Sunday, 7 September 2008

Credit crunch woes; Rejoice!

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There is stark realisation on the horizon. As Britain slips closer to recession, if it is not already here, the doom and gloom on peoples faces is all too apparent. The less than enviable monsoon-esque weather does little to brighten the mood. Excuse the unintended pun if you please.

But. If you watch your cash and are sensible with what you have already, then it should not be that difficult. My reading of the situation is this. I make no apologies for the following statement: If you live within your means now, you will ride the storm with ease. If you are an obnoxious runt whom lives to excess with no regard for tomorrow, then you will sink painfully. It is, after all, the fault of those with blind greed we are here at all. Do not blame the banks, not solely anyway, it takes one fool to spend the money that some dunce has somehow fathomed you had any ability to repay!

I understand mortgage repayments are hard and the cost of living has increased, but we are not going to starve. It amuses me to observe the hardships we endure in this country. Indeed, we measure how we are all doing by gauging how the retail sector is performing. It is somewhat pathetic, and entirely depressing that how many pairs of shoes Footlocker shift is relative to our economic stability and human satisfaction. I do not care that M&S's profits are dipping, nor that "even Tesco" are feeling the pinch. Please, how patronising is all this? In times of economic hardship we do not want to see these companies doing well. Screw them, they can absorb a little less profit - they are not losing money afterall. It is a good thing the average consumer is waking up and not shovelling their money into highly marked up clothing and other luxery items.

So I have been pondering today. How can you really do something for free. Something great, something engaging? I realise people have different tastes so I have tried to be varied. Nor do I insist you find something I list and do it, they are merely my recommendations.

1) Go to the library and find Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner'. Honestly do not waste your time with the cinematic disgrace that was the film. The book is a work of true literary genius, moving, gripping and genuinely worth every second you spend on it. And time is free you will note.

2) Dare I suggest "illegal" activities? Download two albums using your the piracy medium of choice. The first album is 'The Seldom Seen Kid' by Elbow. The second is 'Vivere' by Andrea Bocelli. If times are biting very hard right now, just buy them from a shop later. Two contrasting styles, obviously, perhaps. One is an alternative band from Manchester, the other a blind operatic singer from Italy. Regardless of such geographic references, you will not be dissapointed.

3) Have some friends come over for the evening. This is also a chance to stick on your new Bocelli CD and leave your well dog eared copy of 'The Kite Runner' on the coffee table. They will undoubtedly bring wine and thrilling conversation, what better way to spend an inevitably rainy summers evening in England. Free in the comfort of your own living room or wherever it is nice to reside.

4) Raid the DVD & Games collection. This only just came to my mind. A friend and myself recently swapped a pile of our Xbox 360 games, easily saving each other...well, a lot. It is not cheap to ask or even suggest, it is pure genius. And let us not forget a "loan" works both ways, they will probably want access to your stuff as much as you theirs! It is also worth exploring this in terms of DVD/Blu ray films. I checked my own shelf; 22 unwatched movies. Why on earth did I get all these films, intend to watch them and not? 22 nights entertainment sat gathering dust. Exhauted your own collection? Why not raid your friends?? Works under the same principle as the games and everyone is happy. Just obey the golden rule and return it all in the same mint condition you obtained it in. No one likes a rude bastard.

5) Use your gym membership. This is as good as free in my opinion. I pay monthly and hardly go. The next time I have nothing to do I intend to go. Yes, I know, intention is one thing, physically moving my lazy western derriere is quite another. My gym membership went up in price recently, using the "energy costs rising" as an excuse. So each visit I now offset this unjustifiable increase by using more of the "free" products that are included. I suggest you do the same. Longer showers, frequent use of the steam rooms and sauna, I use outrageous amounts of the complimentary shower gel and shampoo and then drink coffee until my body begins to convulse. You've paid for it. Why not visit for your morning coffee? Who says you have to work out? You can also get a free newspaper at my gym; coffee and a paper. Price=zero!

6) Gift Cards. You will have them from birthdays of past and Christmas no doubt. Time to redeem that Poundland voucher that has been burning a hole in your tracksuit. I recently used up a Topman and HMV voucher, on some random items. Why keep them? Use them. At least half an hours entertainment and a lifetime of regret.

7) Start a blog. Bitch, moan and complain about how little money you have, and question why all of your dreams never came to fruition. Telling it to the abyss that is the internet has never been easier, nor so pointless. Blogger is free, fortunately!

8) A little known fact among paying Premier league football fans is that their clubs hand out shed loads of tickets for free. Why is this? They like to look good in the "community" - some are genuine charitable hand outs to those who are needy, others are just fraudulent ticket dumpings when a game will never sell out. A short explanation for this, 43,000 seats at Villa Park will never be needed when teams such as Bolton, Wigan etc are visiting. Factor in early rounds of the cup etc. Hang around community centres in rough areas near a football ground on a Thursday/Friday prior to a match. Or even contact the club direct saying you have some disadvantaged kids to bring. It works. Also on the football theme, reserve games are usually totally free or free for kids, or for those who can pass as one - have a shave, you're in! Some clubs will let you in for nothing when showing a season ticket - no doubt the owner will have no interest in a reserve game, so borrow theirs! Evenings entertainment sorted.

There are more. Should I have a brainwave or become enthused once again I will add to the list.

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