I’ve been a penny pincher all of my adult life. Even in times of plenty I’m using coupons and comparing prices. I make every attempt to get the most bang for my buck. Is that so wrong? I consider it all part of my charm. Although it sometimes drives my husband crazy, he does have to admit that, in the end, my tightwad ways do have their benefits. Such as:
- We can afford for me to work from home.
- We are not wasteful consumers so it is a way for us to contribute to green living.
- We have managed to maintain an emergency fund because no one knows what tomorrow may bring.
- We may actually be able to retire before we’re eighty.
- When we want to splurge on luxury we can afford to and don’t have to feel guilty.
- We are not enslaved by the compulsion to have certain things.
For me, this has just been a part of my own identity. My grandfather survived the Great Depression and the privations of World War II. He was an extremely frugal man. However, he and my grandmother lived well so I never thought about his lifestyle as frugal. I always considered him a thoughtful man who tended and cared for things so that they never broke or needed replacing. I thought he was a hobby gardener who enjoyed tilling the earth and eating its bounty.
My father was a miser for different reasons. He wanted to amass wealth and he considered never spending a dime as one more strategy to achieve his goal. I never entertained the thought of owning a $200 pair of designer jeans because I knew he would never buy them. I became conditioned to accept the cheapest alternative to meet my need. Anything else was just silly waste.
My husband, however, came into the relationship with a completely different frame of mind. Slowly, we transformed one another. This was not an overnight thing of blissful love and acceptance of the differences of one another. Oh, no, we kicked and screamed and argued and pouted and threatened until, eventually, we either exhausted one another or grew wiser. I’m not sure which is the case.
Either way, we have evolved as a couple to respect one another’s point of view. We can now argue our respective cases for either the cheapest smartphone or the most expensive. We usually settle for something in between. That way I can feel satisfied on a penny saved and he can feel good about rewarding himself after working so hard. The great thing about compromise is that everybody wins.
However, when we have gone through difficult financial struggles, my husband’s appreciation for my low-maintenance ways endears me to him enormously. Here are a few skills I have perfected over the years that often have him standing in awe of frugality:
- I garden. I plant real, functional gardens, not just pretty flowers. I grow my own herbs. I have a tea garden. I grow some vegetables according to the season, the kind which we actually eat. Not those silly, useless, but very bright and cute, ornamental chili pepper things. But real veggies like tomatoes, carrots, green beans, cabbage, bell peppers, black eyed peas, and onions. It’s not hard with the right kind of containers on a sunny patio.
- I fix stuff and make stuff. My husband wears through a pair of jeans like an old woman goes through a box of tissues. He throws them out and I dig them out of the trash. I cut them up and make quilts out of all of our old clothes that are stained or too worn to give away. Our table leg broke and the hubby was all ready to go out and buy a new dinette. I fixed it. The repair cost me about $5 in supplies. Otherwise we would have spent a couple of hundred, at least, on even a cheap, brand new dinette.
- I sew. Like I said, I make quilts out of old clothes. I also put on lost buttons and sew up the holes in the toes of his socks. However, if he would trim his Neanderthal toenails more often, those holes may not appear in the first place.
There are all sorts of things that I do that save us money that I take totally for granted, don’t even notice, so can’t even mention. However, anyone can do it. You can even become a convert at a late age. It gives me a sense of freedom. If the apocalypse happens, I think I’m one of those people who will survive the aftermath simply because I am frugal.