Everyone’s offering money-saving tips these days, trying to help people survive the economic downturn. It doesn’t take much to save a few bucks here and there, even if you’re already scrimping, even if you order the “short” cappuccino at Starbucks and have reduced your cable TV package to only 380 channels.
Anyone who’s really serious about saving money needs to follow Melvin’s can’t-miss tips:
1. Be more religious. Yes, going to the temple, gurudwara, mosque or church can save you money. How? Well, many of these religious institutions offer you something you can’t usually find anywhere else: FREE FOOD! Entire meals are served at many temples, gurudwaras and mosques, while snacks are commonplace at churches.
I’m not suggesting, of course, that you go there just to eat. You can also get something to drink. But if the minister asks if you want to be “filled with the spirit,” it’s probably not a good idea to say, “No, thanks. I’m driving.”
2. Don’t pay interest on your credit card. If you’re buried in credit card debt, it might be time to look in the mirror and accept that there’s only one person to blame for the mess you’re in: your spouse. (Or significant other.) He or she buys all sorts of luxury items with the credit card, whereas you use it only for essential items, such as wool pajamas for the dog. It might be time to get a divorce –- from your credit card.
3. Find vacations on the Internet. Let’s face it: it’s expensive to travel abroad and, even if you can afford it, do you really want to spend half your vacation going through airport security? Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Just travel anywhere in the world –- Tahiti, Jamaica, Hawaii –- by gazing at your Facebook friends’ vacation pics. Put your face right against the computer screen and you’ll almost feel yourself there.
4. Cancel your gym membership. Does it really make sense for you to spend two hours lifting weights, sweating profusely and not getting paid for it? Instead, head to the airport or train station and get yourself a job as a porter. Many companies, including UPS, Wal-Mart and Sears, offer “lifting opportunities,” though it might be a good idea to stay away from shoplifting.
5. Take the bus or train to work and do some reading. The first step is to buy a monthly bus/train pass. The second step is to cancel your newspaper subscription. Why subscribe to the newspaper when you can read it for free over someone’s shoulder?
6. Take advantage of telemarketers. If you get lots of calls from telemarketers, you need to do what I do: sell them stuff. It’s amazing how much you can sell if you’re a little forceful. Just ask Satwinder, the guy in New Delhi who just bought 100 copies of my novel “Bala Takes the Plunge.”
7. Do your own recycling. Don’t throw out that fashion magazine –- pull out the glossy pages and use them to wrap small gifts. Don’t throw out that worn boot –- fill it with soil and grow a plant in it. Don’t throw out that old pair of underwear –- cut it into a fancy shape and use it as a doily.
8. Keep your lotto dreams in check. It’s okay to buy a lottery ticket now and then, but if you’re plunking down 10 bucks a week, you’re throwing your hard-earned money away. Yes, people do win the lottery, but you have a better chance of getting Justin Bieber to share nail polishing tips with you.
9. Think big. Don’t buy a small bag of rice when a big bag is more economical in the long run. The best part is, once the bag is empty, you can recycle it. Just write “Gucci” on the side of it and use it for shopping.
10. Get to know your neighbors. Neighbors can save you a lot of money. In fact, if you’re trying to buy a house, make sure you find one with a plumber living on one side, an electrician on the other and a carpenter across the street. Don’t forget to show them your appreciation with a special gift, such as a nicely wrapped doily.
Photo by Route 79
Melvin Durai’s humourous novel “Bala Takes the Plunge” is now available in North America through McNallyRobinson.com It’s also available at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. Read the latest reviews here.