Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ways 2 $ave (That you may not have thought of.)

Ahh, it is becoming a scary world out there-full of uncertainty, high prices, and questions without answers. This was brought home to me the other day when I stopped to chat with a neighbor who was walking down the street. This gentleman neighbor of mine is a retired banker who’s world view is pretty similar to those people who stand on the street corner holding the sign that reads, “THE WORLD IS GOING TO HELL. REPENT NOW!”
“So,” he says to me. “Looks like the world is going to end since they didn’t pass the (first) economic reform bill.”
“Oh they didn’t?” I reply. “I hadn’t heard the lastest. I’ve been working on the computer all day.”
“And you didn’t tune into the news? Yep, it didn’t pass. I hope you have a gun.”
“A gun?” I ask.
“Yeah, to protect yourself when the people start coming for your money and land. ‘Cause they’re going to come.”
(Chuckling a uncomfortably because I’m not quite sure if he is serious…) “Oh, I have my husband to protect me.”
“You’re gonna need more than that,” he replies.

Well, so maybe I will. While we are not members of the NRA, we do own a gun. All you friends and family who covet my stuff better keep your distance. I took shooting lessons from Sarah.

But that got me thinking. The atmosphere has changed. I can no longer go shopping and experience that silly rush to my head, that dizzy-buzzed feeling I get when I spend money. Oh, I still spend it, but that warm fuzzy feeling I used to have, has been replaced by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I really shouldn’t be here, really shouldn’t be buying this beaded pumpkin placemat, should instead be at home churning my own butter and learning how to sew my own clothes. As if the changes in my shopping habits weren’t enough, I now can no longer enjoy my second life’s passion: eating chocolate. Now I am reading the back of all packages that may perhaps contain any type of milk or milk by-products while simultaneously looking for the words “Made in China.” Us Americans are happy to support their economy by purchasing a million items from the 99 cents store, but now we’re dying or getting sick doing it. I suppose that age-old adage about no free lunch really isn’t bunk.

For those of you (including myself) who are now on a spending freeze, and rationing out the oreos to make them last longer, I have come up with a few new ways to save money that you may not have thought of. 4 easy ways to cut back and spend less.

#1: Stop Shaving
While at Costco the other week I needed razor cartridges, and focusing on the 25 options to choose from, was engrossed in making sure I bought the appropriate razorhead for my razor. After chucking it into the cart, referenced the price, and immediately pulled it back out of the cart as if diseased. Surely there was a typo: surely a 10-pack of razor cartridges does not cost $40. Surely. I use the real razor as opposed to the disposable because it was one way to try being “green,” but there are no cost breaks for the earth-consious consumer. $40 could by me a cart full of produce, pay my cell phone bill, save 40 kids in some third-world country, or purchase all my Christmas gifts from the 99 cents store. In fact, I could probably purchase a small microwave for that amount, strip the metal off and have my husband use his band saw to slice teeny-tiny rectangles off for me to build 1,000 of my own razors. I don’t get the marketing frenzy. It’s not as if hair doesn’t grow back. It’s not like Gillette or Venus has to think, “Hurry, jack that price up, they may never shave again.” I think razors should be more like cigarettes. Those companies know how to keep prices relatively low. You can get 200 cigarettes per carton, at about $37.00 per carton. That’s 200 hits of perfect (if cancer causing) lovin’, to my measly 10 razor heads. In fact, if I stopped shaving and took up smoking, I would still save money. In addition to the financial facts, refusing to shave would send the world a message that it’s really all vanity anyway. We should be focusing on the character of a person, not whether or not they have a beard, 5 o’clock shadow, canine legs or a toupe under their arm. Smooth skin is overrated. And expensive. Stop shaving and you’ll save a bundle.

#2: Go Vegetarian
Another big money sucker is flesh. No, not the illegal-can’t-tell-your-wife-about-it kind; the big mammals that humans have decided should be food. I’m not a big carnivore by nature anyway, but I do enjoy my husband’s BBQ ribs and a juicy hamburger on occasion. Again, I tend to purchase my meat at Costco, because I refuse to pay $10 for three small boneless, skinless, chicken boobs. In fact, there is probably more meat on my sagging-nursed-three-children chest than the average poultry knocker. Most grocery stores average $4.99 a pound for chicken (not on sale of course), but at Costco you can get 8 packages of chicken breasts (2-3 boobs each) for about $20.00. Now twenty bucks to most is not a big deal. I have gone through twenties like tossing pennies in a fountain; not remembering what is was I even spent it on. Things like lunch money I didn’t get the change from, pizza delivery and tip, a gratuity for the newspaper guy, a Starbucks, a donut, a quality hamburger for the kids on the way home from ball practice. But $20 will still buy a decent amount of produce, and pasta pasta pasta. A couple 5lb bags of potatoes. Those starches really do stretch the food budget. Skip meat altogether, save your money and your colon. Now there’s a strategy a person could really get behind.

