You probably have a container or display unit somewhere in your house with beautiful books you haven’t touched in years. You are proud when a guest or date remarks on your growing collection, a monument to the intelligent person you could have become. Today’s life tip will smash down that monument and turn you into a more practical person that does not waste trees or money.
When I want to read a book, I do not purchase it. I go to the bookstore, find it on the shelf, and start reading. When I am done with a session after an hour or so I take out my notepad and write down what page I’m on. When I return, I grab the book again (I already know where it is) and repeat the process until I finish it. I have most recently done this with Blink, Freakonomics, and Purple Cow. I recently started on Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
There are four advantages of my mooch system:
1. It’s free. Bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders are so large and impersonal that you are not spotted as a moocher. Money saved a year = $400 (two books a month).
2. It forces you to only read the best. You are surrounded with so many good options that you never have to commit yourself to a bad book. Your time in the bookstore is limited so you don’t want to waste it.
3. It allows you to pretend you have a life by getting out of the house. Plus you can stare at that one hot girl employee who stocks the travel section by going up and down those step-stool things. And then she bends over to add the new Fodors edition of Western Europe and you can just make out that she is wearing Victoria’s Secret underwear.
4. Access to sweets. Mediocre espresso drinks and baked goods trucked in from a mystery factory are just a few feet away.
I do have principles: I return the book to the shelf when I’m done and am very careful not to damage the book. If I really like the book I will buy it so the author can be rewarded for his or her work. This hasn’t happened yet but I’m sure it will some day.
I would borrow books from the library, but have you noticed the condition they’re in? You know some dude was reading that copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad in the bathroom after jerking off. No thanks.
I go to the supermarket and arrive at the yogurt section. I notice that my favorite brand is out (the one that doesn’t give me gas). Turns out that ten of them are on sale for $5, and like crazed monkeys you people deprived me of my strawberry-banana pleasure and left me with nothing but the reject flavor… french vanilla.
That leads to my latest money-saving tip…
Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you should buy more of it. Don’t you notice that supermarkets announce sales in high quantities? 2 for $3, 7 for $6, and so on. They do this because it fucks with your head and you feel pressured to buy more for the extra “savings.” But you end up spending more on Hot Pockets than you would have because you are getting a supposed deal. Oh the irony! Well fuck that, only buy whats on your list, nothing more. (For some of you morbidly obese people I know that is going to be hard cause you see all the Oreo cookie flavors and want to tear into the packaging. Don’t think I don’t see you salivating as you reluctantly go for the reduced fat version.)
What happens when you buy something in mass quantity is that you tend to consume more of it. As a test just put a bowl of M&M’s in front of you and see how long it takes you to finish them. You won’t even be hungry but you can’t help yourself and you finish the whole bowl in a short amount of time and then you feel like shit and guilty that you ate them and then you eat more to relieve some of that guilt and then next thing you know you wake up one day and are 300 pounds and can’t walk without chafing your own legs. Trust me, it’s brutal.
I know exactly where you are wasting a good chunk of your money. Lunch. Going out to eat for lunch costs at least $6, but is probably more like $7-10 if you don’t eat Subway and Burger King every day. Using my tuna system, you can save almost $100 a month if you pack your lunch four times a week.
What you need:
2 boxes of Creamy Broccoli Tuna Helper ™: $1.58 each at Target. (Tuna helper FAQ)
2 cans of tuna: $0.60 each. Get the store brand for extra savings.
2 cups of milk: $1
6 tablespoons of margarine: $0.25
A microwave at work: free
Since one box of helper is good for two lunches, the above list produces four lunches at a grant total cost of $5.61. That is $1.40 a lunch!! You can’t beat that! My plan allows you to eat American commercial food at third world prices.
Let’s be conservative and say you spend $7 a day on lunch. With four days of tuna helper eating, you will save $90 a month, or $1,080 a year. I’ve been doing this for three years now (no, I don’t have mercury poisoning), which has pushed my total savings to over $3,000. I have yet to meet someone who could make the tuna plan a part of their life, but with so many people in debt, all I gotta say is… let tuna pay it off.
Next up: “Reuse condoms and SAVE”