The survival manual

So, I guess times are a little tough. At least that’s what I gather every time I tune into the national news media (which is a total conspiracy anyway, or so I hear.) OK, I’ll admit, I’ve seen the $4 gallon of gas signs and heard the horror stories of Hummer owners panhandling on street corners outside the Circle K. But to tell the truth, I am a complete vehicle teetotaler (not to be confused with a “vehicle totaller,” which I’ve also been guilty of.) Blame it on residual Catholic guilt. For some reason, I can’t get behind the wheel and turn that key without feeling at least a little driver’s remorse and the need to go to carbon offset confession. Anyway, I have paid enough $50 visits to the local pump to at least get an inkling of what the rest of the commuting country must be feeling. I say inkling, because, like many Durangoans (or similar resorty playground-like dwellers), we’ve been paying through the nose for years. Not just for gas – which always seems to be inexplicably higher than anywhere lese, save for small outposts in the Yukon territory – but all sorts of commodities, from orange juice and beer to lift tickets and 900-square-foot “quaint” fixer-uppers.

Of course, it’s all part of the trade off for living where we do – what I like to call the “sacrifice zone.” Sure, I’ll probably never have a walk-in closet (although I used to rent one) or a two-car garage, but I can always find plenty of free bike parking and my home security system consists of four paws, bionic ears and Ginsu-sharp teeth. Of course, there is a downside to all this – namely that while the rest of the free world is tightening its belt, many of us Durangoans sold ours year ago for a down payment on a little slice of paradise.

Alas, I will admit to being a less than stellar household budgeter and have been taken to task more than once for my “rounding off” manner of checkbook balancing (all I can say is, thank god for Internet banking.) But this isn’t to say I haven’t tried. For months, Suze Orman’s book for “financially savvy women” has been sitting on my bedside table. And if I ever get through the other books – including but not limited to Have a New Kid by Friday (what do you do with the old one?) and You: The Owners Manual – I might actually get to it. In the meantime, there’s always the Internet – that bastion of instant gratification, sage advice and, not to mention, hot Hollywood gossip. Where else can you learn all the sordid details of Edwards’ affair and how to save $500 a month – all while under the guise of “research” (hey, journalism does have its perks). I mean, with that much cash burning a hole in your pocket, you can practically quit one of your three jobs.

Anyway, in case you missed it or have an evil boss man constantly looking over your shoulder, here are the hot saving tips to keep you afloat in these turbulent economic times, with, of course, minor adjustments made for high-altitude living:

Buy a new life insurance policy: Never mind that you don’t have any health insurance or haven’t been able to get your teeth cleaned in seven years. If you buy new life insurance, you’ll be saving hundreds a month, which will surely make you sleep better at night and lead to better health, in which case you won’t need silly old health insurance in the first place. If you’re lucky, you may already have a life insurance policy that you don’t even know about!

Cut the caramel foofacinos: At $5 a pop, think of all the money you’ll save by switching to plain, old, drip. Then again, at 2,000 calories each, you could just go on the liquid diet. That way, when your teeth fall out (see above) you’ll have a backup plan.

Get a part-time job: Duh! What else are you going to do between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.? Squander it on sleep?

Buy stuff on sale: I’m all for this. It’s perfectly fine to buy that completely impractical pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing or that ridiculously out of reach shiny new piece of gear you’ve been coveting. Plus, you get bonus points for helping to fuel the local economy.

Hypermiling: If you do have to drive, say to the shoe or gear sale, you can conserve gas by limiting jackrabbit starts, driving under the speed limit, coasting on the downhills and rolling through stop signs. Just like they’ve been doing in New Mexico for years.

Pay off your credit card: Preferably before the big sale, so you can start with a clean slate. This is where that economic stimulus check comes in handy – that is, if it didn’t spontaneously evaporate like mine, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable to use your Mastercard to pay off Visa.

Limit your drycleaning: Not only will you help the environment, but you will help all the rest of us slobs – who can’t remember the last time we got anything dry cleaned let alone bathed – look a lot better.

Consider a “staycation:” Do you really need those two weeks at the ocean every year? There’s plenty to do right here in good, old Durango, USA. Call in sick and tube the river, ride the alpine slide, buy a tacky T-shirt, ride the train, get drunk on margaritas, and dress up like a bar wench in fishnets and bustier and get an old timey photo taken. Just don’t run into the boss man – or anyone else you know, for that matter.

Sell your old stuff: There’s a mint in that garage. All those straight skis, old bicycle tires, leather boots, stacks of National Geos and wooden tennis rackets are sure to fetch you a pretty penny – or even two.

What’s the matter? Still broke? Well, if you’re like me, you’ll just turn off that silly computer, turn up your I-pod up really loud so you can’t hear that very expensive creak in your bottom bracket and head out for a ride. Or, hop on the cruiser (no gas!) and ride down to the local watering hole for happy hour or a stop at the thrift store “vintage rack.” Better yet, just go outside, take in the scenery, shoot the breeze with friends and tally up your blessings. Sure, they probably won’t make you rich, but over the long run, there’s definitely something to be said for killer “life assurance.”

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows