Barry Smith: Irrelativity
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Looking to save some money? Here’s how:
• Cut your own hair. Why send your family to these fancy, expensive hair “$alons” when you can do it substantially cheaper? And, with just a few decades of practice, better! Hair cutting requires little or no skill and the simplest of tools (butter knife, head-sized bowl). And, for those family members who may be resistant to giving up their luxury coif, a home haircut, unlike home outpatient medical procedures (see below), can easily be performed on someone who’s asleep.
• Make your own prescription drugs. The majority of the synthetic drugs that we take are just overpriced ripoffs of naturally occurring elements, most of which can be found in tree bark. Ever see a beaver at the pharmacist? When the police ask why you’re gnawing on a tree in a public park, tell them it’s for your angina. Duh. When they ask why you’re doing so in your underwear, tell them pants are expensive. Duh.
• With a few small adjustments, your life can be incredibly sustainable. Start by wearing white clothing exclusively and eating nothing but colorful foods – blueberries, chocolate, tomato sauce. Oh, wait – that’s how to be more “stainable.” Sorry, I misread that first sentence.
• Build your own electronic gear. All of the gizmos and gadgets of modern life are incredibly marked up. Did you know that an iPad only costs $1.47 to manufacture? Did you also know that you can easily build an iPad at home using torn strips of cloth, dried macaroni noodles, a can of gold spray paint and a hot glue gun? Or, if a hot glue gun doesn’t work for your budget, you can use white glue or even a homemade flour-and-water paste. Assemble all the items in the most obvious way, glue them together, and you’ll be downloading apps in no time! If you don’t want to pay for apps – and who does? – you can make your own using any leftover materials. Easy!
• Grow your own food. You can probably find a book on how to do this.
• Contact-lens technology has come a long way since I was a lad but not so far that I can’t crank out a set quickly and easily with some scissors and a piece of plastic wrap. (Hint: Choose used plastic wrap for even greater savings!) Though the end result can take some getting used to, it’s a far better vision-correction solution than trying to perform your own Lasik surgery. In next week’s column, we’ll discuss how to make your own saline solution using only water, salt, tabasco and chicken broth.
• Do your own home and auto repairs. Things break down, that’s a given, but shelling out money to the so-called experts is such a scam. Fix your own car engine using a hose and a couple of wrenches. An old inner tube will fix a leaking roof in no time. A stick of gum will fix an old inner tube. And so on. Experts, schmexperts.
• Become a hobo. Hobos are trending at the moment, so it’s a perfect time to jump on both the bandwagon and the boxcar. In the old days, becoming a hobo required a very low initial investment, but now that the big-name designers have seen the potential, a contemporary hobo setup (stick, bandanna, gloves with fingers cut out, comically oversized shoes, etc.) will run you about $12,000. You could go for a cheaper Target or J.C. Penny “discount hobo” look, but the other hobos will know you’re not the real deal, and they’ll judge. Nothing stings worse than the scorn of hobos. Best to spend the coin upfront and do this right.
• Make your own entertainment. Dump your cable and Internet service, and entertain your family like people used to do in the old days, by sitting around the fire in the living room and singing songs and telling stories of how you’re starting to regret making your own fireplace using leftover tires.
• Steal things that you would ordinarily pay for. You can save hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars using this method, depending on, you know, the cost of the stuff you steal. There are some moral, and in some cases legal, complications to contend with, but if you’re serious about saving money, this is the most directly effective method. You can even sell some of the things that you’ve stolen, thereby not only saving money but also making it! Wow. This really is the perfect financial solution. This item should have been much higher up in the list.
Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.