Monday 29 June 2009

Tight Fist Tip #12: Stop Being a Drug Addict

Beware Dangerous Junkies!

If you have just read the title of this article and are now looking doubtfully at your primed syringe of heroin, I'm not sure I can be of much use at this point. Maybe some of my hard-core drug user fans were using this blog as a way to save pennies toward the next fix, but I think you guys are missing the point.

Instead, let's focus on caffeine. Coffee drinkers of the world, man up and face the facts: YOU ARE A DRUG ADDICT. And if you are reading this blog, YOU ARE NOT RICH ENOUGH TO BE A DRUG ADDICT. In today's society it is only socially acceptable to be a drug addict if you are a stock broker, rock star, or prep school trust fund baby. (Also, you have to be white.)

Thank The Addicts for Free
Bathrooms Around the Globe

And if you are the type who pops into Starbucks or Costa every day to get your drug fix, you are failing at life. Only a complete moron would a) get addicted to drugs and then b) choose the most expensive way possible to consume such drug. While I'm sure that the highly trained 17-year-old 'Master Barista' at your local Starbucks is really good at pressing buttons on the coffee machine, something tells me you could figure that crap out at home. Man, these cafes have really got it figured out. If only I could find some addictive but socially acceptable drug to peddle on every street corner that would be sweet. (Any ideas? These dudes already stole my best one.)

And really, if you were going to be a drug addict couldn't you pick something more fun than caffeine anyway? I mean, I know some people love to be all jittery and awake, but if I was paying four bucks a cup I would expect at least a bit of euphoria.

Finally, if you are a nicotine addict don't think you are off the hook. I just thought picking on you would be too easy, like challenging a paraplegic to one-on-one.

Sunday 28 June 2009

Tight Fist Tip #11: Don't Shop at Stores That Sell Only One Kind of Thing

Double Score!

Let's imagine that you stink and therefore need some soap. But where to buy such an item? First reaction: Oh, I remember there is this soap store at the mall- I'll bet I could get my soap there! Yes you could, as long as you are cool with trading a day's salary for something that any sane human being should mistake for an appetizer. ("I'll start with the avocado-cocoa-honey creme bar.")

Flagrant False Advertising, and
Terrible Prices

But no Tight Fisters, that would be falling for a terrible con, as it is almost always a terrible idea to buy things at shops that only sell one type of thing. In fact, the more different types of things that a store sells, the cheaper is probably is. For instance, let's continue with the soap example. Maybe further down in the mall there is a 'Bed, Bath, and Beyond'. That sounds promising, as 'Beyond' seems to indicate a wide variety of goods, but upon further thought you should realize that this just serves as an excuse to pack a store with items that are so ridiculously useless that they are 'Beyond' categorization. (Oooh, wooden birds for only $200!) You then might consider a drug store, which in the US is a pretty good idea as they have a pretty wide range. But the real Tight Fister will skip all of these options and head for the ultimate smorgasbord: The 99 Cent Store. Yes, these glorious shops have just about everything under the sun, and are a Tight Fister's best friend.

Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, the first and foremost among them being the irrational continued existence of department stores. While department stores offer pretty much the same crap as say, Target or Wal-Mart, they for some reason think they can get away with charging shockingly terrible prices. The only excuse to enter such places is to grab a free sample of perfume/cologne before a hot date.

But why is the one store in the world that promises to 'sell everything' so expensive? The reason is that Harrod's is not really a store. You should think of it as a special safari where you can watch a much richer but far less intelligent human-like species grazing in their natural habitat. And entry is free! Now there's a deal.

Homo-CreditCardicus in Their Natural Habitat

Friday 19 June 2009

Tight Fist Cooking Guide

Tight Fist Chefs Worldwide!

As promised in my last post, I'm going to share my tried-and-true methods of getting full on the cheap.

Let's start with some theory. If you are a small female or some other bird-like eater, it may be pretty easy to eat cheaply, since you don't really consume anything anyway. But for us eaters in the crowd, making sure you can get full is a bit more of a challenge. First step? Discard any notion that a real meal consists of a big hunk of meat. Yes, I also truly love tearing into a gigantic piece of flesh, but if you are rich enough to eat steak every night I would hope you are doing better things than sitting here learning how to be a cheapskate (snorting coke off of a stripper's boobs maybe?) Instead, you are poor, and therefore the base of the meal and the bulk of your calories will have to come from cheap carbs. This generally means rice or pasta, but could also be potatoes, bread, dumplings, etc.

