If I’m So Rich…

Not since the Crash of ’29 when New York tycoons saluted their fate with swan dives and one-and-a-half gainers out skyscraper windows into the canyons of Wall Street have we seen such a fiscal fiasco. This time around, we didn’t get the body count but we surely endured the financial firestorm — the greatest market meltdown in the history of printed wampum, etc., etc.

Pity. Had anyone asked, I could have helped with that.

Oh, yes. Not to brag but this monetary meltdown left me quite unscathed. Rejuvenated, even. Bobbing like a carefree preschooler in the middle of Scrooge McDuck’s money pool.

Stocks and bonds? Didn’t lose a cent — largely because I had the fiduciary foresight to acquire none.

There was no need for me to heave my assets overboard; I travel light. I didn’t fret for a moment about getting rid of the second car. Took care of that years ago when I traded the station wagon in on a 50 cc motor scooter. I got thirty grand for the car; paid two thou and change for the scooter. Advantage: $28 large right there. Gasoline? It took a hundred bucks to fill the old guzzler’s tank; the scooter sips about $3.95 — a week. There’s another five grand per annum plucked from the robes of some Arab sheik and pumped straight into my bank account.

I piled up some serious coin by quitting smoking, too. Last time I checked, cigarettes were going for nearly ten dollars a pack. If I still smoked, I’d be supporting an $80 to $100 a week habit. That’s at least another annual $5,000 in my pocket.

Alcohol? Not for me. Haven’t tippled in years. I used to have sherry with dinner, cocktails with friends and a beer whenever I felt like it. I never crunched the numbers, but my wine cellar ran to a couple of hundred bottles, and I devoted shelf space to quarts, litres, mickeys and jeroboams of whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, port, sherry and other boozy what-have-yous in case friends dropped by. Tally that up along with intermittent two-martini business lunches, impromptu lagers at the legion plus budget-buffeting bar tabs from Christmas parties, New Year’s blowouts and summer barbecues, and it’s got to come to a hefty bundle. Let’s kid ourselves and call it a modest ten grand a year.

Casinos? Lottery tickets? Och, nae. My Scottish forebears would haunt me for all of eternity.

No gasp-inducing wardrobe bills either — I’m retired. Who needs all those three-piece business suits, blazers, ties, dress shirts and fancy shoes? Maybe some shopper at the Sally Ann Thrift Store does. Sure hope so because that’s where they went — and that’s whence ensueth the sweatpant, T-shirt and sneaker ensembles I currently favour. Money saved? Several hundred loonies a year minimum.

I no longer support Air Canada’s heirs and assigns, exotic adventure having lost its expensive allure a long time ago. No way I’m going to haul this carcass up the Himalayas or down the Amazon. I have a (younger) friend who regales us about the time his kayak was T-boned by a grumpy East African hippo. Better him than me. I prefer dodging kids on water wings at the local pool (sixty bucks for an annual pass).

How do you tote up the tonnage of loot I save each year by opting for the comfy familiarity of couch and fireplace over the dubious enchantments of foreign destinations where the beds are lumpy, the hot water tap coughs rust and creatures with far too many legs and antennae scuttle and slither across the ceiling and under the ill-fitting door?

I’m still living large, but I’m living cheap. I don’t have the papers (or payments) for yacht or snowmobile, chalet or rustic cottage. If I watch an NHL or CFL game, it’s on TV, not from an overpriced subscriber’s box.

Nope, when you add up all the money I save by not smoking, drinking, playing the markets or the ponies, staying home and dressing drab instead of wearing fancy clothes and driving swellegant cars, I’ve got to be socking away an extra three, maybe even four hundred thousand a year.

Just one small needling question: if I’m so rich … how come I’m broke?

Arthur Black is the author of 11 books of humour and three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.