#3: Buy a Cow
Not just for the dairy farmer any longer, owning a cow is now a possibility for even those square-footage-challenged dwellers. According to, owning a dairy cow has never been easier. This answers the question, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” because a gallon of milk is now just under four dollars. Not free in the least. While forking over the $2,000-$3,000 for your initial heifer investment may seem tough to stomach, it has many cost saving benefits in the long run. You never have to buy milk again. Cream for your coffee? Hang on, let me squirt that for you. Butter for your toast? Keep rolling that little glass jar back and forth on the table. (It doubles as entertainment.) Need sour cream for those veggie nachos? The milk under the water heater is just for you. Make your own yogurt, cream fraise, whipped cream and artisnal chocolate. You’ll be the Bree Vandecamp of your neighborhood-loved by one and all; not just for your farm fresh goodness, negative carbon-printing foot and green world view, but also your exotic house pet. Did I mention all these products are melamine free?? No label reading needed.
But what about space? What about mess?

You’ll be glad to know that even those who live in apartments can own their own dairy cow. According to the above website, their “Apartment Friendly cows are bread to be 2/3 size (about the size of a large doberman) and make great watch cows, too!” You can now cancel your ADT home security contract with a clear conscious and save additional dollars. In the event an intruder were to make a midnight visit to your home, they’ll no doubt take a time-out to investigate your new pet. While they are doing that the cow’s mooing will alarm you to an unwelcome guest, and just when the intruder squats down to squirt a little la leche goodness into his/her mouth (because even illegal activity makes a person thirsty) they will get a swift kick to the head, knocking them unconscious. Heavy sleeper? No worries! When the intruder regains consciousness and leaves, your little bovine will have left a hoof mark that noone could mistake. Safety on so many levels! The mess is no issue either, as you can also purchase their “environmentally friendly waste converter and power your home on the dung your cow produces each day!” Another savings! Is there no end?? Why don’t we all own cows?

#4: Put you and your family on self-imposed house arrest.
The benefit of self-imposing this sanction, is the absence of those clumsy ankle monitors. You now have one-up on Martha Stewart, and she has everything. There will be an occasion where you will have to go to the market to replenish the food stores and toilet paper. Outside of these times, here is a brief listing of the benefits:

  • If your children do not go to birthday parties, you do not have to purchase presents.
  • No playdates means you do not provide snacks and therefore save on your food bill.
  • No trips to Target or Walmart alone save at least a hundred per trip.
  • Not going anywhere means no driving, which means, no gas, no emissions, no greenhouse effects, no used oil waste, no containers of Wet Ones used to clean up vehicle vomit.
  • Not going shopping means no new clothes-which forces you to recycle the ones you have, patch the holes, and add lengthening fringe around hems. Recycling clothes will put less trash in the landfills, let some poor village 8 year-old go home and play for once, and reduce the amount of dyes and fabric sizing that gets dumped into our water systems each year.

What about work? you ask. And school?
Work is overrated. No doubt they aren’t paying you what you’re worth, and because of our depressed economic state you’ll probably end up losing your job anyway. Don’t fret about this though, because you’ll be collecting unemployment wages, which aren’t much, but if you follow some of these above mentioned cash-saving ideas, will be more than enough to get by. It’s okay to send the kids to public school, but make sure they walk and bring their lunch. It’s a free day of babysitting, giving you and your spouse time to rekindle that spark, ignited so many years ago. This saves on marriage counseling bills, and since you aren’t driving anywhere forces you to stay at home and work on communication.

You see friend, I have your best interest at heart. Sure, canceling the cable or downsizing your long-distance package with your cell phone carrier are good ideas. But they’ll only take you so far. These ideas are for those looking for even more ways to cut back, spend less and save the earth. As mom used to say,
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a divine bovine idea! You are moooving me to be more frugal! Keep up the good work.