Econ 101: Saving Money

After living with my fiance for a few months now, I’ve come to realize that men and women have a vastly different definition of saving money. For instance, my fiance will return from the mall every Sunday afternoon with several armloads of shopping bags, a car trunk full of more merchandise and a delivery truck idling in the driveway. I, being the designated curmudgeon of the household, raise a suspicious eyebrow when she enters the door. Before I say a word, she will instantly begin a defense of her extravagant spending and boast of all the money she saved

Now, unless those shopping bags are full of deposit receipts from our local bank, I fail to see how any saving has occurred. In my miserly book, spending money can ever be considered saving money. I learned quickly that when she’s eager to share the news of her “savings,” she’s not referring to her 401k. To my dismay, she instead held up an endless parade of jeans, sweaters, jewelry, makeup and dozens of other “necessities” that up to this point we had somehow miraculously managed to live without. Some people save for retirement by investing in bonds and stocks, we on the other hand, have our “savings” diversified in GAP clothing, Latte’s and extended warranties.

Tragically, this logic is lost on my fiance. She comes home expecting praise for all the “good buys” and “great sale prices” she found; instead she gets a microeconomics lesson from Professor Scrooge P. Pennypincher (a.k.a. Me). Somehow, in a form of girl-math I’ll never understand, a woman can empty her bank account in a shopping spree, yet still feel she is somehow coming out ahead. In fact, I wonder if women come home from shopping trips and worry about having to claim this new “income” on their tax return.

Sensing my initial frustration, my fiance is convinced that if she shows me all of her purchases and itemizes her spending aloud I’ll suddenly realize what a great deal we got on stuff we didn’t need. During this fashion show, sometimes she will treat me like a contestant on “The Price Is Right” and ask me to guess the “actual retail price” of her items. Since “Plinko” chips or a possible “Showcase Showdown” are not on the line, my enthusiasm is somewhat lacking. Of course, the grand finale comes when she announces the rock-bottom price she paid, and awaits my series of back flips while she reminds the audience to have their pets spayed or neutered…

Of course, this reaction doesn’t come. The saddest part of this struggle is the contrast in lifestyles we lead. My fiance makes Paris Hilton look frugal, while I’m basically living like an Amish street-urchin. I’m not ashamed to admit I still wear Homecoming ’94 T-shirts from high school and have hole-filled underwear on right now. It’s very frustrating, unlike my fiance, I can only dream of indulging in luxurious items like “bottled water” and having clothes “dry cleaned.”

Naturally, the stores and retail chains are complicit in this operation. This is especially maddening, as the stores know a woman will buy something she already has, or worse, doesn’t even need because it is On Sale! In fact, I think women’s clothing boutiques don’t even bother printing the total amount of their purchase, since women aren’t really concerned with that figure anyway. Instead, they boldly display a grand total of their “savings,” and bury the actual money spent somewhere in the fine print or on illegible carbon paper… Using a formula of inflated regular prices, tons of advertising, and fictitious “sales,” the stores have managed to transform shopping into an investment opportunity. Women leave the stores well dressed and penniless, yet somehow feeling shrewd over the dealings. Of course, when I point this out, I’m not being a savvy consumer, but rather, the cheapskatiest man on earth.

So, anyway, sorry if this got a little verbose, I just have a lot of time to think about these issues during my graveyard shifts at the second job I’ve taken to pay off our staggering bills. But fear not, I’ve decided to go on the offensive… This Sunday I plan to set my alarm for 4 am so I can race to the driveway and divulge the paper of its plentiful ads. And, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rip all the cable jacks out of my house, as JC Penney launched a new commercial using the teaser: “The more you spend, the more you save!!!” God help us…

Acoustical Analysis (pun intended)

I’m convinced the best acoustics in the world are not at the Mormon Tabernacle in Utah, nor the Gorge Amphitheater, or even in the shower as is commonly believed. The best acoustics in the world are in the toilet bowl in the bathroom at my workplace. You can hear the activities in there for miles. I swear there is a hidden mic or something. The slightest puff of air sounds like twister is right outside the window. There is a printed out sheet of paper tacked above the toilet warning everyone of the extreme consequences of their actions, so to speak, but no one follows it because, apparently, I work with a stealth team of Mission: Impossible poopers. You know, the ones who think they can just sit and lower down their payload without triggering any of the acoustic or motion detectors expertly tucked inside the toilet bowl. Needless to say, they are wrong and the whole office is acutely aware of their misperception.

