Gertrude’s Diary #98 – How to Be Poor

What with the GFC kicking in and all, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to live cheaply.  I hope readers will benefit from my experience.  My years of experience.  My long, long years of deprivation.  Oh the pain.  The pain.

1.  The Bludge
A most important tool in the arsenal of the empty-pocketed, it should be restricted to times of extreme deprivation and relied upon only as a last resort lest it lose its efficacy.  And you your self-respect.
For example, the following conversation:

me: “Pat, you’re a Real Estate Agent aren’t you?”
P:  “Yes, I am.”
me:  “Can you please buy me a beer then?”

2.   The Find
Second Hand Sunday is coming up, but you’d be surprised how often people leave perfectly good stuff out in the street in the hope that someone will come along and pick it up.  Watch out for spiders and unpleasant stains.  And bed bugs.  And horrible skin diseases.

3.  Making Do
Does it work?  Can you still sit on it, eat at it, watch it, listen to it, cook with it etc?  Yes?  Then why are you getting a new one? Can you replace it with something second-hand?  Johnboy at The Riotact recently posted an entry about building a freak bike from parts acquired for next to nothing from AussieJunk at Mitchell.  I’ve been furnishing my house in this way for years.  It’s true, people do look at you strangely when you tell them that your favourite shop is the tip, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to.

4.  Lower Your Expectations
If you simply cannot survive without the thrill of buying something new, if you really must have the opportunity to define yourself through the exercise of choice, you just need to do so within your budget.  The following is a loose guide, serving merely to indicate the sort of decisions you might need to make.

“I just can’t decide between the pineapple chunks and the jar of olives.  The pineapple chunks go better with the summer curtains, but the olives add a touch of sophistication to my dinner of cheese and no name crackers…”

5.  Doing
Learn things – a language, a new recipe, a favourite poem.  Experiment with life.  Give everything a go.  Let your imagination run free.  Stretch and exercise – you don’t need the gym for this.  Drink water.  Attend public events when you can, and visit museums, galleries and libraries regularly.  Walk or ride a bicycle – a second hand one will do.  Note:  shiny pants are optional.

Passivity is an enemy.  Turn the television off – you will be glad you did.  Gertrude will applaude you, as will all the best dole-bludgers.  Tests will be given.  Marks will count towards the final assessment.

Next:  winning ways with offal – how to turn a slaughter into a dinner party!

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