Sunday 20 December 2009

Ask The Tight Fist: Is It Cool to Mooch? And Frugal Generosity


Dear The Tight Fist,

Is it inherent that a Tight Fist must be a mooch on friends, family and society? Is there a fine line that distinguishes the Tight Fister from the general mooch? Examples appreciated.

Yours Truly,

Miserly in Manchester


Dear Miserly in Manchester,

Despite your friendly-sounding name, your question is so insulting that I'm almost forced to believe that you are one of 'them'. But in any case, I will ignore the bad taste in my mouth and attempt to answer you.

As the average Western shopper is so incredibly consumed by their own materialism, it is only a matter of time before they feel the need to morally justify their meaningless, vapid lifestyles. Surely it must be the will of God for me to spend my hard earned money on my 23rd sweater. (God loves sweaters!) And it must be our patriotic duty to stimulate our economy by purchasing thirty-six cents worth of plastic molded into $300 designer sunglasses. Because those who don't, they!!!
She Can Get Away With It...
For Now

Wait, what? If you're thinking that above logic doesn't make any sense, you're right! But it illustrates how insecure, unapologetic spenders attempt to claim moral superiority over the 'stingy', 'cheap', or 'misterly'. And one way that they can really push this argument into ridiculous territory is to equate Tight Fistedness with mooching. Mooching, of course, is when you take advantage of generosity of your friends by say, accepting free dinners, rides, etc. without ever reciprocating. And let's me clear: MOOCHING MAKES YOU A COMPLETE JACKASS! But the truth is, mooching is completely orthogonal to Tight Fisting (for you non-mathematically inclined, that means the two are unrelated). Mooching makes you a total jerk, and a moocher is likely to lose all his friends, get dumped by his girlfriend, and resort to fat, ugly prostitutes for sex. (Note, if you are a hot chick you cam probably get away with being a moocher with no consequences for a while. But remember, your looks will fade and no one will shed a tear when you get dropped for a trophy wife once you hit 39 and a half.)

In fact, if you had been paying any attention, you would know that I've addressed a number of potential mooching situations before, and have never, ever suggested taking advantage. For instance, let's consider that you're out on the town, and you hear one of your buddies say the dreaded words "I'll get this round." Well, a dirty sniveling mooch would just smile and accept, ducking out of the bar before it was his turn to buy. Said mooch will slowly get asked out less and less until he has to spend every Saturday night at home playing solitaire, eating Haagen Daaz, and masturbating. But a Tight Fist, since he has already prepartied plenty, will know that he only needs a drink or two, and will loudly insist on not joining the round. There's a similar story to tell about group dinners. Money saved, friends kept, everyone wins.

Since it's Christmas, let's address the mooching question that's pressing on everyone's minds. In my previous few posts (here, here, and here), I have carefully instructed that a good Tight Fist does not participate in gift giving for Christmas. But if you get gifts and don't recpirocate, doesn't that make you a mooch? It sure does, which is why you need to make it very clear to everyone that you don't want a gift and aren't going to get them anything. That way they know what they're getting into, and if they still insist on giving it's their own stupid fault.

And finally, a new scenario: let's say a dutiful Tight Fister is going to the store to get a beer, and finds that an entire case of said beer is super-ultra reduced: 30 cans for ten dollars! Well my friends, as a loyal Tight Fister is would be your sworn duty to buy that entire case of bargain beer, call all your friends, and tackle the case as a team. Because just as a Tight Fister refuses to let their friends sucker them into terrible money-wasting scenarios, he equally desires to share his dividend when struck with a bout of frugal luck. That my friends, is true Tight Fist generosity!

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Tight Fist Approved Christmas Presents: Charitable Gifts

But I Wanted A Zhu Zhu Goat!

In my last two posts (here and here), I lamented the entire institution of gift exchange, especially on Christmas. Please note that the easiest way to solve your gift-giving problem is to simply announce to all your family and friends that you are giving up the practice and will not be giving gifts nor expect to receive them. Done. Problem Solved.

But no, you're not going to do that, are you? You're going to be weak and guilt-stricken and feel obligated to participate in the crass consumerism of Christmas for no better reason than you think opting out would cause other pathetic idiots to stop liking you. So fine, I'll help you out, but it is against my better judgment.

In order to devise some Tight Fist approved gifts, we have to start by getting inside the head of an irrational gift-purchaser. For instance, you might say, "Can't we just give cash?". But no, that would be too easy! Even though most gift giving is just a competition to see who can buy more useless crap, the gift giver needs to be deluded into thinking that whatever they are buying is thoughtful, and totally proves how incredibly well they know and care about the recipient. "Oh, I know Mary is really into baking! I'll show that I remembered this minute fact by buying her an oven mitt. Because there is no way that someone who is soooo into baking could possibly have a sufficient amount of oven mitts!"
This Christmas, Help
Those Truly In Need

I know Tight Fisters hate spending money, but in order to satisfy that 'Christmas is all about giving' hoopla, we're going to have to spend a little money. However, it is important that we don't have to use this money to buy into the cycle of useless consumption. Instead, why not give the money to someone who really needs it by making a donation to charity in the name of the friend/relative for whom you need to get a gift. The great thing about this is that it allows you to satisfy the 'prove how much I know about you' necessity of gift giving, and also allows you to spend exactly your desired amount. Basically, you just need to find a charity that support some cause that your friend really cares about. Still scratching your head? Here are some specific examples for friend types:

The Bleeding Heart Liberal Hippie
: Help them fight for the most important social cause of all- LEGALIZE IT! (

The Rich Right Wing Conservative: Keep the government out of their bank accounts, and hide the guilt with 'economics'. (

The Tech Nerd: Holy Crap, they don't have Blackberries in Africa? (

The Sports Fan: Make their fantasy league a reality. (

The Pet Lover: Show you love your dog by chopping off its weiner! (

Your Creepy Pervy Neighbor: Set His Desires Free! (

The Development Economist: Slay middle class guilt with statistically signficant interventions. (,**

And so forth. If the spirit of Christmas is all about giving, we may as well give to people who really need it rather than giving another rich person some piece of molded plastic they don't need. And also, this avoids the horrendous experience of having to go to a mall during December, which is about at fun as gouging out your eyes with a rusty spoon.

Merry Christmas!

**As a development economist myself, I am embarrassed to say that I actually don't know which charities do programs with useful, measurable, statistically tested programs. The two links I gave above were just random. Does anyone know some good ones?

Friday 4 December 2009

Tight Fist Tip #33: Stop Exchanging Gifts

Hanging Out For The Holidays

As the weather gets cooler and the Thanksgiving tryptophan hangovers wear off, our minds inevitably start to drift to the festive joys of the holiday season. First and foremost: wasting money on useless pieces of crap to exchange for crap you don't really want. Woo Hoo! In my last post I talked about the futility of buying crap on Black Friday, and why holiday gift giving makes baby Jesus cry. But the problem remains is that people, for some reason, just love receiving totally useless crap.

