Monday, July 13, 2009

A few things I learned coming up in The Depression

. .
A friend of mine has decided to start pinching her pennies. Something about the economy . . . blah blah blah. My ears glazed over at that point. All that economy stuff. Bor-ring. Anyhoo, she asked for some tips to help her save money. Why she's asking me I don't know. I'm not an especially frugal person. It just happens that some of my character traits end up inadvertently saving money, so I guess people confuse that with frugality. Perfectly normal things, like:

1. Patience: Most people just can't keep it in their pants. (I'm talking about their wallets, Mom. You have such a dirty mind.) They have to have the latest greatest thing yesterday. I'm good with tomorrow. Or some time after Thanksgiving. Where's the fire, people? If you can just hold tight for a few months, the movie's exactly the same at the fifty cent matinee as it was in the fancy schmancy first-run theater for $8.50. They don't change the ending or cut out the dirty parts or anything. All they cut out is $8.00. And the cleaning staff.

You can also take advantage of off season or off hour bargains. Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, for example, offers a P.M. Swim at about half the rate of going during the day. So there's a little more pee in the pool. There are also fewer UV rays in the air. A little pee in your mouth is a small price to pay to avoid skin cancer.

2. Humility: I had a really sweet car for a few years there and you know what, it only raised my insurance, not my self-esteem. If you get off on driving a status symbol, bully for you. We all have to do what makes us happy. But at our house, we park our hubris at the door and drive away in these:

Combined they cost under $9,000, cash. That's a lot of leftover latte money. If I bought lattes.

3. Pragmatism: This is my husband's cell phone:

He lovingly calls it his Phonosaurus Rex. I think his mom got it for him in case he ran out of gas driving to the prom. She's good like that.

This is my cell phone:

Because whatever you have to say to me, it can wait till I get home. (See item #1 above.)

4. Stamina: Malls are for pussies. Everything you need, reliably and attractively arranged in one place for your shopping convenience? Hell, where's the challenge in that? I don't mean to brag, but it takes an intrepid shopper to completely outfit a family, equip a house, and satisfy every gift-giving obligation from Christmas to Mother's Day out of the discarded crap strangers toss on their lawns every Saturday morning.

That, my friend, is dedication.

5. Courage: Before I added a hyphen to my last name and a dependent to my W-2, I was a free spirit in more ways than one. There were years when I traveled back and forth across the continent without benefit of airfare. Sadly, the days of creative travel are probably gone forever, at least for me. Instead of trying to stowaway on a plane or in a stranger's car, you might settle for stowing cocktails into places that would prefer to sell them to you for roughly the price of airfare. Might I suggest . . .

For the lady:

Or the popular unisex Beer Belly:

If neither of these solutions appeals to you, I can also recommend simply removing the vacuum pouch of your favorite wine from its box and slipping it into an emptied sixteen ounce Cheetos bag. Shhh . . . it's our little secret.

6. Adventurousness: I don't even want to know what you people are forking over for your fancy pool memberships. I personally can't imagine a bigger waste of money when there's a perfectly refreshing creek just right down yonder. And as long as we're out of there before sundown, we hardly ever see any Cottonmouths.

7. Tolerance: People have gotten too soft. Everybody's all comfort this and pleasure that. It would do us all good to toughen up a bit. I say, if it's 95° outside, 90° should feel pretty good by contrast. So there's just no reason to set the thermostat any cooler than that. You know those drastic temperature swings are nothing but bad for you, right? And in winter, there's no law that says you can't wear your coat and hat inside. Set that thing at 50 and find somebody to snuggle. Al Gore thanks you.

8. Traditionalism: I like electricity. I'm a big fan of sliced bread. And I'd totally like to shake the hand of whoever invented indoor plumbing, figuratively of course. But there's one convenience modern Americans can't seem to live without that I just can't wrap my head around:

$8.18? For water? Not a month's worth of showers and clean clothes and tended lawns, but three bottles. Of water. If I'm paying $8.18 for three bottles of something, then I better be drunk by the time I finish them. Otherwise, I must have been drunk when I bought them.

9. I'm sorry. I really intended to come up with a nice round ten for you, but I just have to stop now. Like most people these days, we generate our own electricity by peddling an exercise bike and my thighs are killing me here. Why don't you guys take over and do the next two. I could actually use a few tips to start saving money. It's not really something I've ever thought about.



klindsey said...

Hey Susan! I just wanted to say thanks for giving me another computer addiction!!!! I just found out you have a blog...another thing to keep me from my "real" life!

bloorondo said...

Love the new, improved title.

And you.

Susan said...

Thanks, Kathy! But don't worry; I'm pretty lazy. I'll only take up about five minutes a week, tops. :-)

Amy B. said...

You can get stuffed on Saturdays on the free food samples at Sam's.

Amy B. said...

And BTW, the beer belly guy is sexy. Thanks for that.

Tanya said...

Now THIS is information we can use! I am so weary of all the budget crunching articles that recommend the things I've been doing for years. I think I will have to look into the wine rack. I would never have to leave the couch on movie night.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget sneaking snacks and booze into the movies. Like when we sneaked 3 Mike's Hard Lemonade into the bottle pouches of my old diaper bag and a huge bag of popcorn (with a scarf draped carelessly over the top to hide the bulges), you brought an assortment of chocolates and Karen brought a hunk of fancy cheese with a knife and small cutting board. You said that next time we'll sneak in a crock pot....

Susie Q.