I found a disturbing Canada Personal Finance Reddit thread about unethical ways people have saved money.
Highlights included some bizarre stuff, like using another country’s VPN to sign up for a lower rate on Netflix (seriously?!) to using Iranian change (about two cents a pop) that vending machines will mistake for the Canadian $2 coin.
One person who used to work downtown apparently cut and pasted numbers from old parking receipts to change the date on other receipts that (s)he would then place on the dash. Apparently, this saved $100 a week for months.
Other more common ones were:
- Using a student discount long after graduation
- Pirating content
- Bringing home snacks or tea from work
- Ordering household supplies through work stock-ups orders then bringing them home
- Buying one, more expensive bulk item but ringing in another (organic vs non-organic, cashews vs peanuts, etc.)
Then there were some less common ones:
- Selling churned sign-up bonus travel points on the black market to travel agents
- Claiming printer ink as a home office expense on taxes but using it for non-business purposes
- Lying about a kid’s age to get discounted admission
- Stuffing paper towels up a vending machine’s change chute, then taking it out at the end of the day and getting all of the change from that day’s transactions.
- Swiping 50% off stickers from older produce bags and affixing them to newer ones
- Using vision benefits to get nice (non-prescription) sunglasses
- Working a side job, forwarding calls to the main job and getting paid by two companies for the same hours
- Using food banks when not poor
- Getting flowers from cemetaries
- Filling a gas container for personal use while filling up the company car or using the company gas card to fill up your own car
- Grabbing a LARGE stack of napkins or paper towels from restaurants and about 1/8 of a roll of toilet paper in wads. The same person also took gauze and such from doctors’ offices.
- Getting lock picks and stealing restaurants’ toilet paper
- Parking in lots (rather than at meters) and ignoring any “tickets” since they’re rarely enforced
- Ordering from beauty stores from the free samples, returning the actual products
- Using a corporate discount for hotel rooms — when you don’t work for the company in question
- Buying things for a one-time use (tools, etc.) then returning them
- Buying a new product, putting the old one in the new one’s packaging then returning the box for a full refund
- Low or no tipping
- Lying about how many miles you drive for company reimbursement on a personal vehicle
- And this one people might argue is fine: Claiming the full per diem dining reimbursement without using it all (even when working in town and eating at home)
Whew, that’s a lot of crappy behavior!
It always creeps me out when people go to extreme lengths — to the point of dishonesty — to pinch pennies. I understand if you’re broke. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
But somehow I don’t think people buying nuts or organic produce are really all that poor.
I’ve been trying to think about dishonest stuff I’ve done personally. I’m not coming up with much. Maybe I have too active a guilt complex?
I have watched some pirated or otherwise illegally streamed stuff two or three times when a friend brought it over.
And when I was super broke in Seattle, I had a friend report his bus pass (unlimited rides each quarter) as lost, then gave him the $27 to replace it. I did that a few times.
Oh, and the same friend supplied me with a pirated code for Windows because I couldn’t afford to buy it myself.
And there was once — back when we were still buying Tim’s skin stuff from The Body Shop — that there was a glitch that I took advantage of. A one-time-use, $20 reward (for buying a certain amount of product) kept being applied even after the first use. So I placed as many orders as I could. I think it was four or five before the error resolved itself.
Oh, And then there’s the ShopRunner thing. I signed up for a one-year ShopRunner free trial probably seven years ago. I cancelled or took my credit card information off the account or otherwise did something so I wouldn’t be charged. But the subscription still works to this day.
And no, it’s not a Mastercard cardholder benefit. It’s just some sort of error. I save at least $25 a year with it because I send Mom pears each year from Harry & David, and ShopRunner gets me both free regular shipping and waives the Alaska-shipping surcharge.
Also, I let Tim still use my Netflix and Hulu sign-ons. That said, I pay for the multiple screens Netflix option, so I don’t really consider that cheating. Maybe the Hulu one is dishonest, though.
And… Yeah, I think that’s about it. I just don’t think most savings are worth being dishonest, especially if money isn’t tight.
What are some unethical ways you or someone you know has saved money?