So, what is wrong with the practice of gift giving? Well, potentially there is nothing really wrong with it. If you just bought something for a friend that they really needed, and they reciprocate by getting you something you really need, then it would be ok. Imagine the following unfamiliar Christmas scene:

Jonny: Oh man, I'm so excited to open my christmas present!
Julie: Oh, go ahead!
Jonny: (Opens Present) Holy crap- just what I wanted! Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs! I can make these for dinner tomorrow!
Julie: I'm glad you like them! Now, I wonder what you got me? (Rips open packaging) oh my God! A bus pass! Now I can get to work! This is amazing!
Jonny: I love you!
Julie: Let's make babies!
Is This Meant To Induce Suicide?

And....Cut. But no, that's not really how it happens. If you actually gave useful gifts and got some sort of special joy out of the gift exchanging process (that managed to outweigh the inefficiency of having to guess what your friend really wants), then gifts could really be a great thing. But this is not how it happens in real life. In the real world, it goes something like this:

Jonny: (Opens gift) Oh, what a nice sweater!
Jonny (internal monologue): Oh wow, this would be really great at keeping me warm...IF I WAS FREAKING BUCK NAKED AND DIDN'T ALREADY HAVE A CLOSET FULL OF GODDAMN SWEATERS ALREADY.
Julie: I knew you would appreciate the stylish orange stripe across the front! And now, let's open mine. Oh wow- a new TV! This is awesome!
Julie (internal monologue): Yeah amazing, now my TV viewing experience will be a full five inches wider. It would be just like I had pushed my couch forward one foot and left it there forever. HOW FREAKING ROMANTIC.
Jonny: Now hon, do you want to...

Exceptionally obscene are the stores openly specialize in gifts. How can this make any sense? If you consider your items as gifts, this must mean that THEY ARE TOO INCREDIBLY STUPID AND USELESS FOR ANYONE TO EVER BUY FOR THEMSELVES. Yes, I'm talking to you Pier 1 Imports. And you, Sharper Image. You too Skymall. If a dedicated Tight Fister accidentally gets lost and finds himself in one of these stores, it will require years of therapy to rid the trauma from your psyche.

I won't even get into the disgusting dependence on Christmas gift-giving that keeps millions of terrible, useless strip-mall shops open indeterminately. Or the heartbreaking debt and sacrifice that some families endure to keep up with social norms of gift giving. These things just depress me beyond belief.

But despite all this, I know that many of you out there are not strong enough to break the cycle of gift giving all by yourself. You're going to want to know what kinds of gifts you can give that The Tight Fist will approve of. Grudgingly, I will provide that in my next post.

Monday 30 November 2009

Tight Fist Tip #32: Black Friday Is The Black Plague

Black Guy vs White Zombies
Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

I know this is a couple of days late, but since I know that 'Black Friday/Cyber Monday' madness is just going to continue on until Jesus' birthday party, I feel I need to address the issue. The problem is that with all the 'amazing' deals popping up this week, novice Tight Fisters may get confused. Don't Tight Fisters just love awesome deals?

If you said 'Yes', please punch yourself in the face. Sure, Tight Fisters love great deals, but remember, when a shiny piece of crap goes on sale, IT IS STILL JUST A SHINY PIECE OF CRAP! For those of you with amnesia, you may have forgotten the ultimate Tight Fist rule: DO NOT BUY CRAP THAT YOU DON'T NEED. And yes, this applies even if the crap that you don't need is soooooo incredibly discounted. In fact, this logic is already well documented in my previous post on sales and promotions. Someone make sure to tell me if they ever have some kind of 'Black Friday' deal down at Tesco. 50% off discounts on veggies, chicken, and pasta? I'll line up for that! But I think I'm gonna pass on robotic hamsters.

You'd think that would pretty much end the discussion. But the problem is that in this case, you always get the following response: "But I have to buy presents for Jesus for his birthday! So since these purchases are necessities I may as well line up for the good deals." Oh man, as a silly little Jew I must have missed something important up there in the New Testament. Can someone point me to the passage where they say that you have to satiate Jesus' legendary appetite for plastic action figures and flat screen TVs by sacrificing these things to him at the altar? And who was the scholar who claimed that the preferred method of sacrifice should be "give to your bratty ass spoiled kids" and by altar he meant for some reason "put a freaking tree in your living room".

So look, I know I'm out of my league by trying to interpret the bible and understand Christianity, so if any Christians out there want to enlighten me on why buying completely useless crap makes Jesus so happy, please go ahead. (And yes, I understand that Christians are not my main audience here, but I know there are a few in the crowd.)

Let me just ask any of you Christians your absolute favorite question: WWJD? I find it completely baffling how anyone could think that a man who railed against greed and spurned worldly pleasures could possibly endorse the materialistic consumption-driven holiday that Christmas has become. If you ask me, he would be pretty bummed out on his birthday.

And finally, I know there are all you secular Christians out there who are going to say things like 'Gift giving is not religious, but it's tradition and nice and makes people warm and fuzzy and blah blah blah so it's a good thing.' Well unfortunately there is not enough space in this post for a general refutation of gift-giving, but stay tuned as it is the subject of my next post.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tight Fist Tip #31: Do Not Order Rice

Swindler Extraordinaire!

While The Tight Fist strongly recommends that if you are having an evening at the home your should stop being lazy and cook for yourself, I understand that we all have moments of weakness. And sometimes this weakness results in a terribly shameful act: ordering in. But even if you're being weak, you still need to have your wits about you.

Here in the UK, the most popular delivery options (besides pizza) are Chinese and Indian food. When you first look at the menus, the prices seem pretty reasonable- usually around 4-6 pounds for a dish. Sure, you could slap together some Mystery-Meat-in-MSG-Sauce for far less than that but ok, I'll stop pressing the issue. On the face of it, 4 pounds for a meal isn't too terrible. So you get on the phone, make your order, and then the moment of truth arrives: "You want rice with that?"
At Least Eat The Rice!

Here is where you panic. Of course you want rice with your curry, right? I mean, even The Tight Fist Cooking Guide says that you should base all your meals around cheap carbs! And rice is cheap, right? WRONG! Instead, the rice will set you back £2.50, and leave you crying when you get the bill. There is nothing a restaurant loves to do more than marking down its main courses while marking up necessary accompaniments for which people don't even check the price. (On a similar note, check out Tip #21, about sodas.)At some restaurants, you can't even find the price of the rice on the menu. The bastards!

So how can you reconcile this seemingly contradictory advice? Am I telling you to base your meal on carbohydrates yet not letting your order them? Of course not, because the solution is simple: COOK YOUR OWN FREAKING RICE!! Even if you are too lazy to cook a meal, you never have an excuse to not cook your own rice. Just put it in the pot, and it will be ready just as your food arrives. And if you are lucky enough to have inherited a rice cooker, the easy gets even easier.

