I’ve been cheap for as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories was a struggle with frugality.
I was five years old and had a crisp $5 bill in my dad’s pocket. Burning a whole in mine. He walked with me down the aisles of our local Hart’s department store (dating myself here!) to pick out what I wanted. It was a happy birthday for me.
I was so excited to spend money. I felt so rich. I was about two shelves high, so I had to crane my neck to really see what I was interested in.
My Little Ponies.
I found a beautiful one within reach. Long flowing mane and tail with a brush. I would make her hair beautiful. It was my mission. I grabbed it and declared my future ownership of said pony: “I WANT IT!” My dad eyed it pensively and informed me that if I wanted that one it would take all of my money. “All of my FIVE dollars?” He nodded slowly.
I know now that it had to have cost more than $5…
I put it back on the shelf. I left that day with five different things, each only $1 each. I was thrilled to have a big bag of goodies instead of just one small thing. That is, until I got home and realized the toy makeup set was entirely plastic and not real makeup. Then I just felt gypped.
My first exercise in frugality wasn’t what I’d call successful. Or maybe it was in the long run. It did lay the ground work for who I’ve become. I was cheap. I’m still cheap. I’ve always been cheap. I love being able to get more for my dollar. The difference is that now I make informed decisions. I can use coupons or sales or patience and ingenuity to get things. Good things. I don’t have plastic makeup or knock offs of the things that we need or want. But in the same breath I don’t have a room devoted to a stock pile of things we don’t need. We have what we need and some extras.
In my frugal journeys, I’ve been confronted with a bit of a stigma. Mostly on words. Specifically the word “cheap.” For some reason beyond my understanding being cheap is deemed as a negative. I just don’t get it.
I looked it up in the dictionary, because while I assumed I knew the meaning of the word, I really wanted to find some underlying hint. Like how I do when I Bible Study. You know, go back to the Hebrew and see what the real meaning of the word is. Well, here’s what I found:
Definition of CHEAP
— on the cheap
: at minimum expense : cheaply did the job on the cheap
Yeah, that’s it. I still don’t see anything negative. I only see positives here.
What’s so wrong with being cheap?
It’s like people would rather be known as being any other word. Frugal, bargain hunter, penny pincher, economical, budget, or deal seeking. What’s the point? Why the negative connotation of the word?
I personally don’t see anything negative about me being cheap and saving money. My husband doesn’t, for sure. Especially when I grocery shop or get us free movie tickets 😉 Maybe it’s not about other’s perception that cheap is bad. Maybe their views are founded in jealousy and bitterness. Because, well, to be quite honest, they pay for things I get for free. Or cheap, lol! I guess that could leave a sour taste in the mouth.
But that’s me. I am Jenn. I am cheap. I’m a frugal, bargain hunting, penny pinching, deal seeking kinda girl. And that’s fine. There’s nothing negative or wrong about it. I don’t have a room devoted to a stock pile, just a few shelves in the basement. My household doesn’t go without. I just wait to get the deals, and then a few extras. I don’t bend or break rules or clear shelves. I don’t buy coupons or any of that extreme kinda thing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that either) No matter what season in life I may be in, I will be cheap. It’s ingrained in me.
My dad is cheap too. I think that’s where I get it from. I remember when we were younger and it was his turn to cook dinner, he would come up with random cheap creations. One of which is a comfort food of mine these days. I call it Dad’s Skillet Dinner. He would slice up potatoes and fry them in a skillet. Then add sliced polish sausage till cooked through and then scramble in some eggs. My mouth is watering now, just thinking about it. Some other meals my dad would make were toasted cheese and tomato soup, fried bologna and mac’n’cheese, chili spaghetti and potato pancakes. Cheap meals that would help stretch the grocery budget and appeal to us hungry kiddos. I never knew he was being cheap or frugal. Now as an adult, I see how cheap my favorite childhood meals were and I appreciate my parent’s ingenuity. It taught me something I couldn’t learn in school
Cheap is not synonymous with bad. No. Paying retail or *gasp* more than retail is bad. Naughty, naughty! Not this girl here. I’m doing good. So get that stigma out of your head 😉 Being cheap is a good thing!
Any of you who are already cheap, welcome to the club!