Tuesday, October 21, 2008


It's not everyday, just most days. Have you ever looked around and thought, "something isn't right here?" I'm talking about possessions. I'm talking about cars with heated seats, and dual climate control. The twelve year old with three video game systems. The Iphone. What is functionally appropriate and what is luxury is quite subjective, I think that we all can agree that we live in a time of sheer, and sometimes absurd, abundance. It would be foolish and myopic of me to not admit that I too delve into such delicacies. Not a day goes by where I don't give great thanks to NHL Gamecenter Live, my 12 dollar Levi's, and when finances permit, 2 ply. All joking aside, have you ever really thought about what people choose to exchange hours of their life for? Here are some examples; expensive hooded sweatshirts/t-shirts/jeans that state a brand name, the latest and greatest phone/gadget, automobiles that somehow define them as an "individual", and perhaps most mystifying, paying high interest on something to buy it now, because you can't afford it now, but will pay much more for it later. To say Martha is polishing the brass on the Titanic, would be a bit of an understatement.

This sentiment doesn't necessarily spawn from an isolated incident. Instead, it's the staccatoed murmurings of an individual that somewhat willingly trudges through this cesspool that is unabashed consumerism remaining as debt free and devoid of possessions as I am able. I say "willingly" because at the end of the day, we all have a choice. With that said, I'd like to point out that I don't think I'm on the cusp of some sort of Hillary-famed quest (Ed Hillary not to be confused with Hillary Clinton). These are merely observations and questions about the world that surrounds us all.

Being unemployed and on a fixed income, see no income (I bet only retirees thought they could throw the term "fixed income" around) I'm forced to entertain myself. Not only must I entertain myself, never take advantage of the fact that you working types automatically have 10 hours notched out of your day, but I must do it in the most cost effective manner possible. On a recent walk to the grocery store, Colette and I pondered if it, the economy, became excessively depressed, then fat people would have to cease to be fat citing the surging price of food. In theory this makes sense but in practice obesity heavily, pun intended, follows low income individuals around like a fat kid would a walking cupcake.

In case anyone else is in a similar situation of being unemployed, having to be thrifty, or just suffering from the joys that an economic depression has thrust upon you, I've complied a list of activities that I enjoy doing that are no-cost or low-cost.

1. Lifting weights - Gym membership costs less then a dollar a day. I figure it's best to be fit and strong if it becomes necessary to fight for dumpster scraps.

2. Playing Goalie at the ice rink - Pickups are completely free and are 1.5 hours long. Also free are the concussion symptoms from taking pucks off the dome.

3. Surfing the internet - less then a dollar a day or free at the library. The internet's value is indefinable when it comes to the entertainment/dollar ratio.

4. Happy Hours are cool but the real bargain hunters don't let the talk of a.m beers specials turn their stomach sour. A local bar has 2 dollar pitchers of MGD ... when ordered BEFORE 11 a.m

5. Studying local grocery store Wednesday ads - Did you know that you can get a 100 serving sized box of Oatmeal at Costco for 6.59? That shakes down to 6.59 cents for breakfast! When you're done with the Wednesday ads, burn them for heat.

6. The wonders of "reduced prices for quick sale" meat has been largely ignored up until now. I have found that late evening is the best time to pick up meat that cannot be sold, at least legally, anymore.

7. The second fastest way to date yourself is by busting out a flask filled to the brim which your hooch of choice. The first, of course, would be regaling the nursing home of how school was uphill ... both ways. The 90's brought us bottled water, the new century gave us the Nalgene bottle and streaming pornography. The good folks at Nalgene upped the ante by telling us clear plastic was bad for our health so now aluminum bottles are this year's margarine. It's all for the best because now we are able to swill undetected at the park without incurring a fine from the fuzz.

8. Share a communal/electricty water supply? If so, close the bathroom and steam the place out. Bring in a beer and enjoy what I affectionately refer to as "shower hour."

9. Cooking with beans/lentils. They are filling, healthy, non-perishable, and perhaps most importantly, wicked cheap.

Here is a hummus recipe I hand crafted last week.
Garbanzo beans (chick peas)(2 cups dry or .75lbs yield 4 cups soaked and cooked) - $1.00
Olive oil (1/3 cup) .50 cents
Garlic cloves (5) - .10 cents
Red Curry Thai Paste (2 Tbl spoons)
Tomato paste (3 oz.) of 6oz can - .59 cents
Onion (2/3 cup) - .25 cents
Basil (2 fresh leaves) - .20 cents
Cocktail Sauce (1/2 cup) - .25 cents
Chili Powder (2 Table Spoons) - 0
Lemon Juice - (7 Table Spoons) - .25

Anyways, for less then three dollars I was able to make a shit-ton of hummus. It's street value in front of Trader Joe's is close to twenty dollars.


Kirk said...

Humms... a food packed with protien. Amazing something like that comes form vegetables. Yep. I've always enjoyed it, and only in the past few months made it myself. Never thought of red curry, though! I'll give it a shot.

Shower hour. Nice. Reminds me of those showers after a hangover.

So, I've been debt free for a long ass time. But about three weeks ago, I jumped back in... for some bad debt, but I'll tell you what! It is cozy. My old ride was about to take a major dump. Been dying over the last year... so i've been on the lookout. When I realized the cost of fuel was going to cause me to loose out on my dream of having a vehicle that could satisfy my outdoor needs (Scuba, rock climb, mtn bike, back country hike, etc.) as well as my city needs (women) -- I chose the greater of the two (women).

Yes, the outdoors are great. I've not been able to enjoy them as I used to (cracked the back). So I figure I can always hitch a ride with some buddies, or rent a ride (if so needed).

So, Garrett. I've jumpped in and bought the heated seats. Cozy ride, Buddy!

So, I've lived on less than 10$ a month (after rent) three times in my life. Rice is king. Thai food lasts and lasts. Dry beans? Oh yeah. And coffe is cheap and cuts the hunger pains. and you really appreciate friends when s/he buys you a Bass beer and you actually sip it and enjoy every last drop.

If possible, relocate to Thailand or Costa Rica. 800$ a month is living like a king. American English as an under-estimated assest (tutor). Bike mechanics, scuba instructors, and bar tenders are some of the most transportable skills.

Me? I was bought by The Man and am working for the pay. (Yes, I was bought. Not rented. Bought. So, I owe them my attention.) Servituted is timed thogh! T minus one year, 5 months.

More to come!

Garrett Hohn said...

Keep in mind I really like tomatoes and tomatoes based products. The spaghetti sauce and thai paste aren't for everyone when it comes to hummus.

Wait a tick. You opted against the rig and blew the money on women instead? This I must hear!

10 dollars in a month is epic! I imagine a lot of time was spent at the library for entertainment/AC (or heat if you were in a northern state)

BTW, I'm looking at tickets today. Will book in the next few. Scared, excited and constipated all at the same time! Who knew? "We're really doin' it Harry!"

What happens after 5 months?