And what if you are seated at a restaurant and just realized that the price of rice is through the roof? BE STRONG, DON'T CRACK! Just order a noodle dish, or a biryani. These dishes usually don't cost any more than the rice-needing entrées, and don't require a separate order. The Tight Fist wins again!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Sunday 8 November 2009

Tight Fist Tip #30: Multi-Vitamins are Multi-Crappy

Which Is The One That Makes My Mother Love Me?

Hey wouldn't it be great if every morning you could take a special pill, and that amazing super-pill would prevent all kinds of nasty diseases? And even better, what if that pill improved your concentration, made you stronger, and helped you please that special someone? Man, that would be so awesome! Well, you're in luck! Because there are tons of companies out there that will sell you such a pill, and their claims are totally backed up by 'science'! What is this magic pill called? A Multivitamin!

But what exactly is it that these vitamins do for you? Well, for the latest in nutrition breakthroughs we had better trust the experts working for the high-tech lab that is the Centrum Health Center. Let's take a look of some of the amazing features that a multivitamin will give you:

1. Vitamin A can help keep you smiling and at your best by supporting your immune system and protecting epithelial cells that line your entire body.*
2. Vitamin C, when combined with Vitamin E, helps optimize antioxidant power and can help support immune health.*
Eating Food Is For Suckers

3. Did you know that great skin starts from the inside? It's true: The right combination of vitamins and other nutrients can help you maintain healthy skin.*

And those are just drops in the bucket. Man, this multivitamin thing is a total no-brainer! But wait one second, what's the deal with those little stars after every single health claim. Could that provide some useful information?

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Wait, what? But, what about all that "supporting immune health" and "protect cells from damage" business? That has nothing to do with disease prevention? If multivitamins are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, WHAT FREAKING GOOD ARE THEY? (Maybe they taste really really good?)

Obviously, the brilliant folks at Centrum just hope no one reads the fine print. Although it seems pretty clear to me, maybe I can just clarify this fine print 'legalese' for the rest of us out there. I'd say any of these following would also suffice

*The above statements are exactly vague enough to completely mislead you without getting us sued. Our lawyers slaved over them for weeks.
*The above statements are intended to fool stupid people into buying our snake oil. If you are smart enough to read the small print, you've figured us out. Nice work!
*These above statements are complete bullshit.

Now look, I'm not trying to argue that vitamins and other micro-nutrients aren't necessary for health. I'm just saying that if you do crazy things like eat a variety of foods, you're going to be just fine. But bar a few exceptions, taking vitamins along with a healthy diet has never proven to have any beneficial effect.

If anyone is interested in this type of topic, I highly recommend you check out the blog (and associated book) Bad Science, which is written by doctor and journalist Ben Goldacre. For some fun posts on vitamins, check out here, here, and here.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Epic Feats of Frugality: Thoreau, Walden, and the Simple Life

Tight Fisting It, 19th Century Style

This article is part of the 'Epic Feats of Frugality' series, which calls attention to innovative and inspirational Tight Fisters from around the world.

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau is a towering classic of American literature. Most people are familiar with the basic story: middle class Thoreau leaves society and goes off to live by himself, extolling the virtues of a simple, natural lifestyle. In the book, he describes his life in the woods and (favorably) compares his life to that of those engaged in modern society. But what may not be completely obvious to you is that Thoreau is a TOTAL LEGEND OF TIGHT FISTEDNESS. If you read the book, you will see that this guy is constantly dropping inspirational nuggets of wisdom that are still relevant to we Tight Fisters today.

Thoreau is not the first (nor the last) to promote ditching society and living out in the wilderness. But these days, those people tend to be a bit off their rocker, and not exactly shining example citizens. But even if you don't feel like rushing off into the woods and plotting your revenge on society, you can still take lessons in Tight Fisting from Thoreau.

Let's start with a perfect example. When Thoreau decides to move to the woods, his first order of business is to build himself a house- everyone needs a house, right? But if you're a true Tight Fister like Thoreau, you cut down your own trees, negotiate with locals for materials, and build that bad boy yourself. In fact, Thoreau was so pleased with his house that he was able to smugly proclaim,"I intend to build me a house which will surpass any on the main street in Concord in grandeur and luxury, as soon as it pleases me as much and will cost me no more than my present one. " Take that, city snobs!

Sure He Lived In The Woods, But I
Think Ted Missed The Point

How much exactly did it cost Thoreau in total? $28.125! And before all you econ nerds weigh in on the differential value of money in 1841, I'm pleased to inform you that this is worth a cool $552.465 in 2005 dollars. Go ahead, try to build a house for under $600. Let me know how it goes.

According to Thoreau, one of the major benefits of a simple life is that if you stop consuming luxuries, you no longer need to work hard and long for money. (This concepts has a lot of parallels to the ideas found in our very own Tight Fist Manifesto) In a telling example, there is a passage in the book where Thoreau happens upon a poor but hard-working neighboring farmer, and he tries to open his eyes to the virtues of living without luxury. He illustrates their lifestyle differences in the following passage:

I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard, and it cost me but a trifle for my food; but as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system — and so it was as broad as it was long, indeed it was broader than it was long, for he was discontented and wasted his life into the bargain

So obviously the farmer must have seen the error of his ways? But alas, it is not so, as he had fallen under the trap of consumerism: "and yet he had rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day."

We all know that giving up luxuries will free you from the bonds of money, but Thoreau is takes it to the extreme- giving up even minor luxuries such as tea, coffee, butter, milk, and meat. (And before any snooty vegans chime in, make sure you first take a look at your tofu and tempeh bills.) Sure, Thoreau was lucky enough to be able to go fishing when he wanted a delicious meal, but his restraint is impressive nonetheless.

I could keep going, but if you're looking for more 19th century inspiration, you may just have to read the book yourself. But here's the good news: thanks to an expired copyright, it is available for free on the internet. A book on Tight Fisting, available for free? DOUBLE SCORE!!!

Henry David Thoreau, inspiration to Tight Fisters everywhere for a century and a half, I tip my cap to you.

Do you know someone who is an inspirational Tight Fister? Do they perform Epic Feats of Frugality? Email The Tight Fist at

Monday 2 November 2009

Tight Fist Tip #29: Shop At Real Thrift Stores

Vintage Retro Super Fun Time!

In my last post, I mentioned that the best way to buy costumes was to go to a thrift shop. Certainly you wouldn't need to be a genius to figure out that you can save money by buying your clothes second hand, so you may at first think that there's nothing to write about here. But there is a worrisome problem regarding used clothes: in certain circles (think hipsters), they are trendy, and with trendy comes rising prices.

