Cents and Sensibility

Money Saving Tricks I Am Not Particularly Proud Of

My boyfriend’s hooked on White Collar. For those of you that have never seen the show, it follows FBI agent Peter Burke and the questionably trustworthy ex-con artist Neil Caffrey as they work together to solve white collar crimes like counterfeit and fraud. It’s a great show, but when I watch it, I can’t help but think of all the slightly unethical things I’ve done to save money.  It’s nothing that would get Peter Burke on the case. But I might get the side-eye from Jesus and/or Gloria Steinem.

Whatever.  In the interest of full disclosure, here are a few money saving tricks I’ve used that I probably should not be proud of:

  • Lying About My Age – I look 10 years younger than I actually am. When I am 40 and look 30, I’ll appreciate this. But in the interim, it’s no fun being denied a library card because the librarian thinks you look 16 and need a parent’s signature. So I air my resentment in a money-saving fashion.  If I braid my hair and put on a hoodie, I can eat at the kids price at buffets. I still get the free kids gifts at Anaheim Angels games. And when I am very lucky, I get child admission tickets to amusement parks and county fairs, though I probably waste the money I save on churros and funnel cakes. They say you are only as old as you feel; if feeling 15 saves me money, then so be it.
  • Using My Student ID – I graduated in 2007, but there is no reason the cashier at J. Crew needs to know that. Same goes for the salespeople at Apple, Dell, HP,  Madewell, Urban Outfitters, select movie theaters, yoga studios and many more. It’s not really identity theft when it’s your own ID card. Right? Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. My professors always said I would be a USC Trojan for life. Sometimes it seems like I’ll be paying off my student loans for life. I might as well reap the student discounts for life, or at least until I start getting wrinkles.
  • Being Sweet – With a sweet dress with and an even sweeter attitude, I’ve wheedled my way into discounts at flea markets, farmer’s markets and even my local Starbucks! I think it has less to do with looks and more to do with having a kind, effervescent personality. Who can say no to that? You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so I lay it on thick.
  • Being Sexy – From Cleopatra to Mata Hari, history shows a long tradition of perfectly capable and intelligent women using their feminine wiles to get what they want. And my completely unscientific research has shown a positive correlation between the (lack of) length of a girl’s skirt and the number of drinks people buy for her. I have no issues with this. The way I see it, the mating ritual of men doing things for attractive women is Mother Nature’s payback for the glass ceiling and salary gap. I’ve been a relationship for a while now, so lately I’ve relied on the womanly charms of my gorgeous, single girlfriends. (Thanks Donna!) It’s a little extra work, but just as effective. Feel unethical about that? Then it’ll be $12 for the appletini, thank you very much.
  • Crying – True story – after my car broke down and overheated, my mechanic told me there was a crack in my radiator that most likely resulted from a car accident years before. My warranty wouldn’t cover it, so the repairs would cost me $850. I fake cried. I played the damsel in distress, and two minutes later, he got his manager’s approval to do the repairs at no cost to me. Did I lose my dignity? Yeah, a little bit. Was my piece of lost dignity worth the $850? ABSOLUTELY.

I guess there is a little con-artist in me. Maybe there is a little con-artist in you. I’m not here to judge. Quick disclaimer – I’m also not here to encourage you to do anything on this list, particularly if it’s so against your moral fiber that it haunts you later. But assuming nobody’s getting hurt or getting arrested, do what works for you. I’ll do what works for me. And I can’t help but feel like Neil Caffrey would be proud.

Image by Love Panky

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