Since to SPARE is the semantic contrary of to SPEND, I have decided to list some easy spare-tricks in a first 'project' for Fravia's reality cracking section. As usual any reader my add or correct or point to errors or suggest new paths, whatever...
I would like you to understand the PHILOSOPHY behind all this... even if some of the
tricks are a litle lame (Aunt Ann advices :--) most of them can be (at least I hope)
pretty useful for many readers...
"A frugal approach to life is a correct Zen disposition: enjoy poetry instead of paltry"
"Living on less means -most of the time- living better and smarter"
"Living frugal is almost like being rich"
"When you start off with excess, less is not deprivation: it is freedom."
There's no need to fall ALWAYS prey of the consume society, some banal tricks may be pretty
useful in order to live a little more your own life instead of
obeying blindly all orders you are subjected to.
Living on less takes some ingenuity. Little things you do around the house, for instance, can save a lot of money in the long run. Learn how to repair and fix whatever you can.
Here are the tips:
MEDIA * Use those free AOL disks that keep coming in the mailbox. Be sure to always check the data on your disk first to make sure you are not erasing something important. HOME * Close doors and turn off heat or air conditioning to rooms you are not using. Close off heat and doors to unused rooms. Keep your closet doors closed, since there is no need to heat or cool them. HOME * It is more economical to use one large bulb than several small bulbs. For instance, a 100-watt bulb gives as much light as six 25-watt bulbs but uses less than 2/3 the power. HOME * Save the water you use to wash your vegetables to water your house plants. DIY * If your paint brushes have hardened, simmer in full-strength vinegar and remove the softened paint with a wire comb or brush. After cleaning your paint brush, a few drops of oil worked into the bristles will leave the brush soft and ready to use. HOME Make a note of your paint color name and number, and the date when you painted the room and tape it to the back of your switch plate. When it's time to repaint, you'll have an easy reference to match the same paint color. Often it is NOT necessary to repaint the whole room... if you kept the references... DIY * When disassembling something with many small parts, use an empty egg carton to put the parts in. Number each compartment in the order you place the parts in and when it's time to put it back together, just go in reverse order. DIY * Use toothpaste to fill up those small nail holes in your drywall. FINANCE * Analyze your insurance coverage to make sure you're adequately covered at the lowest price. Comparison shop for premiums, which vary widely. FINANCE * Check to see if you are eligible for earned income credit on your tax returns. MEDIA * Cancel book club memberships and don't renew magazine subscriptions, especially ones you read infrequently. Borrow magazines and books from the library. Public libraries are among the best money-savers around. By borrowing instead of buying, you'll save quite a lot of money. Alternatively, use the Web. All books are on the web and if you find a place where you can print for free (at work, at school, wherever) then you have found your own Eldorado. FINANCE * Keep track, item by item, of where your money goes every day, week and month. Review your spending record with your family, and decide together where you can and should cut back. CONSUM * Consignment stores are a great place to find good quality children's clothes and toys. You can also sell the clothes and toys your children no longer use. CONSUM * Consider buying products you use frequently paper towels, cereal, laundry detergent in bulk supplies. The cost is often less than buying one at a time and a lot of large grocery stores now sell in bulk quantities. AUTO * Check your tire pressure every time you fill up your car's gas tank. Properly inflated tires last longer and increase your gas mileage. TRAVEL * Use your old film containers to hold soap powder, safety pins, bobby pins, and other small items for travel. TRAVEL * Shop where the locals shop. Tourist places tend to be overpriced. When booking a hotel room, always ask for the least expensive room. They will always quote you a high price and usually will have something cheaper, yet not less nice, if you ask. DOCTOR * When ordering prescriptions, ask your doctor if you can get the generic version. Generic drugs generally cost about half as much as their brand- name counterparts. FINANCE * Use credit cards only if you can cover the bill in full each month. Each time you charge something, subtract the amount you spent from your checkbook balance as if you've written a check. When the bill comes, it's already covered. Use only credit cards that you can have for free (almost all of them now, see below) BUYING * With spring comes yard sales. Look around for used furniture, toys and clothing (especially for children) at bargain prices. With sturdy toys you can sometimes buy them, use them until your children outgrow them, and resell them. BUYING * Decide on menus a week ahead and make your grocery shopping list based on them. When you shop, you'll buy only the items you're sure you'll need. MEDIA * Check your local library for programs to entertain and educate children during the