You already know all of the things that you are supposed to be doing in order to save money. You combine all of your errands in to one trip to reduce the money that you spend on gas. You clip coupons and buy things that you use a lot in bulk. But you’re still not saving as much money as you need to be saving to get by in today’s economy. Perhaps you should stop doing only those things that you are supposed to do and start doing things that you are not supposed to be doing!
Stealing is a good example of something that you really aren’t “supposed to” do but which you can sometimes do without serious legal or social sanctions and which can end up saving you a lot of money if you do it on a regular basis. You certainly don’t want to go to jail for theft (although you’d save some money on housing and meals if you did!) but there are things that you can legally steal without taking that risk of imprisonment.
Here’s a look at twenty examples of things that you can start stealing now to save a few pennies here and there:
- Condiments from restaurants. You probably shouldn’t be eating out at restaurants if you really want to save money but if you happen to be there then you might as well get your money’s worth by taking as many things off of the table as you can. Plenty of people have great collections of ketchup packets, chili sauces and even half-full salt-and-pepper shakers that were slipped into a shopping bag or purse while dining.
- Flowers from cemeteries. Be forewarned that doing this completely lacks class and is generally considered a socially unacceptable behavior. That said, you can save a fortune on cut flowers for your own home, a hot date or even the grave that you yourself are visiting by taking the ones that were left by someone else at a headstone.
- Food from trash cans. Dumpster diving is the ultimate money-saving method of avoiding the high cost of the food that you need to survive. The best place to look is behind restaurants at the end of the work day when you can likely get your hands on some good fresh food that no one is going to be eating anyway.
- Parking spots. The majority of people who put their dimes and quarters into parking meters on the street don’t actually take all of the time that they buy. When you’re parking, keep an eye out for meters that still have time on them and go ahead and slide your own car into this space. Of course, you don’t want to drive around wasting gas to steal a spot but looking for those ones with the meters running is a good penny-saving habit to get into.
- Aluminum cans from local recycling containers. There are some old women around the world that have this money-making scheme down to an art. You walk around to trash cans and recycling bins and find all of the recyclables that can actually be sold for a profit. All that you spend is your time and you can get a decent side income from doing this if you’re committed to it.
- Books from libraries. This is one that you can’t do long-term or often but you can do it now and then if you’re so inclined without really risking getting in to much legal trouble. When a book goes missing from a library, you usually have a long period of time before you’re actually asked to pay it back. First of all, you can renew it for several months. Then you can say that it was returned after all and ask for a claim check which buys you a few more months. In that time, you can either return the book or sell the book for a profit. Just don’t plan on being able to borrow books from that library for too long.
- Wine and snacks at art gallery openings. Technically this isn’t even stealing because this stuff is there for the taking. Some people consider it tacky to go to art openings just for the free wine. And some do consider it stealing because the wine is really supposed to be there for those people who actually go to network and enjoy the art. But these are all pesky details that you’re probably not going to worry about if you’re trying to save money on your alcoholic beverages.
- Movies at theatres. There is a multitude of ways to get into movies at movie theatres for no charge. You can buy one ticket for a group and then have the ticket-holder go open a side door to let everyone else in the group in. You can buy a ticket for one movie and then theatre-hop all day for a full day’s worth of entertainment. You can make friends with someone at the ticket counter who will look the other way when you come in. You run the risk of getting into some trouble if you get caught but the risk is minimal and the punishment usually amounts to a slap on the wrist.
- Movies, music, games and software from online filesharing sites. Piracy is a great way to steal the entertainment and productivity tools that you want online. It’s illegal to varying degrees in different parts of the world and in some areas it does come with some pretty hefty fines. But if you’re willing to take that risk, you can get a lot of cool stuff to keep you active on your computer for weeks and months on end. And there are some places where downloads are questionably legal. There’s also the option of burning discs from the people that you know which is considerably less risky in terms of legal ramifications.
- Wi-Fi from coffee shops. If you don’t want to pay for your own Internet connection then you should try to make sure that you live close to a place where you can access it for free. In most cases, this theft of the Internet is legal although there are different rules for different areas depending on the type of theft that is going on. For the most part, if you steal the connection from a place that’s offering it anyway, you’re not going to get into any trouble even if you’re doing the stealing from your own nearby apartment.
- Drinks at the bar. This one requires that you get to know the bartender because you’ll need his or her help to get the drinks. By making friends that tend bar, you can steal the alcohol from them in the form of drinks that they don’t charge you for. You should probably still tip big if you want to continue getting this perk of your friendship.
- Soda or iced tea from self-serve spots. There are many restaurants and fast food places that allow you to get free refills on drinks and they let you get those refills yourself. This means that a stealthy person can sneak into a place like this, fill up a water bottle or thermos with a drink and then book it out of there. Doing this is easiest in food courts and busy fast food restaurants.
- Supplies from the office. The place that you work has a ton of things that you might want to use in your own home and that you just need to get up the bravery to take home with you one day. While it’s technically illegal to take things from the office, most places aren’t going to actually care (or prosecute) if what you’re taking is stuff like paper and post-its.
- Food from potlucks and BBQs. The trick here is to get invited to big events where everyone is going to be bringing something with them. You bring something really cheap so that it looks like you contributed. After people have begun eating, excuse yourself back to where the food is being served. Peel off the pieces of tape that bear someone else’s name on the dishes that you like the most. Then pack those up and stick them in your car. You get Tupperware and a meal for free. Do this one only infrequently, though, because people will eventually figure it out and you’ll stop getting that invite.
- Toilet paper from public restrooms. Almost every college student has done this at one time or another and there’s nothing that says that you can’t keep doing it even after you have left the college environment. Everyone needs toilet paper and every public stall has it right there for the taking.
- Goodies from hotels. It used to be that you could take the towels with you when you left a hotel. That’s not the case anymore since you can often find yourself getting charged when big items go missing. But the little stuff that’s “complimentary” is still there for the taking. The coffee, the lotions, the soaps, the shower caps … all of these are there for you whenever you stay at a hotel. To really benefit, you should always ask housekeeping for extras of these things; they rarely fail to give you more and more and more.
- Gas from your neighbors’ cars. If you don’t have a problem with the taste of gas then you can probably siphon some from the neighbors. It’s theft so it’s illegal but you’re probably not going to get caught and even if you do, it’s unlikely that your neighbors are going to do anything to you. With gas prices what they are, it’s a risk you may want to take.
- Stuff from the lost and found department of stores. You can go to the lost and found department of major stores and say that you have lost such-and-such. Pick a commonly lost item like keys. Often, the cashier will just show you what’s in the lost and found box so that you can see if your keys are in there. Take note of what’s in there and see if there’s something you want (say an iPod). If so, return later in the day or week when that particular cashier is gone and say that you lost that item (the iPod). It’s now yours.
- Coupon codes from the Internet. There are some coupon codes that are only supposed to be used by certain groups of people (members of different clubs, for example) but which users are freely publishing all across the Internet. Steal these coupon codes to save money on everything from photo printing to groceries.
- Basic stuff from your roommates and friends. This one isn’t recommended because you have to remember that you have to live with these people. But it’s basically legal if what you’re stealing is small (toothpaste, for example) and it can be a great way to save money on things that you just don’t want to buy for yourself.