The Most Questionable Frugal Things People Have Done To Save Money In Times of Desperation

When you’re broke, you gotta do what you gotta do to get by. One person asked the internet to share the “brokest” thing they’ve ever done, and the answers are shocking. 

Is It Legal?

Statue of Lady Justice blindfolded and holding her scales.
Photo Credit: r.classen via

Be forewarned that although some of these actions are perfectly legal, others may skirt the letter of the law in many jurisdictions. These aren’t money-saving tips for you to borrow; they’re extreme actions taken by desperate people.

Penny Fare

man stacking coins
Photo Credit: Mihai_Andritoiu via

One man was so broke he couldn’t pay for his bus fare to work. He scoured the shared apartment, searching every nook and crevice for precious change to pay his way. 

He attempted to pay with only pennies and was still thirty cents short, but the bus driver waved him through anyway. 


Calm woman with her hands up fingers touching and eyes clothes who looks like she's meditating or visualizing.
Photo Credit: Bagus Production via

Sometimes we can trick our brains into believing things. One person attempted to make his paltry meal of dried crackers taste better by looking at images of steak while eating them. 

“Stealing” Bagels

Bagels on a wire platter with a jar of cream cheese next to them.
Photo Credit: nelea33 via

Religious institutions often offer to feed the destitute, so one worker took it to the extreme when they were short on cash. 

They noticed a Synagogue offering free bagels to the devout during weekly rituals and helped themselves to a few, hoping no one would notice. The Rabbi did indeed notice and told them to stop acting sneaky and help themselves. 

The story has a happy ending as they remained friends for a while even when the “bagel thief” was in a better financial situation. 


Hands writing a check.
Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov via

Kiting is check fraud, but some folks had no other choice. They’d write themselves a check, cash it, and hope their paycheck was deposited on time to cover it. 

Call In Sick

Man on the couch in pajamas wrapped in a blanked on the phone.
Photo Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych via

Working is expensive. We need to pay for work clothes, lunches, and transportation. One poor sap couldn’t afford gas to get to work every day, so they had to call in sick the day before payday. It becomes a never-ending cycle, as most companies don’t offer paid sick leave, so he was likely out a day’s worth of pay because he couldn’t afford to go to work. 

Free Samples

Salesperson holding free samples of cheese on a platter.
Photo Credit: Tyler Olson via

Costco is notorious for free samples, but you typically must pay a membership fee to partake. One savvy former member down on their luck used an expired card to enter the store, then strolled the aisles enjoying free samples for dinner. 

Lucky Idiot

Happy man with a ticket in his hand who looks like he just won a lottery.
Photo Credit: san4ezz via

The lottery is a tax on the poor and stupid. People see it as a ticket out of poverty and often spend their last few dollars on a hope and a dream. 

One user spent their last ten bucks on a scratch-off ticket and lucked out. They won $500, which paid for their car insurance and Christmas presents for their family. 

Dumpster Diving

Legs hanging out of a giant dumpster to represent dumpster diving.
Photo Credit: Sarnia via

You can find treasure in the trash. One person lived near a Hostess Bakery, so they scoured the dumpster for day-old pastry treats that were still good enough to eat. 

Partial Payments

Woman scanning a bottle at a self check out.
Photo Credit: frantic00 via

The Self-Checkout at Walmart allows you to put partial payments on various cards. This resource saved one parent, as they bought a giant box of cheap ramen and split the cost between multiple debit cards, none of which had the few bucks needed to pay the total amount. 

Free Fast Food

Man looking sideways holding burger and fries.
Photo Credit: Odua Images via

On the brink of homelessness and being unable to buy food, one user shared they’d find old fast food receipts and complain to corporate that their order was messed up. Corporate would offer them free food to compensate, thus allowing the user to eat when they couldn’t afford to otherwise. 

Taking the TP

man holding 7 roll of toilet paper in his arms
Photo Credit: Lazy_Bear via

Some folks are so broke they can’t afford toilet paper. Most public places in the US leave it right out in the open in the stalls. They helped themselves to a roll but made sure they didn’t take all of it. 

If You’re This Broke – Consider a Personal Loan

hands holding an empty wallet to represent poverty
Photo credit: StanislauV via

Banks are usually the go-to-place for personal loans, but they don’t always offer the best deals. 

If you need a loan, you should consider every option. 

Read More: The Best Alternatives To Personal Loans

Sometimes its Lack of Planning Rather Than Lack of Money

hands working on a financial plan
Photo Credit: Atstock Productions via

Create a Finanical Plan to help you manage your finances.

Here’s what you need to know: How To Make a Financial Plan

Being Broke is Often Systematic

sad man looking into his empty wallet
Photo Credit: pathdoc via

Photo credit: StanislauV via poverty is just as real as generational wealth. Here’s a look at generational poverty in America

Turn Your Hobby Into Cash!

cutting pieces for crafting with little craft boxes filled with tiny items
Photo Credit: LanaSweet via

Want to make money doing something you enjoy? Consider one of these excellent hobbies that make money!

Read it here: Cash in on Your Passions with the Best Hobbies that Make Money

Use the Triangle Method To Achieve Your Goals

image of a triangle with money inside and sides labeled with savings, debt repayment, and investing to represent the triangle approach to finances
Photo Credit: Created in Canva by Partners in Fire.

Should you save, invest, or pay off debt? Gurus have tons of different answers, but the triangle method works for everyone

Source: Reddit