Thriftiness, Frugality, Stinginess, Close-Fistedness… Whatever you want to call it, the art of saving money is something I’ve grown up with.
When my dad enters the house, I do a mad rush to the living room to switch off the light AND the TV. At the switch, of course. We don’t muck around with the power-off button on the remote around here. Us thrifties know the old ‘standby’ mode still pinches pennies!
“It looks like Worth’s Circus in here!”, my dad proclaims when a mere lamp is seen glowing in the corner of the darkened house. “What have you got, shares in the electricity company?”
Quite often I surprise him with one of life’s greatest joys. I produce a couple of torn off envelope corners from the day’s mail, still with intact stamps. I see his eyes light up. Bingo! That’s $1.20 right there, baby! Any savvy person upon inspecting their mail will notice that occasionally the post office doesn’t mark the stamps. Ergo, they become a 60-cent gift from the sender. In fact, word on the street is that stamps have gone up to 70 cents a pop! All the more reason to save on postage.
I watch as my dad carefully boils the partially-filled kettle (a full kettle uses more power, don’t you know) and proceeds to steam the stamps from the paper they’re adhered to, his eyes glinting with delight. Success!
My dad has also found a cheap way to keep cockroaches out of the home. To his credit the method is more about not using chemicals than saving money, but I shall proceed for the purpose of humour.
He pours some beer into an old tin, then greases the lip of it with petroleum jelly. Apparently cockroaches love beer. It’s quite inhumane but suffice to say they all rush to the beer party and no one makes it home for dinner.
His homemade pest control was going quite smoothly until we noticed the cat acting all crazy stupid and vomiting in various places. It wasn’t until he kept asking who was tipping the beer out that we put two and two together. Drunk cat. True story.
Just in case anyone is interested, my dad has a sheet posted to the fridge which alerts everyone as to the cheapest and most expensive times of the day to utilise electricity. The washing machine and dishwasher DO NOT go on between the hours of 10am and 10pm. As for the clothes dryer, that power sucker doesn’t even get a look in, no matter what time of day.
I’m reminded of when we lived with my grandparents. Apparently they had an air conditioner. I say apparently because I never saw it in operation. Not once. I recall fanning myself with pieces of cardboard in the blistering heat of summer and still, no air con.
My grandfather, God bless him, was so petrified of winning the lotto each week because he was afraid they’d take away his gold pension card. I daresay he wouldn’t need the gold card if he won lotto, but nevertheless each week he chewed his fingernails down to the quick in nervous anticipation.
In saying all this, lately I’ve noticed just how much I’ve learnt from the Family of Frugality. There are a few items I find very difficult to purchase when out and about. 600mL water bottles being one of them. How can I justify upwards of $2.20 on such an item? That’s it, I’m having a juice!
I’ve even been known to suffer through a soft drink in order not to buy a water.
Sandwiches. Pass. I can make that at home, thanks. Unless it’s something ultra delicious or requiring great difficulty to master in the kitchen, I’m not buying it.
Let’s face a few home truths. Yes, I’ve used a tea bag more than once on the odd occasion.
Yes, I’ve regretfully thrown out the toothpaste after my fingers have become close to arthritic trying to squeeze the last drop out.
Yes, I admit, I’ve eaten around hair I’ve found half-baked into food. But hey, it hasn’t killed me yet!
Is it smart saving or just plain stinginess? Sometimes I don’t know… But I am interested to hear about your quirky ways to save a few coins!