That’s a quote from Jackie Gleason, the greatest who ever lived by the way…and it’s fitting…..he lived life FULLY….my guess is that he probably never saved a dime on anything, but man did he know how to live…….hopefully I’ve give you some fuel to live more fully, without wanting for anything, but without being wasteful for no good reason or insecurity….in other words, to be SMART, NOT CHEAP.
Here we go to summarize what I have been babbling about. Remember, these are MY thoughts, with a little help from Sarah Jessica, always good with money, and my Mom and her Mom, rest their souls, both excellent with money……
KNOWLEDGE—Read everything. My friend yells at his wife for not knowing what she paid for the chicken nuggets at the overpriced store. She has no idea what they cost. REALLY? Know what things cost. Know when things are on sale. READ A NEWSPAPER. And if you can’t figure something out, for god’s sake—-ASK SOMEONE.
AVOID—Avoid people who start sentences with—“You should….”. They are the worst. Embrace people who start sentences with—“You know what worked really well for me was……”. And then, after you have found the deal, be a good citizen of the planet, and PASS IT ON. My friend Denise told me that eggs are 99 cents for 18 at Ralph’s this week. As if I didn’t know that, haha, but god bless her for being the kind of person to tell me about it.
FOOD—Obvious and easy way to save money. Learn to cook. Enjoy cooking. Try new things. And shop well. Use coupons for things that are worthy of using coupons for—(“but there’s never anything that I use that has a coupon”—-Really? You don’t use toilet paper? Dish soap? Your kids don’t eat Cheerios? Really??) Eat out less. Have cocktails with your friends BEFORE you all head to the restaurant, then go over together. Besides being very cool and 1940’s of you, you will also save a FORTUNE at the restaurant. (As a restaurant partner, I am literally shooting myself in the foot by writing that.) Go to that cool restaurant owned by the foreign people who make the amazing dishes of their country. In a huge city, eat at the REAL french bistro, where dinner is $20 instead of the fake french bistro where dinner is $60. And really, please god, don’t be that person who says “you know me, I really NEED my Starbucks.” Be that person who says, “you know me, I can always pay my rent.” Keep your eyes open. In other words, be SMART.
INTEREST—Get out of credit cards. Think of them as ATM’s and ONLY as ATM’s. If you are lucky enough to have a mortgage, look for a better one—-pain in the butt? Not right now it’s not. If you are qualified, there are companies that will kill a small puppy to hold your paper. And for god’s sake, OWN your car, even with payments instead of leasing it, it’s a ridiculous equation.
TRAVEL—Look online FIRST. Figure out what’s important and spend the money on THAT. Does it really matter which company I rent my Ford Taurus from? Doubtful, Hotwire works fine for me. Lastminute.com is great to go on a trip. And if you can wait…call the hotel the day before. This is a rough economy, believe me they have rooms. Fly coach, and use your miles to upgrade—NOT for free flights. (I got yelled at by a reader about my JetBlue card, but believe me, as someone who commutes 3000 miles to work, it’s absolute magic). Stick with the ONE YOU USE. That’s it. NO, don’t have every single one offered, that’s NOT smart. Use what you use, don’t use what you don’t.
CLOTHING—Thrift stores. Sales. Target. Sample sales. Even here in LA, Fred Segal and Barneys have crazy sales once a year for fancy fancy stuff. Wait for them. And loyalty credit cards—-but again, the ONES YOU USE. I DON’T go to Macy’s enough to apply that day and save 10%, and knock points off my credit score. I DO go to the Gap and Banana Republic (and of course the glorious Old Navy), so that credit card is used all the time—-(balance paid in full of course)—-and the savings are RIDONCULOUS……
EVENTS—Throw a party that makes SENSE. Again, NOBODY remembers your monogrammed napkins, they don’t remember the champagne used for your toast, they don’t remember the centerpiece—-they remember that they had an amazing time. Good food, MUSIC, drink, friends, family. For other parties, throw them WITH your friends so you can share the party—assuming your best friends are coming ANYWAY—why not throw the party TOGETHER? We do it all the time, and it’s better for all because of it.
HOUSE—Fix it yourself. If you can. Don’t be scared—as much as I love my plumber, my contractor, my gardener, my painter—-I can do most of it myself, and more importantly, can have fun doing them, especially with my son.
SAVINGS—Save money. In a jar. In a monthly or weekly automatic deduction. I’m talking about 5 dollars. Or 500 dollars. Just do it, whatever amount makes you a)not notice it, and b)allows itself to GROW.
EXTRAS—Do you need all those magazine subscriptions? Really? Ok, then have them. Do you watch all those premium cable channels? Ok, keep them. Do you use all that delivery water” Ok, keep it. I think you get the point…..PARE IT DOWN and you, my friend, will suddenly find yourself with MONEY.
THINKING—NEVER ASSUME SOMEONE ELSE HAS IT BETTER THAN YOU DO. Everyone has their issues. The downturn in the economy may have struck the world with it’s full force, but I come from a business where this has ALWAYS happened to people ALL OF THE TIME. Literally. People in my business make a million dollars one year, and 2,000 dollars the next year. NOT KIDDING. We can all remember the cautionary tale of MC Hammer, made 30 Million one year, and hired 50 people for his “staff”, only to make less than 1 Million the next year after setting up the most insane lifestyle one could imagine. (Bless him, he found god—-and I’m guessing, humility and frugality—-in other words, he got SMART.) And please, I beg of you, vote intelligently, not just because an ad or a family member told you to vote a certain way.
DON’T BE CHEAP—Be that person who CAN pick up the check. Who CAN go on vacation. Who CAN get braces for their kids. I worked with an actor on location for months, we all got “per diem” or spending money, I am guessing around $60 a day, and yet at every meal, he had forgotten his wallet, or was in the bathroom when the check came. That’s not smart. That’s cheap. He was a jackass.
FINALLY—BLESS YOU FOR YOUR STORIES—-They were amazing, TRULY. I was moved to tears by some of them. Keep sharing them with people, especially people you know and not some faceless nut on a computer. We have all seen the person having to move, or sell their car, etc etc, and we had NO idea they were in that situation, and we could have sat with them and helped make a plan. Which brings me to my final point….TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. That’s why I wrote this, and that’s what I believe in. Again, one man’s opinion.
IF, in any way this has meant something to you, and you find yourself going to Starbucks one less day, or going to the OTHER market to get your vegetables because they are half the price, and you suddenly find yourself with extra money to spend, and want to feel great about yourself and want to THANK ME for writing this…then please, please, please, I beg of you, send a few bucks to the charities that I myself am involved with——
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
CLARA BARTON DIABETES CENTER AND CAMP JOSLIN in Massachusetts
THE ALLIANCE FOR CHILDRENS RIGHTS in LOS ANGELES
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
And—ANY Charity that helps our neighbors in Haiti
If you are interested, I would print this posting out and keep it for reference, encouragement, or to make fun of the bald little actor, your choice.
I thank you for your stories, hilarious and moving, your support and time, and maybe, just maybe, we will find a way to get a book out.
All the best, WG