Radical Money Saving Strategies You Can ImplementToday

abumurad By abumurad, 4th Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Money Saving Tips

However, Richard Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, was making roughly $17,000 per hour the week that bank went belly up, and he kept every penny of it and defended his right to do so, straight faced, in front of a Congressional committee.

Start Fresh, Think Green

I've been watching our economy unravel for the last year or two. In recent weeks Wall Street and the financial industry have gotten so much worse. The whole economy seems to be unraveling faster and faster. At the same time, working class people, like auto workers, have been getting the third degree and have had to listen to southern politicians harangue them for their insane wage and benefit packages.


Listen: The average starting wage for a Detroit auto worker is between $15 and $25 an hour. The $77 per hour figure you hear thrown around on the news is an imaginary number arrived at by taking all the UAW employees still living today and the total cost of all their benefit and retirement packages, and dividing that by the number of active workers. No one on the line in Detroit is making $77 an hour. $15 to $25 totals between $30K and $50K per year. If you're raising a family on that amount of money right now, you know it is no fortune, not by any stretch of the imagination.

So go ahead. You tell me who is overpaid here.

I think my personal breaking point came when, without consulting anyone, least of all the taxpayers, our federal government put itself on the hook to CItigroup for over $1 trillion, and that was just for starters. Citi has been in trouble for years and years. Huge and unwieldly, it has long been criticized even by its own stockholders for being too big and disorganized, and too prone to waste and risky decisions.

I've had a Mastercard with Citi for nearly twenty years. Seven years ago when I found myself unexpectedly facing divorce, I missed a single monthly payment to Citigroup. I had a good job I was about to start, I'd made on-time payments for twelve years and always paid more than the minimum billed. My credit rating was excellent.

But for that single month, I had no money whatsoever. I didn't even have an apartment yet--I was living with my daughter until I could move into my own place. Most of the charges on that card were from my ex's business; things I foolishly put on my personal credit card thinking I was "helping" him. I left him when he quit paying his taxes amd started drinking heavily. I took my clothes and my computer and my car and filed for divorce.

Here's what Citigroup did for me in my time of crisis: They hiked my interest rate to 29.8% and kept it there for the next three years. As a result, seven years later, I'm still paying on my ex's business debts on that Citi card AND now my tax dollars--lots of them--are going directly to Citi and its stockholders to bail them out of their own bad management decisions.

Why am I bailing out Citi when Citi couldn't cut me a single millimeter of slack after over a decade of being an ideal customer? A conservative reckoning puts my personal taxpayer share of the government Citi bailout at around $24,000. I don't know about you, but $24,000 is a lot of money in my world, more than enough money to pay off whatever debt I actually still owe to Citi many times over. (And that's over and above the many times over I've already paid that debt once I factor in their exorbitant interest practices.)

This whole financial crisis is changing my perspective radically. I'm serious: I'm turning into some kind of financial radical, and for me, that's saying something. I'm the kind of person who breaks out in a cold sweat if the utility bill isn't mailed out at least seven days before the due date.

That attitude is changing. Fast.

So, along those lines, I've compiled a list of money-saving ideas that you won't find in any financial planning book, but which do work, if you have the stomach to implement them.

Disclaimer: If you decide to employ any of these strategies, they are your own responsibility, not mine. Keep in mind that your government doesn't care about you, Citi really doesn't care about you, and I do care about you but I'm broke.

OK, let's get started! How to Screw with the Economy & Save Yourself

Work for Cash. Do you find yourself wondering lately what paying your income taxes is doing for you personally? I'm not prone to radical thoughts along these lines, but lately, the enormous sums being pledged by our government against my empty pocketbook to bail out obscenely wealthy fat cats--all of that is getting on my last nerve.

The truth is, I'm not at all sure I personally want to participate in that kind of thing anymore. I mean, why not cut out the middle man and just find a rich guy and give him all my money? It's hard to avoid tax obligations when you have a traditional job. Technically, any work a person does for cash is also supposed to be declared to the IRS and then taxes must be paid on that income. Off the record, if the IRS can't prove you made that cash, you didn't make it. Think about that. It's worth thinking about. And barter is fair game too.

Quit Your Abusive Corporate Job. And starve? Come on, you won't starve. What you will do is rearrange your life radically. You'll live differently, you'll work differently, and most importantly, you'll withdraw your labor from something you find abhorrent and unjust, not to mention crazymaking. I'm no Ayn Rand fan, not by a longshot, but seriously, if we continue to allow these folks to abuse us financially, emotionally, and intellectually, they'll just keep on doing it. All we have is our time. Keep yours for yourself. It's your life.

Organize, organize, organize. What??? Lose even more jobs to China by unionizing the few shops we have left? The truth is, nothing will stop a company from withdrawing those jobs if they think they can shave a couple bucks an hour off their labor costs. India and China are developing fast, which means they are rapidly approaching the point where abuse doesn't feel that great to them either. We don't need fewer unions, we need global unions.

Do you think it's fine if everyone in America makes $8 an hour or less? Do you think that kind of wage will sustain a "consumer economy"? Do you think people deserve to die at their crappy Walmart job just because it's Black Friday and they were standing in the wrong place? Do you think it's OK for meat packing companies to employ children from El Salvador who lose limbs on the cutting floor and work 14 hour shifts? Do you think it's OK for office workers to be required to pee off the clock?

