Monday, August 25, 2014

Cheapskate Thunk: Are you Cheap? Thrifty? or Frugal?

Just as there are many different religions in the world, there are also many ways to be a cheapskate. I have written online and shared my frugal ideas for a number of years in a few different places. I have gotten some interesting feedback, mostly positive, but there are a few who just do not like the idea that some people are frugal. These people push back and want you to quit saving money and join them (I guess) in frivolous waste.

So, I thought I would share some of my philosophy behind Cheapskate Thunk (See my previous blog, Turn Your Think into a Thunk).

Why am I a cheapskate? What is it exactly that makes me and others like me tick? Why are we always trying to squeeze a penny until it screams? I dunno. That's the short answer. But maybe there is more to it than that.

First of all, I think you need to be born with the frugal gene. This is the gene that, no matter your nature or nurture, no matter your upbringing or environment, your insides scream "Conserve that dollar!" That can't be changed or created. Either you have it or you don't. Some people are born with a spending gene that they have to reign in. But cheapskates also have to reign in their frugal genes or they end up alienating everyone around them. You can be too cheap. I have crossed that line a few times, against my best efforts. Regardless of this, however, a saver will never be a spender and vise-versa, but a saver can be more like a spender and a spender more like a saver.

To my way of thinking it is not okay to be obnoxious while you are saving boatloads of money. Well, it's never good to be obnoxious, however, it is especially not good to be obnoxious when you are saving a boatload of money. If you are in line at the grocery store and you have a pile of coupons and you are creating more work for the cashier and taking the time of the person behind you, you need to be especially nice. I think sometimes this obnoxiousness in some cheapskates may be created by guilt. Maybe guilt from significant others who have spending genes and give you a hard time for using coupons. Or maybe because you are getting a better deal than the next person and you have a false sense of co-dependent guilt. Regardless, be nice. It gives all cheapskates a bad name.

I think everyone should be a deal finder. However, I am glad they are not because then there are more deals for me. It's a simple case of cause and effect. For example, people buy expensive clothes and then give them to thrift stores sometimes without wearing them one time. I like this. This is good for me. I like nice clothes. However, I like nice clothes that someone else pays for and then gives them to a thrift store and then I get to wear what they paid for. This makes me feel really good. My Mom worked with someone once who said she can't even buy clothes on sale or she doesn't feel good in them. I think that's sad. I would always try and help someone like this become more like me because obviously, being born with frugal genes, I think it is better. But without people like her, it would be hard to buy clothes in a thrift store, now wouldn't it?

Some people think cheapskates are maybe mooching off of other people's hard work and not contributing to (our debt based) economy. I don't see it that way at all. There are so many reasons to be frugal. First of all, us frugal people work for what we get. We work for it with our minds, by being smart, by finding deals. We conserve natural resources by using and reusing. We recycle, we keep things sustainable, we usually use as little welfare as possible because there is a philosophy behind frugality that says that people should be smart and make their own way, work hard and not abuse any system. I hate to say it and at some risk I will say our society, in my opinion, is not only incredibly wasteful, but very entitled. People often don't know how to make a dollar stretch so when they get into a bind they want others to help them first thing instead of thinking about how they could make things work themselves. There is an incredible satisfaction in making your own way, in conserving, in making do, in having integrity, in standing on your own two feet. That's not to say that some people don't need legitimate help sometimes, but sometimes rather than giving people a fish, they just need to be taught how to fish. Sadly, maybe people want you to do the fishing for them and they want the government to do it too.

In America today, 47 million Americans are on food stamps. People say the economy has rebounded. Oh? We have bread lines now, only they are in a different form.

All of us, liberal and conservative views alike know things are not good or where they should be with unemployment where it is and food stamp usage where it is. I think where we may disagree a bit is on what the solutions are. Without getting too political here, because some people do legitimately need help ( and I think no one would deny that), I think what is different between now and the Great Depression era is the thought process of people. People want to be bailed out. They look at how the government bailed the banks out and want the government to bail all us out too. In a perfect world maybe that would be nice. But the world is not perfect and no one but the big guys are getting bailed out. Besides that, our grandparents had a work ethic and a certain sense of good pride that didn't ask for bailouts. They did what needed to be done for themselves and their children and America was strong. This doesn't mean that crooked people should not be held accountable. It just means that logically, we can't bail everyone out with a pretend money-tree.

So, back to basics, hard work, ethics, frugality and common sense. All with a smile :) Enjoy the day.

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