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How I Cope with Being Frugal (Cheap): A Guide

These are hard, hard times friends. The Dow Jones is binging and purging, the Nasdaq is anorexic, and the S&P… well the S&P was pretty emaciated before anyway. You’re low on cash, and no matter how many T.I. songs you listen to, you just don’t have any “rubber band banks” in your pocket with which to pay a fair wage to all your “ho’s.”  Well brothers and sisters, I’m hear to walk you through these penny-pinching times. There are plenty of ways to cut corners so that you can afford to continue to purchase reasonably priced Apple products. See that? That was sarcasm, and baby that stuff is free.

Unlike other guides, I’m going to provide the advice here in the first person. I’m here to lead by example through this post-apocalyptic land where even Kevin Costner can’t get work making crappy movies. That’s right, these are going to be my personal testimonies about my brilliant, money saving strategies. If there were an 800 number on the screen, this is where you would call now.

I Take Free Stuff
You ever hear of free? Free isn’t expensive. Free is actually pretty cheap. T.I. and Fitty Cent don’t EVER have songs about free stuff, because it costs exactly zero dollars and zero cents. No one wants to bounce to a hip hop jig about “dis bitchin two for one deal I got at Arby’s.” No, those gentlemen will not be penning any ballads in tribute to my current lifestyle. When I say “free stuff,” though, don’t be mistaken. I’m not only talking about Miller Lite promotional items you get at bars from immodestly dressed strumpets. Nor am I referencing the completely genuine diamond encrusted watch that you’ll receive if you just buy 25 years of magazine subscriptions. I am talking about taking things that are technically free, but likely aren’t intended to be pillaged. As you’re likely just as poor as I am (I’m thinking this way to prevent myself from hating you), you’ve probably spent a decent amount of time lately in fast food restaurants. Ever take a lustful glance at the condiment bar? God knows I have. And let me tell you, I let that temptation take over. Each time I leave a fast food restaurant, my pockets are lined with napkins, salts and peppers, ketchup packets, paper crowns, plastic utensils, and whatever the hell else I can take without threat of legal prosecution. Oh you laugh, but we’ll see who’s laughing when you have to spend $1.25 buying napkins at Target. Chumps!

This isn’t limited to fast food establishments. Nor is it limited to me. Here’s some input from our good friend Gretchen:

I [take] EVERYTHING from a hotel room. Soap, shampoo, sometimes a washcloth or two, tea bags, coffee, pens, pads of paper…  I’ve even considered the Bible but it was the Gideon’s so I thought better of it. And if I see an unmanned cart in the hallway you better believe I grab a couple extras for the road.

Wise words, Gretchen. You never really know when you’re going to need a shower cap. With the way hipsters are going lately, perms may be all the rage next month. You see how we don’t say “steal”? That’s because we’re not stealing. That stuff is free. Just because they don’t expect me to fill my backpack with napkins on the way out doesn’t mean I’m stealing. It simply means they weren’t prepared for the desperate measures that I’m taking during these desperate times. Other places to take free stuff: Job fairs, health fairs, any kind of fairs, banks (careful with that one, they’re sensitive to theft for some reason), and those demonstration tables at the grocery store where they’re giving Bagel Bites out for free.

According to one of our South African readers – we have thousands – free condoms are readily available in South Africa. You know what I’m thinking, right? Yeah, that’s right. Free entertainment! Fill those babies with water and you never have to buy balloons again. Blow them up for parties, make funny hats with them, or pull them over your face if you’re going to rob a convenience store. And hey, some of them come flavored, so I guess that means they’re edible in case you’re short on food. That’s why they’re flavored, right? Right?

I Reuse Everything
For those of you that are sexually active, this principle should not apply to the free condoms you packed your suitcase full of while in South Africa. This does apply to almost everything else, though. Plastic bags particularly. I have plastic bags that I’ve been using to carry certain things for – and I’m not kidding – years. And these aren’t high quality, ritzy plastic bags from Rodeo Drive or something. No, these are bags that I got at Target. I use them as trash bags, lunch bags, luggage, gift bags (that’s right, be grateful you got anything), shoe coverings for floody days, and whatever other random need I can think of. Plastic bottles are also great for reuse, although some people have told me something about some kind of bad chemical that gets loose and goes crazy in the bottle once you reuse it. Sound like a conspiracy theory started by the Big Plastic Bottle companies? I think so too. Besides, whatever that chemical is, it probably gets you high. Yep, for free. The values are everywhere. Some of those “green” people will call this “recycling” or something liberal like that. Make no mistake, I’m not doing this for the environment. I’m an American, there are only three people I care about: Me, Myself, and Paris Hilton. My motivations are always monetary, which is why I’m looking to marry a wealthy cougar (or Paris Hilton).

And that’s that, readers. Those are a few of the ways in which I cope with my brutal frugality. I hope that my wisdom can help guide you to a wealthier, more-paper-napkin-having life.

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