But how can this be? Once, people only wore old used clothes because they were cheap. Then hipster trendster types decide that for some reason old clothes were suddenly even cooler than that band you don't even know about yet. If hipsters want a certain (effortless?) look, they will go to all ends of the earth to make it happen, including spending tons of money on their clothes. But their cool, effortless look would be completely destroyed if their hyper-judgemental friends were to figure out that they bought expensive clothes. So what to do? Well, enter the 'vintage' clothing shop, a second hand store that sells crummy used clothes for new clothes prices. What a great idea! This way, trendsters can successfully waste their Jamba Juice salaries on some stupid-looking expensive skinny jeans, and then before any of their catty friends ask how much they paid, they can flippantly remark how they got it second hand.

But with all these fake thrift stores popping up to serve the hipsters, how is a true Tight Fist supposed to discern between a real second hand store, and a pretentious 'vintage' hell hole? Here are some tips to figure it out:

1. Does the name of the store contain the words 'vintage' or 'retro'? If so, get the hell out of there. If you were to look up these words in a dictionary, you should find the following definition 'adjective used to describe items that are old yet inexplicably expensive'. (Note that this is also the definition of the word 'antique'.)

Way too Hot = Way too Expensive

2. Is the person behind the counter young, wearing nice clothes, and/or even remotely attractive? If you want to sleep with the cashier, you are in the wrong place. Real thrift stores have elderly volunteers behind the counter, not aspiring jeans models.

3. Is there music playing that was made in the past 10 years? If the music is designed to lure in hipsters and their fat allowances, you have lost your way. Instead, you should look for music designed to remind poor old people of happier times. (Maybe this one?)

4. Is there lighting that is not big flourescent tubes? Fancy lights just add to your costs. Decent thrift stores do not blow your savings on lampshades.

5. Are the clothes freaking cheap? I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of peoples' perceptions of what clothes should cost are totally out of whack. So I suggest the following barometer: the Marshalls/TJ Maxx test. If the (used) clothes cost anywhere near the price of the same (new) thing at Marshalls, you would be a complete idiot to purchase it. Case closed.

So have fun shopping, but not too much fun. Even if you find great clothes at a real cheap thrift shop, the eternal Tight Fist rule of 'Don't Buy Crap You Don't Need' rules supreme. Just because you find a cheap pair of jeans, you are not allowed to buy it if you already have a perfectly good pair at home. Case closed.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Ask The Tight Fist: Cheap Halloween Costume Guide

Dressing Like A Slut is Cheap If Your Closet
Is Already Filled With Slutty Clothes!

Hi Tight Fist,

Halloween is coming closer. A party is planned, and it has been made abundantly clear that guests are only welcome if they wear a costume. What is the tight fist's take on this? Should I cough up one ore two tenners (oh the drudgery) to buy stuff I will never ever wear again? Or shall I just stay home? But if I stay home I'll be expected to buy sweets and give them to perfect strangers. There is no way out of this conundrum. Please advise.

-Scared of Going Broke


As explored in earlier posts about movies and group dinners, it can be tough when you are forced to make a decision between saving money and hanging out with your free spending friends. But geez SOGB, this is not one of those situations! We know that most people are just looking for any excuse to waste their hard earned money, and Halloween is as good an excuse as any. Of course, companies are happy to oblige by creating aisles and aisles of craptastic costumes and accessories. But SOGB, ONLY AN ABSOLUTE MORON WOULD SPEND ONE OR TWO TENNERS ON SOME PIECE OF CRAP THEY WILL ONLY WEAR ONCE!

Halloween is NOT an excuse to go spending money left and right. But am I endorsing showing up at a Halloween party without a costume? Of course not! Any respectable host of such a party would deny entry to a jackass who thought they were too cool to dress up. Instead, the trick is to exercise a bit of originality (yes, I know it's hard) and make a freaking costume yourself. Seriously, you don't need to have graduated from Milan Fashion Academy to throw together a rocking Halloween costume on the cheap, with things you already have.

But let me guess, you're so devoid of creativity that you can't think of a thing. Fortunately, I'm going to share some tried and true costume ideas.

Part One: The Classics

1. Ghost: This is for the truly lazy and pathetic among us. Take a sheet and cut eye holes and you're done. Note that the ghost will never ever get laid at a Halloween party.

2. Mummy: This is seriously easy. Get some assortment of rags, tape, paper towels, etc, and wrap yourself up. Extra points if you remove your brain through your nose.

Quite Possibly The Sexiest
Killer Whale Ever

3. Zombie: Make your own face paint, put on some ripped clothes, and just tell everyone you want to eat their brains. As the point is to look ugly, this may even help you get laid, as your victim will think you just did a really good job with the makeup.

Part Two: Innovative

Show everyone your bottomless wit by donning a costume SO RIDICULOUS that wearing it makes you the TRENDIEST guy (or gal) at the party.

1. The Housing Bubble: Everyone loves witty, topical costumes! Draw a picture of a house on a T-shirt, and then cover yourself in bubble wrap. Note: If I ever see people dressed in crap like this, I do my best to avoid them at all costs. So if you do choose this genre of costumes, don't talk to me.

2. Toothbrush: A person dressed as an object? Crazy!! Just get a big piece of cardboard and tape it to your back so that it extends up past your head. Then staple on straws for bristles and you're good to go.

3. Killer Whale: Take a black hoodie and tape white triangles to the hood to make teeth. Slap some cardboard on your back for a fin and you're in business. As a bonus, this costume kinda makes it looks like you are living in the stomach of the whale a la Jonah. This will play well with the hot bible study chicks at the party.

Part Three: For the Ladies

We all know that for many ladies in the crowd, Halloween is interpreted as 'International Dress Like a Slut Day'. But fortunately, dressing like a slut doesn't have to be costly either!

1. Lingerie Model: Just wear your lingerie. What, don't have any lingerie? I feel sorry for your boyfriend.

2. Cowgirl: Take a flannel shirt and tie it up for super cleavage action. Throw on some ass-hugging jean shorts and you're done. If you're lucky, there may even be several cowboys at the party to choose from.

3. Lifeguard: Yup, just chuck on the swimsuit and grab a whistle. Maybe you could even 'rehydrate' tired partygoers with some special concoction in a water bottle.

So as you can see, these are just a few of many easy, cheap, lazy Halloween costumes. And as a final note, if you do need to buy something to complete your costume, just get it at a thrift shop. And not some trendy thrift shop, a real thrift shop. (If you can't tell the difference, this will be the topic of an upcoming post.)

Folks, got any more last minute costume advice for my cheap and lazy readers? If so, feel free to comment.

Have problems with frugality? Ask The Tight Fist at Don't be shy.

Monday 19 October 2009

Ask The Tight Fist: Ducking Out of Sequels and Other Crappy Movies

Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. An Instant Classic.

Dear The Tight Fist,

What do you do when all your friends are going out to see "Last of the Mohicans VI: You Thought It Was The Last?"

This is one of the most classically annoying situations. They say,"I know the movie is bad, but I'll just turn my brain off and it will be fun." But I'm thinking, "Dude, couldn't I numb my brain at home for free by watching the infomercial channel?" But I don't want to spend my Saturday night at home alone- what do I do?

