Sunday, March 01, 2009

Recession Busting - The Mill's Money Saving Tips

Economic crisis. Credit crunch. Housing bust. Subprime nightmare. Worst recession this solar system has ever seen.

Whatever you like ot call it, it still pretty much sucks. Constantly worrying about your next paycheck, and if/when that pink slip is going to arrive on your desk. If only you could save enough money – while you still have a job – to weather the storm if you did happen to get the axe.

One thing is for sure: this downturn will end at some point, and the economy will rebound. It’s a law of nature, an example of absolute metaphysical certitude, just like life and death. And as with the circle of life - applied to stocks and bonds, housing prices and jobless rates – all this too shall pass.

So don’t sweat it. Just try to sock away a bunch of dough now, in case you get fired from your investment banking job, your career as a mortgage broker, or Chrysler/GM/Ford executive. Because for many of you, you’re pretty goddamn likely to be unemployed at some point during the next 6 months. If you do still have a job, consider yourself lucky to be reading this post – while there’s still hope.

Without further ado, here are a few fun and easy ways to save a ton of cash. And with any of these tips, the cash saved should be stashed in the same place – wrapped in a Ziploc bag, crammed into a cigar box along with a chunk of cinder block, and plunged into the toilet tank. Trust me - it’s safer than any bank.

1) Only eat packages of instant ramen, and cans of baked beans. You can get 5 packs of ramen for one dollar, and 3 cans of beans for a buck. At those prices, you can eat and be full for about 12 dollars a month. Savings: $1,200/month.

2) Dress old/make yourself look like a senior citizen. You’d be surprised how seldom they ask an old-looking person for ID when you purchase a senior rate movie ticket, or request the AARP nightly rate at a hotel. So pull your pants up to your armpits, put on a gray wig and WWII-themed baseball cap, and draw some wrinkles on your face with an eyeliner pencil. It works better than you’d ever imagine. Savings: $350/month.

3) Forget the doctor or the dentist. If you’re sick right now, hold out until the economy recovers before you get some medical attention. Your recovery can probably wait. You’ll save money on co-pays and prescription fees. If you’re a hypochondriac like me, that can really add up. Savings: $180/month.

4) Sleep in your car. Forgo an apartment or other standard forms of housing. This is especially valuable advice if you need a car to get to work. It’s got a roof, climate control, and with split fold-down rear seats you can really stretch your legs out into the trunk. If you can park for free down by the old abandoned benzene refinery, then you can really save some serious bucks. Savings: $800 - $2,500/month.

5) Train your dog to perform magic tricks, or train your child as an acrobat. With these circus sideshow performance skills, you can pull in extra cash wherever you are - the subway, the bus stop, or the Big Top. The actual income can vary wildly, but once the animal/child is fully trained, there are very few incremental expenses. Pretty much all of their earnings will go straight into your pocket – and then into the toilet tank, as discussed earlier.

Hopefully, of course, it never comes to this. You keep your job, and the economy turns around within a few months. But it’s never a bad idea to be prepared. And it’s never a bad idea to sleep in your car or to keep your life savings in the toilet.

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