I hope everyone is looking forward to a Happy Thanksgiving. Up here I always try to invite whomever I think might be without plans, or alone, on that day. So if any of you don’t have anyone to spend Turkey Day with; E-mail me! (I’m serious). It should be a fun group this year and I know I can’t wait to spend three days cooking, one hour eating, and another three days cleaning up. Lovin’ it!
Or, if anyone will be in town, and hungry, there’s a free TG meal the day before at My Place Restaurant and I bet the Senior Center will also be putting out some grub. If you are running low on funds, why not avail yourselves of the local resources, I say. These days, more than ever before in my memory, there are people having some tough times. Mostly having to do with the economic climate, which is chilly indeed. Folks are losing their homes to foreclosure; and not all of them knowingly took a bad risk loan. Lots have lost jobs or had hours reduced or have been required to take a pay cut; for others, unemployment benefits are ending… the price of gas just hit $3.15 and a pound of cheese, that ever-dependable economic barometer, will cost you an hour of labor at minimum wage. Times are tougher than a cheap steak. So I thought I’d rustle up some suggestions, solutions, and maybe salvation in the form of things you can do to lessen your debt, save money, and have fun doing it!*
1. Look for a sale and stock up on duct tape – also known as “duck tape”. (Gee, people need to stay in school!!) Anyway, any color of duct tape is ok. It will save you all kinds of money. You can tape the soles back on your shoes and get another couple of months out of them. You can repair that ripped handbag, car headlight, reading glasses… well, practically anything can be fixed with this modern miracle adhesive. Call it duck or duct, this wonder tape will save you bundles of cash.
2. Don’t bathe. Ok, you gotta shower eventually, but instead of everyday, cut it down to once a week or so. You’ll save on soap, heating water, the water, shampoo, conditioner, and washing towels!
3. Since you are bathing less, a 99 cent can of air freshener from Home Mart can replace expensive perfume and cologne. Just be sure to choose an appropriate scent: Pine Forest for Him; Strawberry Glade for Her.
4. On the subject of washing; I am told washing clothes wears them out and should be avoided until absolutely necessary. Most clothes can be worn over and over without washing as long as you toss them over a chair back (you can even hang ‘em up if you are high-maintenance). Underwear, I am told, may be worn three times and then turned inside out for another three wearings. Cutting down on the number and frequency of laundry loads will save you a ton on laundry soap, fabric softener, stain pre-treatment sprays plus water and electricity. You could even sell your washer and dryer for extra cash now that you will be doing so little laundry. Maybe you can take your small and infrequent loads to a relative or friend’s house and throw them in with theirs.
5. Save on razors. You can re-use disposable razors by sharpening them on a sidewalk or your cement garage floor.
6. Never fill up your gas tank. What if you break down or total your ride in an accident? Your car gets hauled off to the junkyard with thirty bucks of gas in the tank – that’s what! What if you die, right after you fill up the tank? What a waste of money. You can’t take a full tank with you.
7. While on automotive subjects, forget those costly brake jobs. You can extend the life of your brakes using sandpaper and the aforementioned Miracle Tape.
8. Increase your gas mileage by coasting. We have hills, use them! Only use the gas pedal when going up; coast on the way down. Use gears to slow so you save on the brakes, too. I am going to try stopping atop Hooper Hill, attaching a used tire or two to the back bumper, and using them to slow me down for the descent. I could get miles of no gas, no brakes. Sweet!
9. Bald tires? Find a fresh-tarred road. Drive back and forth a few times. You’re good!
10. Bugs in your flour, sugar, rice, oatmeal… can we afford to be picky? Either screen them out with a sieve, or just bake away. It’s protein.
11. Can’t really afford that cable or satellite TV anymore? It’s cool. You can watch the same DVD over and over and over. The more you watch it, the more you’ll love it. When you finally wear it out, you will know it so well you can re-create whole scenes with you family and friends. This is even more fun than Charades, as long as there are no arguments over, say, who gets to be Danny in Grease. Then when you have replayed it, sung all the songs, perfected the dance moves, know every line by heart, you can fling open the garage doors and put on a show! Charge the neighbors a quarter or so. Sell popcorn and hot dogs. Just be sure to get everyone out of there before the sheriffs come looking to see if you have the right permits.
12. Waste not, want not. Eat all your leftovers, no matter what: remember, food poisoning is temporary. Never throw away or shred paper – burning it might just save you from freezing this winter. That used motor oil – screen it through an old T-shirt a few times and it’s probably ok to re-use. Never pass by anything free, be it a couch, a four-year-old chicken or even road kill. One day recently I was on my way to work when ahead I saw a neighbor, his truck was pulled over, and he was picking something up from the road. I stopped to see if he was ok. He held up two limp quail. The person ahead of him had driven into the quail bevy and kept going. Neighbor Guy said, “I couldn’t let them go to waste”. He said he’d be cooking them up for lunch. I say Amen to that.
13. And, finally, here’s the big money saver: quit paying your mortgage. I know, it sounds scary, but check it out. The banks have way more foreclosures than they can handle. You can probably squat in your crib for at least eight months – if not years – after you quit paying. When the lender finally does get around to selling your home, once the buyers take a look at the place, they’ll probably walk away if not run. Your place won’t be worth even the bargain basement price because you have not had the cash to repair or maintain a thing in years. The more you let the place go, the better off you will be. Let the paint peel, the weeds grow, the fences fall and the trash pile up!
In a few years, most Americans will be living for free in homes they once scraped and starved to pay for.
So, you see, dear Neighbors, there is hope on the horizon. All we have to do is tighten our belts and follow these few simple suggestions – and I’m sure you will come up with your own ingenious tips for saving, too. Please share them with me; I’d love to hear your ideas!
Seriously folks, this month we begin holiday shopping, and may I suggest practical gifts? And let’s make sure our nearest Neighbors have enough firewood and propane and food. Let’s make sure nobody falls through the cracks this winter. We have to look out for each other. That’s the real way we are going to get through these tough times.
The Mountain Mouth