From garage sales to selling plasma to literally hiding your money, there are many creative ways to save cash

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Becca Tresnak collects change and cans in order to save extra money effortlessly (Photo supplied by Becca Tresnak).

What is the craziest or most creative thing you have ever done to save money? Most people have tried to figure out how to save themselves money, and some people have gone to creative lengths to do so.

Kelly Paananen, native of Hazel Park, Michigan, has found some creative ways to save money toward vacations.

Kelly Paananen (third from the left), holds large garage sales in order to save money toward vacations. (Photo supplied by Kelly Paananen).

“One of the most creative ways to make and save money that I have tried was having a massive garage sale between friends for spending money on a vacation,” said Paananen. “We had friends and family donate to the garage sale as well.”

Paananen also hides money in order to save it for later.

“I put money in places I don’t go across everyday. Generally in small envelopes, in books or bags. That way when I am broke I can always find some cash if needed.”

Natalie Kubat, native of Bloomington, Indiana, Donated plasma for a year and participated in paid studies.

“I don’t know that I’ve done anything crazy to save money but I’ve definitely done some crazy things to increase income so that I could save more money,” said Kubat.“A few years ago, I donated plasma twice a week for about a year. The extra $300/month helped me pay off my student loans and save money to finish the basement in my home.”

Kubat, who works for Indiana University, also participated in research studies.

“I work at a university, and I often participate in research studies for extra income. One study required that I drink 64 oz of grape juice for 12 weeks. By then end of the study, my teeth were turning purple. It wasn’t the best look, but I earned $500 for participating,” said Kubat.

Laura Mathews, native of Madison Heights, Michigan, finds ways to save money while traveling often.

Garage sales are a great way to earn extra cash and get rid of things you no longer need. (Photo by Emily LaForme)

“When I am in Vegas, I make a cooler out of my backpack. I use a garbage bag as a liner and fill it with ice, beer, or mixed drinks and walk around the Strip with it,” said Mathews. “It is much cheaper than buying drinks and waiting for your “free” drink while gambling. Most of the time you lose $20-plus gambling while waiting for the free drink.”

When traveling internationally, Mathews tries to save money on meals.

“I travel internationally any chance I can. I love to save money by bringing my own food and alcohol. Typically on Islands everything is imported so it is very expensive. Bringing food allows me to save money by not having to buy all my meals at the resort,” said Mathews.

Rebecca Tresnak, native of Royal Oak, Michigan, collects change in order to save money for the future.

“I keep change cups everywhere. I have jars in my room, kitchen, and car, so whenever I find or get change, I immediately put it in my change cups. At the end of every few months, I gather all the change and use coin star at Meijer to get actual dollars back,” said Tresnak. “I’ll immediately put that money into the bank. It’s an easy way to save in everyday life without really having to think about it.”

Tresnak also collects cans and sets aside portions of her paychecks.

“I always save and collect my cans to recycle, and then immediately put that money in the bank. Also when I get a paycheck, I always take a certain percentage of it and put it in the bank to save it,” said Tresnak.

Besides donating plasma or collecting cans, there are other ways that are helpful with saving some extra money.

Natalie Kubat (pictured with her husband) works at Indiana University and participates in research studies to earn some extra cash. (Photo supplied by Natalie Kubat)

“I budget my income and expenses every month and I love working on my budget to make sure I stay on track,” said Kubat. “Every few days, I’ll pull up my color coded spreadsheet and I often play around with it and look at ways to cut back on expenses. I’ll take that extra money and plug it into my monthly mortgage pay down calculator. I love to see the pay off date decrease, each time I find I can pay more on my mortgage.”

“Store credit cards are the devil. Some offer free financing, and I have been burned by forgetting to make a payment, and then all the interest you were saving by using the free financing gets billed to you as soon as you forget a payment,” said Mathews.

“I don’t really have a favorite way of saving money, because I hate saving it,” said Tresnak. “That is why I do the little things like the change cups and collecting cans, so I don’t really have to think about it. I’m a spender not a saver!”

Sometimes trying to save money can feel more time consuming than not doing it.

“I’ve never regretted saving money, I just need to do larger amounts of money saving,” said Paananen. “At this point, the long term savings we have is 401K and pension, and there are no regrets.”

“I’ve never regretted saving money. It’s hard to do because I would rather be spending it, but once I have more and more saved up, it always feels good to look and see it in my bank account,” said Tresnak.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever regretted saving money but right now, I’m putting all extra funds in to my retirement accounts and my children’s college accounts while also saving money for future major expenses,” said Kubat. “There isn’t very much extra money for fun things like eating out and vacations. I do wonder if I’ll regret not traveling more when I’m older. I still eat out and take vacations, but on much more scaled back level than what I was doing 10 years ago when I was earning half the income I am now.”

There are several steps and tricks that you can start doing now to begin saving money.

Laura Mathews, finds ways to save money while traveling internationally, opting to bring her own food and drinks with her. (Photo supplied by Laura Mathews)

“Think outside the box. Not everything has to be brand new. A friend saved $5k by buying a camper that he had been eyeing from a couple who used it one time and realized that they hated camping,” said Mathews. “My sister saves money on clothes for her kids by passing down used clothes amongst friends. Some stores like Best Buy sell “open box” items at a large discount. gives you cash back for shopping on sites like Amazon. You should also trade account usage, I use my sisters Netflix and she uses my Amazon prime.”

“Put money where it is not easily accessible. I usually have a goal, and it’s usually an event or vacation,” said Paananen. “I am the one that probably needs advice, as I wish I would have saved more! Although I am happier that I live and experience more with my friends and family when the opportunity happens.”

“Personally, I’ve found two things that work best in helping me save money. First, I budget for every dollar I earn and I make sure to budget for bigger expenses. I have multiple savings accounts for things like the next car I want to purchase, Christmas presents, home repairs, license plates, and my children’s summer camp.”

Becca Tresnak collects change and cans in order to save extra money effortlessly (Photo supplied by Becca Tresnak).

“The second thing that has helped me is completely eliminating credit cards and using cash only to purchase things. Every payday, I’ll withdraw cash for things like groceries, clothing, eating out, and haircuts. Using cash ensures that I won’t go over my budget. I might run out of eating out money early, but that means that I won’t eat out until the next payday. It’s much easier to swipe that credit or debit card than it is to pay cash.”

“Taking part of my paycheck and putting that away is the best way for me to save money,” said Tresnak. “For people who want to save money I suggest that everyday you should be putting a little away. It doesn’t have to be this massive amount that you are saving everyday, just do a little at a time, and always ask yourself before you buy something: “do I need this?”

What tips and tricks will you use to try and save some extra money?

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