Yes, times are tough. I know youíre thinking about your pocketbook, the bottom-line, and all that frugal stuff. Itís no wonder that arts leaders are starting to get freaked out. In times of fiscal crisis, people cut back on spending. And when they cut down on spending, the first things sliced are those considered optional. Like arts and culture.
Iíve got a solution. There are plenty of things we spend money on that are less important than a good book, play or concert. When times are good, I have no problem with you throwing down a few greenbacks for these quick fixes. But when the Dow is diving, it's time to make some cuts.
Cable TV. Do you really need premium channels? Wonít basic do? HBO runs $17.95 and Showtime $16.95 a month on my system. Guess what. You can always buy the shows you need on DVD or, if you really want to save cash, borrow Ďem. Reality is, youíll benefit from more sleep and can always catch up through a vacation power watch. Monthly savings: $34.90.
Gym membership. Are you really like all those meatheads or those geeks who lay back on the giant ball to do their sit-ups? Iím not saying itís time to become a tub of goo. But you can get an immense workout for very little. Go to your local running store and pick up a solid pair of shoes Ė maybe $80 Ė and hit the streets. For strength, drop down every few miles and pump out 20 push-ups. The push-ups work as well as those silly machines, and you wonít have to gaze at the cheesy rock videos playing overhead. Monthly savings: $39.99.
Whole Foods. If you must go - say you really believe in wild versus farm-raised salmon - make sure not to stray off the shopping list. (No vegetarian spring rolls or vegan peanut butter cookies. And never, ever, buy one of those chocolate squares at the register. What a rip off.) Same goes for non-perishable items. Buy those items at ďWhole Paycheck,Ē and you can kiss goodbye the new Batman flick. Monthly savings: $73 per potential visit.
Starbucks. Iím not even going to price out your pumpkin spice latte. Just a regular cup of Pikeís Peak is going to run a couple bucks a day. So brew at home, suckers. Monthly savings: $56 (at $2 a cup daily).
Dining Out. No man of sane mind would demand you stop going out to dinner. Thatís mean. But when you do go out, come up with a strategy. As a rule, donít buy the most expensive item on the menu. Keep drinking at a minimum. Thereís also no reason to get dessert. It actually wasnít until I entered college that I realized you could get dessert at the end of the meal. My parents never ordered such a thing. Monthly savings: Depends.
See. With barely any effort, I just cut at least $250 off your monthly expenses. That means you can go to a museum or two, slap down $9.99 for the new Byrne/Eno record on iTunes and have enough left over for a good play or concert.
And if things get really tight, Iíll be ready with Plan B: The yard sale.