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i'm ready for my close up mr demille
Location: Indianapolis

It has becoming more and more clear to me of late just how much of a tightwad I am. On some levels, I have no problem spending money, usually for the frivolous things in life, like picking up the tab for dinner with friends; things which I have nothing to show for except being a nice guy. When it comes to luxury items, I hem and haw over the price and spend an hour looking at in the store trying to convince myself that I really need it.

But it's the little ways in which I'm a cheapskate that amuses me the most I think. Somewhere along the way I developed this notion that to waste not is to want not, which in theory is good practice, but when does it become obsessive? Here are some examples:

A bar of soap costs, like, a dollar. Maybe two dollars if you're the fancy type. I use a bar of soap until it breaks into, at which point I stick the two together to make this double-decker blob to whisk back and forth across my wash cloth. It becomes so tiny that I lose grip of it and it falls to the bathtub floor, which I dutifully pick up and continue using. I'm not satisfied until that sliver of soap can no longer be handled and can wash away down the bathtub drain cover. On the subject of toiletries: I use a razor blade until you couldn't cut soft butter with it. I take immense care to portion out the appropriate amount of shampoo for my hair and shaving cream for my face. And, should you ever allow me to shower at your crib, please know I will be using your toiletries instead of my own. I do this all the time at my parents, even though my travel bag has everything I need in it sitting right there in the floor.

I always buy things like food in bulk whenever possible, even when it's size isn't practical. Living in a truck, the size of everything becomes essential, yet I can't bring myself to by a small jar of mayonnaise, or the small pack of individually wrapped cheese singles. The little unit pricing stickers in the grocery store basically let's you know that, if you buy the smaller sizes, you're an idiot because you're paying an extra $0.0175 per unit. So I get the big jar and the 24 pack instead of the small jar and the 8 pack. It's the same with potato chips. I buy the bag of potato chips that's as big as your torso, knowing full well that i'll eat a third of it then it will sit for two months before I venture into the bag again.

I'm obsessive about change. A lot of people always pay with bills and either toss the change into the take-a-penny cups or horde them away at home then bank them for a big payday at a later date. I never leave change lying around. It's always in my pocket. Whenever I have it, I make correct change when buying things. One thing's for sure, I'm definitely ahead on that take-a-penny racket; I always take and never leave it.

Another man's trash...
Until I sold most of my possessions to start trucking, I owned exactly 4 pieces of furniture, one of which I purchased new, my bed. My desk was rescued from the garage that came with the house I was renting; the dresser and kitchen table were salvaged from a dumpster at my ex-girlfriend's old apartment complex. Oh, I forgot, I had a multi-media cabinet and a stereo cabinet that I found on the curb one night while delivering pizzas.

If it ain't broke...
My computer monitor is a 15" Packard Bell monitor that came with the very first PC I bought - in 1992. The last four cars I owned were given to me, a motley assortment of rusted out clunkers that I knew I could get a couple more thousand miles out of before they died completely. The last car I actually bought was a Geo Metro that I paid $600 for. Basic clothing I wear until they are literally falling off of me. When I buy a pair of shoes, I treat it like an investment that is going to last me for the next 5 years so I better be damn well happy with them.

Reusing things
And it's not because I'm some PC green tree hugger either. I resue the plastic spoons and forks I carry with me in the truck indefinitely until they break or I used them in something really sticky like pack cheese or peanut butter which is just really hard to completely lick off. Bags of plastic cutlery are, what, $0.98 for a bag of 12? I use plastic gorcery bags as garbage bags in my truck. I keep a little notepad for jotting down notes and directions in the course of my work, which, I'm not saitsfied that I can go on to a new page until every single millimeter of white space is covered in ink on the previous. Anytime I acquire a wire, or a computer part, I horde it in boxes back home. I have god Kows how many AC/DC adapters, coaxial cable, floppy drives (some 5.25"), audio/video cable, patch cords, because, well, you never know when that next wiring/electrical emergency may occur and I will have the last laugh on those twits at Radio Shack.

