The title speaks for itself, no? Well well well, my uniformed readers, I am here to enlighten you on various (bootleg) ways to financially survive the recession. Now, here’s the thing: this isn’t some kind of recycled, inapplicable guide that you’d find on Yahoo.com or whatever other website you use to inundate your mind with nonsensical rubbish. This is simply a guide of sorts that will detail a few of the things that I’ve done to pocket a few extra pennies during these unpredictable times. Consider me the frugal, bootleggin’ man’s Clark Howard. Anyone who’s had the unfortunate experience of meeting me knows that I am enamored with any and everything that pertains to either the act of or knowledge of bootlegging. So, if you’re the type of cat who doesn’t download music because of moral obligations and ethical restrictions, take your conservative leaning grill to another site or, at the least, Ctrl+T your ass to another tab.
I myself have fell victim to the succubus of financial temptations. Funny as it may sound, I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I can drop a Benny Franklin at a club and not wake up the next day feeling as regretful as a desperate schmuck who just gave the shocker to a 5 peso Tijuana tranny. I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life where I can splurge a little. But, I’ve realized over the past few months that even I myself have to go back to the basics of saving. I’ve gone astray of the ways that once defined me. So, this may be an introductory lesson of sorts for your inquiring minds, but I also consider this a refresher course for myself.
Onwards we go…
Having a few drinks a few nights a week can place a significant dent in your wallet after a few months. Drinks, as anyone who has had any in the city knows, can be expensive. Especially mixed drinks. I’ve long been a Crown Royale cat. Crown and coke is my drink of choice. But, ordering a Crown and Coke cocktail will cost you. What are my viable alternatives, you ask? Well, I could nix the ordering of cocktails and completely abstain from sippin’ the sinful syrup…but who the backflip are we kidding? That, quite frankly, ain’t happenin’. So, what’s the solution? Well, one simple solution is to continue ordering cocktails, but with cheaper brands of alcohol. Normally, in most situations, a Jack and Coke (as opposed to Hennessey or Crown Royale) can save you an average of $2/cocktail. Mon frere, that adds up. Plus, after you’ve guzzled down 4 or 5 of these, you won’t remember nor care what you are drinking. You could be chasing down Mr. Boston’s Vodka jello shots with Schlitz and you wouldn’t even bat an inebriated eyelash.
But, if you’d rather sidestep the appetizer and head straight for the platter, then I have an alternative solution that’ll pop the top of your muffin. Bring a flask with you. Fill up your flask with whatever alcohol you have lying around. Stick that mother in your backpocket, order a soda pop from the bar, and mix your drink in the bathroom stall. No harm, no foul. Plus, a majority of the clubs in Atlanta (think Primal, Opera, Cosmo/Lava, etc.) don’t offer the complementary security handjob that some other clubs do (Velvet, Esso, or any joint that caters to Black folk). Don’t believe me? Head over to Velvet Room tonight and see if you don’t “jizz in your pants” (click on the link – it is a HILARIOUS song and video) during the security check. Anyways, I predominantly travel with flask to clubs. There is really no downside – well…besides the probable sacrifice of your sensibilities and dignity. But, loss of dignity aside, it’s a genius idea that will save you the cost of 2-4 drinks (depending on how strong you like your drinks). Women, you have an even greater advantage. You can jam your purses full of alcohol and tote around 2-3 flasks. Let’s be honest ladies, it ain’t like all of you are fortunate enough to have some naive dumbfucks buy you drinks all the time. Most of you, admittedly or not, have to purchase your own. So, take on the task of toting a flask. You will thank me tomorrow.
