsed it wont work, however conditioning batteries like this can give a “4 year” battery a life span of 8-10 years.

I had my brake shoes relined by a local guy I was able to barter with.

It wasn’t uncommon for me to put used brake pads on my cars, sometimes I would go to the junkyard and find the best ones off of different vehicles, it was cheap. One time I had brake pads and rotors from 4 different vehicles on my car.

One time I had a dodge van with bad brake lines to the rear, I just plugged off the rear line at the proportioning valve. Worked good until one of the front lines blew out, then I hit a tree.

I used to buy some of my gas at a junkyard, They would pump out tanks when the cars got in, they would sell the gas cheap, it was all mixed together so any bad fuel was diluted enough it rarely caused trouble.
Non automotive things___

When I take a shower when its cold out I plug the tub and let the heat from the water dissipate into the house before I drain the tub. Why would I dump water I paid to heat down the drain. I want the most heat for my money.

I used to drink powdered milk, and made my OJ from concentrate.

Anyone care to add to the list.


I used to stock up on Totino’s Party Pizzas when they were on sale for .89 each. Hell, buy 20 of em and I’d have dinner for 2+ weeks in the freezer for less than $20.

I’ve always kept my hair short (flat-top) so I save on shampoo. I see how much my wife spends on hair care products and a $2 bottle of shampoo lasts me months.

Back in the single days my buddy and I shared an apartment. I still smoked inside so always had windows open for fresh air. We decided to get to Halloween before we turned on the heat to save money. Halloween turned into Thanksgiving turned into Christmas turned into New Years. By Valentines day even our girlfriends wouldn’t come over any more because the place was so damn cold.


I wanted to go somewhere one weekend on an old Harley I owned and the 6 Volt battery was on shaky ground along with the rear drive chain.
The chain was replaced with a used one pirated from an old Allis Chalmers combine and the battery presented a more difficult problem.

Figuring what the heck, I dumped the electrolyte out and filled the battery with an old stale beer that had been sitting on a corner shelf for several years. The beer was garbage when fresh and the battery was on the way out anyway so i was not going to be out anything.
Put it on the slow charge after the beer refill and who would have thought; the battery took a charge and gave me another 6 months or so of service.


Beer in a battery, what on earth made you try that? Had you heard that from someone before or was it a flash of insight on your own?


Lived in a second-floor duplex. The first floor was rented to a family that left the heat on 80 or something.

Never had the gas turned on! Sealed the windows really good, and wore jackets. It never dropped below 55F, even when it was 10F outside. Cooking was done on a Coleman stove, which also heated up the water for my sponge bath.


@asemaster, I had not heard of the beer in a battery trick and it didn’t involve any smarts on my part at all. Just sheer frustration on my part and one of those what the heck moments out of the blue. The brand name of the beer escapes me but it was one of those low end garbage beers whose taste is on a par with battery acid anyway.

One thing I do regret is not holding on to those old 6 volt HD batteries. I’ve seen absolute junker batteries with no hope of salvaging them going for 2-300 dollars apiece.


It’s nice to know that Bud Light is good for something… for flavor it is not. :slight_smile:


When customers would come in to the gas station for new tires, I’d take the “best” of their old worn tires and put them on my car - as long as the diameter was 14". I always ran with different size tires.

I had a Corvair that leaked lots of oil - so I’d save the old oil from customer’s oil changes and used that. It worked fine.

I like asemaster’s comments about delaying turning the heat on. I used to make it to November 1st. But in recent years I’ve learned the value of turning it on (earlier) when my wife wants it on.


Back in the early 1990s, when an old geezer pulled out in front of me and totaled my 1985 Buick Skyhawk, I used dog chains to hold the hood down. Because that car had a bent frame, I bought used tires since I knew the alignment was bad and it couldn’t be corrected. Eventually, when I had a better vehicle, I realized used tires weren’t saving me money.

My current car is rife with ugly body work, much of which has already been documented here. Instead of replacing my head light covers, I clean them and use some Rain-X on them to clear them up. It doesn’t really get them clear, but it does improve the illumination.

Recently, I’ve tried to work my full sized spare into the rotation and use the best of the old tires as the new full sized spare, but it doesn’t work. The best of the old tires seems to have unseen damage that manifests itself either in the trunk of my car or shortly after I mount it as a spare.

I guess many of my attempts to take shortcuts and save money have backfired, proving it is sometimes best to bite the bullet and do things the right way the first time (instead of hitting a tree with your Dodge van). :wink:


I’m of the opinion that if I can’t do something correctly, I don’t do it at all. If I can’t afford decent tires or brakes, I’d rather park the car until I can. Can’t afford a product or service I want? I’ll go without until I can.