Oooh, I hope it's filled with rice!

Next, you'll need to make some sort of delicious topping to eat with said carbs. Then, depending on how broke you are, you can adjust the carb/sauce ratio and the amount of meat in the sauce. But remember, the 'meals' below are really just flavoring for the carbs. But it's cool because your carb topping is going to be amazing. Now, for the technique.

Core Ingredients:

A lot of some starch (Rice, Pasta, Etc)
Tomatoes (Generally canned)
Meat (The real tightfist plans what meat to make for dinner on any given night by finding the stuff in the store that is expiring and marked down. Also, for some reason in the UK turkey is way cheap compared to other meats. And turkey is delicious.)
Assortment of Veggies
Some oil
Well-stocked spice cabinet (Yes, I know spices are expensive but cooking is only going to be sustainable if your food doesn't taste like crap.)

First step, saute some onions and garlic in a little bit of oil. Yes, I know we still haven't decided what we're going to make yet, but it doesn't matter. Onions and garlic make every dish delicious. You can always start by making onions and garlic, and then while they are getting nice and soft you can think about what you actually want to make.

From here, you are just steps away from making tons of delicious options. Here are a few examples:

1. Chuck in some meat, mushrooms, olives, and assorted herbs. Then add a bunch of tomatoes and cook down for a few minutes and you've got a killer pasta sauce that whups the crap out of Prego or Ragu.

2. Throw in some meat, tomatoes, cumin, rice, and hot peppers (I use powdered chipotle) and you've got taco/burrito filling. And if I ever see a Tight Fist reader go near one of those terrible 'fajita kits' that the Brits here love, I will punch you.

3. Chuck in some ginger, soy sauce, and a bunch of meat/veggies, and you've got stir fry. (Another note to the brits: Please, please, please do not destroy your stir-fry by adding one of those ever-popular 'stir-fry sauces' to your meal. Just look at the label- they are like 70% sugar! And they taste like crap!)

4. Add some ginger, meat, tomatoes, veggies, and Indian spices (cumin, tumeric, coriander, chili powder, etc) and you've got curry. Try adding yogurt or coconut milk to mix things up, and say goodbye to greasy Indian takeaway!

5. Chuck in some meat, tomatoes, beans, hot peppers and some water: Welcome to Chili-Town.

There are tons of other things of course, but you get the idea. If it doesn't taste too good, add more spices and salt- salt makes everything taste better.

All of these options take under half an hour to cook, cost less than a couple bucks per person, and leave a maximum of two pots to clean.

And a final note, because I know some of you out there are thinking it: but what if I'm trying to fit into a size 3 in time for bikini season? Then I can't eat carbs like you say, right? Wrong. You lose weight by eating less. So just eat less. (Note: Eating less also saves you money.) And stop taking the freaking elevator!

Man, I'll bet I could write a fantastic diet book.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Tight Fist Tip #10: Learn to Cook

A Valiant Effort

STOP! Move slowly away from the restaurant. And don't even think about ordering in Chinese. This is your bank account, begging on its knees to stop paying exorbitant prices for meals, which everyone knows you could make yourself if you could just once miss your precious half hour of Wheel of Fortune. First step: call mom and have her give you a lesson in operating your long-neglected stove. (Hint: You just turn the freaking knob.)

Here's a fun game that should make you feel guilty every time you go into a restaurant. When you order, try to estimate how much it would have cost for the ingredients at the grocery store. Then hang your head in shame. And cry.

Don't Worry, I Like it Well Done

And let's be clear about something: If you try to cheat by 'cooking' using prepared foods, your wallet will find out. Here in England, the locals have become so inundated with ready-meals (think TV dinners, not frozen but just as devoid of flavor) that they think they deserve some kind of Betty Crocker award when they pour a bottle of fluorescent sauce over grilled chicken and it vaguely reminds them of something they once had at some ethnic restaurant. Yum! Not only is all that crap disgusting and terrible for you, but it is also ridiculously priced.

Let's take a look at some common excuses of why you don't cook, and reveal how incredibly lame they are:

1. "I don't have the time." Oh, will it cut into your precious American Idol time? Or maybe you were going to spend those 30 minutes honing the maximum wit into your new Facebook status? I do apologize.

2. "I'm too tired after a long day." Oh yeah, surfing the internet in your cubicle all day sure is taxing. Careful with that spatula: you wouldn't want to pull a muscle.