I haven’t attended a class at an academic institution in nearly 4 years, yet I still use my student ID at the theater. Anyone who does not do this should be bitch slapped for stupidity. If you still have your student ID and can still aesthetically pass as a college student, why would you not pose as one? You, my friend, are a Grade A, 5 star dumbfuck. Honesty is but a matter of perspective. Anyways, there are a few other ways to manipulate the system that you may find useful. First off, this is the shadiest of techniques, but I’m living proof that this technique can work…and can work exceptionally well. After purchasing a ticket, you simply fold your ticket in half (making it appear as though it is a ticket stub) and flash it to the ticket taker. More often than not, he will nod his head and tell you to continue on. Some ticket takers will take the ticket out of your hand and forcefully tear it. But, if they do not, then you have the green light to bootleg. Simply put, this method creates the facade that you’re re-entering the theater and that your ticket has already been torn – and therefore creates the impression that you have the remaining ticket stub in your hand. The optimal time to employ this method is when the theater is busy and there is a large crowd of folks headed in. The ticket taker will not have time to personally examine every single ticket, so you will have a greater chance of getting away with this. You can then return to the theater at a later date and exchange your still-intact movie ticket for free. Technically, your movie ticket has not been cut, hence, the theater believes that you never actually saw the movie. In this case, the theater is obligated to grant you an exchange for another movie at a later date. Theaters have gotten a little more hip to the game on this, but this still works surprisingly well. Another method that I used to employ was tearing the ticket myself. I would then pocket the other part of the ticket and simply show the stub. I would then tape together the two torn pieces and exchange the ticket out at a later date. If the theater would ask why my ticket is taped together, I would explain that the ticket tore in my pocket. Think about this, if you employ either of these methods just once, then you’ve essentially viewed 2 movies for the price of one. If you’re ballsy enough to continue implementing this method on the same original purchase, you could theoretically watch 10 movies for the price of 1. What I normally do is purchase 1 ticket and then exchange it out 2-3 times utilizing this method. After that, on the 2nd or 3rd time, I let the ticket taker tear my ticket. During my next visit to the theater, I will purchase another ticket and attempt to start the same process again. You do not want to get too greedy. It would be best to alternate between theaters also. There’s no need to start developing a discernible reputation. Do not ruin it for the rest of us bootleggers.
Another method that has been tried and true by a friend of mine is the purchasing of children’s tickets at automated kiosks. Many times, you can go into a theater and purchase tickets from an automated machine. At those machines, you can normally purchase any ticket – even a children’s ticket (which are priced cheaper). You can then use those to view your movie. Technically, theater staff can stop you and refuse you entry if they notice this, but more often than not, the folks who tear the tickets will not notice this.
Save money by sneaking in your own food and drink in theaters. They don’t pat you down at the theaters, so unless you got a box of Junior Mints popping out of your bra, you should go by unnoticed. Shit, I’ve even smuggled in bean burritos from Taco Bell and noshed on them during previews. Sneaking in a bottle of soda pop has become mandatory for me now. If I ain’t smuggling in some type of snack to a flick, it just doesn”t feel right – almost as if I feel dirty for not doing something dirty. Shame? I have little…if any. Ahhh…who am I kidding? I have ZERO shame. Dignity? Squadoosh. Integrity? Jigga what? Jigga who? You must be OUTSIDE your mind. Only difference between me and you disapprovin’ cats is that I’m not afraid to bootleg. Most of you folks want to, but can’t pull that trigger. Too bad, maxipad.
Another less immoral and more legitimate way to save money on the movie going experience is to visit the Starlight Drive-In theatre off of Moreland Ave. They charge $7/person – and always feature new releases. With that admission fee, you are entitled to watch a double feature (they normally show 2 shows per screen). Plus, you can bring whatever food and/or drinks you want and enjoy them while watching the movie. No one will bother you. Wanna crack open a few cold ones while watching “The Hangover”? No problem. Be discreet and no one will bother you. So, you save a few bucks on admission and you can munch on whatever molded produce you had lying around at home. No more having to buy $5 soda pop and $5 popcorn. Plus, the quality of the audio and video at the Drive-In is pretty superb. They pipe the audio through speakers outside and also broadcast it on an FM radio station you can tune your car stereo to. During the summer, a lot of folks bring lawn chairs and watch the movie outside. In addition, it’s a great experience. There aren’t that many Drive-In theaters left in the nation. You can’t beat the price or the convenience.
Coupons. Coupons. Coupons. Capisce? Use them. They are your BFF, your booty call, and your wifey. There are a lot of websites that specialize in discounted offers at restaurants. The best example I can think of is Restaurant.com. They normally offer vouchers at discounted prices (ex. $25 vouchers for $10). Many times, they have specials which allow for even greater discounts. I myself purchased 3 different $25 vouchers for $3 a pop. The only catch is that you normally have to spend a certain minimum (i.e. $35) and/or are restricted to certain days (M-Th, No Fridays, etc.). Besides that though, there isn’t any other catch. There are also a few other websites that specialize in the same sort of thing (Halfoffdepot.com comes to mind), but Restaurant.com is one that I’ve recently used that has proven to be reliable. Believe you me, you may be above the use of coupons now, but when your decrepit ass is begging for change under the freeway, you may find yourself warming to the idea.
Go for specials. Always be on the lookout in Creative Loafing or on Twitter for new promotions. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool in helping you save money.
Split meals. You can kill 2 birds with one stone: watching your diet and saving money. If you’re dating someone, sharing a meal is extremely convenient and easy. Rather than eating an entire personal pizza by yourself, get someone to split it with you. You can even save money on soda pop by sharing a soda with a friend. At the least, do like me – let a friend order a soda pop and then take their drink to go. Ain’t no need for a drink with unlimited refills to go to waste, ya dig? Or, you could cut out soda pop altogether. Soda pop can be upwards of $2 now at a lot of joints, so either share with someone or just skip it altogether.
