Nothing has really changed over the last few years. Bank profits are soaring but real wages are stagnant. The middle class is stumbling. Congressmen on the take offer fake admiration for “simple, hardworking Americans” while the bankers who fund them ponder creating investments out of pools of library fines.
Quite simply, we’re getting poorer and we’re on our own, at least for now.
So, it’s cost cutting time. The networks churn out stories about people who have done “every last thing possible” to save money, and there seems to be nowhere left to cut. But, like most of us, these folks are clinging to one outdated asset that inhibits further savings: Pride.
It’s amazing how much money you can save when you learn to suspend your pride. I’ve done this and seen others do it, and it really works. Here’s three examples:
Cost Cutting For Dummies I: Transportation:
AAA, the emergency vehicle rescue company, foolishly revealed a brilliant strategy for saving money on gas during a recent fuel price surge. The company noticed that their “stranded motorist” call rate had jumped significantly in the last few months. It seems that people were calling up and claiming to have an empty gas tank. Per contractual agreement, AAA would show up and add a gallon of gas to the stranded vehicle. Getting wise to the ploy, AAA started requiring motorists to start their car before getting the free fuel, hence thwarting the scam. Still clinging to pride, the foiled motorists were undoubtedly filled with shame.
AAA is an unpatriotic company that hates simple, hardworking Americans.
The solution to this quandary is simple: drive the car until it actually is out of gas. This gives you the upper hand in the shame game, placing the onus of indignity and mistrust on the AAA technician when your car doesn’t start. Then drive until the car is out of gas and call AAA again. Repeat as needed. This is the awesome power of pridelessness.
Cost Cutting For Dummies II: Food:
Lord knows most of us can’t do without our morning coffee. I know I can’t. But when java becomes unaffordable and you’re forced to choose between coffee and diabetes medicine, you know what’s going to happen. The blood sugar’s gonna surge.
So here’s what you do. Last week I pulled into Jiffy Lube, telling myself that I was going to hold my ground and spend no more than $19.95 on an oil change. When I drove away an hour later, I’d dropped $230 on a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand. But no matter, I learned a valuable cost cutting lesson during my visit.
While sitting in the lobby, I saw a tattooed guy with a skateboard walk into the room and fill up a small styrofoam cup with coffee. He slurped one cup down while gazing at Oprah on the small TV hanging from the ceiling. He refilled his cup two more times, knocking back the java like a man doing shots in a dive bar. Then he threw the cup in the trash and entered the bathroom. A moment later he walked out, glanced over at me with a crooked smile, and said “Have a great day.” I grinned back, realizing that I was in the presence of a cost cutting master.
Struggling to pay for that Starbucks coffee? Scratch that burden off your list.
Cost Cutting For Dummies III: Clothing:
A few years back I was eking out a living in a ski resort in Utah. One day I headed down to Salt Lake City to buy some socks. I was traipsing around a department store when I spied a man peeling off a pair of socks and dropping them into a cardboard box. A light bulb went off in my mind. I hoofed over to the shoe division and asked to try on a pair of Chuck Taylors. While the sales guy retreated to the backroom accompanied by a Madonna song from the Musack overhead, I put on a pair of beefy, new-ish tube socks and dropped my razor thin socks with the burnt-out heels into the try-on box. I passed on the shoes (wrong color) and walked out of the store with a pair of sweet socks.
I’ve had a recurring foot fungus problem ever since, but it’s a small price to pay for being ahead of the curve in the new, prideless America.