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Tips to avoid being broke

Michael HowlettStaff Writer

January 15, 2013

Say you’re broke, but you would really like to save some money for your child’s college education, your retirement, or, possibly, an electric toothbrush? How do you accomplish this? Well, Forbes Magazine knows how. I mean, what better publication to help poor people than the magazine that caters to the wealthiest people in the world.


In reading Forbes’ advice, I get the feeling that the publishers don’t quite understand the meaning of broke. If bad investments or a huge drop in the stock market causes Archibald Richbottom III to lose most of his money, shrinking his worth to a mere $500,000, he can still buy an electric toothbrush. He’s rich!


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines broke as “penniless.” With that in mind, consider that one piece of Forbes’ advice is to “pay off your credit cards.” With what? If you’re broke, how in the name of J.P. Morgan are you supposed to pay off your credit cards? The article goes on to give other advice, such as “build a rainy day fund” and “become debt-free faster.” Now, if I’m not mistaken, these actions also require money.


I’ve tried to think how one follows Forbes’ suggestions when he or she is penniless and I came up empty as far as legal possibilities. I have thought of some illegal ones, but those I must keep to myself … you know, like a rainy day fund. However, in an effort to help my fellow man, I phoned Malcolm B. Fulofit, noted financial adviser to the princes of Bangladesh, or so he says, just to get some ideas for those out there looking for a way to stretch their disposable pennies. Unfortunately, Fulofit had been arrested just days before my call, according to his secretary Fanny Tang.


Besides, I got to thinking about it, and since the standard of living in Bangladesh is equal to that of a guy living under a bridge, Fulofit probably wouldn’t be a lot of help. The princes of Bangladesh live under bridges, the common folk have it much worse, they must live in the dead carcasses of cattle. They are pitiful, the poor people of Bangladesh. Luckily, however, while I was perusing the internet, I happened upon a magnificent way to save loads of money. Yes, it’s true, in just a month you can have enough money to complain about the income tax hike.


Here’s the deal, the first day you save a penny, the next day two cents, the next four cents, and so on, doubling the amount you save each day. The first 10 days fly by, with the savings gradually mounting. However, the savings begin picking up by Day 13 when you must save $40.96. By Day 15, when you must save $163.84 and on Day 18 you must bag $1,310.72. See how easy it is. Now, I’ve got to be honest and say the program gets a little hard from here on out. On Day 25, you must save $167,772.16, and if you can put away $671,088.64 on Day 27 and follow through on the program, you will end up with $5,368,709.12 on Day 30. And it all started with a penny, amazing.


Okay, that may be a bit more than you can handle, but don’t give up hope. The web site Christian Personal Finance has some excellent ideas about how to save money, yes siree. Number four on its list is “have someone negotiate your bills for you.” Unless, your negotiator is named “Vinny the Butcher” or “Anthony the Moose,” I don’t think this is going to work.


Another tip offered by ChristianPF.com is “drop your health insurance.” Now, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. Get rid of all those pesky premiums and live a carefree life. Maybe not a long life, but it can be carefree until those last few days when you are lying in bed excreting from all your orifices and praying for God to end it all.


I think a really good one is “shop when no one else wants to,” like after the store is closed for business. You can get much better deals at 3 a.m. in the morning than when there are annoying managers and clerks standing around eyeballing you. Of course, you can also get five to twenty in the big house. Other tips include” simplify your wardrobe (go naked),” “save money on exercise (get fat),” live in a smaller house (under a bridge).”


Now, I hope I’ve been a help in these hard economic times. I know I learned a lot writing this column and I hope you have too. One thing I learned is Forbes doesn’t know jack about being broke. So, I guess, my best advice is to keep your doors locked, don’t give your phone number to anyone and invest in an electric toothbrush. The first two bits of advice will help you avoid creditors, and the electric toothbrush will not only preserve your dental health, but, with a little imagination, will provide you many hours of respite from your financial woes.