Today’s economy is tough.  Even the billion dollar bank businesses are asking for a hand-out, but with some creative thinking there are ways to save even in these rougher financial times.  These 10 tips are meant to be taken half seriously, but could end up saving you a good chunk of change.

Smoking Butts

I saw a man picking butts up off the ground at the park the other day.  Smoking is a gross habit that many people are addicted to, but that doesn’t mean you should be picking butts out of ashtrays or off the ground to save a few bucks.  Depending on where you live, a pack of smokes can cost you upwards of $7,  so it’s easy to understand why the people in the park are picking butts up off the ground.  Then again, maybe they’re just keeping the park clean, but I doubt it.

Car Engine Cooking

If you’re fortunate enough to have a car that is, your engine is a great source of heat that can easily be harnessed for cooking.  When going from point A to Point B, why not go ahead and have your meal prepared by your car just in time for arrival.

Here’s a Car Engine Cookbook called Manifold Destiny, the self-proclaimed One and Only car engine cookbook.

Free Rent…a.k.a. Camping

There are hundreds of campgrounds across the United States where camping with a tent is absolutely free, usually on state or government land.  There are dozens of guides out that do list free campgrounds, but if the economy is slumping, and you can’t find a place to sleep other than in your car/oven, then I doubt you’d be buying a guide, or have the cash to get gas.

Rest Areas

Most states allow sleeping in their rest areas, as long as you are in a vehicle.  I have traveled all across the United States more than once and have been quite content pulling into a rest area for some much needed shut-eye.  Only once have I ever been asked to move by a police officer, and that was in New Jersey when I was parked on a bridge.  I must have been extremely tired.  It looked like a parking space to me.  Don’t leave home without first checking out the Rest Area Guide to the United States and Canada.

Another great place is CouchSurfing.org.  Who says you have to be travelling to hitch a couch for a night?

Bus Tours on the Cheap

If you happen to get bounced out of a town for vagrancy and find yourself in a new locality, why not put some spare change to work and hop on a city bus for a tour of your new found home?  For about fifty cents, you can most likely get a good look at your new digs from the inside of a city bus.  If you’re really interested you can spring for the ten cent transfer and get another slice of the city, possibly scoping out some thrift shops and a soup kitchen or two.

Soup Kitchens

Most towns have a soup kitchen that’s available to anyone at all.  There are probably half a dozen that I can think of within ten miles or so of my home.  I don’t frequent them, but I have seen the gatherings when it’s time for dinner to be served.  If you’re in need of a hot meal, and you can make it to a soup kitchen, I think it’s the way to go.  Most are subsidized by local grocery stores, churches, and local organizations.

Dumpster Diving

Dumpster diving is similar to riding a moped, we’ve all done it but no one wants to admit to it.  There are lots of great treasures to be had in dumpsters.  Try your hand at dumpsters behind department stores, electronics stores, and even furniture stores.  Just one good item that’s been tossed could bring you a pretty penny from a pawn shop.  The pawn broker doesn’t need to know that the printer is broken, or that the chair you brought in isn’t an antique.  Just collect your cash, say have a nice day, I’ll see you when the first payment is due, and head on out.  He’s just going to sell it anyway.

Act the Part

It’s getting warm out now, and in our local park there is no shortage of free entertainment.  There’s a man on a bench daily that plays the banjo, a one-man band that dances a funny jig, and sometimes the city will even hire entertainment for the pedestrians.  If you have a particular flair for music, singing, dancing, or the hot new thing, Live Tweets!, then get yourself an old hat, throw it down next to a banjo-playin’ hobo, and get to it.

After scoring a few dollars, and with a hot meal in your belly from the soup kitchen or from your own cars engine, then you can afford that book on free campgrounds.

Free Entertainment

Now that you’ve been the entertainment, it’s time to get yours.  Libraries and book stores offer a great source of  free entertainment.  Heck, some bookstores even have nice comfy chairs to fall asleep in for hours at a time. Many libraries now offer free internet access, book readings, and even movies are shown once a week.  I would highly recommend you use these free sources of entertainment, but beware their cafe’.  They are extremely overpriced, but you may be able to score a sample if the Barista is in a good mood.  The “I forgot my wallet” should probably work.

Check out HoboModo Daily

Frequent the HoboModo section of  GizModo’s DealzModo Gadget Deals of the Day online.  There is no better source for the locations of free services, products, and eats. Why just yesterday, there was a coupon code for a free 8×10 photo from Walgreens, a free 2-Piece Grilled Chicken Meal at KFC, and a free magazine subscription.  If you don’t care for the magazine, get it anyway.  It could come in handy for kindling, padding for your refrigerator box bed, or to shoo flies away from the dumpster while you dive for goodies.

Do your local hobos a favor and keep a few printed folded up copies of this list in your pocket when you go to the city center or local park and throw one in the hat when you pass by.  You might just be giving them some much needed information.  A dollar or two wouldn’t hurt either.