It's Not Easy Saving Green

One of the many great parts of being an uncle to two small kids is rediscovering pleasures from my own childhood, things I’d pretended to outgrow. First among these is the Muppets, which at one time were more important to me than anything except the original Star Wars trilogy. Thanks to the Muppets on “Sesame Street” I could read before I could walk. My first word was “cookie” after watching way too much Cookie Monster. Later, while watching “The Muppet Show,” I based my dating strategy on Animal, chasing after girls while shouting “Woman!, Woman!, Woman!” OK, that last sentence was a lie, but it would have been a more compelling reason for me being single for so long.

We’re all looking for ways to cut costs, with the economy forcing some to take drastic measures. That got me thinking: Who has done more with less than the Muppets? After all, Kermit was made out of an old coat and some ping-pong balls. Let’s look to Kermit and his compadres for ideas to get us through this crisis –

Nothing revolutionary here, but the Muppets often travel in one large bus, saving a bundle on gas money. And on “Sesame Street” Super Grover (“Smarter than a speeding bullet”) shows an unwavering commitment to taking himself places without cars or buses. No matter how many times he crashes he keeps on flying.

Who doesn’t worry about losing his home? Oscar the Grouch, who lives in the neighborhood trash can. He fits all of his possessions in there quite nicely. Wait a minute, you may be thinking, he’s not too happy. After all, he is a grouch. But Oscar’s problems are with the people around him. He wants to be left alone. He has no problems with his can, and he has no mortgage.

This can often be the first thing to go. It’s hard to justify theater, clubbing, concerts, or even cable TV if money is tight. Bert, of Bert and Ernie fame, has no such issues. He’s able to amuse himself for hours with his bottlecap collection (Side note – When I was in my 20s I collected beer bottles. I still have them somewhere. If you’d like them please let me know before my girlfriend makes me throw them out). Now Bert is nothing if not a Renaissance man. He’s an accomplished painter. Does this hobby cost him? Not much, since he mostly paints oatmeal.

By sticking with cookies and whatever happens to be around him, I’m guessing Cookie Monster’s food bills are pretty low. But the real hero here is the Swedish Chef. If he’s short on ingredients, he will make a meal out of an old steering wheel. He makes his own donuts by blowing holes in cookies with a shotgun. And he saves money on seafood by beating fish over the head with his rolling pin. Be careful though. The fish usually grab the pin and hit him back.

Here’s where people are really cutting back. Just about everyone has heard the term “staycation.” The Muppets would never take this route. In The Great Muppet Caper, they flew to England economically by riding in the baggage area. Somewhere over the UK, the baggage handler simply threw them out of the plane. No fuss, no muss. The best part, though, was their accommodations. Constrained by a limited price range (“free”), they stayed at the legendary Happiness Hotel, where payment options include “sneaking out in the middle of the night.” Granted, it’s not exactly the lap of luxury. Even the hotel anthem notes that “There's no fire in the fireplace, there's no carpet on the floor. Don't try to order dinner, there's no kitchen anymore.” and “If you've got luggage keep it handy, but you're running out of luck. 'Cause the bellhops ain't too organized and the elevator's stuck.” But the Muppets made it work.

Hey, if a frog, bear, pig and so many “whatevers” can make it through the tough times, so can we.

Adam Spector
May 1, 2009

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