Jesus Saves...because he uses coupons... 

With the economy the way that it is, I’m getting really sick of reading all of these articles on “how to save money” or “how to cut $500 from your budget every month.”

I’m certainly no expert on how to save money, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

When suggestions aren’t ridiculously obvious (eat out less) these articles recommend things that range from the infeasible (carpool or ride the bus to work)…to the down-right stupid (raise your own chickens). Of course…that means that they’re only infeasible and stupid to me. I must not be as price sensitive to apparent luxuries like fried chicken. But if your village permits you to have your own chicken coop, and you find you can do it cheaper than the Colonel…then by all means…proceed.

Apparently to save thousands…
All you have to do is become a sweaty, joyless, pauper who rides the bus and wears used clothing.

Cut your entertainment budget by…
“Going to matinees instead of evening movies…”
“Renting movies instead of going to the movies…”
“Borrowing movies from the library to watch at home…”

Okay…I got it. Apparently I’m not supposed to go to the movies. That’s okay. I can jive with that. I can probably survive a matinee film while enduring the never-ending chattiness of blue-haired biddies or the Ritalin deprived rugrats who spill drinks on me. I can also save an ounce of my sanity and just wait for that movie to head to Blockbuster.

However, I don’t think that the library films are an acceptable substitute. Librarians don’t seem to recognize that Hollywood made movies after 1988; and while I think that The Labyrinth is a fine movie, and I never tire of seeing David Bowie with a wig and a cod piece…I’d like to have a fresh perspective on current cinema.

With all the silliness in “cost cutting,” there are some bits of recurring advice that I fully embrace. Consolidating some variable rate student loans for a lower interest rate is a solid piece of advice that will not impact your quality of life. Likewise with calling your credit card company to ask for a better rate. Dial up your local cable provider and threaten (nicely) to cancel service if you don’t get their current promotion. Keep calling until you find someone who gives you the latest deal. You don’t always have to give up niceties (like an evening at the movies) to save a few bucks…you just have to make a few phone calls.

It’s kind of sad. Instead of sitting at home watching library movies with the A/C turned off in your second-hand clothes…couldn’t you be actively pursuing other revenue streams?

If you’re the type of person who would forgo a movie with friends to save $10, wouldn’t you also be the kind of person to spend a little time and effort to make $50?

When I was seriously strapped for cash in grad school…I engaged in textbook arbitrage. I bought many copies of a widely used Calculus textbook from half.com after the semester ended. In 2004, most major universities were still using the same textbook I used in 1999…same edition…everything. Then I would wait two months, mark up the price by $40 - $50 and sell it on another textbook site (one with traditionally higher prices). Media mail only costs $2-$3 to ship, so I could make a couple hundred dollars with very minimal effort (you can usually turn around the book sale much quicker if you only expect $20-$30 a book).
Students sell their books to me for more than the local bookstore was offering (never sell to the bookstore!!!!), and I in turn sell it to them for less than the bookstore is charging.

It’s not a brilliant, well thought out plan or anything, but it’s a really easy way to make a few bucks if you’re a student.

I went to the movies a lot. …and they weren’t even matinees.


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