Okay, all you investment bankers, the stock market may be boomletting, but it’s a bubble, although recent days may indicate it has sprung a leak. So here’s something you can relate to for when you lose your impossible-to-define jobs: clipping coupons. Not the kind you're used to, granted. But coupons to clip, nevertheless.
Maybe you used to hang out at the country club or the yacht club or the gentleman's club. Now, you're going to hang out at Sam’s Club, the supermarket and the pizza joint. So here are some tips from the peasantry on how to save money - another concept that may be foreign to you, but won't be for long.
A coupon is something a store or a manufacturer gives out to get you to buy their stuff. There's a difference between their stuff and your stuff. Primarily, their stuff actually exists. It's not some fiction, created to haul in the suckers who up until the latest crash bought hot air that you peddled.
Green Giant corn exists. Mortgage backed securities do not.
Get a coupon for 25 cents off a can of Popeye Spinach, you buy a can of spinach and the cashier deducts 25 cents (or maybe even 50 cents, if you hit them on the right day,) from the price and you walk out with a can of actual canned spinach. No "futures contracts," no "hedges," no nothing -- except a can of spinach.
But you have to be careful. While manufacturers of canned corn or floor polish or toothpaste are different from you in that they make and try to sell actual stuff, they can be pretty sneaky.
Coupons have expiration dates. They're written on the coupon, usually at the top or bottom and almost always in really really tiny print, kind you use in the last 55 or 60 pages of the contracts you make your soon-to-be former customers sign.
When you present a coupon after it's expired, it's no longer any good. And while those expiration dates are usually a few weeks off from the time you actually acquire the coupon, the time frames are getting smaller. It's not unusual to find a coupon today that expires at the end of the week. Use it or lose it.
The main source for coupons is the Sunday newspaper. That means you have to forgo a few minutes of the televised ball game to actually go through all the stuff in the paper. Who knows, you might stumble across an article that catches your attention. Maybe one about some other former investment bank putting guys like you on the street.
If you don’t get a Sunday paper, maybe you go to the website where they have a section called “This Week’s Flyers.” Print and clip.
Searching for the coupons to save a few cents here and a few cents there possibly is something you've never bothered with. But now's the time to start learning the tricks that normal people have known for ages.
And that idea that you're trading in actual values instead of imaginary concepts is foreign to you. Don't worry. There are lots of people who can help you understand the concept. Start with the minimum wage checker-outer. She may not be as smart or as snazzy as you. But at least she's earning a living, which you are not. And she has the eyes and scanners to spot those tiny expiration dates.
Some coupons come in the mail. There's one here on the desk that you can hide from your spouse. It says you can save thousands of dollars on divorce "for you or a loved one." And the DVD these guys are selling will be sent "discreetly... via priority mail." Discreetly. You know that word. It comes from "discretion," like what you practiced when you withhold the shakiness of the investments you peddle. But, again, don't let your spouse see the part that says "Divorce Smart. Live Happy." After all, she didn't marry you for love.
Clip those coupons, guy. You'll save a bit of money. Maybe with the savings, you can rejoin the country club or start a whole new kind of phony investment.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
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