Le Piano Man


Similar to the group dinner scenario described earlier, it can be a bummer when your crappy free-spending friends try to sucker you into wasting your money just to be part of the group. The long term scenario is clear: GET SOME NEW FRIENDS! Seriously, your life will be miserable if you surround yourself with money-wasting friends, because then you're always going to have to make the decision between spending money or being bored and alone.

But folks, there is really no reason to ever drop cash on seeing a crappy movie just so you can hang out with your lame friends. I mean, you don't even interact with your friends when you're seeing a movie anyway. So what the hell is the point of throwing away your money just to be bored in the presence of their body heat?

Transformers 4 Is Still In Early Stages

But don't worry, you can still make a night out of it. Have your friends pick you up like normal, and have all the 'crazy fun' that you kids have in the car nowadays. Experience the joy of the parking lot, and the scenic walk into the theater. But before you buy the tickets for "Transformers 4: Attack Of The Killer Segways", just hang back and tell your friends you'll catch up. Then bust out the trusty book (that you of course got from the library), and enjoy a free evening having way more fun than you would inside. When they come out, join up again for the obligatory post-movie fun of talking about how terrible the movie was. (Note, I'm sure you can join this conversation by just watching the terrible advertisements. "Hey, remember when Eddie Murphy farted? Hilarious!!!!")

Then, go find some real freaking friends. Maybe a Tight Fist social network is in order?

Have questions about frugality? Ask The Tight Fist at Don't be shy.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Tight Fist Tip #28: You Don't Need A Cell Phone Plan

Like, OMG LOL!!!!

Back in prehistoric times (ie the early 00s), there was an important transition in society that made is virtually impossible to live life without a cell phone. Basically, everyone you knew now had a cell phone and therefore gave up age old practices like making plans, meeting places at certain times, talking at normal volumes, etc. If you didn't have a cell phone you were going to be ostracized, and every time you used an archaic signaling mechanism such as a doorbell people would just open their windows to point and laugh.

This transition put Tight Fisters in a tough spot, because you couldn't just buy a cell phone and use it every time you encountered a broken doorbell (at least not in the US). Instead, the evil cartel the ran the cell phone industry made sure that the only way to get access to their fancy wireless communication devices would be to sign up for a two year contract at some ungodly rate. We were all screwed. (And no, I don't have any evidence to back up that cartel claim, but I can't figure out any other explanation as to why pay-as-you-go cell phones came to America 10 years after they were the norm in the rest of the world.)

But people, open your eyes, because the world has changed! Finally, the cartel has been broken and even in the backward USA you can get a pay-as-you-go phone. So DROP THAT $50 A MONTH CHARGE, NOW!

He Obviously Has Too
Many Free Minutes

But hey, there's more to this- because I'm sure some of you are crunching the numbers and coming to the conclusion that your paid plan is actually cheaper than it would be if you switched to pay-as-you-go. Who the hell do you think you are, Paris Hilton? Because the other great thing that has happened to us over the past few years is that the internet is now everywhere and has completely supplanted all needs for a phone. Just take a moment to think about the percentage of your white-collar life that you spend within a few meters of the internet- probably around 80%. So, here is a simple rule to go by: If you have access to the internet, do not use your phone. Using a myriad of services, you can call/chat/videoconference/sext, or whatever it is that the kids are using their phones for these days, all for free (or at least very cheap).

In the UK (and most other places, as far as I know), where Tight Fist friendly norms dictate that you never pay for incoming calls, this can drastically slice your cell phone bill. Then you can save your phone for important things- like drunk dialing your ex. However, in the US you still may be faced with tough decisions like whether or not to answer the phone when your chatty girlfriend calls you- what price can you place on the wrath of a significant other? But fortunately, technology comes to the rescue again in the form of Google Voice. This way you can make sure that calls get forwarded to your computer (using say, SkypeIn), meaning you always have the option of using a computer if you are near one. Awesome!

And finally, what do I have to say to those of you who want to pay $70 per month for one of those fancy 'smart' phones so that you never are away from your precious internet? Well congratulations, you have just paid $70 to make sure that you can settle bar arguments and ruin everyone else's fun by cheating at the pub quiz. Thanks, asshole.

Friday 9 October 2009

Tight Fist Tip #27: Join The Food Waste Police

5 Rules To Save Food From The Landfill

Telltale Sign Of Anorexia

Hey, here's a great idea. Let's buy stuff just so we can throw it away! According to this random article article in the New York Times, Americans waste roughly 27% of the food available for consumption.

Now I know nobody tries to waste food, but a true Tight Fister will take extraordinary measures to ensure no food goes to waste. Remember, any food that you stop someone else from wasting (by eating is) is free food for you. Double score! But I think you could use some more specific advice. Here are five ways to stop wasting food, and save a buck in the process:

1. Watch Over Your Fridge Like A Hawk: Make sure nothing ever rots or gets moldy. Everyone makes the occasional mistake, but you need internalize the seriousness of this offense. Letting meat rot means you killed an animal for fun. It's like drowning a puppy with your bare hands for the pure thrill of it. Think about it. You can avoid this horrible fate by keeping tight watch over your fridge and ensuring that you make food preservation a priority. Feel like a hamburger tonight? NO DICE! Because you have two pounds of spinach that are going to go bad, so it's all spinach all the time until it's gone. And don't be afraid to use the freezer. It there's any risk, chuck it in there.

2. Take One For The Team: What if you're at a restaurant and, although you've joined the clean plate club, your picky 'friends' are getting ready to throw their food away? Are you off the hook? NO! The moment your idiot friend decides to throw away their food, it is then technically your responsibility. No Tight Fister should ever turn down free food. But you can prepare for this situation by identifying early that you are with weak eaters, and order less food in anticipation of the free bonanza to follow.

3. If It Is Edible, You Had Better Eat It: Hey, you think you're too good for pizza crusts? Or the bottom of asparagus? Or those tasty morsels of chicken buried deep in the carcass? Or an apple peel? What, you don't like the bread ends? STOP BEING SUCH A FREAKING PRISS! You have no right to waste precious calories and nutrients just because you are picky.

Don't You Want to Just Punch
Him In The Face?

4. The Sneak Attack: What if you're at a restaurant and you realize the moron next to you left his fries or whatever untouched? Well, unless he was showing visible symptoms of swine flu, POUNCE ON IT! And for all of you who will try convince me that this is dangerous and unsanitary, just realize that this is far less dangerous than making out with all the skanky chicks/dudes that you meet on a night on the town. And far more nutritious!

5. Extra Catering Means Free Food For A Week: You know who loves wasting food? Caterers! If you are at a catered event and there is going to be food left over, this is a classic crisitunity. Yes, you have a big task in ensuring that all the food is not wasted, but there is big bounty to be had! In general, you shouldn't ask the caterers if you can take the food because they may give you some crap about health and safety regulations. Instead, just get a big tray, pile on as much as possible, and hoard it away somewhere safe.