Consumer Reports had an article on saving money in routine tasks. Instead of using expensive window cleaning compounds, use vinegar and newspapers to do an excellent job.

Most people get 10 years out of a dishwasher by using the full cycle and electric drying feature. We use the light wash cycle and pop the door open when the wash is completed. The residual heat dries the dishes and the dishwasher will last twice as long. We get 18 to 20 years out of one.

My kid brother went a little too far in saving money . He had an old 1952 Dodge flathead in college, and the wires were aging, not allowing the car to start in wet weather. He simply raised the hood, took the sports section from the paper and set it on fire in the engine compartment. The heat dried out the wires. The sports section was just large enough to dry the wires without setting the car on fire. Needless to say, I disapproved of this method of saving money.

Car tires were notoriously skimpy in the 60s. I solved the problem on my 1966 Malibu small block sedan by installing tires 2 sizes bigger. The wheel openings were large enough since the station wagon with the large 396 engine used this size tires. Got an extra 10,000 miles out of a set; quite something in those days.


I used to drink powdered milk, and made my OJ from concentrate

Man, I just threw up a bit! When I was a kid and we went camping we had to drink reconstituted milk powder mixed with well pump water at the campground. Thanks for bringing up that suppressed memory!

Back in college years we used to have big breakfasts after a night of partying. Whole bunch of people crashed out around the place. A few people would work “together” to round of some grub. Someone else had prepared the OJ from concentrate, I just poured it into glasses without even looking. Should have. After hearing the wretching sounds from the other room I looked in the pitcher to see the slug of concentrate still laying in the bottom of the pitcher. That was some weak OJ…


Man, I thought I was thrifty but guess I’m a spend thrift in comparison. When I was a kid, our neighbors refused to buy watermelon for their kids because it had too much water in it and wasn’t worth it. They’d come to our house for it. The same guy parked his new car outside when it rained so he didn’t have to use city water to wash it. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do but the same guy turned over his pristine Pontiac to his son. He had it since new and wouldn’t drive it much and would walk to work instead. The kid didn’t have it more than a few months and it was demolished in a rear end accident. Nice guy though and great kids and I still like him but boy was he thrifty.


@TwinTurbo If you think powdered milk is bad, try powdered eggs. I spent WW II in Europe under Nazi occupation. Food was scarce. When we were finally liberated by the British and Canadians, they brought all sorts of food, army style. Corned beef (not bad) , spam and powdered eggs. The heat used to spray dry the eggs makes them taste awful. However, my mother said they were nutritious.


@Bing, parking your car outside when it rains isn’t all that bad. When I was a kid and would visit my grandmother near Sarasota, FL, they had a water shortage at the time. The water restrictions kept people from washing their cars, so in the summer, during monsoon season, as the clouds rolled in in the afternoon, you could see everyone pulling their cars out from under their car ports. As soon as the storms passed, you’d see them all out with their squeegees and towels wiping the water off their cars. My grandmother and I enjoyed the show. It was like watching wildlife migrate.


Powdered eggs and milk, brings back memories. The first carrier I served on in the Navy was a WWII era carrier (USS Midway). This was in the early 70’s. Someone found a storeroom full of C-rats from WWII, and the captain decided to distribute them during the GQ drills that went through meal time.

It was fun though to light up one of those Lucky Strikes, they took about 2 seconds to burn down, you got one puff. We were home ported in Japan at the time so fresh eggs and fresh milk was not available. All the eggs and milk was powdered. After a while, you get used to it. Add non dairy (coffee) creamer to nonfat dry milk and you get something that almost passes for whole milk.


Washlet Bidet-Reduces TP “consumption” and septic pump-outs. Cleaner too.

50cc scooter. Less gas usage by 5:1.


I remember a contest about cheap people, the winner was a guy who every friday would get his family together to roll 2 ply toilet tissue onto 2 separate rolls. Second place was a guy who wore his work clothes, complete with name tag to his daughters wedding because he refused to buy clothes. I’m cheap, saw some plans for building Adirondack type chairs out of discarded pallets, thinking it is a go!


pallet boards are not sanded. You want to use your street’s macadam for a rough finish and then fine finish on the kitchen’s linoleum .


That story about powdered milk and eggs reminds me of a diary my father kept on board his ship during WWII. There was entry and entry about yet another morning with powdered milk and eggs and eventually there was one that stated that there would not be a mutiny because they had reversed the order in which the powdered product had been handed out with the eggs being first.

Back in the 50s as a little kid, I remember dad bringing home some powdered eggs from the base as a novelty and I thought they were horrible. I can’t imagine being stuck on a ship for months on end and having to choke that stuff down.