Since starting the new job I've been trying to find out every little way I can save money by using discounts through the company I work with. I usually work within the telecommunication industry and with that I receive whatever item they sell for free or at a greatly reduced price. Additionally,  they have connections with other companies that provide discounts for computers, car rentals, hotels and other telecommunications.

One item I found was free cellphone service, I had to pay for the smart-phone I wanted but after crunching the numbers, including cost of the phone and cost of the termination fee with the other company, as long as I worked at my current job for 4 months I would be ahead financially. Then every month following it would be a savings of $70 from my budget.

After speaking with some other employees I found out that Costco had a deal going with the gym I go to. Currently I pay $30 a month, but with a membership at Costco, I could pay $300 up front for a two year membership to the gym. I don't have a membership to Costco yet, so that initial investment would be $350, still a savings of $370 over the course of 2 years. That works out to 14.58 a month instead of the $30 (no contract) I pay now.

And while looking to see if my company has any deals with Costco I found the following: Buy an initial membership and receive free - Rotisserie chicken, 2-lb bag of coffee, 35/16.9oz of Costco brand water.  The coffee and chicken sound good  and since I hope to purchase a bike and ride to work to save even more money, the water bottles would be handy as I ride.
The initial investment in the bike will be hard to handover but I have to remember that after crunching numbers, it will pay off after 6 months based solely on gas prices at 3.20 a gallon and minor upkeep on the car(s).  And who knows how much more I may bike ride for errands and general exercise. But I'm still going to hang onto my gym, I've found I like to workout around people to keep me motivated.

Can redemptions: Here in Colorado we don't have can redemptions like in Iowa, where I grew up and you got back 5¢ for each can, after paying for the deposit on the front end. Surprisingly, I see that the cans here in Colorado have the redemption labeling on them, which is a necessity to get your money back in Iowa. Now this is what I'm thinking and I want your help in determining if I'm being unethical.
I was going to save up all the cans I come across and then bring them home to Iowa  and get the 5¢ a can for them since I was already in Iowa, even though I didn't pay the deposit upfront. I would easily get more money from the cans than if I took them to a recycler locally (which is 45 min away)  It probably won't be more than a few dollars, but the amount shouldn't matter in the course of the discussion.
Do you think this is a good or bad idea and why?


  1. Andy // Monday, February 28, 2011 6:21:00 AM  

    Not only would returning your bottles and cans to Iowa be unethical, but it is also illegal. The states usually pay out that refund, so you are technically taking money from the state. There were a few people from Ohio that were arrested recently for trying this in Michigan.

  2. Squirrel Saver // Monday, February 28, 2011 6:26:00 AM  

    Keep in mind that the Costco 2 year pass is valid only at 24 Hr Fitnesses at the Sport and lower levels (Fit-Lite, Express, Active). The Costco pass can't be used at the Super Sport or Ultra Sport gyms. Also keep in mind that 24hr Fitness sometimes closes and renovates Sports and below gyms then reopens them as Super Sports.

  3. Anonymous // Monday, February 28, 2011 7:08:00 AM  

    I think the can idea is smart! Cash is cool. Congrats on the new job! When did you start?


  4. Anonymous // Monday, February 28, 2011 7:19:00 AM  

    Sorry Dawn! I just went back in the archives and found your job announcement. Congrats again!


  5. Anonymous // Monday, February 28, 2011 7:38:00 AM  

    You can redemption idea is illegal. This story comes from different states but the laws are likely similar...

  6. KH // Monday, February 28, 2011 8:52:00 AM  

    Oh I never thought about checking with Costco to see if I could get a discount on my gym membership. I'm already a Costco member for my business so I wouldn't even have to factor in the extra cost of joining. Thanks for the tip! :)

  7. Jill // Monday, February 28, 2011 9:28:00 AM  

    Interesting post.
    I hope you consider used and reconditioned bikes. I got one much cheaper than a new bike.

    As for the cans, I'm also originally from Iowa and now living in a state without can redemption deposit/payments. PERSONALLY I don't take cans home when I drive since as you noted, the redemption is from the deposits paid up front and it would bother me ethically to be reimbursed for a deposit I didn't pay. Cans sold in other states didn't have that deposit paid on them. On the otherhand, there are cans in Iowa that don't get returned even after the deposit is paid so the state probably would not be out any money.