So, what I wanna know is, anyone else out there like this, or is it just me?

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A lot of this rings true. The bit about soap, for instance. When I actually need more soap, I'll stand in the bar soap aisle of Target or whatever for about fifteen minutes. Of course, there is only one brand / scent of soap I can actually abide, so what I'm doing is comparing the price of 8 bars of my brand / scent vs. 16 or something like that.

I'm cheap about really weird things in general-- if it's for pleasure, I'll spend like hell (or fight the urge to do so), while any household need is such a colossal pain that I'll buy the butt-cheapest option available-- if I buy it at all. I'll put off buying sponges, for instance, because it seems like such a waste of money, but I think nothing of dropping three times the cash for a twelve pack of Diet Pepsi. That's just ridiculous.

After years of replacing gadgets because one tiny thing got my goat about the one I already had, I'm increasingly turning into an ain't-broke-don't-fix sort too. But I can't imagine making it 12 years on one monitor, let alone one made in 1991-2. I blame early 90s resolutions and refresh rates for the fact that I need glasses at all. I squeezed almost five years out of that "fancy" 17" Sony monitor (that set me back 7 bills in 1996 or 7 or whenever), but it was pretty much dying for the last two-odd years of that.

wait. you live out of a truck?

haha, yeah i sold everything i own and got a CDL... drive an 18 wheeler...

me, a cat, tons of mp3's and the open road :)

you know, ive thought about that.
is it a good life? you haul shit, right?
i.e. you make money truckin?

it's a good life if you don't mind the being away from home and solitude, which doesn't affect me in the least.... i think it's a good life... pretty easy work, lots of travel and new experiences... i've get time on my hands to site-see when i go places usually....

yeah i haul stuff... i'm on account that hauls cabinets... dedicated account, home most every weekend unless i ask to stay on the road... weekly pay guarantee but i usually beat it anyway... the pay is decent... i grossed over 40k my first year, which is more than i ever made managing restaurants and it's a helluva lots easier and less stressful ;-)

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and there's always enough mayonnaise in the bottom of the jar for ONE MORE SANDWICH

And, should you ever allow me to shower at your crib, please know I will be using your toiletries instead of my own.

I found this totally hilarious. Me and my sister do this all the time at each other's places, also at my parents.

I'm like this with stuff like laundry detergent, bleach, and dish detergent. You can always make more by adding a little bit of water and shaking the bottle up. I think this has to do with my total lack of desire to do any type of homebody stuff, including shopping for such items, rather then being a cheapskate. So if I buy these items once a year, they damn well better last the whole year. And of course I wash out margarine tubs or gallon jugs or what have you to use as tupperware if need be. I, like you, also will re-use shopping bags as garbage bags, and if that's not bad enough, also as a sort of ghetto-ized saran wrap.

Regarding shoes and clothes, however... I will buy stuff with absolutely no intention of ever wearing it, I will buy $150.00 shoes to wear out to dinner once, and I won't wear something "out" where there will be people who might have seen me wearing it before.

Make-up and/or toiletries: I could fully justify taking a second job just to pay for all of these type of things that I buy.

I suppose I fall on the extreme on both sides, which kind of balances itself out, doesn't it?

heh, i do that water trick with shampoo to get every last little bit of soap outta the bottle and onto my hair when it's near empty...

you are buying silverware?

I used to go into pilots that had a wendy's.. I'd order a potato or something that came in a bag.. walked over to the counter and loaded up with spoons and forks. I was set for a month :)

I parked my truck at Sams alot. I'd go in, buy a 500 pack of bowls and paper plates.. I even bought a box of those little bags from convenience stores for garbage bags (1000 for $9). I installed a hook behind the passenger seat that held it nicely :) I still buy bulk cereal in huge bags, then use the cheep bowls from Sams.. and yeah, I'd use the same spoon afew times ;)

God.. I remember stretching that buck on the road.. I'd grab Mayonaise and stuff from truckstops.. I went to dollar general's alot for their excelent chicken salad and cracker lunch pack for $1. I'd take the free soap they gave ya for showers at truck stop so I never had to buy any.. hrm.. shampoo, yeah.. the water in the bottle near the bottom trick.

