Twisted ways to save money

Money stinks. But that’s usually because we never have enough of it.scoundrel

Rather than running out to hold up the nearest liquor store, we can take some creative – albeit sick and twisted – money saving tips from Tucsonan Phil Villarreal.

Although Villarreal does rake in a regular paycheck with his gig with the Arizona Daily Star, that doesn’t stop him from amassing miserly ways to pinch pennies.

His book Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets, outlines ways to save cash on everything from movies to pet care.

A full day of flicks can be yours, he reminds us, with that joyful journey of theater hopping. Just pay for a single ticket for a matinee and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying everything that’s showing.

You can also bulk up your at home DVD collection – or make instant profit – by joining one of those Columbia-like DVD clubs, then sell all the 10 for a penny ones on eBay.

To even better the venture, he says, have the DVDs delivered to a vacant house, steal the delivery when it arrives, then call the club to say you never got them. Often you’ll get an extra batch at no charge, just itching to be sold.

“Exposure to such frauds is the price these companies pay when they’re too cheap to spring for delivery confirmation service,” Villarreal writes.

Vet care can be a massive expense, but good ole Phil tells us how to get the major work done for free. Say your pet is injured and needs surgery. Instead of running to the vet, run to the pound, he says. Drop off Fido, let the pound doctor fix him up, then re-adopt the doggie when he’s good and healed.

Make sure you pick a no-kill shelter, of course.

We can also save on our own health care. Just pretend not to speak English, Villarreal says.

“Leaning to say the words ‘No aspeaka’ in particular situations is the key to hacking hundreds off your yearly expenses and possibly thousands if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a major medical emergency.”

Villarreal also offers way to save on our food bills. “Just as it makes no sense to buy Evian or get a satellite radio subscription, it’s nonsensical to buy things attainable in perfectly good, mini plastic squeeze packs at fast-food joints.”

This, of course, includes ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, salsa and Arby’s sauce.

Save on milk by reusing it. Rather than slurping up what’s left after you finish a bowl of cereal, pour the cereal milk back into the container, a practice Villarreal discovered in college.

“By the time I was tapping the final drops out of the carton, the liquid was approximately 90 percent sugar-based and oh-so-tasty.”

Another money-saving food tip he learned in college was the weight-loss power meal. “Take a can of tuna, add a few squirts of steak sauce, slap the result in between two slices of bread and you’ve got a culinary masterwork that will satisfy your hunger and cause the flab to slip off your belly.”

Even Villarreal said he was hesitant about this one at first, but he soon learned it was a fitting dinner to compliment his breakfast of cereal and recycled milk.

Now we just need coffee and dessert – which we can also obtain through Villarreal’s stingy tricks.

“Coffee shops are like pudgy single women in their late twenties and thirties, or guys of any age or any weight for that matter – they are so desperate for attention that they are willing to give a lot of stuff away for free.”

Free cake samples, free Wi-Fi, free newspapers and magazines for reading or ripping off, free cushy chairs and maybe even a free coffee or two if you become a regular – like when you set up your home office there.

Pick a small, local shop, Villarreal advises, and don’t worry about getting kicked out as the “owners are paranoid that you’ll stop hanging out at their place at the first sign of discomfort and make for the nearest Starbucks.”

These creative money saving tips make robbing a liquor store seem so, well, pedestrian. Just make sure to pile up a stash of cash you can use for bail if the need arises.

To learn more about Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets click HERE.

To get more traditional New Year’s budgeting advice, check out the commentary from Senior Vice President of M&I Bank Lisa George by clicking HERE.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who has never robbed a liquor store or recycled milk. She is, however, very cheap with paper towels. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at E-mail

logoWhat do you think?

Have you tried any of these money saving tricks?

What are some other twisted ways you’ve managed to save money?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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29 Responses to Twisted ways to save money

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! This Villarreal cat makes King Midas look benevolent in comparison. What a penny pincher. I just wait when I can for a great sale on the items I desire. Just gotta check those ads and do a little surfin’ on the internet.

