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Cheap Things You've Done When Broke

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
I saw this on another site and thought it would be fun to ask here.

What are some of the things you've done when you've been broke? Assuming, of course, that you've been a starving artist or student or whatever at some point.

When my husband was in graduate school in Austin, the better grocery stores had a night every week where you could try free samples. We knew what nights the HEBs had samples and we would go for an hour or so and graze. Our favorite was the sample night at Central Market - yum.

We'd also go to the local Mexican restaurants for happy hour where they'd serve free buffets with drinks. We'd buy one drink each and eat a great free dinner.

We'd also go to my place and entertain each other: fun, free, and good exercise.
post #2 of 63
I haven't done anything too tragic but one of my friends went through a pretty desperate patch at one point and (we found out later) was living in her car and eating nothing but rice with salt on it

The most pathetic and disgusting and gross thing I've done when I've been broke is to go through an old ashtray and try to find butts long enough to smoke. Is that not the most repellant thing you've ever heard? Smoking is just SO gross
post #3 of 63
We've all been there once

I remember going to mom's house and raiding her cupboards and fridge.
Also taking toilet paper home from work until payday

Im sure there's more I just can't think of right now
post #4 of 63
Thread Starter 
I lived in an attic apartment while working and putting myself through school, and had plain rice for breakfast many times. It wouldn't have been so bad if the people living downstairs weren't gourmet cooks! I remember some weekend breakfasts, eating my rice, while the delicious smell of bacon, eggs, yeast bread, and coffee wafted up to my window.

It's character-building, right? But oh my goodness, how I wanted to go down there and knock on their door!
post #5 of 63
When I was in graduate school, I was so broke, that I used to go to the dorms and steal the toilet paper so I can use it in my apt.
post #6 of 63
I've had just about all the character-building I can handle

Washing clothes in the tub and hanging to drip dry to avoid paying for coin-op laundry.
Spaghetti noodles with salt and margarine, rice with salt and margarine. Lots of generic iced tea. Top Ramen!
Splitting the cost of a textbook with a classmate and copying the relevant chapters on the copier at work. Mac and cheese with dried milk. Ketchup, mustard, mayo and saltine sandwiches.

Washing hair with dish soap - yuck!

My brothers and I invented some type of fried thing when we were young when there wasn't much to eat. If I remember correctly, it was water mixed with flour then deep fried in drops. Then, dip in favorite condiment - ketchup or mustard

There is probably more, just need to think about it.

Edit: snagging packets of sugar, hot sauce, ketchup, whatever freebies can get from fast food restaurants. Top ramen is tasty with a bit of sweet and sour sauce mixed in
post #7 of 63
my apartment in college, all came from the road side,
i lived in my car, and lived on bread and peanut butter, and took showers at teh school gym.
post #8 of 63
Thread Starter 
No wonder I like you guys so much! Definitely, some characters, er... character-building events in our lives.

It's like cats, too, isn't it? The grateful ones are the ones who had it rough at some point!
post #9 of 63
Roy Rogers. Buy fries and eat at the condiment bar. Lettuce, tomato, onion etc. What a salad!

7-11 soup. The cheapest ramen and plenty of 7-11 fixins' bar additions. Very tasty. Plenty of carbs!!!

Ketchup packet tomato soup.
post #10 of 63
When I lived on Ramen noodles, once a week I'd treat myself to a protein meal at 7-11. I'd buy an $0.89 hot dog and fill the container with the free cheese and chilli. And just when you thought you couldn't fit anything else in it, I'd top it off with the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalepenos. I'd spread it out over 2 meals in one day, but damn if that wasn't my favorite food day.

It's so hard for me to imagine now.
post #11 of 63
During a particularly bad period in Austin in 1981 when I had lost my job (the company went bankrupt), my ex-husband asked to use my car while I was unemployed, "since you don't need it."

(For those of you keeping score at home, this is my ex-husband, Michael -- not my ex-significant-other and all-time best friend, Rush. )

The car stayed away for a week, two weeks, a month... and I couldn't even look for a job until I got the car back, because I lived so far away from any potential employment, and it was summer. Even if I could have walked the distance, I wouldn't have been employable by the time I got there.

