It’s no surprise that President-Elect Barack Obama will be taking office during one of the worst economic crises in American history. Just watch any of the financial news programs and you’re bound to notice that the diagram of the stock market resembles a ski jump without the last minute upswing. It used to be that weathermen were the butt of all jokes and infamous for their notoriously wrong forecasts. Well, hand over that scepter and tiara Weather Person and let the Economist Guru try it on for size. I know it’s not flattering and people are staring at you, but this is your penance for predicting that the housing bubble would defuse and not burst. And if you run into anyone who makes a prediction about the upswing of the market in the next year, ask them to put it in writing. That way you’ll have physical proof of their incompetence.
Well, if daytime talk shows are any indication of trends to come, we’re going to be in this recession for a while and as such we have to learn to adapt. We’re already seeing news shows giving tips on where to shop to get the most for our dollar. And just the other day, I saw a piece on a new chain of supermarkets that sell food products that are just about to reach their past freshness date. Only in America can eating food that’s about to go bad be considered a way of frugality and not a reason for economic, civil or social upheaval. The practice of eating trash has even been given a new hip name. You are no longer a dumpster diver but a "Freegan." I don’t care what you call it, if you’re eating something out of a trash can, then you’re a bum. There aren’t any two ways about that.
But before you decide to go through your neighbor’s trash searching for any half eaten lahmajoun scraps (see, the mental picture just made it worse), I’m going to give you some tips on how you, the average Armenian American, can save money during these hard economic times.
Tip #1: Convert the engine of your European luxury sedan or oversized SUV to run on grease. Bio-fuels are the newest trend and as long as we’re grilling greasy chunks of pork and lamb kebab and eating loads of oily foods, we might as well make it work for us. Not to mention that all the banquet halls in Glendale and Hollywood can double as fueling stations. If that’s not a win-win, I don’t know what is. And speaking of banquet halls…
Tip #2: Why have three separate gynormous events (engagement, wedding, baptism, etc.) each with over 300 people you’ll probably never see again? Instead, do it all at once on the same day at the same place. Now I know what you’re thinking–you’re asking yourselves how much will you save on a florist? OK, you’re thinking how can I have a baptism AND an engagement/wedding at the same time? Well, that just means more Armenia’s will be born out of "wedlock" but is that too big a price to pay when you can save tens of thousands of dollars? And that money saved will one day pay for your kid’s Mercedez Benz when he or she enrolls in Glendale Community College. And at this special event…
Tip #3: Valet your own car. That’s right. It’s a crazy idea but why not try being your own valet? Hundreds if not thousands of people are turning on to this new craze every day and saving hundreds of dollars a year. This might be the hardest of the money saving tips to adhere to especially since most people in our community valet everything from their car to a baby stroller. Just remember that by walking a few extra steps, you can save money and shed a few pounds by exercising. And while we’re on the topic of cars, you might want to trade your gas guzzling sports utility vehicle in for something more practical and economical. You may think you look good driving alone in a giant SUV but you’re not transporting Georgian commandos away from the Ossetian border so just wake up and buy a small sedan. If you still miss the SUV, or enjoy driving large cars, remember that the money you’re saving on gas can be spent on so many other useless pastimes.
Tip #4: Buy a blond wig. This one’s exclusively for the ladies but it will save your household at least 300 dollars a month. Let’s face it. A true Armenian blond is about is about as rare as a flawless Tahitian black pearl. It’s not to say they don’t exist but when you find one, you know you’ve found something special. And spare me the emails about Armenia’s true roots being in blond people. That means absolutely nothing. Have you looked around yourself at any Armenian function you’ve been to? We are dark, dark, dark people. Hair, eyes and complexion and that’s what we are. But some of us (Laaaadies… that’s you!) aren’t so happy with what God gave us and think that no one will notice our dark eyebrows if we pore copious amounts of peroxide on our hair. Unfortunately, your roots will never lie. Save yourself the trip to the salon and wear a wig if you really feel the need to hide in shame from your raven locks.
Tip #5: Downgrade your cable subscription so you only receive 6 Armenian language TV channels. We have officially reached a point where the number of Armenian TV channels outnumber the possible programs that can air on them. The quality of the productions has gone up but how many soap operas can any person endure? Hell, half of them are Brazilian or Portuguese and have a plot thinner than the filo dough my grandmother uses to make her famous bakhlavah. In fact, her backlavah has more layers than some of the story lines for these insipid dramas. If I wanted to watch an unpredictable Armenian drama with no character development, I’d draw the curtains of my bedroom window overlooking my neighbors kitchen and watch their weekly argumen’s about everything from the amount of money spent on trips to the beauty parlor to the unspoken sins committed by a visiting in-law. So what if I can’t Tivo these "episodes" to watch later. At least the theatrics are better than anything on cable.
These are just a few of the helpful suggestions I have for making sure you’re saving money and stretching your hard earned dollars to the limit. You may have to sacrifice some luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to but living cheap is better than eating out of someone’s garbage. And if you’ve done everything on this list, and still haven’t figured out where to save an extra penny, then we suggest considering eating garbage. After all, our so-called national economic experts and politicians are trying to feed it to you anyway. Maybe resistance is futile.
Skeptik Sinikian lives his life counting every dram and kopek. He has saved 1500 dollars a year by making his own clothing out of old issues of Asbarez. If you have your own suggestions as to how Armenia’s can save money during hard times, you can contact him at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com.