    • Jennatoolz says:

      Hah, he certainly takes it a little over the top in my opinion. I’m the type of person that when I want something (that I don’t necessarily need), I’ll obssess over it in my head. I’ll think of ways to get it as soon as possible. Usually this happens with large things, like a car…or a cool expensive cell phone that I don’t really need. I got the car, but I’m still obssessing about the cool new cell phone, I have yet to figure a way to obtain that one…haha. 😛 

    • radmax says:

      Ps…can’t believe you didn’t include thrift stores in this poll, money savin’ thrift store maven that you are. 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax!!
      hahaha – contrary to your guess that i was out shoppin’, i was actually sleeping in a bit, recovering from last night’s bout of shopping – hahahha.
      acutally, last night was just the grocery store – BORING – and i did stop myself from buying the zebra striped chair cushions that were on sale – although yes, like jenna mentioned – i am obsessing about them this morn and will prob. have to go back to the store this afternoon….
      like your sensible tips, radmax – but that kind of precision takes patience and removes all fun out of the needless impulse buys – hahah.
      p.s. THRIFT STORES ROCK! yes, should have included in poll. but i like blind kids to make them beg, too (like in movie ‘who want to be a millionaire’)

  2. Jennatoolz says:

    This article makes me feel a bit scummy, Ryn! While I haven’t tried any of Villarreal’s tricks…I have tried quite a few things on your poll! I’ve purchased things from a store, used it, and returned it saying it wasn’t the right one — for example, an ink cartridge for my printer. I’ve also borrowed something of value from my company, without anyone’s knowledge but my own. I returned it, of course, but it’s something that could have gotten me fired on the spot if noticed! Looking back, they’re silly, stupid decisions that I should have thought out more thoroughly.

    Happy Friday! 😀

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jenna –
      don’t feel scummy – it’s not like you robbed a liquor store, now!
      it’s OK to return things to stores after using them. just think if it as a test run, no? hahahah.
      wal-mart is exceptionally good at taking back all kinds of items – even a dog crate once. a used dog crate. i did clean it first!
      happy friday!! heck ya! to you, too.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Okay okay, I won’t feel scummy…seeing as how there are worse people out there (robbing banks and houses and such). 😛

        HAHA Yes, as a former employee of Walmart, it has definitely been the victim of many of my devious returns, including that printer ink cartridge. Another time, I bought a pair of nice shoes from Ross, wore them to an interview (had to look nice now!), and returned them later that day. At first, they didn’t want to take them back because they looked “used” but I told them that’s how they were when I bought them.  They gave me back my money without further question. Muahaha!

      • Rynski says:

        yaay! add ROSS to the list of stores that will take back all kinds of stuff – hahah.
        i’ve actually found some really good things in ross, after thinking they were a stinky store. my beau got the coolest watering can shaped like a pig.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Ross is pretty decent, I once found a really cute dress for $3.50. Didn’t return that one though… haha 🙂

      • Rynski says:

        any dress for $3.50 is a keeper – even if it doesn’t fit – hahahha (why do i always end up with crap that doesn’t fit?)

  3. leftfield says:

    Here’s another thought about saving money: Don’t buy Mr. Villareal’s book, steal it instead! 

  4. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Rynski: Are you kidding Ferrari Bubba? Let me count the ways:
    1. While living in Hawaii, pretending I was a paying tourist and attending all the hotel luaus that I could find. It never failed.
    2. While working for Hearst in L.A., bluffing my way into everything from Rock Concerts (back stage parties too) to Grand Openings (if they had a free buffett and a hosted bar) with only my Her-Ex time card, a Nikon SLR, and a good line of BS.
    3. Using the Hearst $Million Dollar photo reproduction equipment to counterfeit weekend RV Parking Passes and regular passes for Auto Races, etc, turned into a very lucrative hobby too.
    4. Making Good friends with the Her-Ex Financial Editor, who would buy a stock listed on the PCSE on the cheap, then tout it in his column on the Financial Opener, wait for it to go up, then sell for a tidy profit.
    That is until the SEC came in one day and told him that if he didn’t stop NOW, instead of spending some time shopping at Woolworth, he’d be doing 20 years hard labor in Levenworth. I got a new Porsche and a 4-plex in L.A. out of that friendship. <g>
    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. . .
    Uncle Wilber, RIP, taught me well.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • Rynski says:

      ferrari bubba – YOU should write a book!
      those are definitely twisted ways to get some cash – but not a bad haul, that porsche and four-plex!
      i noticed sneaking into events is often not that difficult – you just have to look like you know where you’re going and are supposed to be there.
      one of my friends who used to do plant maintenance for companies would be let in ANYWHERE as long as he came around carrying a watering can (and the place happened to have plants). that’s a good ploy, too. “i’m here to water the plants” could be used for gallery openings to VIP parties – and then some! hahah.
      luaus must be a blast – but not as fun as thrift stores – hahah

  5. Carolyn Classen says:

    A former friend of mind used to pretend to buy videos & DVDs at Bookman’s used bookstores, view them and then return them within a week. What a scam, would never have thought of that.  I’ve heard of Villareal’s book but never read it.  Am shocked that he would advocate  purchasing a ticket for a specific movie, then sneak into others for free–especially for a guy who used to be a newspaper movie critic.

