Ways to save
For the first article of the year, it seems only logical to write about something that’s on most people’s mind these days: saving money. Long ago, my dad told me, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend.”
Sound advice, but times are very different now from when we all lived at 110 Flamingo Street. I’ve updated his advice. It’s not what you spend, but what you save that’s important.
For my first example of ways to be frugal in 2011, I will use the often overlooked expense (and seemingly inconsequential tool), the razor blade. I have avowed — yes, that’s a real word — not to change my blade for three months.
According to the frugal radio expert on personal finance that I listen to, the key to keeping one’s razor blade for months and months and months is to completely dry the razor off after each use. To accomplish this, I’ve simply used the blow dryer for five minutes each day. I’m currently on week four, and things are going ... well ... rather smoothly, except there’s an unexpected spike in our electric bill this month. I guess The Wife got really cold feet during that last cold snap.
Next up is the return of Coupon Man. During the last three weeks, I’ve clipped over $600 of coupons out of newspapers, magazines and mailers. It doesn’t matter most are for products we don’t use or brands we’ve never heard of or that The Boy hasn’t worn disposable diapers for 22 years.
What’s important is that when we buy all that stuff we’ll never eat or use, we’ll save a ton. Now all I have to do is clear out the $500 worth of expired coupons from the coupon drawer we clipped last year and didn’t use and donate all the cans of peas and lima beans sitting in the pantry. Then let the savings begin!
I really can’t take credit for the next way to save. The idea came from the Wife. She bought a gift as a gag for a friend, but as it turned out, it’s a great way to save. Those expensive gym memberships you never use but still have to pay for are now a thing of the past, especially when you can get a whole body workout by staying at home.
Yes, I’m talking about the shaky-weight-thingy. For $19.95, you can be the proud owner of your very own workout partner, and it comes in five great colors!
To save really big, though, you have to be organized, and the first place we started was in the office. And by we, I really mean me.
A quick trip to the office supply store and I returned with a small file cabinet. On the second trip, I returned with the folders to hang in the file cabinet. Apparently, I’m the only one who doesn’t know file cabinets don’t come with file folders.
For the next trip, I asked The Boy to come along for two reasons. He can lift heavy things, and he has a truck. I bought a new desk that was on sale; the salesperson said it would really help with organization. I also bought a computer and overhead full spectrum light. The sales guy also showed me an office chair with an ergonomic design. It really is supposed to help save your back. And since I’m all about saving for 2011, I bought the $300 chair.
We loaded everything up, and by we, I really mean The Boy. As we headed back home he said, “Dad, I can’t believe how much money you just spent.”
And that’s when I smiled and said, “Son, it’s not what you spend, it’s what you save.” The Boy just shook his head and kept driving — stunned, I’m sure, at my logic.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]