Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Confession


My name is Jennifer.

I'm 34 years old.

And I'm a cheapskate.

(HAHA - I almost wrote "I'm cheap"...but  I didn't want y'all to get the wrong idea!)

Some of you may call this being frugral...some may call it "making your money go farther"...some may even call it "being resourceful".  Maybe it is all those things...but I think I may have crossed the line into just being downright cheap.

There are many people in my life that I can probably blame this on.  My boss is very high on that list.  He's taught me the value of asking for a deal...the greatness of using a coupon that will get us a whole month's worth of office supplies for free...of using what you have.  True story - just yesterday I asked him to order me some business card holders...the ones you can put in a notebook.  I didn't ask for the notebook...or even the top of the line product.  Just the plain old Staples brand...the total cost was less than $4.  Yes - you read that correctly...$4.  And he turned me down...asked if I couldn't find another way to store the business cards I was collecting.  Which, on the flip side, I did...but really, $4?

But the person I most hold responsible for this way of thinking is my best friend, Ashley.  I love her.  Really I do.  She's one of the most fun people I know...she has a big, kind heart...but she's one of the cheapest people I know.  She's coupon crazy...she shops double coupons and gets a 1000% off of everything.  I'm amazed by her frugality.  I haven't crossed over to the coupon craziness...but I told her this morning I figured it was just a matter of time.

Let me give you a few examples of how Ashley operates...

Once we went shopping at an Outlet mall about an hour from here.  We were all excited because we went during the week...just boys...we were going to shop, shop, lunch...and shop some more.  One of the first stores we went into was Eddie Bauer.  I'm not a huge Eddie Bauer fan...but if it's on sale, I can be persuaded.  I found a couple of shirts that I liked...she found a shirt that she liked.  We wandered around the store a little longer and then made our way to the check out counter...only then did I notice that I was the only one making a purchase.  I asked her about the shirt and she said "I just decided I didn't want it".  I've honestly seen her carry an item around an entire store, only to eventually talk herself out of buying it. 

I now do this too.

Another example - Ashley called me one day and said "Do you know what I just did?"  She proceeded to tell me that she had found a Target giftcard and thought she had about $20 on it.  She decided to splurge and buy some "want" stuff using her giftcard.  Unfortunately, when she got to the counter, she found out that she did NOT have ANY money on the she put most of her splurges away. 

This in and of itself is not bad...but let me tell you what her "splurges" were:

Socks, Glade air freshners and Redken shampoo

I told her then that she had a problem.

Back to current times...

Yesterday one of my co-workers mentioned that when he went to pay his power bill, he noticed that he could get 15 fluorescent light bulbs free.  So, I checked my e-bill today to see if I could get the same deal and noticed at the bottom of the e-mail there was a place to order free lightbulbs.  So, I did!  I e-mailed Ashley to make sure she was aware of it (of course she'd already ordered & received hers) and I said, "Is it sad that I'm so excited about getting free lightbulbs?" 

And then it hit me just how "cheap" I've become...

 - For two months I did not buy any paper towels...not because I'm a big environmentalist...but because I thought it was ridiculous to pay $3 for 2 rolls of paper towels.  Especially because I have napkins...which are way cheaper...and I had bought some microfiber cloths for cleaning my mirrors.  I have washcloths and towels...why do I need to spend $1.50 per roll on something I'm just going to put in the garbage?

**I did finally break down and buy paper towels, in spite of my very valid arguments above.**

 - I talked myself out of buying a $2 box of tissue at Wal-Mart the last time I went to buy groceries...because I already buy toilet paper and that works just fine.

I'm sure there are other examples of my "cheapness" but these are the only two I can actually think of at this moment.

Maybe this attitude isn't such a bad thing...maybe it's just a "sign of the times" in a downturn economy...maybe I'm just more aware of my spending habits and this has forced me to be more frugal.

I'm all about frugality.  I use store brands more often than not.  There are a few things - like cereal, syrup, peanut butter, bread, laundry detergent - that must be a name brand.  But where I can get away with it, I shop store brand.

But is it really frugality when I decide to forego a $3 package of paper towels?

Just another interesting look into my mind...and how it works! :)


Rachel said...

I have been known to walk around with an outfit or item and then talk myself out of buying it before I leave the store. BUT I do splurge the $3 for paper towels (and I always buy name brand toilet paper- never trust the off brand kind!) ;)


BigSis said...

I am totally with you. I need my money! I make my kid eat generic everything! I also will march myself over to the service desk at the grocery if something rings up wrong or they forgot to scan a coupon - even if it is only 50 cents. If I got 50 a day, I'd have $182. Do you know how many paper towels $182 buys?

Brandi said...

I walk around the store holding something and then talk myself out of buying it ALL THE TIME. haha!

We also very rarely buy paper towels. We have those white kitchen towels (the ones that are used in restaurants)and we use those.

Hey, don't look at it as being cheap. Look at it as using your money wisely and spending it on stuff that you will enjoy much more than a bunch paper towels. ;)

Anonymous said...

your mom again ... do not say another word about my favorite dress that came from Dollar General and only cost $10. That dress lasted me several, several years!

Impulsive Addict said...

OH MY girl! Let's get you into therapy! I'm kidding...kind of....but you make some valid points. I tend to be the money saver of the family (the husband loves to spend) but I tend to NOT look at the price of things that I feel that we NEED. I also should use coupons but frankly I'm just too lazy. I'm sure I could save us hundreds of dollars a year if I would shop off brand.

shortmama said...

Im cheap too! I rarely buy or use paper towels...I have tons of dish towels that work just great and just have to be washed. I make my own cleaning products and even laundry detergent unless there is a super sale on it.

Cortney said...

There is a blog I follow and the lady posted what she spent in 2010 on here grocery items and the grand total for the WHOLE year was like $1500! She budgets $150 a MONTH for her family and I thought she must be one of those coupon hoarders. I like finding a deal, but that she must clearly be insane and unemployed to have enough time to clip and shop that much! I made a resolution to coupon clip, but I am making a new resolution to not become the cray coupon lady!