Last year I lost my job. Since then, I’ve been scraping by with freelance writing and editing work. With the loss of income came, naturally, the need to tighten my purse strings and get serious about getting cheap. But this is just a pretext for starting a blog on penny pinching. I’ve always been a cheapo. My parents grew up during the Depression, and passed onto me that generation’s values of frugality, thrift and saving. Add to that the fact that I’m from Winnipeg, where cheapness is as natural as wearing ski-doo boots and drinking Labatt Blue, and it’s like I was destined to be a tight wad. Except for finding a good perogy, Winnipeggers love nothing more than finding a good bargain.
I am blessed to be with a man who is as cheap as I am. And yes, he is from Winnipeg, too (we now live in East Vancouver). I knew he was the one when, one evening when I was at his place, he disappeared into the kitchen and came out with two armloads of cheese, and spoke glowingly about the huge sale at Food Fare, where he’d loaded up. Ditto for butter. My boyfriend is so cheap that one time, when he bought a strip loin steak at T&T for some unimaginably low price, only realizing once he got home that it was off—way off—he tried every which way to marinate and cook that thing to make it edible, instead of doing the sensible thing and throwing it out. In the end he took it back to T&T and they exchanged it for a really nice piece of ribeye. (That’s one of the cardinal rules of being cheap: never be afraid to ask for a refund or replacement.) Then there was the time he found an entire box of garbage bags in the back lane and stashed them behind a bush to pick up later… but I’ll save this story for another post, because it really deserves it’s own telling.
Together, we are a bargain-hunting force of nature. We live in a two-bedroom, 900-ish square foot apartment in Vancouver—the city with the highest rents in the country—that costs us $750 a month. We have furnished this apartment entirely with stuff found on Craigslist, in thrift stores and in back lanes. We buy all of our clothes from thrift stores. For me, this is partially due to cheapness, partially due to an obsession with vintage clothing, and a whole lot to do with the tremendous sense of guilt I feel about overburdening the environment by buying new stuff. If you would also like to feel a tremendous sense of guilt over buying new things, check out this video called The Story of Stuff.
In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on making this blog about the joys of being cheap, the value of frugality and why saving your pennies makes good economic sense. Cheapness doesn’t have to be done out of necessity. It can be a lifestyle choice. People may make fun of you for it, but being cheap—truly cheap—means never being in debt, and never being in debt means you are free to spend your pennies as you see fit. As long as you’re able to pry open your wallet, that is.