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Acquaintances and friends alike constantly ask me, "How do you manage to lead such a comfortable lifestyle yet still maintain financial stability?" The first thing I tell them is how I don't do it: by spending my hard earned cash on flashy clothes, jewelry, expensive haircuts, dining out and the like! (Not that there's anything wrong with keeping a clean, neat appearance.) No, my success has arisen through frugality, judicious financial planning and rigorous adherence to the principle of "waste not, want not." You should see the surprised expressions when I tell people, "Just because I'm a successful producer of corporate training videos don't assume I go through life throwing my money around!"
Perhaps you remember, as I do, a time when you could buy a movie ticket for $1.50. Well, those days have gone the way of the dinosaur. Now they build fancy multiplexes with stadium style seating and try to charge us $10 per ticket, $4.25 for a tub of popcorn and $3.50 for a medium fountain Pepsi with too much syrup. Total cost for a family of four, assuming two drinks and one large popcorn: $51.25. Thanks but no thanks! Looking for a cheaper (and, in my opinion, more enjoyable) alternative? My family has a weekly institution we call "VCR night". Last week we watched Pay it Forwards with Kevin Spacey--a good rent (though nowhere near the film that Gwyneth Paltrow's Bounce was. I highly recommend this amazing film.) Cost of rental: $3.00. Popcorn? No problem. My beautiful wife Karyn prepared the homemade kind with real melted butter (so much tastier than the artificial kind you get in theaters). Cost: approximately 50 cents. My family also shared a 2-liter bottle of caffeine-free Pepsi (we avoid the caffeinated sort, which has deleterious effects on the health). Cost: $1.29 on special at BJ's wholesale outlet. Total cost: $4.79. That's over $46 cheaper! Not to mention no traffic jams or long lines. And if someone needs the restroom you can just press pause!
Another fantastic money saving tip I discovered the hard way: you can save a bundle just by packing your dishwasher efficiently. Trust me when I say I've reaped ample financial benefit over the years since learning the importance of this concept. My #1 space saving tip? Use the top rack, which most people only ever think to put glasses on, for bowls as well. Result: 3-5 less loads run per month; upwards of $6 a month saved on water bills. As I make a point of telling anyone who'll listen, every cent you save now will be worth 1.23 cents in six years. That may not sound like much, but do the math and you'll see what it adds up to: $ubstantial $avings. Ever hear the expression "put your two cents in"? Well I always say "hold onto those two cents a few years and you'll be able to put a nickel in!" Then again, why not hold onto that nickel? Sometime down the road it'll be worth a dime or even a quarter. "Ka-ching!"
Believe it or not, though, I still haven't revealed my most important secret when it comes to kitchen savings! If you're smart you will write this down:
Always tightly wrap leftovers to avoid spoilage.
As I often quip to my kids I consider myself a "wrap" artist! They know when it comes to airtight seals, their Dad has no equal. Two of your best friends in this regard are aluminum foil (Reynolds Wrap may cost a little more but think of it as an investment--it doesn't tear accidentally, so in the long run it's cheaper) and plastic wrap (tip: Saran Wrap now comes in fun colors kids love).
Finally, we should always remember to share our good fortune with those less fortunate. Not only is it ethical but it feels good to give something back by occasionally donating a small sum to a charitable institution. Best of all, it doesn't have to put a major hole in your wallet! Lists of accredited charities that qualify as tax deductible are available online. "Check" them out!
Date Written: September 12, 2004
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 4