week. Many libraries have regular story hours each week and a variety of other activities ' and most are free. Don't buy ANY newspapers, it's all on the web anyway and newspaper favour the intrusion of advertising into people's consciousness -similar to television- through the massive bundle of advertising pulp that masquerades as a Sunday newspaper. So people fail to protect themself, or worse, their children from being seduced by it. Convinced that their self worth is based on $200 athletic shoes or designer clothing, children are already on the road to spiritual dissatisfaction and resentment as well as a perception of diminished self-worth. When they become adolescents they are probably not going to be happy or productive even were they provided with an endless supply of things that few parents could afford. An extreme example of this is when some, usually poor adults, who could often better use the money for education, nutrition and improved housing, demonstrate their self worth and strength of character by turning themselves into human billboards in plastic clothing advertising millionaire's sports franchises... next time you see a guy with an adidas or nike logo on his T-shirt you know what you should think of him. HOME * If possible in summer, do your cooking early in the day or late at night to avoid adding more heat to your house during the hottest hours. AUTO * Because of air resistance, you'll get better gas mileage by keeping windows closed at speeds of more than 35 mph. BUYING * When you shop with coupons, make sure the item is worth buying with the coupon. Unless you have a strong brand preference, you might still get a better deal without a coupon. For example, brand-name paper towels might cost 75 cents even with a coupon, but the store-brand towels might be 65 cents regularly. BUYING Fresh produce is plentiful in every season, either from your own garden or a roadside farm stand. Consider canning fruits, vegetables, jellies or sauces to give as gifts later in the year. Instructions for canning are included in many cookbooks available in the library. Your local Cooperative Extension Service may also have tips. To dress up your gift, look for baskets on sale or at discount outlets, yard sales and flea markets. Fill them with homemade canned and baked goods, and add some ribbon or colorful tissue paper for a festive look. FINANCE Stop buying on credit if you cannot cover it. Interest charged by credit card companies is extremely high. MEDIA * Consider writing instead of calling. Make long-distance calls only in emergencies. Or at least call during off-peak hours when rates are lowest. Cut all frills, such as call-waiting, out of your phone service. Get the cheapest calling plan available. Cut out non-essential moronic services like cable TV. BUYING * Reduce your food bill. Think of inexpensive and tasty meals instead of buying always the same stuff. Make a list before you go shopping and don't buy on impulse. FINANCE * Sell what you don't need. Have a yard sale or sell clothes and children's toys at a consignment store. BUYING * Buy used clothes for your children. Consignment stores and yard sales are good choices. You may also find some good buys for yourself. TRAVEL * If you're planning a holiday trip, ask the hotel if any special rates are in effect, such as a discounted weekend rate. They mostly have such rates, yet they seldom advertise them. FINANCE * Many businesses that offer discounts to senior citizens don't necessarily publicize them. It doesn't hurt to ask. HOME * This winter, wear sweaters around the house and cut back the heat. For every degree you lower the thermostat, you'll cut your heating bill by about 3%. FINANCE * Ask your credit card company if you can get a lower interest rate on your credit card. Due to the extreme concurrence on the market, many credit cards companies offer their cards for free now, without any fee at all. No annual fee: Many cards now are available without an annual fee. But make sure the one you decide to take never has an annual fee. Some cards are free only for the first year. After that, you may be automatically billed for an annual fee. If the card you want has an annual fee or adds one after you've accepted it, ask the company to waive it. Some card companies will eliminate this charge to keep from losing you. Otherwise, shop around for a free card. There are plenty. HOME Sell your television set! It's a completely useless piece of furniture anyway! Time, the precious shrinking commodity of our lives, is exchanged for money to buy things that there usually is little time to enjoy. What time is left after work is often devoured by television, basically a series of ever-more mediocre filler programs inserted between ever-more-spectacular commercials whose purpose is to stoke further desire for more things. When these insatiable material desires fail to be satisfied, people grow unhappy with their lives and in extreme cases riot and loot to get that they have been programmed to want. BUYING Planning a wedding? Here are some ways to save money (weddings and births have been turned into consumer events with their own hierarchy of demands for the things which assume a life of their own. For example, the bride's dress and accessories assumes far more significance in the telling than the bride's state of mind... you should REACT against this!): * Check