In the 1990s, saving money is in style.
This is why when I read a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal with a tightwad, I decided to take some of the advice in her newsletter.
Rinse out your coffee filters, let them dry, and then re-use them, she said. So I did, and didn't tell my fiancee before she made herself a cup. She took one sip, spat it out, and yowled, "This coffee has freezer burn."
So I learned there is such a thing as going too far to save money. Still, that doesn't mean that saving money is a bad idea.
Jonathan D. Pond, the financial planning correspondent for NBC's "Today" show, compiles tips for tightwads in his book, "1,001 Ways to Cut Your Expenses."
Not many, I am happy to report, seem to require a miserliness on the order of the woman's tip about coffee filters. I haven't, however, been able to test all the suggestions to see how practical they are.
This is a good advice book, written in no-frills fashion. If you follow some of the tips, you will save the $8 cost of the book in no time. It might, however, take a long time to save $8 in vacuum cleaner bags if you follow tip No. 27, "re-use vacuum cleaner bags."
Many of the tips seem to fall in a few categories. They follow:
Good advice that you already know but probably don't follow:
344. Sell your second, or third, car.
431. Fall in love with someone rich (!)
605. Buy and hold. Stocks, that is. That's how a lot of millionaires got rich slowly.
Changes that seem to make sense:
36. Don't install carpeting in high-traffic areas of the home.
304. If you buy something on sale, put the savings in the bank.
710. Avoid job hopping. Why? You might get a higher salary, but lose all your accrued pension benefits.
Changes that make sense and retailers will hate.
269. Return purchases that are unsatisfactory.
690. Brown-bag it to work.
878. Rent a recreational vehicle rather than buy one.
879. Same goes for boats.
Changes that may require a total reordering of aesthetic tastes or at least some fast talking:
228. Buy wash-and-wear clothing (that is, polyester-included clothing) and save cleaning bills. This might make for a choice: Save the environment or your money. "50 Simple Things to Save the Earth" says you can save the Earth by buying 100 percent natural fibers instead of permanent press.
285. Buy artificial plants, not live ones.
430. Celebrate Valentine's Day on Feb. 15 to take advantage of markdowns.
Nice ideas, if they work:
295. Buy queen-size top sheets for king-size beds.
367. Keep your car windows closed. Mr. Pond contends that cars are now designed to operate more efficiently that way. This means tightwads who drive around with the windows open in 90-degree heat are actually using more gas, not less.
467. When the neighborhood ice cream truck comes around, make your kids a homemade ice cream cone. Parents: Will your kids fall for this?
Maybe not worth the trouble:
284. Cut open your toothpaste tube to get out the last remnants.
302. Write your member of Congress for a free calendar.
Right, make the rest of us pay for it.