How to save money during the recession and still stay fabulous.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The incredibly talented Michael Alago, coming to Try State Magazine, Issue Three.
How to save money during the recession and still stay fabulous.
I am tired of hearing on how to save money during the recession. All of those article that talk about eating out less, shop less, vacation closer to home (staycation) and renegotiate your cell phone expenses. I don’t want to spend hours shifting through circulars to cut coupons to save forty cents on something I don’t need anyway. I don’t want to go to the library to rent Sister Act and I don’t want to avoid Starbucks or bring my own coffee to work. I will continue to save the same way I always have and increasing my 401k contributions isn’t really going to help anyone except the people who got us into the recession in the first place.
Who will suffer from these annoying personal cutbacks anyway? Me, the cleaning lady, the landscaper, the driver and the barista. Washing my clothing in warm instead of hot is seriously not going to effect my disposable income but here is a few real tips, a balancing act, that save big bucks and allows you to remain fabulous!!
1. The day the cleaning lady comes, leave her extra money to have ‘lunch’ delivered. The lunch menu is significantly less for almost the same portion as the dinner menu. Most places in my area have a great selection for $8.95. They tend to be large portions so two people can share a lunch special. For example my local sushi joint has a bento box special for 8.95, I make a side of rice and viola, dinner for two. To order dinner from the same place would cost about 14.95 a person.
Savings: $20.95 Do this once a week: $83.80 a month.
2. If you live in the suburbs of the city like I do, you can spend a fortune going in and out of the city for entertainment. I am 12 miles outside of New York City and the bus costs $6.25 one way, that’s $12.50 per person. Once you are in the city you will likely take a cab to and from your destination, add on another $12.00 each way, so now you have spent $36.50 just getting to and from your destination.
The fabulous alternative; bring two of your friends along, hire a driver and make him wait for you. I found a driver on the internet for $65 round trip. You are fueling the economy by providing a job, driving safe and getting door to door service. This works especially well if you are doing a two stop trip, no cabs!
Even if you drove in to the city you would spend $8.00 on the toll and at least $35.00 parking. If you change destinations in the night, add on the taxi fee, plus no drinking.
Savings: Between $15 and $30.00 Once a week: between $60 and $120.00
3. Brought all the clothes that I have not worn in over a year to a consignment shop, out with the old Gaultier, Versace and Gucci. The unused gear brought in $580.00.
4. Rent out a joint. Throw a party! Myself and ten friends rented out a local Art Gallery for the night. We ordered catered food from my favorite pizza place as opposed to a caterer and bought our own liquor. We hung our own work on the walls, some were created for the event, some were pieces that were not wanted any longer. We invited all of our friends and had a blow out party. Some of us even sold our artwork which covered our share. The entire event with rental and food cost $600.00, split between ten people was only $60 each for a full night out. I sold a piece of artwork for $100.00 making a profit of $40.00 and saving on a typical night out , another savings of about $60.00. the event was a huge success.
Savings $60, plus the sale of work $100 total savings $160.00
5. Let the landscaper continue cutting the lawn but hire a local kid to plant the flowers. Buy the flowers from a garden store yourself and save on the labor and middle man.
6. Free getaway. We live close enough to Atlantic City, Mohegan Sun and the Poconos. Call the Casino Boss direct and tell them you would like to come for the weekend and get some comp rooms. Play it up like you are a bunch of single people coming to party or celebrate an occasion, you will wreak of big sloppy spenders and they will be happy to comp you some rooms. If you don’t loose money gambling or don’t gamble at all, you just scored yourself some free accommodations. Take full advantage of drinks in the casino, the beach, the boardwalk, the indoor pool and some comp show tickets. If you intend not to gamble at all, I suggest calling a casino that you never plan on going back to.
Savings: up to $500
7. Barter with the Masseuse. Many Massage therapists are feeling the crunch of the recession, it is, after all a high luxury expense. Ask your masseuse if you can buy a package up front or barter services (I offered up free advertising space on my website). You can most likely get five for the price of four.
8. If you own any luxury car, and if your fabulous then you probably do. Many of them (Mercedes, Range Rover, Jaguar) include complimentary Concierge service. If you are like me, time is money. Now this won’t necessarily save you measurable cash, but it can save you time and aggravation. Task the concierge to death. Have them make all your reservations; dinner, shows, events, etc. This is especially useful when you travel. I recently had the concierge find a yoga class, make dinner reservations for three nights and map me out an entertainment itinerary by dumping a bunch of unorganized tid bits on her. If you do this correctly, you will get a hotline number and email address to correspond with the person assigned to assist you. If you paid a personal assistant to do all this work, it would be at least $20 an hour.
Savings: $20 an hour
9. Get samples. If you are like me and spend a ton on product, don’t be afraid to load up on samples. the more you buy, the more samples you should get. Even if you purchase product at one counter, once you have that shopping bag you are entitled to get samples from other counters. Not only will you get top of line product, they are much better to travel with anyway. Most airlines only allow you to bring liquids under 3 oz. anyway. Then once you travel, pay for the upgraded hotel and suite (I mean you saved a ton on getting samples anyway). Once you are in the suite, hoard the mini products. I don’t mean the dove soaps. Here’s two examples. On a recent trip and hotel upgrade, the hotel supplied Molton Brown toiletries! I love Molton Brown and usually purchase their products at the store. Now their fabulous Yuan Zhi Sleep mist retails for $38.00 for 3.3 oz. The hotel supplies 1.5 oz complimentary. I stayed two days and acquired two bottles. Total savings:$38.00 they also supplied body wash, shampoo and conditioner. grabbed a couple of each, total savings, another $38.00.
On another trip the hotel supplied Gilchrist & Soames products in pretty generous portions. The shower gel alone retails for $24.00, soap $10.00, shampoo $24.00 and conditioner $24.00. Now mind you the retail price includes about 5 more oz. than the samples, but grabbing a few more samples by simply putting the unused portions in you travel bag before housekeeping comes in... viola you just saved $82.00 in product! Oh plus, you are in suite, but you should be anyway!
10. All of this brings me back to the cleaning lady. This is how I recoup the $100.00 a week to get her for free. I don’t really consider it penny -pinching since it is effortless and does not effect the fabulousness on any level.
- Brew Iced Tea at home. With Snapple and other ice teas reaching about $1.59 each, it is seriously time to downsize on them. The other factor is, they are loaded with crap anyway. Even my favorite Vitamin water has as much sugar as soda and less than a teaspoon of actual vitamins. If you go through caseloads like I do, the savings is pretty significant. If you drink three a day for a week, that is $33.39. Cost of brewing fresh green tea, under a dollar.
Savings: 32.00 a week x two people = $64.00
-Buy bagels directly from the bagel store, bring them home, slice them, put them in a ziploc in the fridge. A bagel with butter at the store is about $1.60. each or $5.40 a dozen.
Savings: $13.80 a week
-Switch cleaning products. Who cares? you are not using them anyway, the free cleaning lady is! I switched to Fabuloso and white vinegar, it cost about a dollar and it cleans everything. I was able to get rid of the bathtub cleaner, toiletbowl cleaner, windex, counter top cleaner, stainless steel cleaner, granite cleaner and floor cleaner. Fabuloso is made by Colgate and is a staple in many houses in South America. It works like a charm and the house doesn’t smell like chemicals afterwards. At over $4.00 a product, that is monthly savings of over $30.00
So by toasting a bagel, making a cup of tea and changing a product I could care less about, I have free cleaning service. Plus add $7.80 profit.