My people, my people. We can't do anything about the banking industry. That horse is out the barn and down the road. But we can do something about our own personal economics and I am here to set you right. Aren't you glad? I have some ideas for investments you can make with NO MONEY DOWN! Let's go.
1. Your Teeth!
It has come to my attention that some of you are not flossing your teeth. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Have you been to the dentist lately? Every time you go in for something other than a cleaning, you can plan on shelling out at least $500 even if you HAVE dental insurance.
"But I don't LIKE to floss..." whine whine whine. So do you LIKE a root canal? Buy some Glide floss, people. It makes the whole process so much easier. It is expensive as hell but guess what? For the price of one root canal, you can buy, oh, about a lifetime supply of Glide!
And while you are over there in the tooth care section, invest $7 in a spin brush. My hygienists are all over that thing. They say it will keep me from scrubbing my gums away, which is one of my many bad habits. They keep wanting to sell me the $200 kind in the office, but they as much as admitted that the cheapies work just as well.
Blah blah blah money blah blah blah health blah you know you should quit etc etc etc. Got that?
3. Quit driving like a moron
Yesterday I got to have to joyful experience of having a guy come up behind me on the freeway and ride my butt for a while before making some dangerous (no turn signal, of course!) lane changes and zooming off. This was about 15 miles from home. We got to the stoplight closest to my house and I was right behind him after having driven in my customary turtlish manner the whole way. I laughed hard, and he saw me laughing. And he knew I was laughing AT him, not with him. Felt soooo good.
So drive like a reasonable person. No drag racing stops and starts, no weaving in and out of traffic. Enjoy the ride and save some gas.
4. Learn to cook
Eating out is bad for your pocketboot and bad for your health. The reason that those restaurant meals are so tasty is that they are full of fat and salt.
Learn to make 5 simple dinners and keep the ingredients around. They don't always have to be from scratch. Some soup, a roll, bagged salad mix. Voila. You have just saved $12 on going out.
On Sunday night, make a pot of something starchy. Often, I steam up a couple pounds of new potatoes. Then I can make something easy using the potatoes as a base - a tortilla espanola (which is a flat omelet with potatoes and onions), potato salad with lots of chopped up veggies in it, a potato, chile and cheese quesadilla, etc etc. Or do brown rice or quinoa or beans. This little bit of advance planning can save you again and again.
Bonus clue: Not everyone has room, but if you can just grow a pot of herbs, you will make cooking so much more enjoyable and fun, and you will save money on buying bundles of fresh herbs.
5. Cancel impulse buying
When you think you want something, write it down in your little notebook. Think about it for 30 days before you buy it. Don't worry about missing out. What you are probably missing out on is debt.
Bonus clue: only buy exercise equipment used. Believe me, it is out there, waiting for you, barely used by the last person who bought it.
Get a travel mug, make your coffee, and take it. How many times do we have to go over this? $3 coffee x 30 days equals $90 a month equals over $1000 a year which is 2 plane tickets to Hawaii, which is how I calculate everything. One perfectly brewed cup of Kona in Kona is better than 365 cups of coffee anywhere else, right?
I actually drink INSTANT coffee at work to save money, and if someone who loves good coffee as much as I do can do that, you can, too. The secret? Lots of milk.
7. Invest in your neighbors
Making friends with the people around you makes good sense socially AND financially. Your neighbors may be weird. They may be annoying. They may be hard to get along with. In other words, they are just like you. Go, be nice. People used to do it all the time. There is nothing to stop us now.
If you can turn to your neighbor to borrow their electric screwdriver - and they can borrow your extension cord - you don't have to do everything on your own. My neighbor and I dog-sit for each other when necessary. I used to pay someone $25 a day to do that. When I have six avocados from my parents' friend, my neighbors get three.
Ok, your turn. Hit me with your best money-saving hint.