Monday, October 13, 2008
I hope and trust you are all having a grand Columbus Day. If you're like me, it's not much different from any other day. No day off work. No parades. No TVLand marathon. No delicious sugar cookies shaped like the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.

Columbus Day is sort of the Tito of holidays. Not all that remarkable. Nobody's favorite. But as far as we know, it is still technically a holiday. Oh well, I guess that's what happens when you discover a continent by accident.

I considered recapping my week for you today. For instance, last Wednesday I got spit up on for the first time ever. Then Thursday, I sank a 45 foot putt, the longest of my career. But I figure you've had enough baby and golf stories, at least until tomorrow.

Instead, I want to share with you some tips for saving money in these uncertain economic times. Things I've practiced that have helped me to scrape by for umpteen years on my own now. Not obvious things, like selling your plasma. But more subtle ideas that you can use, say for instance, if you've already reached your 12 times per year plasma donation maximum.

Tip #1 - Ignore expiration dates

We are taught in this country, likely by the biased media, to throw food away if it has expired. Well that's fine if there's a money tree growing in your front yard, or if you go to the grocery store more than once a month. But what about the rest of us?

Expiration dates are nothing more than a way for food companies to get you to buy more often, and probably to avoid litigation as well. An expiration date is like a little ultimatum saying, "Eat me by this date or it is so over!" You wouldn't stand for that from your significant other, so why stand for it from your dairy?

This weekend alone I had a hot dog on buns that were six days past expiration and cereal with milk that was two days past expiration. My rule is, the nose knows.

We all have five to seven senses. Use them! When we're injured we feel pain and curse. When we need to communicate, we open our mouths and speak or grunt. When we hear Celine Dion, we feel pain and curse. And when food has gone bad, we can smell it.

Tip #2 - Do a supper scavenger hunt

How often do you find yourself in this situation? It's 8 or 9 o'clock at night. You don't feel like putting clothes on to go get something to eat, but you haven't been to the grocery store in a long, long time so you figure there's probably nothing to cook.

Well, you just might be surprised. By scrounging around in the cabinets, I'll bet you can come up with a decent meal from things you already have. It's kinda your own personal episode of Survivor. Or maybe not. I've never actually watched the show.

For example, in my cabinet right now (I just went and looked), I have some penne, a thing of syrup, a few sunflower seeds, some unopened Valentine's candy, some peanut butter that "expired" February 23rd, and some corn.

Now, from this... let's see... I could easily make... hmm... Well anyway, you get the idea, I'm sure. Let's move on.

Tip #3 - Never turn down anything from your parents or a free meal from anyone

In my early bachelor days, some of my favorite memories are when I'd be looking thru mostly barren cabinets containing only peanut butter and corn, and Mom or Dad would call asking if I wanted to come over and eat supper.

I learned early on to never turn down a free meal, and here's why. By eating one free meal, you have immediately contributed to a fiscal surplus. Even if it's not the best meal, or not particularly your favorite food. You can eat better food another day, but you can never get back the money you just saved.

As a general rule, parents want to help us. No, they need to help us. Giving makes them feel good. And we should not be so selfish as to deny them that good feeling by not accepting their gifts, or monthly allowance.

So never turn down anything from your parents. And never turn down a free meal from anyone. Ever. Unless, of course, the person preparing it has some sort of massive germophobic violations going on. No amount of money is worth that.

Tip #4 - With laundry, less is more

I do laundry as infrequently as possible. Basically, as long as I have clean underwear, I don't see a reason to do a wash. I'm all about wearing jeans two or three times. And while this has more to do with laziness than frugality, surely there are financial benefits as well.

Do you have any idea how much electricity it takes to run a dryer for one sixty minute cycle? Well, me neither, but it's probably a lot. My suggestion would be to buy up as many pairs of underwear as your drawers will hold, and let everything else go.

Of course, you might occasionally run into minor problems down the road, say if a shirt you want to wear doesn't happen to be clean. That's why I also suggest leaving laundry you think you might wear again lying around on the floor. That way, it doesn't get that musty, stinky hamper smell in it. Because once it's buried in the hamper, all the Febreze and Drakkar in the world won't get that out. Trust me.

Less laundry means less electricity, less costly detergent to purchase, and also less folding and ironing. And that means more fun for everyone.

Also, in the future when you see the bachelor, don't be so quick to judge his fashion sense. Most likely, he's wearing the only thing he could find that was clean, or had only been worn once.

"I ain't goin' down on the border with you tonight, drinking tequila and taking chances on our lives. All the women are crazy. They like to party 'til daylight. On second thought, if I can find a clean shirt, I might..."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,