Now That We’re All Poor

So yeah, now that everyone is poor, I feel much less self-conscious about sharing my super-creative money saving tactics. What’s awesome about my life is that I got poor before ye ole economic downturn, so the recession hasn’t really affected me too much. Poor in 2007, poor in 2008. And yes, still poor in 2009.

I should qualify by saying that I’m not, like, really poor. I’m what you might call “San Francisco poor”. Which is to say, I’m making rent (barely), but my rent is about two-thirds of my income.

So, following are Holden-Certified tips and tricks for saving money (and by “saving” I mean “not spending on something other than rent or medical bills”. I certainly do not mean putting money in some sort of “account” where it might “accrue interest”).

Tip #1: Take The Goddamn Bus

I realize those of you in suburbs might not be able to swing this one, but selling my car was the smartest thing I ever did. I didn’t even have car payments, but I did have to buy gasoline and feed that goddamn monkey known as the “Department of Parking & Transportation”.

It was the DPT that got me in the end: I’d been living in San Francisco for about two years and during that time I’d amassed somewhere around a dozen parking tickets and had been towed thrice.

The last tow job was evil. I didn’t even know my car was gone, as I’d been trying to save on gas and had my car parked on a residential street within my super-expensive sticker boundaries.

Did you know you can’t leave your car on any street in SF for more than 72 hours? Yeah, well neither did I because they don’t tell you that. No signs, no warning ticket, nothing. I’d been out of town for a few days and when I went to get my car: GONE. And in this city, you rack up a nice little bill in that time:

ticket $75.00

tow $250.00 (yes you have to pay this in addition to the ticket)

storage $100.00 per day

Final Total: $775.00

After paying that, I was pretty much, “Fuck it. I’m going Craigslist.” I never looked back. Also, my car was a lemon and I developed a rational fear full-on phobia of driving that went along nicely with the “it’s too expensive” excuse.

In retrospect, I should have just parked on the sidewalk, by the fire hydrant, wherever I goddamn pleased because clearly attempting to follow the rules left the metermaids nonplussed.

Tip #2: Creative Food Mooching

This is my daily routine: I drink coffee, go to work, buy more coffee and a muffin. I drink the coffee all day to stave off hunger until my coworkers have either (1) created leftovers from their fancy take-out (2) offered homemade cookies or bread or cake or whatever to everyone in the office or (3) I can’t take it anymore so I eat the muffin.

If either (1) or (2) happen, which is surprisingly often, I save the muffin and eat it for dinner. I realize that’s not very healthy, but I make up for it by taking a multivitamin. When I remember.

Tip #3: Get A Really Nice Boyfriend

Mine is awesome. He feeds me and sometimes even clothes me. If you have reservations about this kind of set-up because of “feminism” or “pride”, you need to get over yourself or get a better job.

Tip #4: “Homemade” Dog Food

In case you didn’t know, dogs can live on pretty much anything. People with dogs in San Francisco have somehow gotten it into their pretty little heads that dogs should be eating gourmet.

I think this makes them feel less guilty about owning a purebred or “designer bred” labradoodle or pugoodle or whatever those dogs are called.

Well, I own a mutt and she was found dying on the side of the road after being hit by a car in the East Bay. So I figure my leftover oatmeal and pea soup is just fine to mix in with the cheap kibble. I saved her life. What has she ever done for me? Peed on my floor, that’s what.

Sorry Prima, but I’m just not forking over $200 a month for the doggie “raw diet” BS. I’d like to eat that much meat too.

Tip #5 Not Drinking

I’m telling you, it has never been a better time to be a sober alcoholic. 2008 was our year! And 2009 promises to be just as splendid.

I guess there’s some conventional wisdom out there saying that when the economy’s bad, beer sales go up. Which makes sense, but let’s not be stupid. Drinking is expensive. Especially when you live in the City and used to drink $10 Manhattans and really overtipped.

If you’re a cute single girl or boy and the other boys want to buy you drinks, well then, bully for you. Make use of those genes because they will not last.


Sell Your Clothes!

Stop Paying Off Your School Loans!


Pick Up Shit Treasure Off The Street!


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6 Responses to “Now That We’re All Poor”

  1. Gilmour Poincaree Says:

    What !!!? … no free lunch !!!? … how stingy can an American fellow citizen get to be !!!? … aw chucks, back to standing in line for soup …

    * * *
    Bonjour M. Gilmour Poincaree!