And what of the complainers who say that following these rules is silly because they don't need to eat much food? Well, you have to remember this: the human body is an extraordinary energy storage machine! If you eat too much food at one point in time, your body is smart enough to store this energy for you (usually using some free space around the belly) for future use. How awesome is that! So as long as food is ever available, you can stuff yourself silly and feel satisfied that you are just building up your reserves for potentially lean times ahead. Now we're saving money, cutting out waste, and insuring ourselves against future starvation, all in one go. Now there's a plan I can work with!

Sunday 4 October 2009

Tight Fist Tip #26: You Smell Fine Without Perfume and Cologne

Yeah, This Guy Is Totally Getting Laid Tonight

For some types of products, like say a car or a computer, in theory an advertiser's job is pretty straightforward: you make some ad that stresses the features, quality, or price or your product, and maybe combine it with some gimmick like a semi-nude female or flashing colors and call it a day. But the problem is, this technique relies on your product having some type of defining feature that can be seens as 'better' than its competitors. In other words, you need to rely on some objective measure of quality. But what if you product has no objective measure of quality? Well, this is where advertisers need to get especially tricky, and where Tight Fisters need to be especially vigilant. One thing marketers can do is try to invent objective measures of quality by inventing new words, such as I wrote about with the wine industry.

But the perfume industry has a really unique task. When they come up with a new scent, it basically smells just like a million other products out there. I mean, how many variations of 'chemical-flower' or 'chemical-musk' can you really come up with? (As a side note, natural musk is derived from a gland near the testicles of a certain type of deer. Mmmm, deer testicles.) Also, flowery oil is pretty cheap, but companies want to charge a bazillion dollars for their smelly crap.
I Voted For Obama, But My
Scent is McCain All The Way
So, in order to launch a 'new' product they need to come up with some fancy marketing wizardry to convince the public that they have gone to far reaches of the earth (ie their lab in Indiana) to corral a scent so incredibly desirable it is like nothing you've ever smelled before. In fact, not only is this scent totally amazing, but it is so incredibly great-smelling that it will be like putting your nose on crack, and that everyone in a 50-mile radius area will want to simultaneously copulate with you. And also, it will make you smell just like...Celine Dion!

Wait, what? I don't know who the genius was that first decided it was a good idea to market perfumes by branding them with celebrity names, but thanks to them you can choose which celebrity you want to channel any given night. Is tonight an Usher or Carlos Santana kind of night? Oh, the tough choices we face in the modern era!

So with all these choices, how is the Tight Fister supposed to choose? If that is your question, you have not been paying attention, because only a complete idiot would waste their money by buying smelly oil to smear all over themselves. Look, if you smell bad TAKE A FREAKING SHOWER. Then you will smell fine- see how easy that was? If you somehow think that covering up your nastiness with a strong dash of cologne is going to get you laid, you are in for some serious disappointment.

I Think The Pheremones Came
From Never Showering

You would have to be a complete idiot to think that wearing P Diddy's scent is going to help you score, but it would of course be a different story if the commercials told you otherwise, right? I mean, why would commercials lie- no way they could get away with that! Well, that is the tack taken by the whiz-kids who run Axe Body Spray. Supposedly, mysterious 'sex pheremones' present in this cologne have super powers make women wet their pants at one whiff.

Never mind that scientist still don't really know whether pheremones are present in humans or what role they play. I'm sure those guys at Axe have it all figured out. But what's really interesting is that, according to wikipedia(for what that's worth), human sex pheremones are theorized to be secreted by men's armpits. So of course, the proper technique to attract women at a club is to use deodorant to block out all your natural pheremones, and then rely on the incredibly amazing synthetic ones that they put in Axe. Right, great idea.

And finally, if the desire to waste money on smelly water in fancy little bottles is just irresistable, at least don't throw your money down the toilet just to buy a smell endorsed by a celebrity or some brand. Instead, go for one of the knockoff 'smells like' fragrances. Really, these things smell just as 'good' as anything out there and cost a fraction of the price. No one will ever know the difference, and even if they do no one with any intelligence will care. And if you want to pull an extreme Tight Fist move, just hit up a free sample at a department store before you head out. It's still stupid smelly water, but at least it's free!

Friday 2 October 2009

Epic Feats of Frugality: The Double Wal-Mart Return

Who's Smiling Now, Biatch?

This post introduces a new feature here at The Tight Fist entitled 'Epic Feats of Frugality'. This feature is meant to honor those Tight Fisters out there who are truly inspirational with their frugality, and to spread their stories. Do you know of an Epic Feat Of Frugality? If so, make sure to let me know so I can spread the legend.

If you've even been to a mall in middle American around Christmas time, you have probably notices the preponderance of specialist carts selling all kinds of crazy crap that no one on earth should ever want or use. But if you paid attention, you may notice that some of these stands selling strange, exotic products are staffed entirely by Israelis. Now, what would a group of Israelis be doing in Middle America around Christmas? That's right, scamming hapless Christians desperate to fulfill their utterly useless and wasteful gift-giving traditions!

But look, I'm not here to pick on the Israelis hawking overpriced crap to mall denizens, because the whole purpose of malls is to sell overpriced crap to gift-giving idiots, so really the Israelis are no different than any of the shopkeeps. Instead the truly inspirational part of the story is how the Israeli carts run their operations to maximize profits. This is the story of a mall-cart operator named Gozzle, and how he turned aromatherapy pillows (!) into big bucks.

Free Flat Screens? I'll Take Three!

Gozzle knew he had a great business idea: selling aromatherapy pillows that he bought at about a dollar each to innocent Midwesterners who were just dying to be convinced that smelly pillows are worth 50 bucks. But staffing the stands was an issue. Since the strategy was to sell the products at whatever they thought the mark would pay, he needed good salesmen. And to align incentives and keep costs down, he wanted to pay only commission. To do this, he certainly couldn't hire Jonny Jones from down the road. So why not import some smooth-talking Israelis with promises of easy money reaping the fruits of Christmas? Great Idea!

But this idea had one problem: to entice the Israelis to spend six months in crappy Missouri, he had to hook them up with a phat pad. And the place needed to be furnished so his workers were comfortable. Now, if this was a long-term business he'd be fine, as the furnishing costs would be inconsequential in the long run. But this was just a six-month pre-Christmas operation, so if he bought new furniture for three apartments this was going to erase all his profits.

Enter the Tight Fister's favorite soul-crushing corporate entity: Wal-Mart. In an effort to seem warm and fuzzy to its customers, Wal-Mart has a very generous return policy: "Everything in the store can be exchanged or refunded with a receipt within 90 days of purchase." So, the obvious strategy is to just buy all the furniture and return it when you're done. But you see, it's not that simple, and this is where the genius enters the picture. Wal-mart has a 90 day return policy, but Gozzle needed the things for around 180 days. So what did he do?

