Friday, June 30, 2006

Living Well on a Shoestring (Yankee Magazine)

Oh, to be American means to enjoy the pursuit of not being suckered when buying a car, or any other large purchase, to revel in the amount of money saved on sale items, and to find the best deal possible. I have not read their magazine, and I am not technically a yankee, but the editors of Yankee Magazine promise me that the yankee tradition of living the good life for less (of which I was unaware) can be universal.

In Living Well on a Shoestring, the editors give you "1,501 Ingenious Ways" to save money. I have found that books promising over 1,000 ways or recipes or tips are not filled with 1,000 good things. They include mostly mediocre ones, and sometimes some bad ones.

About half the book is devoted to money management, with a thick section on getting out of debt. If you are in debt, then I think this would be really useful. Some of their tips, though, were either too funny or not quite up-to-date: Instead of suggesting readers request the one free credit report every citizen is entitled to once a year, they suggest that instead you apply for a credit card with a giant limit that you would never be approved of, and then when you're declined, go to the bank to ask to see the credit report.

They also suggested that if you are an impulse credit card user, then you should freeze (literally) your credit card in the freezer in a container of water. This, they reasoned, would make you have to take it out of the freezer when you wanted to use it and wait for it to thaw (which could take over a day), during which time you could think about if you really wanted to spend the money. You couldn't, they said, put it in the microwave to speed up the process because that would melt the plastic.

Jim thought this whole scenario was so funny and ridiculous that he decided we should try it. We took a credit card, placed it in a large plastic cup, filled it with water and put it in the freezer. The next day it was frozen solid. But then the Yankee's plan went awry. When we took it out to thaw, within minutes the ice cracked (along the length of the card) so we were able to free the card easily. Not only that, it smeared the signature on the back and left the card with a funny, cloudy sheen, or as Jim put it succintly, "gross."

They also had tips for saving money throughout the year and some of them were good (such as ways to make an expensive hobby less expensive) and some of them were, um, strange (such as using old bras as support for tomato plants).

If you are interested in ways to save money, I'd recommend checking this book out at the library, knowing that you'll have to skim through a lot of less-useful tips for the good ones.

Next book up: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


After a couple of trips to New England, probably before your time, we subscribed to Yankee Magazine. This probably before your time. Magazine was fun as it reflected traditional Yankee values and humor. I still like the Yankee attitude, particularly as I experienced it recently in main.