Wednesday, November 02, 2011

cheapness is as cheapness does

This is possibly not for male readers.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Today's topic is "Silly things I've done to save money." 

Cheapness runs in my family.  I get it from both sides.  My dad's family was at times dirt poor.  And even though my mom came from an upper middle class family, her mom was more of the Queen Elizabeth school of liberty prints and low-heeled shoes than any kind of chasing after fashion.  Spending lots of money on clothes or hair or makeup or .... well, anything is frowned upon in my gene pool.  My sisters and I still crow to each other over bargains found.  Amy called me over the weekend to let me know that Sherwin Williams is having a big sale this week (because ohmygosh do we have lots of painting in our future). 

So I sometimes go to questionable extremes to save money.  Some examples:

- Drive half a mile to a gas station where gas is 3 cents per gallon cheaper.  Total savings on my 20-gallon tank:  sixty cents.

- I could write an entire post on cheap travel.  We stayed in hostels in Europe this summer, and that was actually great-- a bit noisy, but clean and friendly and plenty of space.  but this is about silly things, not smart things. things that may not quite be worth the effort.   So here's a story:  when I was 5 months pregnant with Nell, Dean and I went on our first-ever trip to NYC.  This was in 1989, and we were not long out of graduate school.  We had no money-- our idea of a big night out was to walk down the street and get ice cream.  Hotel rooms in NYC, even the cheap ones, were upwards of $100/night.  So I made reservations for us to stay at the YMCA. Not kidding.  Don't do it.  it was $78/night, which we still thought was expensive.  It was....interesting.  creaking metal bunk beds, crumbling cinder block walls....  I'd say it wasn't worth it, but we probably wouldn't have been able to go otherwise, so maybe it was. 

- I'll lump a bunch of things under the category "the things I do to get the last little bit out of bottles of personal care products."  I swipe wooden stir sticks from Starbucks to scoop the last bit out of small bottles with pump dispensers.  Sometimes I can get an extra two weeks out of a bottle of moisturizer.  I keep a pair of scissors by the shower to cut open my 12 oz tubes of conditioner.  There's often 2-3 days worth of product left in the bottom that you can't squeeze out.  I was thrilled one day at Home Depot to find that there are plastic syringes with long, skinny "noses" in the wallpaper supplies section.  You can use them to refill travel size bottles of lotion.  It takes half an hour, and probably saves about $1.  But I do it.  Obsessively.  Often at 2 a.m. the night before we're going on a trip.

- This summer, I only had two pairs of capris and one pair of shorts that fit.  So one night Dean and I were at Target, and I was wearing one of the pairs of capris, which are dark blue denim.  He said, "There's something white on your butt," and I discovered that the "something white" was actually my panties showing through a small hole. I was ticked off.  My favorite jeans capris.  New clothes were not in the budget this summer after all our travels.  And I don't sew.  So I bought a pair of navy blue panties for $3.99.  Problem solved.  sort of.

I'm sure there are more.  I'll think of them later.  Feel free to chime in with your own examples!


  1. You are my kind of woman.

  2. Dan is like this, so are the girls. J.D. and I must of been wasteful royalty in former lives, we spend money we don't have. Just because. We are the opposite of cheap, and yet we all grew up the same way, just this side of homeless in our poverty-ridden state.

    I think the underwear solution wouldn't be considered cheap though, just thougtful and problem solving.

  3. "... must HAVE been ..." (Jeez!)

  4. well, the underwear was cheap compared to buying a new pair of capris, anyway. :-)

  5. Still laughing about the underwear. :) I'd say I'm more practical than cheap. By which I mean, I love to save money (freecycle, anyone?), but I weigh every ounce of the decision. Cheaper gas across town? How much will it cost me to drive there? This dishwasher will cost me less than that one, but how much longer will the more expensive one typically last. You know, that type of thing. I'm surprisingly wasteful when it comes to personal toiletries, though. I don't know why that is.