So I was living on rice, waiting for my ex-husband to return my car. Then a day came when I didn't even have rice money. In desperation, I filled a grocery sack with paperbacks and trekked three hours to the Half-Price Books downtown. It was sweltering, but it would be worth it -- surely they would give me at least ten dollars for all these great books! And ten dollars would buy rice for a couple of months!

They gave me $2.85. I got teary-eyed, walked to a grocery, bought a big bag of rice, lugged it home, cried some more.

That evening, my ex-husband called to tell me that my car had died and he'd left it in a parking lot in far South Austin. The good news, he said, was that I could go get it, because he didn't need it anymore!

Turned out he had ignored the oil light for days and driven it dry -- and because it was a wretched little Vega with an aluminum engine block, that meant my car was now a half-melted doorstop.

Anyway... the odd thing is that during this period, my parents were living right there in town. We were not estranged or anything -- if I had called and said I needed help, they would have been there for me. But I was already deep in depression (undiagnosed until two years later), and I guess the depression made me feel unworthy of their help.

I don't know whether all that built any character, but it sure was good training for the way the rest of my life has gone! Aside from a few years in the '90s when I actually had enough money for a change, I've always had to be frugal.

I even smuggle my own snacks into movie theaters.
post #12 of 63
I was very broke for a few years after I divorced my first husband. The cheap things I did were sleep on the floor rather than buy a bed, ride my bicycle with my son on the back in a kiddy seat on the back to and from work and daycare, grocery shopping with the little red wagon, Dollar movie night once a month, weekend walks to the playground or the beach and selling my blood. I was in the Military then so my pay was pretty low...but we got by.
post #13 of 63
Oooo dear...one really bad thing I did was in college (of course). It was my first time paying for portions of rent and utilities, and I have a spending issue.

Well we were all suppose to go out one night to celebrate something. I really didn't have the heart to tell friends that I couldn't go because i was broke. Well "luckily" the bar we were going to had people get trashed all the time. So I had enough spare money for one drink, bought one, then would go to the bathroom.
Sure enough the women would get so trashed that they would leave their drinks in the bathroom...so free drinks for me.

I'm surprised that they were spiked drinks...actually thankful now that I look back on it.

That's probably the worse. That and during my wine kick I use to mix grape juice and 5 o'clock Vodka and call it wine.
post #14 of 63
I've actually been homeless as a child. And growing up we were very poor. We'd fish on the weekends for food. I hate fish!

We stole corn when we were living in tents. We ate bread and milk a lot of times. The milk was the condensed powder stuff. ALso something I hate!

We ate lima beans because they were always the cheapest.(Another food I can't stand)
We made crafts and sold them in front of a supermarket for money. It was rough growing up, but you quickly learn how to get free or really cheap stuff. We got wood for the crafts at construction sites. They just throw the stuff they don't use away.

When hubby or I are out of money we get instand potoato's and one can of veggies and make that. It's filling and cheap.
post #15 of 63
We were pretty darn broke when I was in college and after I graduated.

Ramen Noodles (can't stand the stuff anymore)
Mac N Cheese (kraft blue box--can't eat it anymore)
Hamburger helper (that stuff turns my stomach now because I ate so much of it)

I didn't have a car, so walked everywhere when I had my first apartment. I was so in shape! I was pretty broke when I first got Raven & Nabu. They had $1 bowls from kmart, etc. They ate like kings though. Every friday I went out to the Goth/Darkwave club downtown. It was $5 for dance night and I would dance all night. I also did a lot of hanging out with friends on "the bench". The bench was on the street across from the coffee shop. They took it out, we think we were the reason the bench was removed.

When we lived in southern California, and were broke we would hoard quarters for both laundry and going to the beach. We'd spend an afternoon at the beach with our quarters (parking). Sometimes we had enough $ to get snacks while at the beach, but most of the time we didn't.

Mike had it a bit rougher than I did. Before I met him he lived in his car for 6 months or so. He's got some stories about what he did to get by.
post #16 of 63
This is my kind of thread,, LOL.. We are always broke...

