Why Pay Less?

If you're like me, my sympathies to your family, and you're always looking for ways to save money, short of actually spending less. Fortunately, saving money is easier than ever if you're a member of one of those warehouse-style wholesale outlets (Cost Club, Mega Spend, Bulk Mart, DinoStore). The idea here is that you--yes you, the little insignificant ordinary consumer--can buy goods wholesale just like big stores, as long as you qualify for membership in this exclusive consortium by being either A) a member of a credit union, or B) anybody else.

Once you join, you had better start shopping right away; you need to save a lot in order to recoup your annual fee. So grab a flatbed cart the size of an oil tanker, yet less maneuverable, and careen on down the concrete canyons o' savings, but be an alert warehouse shopper: sudden gusts of gravity can bring massive values immediately to your attention because budget-engineered shelving means extra savings for you.

Perhaps you'd like to begin saving by on-loading some baked beans in the convenient 55-gallon drum. It comes with its own stand and spigot, so you can park it in the basement like a keg of beer. It's beans aplenty anytime, and they only get more flavorful for each succeeding generation of your family.

Across the aisle is the beverage section. Will you just look at that delicious mountain of warm canned beer? A small stringer of drool is leaking from my mouth just thinking about it. The cases at the bottom don't even have pull tops. Just chisel off the dust and enjoy a brew with that old-time flavor from grampa's day.

Turn the corner and it's tire time. Yes, name-brand radials selling at half of what you would pay at some tire store where prices are inflated by needless services such as having the type and size you want. Go ahead and buy several. If they don't fit your car's wheels, they're sure to fit in the trunk as spares.

The spot remover in the handy ten-pound tube is a wise buy. With it, you can remove a spot the size of Tacoma, which you might have if your 55-gallon drum of beans bursts.

While you're here, don't forget to stock up on clothes. The baker's dozen Sack O' Suits is an especially smart purchase for the frugal fashion plate. Their rugged petroleum-based style will never become a formerly hot fad. And hey moms, if you have youngsters with feet, don't pass up the bulk box tube socks. You'll never need to buy socks again, even if your children live at home until they're 40, plus the empty box makes a handy storage shed or guest room.

When you're all through saving, take the nearest offramp to a checkout line, being sure to bring a co-signer. Then it's out to the parking lot where a friendly forklift helps nudge your cart to your car, which suddenly looks very small.

But unfortunately, not everyone can afford to save so much, so if buying only one of something is a thrift tactic of yours, swing by one of those factory outlet malls, conveniently located halfway between downtown and the state line. Store after store (Off-Price Outlet, Direct-2-U, Seconds Helpings, Quality Shmality) are stocked to the ceiling with the kinds of deals that only gross miscalculation or industrial sabotage can generate.

The clothing outlets here (Discount Duds, Jacket Off, HaberSlasher, Naked Not) specialize in merchandise that's just not quite your size. How can they offer such outrageous savings? Simple. They take items that nobody bought at the mall, keep the good stuff for their families, and pass the prices on to you.

Still too rich for your blood? You say your budget is tighter than Rush Limbaugh's bike shorts? Then check out the bargains found only at a pre-owned-goods emporium (Bargainville, Stain Towne, Rummage World, Dollars 'n' Scents). Here you'll find merchandise that has stood the test of time, items of exceptional stamina and resistance to biodegradability: UL-shunned appliances, free-association place settings, Barry Manilow records, and a wide variety of extremely casual wear such as sport coats with lapels so wide you'll need a zoning variance to get dressed. It's like a walk-in time capsule with a cash register. And if you like looking for hidden gems--valuable treasures being sold for a pittance--then come on down because you can look for weeks. Years, probably.