Friday, March 9, 2012

Living A Rich Life on the Cheap

It’s that time again, and by “that time” I mean, “let me wax poetic about meaningless propaganda that you ceased to care about sometime around the Reagan administration.”  The recession is still licking its chops from consuming one too many overpaid bankers while simultaneously picking its teeth with the dreams of the American people.  This all-too-realistic fact smacks me over the head so much I’ve taken to calling it Chris Brown.  Dancing around financial pitfalls is difficult since I’m not a good dancer, but that extra weight I was carrying around in my bank account is now gone and so I’ve become pretty dang good at creative ways to be thrifty.  Seeing it a crime to keep these nuggets of wisdom contained in my own, recession-smacked brain I’ve decided to share this knowledge.
1.  One way I’ve kept up appearances of affluence in the home is refilling the containers of name brand items I bought (when I had disposable income) with their generic counterparts.  People are much more likely to believe your “I’m not broke” façade when your fabric softener says “Downey” and not “Kroger Blue Stuff.”  Likewise, my hand soap may SAY Dove, but inside I know lies “Industrial Strength Tire Cleaner I Liberated from a Poorly-Maintained Car Wash on Nolensville Road.”
2.  Another great trick to save money is to make your own money.  Printing presses can be found on Craigslist with relative ease and if that doesn’t pan out, Magic Markers are probably on sale at Walgreens.  Simply grab a Trace and Learn (if you don’t have kids, offer to pick up your sister’s children one day – and then steal theirs) to brush up on your dead presidents, and you’ll be rolling around, a la Scrooge Duck on Duck Tales, in a silo filled with almost perfectly legal tender.
3.  Alcohol consumption can definitely take its toll on your wallet, but let’s face it – the anesthetic quality of some good hooch is unparalleled and nothing takes the edge off a day like a big glass of liquid intoxication.  With this is mind, take a look at your bathroom.  I’ll wait.
Good.  Now – do you have a tub?  If the answer is “yes,” then you, my friend, will soon be filthy, yet incredibly drunk, for just pennies on the dollar!  Turning your bathtub into a distillery is easy.  A few modifications to your counterfeit entrepreneurial operation turns that printing press into a spirits press that will have you kissing-a-random-street-musician wasted by the end of CMA Fest.
4.  One way to save both the planet AND your wallet is to recycle.  This is useful because you can (greenly) dispose of those pesky generic containers you no longer need thanks to putting their contents in their labeled counterparts.  But did you know that you can find all KINDS of stuff that other people are throwing away?  I have hauled home a beer-can chicken stand, several only-sort-of-out-of-date People magazines, and four mannequin heads from the Paul Mitchell Hair School.  I sense you’re snickering right about now, but I would like to assure you that I have actually hauled all of the above out of the recycling receptacles around our fair city and four of these beauty school heads items may or may not be in the trunk of my car currently.
5.  Kidnapping is a fantastic money-saver on several levels as well.  First off, you have the ransom money, which is a no-brainer.  Make sure you’re not overstepping your bounds, as several factors need to be addressed before you arrive at a set figure.  Take into consideration the annual income of the people you’re extorting, what you’ve stolen from them, and exactly how long you’re willing to keep in your possession the very thing you’ve stolen.  For instance, you’re not going to be able to get as much money by stealing the dog of a middle-class family of 7 as you would by taking, say, one of Jennifer Lopez’s children.  I’ve devised a formula to help you decide the level of kidnapping risk you’re willing to take for the financial outcome:
(Street Value of Stolen Item x Length of Captivity) – Length of Possible Prison Term (in months) = Return on Investment.  You’ll want to factor in the cost of night vision goggles plus a magazine subscription so you can write out your ransom notes, but those are really just costs of doing business with the Lindberghs.
Now, I mentioned the “many levels” of money saving possibilities with the enterprise of kidnapping, and these aren’t just the ransoms you can collect.  If you decide to actual steal a human, you can use this person to do all kinds of things normally relegated to a rather expensive personal assistant.  Have the person wash your dishes, or, if you steal someone with a particular skill set (think: Mario Batali) he can demonstrate that talent in a valiant hope that you won’t kill him.
So, kids, it’s fairly simple.  Decide exactly what you’re hoping to gain from this scenario and then consider your possibilities.  The great thing about this industry?  Plenty of options.  Go ahead – play the market a bit.  Just make sure you sort of like whatever/whomever you steal, just in case no one wants it/him back.
Whew!  I don’t know about y’all, but my mind is pretty tired from all the money saving I’m doing!  I’m going to go take a nap while Mario Batali whips up some of his homemade ravioli for me.  And he better not put butternut squash in this batch.  As Martha Stewart can testify, no one puts squash in my ravioli without a higher ransom notice.  No one.

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