If you grew up without much money, you and your family may have created little habits or routines to save money here and there. For instance, in my household, we would cook a lot of hotdogs and put water in hand-soap dispensers to stretch the soap.
So when I saw that Reddit user u/ReindeerBest8970 asked: "People who grew up poor, what was your best [money-saving strategy]?" I wanted to share their responses. Here's what they had to say below:
1."Beans and rice are actually quite nutritious."
"I'm shocked to see how many of us have lived on rice + protein.
For me, it was rice with an egg on top, a little pepper, and salt. Sometimes a chopped piece of spam stirred in if things were going a little better.
I basically grew up on that stuff. My parents did their best but didn't have much."
2."Shampoo can make a good body wash."
"You can also shave with conditioner."
3."You can use vinegar, baking soda, or dish soap to clean almost everything. You don’t need to spend money on a bunch of specialty cleaning products. Also, don’t throw away torn/stained clothing or towels. These are your new cleaning rags. Now, you don’t need paper towels."
"Also, before you pay to have something repaired, watch YouTube and see if you can fix it yourself. Try to borrow the tools to do the job. Clean the tools before returning them in a timely manner, and it’s more likely they’ll lend them to you again."
4."Take stacks of napkins each time you eat out. You never have to buy paper towels for the house."
5."Get a fishing license. I had almost nothing as a kid, but I remember long and great days spent fishing for the cost of a fishing license (I'd save over the winter). I used to dig worms up under leaf piles, had a super basic pole, and leftover line people would throw out. Just a nice way to spend a day outside."
6."When soap runs out, fill the bottle up with water a little bit."
7."When I was poor and young, I would go to art openings for snacks and free wine."
8."Still poor here — but one of mine involves groceries. I only have one reusable bag for shopping, not a super big one either. If all the groceries I buy can't fit in this bag, I start putting things back. Usually, the contents of the bag work out to be $50–$60. It's a nice way of not going overboard when getting groceries, and this keeps me within my budget."
9."Foil over your windows if you don’t have air conditioning to keep the heat out."
"A layer of plastic sheeting that they sell to seal windows for cold insulation will also increase the ability to 'keep cold in.' Bad physics explanation, but consider the reflective foil plus the extra insulation for maximum help. Even better, fewer windows although that sucks."
10."Wear clothing purchased from thrift stores."
11."Share what you have with the right people, and they'll share what they have with you."
"This one came around for me big time.
Back when life was still good, I would occasionally give my neighbors a little pot of what I was cooking because I always ended up making too much. Then one day, a neighbor came over unannounced and saw that I was eating a bowl of plain rice for dinner, and immediately she could tell I was hitting on some hard times. I ran out of money because my business tanked during COVID, and losing my dad made me too depressed to get a job.
I was ashamed of people finding out how far I had fallen, but they did, and their reaction was not at all what I expected. Now they keep asking me every now and then how I'm doing, and I end up joining dinner sometimes. Life is slowly getting back on the rails again for me, thanks to my sweet neighbors having my back during tough times.
Point of the story: Be kind to others and you shall receive kindness in multitude when it matters. Caring is an investment."
12."Find the nearest food bank and get yourself some food. There's no shame in that. In my experience, they never gave you any expired/government-type food — it was all good quality stuff. I remember I got a whole chicken once. It fed me and my roommate for about a week. The rest of the food lasted through the month."
13."Hotdogs don't need buns, there's white bread. Put some in a can of beans, cut one up, and dip into mustard/ketchup. It's easy to turn something simple into a meal."
14."In terms of shaving, buying a safety razor with a brush will pay for itself in a few months compared to insane blade refills. Shaving soap and razors are super cheap (if you don't get the way marked-up shit with the 'manly' branding). I get razors that cost, like, $8 for 100 off Amazon. One blade will last me a few shaves."
15."Remember how much a price is supposed to be and politely point out when it rings up wrong. Story time: My mom sent me to the store to buy dish soap. I got to the cashier, and it rang up different from the shelf price. The manager checked, and sure enough, it rang up wrong, and I got it free. I took the money my mom gave me and rented a movie my family wanted to see. I gave my mom the movie first, and while she was freaking out, I handed her the soap and explained what happened."
"We got lucky one time, bought a can of tuna, it didn't ring up at all, we were like, 'There wasn't a price on the shelf, but the other types were this price,' and the cashier was just like, 'You know what, if they can't be bothered to make sure this stuff rings up at a price and put a price up, I'm not gonna be bothered to call a manager to deal with it, you can just have it.'"