Dumpster Diving, Stealing, and Eating Costco Samples: The 10 'Brokest Things' Redditors Have Ever Done

Urban Poverty


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Urban Poverty

Broke as a Joke

Despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, a staggering 40% of Americans find it somewhat or very difficult to pay their bills, according to a United States Census survey from earlier this year. With such a large contingent of the country barely making ends meet, it’s unsurprising that even Redditors — a typically affluent group — shared that they’ve eaten food out of dumpsters and stolen to scrape by, according to a recent r/AskReddit thread. We’ve highlighted several stories from that thread to spotlight the realities of poverty in America.

Passengers Boarding a City Bus

Paying for Bus Fare With (Stolen) Pennies

“I was subletting a place and needed bus fare to get to work that day, so I searched every couch cushion and coat pocket in the hopes that I could find enough to get there,” one Redditor shares. Even after tearing apart the apartment, they were 30 cents short — but the bus driver had mercy on them and let them on with a cheaper transfer ticket. Later that day, a generous tipper left $5 for their coffee. “I've never been so happy in my life,” they write.

Assorted Bagels

‘Stealing’ From ‘Mitzvah Tanks’

It’s the early 2000s in Manhattan’s garment district. You’re young, you’re broke, and you’re hungry. So what do you do? One Redditor says they took advantage of “Mitzvah Tanks,” aka “mobile synagogues” that serve bagels. “I would go in 3x a week and get bagels,” they write. Luckily, the Rabbi was gracious when he caught the bagel thief, telling them simply to say hello next time. “You don’t have to act like a thief trying not to get caught,” he added.

Man worried while talking on the smartphone
FG Trade/istockphoto

Calling in Sick

At a certain point, you're so broke that it makes financial sense to skip work, one Redditor explains. How? If you only have enough money to drive to work once more, you’re better off waiting until payday, they explain.

dumpster diver

Dumpster Diving

One Redditor said that they raided a Hostess bakery dumpster for day-old goodies that were “still packaged.” When they’d come home with the spoils, it would brighten their elderly mother’s day. “She had lived through the depression and couldn't believe it was thrown out. Such a treat,” the commenter writes.

Self Checkout
Self Checkout by thekirbster (CC BY)

Buying Ramen Noodles With Four Different Cards

When you’re broke, you end up learning little idiosyncrasies. For instance: Did you know that you can make partial payments with multiple debit cards at Walmart's self-checkout? That’s what one Redditor was driven to do to buy a case of ramen. Each of their accounts “had less than a dollar” left.

Traveling on a motorcycle on the roads

Driving Without Headlights

“My motorcycle headlight broke, so I started riding around with a flashlight in my mouth,” one top comment reads. “I was young, and very, very dumb.” This should go without saying, but in case you’re also young and dumb, don’t try this at home.

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Lottery Montage

Playing the Lottery

Playing the lottery while you’re broke is quite possibly the worst thing you can do with your money. But if you’re young, optimistic, a little stupid, and need money for Christmas presents, it sort of makes sense — at least it did to this Redditor. Surprisingly enough, it paid off. “I didn’t want anyone to think I had money problems at the time so I spent $10 on a scratcher and won $500,” they write, adding that it was enough for “car insurance and presents.”

Related: Why You Should Never Play the Lottery

Samples @ Costco
Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr
Bicycle accident

Refusing Medical Care After an Accident

Unless you’re wealthy, healthcare in this country is abysmal. It’s so terrible and expensive that one Redditor had to refuse medical care after getting hit by a car.

Related: The Secret to Negotiating a Lower Medical Bill

A male shoplifter stealing some expensive gourmet cheese in a supermarket