We don’t pick on Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar because he’s an inviting target, although he is. We pick on him because he fancies himself as an advisor. It’s right there in the subtitle of his blog: “Coupons and Financial Advice.” Yet if you acted on his counsel, your life would be an endless treadmill of calculating barely perceptible savings on mundane activities. And who knows what you’d be missing out on.
Headhunter: Hi, Ms. Bland? We’re looking for a new sales associate and we think you’d be perfect for the job. Whatever you’re making now, we can double it. Can you come in for an interview?
Simple Dollar Devotee: Where are you located?
Headhunter: On the corner of 1st and Main.
Simple Dollar Devotee: Well, that’s 15.98012 miles from my house. My Prius gets 42.29830 miles to the gallon (I’m obsessive like Trent, therefore I calculate such things to the 5th decimal place.) So with gas at $3.989 a gallon I’d be paying $3.01 to interview with you.
Headhunter: You do realize that this is a phone conversation, and that I can’t hear your italicizing and bolding, right?
Simple Dollar Devotee: Plus my car depreciates at an average of 12.31209¢ per mile, so that’s an extra $3.93 I’d be spending to go to this interview, for a total of $6.94. If you don’t hire me, that’s a sunk cost.
Plus, Mr. Hamm is the most ungainly writer ever to sit in front of a computer. He figures that because he’s got the rudiments of composition (largely) under control, he’s therefore the personal finance answer to Joyce or Dickens. No. Knowing the rules of football doesn’t make you an all-pro. At best, it might make you a back judge.
Just like knowing how to reuse Ziploc bags doesn’t make you an expert on personal finance, just a lunatic. Guess how many results the word “frugal” returns when you search for it on The Simple Dollar.
6,340. “Frugality” gets another 6,290, for a total of 12,630.
The word “and” occurs in the New Testament only 10,684 times.
The Baha Men want to know if Trent Hamm can sing any other songs. Keanu Reeves thinks Trent has limited range. Euclid’s definition of a line said that The Simple Dollar is too 1-dimensional.
The latest foolishness from the Most Inane Voice In Personal Finance is so good, it bumped another Trent Hamm submission for Retard of the Month. This week, Trent teaches us how to save money at…tourist attraction gift shops. You know, because such places are an everyday temptation. Also, “keep your money in your wallet” is only 6 words and therefore too short a recommendation to be useful as far as Trent is concerned.
I particularly don’t like it when you go through a museum exhibit or a tour of some sort, only to find yourself dumped into a gift shop.
The children are hungry and thirsty and often tired after such a trip
Who under the age of born-in-the-19th-century uses the word “children” instead of “kids”?
This is absolutely my least favorite part of traveling and visiting new places. It’s often an expense. It’s always a hassle.
years of planning family vacations with a frugal mindset has helped me to avoid these traps more and more often.
At this point, does Trent need to use the qualifier “with a frugal mindset” when describing any activity that he does? We can’t even cite ridiculous imaginary examples here to illustrate the point, because the real ones are better. The generic go-to activity would be “brushing your teeth ‘with a frugal mindset’”, but damned if he didn’t already beat us to it. Several times.
Here are some of the tactics we use
Trent has a 4-point strategy for not buying snow globes at the Grand Canyon.
(1) Do the research. Before you go on vacations, spend some time researching the places you’re considering visiting. Find out if these places force you through a gift shop or not, and use such techniques as a negative when considering whether to use that item as part of your vacation.
How does that play out?
You: Hello, Roman Colosseum?
You: Avete un negozio di souvenir?
Her: Sì. cosa ti piacerebbe?
You: Never mind. Thank you. (To your traveling partners) Okay, that’s out. Damn. I really wanted to see the Colosseum, too. Alright, next up is the Pyramids. Anyone know Arabic?
Wait, what did Trent say?
use such techniques as a negative when considering whether to use that item as part of your vacation.
So “don’t go”, you’re saying (verbosely)?
Also, what are the “techniques” here? What is the “item”? Maybe Trent knows Arabic, because God knows his command of English is brutal.
a gift shop needs to be my option, not foisted upon me.
Yes, because gift shop clerks are notorious for holding visitors at gunpoint until they agree to take home a logo canvas bag.
(2.) Your first step should simply include digital photographs.
Then a Trent Hamm specialty, the immediately succeeding unnecessary follow-up sentence:
If you want to remember something, take a picture
But wait, Trent. Why would someone take a picture?
so that you can look at it later.
Of course! Knew it was something, couldn’t put our finger on it.
Again, we haven’t omitted anything. We’re in the middle of one unbroken stream of Trentness:
Similarly, recording your thoughts in a travel journal while going from place to place on a vacation can be wonderful.
Stephen King once wrote to aspiring writers that “the adverb is not your friend.” But he never met Trent, who never met a –ly he didn’t fall in love with.
Also, “wonderful” is on that list of words that no heterosexual man should use:
Veggie, or veggies
Adorable, unless used ironically
There are probably others. Wait, we’re building to something here. Behold The Most Trent Passage Ever:
I often look for natural souvenirs to bring home, such as unique rocks. We have stones from tne (sic) north shore of Lake Superior and from the Arbuckle Mountains in our yard. Other family members have bricks and baseballs found on vacations.
Notwithstanding the convenient location of the Arbuckle Mountains, that sums it up right there. The Hamm clan collects rocks, bricks, and baseballs. And note the verb “found”. Trent’s not talking about a foul ball that landed in his kid’s glove at a minor league game. His family members find baseballs while on vacation. Where do you go to find a random baseball, i.e. without going to a sporting goods store and paying for one? Do the Hamms wait outside Little League games and steal them when no one’s looking? Does going to a Little League game in a strange town qualify as a vacation in Trent’s world? And would doing so count as an “end experience” or a “peak experience”? We’re guessing “end”.
Look, no one’s saying you should overindulge your kids. But come on. No, Junior, you can’t have that $10 field guide to the Birds of North America. Instead, how about this mostly intact cinder block your dad discovered in the parking lot?
Don’t spend like an idiot, that’s a given. But for the love of Pete, if you consider a rock to be a souvenir (not a geode, not iron pyrite, an ordinary rock), the best thing you can do for humanity is to throw said rock up in the air and catch it with your forehead.