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So I've been out of work now for almost four months. It seems hard to believe. I really hope they invent a time machine so I can come back and tell myself to just take a four month vacation instead of spending every day at home looking for a job and waiting for phone calls from prospective employers.

I've learned a few things while sitting around with no income. If you're ever in my situation, maybe some of these tips will help out a bit:

Food:

Ramen, hot dogs and hamburgers: although they are very cheap meals, you'll get sick of them very quickly. I had saved a ton of money because I have great friends (Lou and Jon) that bought me more hot dogs than a human can eat in a lifetime. Please! No more hot dogs! I had attempted to live all of August on free food samples that I signed up for on the internet. That didn't work too well. The only edible things I received in the mail was one small piece of beef jerky and some cough drops (I don't think I can count the mouthwash and toothpaste as edible). I'm still waiting for the hot sauce samples and the mixed nuts sample. Free samples were about as fruitful as my free sugar from McDonalds. Every time I ran out of sugar, I'd stop by McDonalds, buy a $1.00 double cheeseburger and grab a bunch of sugar packets. I thought I was so slick, until someone told me that sugar is pretty cheap (I just bought 5lbs for about $2.00).

I attempted another tactic, working for food. I wrote a small program for my friend Dan; as payment I requested 10 cases of Red Bull. Although this was probably a great deal for both of us (since he owns a bunch of gas stations and can buy it wholesale but I would have had to pay almost $600.00 for the 10 cases), I'm now getting a bit sick of living off of just Red Bull.

So, tonight I went shopping for some real food and found some good deals. I found that there is usually a "bargain" section in the meat department that has some cheap meats. I quickly realized that this was usually because it was expiring that day, or things like pig feet ("great for stew"). I decided to pass on these deals, maybe you'll be braver than I. However, pork and turkey are fairly cheap and make great dinners. Actually, turkey can be made into anything as I found. I saw turkey ham, turkey bacon, turkey burgers, turkey steaks, turkey corn, turkey bread, turkey coffee, and lots more. What an amazing animal.

Buying the store brand or "generic" products are also usually cheaper and things like onion powder, garlic salt, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc. are usually just as good as the name brands. Does anyone remember in the 70's when really generic products were out? You could browse the shelves and see things like "SOUP", "MEAT" and "BREAD," all in black and white packaging? I don't think that lasted too long, I don't see those things anymore.

 

Things I've found I can NOT do without (even though I tried):

Soap - you need this. Taking a shower with hand soap sucks. Although avoiding showers will allow you to discover things about yourself like, "Hey! My left armpit smells much more than my right armpit!," it isn't recommended.

Toilet Paper - I have not let this run out, but I'm fairly sure you need this

Dog Food and Treats - No chance I'd scrimp on Dog(tm). He gets whatever he needs even if I need to miss a meal. He thinks this unemployment thing just means he gets to go everywhere with me. I can't leave the house now to get the mail without him complaining.

Laundry Detergent - Trust me, hand soap doesn't work here either.

Internet Connection - Nope, this is essential. I guess electricity falls in this category as well.

 

Things I've found that I can live without:

HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc. - I cancelled all my extra cable channels a long time ago, haven't missed them at all (I used to get everything available)

Eating out, Steak, Brand Names - Haven't really missed these at all although, I do have a craving for a grilled NY strip once in a while

Extra phone line, call waiting, conference calling, etc. - Down to a no-frills, one phone line and it's fine. I also cancelled my long distance service. I use my cell phone for that (I could also cancel that, but I have practical reasons for keeping it). If I could get a good cell signal in my house, I'd cancel my regular phone altogether.

Landscaping Service - I can mow my own lawn

 

I've found that I'm falling into a few bad habits such as staying up until 4:00 AM, since I don't have to wake up early. I won't answer my phone before 11:00 AM (who calls that early!). A day without baseball is a day I probably should have slept later. I spend way too much time surfing the web (good for you guys) when I should probably get outside on nice days. I was looking at my internet history the other day and realized I had looked at over 10,000 different sites, scary. Anyway..... enough for now, the Red Sox are on.



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