In these troubled economic times, you can’t turn on the TV ( which you shouldn’t be doing because electricity costs money and it’s cheaper to look at old photos!) or read a magazine ( which you shouldn’t even have because you’re supposed to cancel all your subscriptions and just read the side of your cereal box instead!) without bumping into some finance wonk putting forth advice on how to save money. Some of this is helpful, since reducing household budgets has for most of us turned into a necessity. I don’t mind Suze Orman because I think she’s smart and also I believe the time she spends yelling at me on cable is what keeps her from killing.
But some of the methods we’re being offered to cut down on spending also seem to require cutting down on feeling sane. For instance: one money saving website offered up the idea that at holiday time this year, in lieu of store bought gifts I should consider giving my friends home made candles. Um…no. First of all, based on the fact that I currently own absolutely no candle making materials, and would probably have to take a class on how to put said materials together, I see this investment running into the millions of dollars. And secondly, the idea of making a candle sounds intrinsically sad to me. I have a vague memory of doing this on a first grade class trip and it sent me into a depression that has yet to lift.
I don’t mind Suze Orman because I think she’s smart and also I believe the time she spends yelling at me on cable is what keeps her from killing.
I don’t mean to make light of the sacrifices anyone is being forced to make. I grew up in a coupon clipping, thrift store-shopping household. But maybe that’s part of the reason I think that if you have any flexibility at all, you should hang on to at least a handful of the small indulgences that allow you to give yourself a daily dose of kindness.
So here are my top five ways you should not save money:
1. Texting: Some people say that texting is an unnecessary expense on my monthly cell phone bill. I say the economic crisis is not yet severe enough to force me to actually speak to my booty calls.
2. Energy Saving Fluorescent Bulbs: I admit, I’m on the fence about this one because I know that in addition to being cheaper they’re also better for the environment, and I believe in doing my part. So I actually purchased these bulbs the other day and attempted to put one in my living room lamp. The whole area was instantly flooded with the clinical ghostly light usually seen in embalming rooms, with me as the terrifying wintergreen-complexioned corpse in the center (albeit a corpse eating cheese and watching Mad Men). I immediately put my soft white age-defying Blanche Dubois bulb back in, and hid the fluorescent way back under my sink, next to the weird Swiffer replacement thingies that have been there since dinosaur times.
3. Expensive Toilet Paper: Sure I could save a buck buying the cheap stuff, but for now I refuse. Because after getting reamed by our inept government with this seven hundred billion dollar bailout package, I think we all need to use something with aloe.
4. Completely Random iTunes Purchases: I know ninety-nine cents here and ninety cents there starts to add up. But I reserve the right to have a conversation with a friend about how much we loved that ridiculously fun Salt-N-Pepa song “Shoop,” and then sprint home a minute later to go on the iTunes store and buy “Shoop.” Ninety-nine cents does not feel like a lot to pay for the hours of joy that running around my house and lip syncing to Shoop brings me. Why not just swipe it off Torrent or Lime Wire for free, you ask? Because unlike John McCain, I believe in spreading the wealth around, especially where beloved female hip-hop groups are concerned. They recorded “Push It,” for Pete’s Sake. They deserve my dollar, even if Joe the Plumber doesn’t think so.
5. Cable Package: Since I’m being told I shouldn’t go out to eat, shouldn’t go on trips, shouldn’t go to the movies, and shouldn’t go shopping, then I am absolutely NOT cutting back on one damn channel of my cable package. I am going to watch HBO. And Showtime. And frigging Starz. And Starz Edge, whatever that is. And frigging Encore. And something called Encore Wam. And Encore in HD. And then I’m going to get the Spanish and West Coast versions of those channels as well. And something monolithically called Speed Channel (I’m fascinated by the lack of “the.”) Because if the economy has been bungled so badly that sitting around at home and waiting for the apocalypse is the order of the day, then I am going to lasso every single digital atom of picture that the cable universe has to offer. I’m gonna watch till Lifetime comes out with the made for TV movie about the economic crisis of 2008, with Stanley Tucci as Hank Paulson, and the part where he gets down on his knees and begs for his bailout package in Congress will only be slightly cornier than it was in real life. And I’ll get so absorbed I’ll forget to pay my ConEd bill, at which point the power will go out and I’ll just sit in the dark, wishing I’d learned how to make those candles.