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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

09/15/2004 qualcomm: what else?
09/15/2004 scoop's brain: Well since you asked, OSS, the buying of bottled water can be a real drain, and an unnecessary one at that, on one's finances. When it comes to bottled to worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Modern federal, state and local regulations insure that the water flowing from your kitchen faucet is just as safe and delicious as water collected from a mountain stream, and that should keep money from "flowing" from out of your family savings. And consider the opportunity cost on storage space. Every gallon of water you bring home is treasured storage space that could be utilized for canned or dry goods. ETC.
09/15/2004 Joe Frankenstone: Bounce makes baby Disney cry.
09/15/2004 Joe Frankenstone (4): I want to give this one three stars, but it just tries so hard, and is so desperate to please, that my compassion for the main-character-cum-author made me kick it up to four. But mostly, it falls into the Mama's Family Rule: seeing annoying people just being annoying is never funny in and of itself. There needs to be some sort of value-added, and no, Vicki Lawrence, a chin implant doesn't cut it.
09/15/2004 Dylan Danko (5): This brings back fond memories. I imagine the author already has a bidding war going on for this but if not he can always self-publish. I remember a guy...
09/15/2004 scoop: Yeah OSS, how come you didn't make your Nixon short less boring and unneessarily long like this one?
09/15/2004 Dylan Danko: yeah, how come this short doesn't have signifiers???
09/15/2004 Joe Frankenstone: Good luck with The Onion job!
09/15/2004 Mr. Pony: I must disagree with scoop's brain about that water issue. A large supply (at least a week's worth) of potable water should be kept in every household, at all times. Are you really going to rely upon government regulations to insure that your family's drinking water needs are met in times of extreme emergency? Don't let linear frugality be your undoing!
09/15/2004 TheBuyer: Which is why I have a waterbed. Best of both worlds! ...also, I have no idea how to rate this short.
09/15/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: I can't believe you east coasters would even drink from the tap.
09/15/2004 John Slocum (5): I believe this is about George Slocum.
09/15/2004 Dylan Danko: It could also apply to George but it is not about him. In truth, this is a 4 star short but i added a star for sentimental reasons.
09/15/2004 Mr. Pony (4): I agree with Frankenstone that the voice has been very thoroughly explored, both here and elsewhere. Some funny moments, though, and frankly, I like the fact that it goes on forever, like one of Dick Vomit's more ranty shorts. 3.5.
09/15/2004 scoop (2): Let me blaze a trail for you to follow on deciding how to vote on this short, TheBuyer.
09/15/2004 qualcomm: brookline codicil: slocum-to-matza cronyism.
09/15/2004 anonymous: Looks like a couple of Mr. Grumpies woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!
09/15/2004 Dylan Danko: How'd you figure out the trail, Scoop? Was it The Lerpa droppings?
09/15/2004 scoop: Once I figured out which wy you were going Danko it was easy. I just turned around and went in the opposite direction.
09/15/2004 anonymous: I notice my detractors have as yet failed to say anything substantial about the short itself to back up their weighty opinions. This, I feel, speaks ill of them.
09/15/2004 TheBuyer (4):
09/15/2004 Ewan Snow (4): Author, while this is choice scriptage, and tends toward funny, it is also a rip-off of Jerston's parents' neighbor's self-published masterpiece "How to Pay Off Your Mortgage"! The dishwasher packing gave it away...
09/15/2004 Ewan Snow: Oh, Dylan already pointed it out... Uh, hi Dylan!
09/16/2004 Will Disney (4): it is a little oniony but overall a success