If I can’t find someone to split a meal with, I sometimes take half of my meal to-go and finish it for lunch the next day. That saves me from spending money on lunch the next day.
Enough with the Blockbuster memberships. Honestly, truth be told, Blockbuster will be but a distant memory in a few years. Our kids will not even have the faintest idea about what “making it a Blockbuster night” means. Bet your 401K on that, buddy. Go with the Red Boxes at your local grocery stores and Wal-Marts or go with Netflix – or forego all of the above and implement yet another bootleggin’ practice: torrents. I’m not exactly sure what a torrent is, but it is essentially a compressed file that you download. You then open it up with torrent software (Bittorrent, uTorrent, etc.) and it will decompress that file and download all of it’s contents to your computer. There are various torrent websites out there (torrentz.com, isohunt.com, mininova.com, etc.) Movies can be easily found and downloaded through the use of torrents. If you aren’t comfortable watching those downloaded movies on your itty bitty laptop or PC screen, you can connect your PC to your TV (like I have) or connect your laptop to your TV with a video cable (s-video, HDMI, DVI, etc.). What cable you use depends on what ports your TV and computer has. I use a DVI-HDMI cable. The DVI end is connected to the back of my PC and the HDMI end is connected to my TV. Either way, refrain from paying for music and/or movies. Seriously, bootleggin’ has been the societal trend for the past 2 decades…so get with the illegally downloaded and cracked program.
Hold your Cable/Internet/Cell Companies Hostage
Threaten the Jehovah’s Witness out of any of the above companies by threatening to leave them. You may have to call back in a few times and speak to different people, but more often than not, you eventually will get someone on the phone who is willing to negotiate. Even if you have zero leverage, you can magically manufacture some if you bitch enough. It’s true. Please believe it’s true. Lie if you have to…actually…I vehemently implore you to lie. Tell them that a rival company is offering a better deal. Better yet, use the recession to your advantage. Tell them that you just don’t have as much disposable income as you used to because of the recession. Explain to them that you would love to continue service with them, but that you just can’t afford it any more. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there folks – you gotta make it do what it do. Believe you me, these companies are taking bubble baths in garden tubs of your hard earned money – so you’re more than well served to flip the script on ’em. Haggle everything. Heed the wise words of King Leonidas in 300 (“Give them nothing…but take from them EVERYTHING!“). The time to become an asshole has arrived.
Jailbreak your iPhone
Listen to me, you naive iPhone app buying ignoramus: jailbreak your iPhone. Do not dare reconsider this. Rather than spending HUNDREDS of dollars on useless apps, you can download them for FREE – IF you jailbreak your iPhone. Once you jailbreak your iPhone, you can download the “Installous” app from Cydia (the jailbroken man’s app store). Using “Installous”, you can download almost every app from the app store for free. Is this illegal? Of course. But more slap-on-the-wrist illegal than finger-in-your-ass-welcome-to-the-pokey illegal. But…again…your morality is the sacrificial lamb that has to be fed to the Tyrannosaurus Rex that is the recession. You can google “jailbreak” and “installous” and will find a ton of information and how-to guides on both. Or, you can reference a post that I wrote nearly a year ago (“Do Not Pass Go…Go Directly to JAILbreak“). Some of the references in there are outdated (everything was based on the 2.1 iPhone firmware), but the basic idea remains the same.
DO NOT be afraid to buy things from the internet. Especially electronics. Things like digital cameras, computer parts, and electronic accessories (chargers, cables, etc.) are infinitely cheaper online than they are in stores – even with shipping. If you have the patience to wait a week for your goods, then online is the way to go. You cats would be surprised with the number of folks who still refuse to purchase online. Books are something else that are extremely cheap online. A website that I’ve used a few times with great success is Swaptree.com. They allow you to swap books, DVDs, and music CDs with another user. All you have to do is pay for the shipping required to send it to that person. You can even print out the shipping label directly from the website (the shipping cost is calculated online) and affix that to the packaging (eliminating the need to go to the post office). For example, you could trade “The Davinci Code” for “The Kite Runner” for about $2.50. This way, you don’t have to spend $15-$20 purchasing a new book. You simply “swap” out your old one for another one.
Here are a few reliable websites that I’ve used in the past that offer online promotions and deals:
I could go on all night with more detailed accounts of bootleggin’ practices I employ on a daily basis, but this post has become uber verbose. There are a ton of other bootleggin’ suggestions that are escaping me right now. I may or may not post another one or two of these “guides” in the future.