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Saving Money

2017 began pretty much the same as every year: I prepared a year-end statement of what we spent money on in 2016 and went over it with the Lovely Louise. After she got over her shock and horror, she made a pronouncement: We can't spend any money in 2017.

I know she's right. Well, sort of right. All of us need to be careful with our money, and I'm no exception. (Actually, I think I should be an exception, but I don't think that's going to fly with the Lovely Louise.)

On Cape Cod, we have a wonderful home with a very large pool. I mean very large: it's 20 feet by 50 feet with an automatic cover, heater, and everything else you would want in a large pool. I take care of the pool myself all summer long.

In Cape Coral, we have a very small pool, about one quarter the size of the one up north. In Florida, we have a pool guy who comes every week and takes care of this little pool for us. No more, says the Lovely Louise. This morning, I heard her call out my name from the kitchen while I was outside on the lanai: “Cliffie …” Whenever she calls me Cliffie, I know I'm going to be asked to do something. “Can you brush down the sides of the pool? We have people coming over and the kids may want to use it.” Isn't that what the pool guy does? Never mind; the pool guy's not here today and she wants the pool brushed down. After I finished, she told me that since I take care of the pool up north by myself, I should easily be able to take care of the one in Florida without help.

She's right: I can do it … but I sort of like having a pool guy and watching him do all that stuff I can do myself. I reluctantly agreed, and she pointed out that doing without a pool guy will save us about $100 a month. Okay, she's right, and after all, $100 is $100. I am now the official Florida pool guy. My problem isn't that I'm now the pool boy; it's that I know this cutting of expenses isn't going to stop there. This is one of those times when I know I'm right, and it doesn't happen often.

I have jury duty tomorrow, and they won't let me wear shorts. I thought this would be a good time to buy a new pair of pants, since I don't have any long pants in Florida. When I mentioned this to She Who Must Be Obeyed, she pointed out that I already have two pairs of fishing pants with zippers across the thighs that can turn them into shorts. I'm not sure the judge would consider that acceptable. Next thing I know, she pulls out a $30-off Men's Wearhouse coupon and tells me that's where I need to shop because we have a coupon. I freaking hate coupons.

I got to Men's Wearhouse and went to grab my coupon. I can't find it anywhere. Panic! I didn't dare go home because I knew she'd check the receipt to make sure I used the coupon, and I couldn't find the damn coupon. I almost didn't go in, such was my fear of the lecture I was going to get when I got home, but I carried on undaunted, only slightly worried about facing The Brit. When I confessed my sin, she went to the truck, looked between the seats and magically, there was my coupon. Oops.

I don't drink beer very much, but when I do, I happen to like Yeungling. Today I checked the refrigerator in the laundry room where we keep cold drinks, and in addition to the Yeungling there was Budweiser. You don't have to tell me: I know Bud's cheaper, but jeez, it’s only a couple of bucks cheaper. I did the only thing a man can do: I drank the Yeungling and left the Buds for guests.

Sometimes I buy a few too many vegetables, and they go bad before I can cook them. Recently, I had to throw out six stalks of asparagus (which Louise calls “those pointy things”) and a few Brussels sprouts (which she calls “alien heads”). Yesterday, she announced that, since the store is only about two miles from the house, we can stop by every day to get fresh vegetables and then we won't be wasting any. Uhh … okay, then. I guess that my time, gasoline, and wear and tear on the truck don't cost anything.

Twice in the past, she has cut our cable TV costs by eliminating at least three channels that I watch frequently. When I complain, she responds by switching from Comcast Cable to DirectTV. I still don't know where my favorite channels are. Just yesterday, she asked me, “Do you know how much the cable TV costs on Cape Cod and we're not even there.” Danger, Will Robinson, danger. (An obscure reference that only old folks like me will remember. See Lost in Space).

Look, I know this is good for us, and I'm very lucky to have a woman who cares enough to be careful with our money. However, I must warn her that certain expenses are going to continue or I'm outta here. Don't touch my bourbon; I'm not switching from rib eye steaks to flank steak; and please, whatever you do, do not buy generic crackers. I don't care if they have crackers that are “just like” Triscuits. I want Triscuits. And no, I don't want Rosemary Triscuits, Sea Salt Triscuits, Lo Calorie Triscuits, or Triscuits made with soy. I just want regular Triscuits. Look, it's not a problem. Here's the extra $.25 for real Triscuits. I'll just give up shaving and we can save the money that way. Besides, it will hide the double chin I’ll get from eating all those Triscuits.


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