Most Useless Financial Tip Ever: Nominee #1

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I was flipping through last month’s Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine when I came across an article about How to Beat High Prices on food, gas, and so on. Okay, timely topic, probably sold a ton of issues. Then the following sidebar “tip” caught my eye:

Who exactly is the target audience here? People who eat $200 meals at Ruth’s Chris Steak House regularly and need advice on how to spend less? And their solution is to… eat an $89 meal. Genius!

If you’ve found some similarly awesome non-tips, send them my way.

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  1. Noble Drusus says


    “We used to leave our credit card with the gas station attendant all day long and pay for all of the other customers. Now we only pay for our own gas and five other customers.”


  2. when me and the wife and son go out to eat.
    we never order drinks or deserts, thats where they get you on the price.
    we order water with our meals. for us its pretty easy since we don’t drink and even at home we drink water with meals.

  3. “Don’t spend more than you make.”

    Captain Obvious

  4. Also, not to legitimize their strategy by talking about it too much, but… Don’t appetizers tend to have a rather high mark-up, kinda like drinks? They’re fun, but not exactly the most frugal of choices.

  5. Yep that’s got to be one of the stupider financial advice tips I’ve seen in a while. It’s like saying we were going to buy a Benz but to save some money we decided to get a Lexus and with the money we saved we’ll go on a trip. If you’re in that boat you don’t need financial advice you’re already making more than enough.

  6. So hilarious.

    Maybe they can market the following line as well:

    “stop eating when you’re full.”

  7. MMB,

    That’s the funniest picture ever.. I have another suggestion – cook at home and save even more..( unless you employ a french cuisine chef, then eating out @ $200/meal might seem like a bargain)

  8. For me, the most recent one I can remember is to lose weight = save gas money.

  9. We rarely eat out anymore. We do take-out instead. Not only does it save on drinks but gratuity as well.

  10. I once knew a very affluent woman and when I asked her advice on how to buff up my savings account, here’s what she said:

    “My dear, when you get to my age, you learn that the best thing to do is just spend less.”

    …just…spend less…

    Yeah, got that. NEXT!

  11. For $89, I could easily take my husband and myself to lunch 3 times — eating sushi or steak or lots of other great food, without scrimping or coupons or anything. You’re right — that’s like the worst advice I’ve seen in a long time. I’d be amused to check out the rest of the magazine.

  12. Save money, dont fly in your private jet, get a ride with Donald Trump, he likes to have people around to tell him he is good with money. A successful web blogger like you should be perfect for him! You have credibility.

  13. Haha! Yes, I caught this one and it struck me as odd too. However, had you shorted their stock (RUTH) earlier this year, you could be dining there everyday.

  14. LOL @ Noble Drusus

  15. hejustlaughs says

    LOL @ Noble Drusus too.

    Reminds me of a scheme I thought of awhile back involving 5% back on gas credit cards.

    Basically you’d stand around a gas station and as offer to pump people’s gas for them and have them give you the cash (and you use your credit card). If anybody asks you why you’re doing this you could pretend you’re raising awareness for something by pumping people’s gas for free.

    In a couple hours shift you could in theory earn a couple hundred dollars in cashback plus you’d earn interest on the float before your credit card payment is due.

    I never had the balls to do this and this was back in high school when my credit limit was like $800.

  16. Umm, maybe it’s cause I live in San Francisco where it seems like eating well is part of the culture and I regularly see plenty of people who surely need to be saving blow big bucks on good food, but I don’t totally get the humor in it.

    I see splitting meals as a great way to be able to treat ourselves to a nice filet mignon now and then. Admittedly, we did the exact same thing, and enjoyed Ruths Chris for under $60 on our last anniversary. Because sometimes even us frugal people want to treat ourselves!

  17. Alexa – Nothing wrong with splitting meals, but it’s the context. Try from this point of view: Imagine going up to a Ferrari owner and saying “you know, you should be sure to accelerate really slowly in that thing to save on gas mileage”.

  18. Nice example. Those Ferrari’s, the payments and insurance are nothing, its the gas that gets ya.

    I noticed there is some parallel between this post and the John McCain “i dont know how many houses I own” and “we are rich because we make $5 million a year” bits of wisdom. not trying to go political, but i love a system where the only people who can afford to run for office are so rich they dont even know how many houses they own.

    We owned 8 houses, but it was expensive, so we now only own six. We make over $5 million a year, so we are rich.

  19. thanks for pointing out these ridiculous “non-advice” articles that are now everywhere.
    this is like the one I read the other day that claimed former Saks shoppers are now buying clothes at Walmart. Yeah right.
    my attitude is if your a going to Ruth’s Chris for a celebration then just splurge. you have the rest of the year to be frugal. I’d rather stay home and cook than do a half-hearted attempt at eating out.