My first marriage, we were broke alot,, and we would eat ramen noodles all the time for every meal.. I can't eat them today.. I just hate them now!! But Hamburger Helper, Mac and Cheese, the cheap box. We'd shop at Aldi's which is a really cheap place to shop for food,, everything was real generic and you had to put a quarter in the cart just to use it.. lol

Now, when we are broke, we eat baked potatoes, and make koolaid, and water, my daughter eats alot of spaghetti o's because there so cheap and she loves them,, don't want her to know why we aren't eating wonderful.. Oh well.. being broke sucks!!
post #17 of 63
Don't know if this counts but when I was a school kid and underage of course, me and my mates would ask people for cigarettes. Occassionally and I know how disgusting this is, but we would do the homeless thing and pick up half smoked cigarettes off the ground. 1/2 smoked being there was a lot more than just 5mm left on a butt.
post #18 of 63
Originally Posted by SwampWitch View Post
I lived in an attic apartment while working and putting myself through school, and had plain rice for breakfast many times. It wouldn't have been so bad if the people living downstairs weren't gourmet cooks! I remember some weekend breakfasts, eating my rice, while the delicious smell of bacon, eggs, yeast bread, and coffee wafted up to my window.

It's character-building, right? But oh my goodness, how I wanted to go down there and knock on their door!
You should have. If they were me I would have made some breakfast for you!

I can remember eating nothing but Ramen Noodles with soy sauce packets.

Also, I worked at a bar that would get fresh pizza once a day. If the old pizza didn't sell I'd eat it. To this day I have issues eating cold pizza.
post #19 of 63
Oh, this brings back bad memories

Things I have done when MEGA skint:

Sold all my books for nothing like what they were worth.
Sold a collectable doll and Stieff teddy for £20 just so I could eat.
Lived on potatoes and black coffee for days.
Lived on mayo sandwiches for days....

The last time I got into money trouble I ended up in hospital for quite a while so I`m pretty careful now.
post #20 of 63
I spent 10 years raising my daughter on welfare and food stamps while I went to college and got my degree so I could get OFF welfare.

I can't even begin to go into how difficult it was to feed myself and the sacrifices I made to make sure my child ate FIRST and ate well.

My stories could fill a novel ... waaaaay too many to post here.

I once went a FULL seven days with no food for my belly at all, back in 1986 when my toddler and I were homeless and living in a motel paid for by the state - until a kind person gave me a can of Friend's beans, which I ate cold, out of the can, with a plastic spoon. It was the best gourmet meal I'd ever, EVER eaten.
post #21 of 63
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
I even smuggle my own snacks into movie theaters.
I still do that!

While in college:

Eating lots and lots of ramen noodles and Easy Mac

Bringing home food from the dining halls (fruit, etc)

Selling my textbooks...while I still needed them for class
post #22 of 63
Originally Posted by GingersMom View Post
I once went a FULL seven days with no food for my belly at all, back in 1986 when my toddler and I were homeless and living in a motel paid for by the state - until a kind person gave me a can of Friend's beans, which I ate cold, out of the can, with a plastic spoon. It was the best gourmet meal I'd ever, EVER eaten.
That's heartbreaking. And it should not be allowed to happen in a country where there is far more than enough of everything for everybody, if only it were distributed more evenly!

Does everyone remember "We Are The World?" It was in the mid-80s -- a few dozen musical celebrities got together under the direction of Quincy Jones and recorded a song to raise funds for people who were literally starving to death in Ethiopia.

Well... after the recording session, Steve Perry of Journey went out to dinner with some people, and when the waiter put a plate of food down in front of him, he looked at it and started to cry. Couldn't eat it.

If only we all made the emotional connection so clearly!


Now let me try to forestall the attack that is most assuredly coming my way:

Please note that I did not say America's wealth should be distributed evenly -- I said more evenly. So please don't call me a communist. I am not suggesting that the frycook at a fastfood joint should make exactly the same salary as a doctor who performs lifesaving surgery every day.

What I'm suggesting is that the frycook should make enough for his reasonably-sized family to live comfortably on his income alone, and to save for their children's education and their own retirement.

And that could be achieved if the top executives of the fastfood corporation did not make seven-figure salaries and take home multi-million-dollar bonuses every year, ending up with massive offshore bank accounts and sailing yachts and villas in the south of France.

The disparity there is obscene and unjustifiable. That's what I'm saying. So if you're going to flame me, please flame me for what I really said!