Do you have a sams membership? if not, you need to get one dear. Picking up cases of 32 20oz bottles of water for $3 is the only way to live.

Re: you are buying silverware?

heh, i just hang the garbage bag on the little handle that reclines the seat on the passenger seast... i never thought about bogarting the cutlery from the fast food places... this could also be due to my years in that industry... i know how those GM's fret over their costs, i know i used too....

yeah i use the free soap from the truckstops, too... i was thinking more of when i used to actually live somewhere how i was with the soap.... :) i even have a bonus bar from some truckstop that accidentally gave me TWO, in case, you know, i have a soap emergency

i have a sam's club card but i have this general aversion to the Walton empire... i have this thing about grocery stores anyway... i really like them, i can spend hours wandering around them like most people would in, um, Wal-Mart... plus, there's a particular grocery store chain that i patronize because i like them and they're the only place i've found that carries my favorite potato chip :)

I'm oddly cheap about some things, too. I spent a good half hour at Wal-Mart the other day trying to find a deoderant I really liked that was as cheap as possible. I could have bought the kind I really like for just a $1.50 or so more than the one I eventually did buy, but for some reason that just seemed like tooo much.

I haven't bought a new pair of shoes in so long (about four years or so I think). The sneakers I'm wearing now and my last pair were both given to me. I wear a pair of sneakers until they fall apart.

But on some things, I splurge almost always. For instance, even though it's much cheaper to buy a 2-liter of soda, I always get a six-pack of the 20 ounce bottles. This is more for convenience than anything though... The individual sized bottles mean I don't have to dirty a cup, and since they're re-sealable, they're more economical than cans.

i'm funny about soda... i'm a can person because the soda tends to be have more bite because it retains it carbonation better in the sealed can, plus a 12 oz can is, like, the perfect size drink for me... so it's never an issue of waste... 20oz is a tad much and 2-liters, while more economical, the soda goes more and more flat with each opening/resealing

I've never seen the point of throwing out anything useful, not saying I'm a pack rat but keeping the stuff that does serve a function (even better if it does two or more jobs.) and using the free whenever available, I've saved muy pesos.... it's not cheap, it's smart.

Fellow tightwad,

St. I.

my thoughts exactly... some people turn up their nose at the thought of a difference of pennies... but pennies, nickels and dimes, when saved and pinched over a lifetime is more money in your pockets for a nice meal or a new gadget... :)

it's not just you, there are lots of cheap old bastards. ;)

I totally hear you on this topic. My husband and I go to Costco to buy in bulk, although there are only 2 of us. Most of the people there have about 3 kids in tow, at least. Our house is filled with huge amounts of TP, Tide, PB, dish detergent, etc. Being in school for a long time made made me cheap, I think. I adore stores (Big Lots, Rose's) that many of my coworkers wouldn't be caught dead in. I buy most of my clothes at Target or Old Navy (and I would probably live in old Levi's and T-shirts if I didn't have to dress up for work). Its not that I wouldn't like to buy more expensive stuff, ther are just other things I'd rather spend money on. We save plastic silverware, too, and sometimes we run ziplocks through the dishwasher. My husband finally made my throw away the huge pile on ketchup packets in the fridge.

When I was in college, my roommate and I would swipe TP from the classroom buildings for our apartment. We were such thieves.

i saw this guy on tv once that saved ketchup and mustard packets then painstakingly open each one and squeeze out the contents into his own ketchup and msutard bottles at home...

at least i ahven't gotten that bad.... yet ;-)

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