18 July 2014

Living in the USA: On the Cheap'

Look at the budget; yours, not the Fed.Gov.

Cover rent. Iffen you usedtabe rich, that would be called a “mortgage”.

That's job one. After that is Electricity, and you can probably find a better deal unless you're locked into a pre-pay deal, in which case the thing to do is to get out of it. You'll get your deposit back in a year, and could save you about $75 per month.

Lose the cable and your landline Go to Amazon Prime or Netflix, Use the savings to upgrade your ISP, Get more bandwidth. Save about $100 per month. Really. I haven't owned a TV for 30 years, but this is what folks tell me,

Learn to cook: “Bread gets re-defined as “flour” (do you have a sourdough starter? Ok, so keep a yeast culture) Pizza gets redefined as “flour plus water plus tomato plus cheese”. And Beer! Beer's just really thin bread, right? Plus some hops, which are just a plant, and I'm smarter than a plant so I could probably... Then you start thinking about the little garden that you could put on the back porch. Some tomatoes, basil, rosemary, oregano... oooh, and some peppers, they would be neat, and...

Food doesn't come in a box, food doesn't come in a can, food doesn' t come at the end of a phone call. Food is made of stuff, and the more stuff you have on hand the better off you are. And the closer you are to source the cheaper you can live.

And nothing's free. You may love the independent feeling you get from driving your F150 or Chevy Subhuman, but how often do you use that capacity? Buy beers (or bring homebrews) to your friends and neighbors with trucks, own the minimal transport needed for yourself and your family, and call in favors as needed. Save up the GTO (Gas Tires and Oil) bucks and probably insurance premiums.

Hit the resale shops. For those of us who sweat at work, there's no point in getting $45 a pair new Levis. Much less if motor oil, caulk, paint, sewage, or cement are going to get on them. Currently, about $3.50 is about what I pay for a pair of jeans, and if I get a dozen wearings out of them I'm happy, and that's thte point where I've spent more money washing them than the purchase price, Work shirts, tee shirts: same applies. Ladies, you too. This is even better if you're white collar. Men's suits can be found (not JC Penny, Jos A Banks) for less than the price of dry cleaning. I've got half a closet of designer stuff that never cost me more that $12. Women's wear is much the same, but slightly less cheaper. Socks and undies, well, buy new. Shoes are a judgement call (check soles and heels).

Protips on resale: go to the rich neighborhoods and use local charities. A lot of resales are asssociated with local churches, and that's where they get their donations. The Church of the Dollar is going to have better stock than Little Sisters of the Poor. Duh. Most have time/date stamps on the tags, meaning the longer it's been hanging, the cheaper it is.

This is just off the top of my head. A bit more time in the kitchen, well yes. A bit more time shoooing, well yes. But being able to say “It's home-made” is a good thing, and so is “you really won't believe what I paid for this!” should provide some balance.

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