Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: Another Survival Guide for Tough Times

Posted at 10:51 pm, April 26th, 2009
Herb Strentz Mug

When the economy slumps, the news media serve readers and viewers with all kinds of tips on how to make one’s money go farther, how to trim spending, where to get the best buys, etc.

If your local media are like Iowa’s, most of these hints are just plain common sense — do comparative shopping, don’t buy more than you need, etc. And some tips are either puzzling or dumbfounding. A favorite of mine said motorists could save money on gasoline by just reducing the weight of their automobiles and accessories: Remove 100 pounds of material from your car’s trunk, and you’ll save at least $50 or $100 a year in fuel costs. By that logic, you could forget about economic woes and retire early by merely removing 500 or a 1,000 pounds of excess material from the trunk.

The need to be innovative and imaginative to deal with economic woes came to mind as I pondered what to do with several concrete downspout extenders. You know, these are the concrete yard fixtures that you lug over to rain-gutter downspouts and position them to maximize the amount of water that flows toward your neighbor’s foundation instead of saturating your yard… We don’t need the heavyweights anymore, but what to do with them?

Not to worry, here is a list of ways to save money by wiser and alternative uses of the concrete fixtures — a list as useful as most of those coming from the sages of frugality at local newspaper and broadcast stations.

Multiple, money-saving uses for your concrete downspout extender:
1. Tongue depressor
2. Paperweight
3. Doorstop
4. Surfboard for the beach-bound
5. Snowboard for the lodge-bound
6. Snowshoe for the home-bound
7. Skateboard for the immobile
8. Shoehorn for Bigfoot
9. Garlic press
10. Fishing line sinker
11. Tire-traction aid when stuck on snow or ice; simply wedge under tires and drive off
12. Bookend
13. Shoulder chip for those who really have a grievance (or Epaulet for a stone-faced admiral)
14. Tray for drinks, appetizers, etc. (Groove especially good for dips.)
15. Flattener for cardboard boxes, aluminum cans
16. Cricket bat, tennis racquet, ping pong paddle
17. TV tray
18. Counterweight for heavy-duty metronome
19. Bottle opener (when you’re not too thirsty)
20. Golf ball marker
21. Use a pair for macho castanets
22. Watercraft: Anchor for dinghy, testing device for durability of canoe, kayak bottoms
23. Fly swatter
24. Cutting board
25. When all else fails, extend downspout.
You’re welcome!

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