There seems to be a new monthly economic report out every day: fewer jobs, or slightly more people employed, our American work going overseas, or immigrants coming here for our jobs. The price of gasoline goes up and down several times a week. All around us, there are constant reminders of the recession.
We can't really win for losing. I'm always seeing consumer segments on television in which they follow around a shopper who uses coupons to buy a buggy full of groceries, including a Thanksgiving turkey, for only 25 cents.
Have I ever done that? Not even close.
I use coupons when I can, but I never have enough clipped out to get much more than a turkey leg free.
Still, I have devised a few ways to save money, even without being a coupon king. These consumer tips keep me from having to dig under the couch cushions for leftovers (well, the stray M&Ms are always appreciated):
- My late friend Tom put a big money-saver to work. I saw him practice it several times before I caught on. When you're in a restaurant with several other people or couples, take the check as soon as it's brought to the table. At least one other person will snatch it out of your hand and say, "No, no, this one is on me." What can you do but yield? You look generous without having to pay. I've never seen this maneuver fail, although now that you've read this, I'm not going to risk eating out with you.
- Another way to get free meals is to hang out at open houses, grand openings, funeral wakes and church homecomings. You have never really appreciated the many species of potato salad until you have been to a homecoming. My church is having a tent meeting soon, so feel free to come hungry. That will be me, over by the potato salad.
- Actually read your bills and receipts. You'll be surprised by some of the extra charges that get levied against you. Many years ago, I was hospitalized for "observation," during which I lay flat on my back and took no medications.
After they wheeled me to the accounting desk a week later, I noticed they had charged me for "labor and delivery" and $500 for medicine. They took it in stride when I explained that they were nuts. I suspect they made up for my savings by charging the next guy for a lobotomy he didn't get.
- Buy only one color of socks. That way, if you lose a sock in the dryer - no, when you lose a sock in the dryer - you won't have to throw away its mate. Just pull any two socks out of the drawer the next time you feel like wearing shoes.
(I recently decided I would wear only bright-red socks. Not only would that have cut my cost of having to toss out singles but it also would have made me known as the eccentric guy in the office who wears red socks. The only reason I didn't follow through on my plan is that I couldn't find red socks in any men's department. It is so difficult being eccentric these days.)
I hope these tricks work for you. The only down side to saving money, though, is that it ends up hurting the economy. If I save money by shopping at the grocery store and cooking at home, the supermarkets love it but the restaurants suffer. If I read books from the library, the bookstores hate me. If I keep my clunker going for years and years, the auto dealerships become ghost towns.
Sometimes I think I'm just going to have to spend my way out of this recession.
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or email@example.com.