Thursday, January 12, 2006

A crash course in tightening your finances
If you’re suffering from empty-wallet syndrome because you blew all your cash over Christmas and New Year and need to tighten up the finances before the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays take note of these classic thrifty tips for tightening up your personal finances
1 Water: Don’t be fooled by companies or restaurants that expect you to actually pay for a substance that fills most of the earth. Hark back to the day when you first heard that people in France paid for something called “Perrier” and scoffed over your glass of tap water. Since then events have spiralled. Now mineral water is the norm – at home, in work and in most eateries. But why not just boil up tap water or bring other people’s empty bottles to work and fill them from the cooler? Or, when you’re in a restaurant just ask for a “glass of iced water” or “mot coc nuoc loc”. None of that bottled stuff which costs a dollar. The average recommended daily intake or water is 3 litres, while the average cost of water is VND5,000 per litre so your annual savings by not buying any could be, on average, VND5.79 million ($365).
2 Food: Even if you don’t particularly like socialising, parties, soirees, opening nights and dos are happening all the time and are a great way to eat and drink for free. That’s right. It’s a no-hands-in-your-pocket bonanza. You don’t even need to think of elaborate ways to avoid the bill. The main tactics are a) getting invited b) if not invited, finding someone who is c) if you don’t know anyone, just turn up anyway d) coming early and getting stuck in e) fasting for a day prior to the event to maximise eating capabilities. Annual savings: incalculable.
3 Transport: This is a tricky one. You have the option of just not buying a motorbike, but how do you get to work? How about moving house to your colleague’s neighbourhood and get them to drive you. Or move next door to your office, or better still, work from home! Taking a xe om can be pretty cheap on a one off basis, but using this service on a daily basis you’d be accruing losses of VND3-5 million per annum. Now, a true grandmaster of thriftiness would find out which of their friends is going home for three months and just borrow their motorbike. A classic skinflint move and not as hard as you think to pull off. Expat communities are a constant “who’s in-who’s out” situation. One Australian, who shall remain nameless, but his name rhymes with Ball Mavis, lived in Hanoi for three years using other’s people’s bikes the whole time. Hat’s off Mr. Mavis – you were titan of tightness!
Bonus Tip - Celebrity technique: In general, in bill paying situations there are innumerable ways to avoid forking out cash. Some people are fond of the “leave first and drop VND20,000 on the table” tactic, even though you had six beers, three plates of squid and bought a pack of cigarettes. But, we’d like to introduce you to the Rod Stewart manoeuvre, patented by the tightwad Scot millionaire rocker himself. First, make sure the group you’re drinking with are aware you’re in a buying rounds situation. Even prompt people – “what are you having?” Get the ball rolling with the waiter, “So that’s three gin tonics and…” Then you simply slip away to the toilet! By the time you come back, freshened up and relieved, the drinks are on the table and the bill has been paid. Repeat until drunk then leave, preferably on someone else’s motorbike to someone else’s house.


Venitha said...

#2 is completely my mother. She regularly encourages everyone to starve themselves for hours if not days before we'll be going to a buffet. All her children deserve to have horrific eating disorders that we can blame totally on her stinginess.

elliott said...

Number 3: Saul Thavis?

pittstop designer said...

actually he did buy a bike - just a joke. WE LOVE YOU RAUL NAVIS!