If you're looking for ways to cut your expenses, take a look at Money's September cover story, "Cut Your Spending by $500 a Month." I admit to being a little biased here, as I was one of the contributors to the story.
As such, I can tell you that coming up with money-saving tips that actually work is tough. Not all of my ideas made it into the story. And frankly, not all of them really deserved to. Here are some of my ideas that I or or my editor decided were too silly, stupid or trivial to make the cut. Bear in mind that I actually do all these things.
- Water down your shampoo. From personal experience, I can tell you that Pert Plus not only lasts longer but works better when it's watered down a bit. I don't know the scientific principle underlying this discovery, but using this tip can save you literally hundreds of cents a year.
- Stop buying so many shoes. You know who you are. You can only wear one pair at a time, unless you wear them on your hands, too. How many shoes do you need, anyway?
- Buy pet toys in the human toys department. Pet toys can be ridiculously expensive. Instead of buying a couple of tiny balls for your cat to chase for $3.99, buy ping pong balls for a buck. Or just wad up pieces of paper. Cats don't care. They'll get bored with whatever you buy for them within a few minutes anyway. Ungrateful jerks.
Listen to tapes.Once upon a time, in the age of boomboxes and Walkmen, tapes were the hottest selling music format around. Now that they've been kicked to the curb, first by CDs and then by digital downloads, no one seems to want them anymore — which means you can find perfectly fine tapes for fifty cents or a dollar at any decent thrift store. If you've still got a working tape deck, let your analog freak flag fly. Sure, you can't easily skip tracks, but who needs to skip tracks when you're listening to Slim Whitman's Greatest Hits, like I am right now? Slim Whitman rules!
- Don't get tattoos. They're expensive going on, and even more expensive coming off. If you want to impress that rocker chick at the bar, draw something on your arm with a Sharpie before introducing yourself to her. It doesn't matter if it looks convincing. She's not going to be interested in you anyway.
- Don't buy groceries until you've absolutely run out of everything, and are reduced to eating nothing but pickles for lunch. To be honest, I'm not actually sure this will save you money. It's just how it always seems to happen in my apartment.
- Stay behind the times. Wait until books come out in paperback and until movies come out on DVD. Don't buy the latest electronic gizmos; see if you can mooch gently used digital cameras and not-all-that-lightweight laptops from your friends and relatives when they upgrade to the latest models. Don't bother changing your hair or clothing styles until people giggle and point at you whenever you leave the house. Speaking of which ...
- Never leave the house. Doing stuff outside the house tends to cost money, so avoid the outside world whenever possible.
Hey, at least none of my tips are quite as stupid as those in this list from Cracked.com. Got your own bad good good bad ideas? Leave a comment and let the rest of us learn about it.