Thursday, December 20, 2012
A month or so ago, a friend blessed me with my very own copy of "The Complete Tightwad Gazette." I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate this book. If you or someone you know is struggling to make ends meet, see if your library carries a copy or purchase a used version of it. (I should probably write a complete review on it, but time doesn't permit right now.)
(I should also probably refrain from using so many parenthetical statements, but I don't see that happening, either.)
All side-tracked parenthetical thoughts aside, I started thinking about the things we've tried as a family to cut back on expenses. Some are pretty silly and I thought a few of you might enjoy reading through a compilation. (However, please don't assume that we've mastered the tightwad lifestyle or that we never waste a penny; our financial fiascos are many and we have a long way to go toward learning to be better stewards of our resources, financial and otherwise.)
You might be a fledgling tightwad if...
...your Christmas cards, if you even send any, end up being New Year's cards because you were holding out for a free photo card deal that never materialized.
...you figure out how to make your food processor function after the safety valve snaps off the lid by holding the valve in place when you want to run the machine. (The valve then gets stuck in its intended slot and the machine keeps running even when you remove the lid, thus allowing all contents to be showered all over your kitchen counter. It then dawns on you why the thing was not supposed to run without the lid firmly in place, and you realize it's probably time to break down and purchase a replacement for safety reasons, if not for a cleaner kitchen.)
...you feel a sense of patriotic duty when you have to replace an old, broken toilet with a new, low-flow model that promises to save gallons of water, thus reducing your water bill while protecting the environment. (You then discover that it takes 4 flushes to actually get the thing to function the way the old-school-style toilet did, thus negating any possible water bill slashing and actually increasing your monthly costs.)
...you are blessed with a gift of Swiffer Dusters, and to extend the life of such a novel present, you throw the duster heads in the wash and reuse them time and again rather than throwing them away.
...you hook up your computer to your television so that you avoid "needing" any sort of Netflix, Cable, or Uverse subscription. (You almost enjoy the horrified look on some people's faces when you explain that, without the computer input, you'd have no TV reception or DVD-playing ability whatsoever.)
...you use a paperclip or segment of yarn (or both simultaneously) to repair a broken toilet flapper chain.
...you get miffed when the other toilet flapper chain also breaks and isn't repairable by the above-mentioned methods.
...you then resort to sticking your hand in the back tank of icy, slimy (though clean) water and lift the broken flapper manually so that you don't have to purchase a new one immediately.
...your sweet husband salvages the hard drive from an expensive-but-totally-dead computer and three years later finds a use for it, possibly saving over $100 in the process since purchasing a new one would have cost at least that much. (And to think I would have tossed the thing on multiple occasions had he not prevented me!)
...you can quickly mentally calculate the true price of gas at Arco when including the $0.35 Debit Card fee as disbursed over the amount of gallons you need to purchase, thus deciding whether or not it is truly cheaper to go to Arco versus the other two options on the opposing street corners. (You usually forget to bring cash with you so that you can avoid the debit card fee all together. Note to self: you might want to work on that.)
...you survive a mild winter without fixing the broken furnace and instead rely on a space heater only in dire temperatures and multiple pairs of socks and sweaters. (We only did this twice: the first year we were married when the landlord didn't want to pay for repairs, and the year before Lauren arrived when our current furnace died. It wasn't worth repeating the following year; we opted to pay for the replacement part and then for the cost of running the heater and have been much toastier ever since.)
...you decide not to take your customary family drive to Half Moon Bay because gas prices are through the roof and, as much as you enjoy visiting, it's just not worth the cost. (But rest assured you go the very next time prices drop to a reasonable level.)
...you get a thrill from combining free shipping rates, sales, gift cards, and coupon codes to obtain an item for free or nearly free. (Swagbucks really does pay off!)
...you've never used a brand-new baby crib, even though you've had four of them. (You never feel slighted, however, since two of the four were extremely high-end cribs that would have each lasted through all four kids had you not had children so close together in age that you needed more than one at a time and had you not prematurely given away all of the baby stuff and needed yet another one.)
And, of course, you may NOT be a full-fledged tightwad if...
...you opt to purchase the 8-seater SUV instead of the 5-seater SUV. (The following year, you find out that Baby number 4 is on the way and that had you purchased the smaller vehicle, you'd now be searching for the bigger one, thus proving that it actually was a tightwad move in the long run).
...you cannot bring yourself to take icy showers to save on your heating bill.
...you invest in a high end blender that you've lived without for the previous eight years of marriage. (You use it enough and it brings enough satisfaction in its multiple capabilities that it was worth the investment, and of course you searched for several months prior to purchasing to get the best deal.)
...for safety reasons, you opt to purchase high-end, brand-new car seats for each of the kids. (There are certain things for which it is perfectly reasonable to spend more than the very cheapest version allows, as was proved by two car accidents and the unharmed Spark Plugs who emerged from each smooshed vehicle.)
...you pay a higher fee for faster internet.
...you enjoy takeout meals every couple of weeks.
...you have a growing affinity for Starbucks' Peppermint Mochas.
...you indulge in an occasional fountain Pepsi, despite the frivolity and health deterrents of it.
While we are definitely not true tightwads (using that term to mean someone who attempts to save as much of his paycheck as possible, not someone who withholds unduly from another), it's fun to see if we can come up with a creative alternative to certain situations.
What are your best-loved tightwad attempts?