Being cheap can pay off in a big way

Helena Rodriguez

You’ve heard the phrase, “A penny for your thoughts?”
Well, cheapskates like me don’t even want to pay that much. We’d rather wait to see the printed version, assuming it’s free.
I’m so cheap, I refused to buy an office planner late in the year because I couldn’t get 12-months use out of it. A spiral notebook is working just fine for now. And I’m so cheap, that before I do buy one, I’ll wait first to see if I get a 2004 one for Christmas (hint, hint). I’m not picky, but preferably a leather-bound planner, complete with a calculator, address book, long-range planner, built in fax machine and finger massager.
I’m so cheap, my idea of a big-ticket item is anything more than 20 bucks.
I’m so cheap, I sometimes delay purchases at the dollar store because I can get the same item at Wal-Mart for only 88 cents.
I’m so cheap, I recycle leftover Halloween candy into Christmas stockings.
I’m so cheap, I buy a can of soda for 50 cents from a vending machine and then go into a fast food restaurant and order the sandwich only.
I’m so cheap, I sometimes order a large pizza and make it last for two meals for my family. Again, I buy my own sodas before I order.
I’m so cheap, I buy only one roll of paper towels when the sign says “two for $2.” (Actually, I’m too smart for that ploy. I know it really means each roll cost $1 and that the FBI will not come looking for me if I do not buy two rolls).
I’m so cheap, I recycle Christmas bows. I even considered recycling the name tags, too. (That could be a good cost-saving measure, unless you have relatives who frequently change their names).
I’m so cheap that when an item at a garage sale is too much, I drive by later to see if the price has gone down (it helps to wheel and deal, too).
I’m so cheap, I often wait for movies to come out on video or DVD.
I once met a radio advertising salesmen whose company was so cheap his business card had a blank line for him to write in his name.
My Uncle David was so cheap that when my Aunt Matilda once asked him to buy her a Coke, he said, “I would, but I don’t want to break this dollar.”
I had a college friend who came up with a cost-free way to let her parents know she arrived back at school safe. She would call, let the phone ring twice, hang up, call again, let it ring once and hang up.
A woman told me her parents were so cheap that on anniversaries they wouldn’t buy each other greeting cards. They went into the card shop, picked out special cards for each other and exchanged them there in the store. After having a laugh, they’d put the cards back on the shelf and leave.
I’m still learning to stretch my dollars. I could do a better job at it, but here’s some unsolicited advice from a self-proclaimed cheapskate. It’s not free either. Send love offerings to this newspaper. Here it goes:
l Just say “no” and hold on to your dough. This may be tough when school kids come knocking with their fund-raisers and look at you with those innocent eyes. I’m all for supporting schools, but when they want $16 for a cheesecake, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
l Don’t give it a second thought if you can’t afford it.
l So what if your child, husband or wife, wants something and throws a fit? They’ll get over it, and I guarantee you, will move on to another wish list item you can’t afford.
Now that I’ve shared my cheap shots with you, and got paid to do it, I’m interested in yours. Feel free to share your “this takes the cake” (assuming the cake is free) stories with me. Whether it’s about you or another special cheapskate in your life, I want to hear them and I will share responses in a future column.

Helena Rodriguez is a staff writer for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at