Well, our hero decked out his employees' apartments with all the latest furnishings from Wal-mart (and also some stuff from Target and Costco, which have similar return policies). We're talking beds, mattresses, dishes, towels, blankets, stereos, flat screen TVs, etc. Everything. He kept all the receipts and packaging, and also a careful list of what he had purchased. After 90 days, he packed up everything, drove back to the local Wal-Mart and returned it all, for full refunds. Wait, did they really accept mattresses and bedsheets that had been slept on for three months? Sure! What about the microwave that was completely crusted over with three months of food nastiness? You bet!

Then, after visiting the returns department of the Wal-Mart, Gozzle proceeded to walk directly back into the Wal-Mart, and repurchased all the same items he had just returned. Every single item he had just returned, but brand new. On the same day. From the same Wal-Mart. Who was going to notice? He then drove home and refurnished the apartments, and after another 90 days, the operation was over and everything was returned again.

Gozzle made out like a bandit, making huge profits off of his incredible aromatherapy pillows. And is anyone in the crowd shedding a tear for poor, abused Wal-Mart? Gozzle, on behalf of all Tight Fisters out there, I tip my cap to you sir. You are a true inspiration to us all.

Monday 28 September 2009

Tight Fist Tip #25: Don't Buy Nice Things

Seals In The Couchy Freshness, And Keeps Out The Grandma!

As much as we all hate it, sometimes you just need to buy stuff. Maybe there are better Tight Fisters than me out there who are willing to sit on their kitchen floor to eat dinner and jog seven miles each way to work, but you have to draw the line somewhere. So, when you have to buy some annoying material item (like say, a kitchen table or a bicycle), you have to a bunch of choices. But the central choice I'm going to talk about is this: do you buy the more expensive nice one or the cheap crappy one?

So, loyal Tight Fisters, what do you think the answer is? Well, if you said the expensive one take a deep breath then punch yourself in the face. Yes, you know you deserve it. But I can just hear you snickering "Oh wow, The Tight Fist told us to buy cheap stuff. Freaking revolutionary." But OK Mr. Snickerpuss, I hear you, but you haven't heard the rest of the argument.

See, buying cheap stuff isn't always obvious. For instance, sometimes you could make the argument that your expensive table will last longer and therefore justify its higher cost in the long run. Or you may say that your cheap bike will break so much that it won't really be of much use. These are decent arguments in certain circumstances, but in the end they are missing the central point. The point is not only that you save money by buying cheap stuff, but that you are also avoiding a life filled with stress and worry about stupid crap. Double score!

You see, when you buy some expensive odd or end, you immediately feel the need to protect your investment, resulting in ridiculous devotion to preserving your physical possessions at the cost of enjoying your life. Pretty soon, you ecome all emotionally attached to your stupid crap and it becomes a great excuse to do something that all big spenders love: STRESS OUT!!! 'Oh my god I can't park my car here! It might get keyed!' 'Holy Crap I Spilled Two Buck Chuck all Over My Versace Dress!" 'My Marge Simpson Hairdo Got Pissed On!' And so forth.

Ferris, he never drives it!
He just rubs it with a diaper!

As always, let's illustrate the point with a few examples:

1. Tables: Last time I checked, the point of a table is to put stuff on, and one of the things that is really convenient to put on a table is a nice cold drink. Wouldn't it be totally ridiculous if someone developed a table that would get completely ruined by placing a drink on it? Yes it would, but for some reason lovers of expensive tables seem to think that it is justified to use a table so expensive and crappy that you need to have a buffer between it and the drink. Just to be clear, if you ever purchase a table that you need to use a coaster on, YOU ARE A COMPLETE IDIOT! Plus you then become one of those annoying people who is always yelling at their guests for not using coasters, and your friends will all hate you.

2. Dishes: When you grew up, did your family have a whole freaking set of 'Nice Dishes' that were far too good for normal use? Because maybe by using them one may spontaneously explode, sending shrapnel everywhere? And even more comically, you probably couldn't put these dishes in the dishwasher because their incredible awesomeness was too much for the poor machine to handle? Seriously, buying something so 'nice' that you can hardly ever use it is just painfully stupid.

3. Bicycles: As seen in an earlier post, I certainly do support buying a bicycle. But remember people, the point of a bicycle is to get places. And when you get to said places, you need to be able to lock up your bike. And you know what thieves love? Expensive bikes! (Though remember, they hate checks.) So a good rule of thumb: if you are too freaked out to lock up your bike anywhere you might want to go, then you have bought a bike that is too stupidly expensive.

4. Rugs: Rugs are made to be walked on, and peoples' feet are dirty. What, do you expect them to levitate across your house? Also, there is a very good possibility it will get pissed on by a Chinaman.

I think that's enough for now. The main point is that if you are not emotionally attached to anything you own, then when it gets broken/stolen/lost/pissed on, you just don't care. Now if that isn't a liberating lifestyle change, I don't know what is.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Tight Fist Tip #24: Ditch the Fancy Hotels

After The Party It's The Hotel Lobby

Welcome to the first of what will be a (non-successive) series of articles on traveling. To get things kicked off, I'm going to start with the most painfully stupid waste of money while traveling: the hotel. Sure you need a roof over your head, but the prices people pay to stay in these soulless boxes make me want to cry.

I understand that for many out there, you just assume that a hotel is part of the cost of traveling. For the uninitiated, it can be difficult to figure out when a hotel is really worth it, or if you are just being duped by the shininess of the lobby. So therefore, I'm going to prepare the 'Is Your Hotel A Waste of Money?' checklist. When you are evaluating a hotel, go through the following questionnaire, scoring one point for each time your hotel fails.

1. Is your hotel officially called a hotel?If so, get the hell out of there. Almost all the time, the word 'hotel' is just a code-name for 'you are getting ripped off'. While it varies a bit country by country, the words 'hostel', 'motel', 'train station', etc generally mean a place is a better deal. But what justifies the hotel to charge such outrageous prices? Well, first of all, they tend to offer the following useless features.

Still Missing The Free Conditioner?

2. Does your hotel offer the following perks (one point for each): wake-up call, mini-soaps, daily cleaning? Are you some type of luddite that does not own a watch or cellphone? Do you find it impossible to remember basic toiletries when you travel? Are you used to your personal maid cleaning your house every day? If so, then by all means pay $50 extra dollars a night for a fancy hotel. But for normal people, these bells and whistles are just another excuse to part with your hard-earned money.
3. Do you have your own bathroom attached to your room? What, did you fail kindergarten? Did you grow up in some mansion where each person had their own bathroom? Are you really too lazy to walk three minutes down the hallway to use the bathroom? Having a private bathroom is possibly the most baffling excuse that hotel owners use to drive up prices, and that it works boils my blood.
4. Are you the only one in the room? I know there are some people out there who just hate others, but you really need to get over it. Anyone who is traveling alone needs to find a hostel with shared rooms, because booking your own room in a hotel is akin to burning money. If you're traveling in a group, you can re-create this effect by packing a ton of people in a room. For ultimate savings, I recommend the classic 'sneak 10 people into a double room' approach.
5. Is there a chandelier in the lobby? This was a trick question. Dock yourself two points if your hotel even has a lobby.