3. "I can't cook." Oh, why won't someone put together some really easy idiot-proof instructions on how to make my favorite foods. If only someone could compile exactly how much of each ingredient to use in a dish and then give step-by-step instructions on what to do with them! And if only they could post a billion of these 'recipes' for free on the internet! Sigh... (Note, please do not let me catch you buying a cookbook.)

Still unconvinced? Worried that even Fido will scoff at the dishes that come out of your oven? Fortunately, The Tight Fist is going to make things super-easy for you. I have developed some fool-proof cooking techniques that are easy, quick, cheap, and super-delicious.

So stay tuned for The Tight Fist Cooking Guide, coming out shortly.

Monday 15 June 2009

Tight Fist Tip #9: Don't Drink Bottled Water

The Picture of a Mountain Makes it Taste Amazing!

Coca-Cola Boardroom, Mid-90s:

Some dude in a ridiculous suit: Bottled water is so hot right now. But damn those Frenchies and their crisp, clear Alps water. How can we compete with that?
Some guy with a toupe: Hey, how do consumers know that Evain comes from some amazing river that must be unlike anything we have in the US? We all know it tastes the same as normal refrigerated water. And lord knows they don't read the bottle; most people can barely read anyway!
SDRS: Oooh, I know! It's the picture of the mountain! Let's just put tap water in a bottle with a picture of a mountain and people will love it!
SGWT: We are so smart I can barely stand it!

And there goes the story about how Coca-cola and Pepsico managed to take something that is free, put it in a fancy bottle with a fancy name (Dasani, Aquafina), and make a bazillion dollars selling it to idiots. To a true Tight Fister, there is nothing worse than buying bottled water; doing so should make you feel simply sinful and unclean. But for those of you who didn't get the memo, here we go:


Buying bottled water is so mind-bendingly idiotic that I have very little extra to say about it. (Note that if you live in a country without drinkable tap water, you are exempt from this rule.)

If you or anyone else you know still insists on paying for free things please introduce them to me. I have some very excellent bagged air on sale.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Tight Fist Tip #8: Get a Bicycle

The Tight Fist Express!

I rode the Tube yesterday for the first time in a while, and boy was it a shock. (For those of you non-worldly types out there, the tube is London's subway system.) It's really a pleasure to watch a few trains go by that are so packed that you can't even get on, only to finally get lucky enough to join the sardine tin yourself. I couldn't stop thinking: "I actually paid for this?"


That's right, each morning thousands of commuters gladly plunk down a few bucks for the privilege of packing themselves into hot, packed, trains/buses, vainly trying to turn a couple pages of that crappy novel they've been working on for eight months. This is a clearly lose-lose situation: not only are you making your life miserable, but you are paying through the nose for it.

The solution is obvious: GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASS AND ONTO A BIKE. I rarely recommend buying things on this site, but a bike is a no-brainer investment. For instance, a monthly Zone 1-2 tube pass costs about 100 pounds. With a half a year's savings, you could buy yourself a really sweet bike! Plus, Mr. Flabby Legs, you know you could use the free exercise.

Sunglasses + Spandex = SUPER-AERODYNAMIC!

Wait, that was just a test. There is no way I would suggest spending 600 pounds on anything. Just like any valued partner, your expensive new bike will only break your heart in the end when she is stolen away from you. Instead, hit up your local market or used stuff website (Craigslist, Gumtree, etc) and pick yourself up something on the cheap.

And now, to deal with your complaints:

1.But I live too far away! No, you are just too lazy.

2.Won't it take forever? Yes, but only because excessive laziness has turned your legs into jelly drumsticks. Get on the bike, and they may eventually approach a solid state. In London at least, it is pretty rare to find a route that is actually quicker by public transport than by bike.

3.But won't I be all hot and sweaty at work? Your work/school has a shower. Stop being prissy and use it.

4.Does this mean I get to go shopping for new accessories? Give me a break. Although some over-zealous commuters missed the memo, bicycles do not require spandex suits to function properly.

Tight Fisters, free yourselves from the shackles of public transport and you will never look back. Until then, enjoy the Tube strike!

Thursday 4 June 2009

Tight Fist Tip #7: You Don't Need Designer Crap to Get Laid

Hey Sexy, Nice Broakleys!

