Words For Your Enjoyment: Being Cheap

Being cheap: two little words. But if words cost me money, at least I’d be saving some by only using two, right? Four or five little words would obviously cost more!

Being cheap, I think, is a phrase that people have vilified over the years. Just because you’re “thrifty” or “smart with your money” or “a collector of pennies” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re bad. Just because when you go to park your car you drive around for an hour so that you can find a meter that already has money in it, can’t really be a negative thing, can it? Just because when you park Valet and you have to tip the people and you give them a bag of 50 pennies (cause pennies are MONEY people, don’t deny it) shouldn’t be looked down upon.

There’s a difference between being cheap and being smart. For example, is it really all that bad to count your quarters in your car’s change tray before you park Valet and then when you pick your car back up — you count each and every quarter to make sure that no one has stolen your money…that’s being smart. Sure, you could say it’s petty — but you know what? You account for each and every single penny in your damn bank account! Your car’s change tray is just an extention of your bank account. If the Volkswagen or Ford dealership gave you an account number for your car’s change tray, well, you’d be more concerned who was stealing money out of it, trust me.

Picking up change off the dirty city street is smart, too. For what fool just drops money and leaves it to be swept up with the rest of the dirty coffee cups and candy bar wrappers? Do you know, I have spent hours picking up pennies and when the day was done I was able to BUY MYSELF a cup of coffee. For free! I was literally paying myself to pick up pennies. I was an entrepreneur! For all intents and purposes, I had formed my own business, Penny Picker-Uppers, L.L.C.. (Which, unfortunately, hasn’t had many successes as of late.)

Traditionally, people are called “cheap” when they don’t want to go places for fear of spending money, they spend extremely thrift-like during the holidays, or when they hide all their money in their bedroom mattress, Mr. Moneybags. Well, let me educate you on the previous examples:

a. People don’t NOT want to go places because they are afraid of spending money (i.e., they’re cheap). They are probably afraid that if they go out into the cold-criminally-infested world that someone will mug them and TAKE ALL THEIR MONEY. They’re not afraid, like me, of spending money! I’d be more than happy to go out and eat free at a happy hour’s buffet with you. I’m just worried someone’s gonna knock me in the head and take me for all I’m worth.

b. People don’t NOT want to spend money on you during the holidays (i.e. they’re cheap). They are, in fact, not wanting to make you more happy/less happy from last year/next year. For, if I were to buy you a 50 dollar gift last year, then spend 75 for you this year, you’d be happy. But what if I opt out of spending more just because INFLATION TELLS ME TO. Forget inflation, it’s more a political statement than anything else. If people bought into the yearly cost of living increase (and present spending allocation), your presents would get better and more expensive each year. For the spend-thrift, they continue to spend 30 bucks on you every year, but you know what? You’re better off for it. You never have to compare last year to this year or next year. Just take your Sizzler gift certificate and go get some cheese bread.

c. People don’t NOT want to keep all their money out in the open instead of hiding it… Sometimes it’s just a much safer place. Didn’t you see that sequence in Spider-Man 2? Doc Ock went crazy and busted into a bank and stole all the money from INNOCENT PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME. Did Spidey ever even get everyone’s money back to them? I think not. People’s lives were ruined. Well, the next time you chastise someone for being cheap because they keep all their money stuffed in their mattress, be sure to think back to Doc Ock and remember that sometimes, in some cities, evil villains are a threat to banks that are not as secure as you think they are.

Valid concerns, valid points — I know.

I hope I’ve pulled back the onion-skin so to speak about cheap people and why they’re not really cheap but in fact, they’re the smartest people in the world. If it were not for money-conscious people, this country would probably have a HUGE deficit the likes of which no one would ever be able to reduce.

I may be cheap — but I belong in M.E.N.S.A. because of it.

This week’s “Words For Your Enjoyment” was sponsored by WFME friend, “anonymous” who was more than happy to pose the question in an e-mail to me: “Are you cheap, Pauly D?”

As always, WFME welcomes your ideas and suggestions for our Friday post — but if you enjoyed this one, why not visit the past (like Michael J. Fox did in that awesome movie about visiting the past) and check out a retro Words For Your Enjoyment. You’ll be glad you did.

4 comments on “Words For Your Enjoyment: Being Cheap

  1. monkeyinabox - December 3, 2004 at 8:41 am -

    You are so right on this one. Too be good at being cheap, you have to be smart. At every purchase you have to think, “how could I spend less?”. I think my favorite example of someone I saw who was cheap, was when I worked in a grocery store and a regular customer would come in and buy lot’s of stuff and have lot’s and lot’s of coupons. I mean, he would get $200 worth of stuff for $40. I soon found out he was either a principal or a teacher, who had students cut out coupons for him. I’m guessing it went a little farther with all the good “free” coupons he had, he simply siad to students, “alright, anyone who brings in free product coupons gets extended recess”. Sneaky? maybe. Cheap? Hell yeah!

  2. groovebunny - December 3, 2004 at 10:40 am -

    I have no problem at all with people being thrifty, as long as the thriftiness is equally distributed. For instance, I knew a person who was sickeningly thrify spending on birthday and Christmas presents for his parents. We’re talking $20 limit here. But this same person had no problem at all picking up the entire dinner or bar tab for people he barely knew. Or even paying for weekend get-a-aways to Vegas for him and his friends.

  3. Principessa - December 3, 2004 at 9:18 pm -

    I tease my man about thriftiness (he tries to keep a Target soda cup in the car to get refills when we go run errands) so I forwarded him this link — we both got a huge laugh. Thanks!

  4. Ferris - April 19, 2006 at 6:01 pm -

    I agree and disagree with you,

    I agree that it is wise to be considerate with your spending, however your cheapness strikes me as ridiculous or sad. Ridiculous because you idea of the best use of your time financially is to gather enough pennies off the filthy street to buy a cup of coffee. I’m sure if you applied yourself you could find a more profitable use of your time for a given hour. Or sad, because within your limited self concept that truly was the best use of your time.
    I think all too often certain “cheap,” or, “frugal,” people spend all their time applying their thought to financial contraction. Wouldn’t it be better to think of how you could make more money? I’m sorry, but your specific suggestions of saving strike the mind as penny wise, pound foolish!

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