  20. Someone who spends $200 on a meal, doesn’t really have to worry about rising food prices…

    In fact that person is either retarded, or wealthy, inflation is not really their main concern…

  21. auntie_green says

    ok, here is an alternate view. I do totally agree that this a stupid argument to save money. But I work from home. My husband goes to an office. My husband and I eat at home generally 5 -6 nights per week . If it were up to my husband, we would very rarely go out to eat, he thinks its a waste of money. But I just like to get out of the house. I don’t need to go to the movies- most are junk. Just take me out to a restaurant once a week. Doesn’t have to be expensive, but sometimes it is. 3 weeks out of 4, its Islands or something like that. Then maybe once a month, its Houstons. Special occasion, its Ruth’s Chris. So….

    I just happen to like appetizers. There is no way I can eat an 8 ounce steak! So my husband orders a steak, I order my 2 or 3 sides that I like, and we both pick off each others plates. The goal isn’t necessarily to save money. But it would be a total waste for me to order my own steak, I just can’t eat it all. So why waste…..

    Maybe that is a way to help move us towards being millionaires, not wasting and not trrying to impress. But not totally stuffing the fun out of our lives either.

  22. How stupid!! I would have to walk out if I saw those prices on the menu….rather yet, I’d never go there….McD’s it is!

  23. Haha 🙂 It’s like a person who’s trying to lose weight and in addition to the Big Mac and large fries he orders a *diet* Coke…

  24. Joshua Katt says

    @ hejustlaughs Says

    Like this idea! Might be worth getting a job at one of those full service, lowest price, family of immigrant run stations for a few hours to pull this off.

    With a $10,000 Amex credit line refueling 200 cars at $50 a pop (cash payers tend not to fill up fully) averaging 2 cars every 5 minutes, you could squeeze out a $500 rebate, plus pay, in a very intense 8 hour shift.

    I wonder how AMEX would react? They have a 75 gallon at one time limit, presumably to stop commercial trucks and other operations from participating. I’m sure such high volume of activity would trigger fraud alerts and shut down the card…

    Oh to dream !!

  25. Chris from Detroit says

    How many people were eating this meal though?

  26. $89! Wow, that’s a steal compared to the cheap eats those traders get for 500-something in American Psycho.
    For $89 I better be getting a great appetizer, soup or salad, excellent steak, and an exquisite bottle of wine.

  27. @ Joshua Katt – Really? AmEx imposes a 75 gallon limit at one time on their cards? How exactly would they know when you have reached 75 gallons?

    Maybe you meant $75. I know a Wawa in my area cuts you off after $75. But all you have to do is reset the pump and reswipe your card and you can continue fueling.

    I like the cash back idea. With a $30,000 AmEx Blue Cash that pays 5% on gas I could make some real money! Of course, not that many people pay cash for gas anymore, so it might be hard to find “clients”.

  28. Joshua Katt says

    @ CommRE

    Searched AMEX site but couldn’t find reference to the 75 GALLON limit. Definitely got a mailing on it somehow or on a statement. Don’t know how enforced though.

    Also saw a reduction down to 3% on the gas using the Simply Cash card although it appears current card holders are exempt for a year. I’m sure this is just the start of reductions and yearly limits. Also, gas station thieves are starting to add 10 cents a gallon for credit after many years of absence.

    I understand the $75 (was $50) gas limit. I guess older pumps that don’t authorize in real time use these maximums to limit their exposure. Before the advent of quick swiping, Mastercard / Visa had limits of $25/$50 where they didn’t even want you to call and verify authorization, a cost-benefit-time decision where they would eat any small fraud. At 2.9%+ for processing, they aren’t going broke anytime soon.

  29. I don’t know if the Simply Cash card is similar to the Blue Cash, but I haven’t seen anything about them cutting the gas to 3% from 5%. Better not – that is one of the main reasons I got the card! Thanks for the heads up though – I’ll keep an eye on it.

    The current terms of Blue Cash are .5% on all purchases and 1% on gas, groceries and drugstore for the first $6,000 of charges. After that it goes to 1.5% on everything and 5% on gas, groceries and drugstore with no maximum cash back limit.

  30. I remember seeing that article. Even planned to write about it, then I seen it wasn’t really targeted to most of my readers, so I never even finished reading the article.

  31. I think you could get very few people at a gas station to give you cash. Most people don’t pay with cash anymore, and even those that do would would think it is some type of scam. Also, don’t the credit card companies charge a fee to the gas station? So the last thing the gas station wants is for all of its sales to be on a card, they would kick you out pretty quick.

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