Sorry Hon, You're Going to Need
More Than That

Now, let's count up your points:
0: Score! Way to travel like a Tight Fist.
1-2: Not bad, but you really need to steal like 12 of those mini-soaps to make up for it.
3-5: Steal all the mini-soaps and towels you want, you're not going to recoup your investment. You'd better grab the chandelier from the lobby.
6+: Either you are on a corporate expense account, or far too rich to be reading this blog.

All this is pretty standard money-saving advice, but what really irks me about hotels is that a lot of the time, the more you pay the crappier your experience will be. At a quirky hostel you're likely not only to meet interesting people, but get friendly service, free breakfast, free wifi, etc. But fancy hotels are about the most sterile places on earth- completely devoid of personality. And also, the more you pay for your room the more likely you are going to have to pay ridiculous amounts for other services like internet, breakfast, etc. Who the hell would agree to that?

But the real Tight Fist score while traveling is to avoid the hotel charge completely and find a couch to crash on. Just make sure to reciprocate by opening up your living room as well- being Tight Fisted doesn't mean you get to be a jerk.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Ask The Tight Fist: Avoiding and Evading Taxes

Dear Tight Fist,

The single biggest chunck that comes out of my paycheck every month is taxes. Instead of teaching me how to look and feel like a hungry moron riding his bike around in cheap pants with a roll of homemade sushi, how about some tax advice on how to beggar state and federal governments by setting up some offshore accounts 'n' shit?


Horatio L Wigglesworth

What do I look like, an accountant? But OK Mr. Wigglesworth, I'm going to help you out anyway. First of all, with a name like 'Horatio L. Wigglesworth' I'm going to assume that you come from some snooty old money family, because only rich snobs would be audacious enough to name a child Horatio. So, being insanely rich, you should follow in the steps of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, etc, and shovel your money into some 'philanthropic' trust. I'm pretty sure that all you have to do is start a foundation dedicated some amazing cause that you are ever-so-passionate about and funnel all your money into this foundation. Then just graft money from the foundation tax-free! Plus, since the general public isn't really intelligent enough to realize that the only reason you are doing this is to exploit a tax loophole, they will conveniently forget all the souls you crushed while amassing your fortune and instead remember you for the lollipops you give out to disabled children.

For instance, you could take a page from the book of those selfless angels who run IKEA. Did you know that every time you shop at IKEA all your cash goes not to evil CEOs but instead to a charity? And not just any charity, but a charity dedicated to the extremely important long-neglected cause of “innovation in the field of architectural and interior design”. And all of your IKEA shopping 'contributions' (combined with the virtually non-existent giveaways of the foundation) have made it arguably the richest foundation in the world (with around $36 billion in assets). Such saints!

A Passionate Army of Philanthropy

But what about tips for the rest of us, who are not rich enough to start phony foundations? Well, the first mistake you make is paying some 'professional' to do some data entry into tax software for you. Sure, maybe if you have three of your own businesses and twelve offshore accounts it would make sense to hire an accountant, but then you're certainly too rich to need my advice anyway. In fact, if you're truly poor you can fill out online tax returns for free and it takes like 30 minutes.

And for your tax bill itself? Well to be honest, for most of you average Joe's out there there is not too much you can do. You just need to get over it and realize that your post-tax pay is your pay and that's it.

But if that's not satisfactory, you'll have to follow the true way of The Tight Fist, who has personally not paid any taxes over the past three years. Here's my personal strategy in four easy steps:

1. Quit your lame, soulless, high-paying job.
2. Move to a country where scholarships are tax-free (such as the UK)
3. Get a scholarship and head back to school.
4. File tax returns only when W feels like sending you a check.

Too radical for you Mr. Wigglesworth? Well, if you really understood the ways of The Tight Fist you would know that slashing your paycheck by two thirds and living the frugal lifestyle is the only way to true liberation. You hear lots of people claim they are going to quit their job and move to a foreign country to work for a pittance, which would of course reduce their tax bill to zero. (Take that Uncle Sam!) But inevitably they come up with excuse after excuse and delay after delay and it never happens. Know anyone like that Mr. Wigglesworth?

Are you wasting your money without pause? The Tight Fist can help you. Email him at

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Tight Fist Tip #23: Don't Drink Gatorade

It's Got What Athletes Crave!

Man, this world is a totally screwed up place. You'd think that millions of years of evolution would have attuned our bodies to be able to replenish themselves using readily available, natural means. But unfortunately that's not the case; in fact it wasn't until 1965 that scientists at the University of Florida finally cracked the secret to thirst quenching. Evolution really missed the boat on this one! You see, for millennia humans had been foolishly drinking water to quench their thirst, and they had totally neglected the necessity of 'electrolytes', and therefore were consistently slow and weak. The addition of electrolytes to drinks caused the Florida Gators to win the Orange Bowl, and gave mankind the energy and endurance to land on the moon, invent the supercomputer, and organize the world's largest coconut orchestra.

Yes folks, the above is all true, at least according to the marketing departments of sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, and the barely-fit-for-human-consumption UK equivalent, Lucozade. These guys have seriously talented Madison Avenue wizards, as they have somehow managed to convince legions of people that if you try to play sports without consuming fluorescent salt water, you will not only lose the race but will unquestionably shrivel up and die.

Let's just stop for a second and take a look at what the heck 'electrolytes' really are. It's no secret really- listed on the back of every Gatorade it tells you that Gatorade contains sodium, potassium, and chloride. So, here's the first lesson for those of you who failed high school chemistry: TWO OUT OF THE THREE FREAKING ELECTROLYTES ARE JUST SALT. As for potassium, it's not really some kind of evasive nutrient either- bananas are full of them. So just to be clear: Gatorade is just water with sugar, salt, potassium, and yummy yummy artificial coloring.

And now, we interrupt this serious message to bring you some electrolyte-related humor, courtesy of the classic movie 'Idiocracy'. If you haven't seen this movie, go rent it now. (And sorry for the poor quality. It was the best I could find.)

If you fail to see the relevance of this video to the Gatorade argument, you fail.

So, how did humankind manage to build pyramids and outrun tigers without any sports drinks? Well, those clever people just ate food, and this food magically contained all the nutrients they needed. And when they were thirsty, they somehow managed with good old electrolyte-free water. Amazing, isn't it? So next time you're working out, save yourself a buck and grab a handful of pretzels and a banana instead of some glowing ooze. Your body and your wallet will thank you.