Or for being so longwinded.
post #23 of 63
went to Costco ate the free samples for lunch,
post #24 of 63
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by lookingglass View Post
You should have. If they were me I would have made some breakfast for you!....
Aw, thank you!

You know, it wasn't pride that kept me from asking for help. It was the fact that my parents have always used money as a control mechanism. I ended up being a person who refused to accept anything from anybody because deep down I thought that person was trying to control me. I get squirmy when I think someone is trying to tell me how to live my life. I still have a problem accepting gifts. How messed up is that!

CarolPetunia, I can't imagine anyone flaming you for what you said!

There are some real heartbreaking stories here. I apologize if I dredged up anybody's bad memories.
post #25 of 63
I've been fortunate to never been in just dire situations over money. I'm pretty good about saving, and always have been - Colin is the same way. But here are some "cheap" things we still do.

Lets see, we reuse Ziplock bags from the dollar store (we just rinse them out after we use them to marinate our foods in them.) I still do this

We eat Ramen noodles

I take my own snacks to the movies in my purse

I buy a lot of generics - but i make sure i try to get healthier ones

We use a ton of rice when we cook. We add rice to our chili even and it's amazing

We "carpool" as much as possible to save on gas. Colin and I try to take my car as often as we can because it gets better milage. When I need groceries- i go with my sister and her kids to the store and we take turns driving and all go at once to get our groceries/etc

I've sold off a lot of text books
post #26 of 63
I have been eating ramen noodles for the last week. (But my boyfriend gets paid today so we SHOULD be OK...)

I have lived a very poor life.... there are a million things I could write down but I'll just list a few.

**picked up cigerette butts off the ground, took the tobacco out of them, and rolled up one cigerette with all the findings.

**spagetti noodles, salt, and butter

**selling anything I can possibly think of for money. When me and my boyfriend were BROKE we sold my promise ring for supper. I won't do that ever again! (He did buy me a new one later though)

**Washing clothes in the bathtub and hanging them up to dry, so we could use our quarters for food.

**buying cigerettes, little debbies, or gas in pennies, dimes and nickels... there were no quarters and no bills!

**eating cereal with water, because we had no milk----for every meal of the day

**duct taping our shoes because our shoes had holes.

**borrowing $1.25 to buy my cat food from the $1.00 Store

**going to the grocery store, using my debit card to withdraw the only $2.50 I had- so my bf could use it for bus money to get to work.

**finding change so I could get a $1 Big and Tasty from McDonalds. (We did this last night)

Oh, and the other day I noticed that one of my co-workers left a pizza in the freezer. I was STARVING- so I ate it. The next day she asked me about it... I told her I didn't know what happened to it. I didn't want to tell her I ate her pizza!!! That's so embarassing!

That's it for now
post #27 of 63
Just an observation...

Including myself, I've noticed that there are lots and lots and LOTS of people living below the poverty level that are addicted to cigarettes.

I'm no longer poor, and am now a former smoker, so I'm not being hypocritical in pointing this out, as far as I am concerned.

That week I mentioned where I had no food for 7 days? Somehow I found the means to have cigarettes. I had no money for food, but I kept on smoking a pack a day.

It is interesting to me to see the lengths people will go to for certain things, specifically to feed addiction while other basic needs go unmet.

Like I said, just an observation from one who was also guilty of feeding her addictions (and her child) before herself.

post #28 of 63
We never had a lot of money and ate a lot of mac and cheese, hamburger helper, etc. My fiance LOVES hamburger helper, but I dread it when he makes it. They all taste the same after awhile.

I remember noticing that my mom wouldn't eat with us and that she would eat what we didn't finish. My sister and I would leave some on purpose for her....
post #29 of 63
Thread Starter 
I've heard that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances out there, even more so than heroin. Cigarettes also dull hunger somewhat, so perhaps the body's craving for the drug is stronger than the hunger for food? Maybe that explains it?

I have a friend named Caroline who grew up very poor. She said her mother gave her children coffee because that also dulls the hunger.

Geez, this thread is getting depressing.
post #30 of 63
Originally Posted by SwampWitch View Post

Geez, this thread is getting depressing.
Yes, it is!
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