You would think the person who designs toilet bowls would probably put in some of that sound dampening material or something. Or not make it a perfect parabola that just bounces all the sound waves into one loud focal point. Come to think of it, if I designed toilet bowls I wouldn’t change a thing. How else would I get any “feedback” on my designs?

Modern-Day Romance

on our first date
we hit it off
i said I was a Little Ceasar’s man
you said you wanted a slice
but not from Pizza Hut
because they don’t have cheap crazy bread

we both like Target
way better than Mervyn’s
for clothes and for knick knacks
even though they are similar
how perfect is that

but it hasn’t been all
Ben and Jerry’s
you’ve opened my eyes
to feelings I’ve never known
I had never even tried
the chalupa at Taco Bell
when you said it was better
than the gordita
it was a struggle
but now I think we are on common ground

we both like the Gap
but would never shop at Abercrombie
we both think that Burger King
is way better than McDonalds
we are like two scoops
of the same ice cream at Baskin-Robbins

but i knew it was fate
the night we shared
that we both can’t stand
Friends
but loved Saved By the Bell

we share everything there
is to share with one another
and we play back the memories
over the soundtrack from
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

and we won’t get chicken
from KFC
because it’s too greasy

Zillion Dollar Idea #836

I’m about five seconds away from getting out some toilet paper, scissors, and masking tape in order to fashion the world’s first “Toilet Paper Glove.” I know what you’re thinking and, no, it is not related to my loss of innocence (although, note to self: look into non-tearing, quilted, two-ply “toilet paper glove” with “handy” roller dispenser). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the “toilet paper glove.”

I’m sick of trying to change my bad habits. I want services and products that adapt to me, instead of forcing me to change the “bad” behaviors that have become hard-wired in my brain. I’m talking about the same concept that brought us the dentist, people. Instead of “brushing my teeth” or “flossing,” I just pay the dentist to jackhammer in my gums for a few hours and, voila, I come out looking like a famous literary character (Hint: scroll down to the block quote) . To this day, I laugh maniacally whenever I see someone wasting their time on dental hygiene!

Which brings me to the “toilet paper glove” again. I’m considering crafting a “toilet paper glove” so that I can just wipe my runny nose with my hand as I do usually, except this way it will be sanitary. And I won’t have to wipe all the accumulating hand-snot on my jeans. Or on my socks. Or on the cuff of my long-sleeve shirt. Or on the inside of my pants pockets. Or on my boxer shorts. (Cue the Forrest Gump rip-off music.) Or on my hairnet. Or on my legwarmers. Or on my excessively large russian fur hat…

One box of “toilet paper gloves” (the name has a sort of “ring” to it, don’t you think) will only cost like $10 bucks or so. I figure, if everyone is like me, they’d probably pay $10 seeing that it will offset 97% of all laundry costs. For example, one dry-cleaning of my excessivley large russian fur hat usually runs $15 or so.

Free Beef!!!

I think Les Schwab is doing something right. If case you haven’t seen the ads on TV, Les Schwab is giving away free beef with the purchase of new tires. Free Beef! Are you hearing me people? Buy tires, get free beef. It’s marketing genius, and they’ve been doing it for years. After all, when it comes to closing a tire sale, nothing sweetens the pot like red meat.

I can only imagine how this promotion came to pass:
Customer (hesitantly): “Well, the warranty is good, and the price is right… but I’m just not sure…”
Salesman: “Alright, you’re twistin’ my arm here, but how ’bout I throw in a big hunk of raw meat and we call it a deal?”
Customer: “Sold!!!”

The marketing team at Les Schwab apparently studied their key tire-buying demographic and reached this conclusion:
1. Let’s face it, vegetarians don’t buy tires.
2. The tire-buying public are all bloodthirsty carnivores.

With this in mind, they knew that offering “Free Salad!” with every tire purchase would get them nowhere. And thus, the free beef campaign was born.

To fully appreciate the brilliance of this promotion, we need to understand their use of two seemingly unrelated products. They combined tires and beef into complimentary goods. First of all, this promotion could never succeed with other products. Can you imagine: “Buy a Home Pregnancy Test, Get Free Beef!” or “Buy Tires, Get a Free Nipple-Piercing!” Because of this campaign, beef and tires now go together like peanut butter and jelly. You almost can’t imagine one without the other. And therein lies the genius.

Finally, speaking as a man that eats six servings of red meat per day, this is a dream come true. How many times do I find myself making two special trips for both tires and beef? This promotion by Les Schwab is one stop shopping, at it’s best.