How to save money in five easy steps

As everyone who has a mailbox or cell phone already knows, every day we get offers of a financial nature. Someone wants to buy our house, give us a better deal on car insurance or thinks we need another credit card.

Most of these offers should be avoided.

If you sell your house to take advantage of inflated housing prices, remember all the other houses also went up in price and now that you’re homeless you can’t even afford to buy your old house back because the snake you sold it to wants to make a profit.

The insurance salesman will be happy to take your money as long as you don’t actually use the policy he sells you and if you do your premiums will go up or you’ll get dropped as a bad risk; y’know...the kind of people who insist on using the insurance they’ve paid for.

And if you have trouble paying off the credit cards you already have, using your new Visa card to pay off your old Mastercard isn’t much of a financial plan unless you’re running for president.  

So with all these scammers out there, who – and or whom – should you trust? (I gave you both options on who or whom, so pick one and move on.)

Answer?

You should trust me because I’ve never lied to you or at least you haven’t caught me doing it yet and that should count for something.

I have no ideas for increasing your income, but I can help you stretch the income you already have. In my opinion it’s much easier to save a buck than to make a buck, so here’s how to save money in five easy steps.

1. Have bad taste

I really can’t emphasize this enough and it’s the underlying principle of my money-saving philosophy.

I was reminded of this when I mentioned drinking Crown Royal – which my closest friends call Rown Croyal because I once got hammered and ordered one – and a reader suggested I take a step up in my drinking habits.

Hey, if you’re buying I’ll drink the good stuff.

But that exchange inspired me to go to a bar – which I would never do without good reason – and order a shot of their cheapest whiskey and a shot of their most expensive whiskey.

The paint thinner cost $4 and the good stuff cost $12 and swear to God I couldn’t tell the difference…and that was sober.

Two drinks in I probably couldn’t tell the difference between Laphroaig Lore Single Malt Scotch Whiskey at $120 a bottle and something that could power my lawn mower.

So if you insist on buying something that wasn’t distilled in the back of a convenience store an hour before your arrival, only buy the good stuff for the first round; after that it won’t matter.

2. Never eat on an empty stomach

I used to say I had a $10 palate meaning once I spent $10 on a meal, spending $11 didn’t seem to make the food that much better. These days, with inflation and all that, I guess I could go up to $15, but spending $30 or $300 doesn’t seem to affect the quality of the entree although it does seem to affect the quantity.

Avoid restaurants with big plates.

If a restaurant serves your meal on a plate the size of a Conestoga wagon wheel, they think it justifies putting a dab of artfully-arranged food in the middle; it will remind you of something Jackson Pollock might do if he were running out of paint.

Those are the meals that make you consider stopping by Mickey D’s on the way home to top things off with a Quarter Pounder and fries.

Since you’re going to end up there anyway, eat the Quarter Pounder before you go to Le Haughty Morsel and that way you won’t be tempted to order soup, salad or the pan-seared, teardrops-of-a-blind-virgin-infused hummingbird tongue appetizer.

And while we’re on the subject; never take shit from a snooty maître d’, waiter or sommelier.

Remind yourself that they’re the kind of people who work at a fine restaurant; you’re the kind of person who dines there – even though you’ll be crushing the Golden Corral buffet for the rest of the month to pay for your one night of luxury.

Bottom line: good taste is expensive, so adjust your thinking. 

Low standards are the key to a happy life.

3. Buy dark clothes

I do my own laundry and refuse to separate my whites from my colors; I’m a liberal and don’t believe in segregation of any kind. It’s the principle of the thing and upholding that principle allows me to believe I’m dumping all my clothes into one load for the good of humanity; not because I’m really, really lazy.    

As a result of my political beliefs, all my white clothing eventually looks dingy. Give me a sparkling white T-shirt and two weeks later it looks like a miniature Shroud of Turin with pit stains.

My solution is to buy nothing but dark clothing even though it makes me look a roadie for a Black Sabbath reunion tour. A marinara sauce stain that would ruin a white T-shirt doesn’t even register on a black T-shirt, although you might want to avoid those reunion tour black lights because those pizza stains are going to show up and make you look like a Motel 6 bed cover after a traveling salesman convention.

Your dirty secret will be revealed.

Speaking of which…

4. Stop wearing underwear

I realize we’re entering a controversial area, but hear me out.

Not wearing underwear is “hot” when you’re in your 20s; when you’re in your 60s the only hot thing left on your to-do list is going to Hell for all that stuff you did in your 20s.

Since your fate is sealed anyway, lose the BVDs and/or granny panties and save a few bucks. If you’re concerned about – for lack of a better term – “skid marks” you’ll be fine if you followed my advice on dark clothing.

If this section made you lose your appetite, you’re welcome. I just saved you even more money when you cancel that dinner reservation at Le Haughty Morsel.

5. Shop at second-hand stores

This can save a lot of money if you can just get over the idea that you’re probably wearing some dead dude’s third-favorite shirt that his family didn’t consider snazzy enough to bury him in.

This might be the one time you consider buying light-colored clothing because if you’re going to walk around with those previously-mentioned pit stains, they should probably be your own.

Caveat emptor, which might mean buyer beware or the Emperor just ordered Caviar at Le Haughty Morsel. (I only offer loose translations and morals.)

Where not to save money

Cologne.

This might seem an odd choice, but I have my reasons and once you hear them I think you’ll agree.

Former Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera once told me he thought the way a guy smelled made a big impression on women. Later, we shot a video at Q39 – a Kansas City barbeque restaurant – and all the women in attendance practically trampled me to get to Drew.

When women talk about other men in your presence it means you didn’t even register on their radar; apparently I made no impression and was getting treated like a eunuch in a housewife harem.

Here’s what all those women were saying about Drew: “Oh my god, can you believe how good he smelled?”

Women were asking for the name of his cologne so they could buy some for their husbands, hose him down with it, turn off the lights and pretend he wasn’t fifty pounds overweight, had a bald spot and recently stopped wearing underwear because some idiot on the internet told him it was a good way to save money.

In the dark, those women could pretend he was a young, handsome, big league ballplayer who smelled like a million bucks with interest.

That convinced me Drew was on to something so I bought a bottle of good cologne, but at those prices I can’t afford to smell good every day. So if you meet me and think I smell just OK, you know you didn’t rate the good stuff; if you meet me and think I smell terrific you got the expensive cologne which I now believe is worth every penny.

It makes a big impression on women and even more importantly, covers up the odor of Rown Croyal.