  8. Kim // Monday, February 28, 2011 11:52:00 AM  

    Oh gosh! I don't know the laws in your state, but I know here in Michigan, returning out-of-state cans, even with the stamp on them, is illegal. At least check and see what the laws are first... wouldn't want to see you get in trouble!

  9. Ashley // Monday, February 28, 2011 12:29:00 PM  

    I don't think the can thing is unethical, but it might not be worth the space that cans take up, and there will likely be more than a few that a store won't take simply because they don't sell that brand. That might mean going to multiple stores to try to take them back.

    I live in Michigan, and while working a college job on campus, my boyfriend and I would raid garbage cans and recycling bins for cans. We had $25+ nights on some of the bigger football weekends. It became non-trivial additional income and the job had no problem with us doing it (maintenance; we were emptying those bins anyway).

  10. michael s // Monday, February 28, 2011 6:53:00 PM  

    Here's my rule of thumb, "If you have to ask if it is unethical, it is". Kind of like "If the deal sounds too good to be true, it is."

  11. Loretta // Monday, February 28, 2011 7:57:00 PM  

    I do not have a problem or find it unethical for you to take the cans to IA for redemption. The important thing is that they are being recycled.

  12. Anonymous // Monday, February 28, 2011 8:09:00 PM  

    I believe it is actually illegal to cross state lines to get deposits on cans.

  13. krantcents // Wednesday, March 02, 2011 5:49:00 PM  

    Good idea to check out the deals! All these benefits end up being golden handcuffs tying you even more securely to your job and company. There is nothing wrong with that, just recognize it for what it is.

  14. PBS // Wednesday, March 02, 2011 9:50:00 PM  

    The can deposit thing is probably not a good idea, in my opinion. It's a hassle for a tiny bit of money and there might be some way they could determine where the cans were purchased. But maybe you're more curious whether or not you COULD get the deposit refund with out-of-state cans. It is an interesting question!

  15. Leona Liu // Thursday, March 03, 2011 6:47:00 AM  

    Hey.. I really enjoy your site and I think its very inspiring to for me to encourage some frugality in my life. Thanks for that.

    However for the can refunds, I've never been the type to do that. Certain things I will have to outweigh the costs vs. the benefits and that is definitely one of them. Instead of going to return my beer/liquor bottles from after throwing a party, I just leave it on the front porch for a homeless person to take (it's my small way of giving back) and I don't have to spend the time to go to the beerstore/grocer, and then spend the time trying to rid the smell out of my car.

    I'd much rather spend my Saturday afternoons just enjoying my time off so I have a better mood and more energy to attack my week.

  16. techwriter // Friday, March 04, 2011 11:59:00 AM  

    Take the cans to Iowa and recycle them. Good for the environment and money in your pocket. The downside is that you can't crush them. I grew up in Cedar Rapids, and my mom would save the soda (pop) carton and then put the empties back in the carton as she drank the soda. I assume you'd be driving to Iowa, so the cans would take up space. I now live in Texas. We have curb-pickup of recycling, but we crush our cans and take them to aluminum recycling place instead. It used to be a "fun" way for our kids to get money, but we kept doing it after they grew up. The downside of that is the smell of the bags of crushed cans if someone didn't rinse theirs out, not to mention being an ant attraction.

  17. Dawn // Tuesday, March 08, 2011 4:36:00 PM  

    Thank you for your input on the cans, I had decided after thinking about it all that it wasn't a good idea and as was said before, when in doubt - don't it.

    @Squirrel Saver
    Thanks for the head's up on the type of gyms they are valid at. Currently I only have the sport level. And you make a good point about the renovations. Thank you again!

  18. Hammy // Saturday, March 26, 2011 6:03:00 AM  

    Dawn, I wouldn't let the can deposit worry you. Somebody has paid the deposit somewhere along the line. Does anyone seriously think that the cans are the deposit amount cheaper in a neighbouring state that doesn't legally charge the deposit? How is it that the State pays the refund - isn't it a tax charged and administered by the drink companies?

  19. Rockergal // Tuesday, August 14, 2012 2:27:00 PM  

    $30 a month! That's a waste of money! I pay $18 a week and can't keep going with my memebership cheaper to workout from home I get motatvation from Youtube. Youtube workout videros has saved me a lot of money. Some of your saving money ideas suck.