    Okay, first, you have the most awesome name ever. I’m adding it to my “awesome names ever” list (also included: Biz Stone, and some others I already forgot).

    O.K. down to the meat. I think you’re making fun of me. Which is fine. However, I do believe I covered “free lunch” in Tip #2.

    xx – Holden

  2. njudah Says:

    i hear you on the car thing. when I first returned to SF in 2000, I had a car and forgot just what a hassle it was to have one in SF. Even more foolishly, I had one in Chinatown/Northbeach where I lived when I moved back initially. Finding a parking spot at all was a mircale, but just as you say, even if you follow the rules you STILL get a ticket.

    Even more foolishly, when I got a better job, I bought into the idea I needed an expensive car. Between car payments, insurance, tickets (!) gas, and pricey maintenance, it was burning a hole in my bank account. When it got destroyed in an accident I took as a sign that a) I should return to SF (I was in LA at the time) and b) never to get a car again, at least not HERE.

    * * *


    And now this guy, Mr. N Judah, is pretty much The Man for public transportation happenings and news in SF. See how that worked out? You should go see his blog: the N Judah Chronicles.

    xx – Holden

  3. Steven via Twitter Says:

    @sflovestory This cookbook is awesome for saving $ if you want to do the extra work:

  4. Nancy Says:

    I think it should be noted that you can sometimes be a “poor daddys girl”….aka didn’t Daddy pay for those tow tickets you got? Ahemm….I think sooo!

    * * *

    Why oh why did I feel the need to advertise my blog to family members? Oh yeah, I wanted more readers.

    I’ll own up. Daddy DID pay for some of my parking tickets, but those were the Santa Cruz parking tickets (and boot(s), yes there were two), not the SF parking tickets.

    What I should have included was Tip #6: Figure Out How To Convince Your Parents To Continue Giving You An Allowance and/or Bailing You Out…but I haven’t quite mastered that one yet.

    Thanks a lot Nancy.

    xx – Holden

  5. BG Says:

    #1 – I got rid of my car when I moved to SF in 1990 — I figured getting rid of insurance bills, gas bills, parking bills, repairs and maintenance bills would save quite a bundle. I’ve always taken MUNI to and from work (the bus pass has gone from $28 to $45 a month since then). I now own a VW that I inherited from a friend in the mid-90s, but it doesn’t get driven often, and usually not by me. I’m way out of the habit of driving.

    #2 – I hardly ever eat lunch at work. I go to Trader Joe’s and buy a pound of unsalted cashews and a pound of 50%-less-salt cashews and mix them together in a two-pound jar at my desk. Between the cashews and the occasional Odwalla protein drink ($3 apiece), I get through the day without ever starving.

    #3 – No can do. I’m already married, and he’s on disability from brain surgery some years back. I can’t get a sugar daddy, as I’m already the primary income of the household.

    #4 – No dogs. Cats. One of which is susceptible to urinary tract infections because the SPCA neutered him at eight weeks of age. Not a corner I can cut.

    #5 – There are SOOOO many good reasons not to drink, if you really think about it. I stopped drinking around ten years ago. Not from any concerns over potential alcoholism, but primarily because (a) I hate how it affects me physically for a day or two afterward, and (b) I started to notice that I can turn into a real jerkwad after a few drinks. I now tell people that I drink approximately two beers a year, which on average is probably relatively accurate.

    #6 – I’m 47, and my parents are both 73 and retired. It’s more likely that I should have to take care of them than vice versa.

  6. Sara Tree Says:

    Hi all–great commentary re poverty…
    I agree 100% re ditching the car…I crashed mine (not on purpose) two years ago, with only liability…so no more car for me…enter the MTD (Santa Barbara public bus)–I both love and hate the bus…cheap ride (until last month (from $1.25 to $1.75 per ride–what is going on here–a conspiracy to make the poor even poorer?) Well, now I walk. Everywhere. It is my protest, and also responsible for finding myself in the best shape I’ve ever been…also if you drink (which I do 2-3 times per year! and no more than 1-2 drinks at a given time) I can walk it off…I did that the other day…going home from the film festival down town….I think I walked about 12 – 20 long city blocks…I didn’t count, but I think it took me an hour. Lots of time to think of things and also think up things…funny when I had the lend of my daughter’s car for a brief two weeks, I got two parking tickets…one for being a minute late, and the other, I just didn’t think it was restricted parking…oversite on my part I guess–not used to driving “the beast.” Bottom line: Walking saves money and gains health!

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