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Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

Keep Your Pantyhose On

Suggestions for saving money and improving quality of life

Published: Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 05:00

The current economic uncertainty has many of us seeking ways to cut back on expenses and streamline our lifestyle. Using grocery discount coupons or looking for those “buy one, get one free” meal tickets have become commonplace. Restaurants have recognized the changes in dining habits and have established reduced prices on various menu items. And those of us who are seniors can always take advantage of special buying days, such as 15 percent off on purchases on Wednesdays at Kohl’s department store.

The latest issue of the AARP Bulletin ran a feature titled 99 Great Ways to Save,” and even though the publication is for seniors, many of the suggestions are applicable to all. I suspect most of us are attempting to maintain and improve the quality of life we now enjoy and are always looking for ways to do so. Several of the suggestions could be considered bordering on improvements in quality, and thus I concluded that this subject would be appropriate for Quality Digest Daily.

I have to admit that many of the ideas are laughable, but I say that from my politically incorrect, sarcastic, bombastic approach to life. As such, permit me to list some of the “great ways to save” while I add my editorial comments.

Lower your thermostat. I think we can agree on this, but the AARP Bulletin goes on to state that we should “place pans of water near heating outlets” because the moist air will retain heat better. My question is, “How do we convince Rover that each room has not become his own personal oasis?” And tripping over the pans in the middle of the night will make for an awakening experience.

Save on a flush. Place bottles of water in the toilet tank to offset the amount of liquid when flushing. Wonder if this is really a good use of my Perrier. How about just using the neighbor’s bathroom?

Get a rain barrel. Use this to water your lawn or wash your car. Maybe this is the water I should use in my commode. Transporting the barrel into my home, though, could be a problem.

Get group airfares. Travel with a group of 10 or more, and the airlines will grant a travel discount. Sometimes traveling with that many family members can be brutal, so how about just rounding up 10 strangers at the airport? That way if you have a disagreement during the flight, you will never see them again... and again....

Shower quickly and save. Fifteen-minute showers are out because on average it will cost you $310 a year in water usage. Save $100 by taking five-minute showers. But if I use rainwater and shower with my new 10 friends from the airport, I can save much more money. I can even charge them a fee, and frankly the whole experience will provide much more fun. Everyone has to bring his or her own rubber ducky, though.

Rent that extra room. AARP also suggests that renting out your garage for $150 a month will increase your cash flow. I wish I had been made aware of this before my brother-in-law visited last month.

Get dental work from supervised students at dental school. Sure! While growing up, I remember getting haircuts from trainees at the Tonsorial School for 25 cents. I still have the scars on my ears. I can grow new hair but not new teeth. I think I’ll pass.

Bring your own drugs to the hospital for your operation. This assumes that you have a planned operation. But what about unexpected rushes to the emergency room? Guess I should always carry a supply of drugs in my man purse for just such an occurrence. I’m sure when I’m stopped by the police they will understand. Most hospitals also frown on this practice. How else would they be able to charge $5 for each aspirin?

Free treatment is available if you qualify for a medical study. This is a wonderful way to have our leakage problems or diaper rash treated—maladies on which we seniors have cornered the market.

Try haggling over the price of a hearing aid.  Chances are you won’t be able to hear the sales pitch of the rep anyway, so just use your index finger to communicate.

Only wear pantyhose when absolutely necessary. That suggestion is from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. I absolutely agree. I would say that none of us want to see Albright sans nylons.

Go barefoot more. That way you will buy fewer shoes. And how about secretly removing paper slippers from the hospital after your leakage and diaper rash treatment?

See plays for free by volunteering as an usher. Just make sure you wear shoes and pantyhose.

This from Harrison Ford: “Went to the movies with Calista—bought one adult and one senior citizen ticket and saved $6.” Um... enough said.

Remove unneeded items from your trunk to reduce weight and save on fuel. This should be heeded by the Mafia. Reducing the number of bodies in the trunk to just one bullet-riddled corpse will be a real cost saving.

Keep condiment packages from restaurants. Why buy your own mustard and ketchup when you can just pocket the packets from the various carry-out restaurants? Why not take the table and chairs with you also? And if possible, shower in the employees’ locker room to really save money.

Make all your kids wear white socks. That way you always have spares if there are holes or someone loses one. Wonder if this works with undergarments, too?


So there you have it.  Some ways to save money and improve the quality of our life from AARP. Well, it’s time for my monthly shower. Mary and I are showering together with the rainwater we collected to save money. But I’m still not comfortable wearing her white undergarments (but the pantyhose are kind of comfortable).


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.


Turn the thermostat down

Turning the thermostat down can help a lot... but using a programmable thermostat is even better. Instead of using pans of water near the vents, get a humidifier. It's easier, cleaner, and less temptation for pets and kids! We installed a heat pump with a very efficient back-up furnace a few years ago. It made a huge difference in the heat bills in the winter. It also gave us central air in the summer which we hadn't had before. (This is not a cheap investment but the savings over a few years can add up quickly - it paid for itself in 2 years for us).

Saving water (and money)

Here in Oregon, we don't worry about taking too long in the shower. We just take a bar of soap with us outside and benefit from mother nature's constant showers. Works for about 9-10 months out of the year. In summer time when the rain stops for a few weeks, we just skip bathing and don't get too close to each other.

Dental School


I know you're writing in jest - but the dental school thing is a really good bit of advice. Many people I know here in central NC with no dental insurance get first-rate care at UNC Dental School. The students ARE all supervised by professors - those are the experts the rest of us would pay a fortune just to have a consultation with. I have a dental plan, but the amount covered by the insurance any more is the real joke. I recently paid around $100 out of pocket for my daughter's checkup and cleaning - above the insurance, which is supposed to cover 100% of 'reasonable and customary' charges for this service. I'm seriously considering transferring our care to the dental school too. That's some savings to sink your teeth into!

Dental school

Carla - thanks for your feedback. Yes, my comments were tongue in cheek and dental school is a great alternative to the high cost of having our teeth cleaned and filled. Thanks for writing and keep reading Quality Digest.