Friday, February 16, 2007

How I Milk Sacred Cows for Cash

Almost every family budget has a few "sacred cows," which are special perks that defy fiscal responsibility. That's the wisdom from the Economides, "America's Cheapest Family."

Frankly, I have my own sacred cows, but I have various strategies for saving money while enjoying luxuries.

"Sacred cows are the little extravagances that you refuse to forgo even when you're under financial pressure." --The Economides in Bottom Line/Personal:

Here are my cows; here's how I milk them:

1. Organic fruits and vegetables:
money-saving strategies: I enjoy the health and taste benefits of organic produce, which are quite expensive. I save money through an organic food co-op, which sells produce at a sharp discount. I also look for sales at health food stores and traditional supermarkets.

2. Eating out:
money-saving strategies: I love to eat out, but I save money by a)sharing meals, which are usually jumbo-sized; b) using discounts from; and c) reserving tables only for birthdays and special occasions.

3. Books & magazines:
money-saving strategies: I swap books, magazines and films with friends and relatives. For example, my copy of Ahab's Wife is from my Mom. I receive stacks and stacks of magazines from friends. Other sources of books: eBay, discount tables, used book stores, thrift stores and garage sales.

4. High-End Vacations:
money-saving strategies: We stretch our vacation dollars by targeting out-of-season rates at hotels, staying with friends & families, renting affordable apartments and homes in resort areas. We also look for theme park discounts and special student rates for the kids.

We also have found creative and affordable stay-at-home vacations that have cost very little. Every town has special tours, exhibits and events. We stay home and pretend that we are from out-of-town.

5. Personal Trainer:
money-saving strategies: My personal trainer specializes in Yoga, which eases the pain in my hands and back. Yoga also stretches the mind and helps me to manage my hectic schedule.

As such, the personal trainer is not really a luxury, but not quite affordable at a rate of $65 an hour. However, by sharing the hour with a small group of women, I pay $10 a session (or less) and receive the special benefits of a personal trainer.



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