The choice is yours, really. Go ahead and help the South bust up the few remaining unions so they can attract more foreign manufacturing jobs with low wages and crappy working conditions, then stock up on bandaides and aspirin--or re-watch Norma Rae and get busy.

Declare Informal Bankruptcy. Recently the Bush administration made it lots harder for people weighed down by debt to discharge those debts by filing bankruptcy. That's the sort of action that makes responsible people feel smug and judgemental--until they get very sick and accrue huge medical debts, or go through a nasty divorce, or lose a job, or all of the above.

Most bankruptcies in the U.S. are filed because of medical debt--debt that no one except Richard Fuld could pay. But there are also lots of people with hideous unsecured debt (credit cards) who are paying as much as 33% interest on the debt, plus fees and other charges. If they pay on the debt for the rest of their lives, they will never pay it back. That's exactly what the credit card companies want--customers who pay pure interest on principal they never begin to pay down, no matter how hard they try.

If you are one of these people, stop paying them. Just stop. The practice of just giving up on repaying that kind of usurious debt is being called 'informal bankruptcy'. Will it ruin your credit rating? Yes, immediately. Will they come after you for it? Yes. But there are limits on what they can do. They can't show up at your place of work, and you don't have to take debt collection phone calls. They have to go through A LOT to attach your wages or freeze your bank account, and most of the time they won't do that. If they do it, or if they file a judgement against you, you'll have to get an attorney. But about 80% of the time they will eventually just give up and write off your debt. Then, use cash. Spend less. Forget about credit cards forever.

If everyone who is in trouble with credit cards did this, it would cripple the industry overnight. They fully deserve that, and it will probably happen anyway, as more and more people find themselves out of work and unable to pay. We used to be able to at least deduct the interest paid on our debts from our income taxes, but that hasn't been an option for many years. Since we lost that, the credit card industry has lobbied for more and more exploitive practices, and in spite of making money hand over first, is now sucking up taxpayer money to boot.

Live Off the Grid. It's not easy, but chances are there are several things you could do right now that would make you more energy independent. Insulate your home. Install a wood stove or a pellet stove and dump fossil fuel as a heat source. Learn to restrict your electricity use and if you can afford it, look into solar panels or windmills to generate your own electrical power. In some parts of the country you can even sell any excess electricity you generate back to the power company, further reducing or even eliminating your utility bill. Start collecting rain water and use 'grey water' (waste water from dishwashing and clothes washing) to water your lawn and garden.

Grow Your Own Food or Start a Community Garden. You can grow a surprising amount of food in a fairly small space if you know what to plant and are willing to freeze or can what you can't eat immediately. Often, urban neighborhoods can pool resources to create a community vegetable garden on a vacant lot or unused space nearby. Even if it's absolutely out of the question to grow your own food or even some of your own food, you can usually save money by going in with neighbors or relatives on buying produce in bulk from the grower and then canning or freezing it together and splitting the results. When I was young, our family always did this. We'd get together with several relatives and can tomatoes all day, or peaches, or applesauce, then split the jars at the end of the day.

Stop Spending Money. This may sound kind of stupid, but honestly, if you've never tracked how much money you spend on incidentals you might be surprised at what you discover once you pay attention. For example, when I was working at the call center, I routinely bought iced tea, coffee, and pretzels out of the vending machine. The iced tea was $1.50 a bottle and I usually went through two bottles a day. The coffee was $1.00, and the pretzels were $1.25. That's $5.25 a day for pretzels and drinks, or $26.25 a week, or $1365.00 a year. If someone at work had approached me with this deal that they'd keep me in pretzels and iced tea all year for only $1365 I'd have laughed them right out of the building, but that is exactly what I was already spending on just those items, conservatively speaking. I immediately started bringing my own iced tea, coffee, and pretzels at a cost of pennies per day, but if you never add it all up, you never realize where it's all going.

I Only Mean Half of It

For most of my life, I've been very conservative, financially speaking. I've paid my bills on time, tried hard to be responsible, drafted budgets, and done what I was supposed to do, more or less. Watching the events of recent months, and looking at my own financial state of the moment, I have to ask myself, what good has it done me? Do I feel good about my financial life?

Not really.

I feel like I'm working harder and harder for less and less. When I see multimillionaires taking home huge bonuses for totally destroying gigantic corporations, and then when I see the U.S. government shoveling taxpayer money at these same people as fast as it can, I confess I feel like a bit of a sucker--like maybe I've had a big "Kick Me" sign pasted to the back of my pants for the past ten years or so.

I only half-mean what I'm saying here. Or maybe I mean only half of it. Or maybe I really do mean all of it, but lack the full courage of my convictions at this point in time.

Here's what I think:

I think a lot of these big corporations deserve to fail. I think the U.S. needs a major financial enema and maybe a severe recession/depression is what has to happen to cleanse the system. I think credit card companies, payday loan shops, retail banks, and investment banks are so out of control greedy right now that some people ought to be going to jail.

Oh yes. And I think Richard Fuld is an ass. May he choke on a truffle on his way to the private gym.


Money Making, Money Making Ideas, Money Making Online, Money Manager, Money Saving, Money Saving Tips

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author avatar abumurad
I am freelance writer specializing in financial topics and political commentary, gardening and ecology, psychology, and paranormal and New Age topics. My non-writing professional experience includes s

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