    • Rynski says:

      hi carolyn,
      maybe that’s how he got into all those movies to review them? hahahah.
      i do think some of the tips are – hopefully! – not meant to be followed (i.e. bringing injured dog to pound for free medical care) – but rather to give us a chuckle.
      i did not ask, however, if he owned a dog – hahahhah

  6. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Carolyn: You’ve got to be kidding me? an honest newspaperman? No way, Jose.
    I never told my poor old mother that went into the newspaper racket. It would have broken her heart.
    I always told her that I was one of the piano players up at the Mustang Ranch in Nevada. She thought that was a much more honorable calling in life.
    But as far as careers go, I always wanted to be a doctor. A proctologyst as a matter of fact, as I’ve always had a strange interest in azzholes.
    In fact, I was taking pre-med course of studies in preparation for that very same career until my Old Man, one day sat me down and said, “Son, if you like being around azzholes all day, forget proctology, I’ll guarantee that you’ll see more azzholes in a newspaper in one day than you will see in the biggest proctology clinic in a week.”
    And you know, in my 44+ year career as a newsman, he was dead-nutz on.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • Carolyn Classen says:

      Well, not only newspapermen sneak into “extra” film showings.  I know a few souls in this very town who get a free movie preview pass, then stay on for more movie viewing.  Seems unethical to me, but that’s because I won’t do it. And I also know someone who enters deceased people’s names in contests to win more goodies in life.  Shameful.  It usually works as most times she doesn’t have to show any I.D to pick up a prize. Now that’s a unique way to save $.

  7. Karen Nelson says:

    Wow. Unbelievable. I guess I really am naive to think that most people are honest and ethical. I can’t believe Mr. Villareal thinks this is a good thing to put out there to the masses. But, it seems by what I have read here, that most people don’t even need his book to find ways to cheat the system and all of us people out there trying to do the right thing. Make no mistake, what you are doing not only cheats “the man” but also all of us. We all pay in the way of more expense and more restrictions just because others have no ethics.
    I am not usually a goody two-shoes type, but lack of ethics and doing things that hurt others is where I draw the line… Just my humble opinion.

  8. leftfield says:

    I kind of suspected that there was humorous intent based on the title, but I wasn’t really sure.  Thinking about it, I realized how uncomfortable even contemplating the common practice of buying something, using it, and then returning it, made me.  I think I would probably get up to the customer service desk and end up confessing my sin.  I guess I can thank my parents for that.  Thanks, Mom.  Thanks, Dad. 

    • Ferraribubba says:

      Hey Lefty: Congratulations. You’re in good Company. Both Lenin and Uncle Joe felt the same way.
      But of course they didn’t have any quams about starving 20 million or so men, women, and children to death in the Ukraine, did they?
      Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

      • leftfield says:

        Dear FB, I believe we’ve been over this before.  Out of respect for your advanced age and diminished capacities, I will go over one more time.  Read it slowly; take a break if you need one. 

        I am a fan of V.I. Lenin, both for his efforts in the Russian Revolution and his writings (especially that concerning the nature of the relationship between advanced capitalist societies and imperialism).  Lenin’s victims were counter-revolutionaries,members and lackeys of the monarchy, white army fighters; all your basic criminal types.  Like so many western movie characters, “He never killed anyone that didn’t need killing”.  It’s like your good friend Fidel said, “Within The Revolution, everything.  Outside of The Revolution, nothing”. 

        As to Uncle Joe, just like his namesake Sheriff Joe, the world would have been a lot better without him.  Since the death of Lenin and the exile of Trotsky, the USSR has not been a socialist nation.  “There is no democracy without socialism, and there is no socialism without democracy”.

        This reminds me.  Tomorrow is the date of the protest against our mutual friend Joe Arpaio.  Can we count on your support?

    • radmax says:

      I know what you mean. I get very uncomfortable returning an item, I figure if I was dumb enough to buy it, I just have to live and learn from the experience…unless it really is a shabbily made piece of junk.

      • leftfield says:

        Maybe you’re more of a commie than you know, Rad.  After all, we are the original hard-working, honest, family values guys.

  9. Ferraribubba says:

    One last one for ya, Rynski: I worked in the Old Pueblo with a guy whose parents (from the Old Country) owned a small ‘Mom & P0p Grocery Store in town.
    They’d unseal every loaf of bread after it came in, take one slice out, and reseal it for sale.
    I guess that’s the way they ran the whole household because payroll was always after him to cash his checks. Sometimes he would go 4 or 5 months without doing it.
    That’s giving the word ‘frugal’ a whole new meaning.
    BTW, when he got married, he just paid cash for the house that he had built.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

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