I could (and maybe will) write a million blog posts on how buying fancy designer products (especially clothes, etc.) is a gigantic waste of money. Hopefully it's not too difficult to convince people that spending $200 on Gucci Jeans or a Prada Handbag or whatever is not such an intelligent financial decision. But still the weak among us will go again and again to the fancy boutiques, and blow their hard-earned paychecks on some logo.

Economists would call this behavior conspicuous consumption- buying expensive stuff just to show other people how rich and awesome you are. Logically, any true Tight Fister should find this laughable and ridiculous. But the truth of the matter is that those Dolce and Gabanna sunglasses stem from a more primal emotion: Everybody's trying to get them some. (Or alternatively, trying to find a loving, long-term partner. Not to promote gender sterotypes here, but feel free to read between the lines.)

But here is where the Tight Fisters smile smugly, because they know the truth: BLOWING ALL YOUR CASH ON FLASHY CRAP WILL NOT GET YOU LAID!

Peas in a Pod

Well, let me qualify that a little bit for you. Wearing some snazzy sunglasses and carrying around one of those garish Louis Vutton handbags may earn you points with some members of the opposite sex. But it will send any sane member of the opposite sex running! So you've attracted some terrible, airheaded, money-loving prospects, but have scared away any fellow Tight Fisters out there! And you've blown a bunch of cash. That's messed up.

Think dudes, is it really worth wasting your money to attract the ditzy, gold-digging chicks of the world while scaring away anyone with substance? Just think what would happen if you accidentally got tricked into dating one of these girls! You'd be poor and miserable within weeks!

And ladies, do you really want to start a relationship knowing that he only went for you because of that form-fitting dress and those heels that make you want to cry? For how many dates can you keep it up? You'd better start saving for that boob job now.

Ahhh, True Love at Last

I can just hear the counter-arguments flowing in: 'But I just like the way designer clothes make me look, it's not about getting laid' OR 'Dude, designer clothes totally get me laid' combined with 'I can afford it so why not?' So let me ask you, can you really afford it? Are you so wealthy that spending five hundred bucks on an outfit doesn't even make you blink? Well if so, WHAT THE HELL ARE DOING ON MY BLOG? Get the hell out of here, and go have fun with your rich, vapid, consumerist lifestyle.

Tight Fisters, it's time to drop the charade. Buying and flashing designer crap is not going to help your sex life, and it will only make you miserable in the long run. Stay strong, and hook up with a local Tight Fister in your neighborhood. It will be the best decision you ever made.

It's not every day that you can learn how to save money and salvage your dating life in one post, so savor this while you can.

Tight Fist Tip #6: Avoid Designer Sunglasses

All The Hottest Stylez!

Certainly, being duped by clever branding causes an inordinate amount of stupid spending. But it can be really hard to figure out whether a certain brand is worth it or not. The problem is, we just don't know enough about the quality of various goods, so buying a well-known brand may be a way to ensure you are getting quality. (Note that the Tight Fist is extremely skeptical of this argument, but I will concede that in certain cases it is possible.) Since this is a somewhat difficult situation, I'm going to focus on one not-so-subtle clue that should help you decide whether buying some brand is worth it.
I am in Love With The Rear-View Mirror

Here's a good rule of thumb: If you can buy an exact replica of your brand's product from some Senegalese dude on the streets of any major European city, THEN YOUR BRAND IS TOTALLY WORTHLESS!!!

The most obvious example of this tip-off comes from sunglasses, though this logic also works wonders for watches and handbags. Buying expensive sunglasses is a seriously unforgivable offense, as THEY ARE JUST A STRIP OF FREAKING PLASTIC. It is unfathomable why people will drop hundreds of dollars on a little strip of plastic to put in front of their eyes that will remove the world of color while most likely making you look like a total prick. 'Woah, you can't see my eyes! I could totally be looking anywhere and you wouldn't even know! I am SO edgy and dangerous! Urge to look at self in the mirror...rising...'

Also, the only difference between designer sunglasses and far cheaper alternatives is some little cheesy plastic logo on the side. That's right, you just dropped a hundred bucks on one square centimeter on plastic. Congratulations.

But look, even if you really wanted nice, flashy, designer sunglasses, why on earth would you buy the real ones when you would need to be a forensic scientist to distinguish real ones from the fake? Fortunately Tight Fisters, I do understand the faulty logic that leads one to such terrible decisions, and I am here to help you root it out. But since it is a complicated subject, you will have to wait until tomorrow for the next post.