Monday, December 01, 2008

Hair Shirts and the Refrigerator Police

The Register informs us this morning that one way in these trying times to reduce your "income outgo" is to do things like turn off the lights when you leave the room, run the washer and dishwasher only when they're full, use the microwave oven when you can and cook multiple items at once if you are going to use the range. 

If I did all these things, that might have saved me five bucks last month, because my electric bill was $53. 

I have some better ideas.

Don't pay retail. Never. Ever. Not once.

Cut up your credit cards and stop putting stuff on the arm. There's no free lunch. Pay off your debts and get rid of them. 

Pay for whatever you buy in cash or by check. All those nifty debit cards do is encourage you to spend more and think less. Checks give you one last chance to say "Do I really need to do this?"

Use the library. You already paid for it.

Get rid of your leased Lexus and your Tahoe and drive something that's bought and paid for and won't cause you to look for the loan officer at the gas station the next time you fill up. An ex-Hertz Ford Taurus or Chevrolet Lumina will do nicely, they're reliable, comfortable and inexpensive. Plus the insurance is cheaper on throwaway cars.

Skip the movies, the Carnival cruises, Netflix, the runs to Chez Panisse and the Brasserie, the big screen teevee and all the chrome plated crap that you've put on the arm. Get rid of it. 

Get rid of it all.

Get a cheap cell phone with a plan that doesn't support videos, texting, instant messaging, the internet, or any of the other stuff that you've been told is important. Then you can dump your land line and come out ahead.

Buy on the secondary market. That means yard sales, auctions, private deals, and thrift stores.

Learn how to repair stuff. Many of the things you buy can be repaired if you have any common sense at all and if they weren't made in China. If they were, you might as well pitch them in the trash-maybe you'll put that guy in China out of work-you know, the one who puts those "QC Passed 32" stickers on all the broken stuff in the house.

Start a legitimate home business. Start using the tax code instead of letting it use you. Notice I said "legitimate".

Every dollar you do not spend is worth $1.28 when tax time comes around. That's right. If you spend that dollar, you've paid the government 28 cents for the privilege if you're like most of us. It stands to reason it's far better to still have it. You're being taxed on income-the less you spend, the less you need to earn, and the less you have to pony up at tax time.

Every dollar you do spend is a vote on what you want the world your kids inherit to look like.

Do all this and you can run the lights all night if you like and afford the occasional run to Chez Panisse. 

And you can use the oven any time you like. 


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