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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Two Cents

As a cost conscious individual whose retirement funds are tied up in the spiraling gasoline market (I still owe three monthly installments on the tank of gas I bought before the bust), I am always attuned to ways of saving money. I’ve found as I’ve traveled through the express lane of life that there are certain factors that clue you in to the road most likely paved with full-priced, economically unstable gold-plated bricks. Keep your eye out for these and grab the next exit toward the coupon-cobbled road of the thrifty and impoverished. This road is often paved with copies of McDonald’s dollar menu.

Always pay attention to product descriptions:

Medication is a specialized treatment that costs not less than twenty-five dollars per designer colored tablet and causes side effects which include, but are not limited to, drooling, drowsiness, hives, death, and poor fashion choices.

Medicine is a couple of aspirin. Without the easy-swallow buffered coating. Side effects: dropping twenty bucks on fashion magazines and makeup at the drugstore at time of purchase.

The department store that advertises a fashion pant is offering up a pair of slacks painstakingly pieced from delicate fabric made of handwoven alpaca wool. The material is priced per square inch on the same rate of exchange used to determine the value of real estate in Beverly Hills. Likewise the word “trousers” used in describing women’s clothes indicates payment in large bills or barrels of crude oil.

On the other hand, a pair of pants, while seemingly twice as much commodity for the money, is often found on the clearance rack at WalMart for ten dollars. Elastic waistband is complimentary. To say the least.

Another important factor to remember is advertising. If a restaurant advertises a lunchtime taco special at the drive-through, you can feed your entire office with a coupon and a twenty dollar bill, with extra salsa to spill on your upholstery. However, if a restaurant is located in a grove of trees on the outskirts of the shopping district, boasts no windows, is barely visible due to subtle lighting, and has an advertising campaign passed by word of mouth over cocktails at the country club, you could book a cruise for a week of summertime fun in Los Cabos, before you afford one of their shrimp.

Likewise, keep in mind that any beauty product advertised by a film star is likely made from the antennae of Guatemalan butterflies and is priced by the gram.

But any product advertised by Paris Hilton is cheap, which in this case is not the same as inexpensive. Choose wisely or risk being followed home by paparazzi with disposable cameras demanding a cleavage shot or an outraged Chihuahua in a tutu trying to serve papers for emotional distress.

Remember that the educated shopper can always find the good buy. And now that the price of gas is coming down, you can save for that hamburger you always wanted. Or afford to give the snotty waiter offering you the dinner special--a glass of water and an olive--at the fancy restaurant a piece of your mind--your own two cents worth. Plus tax.


Melanie Hooyenga said...

Ha! This reminds me of our rule of thumb the few times we shop for souvenir type things. If they are in a building with walls (aka a "store") they have to pay rent and therefore the prices are ten times higher. The people in the artisan market where they just have one wall and a tarp are much more reasonable. The best deals are the people walking around on foot. :)

Robin said...

One of the problems I sometimes have trouble figuring out is when I use the store's "paper" and buy the "buy one and get one free" items, does that count as one item or two when I go through the 10 item or less lane?

Rachel Burton said...

Hysterical! I'm an off-brand shopper at the grocery, except in the case of garbage bags - that has backfired on me on too many times. I now seek out the most expensive, made-with-army-parachute-technoloy bags I can find. The others might as well be tissue paper.

colbymarshall said...

I just bought a cute dress at Walmart for $15 bucks, and I'm pretty sure I saw it later at Dillards for $50...I'm just sayin...