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     Volume 11 |Issue 35| September 07, 2012 |


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How to be 'Economical'

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Despite the notion that life in general is full of unsavoury variables that can turn everything topsy turvy, there are certainties that are just unavoidable. One of them is the fact that no matter which part of the globe you are from or what your economic status is you will always come across at least one individual who takes being economical to the extreme and is commonly known as a 'miser'.

Miserly characters have famously found their way into fiction, animation and television shows – Shylock (Shakespear), Ebenezer Scrooge (Dickens), L'Avare or The Miser (Molière) and Mr Bean, to name a few.

The specialty of misers is that they don't see themselves as being miserly; rather they think they are cleverer than the rest of stupid humanity. It goes without saying that misers are never poor, they have bundles of cash stashed under the mattresses or overseas bank accounts – for that rainy day that usually never comes. Penny pinchers as they are also called, spend their lifetimes trying not to spend a dime on anything if they can help it. They love anything that has the label 'free' – from all-expenses paid trips abroad to free food at obscure conventions. As they eat as many spring rolls and prawn toast as they can, inwardly they are laughing their heads off at the dumb hosts for wasting so much money on fancy food for such undeserving people.

Pure misers become physically ill – palpitation, cold sweats and acidity – every time there is a question of parting with money. It is a pain as intense as the first time someone rejected your declaration of love and conspicuously tried to hide from you at the shopping mall.

These individuals who count every penny when they have vaults full of cash, shares, bonds and deeds for ownership of half the city, will go through extreme lengths to squeeze every drop of benefit from wherever they can. A few pointers from 'How to be Economical, by Top Ten Misers:

To get the most out of a tube of toothpaste
Of course you begin pressing from the bottom when it's brand new, that's something everyone does. But when it is certain that there is no way to get anything out without hurting yourself place the toothpaste between the crack of the door and close it gently – an amazing amount will come out.

When you have to give a present
Just pick up a knick knack from the living room, dust it off and wrap it with recycled wrapping paper or just plain newspaper with a bright red ribbon (to appear avant-garde). Make sure however, that the knick knack has not been given by the person you are gifting it to.

When your 1978 television dies on you
Find ways to go to your neighbours during favourite prime time shows. Unfortunately this only works as a short term plan – sooner or later they will just stop answering the doorbell and pretend they are not at home. For longer term benefits – try to position a mirror that reflects your neighbour's flat screen on to your glass window so you can somehow make out the gist of the episode and just guesswork the dialogue. If all this seems a little too tiring take up knitting or playing chess to kill the evening hours.

When you are forced to take people to dinner
Open the menu and make choking sounds and squeak out things like “Five hundred taka for a soup? Can you believe it?” Order the cheapest item on the menu – like a puny salad. Your guests will be too embarrassed to order anything too expensive and hopefully stick to the appetizers and refrain from dessert.

Children of misers grow up feeling they are from a financially struggling family. They may be known as offspring of zamindars or business tycoons but they are always short of money and often are forced to make their less prominently known friends pay for extras.

Fortunately, the law that says 'opposites attract' has ensured that misers are almost always paired off with spendthrifts (really generous people) to keep the sparks going (unless they kill each other) and to prevent the children from constantly visiting the neighbours during mealtimes.


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