Saturday, March 27, 2010

Things Not To Buy: Anything From A Convenience Store

Dear Cheapskate,

Tip: Never, ever, buy anything from a convenience store.

By "Convenience Store" I mean any little 7-11 type store, any gas station store, and any "Mom and Pop" (or in the case of my 'hood, a "Geezer and Nephew") corner store.

Last Thursday, while traveling to Napa with my son (he's alive!) for his job interview, we stopped at a Rotten Robbie to fill up our water bottles (free) and to use the bathroom (free). We observed harried commuters parting with their money! Cars were lined up to buy gas. (The cars weren't buying the gas, the people were buying the gas.) Our bicycles didn't need any gas. We got to Napa (40 miles) for free!

Inside this money-sucking establishment a gaggle of bookpack-wearing, ipod-listening middle schoolers were also busy parting with their money. A 13 year old girl ahead of me in line (I had to wait to get the bathroom key -

"Do you have a water fountain?"
"A wa-ter foun-tain?"
"A what?"
"Never mind. Can I have the bathroom key?"
"The bathroom key?"
Grudgingly hands over the bathroom key.

spent $6.05 on a handful of candy bars!! Ok, yes, candy bars are mighty delicious, but $6.05?? Where did she get $6.05, anyway? If she put $6.05 into a bank account every day then at the end of the year she'd have $2,208.25!!!

If she had planned ahead and bought the candy bars 3-for-a-dollar at Grocery Outlet she would have saved $5.05 per day, or $1,842.25 per year.

On a recent trip to Grocery Outlet I  saw an enterprising middle schooler stocking up on 3-for-a-dollar candy bars to sell at school. Nice little business!

Tip: Every single thing at a convenience store can be purchased for a fraction of the price elsewhere.

Tip: There is nothing you actually need at a convenience store. Want, yes. Need, no. (Moon pie, pig ears, beer, coke slush puppy, Hulstler magazine, RV magazine, lottery ticket, energy vitamin pack, car freshener for that "new car" smell, jerky, cigarette lighter...)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pets: Entertainment

Dear Cheapskate,

Cats like to watch birds and squirrels. It's great entertainment.
I like to watch cats watching birds and squirrels. It's great entertainment.

It's easy (and cheap) to lure brids and squirrels. Simply toss leftover bread scraps onto the porch.

Fun ensues.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When Your Slab Fails You: Redux

Dear Cheapskate,

This morning, early, well before the hour when the sun attempts to peek through the fog and well before the hour when I usually wake, I drove to the Greyhound station to pick up my son.
Made it to the Greyhound station.
Plus one block.

Long story short: I am now walking the walk. I no longer possess an automobile. It's all walking or bike riding for me. I have sometimes been self-righteous and hypocritical, bragging about how little I use my car and how we should all do away with cars for the sake of the planet while still using a car.

"Ha!" you say. "Let's see how you like really not having a car, smartypants!"

Yes, we shall see.

I'll save at least $100 a month on car expenses, plus I'll save because it'll be difficult to buy stuff. If it's raining or dark, for example, I will be disinclined to walk or cycle  to the store and thus I will not part with my precious money. If I'm hungry enough, I'll go, or I'll finally eat that old stuff in the freezer.