How to Survive in Tough Times
The myth that all gay men live a de- luxe lifestyle is as false as saying all lesbians are vegan. Almost all of us are pinching pennies now. Some of us are looking for benefactors known as sugar daddies—or sugar mamas. Given current fi- nancial hardships, don’t count on finding one.
If you’re on a tight budget or collecting unemployment checks—or if your sugar daddy is not very endowed—it might be time to sart making some cuts to your lifestyle. Here are a few helpful hints from someone who knows.
SOAP: while a bottle of body wash costs on average $6.00 and lasts only a few weeks, a three-pack of bar soap will cost you less than $3.00 and lasts for months! If you wor- ry your skin might get dry, spend the money on a good moisturizer—you use that less so it’ll last longer.
HAIR: in terms of shampoo, ask your styl- ist about which products are just as good as sa- lon brands. A good stylist doesn’t “owe much” to the salon, and will generally tell you bud- get-best options. You’ll be surprised at their answer, and treat yourself to a styling product from the salon instead of the fancy suds.
COFFEE: yes, it’s true, if you spend $4.00 per workday on a latte you’re spending $80 per month on coffee and that’s only if you buy your cup o’ joe during the work week. Make it at home in the morning, fill a bottle with what you don’t drink, and put it in the fridge for iced coffee. Save the latte for the weekend and go ahead, treat yourself to two. Frequent a smaller, non-corporate cafe? as our small businesses need the money more than the chains.
RESTAURANT SUPPLY STORES: I love these places! It’s a little-known fact: restaurant supply stores don’t only sell to the trade, but they don’t advertise that fact. While you may have to buy a dozen forks, it’s way cheaper than what Williams So- noma, Macy’s, or even Target has to offer.
LUNCH: try as you might to justify spending $6.00 a day on lunch... well, you can’t. At five times per week, that’s $30 and a whopping $120 per month. If you don’twant to make lunch each morning, simply keep a few things—turkey cold cuts and whole wheat bread, some lettuce—at work. Take yourself out to a nice dinner once a month with what you’ve saved.
HOTELS: chances are, no matter where you’re going in this world, a friend will have an acquaintance, ex-paramour, gay cousin, or second-grade classmate nearby. Before booking your hotel, make inquiries as to “who knows somebody.” Make sure you chat with your prospective host to see if you get along, of course. As everyone is watch- ing their bank accounts, offer them a few bucks a night, or offer to help paint their kitchen. Use the money you save to book yourself into a chic hotel for a night or two.
WATER: admittedly my favorite H2O is bubbly, and comes from Italy in a green bot- tle. Once or twice a week I pick up a bottle and sip it with lemon. The water in South Florida has a high iron-content, so I can understand why people loathe to drink it. Rather than contribute to the landfill, buy a pitcher with a filter or install one on your tap and buy a steel bottle.
WEEKEND DINNER PARTIES: if you can’t cook, have a friend over who loves to play chef and he or she will gladly take over your kitchen. You provide the main course and a salad; ask your guests to bring side dishes, appetizers, and wine. Don’t ask your friend in the kitchen to contribute though, since they whipped up dinner. A dinner party on a budget is a great way to skip an expensive bill. You should save enough on dinner to head out dancing or sipping later.
GROCERIES: if you live alone, it’s often tempting to buy “for one” at the gro- cery store. Think big- ger, spend less. The package of 10 chick- en breasts might
look like “too much food.” Simply take them home, pop them out of the package, and freeze them separately in plastic bags or containers. The same goes for veggies. Buy what’s on sale, set aside some for the week, then blanche and freeze the others.
ROTATING CLOTHES: if you really don’t want to shop—but, of course, we all do—trick yourself. Go through your clothes with a friend. People generally favor certain pieces over others in cycles. The LaCoste shirt you love right now, you may have ig- nored two months ago. Find the things you like but don’t often wear. Take what you wear too often, put them in a suitcase and hide it from yourself. In a month or two— when you open it up again and switch those contents with what you kept in the closet— it’s like having new clothes.
FURNITURE: beyond Craig’s List, free items—which generally are free because they suck—thrift stores, and Ikea, play the waiting game. Post your needs on so- cial networking sites. If friends are moving, ask if there is anything they don’t want and generally the fates provide. Granted, it took two months for me to get a dining-room table, but with a little paint it’s going to be a budget-conscious take on the $600 vintage piece I coveted.
ELECTRICITY: charge your cell phone at work, your boss won’t notice—sorry chief! Businesses tend to have a cheaper, corporate rate with the electric company. If your boss refuses, or you don’t have an outlet close to your work station, just make sure you unplug the charger when you take the phone off of it. Chargers still charge even without your phone attached. I also unplug the coffee pot, microwave, and DVD player when I’m not home. Anything with a glowing light is draining you dry.
TAILOR: a good tailor is hard to come by, but when you find one you have a friend for life. If your $25 pajama/lounge pants are ripped at the bottom, merely take them to your tailor and remedy the rip. A tailor can also personalize anything you get from a thrift store, such as turning a pair of pants into a cute pair of shorts. With a few stitch- es you can feel as if it’s a custom-made out- fit, not second-hand goods.
CLOTHING SWAPS: these are popu- lar in the northeastern cities I used to call home—Philly and New York. Once a sea- son, go through your wardrobe and pull out what you really don’t wear. Call up your friends and make a party out of it. Invite them over—each with a bag of their own unwanted clothes. People will certainly find your castoffs heaven-sent, and now that Marcel has gained 10 pounds after the break-up, his coveted Trovata button-down will look divine on you.
ONLINE: not having a computer with the Internet is a bit like a car without a motor, but not having the Internet at home is very relaxing. Check your emails over lunch, or when you have downtime at work. However, please don’t think I encourage you to watch porn or check Adam4Adam at your own personal Dunder & Mifflin. Exchange the $30 or $60 you spend per month for time at home to decompress, read, and watch mov- ies. Or learn to cook so you can have those dinner parties I mentioned earlier.
THE LIBRARY: yes, I’m serious, the library. Libraries are free—as long as you remember the return date. They are a great source for films as well as books. Although not well-funded right now, they generally can order or request from another branch the film you wish to view. You can say good- bye to your Netflix account.