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Mr. Cheapie's Frugal Budget Tips
by David Leonhardt
So you feel like a hamster spinning your wheel? The faster you run, the faster the wheel spins. Just when you get a raise, you notice the price of hamster wheels jumps!Mr. Cheapie is here with his super-charged budget-cutting tips.

So you feel like a hamster spinning your wheel? The faster you run, the faster the wheel spins. Just when you get a raise, you notice the price of hamster wheels jumps!

Mr. Cheapie is here with his super-charged budget-cutting tips.

One of the biggest wastes of money is restaurant meals. You can cook a meal at home for about 2 cents a plate. Just put leftovers in the microwave, and Presto!

Those same leftovers cost a lot more at a restaurant. They call it "the buffet", and they sell it to you for $10.95.

Consider also the steak dinner that costs, say, $7 at home. At the restaurant, you pay $13.95 for the same meal. Or, if you want fancy napkins, $39.95.

Plus tax.

Funny thing about eating at home; you don't pay tax. But step into a restaurant, and guess who jumps in: "Hello, my name is Taxman. I'll be your waiter tonight. Would you like to start with something to drink? Perhaps a very nice glass of wine? That will be 50 cents, plus the price of the wine, of course."

"Why would you tax my wine?" Mr. Cheapie wonders. "It's not like the government made it."

"Who do you think keeps this country free and safe so that you can enjoy your wine?" Taxman demands. "Do you think Saddam Hussein would let you drink wine if he was still in power?"

"I don't see how he could stop me."

"Hah!" Taxman replies. "He has spies everywhere. He knows you drink wine and he has targeted this very bottle to self destruct."

"Actually, I don't drink wine. His spies must run on the same technology as his scud missiles," Mr. Cheapie muses. "How about a steak dinner?"

"An excellent choice," Taxman beams. "That will be $1.73, plus the price of the meal."

"Now what?" Mr. Cheapie demands. "Are you saying that Saddam is targeting my steak."

"Of course not," Taxman giggles. "We have him locked away. But watch out for North Korea."


"North Koreans are starving," Taxman explains. "They don't have steaks."

"Ah, so the North Korean government wants to take my steak and give it to their citizens."

"Not a chance. That would violate the official North Korean policy of starvation for all. They would never feed your steak to the people. But they would hold it up to taunt them," Taxman grins. "Then they would throw it into the fire to fuel a nuclear missile trained on this very table you are sitting at."

"Which is why you need to tax my steak."

"Exactly," Taxman nods.

"It's like a security deposit."

"That's right," Taxman smiles.

"It's protection money."

"You understand," Taxman winks.

"It's your tip."

"That's what I sa ... no it's not! It's national defense," Taxman insists.

At home, you never have to tip the microwave. But, at the restaurant, your waiter expects 15%.

Mr. Cheapie has discovered a legal loophole to save 15% on your restaurant bill. According to a national Mr. Cheapie survey, your plate usually has 15% too much food on it. Set aside 15% of your meal. When your waiter comes to collect his tip, pay him in food. Your waiter raved about today's special, so Mr. Cheapie is sure he will appreciate having some for himself.

If Taxman is your waiter, don't actually give him the food. Just taunt him with it -- then mail it to North Korea. Then they won't have to blow up your table to get it themselves. Why pay for national defense when the postal service can protect your freedom to eat for just the cost of a stamp?

Aren't you glad Mr. Cheapie offers such useful, free advice?

About The Author

David Leonhardt - sign up for his weekly satire column up at or read more columns at

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