bridal shops for display or discontinued wedding gowns at reduced prices. Modes and trends are for zombies, you can always save money (and often look better as well) following your own taste instead of being compelled by trends. * Check out classified ads for gowns that have been worn only once or not at all. * Consider renting your dress. Also, some consignment and vintage clothing stores carry wedding and bridal dresses. * See if the dress your mother or grandmother wore can be altered to fit you. * Select bridesmaids' dresses that can be worn again at other social events. A wedding gown that you can use only once in your life spells absolute stupidity. * Don't overlook antique shops, pawnshops and heirloom jewelry sales when buying rings. Older rings of the liberty and 'deco' times are often MUCH nicer and valuable than the crap designed to day (and the stones are often more clear when cut in the old fashioned deep way). BUYING * Never pay cash. Use a check (payable to the company, not a salesperson) or credit card so you can stop payment if necessary. * Pay as small a deposit as possible, and get a receipt. * Avoid signing blank receipts. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total when you sign. * Destroy carbons and voided receipts immediately. BUYING * Prepackaged, individual-sized snack foods such as chips, cookies and candies are convenient but expensive. Instead, buy healthy goodies in bulk quantities and package them yourself. BUYING * Avoid buying prepackaged snack cups. Instead, buy a few half-cup leakproof containers and pack your own applesauce, gelatin, pudding, fruit or yogurt. Cut down on trash by sending a spoon that can be brought home and washed. BUYING * Think about school lunches as you plan your dinner menus for the week, and make extra portions of those foods that can be made into sandwiches. Some school cafeterias now have microwaves for reheating leftovers. BUYING * Canned beans cost about three times more than dry, and contain more sodium. Actually this is true for anything canned, always prefer fresh or dry products. BUYING * Buy next summer's bathing suits and clothes at end-of summer sales. HOME * Store eggs in the carton rather than on the refrigerator door, they'll keep longer. TRAVEL * When taking the family on a summer outing, take snacks, drinks or even lunch along. Kids get a kick out of eating lunch at the park and you don't have to spend a fortune for plastic fast food or awful concession stand snacks. Eating with the kids at the restaurant is mostly not a great fun either, since they tend to get annoyed pretty quickly. Bring along a wet washcloth in a plastic bag to wipe hands and faces. HOME * Household bleach is an inexpensive way to clean your kitchen sink and garbage disposal. Bleach kills many kinds of bacteria found in sinks and costs less than the new antibacterial cleaners. HOME * Leftovers can make a simple, inexpensive soup. Just toss leftover meat and vegetables into a container in your freezer. When you're ready to make a quick soup, add the leftovers to canned broth and simmer. TRAVEL * Send postcards instead of traditional greeting cards. STOP SMOCKING * You are a target. Tobacco companies need new smokers, so they spend billions of dollars on ad campaigns designed to make smoking look desirable. The reason is simple. Some smokers quit, many die. Tobacco companies need to replace the customers they lose. Once you start, you are likely to remain a customer for the rest of your life, so the companies find the billions of dollars they spend recruiting users to be a worthwhile investment. BUYING Before buying an item, ask yourself: * Can I do without it? * Can I postpone its purchase? * Can I substitute something else that costs less? * Can I use my own skills to make it myself? * Do I already own one? You'll surprised how effective this is if you do.
Did you know that * advertisers spend an average of 200 ECU/year on every person to get them to buy their stuff? * American consumers get hit with three times that? * advertising is a $200 000 000 000-a-year business? * the average European spends 60 minutes on average per day listening to, reading, or watching advertisements? * by the time someone turns 70 years old, he will have spent 3 years of his life watching advertisements?
And a big greetz to Kalle Lasn and his great media foundation...
join the "buy nothing day" initiative on november 29
"Don't Be a Turkey on the Day After Thanksgiving!"
"Buy Nothing Day" does strike one as a deeply subversive idea. Why go along with it?
Maybe because you want to demonstrate your independence from the marketers who manipulate you every day. Because you know life is not about consumption. Because you don't need the stress of traffic jams and crowded stores and garish holiday glitter. Because you don't want to burden the planet or your credit card by buying stuff that no one really needs.
Or, the best reason of all, because you want to return the holiday season to its original meaning: a day where YOU do what you really want and like... and this will NOT be buying along.
Some alternative ways to spend the day after Thanksgiving:
"Have a 'Great Give-Away' party and pass on everything you don't use.
"Pay off a credit card. Then burn it.
"Be a grassroots guerrilla against obsessive spending: buying nothing can be a gift that keeps on giving."
(c) Hedwig Blastock 1998