Cheapskate!

I’ve reluctantly come to accept that I’m a cheapskate.

I tend to make do with what I’ve got until it’s long past time the item was replaced.  When I finally do buy a new item, I’m willing to pay for the features I need, but I refuse to pay extra for non-essentials.  Like colour.  (Which probably explains why I was such a resounding failure as an interior designer, but that’s another story.)

Self-help programs point out that it’s necessary to first identify and accept that you have a problem before healing can begin.  My cheapskate epiphany came when I realized I’ve owned nothing but white cars since 1989.

I’ve disliked white cars since I was old enough to pronounce the words “I like the red one better”.

In 1989, I bought a well-used 1975 Dodge Dart for $1100, which was all I could afford at the time.  It had one of the old 225 slant-six engines you couldn’t kill with a howitzer, and I loved that car so much I forgave it for being white.  (Plus it had sporty stripes on the sides, so it wasn’t completely white.)

When the Dart rusted away several years later, I bought a 1986 Taurus cheap at an auction because it was (again) all I could afford.  It was a piece of shit.  I spent more time repairing it than I did driving it.  And it was white.

In 1998, I’d been divorced for a couple of years and I was back on my feet.  I decided I deserved a new car.  I’d never bought a vehicle off the lot before, and it was time, dammit.  No more hand-me-downs.  No more making do.

Off I went to the Saturn dealer to buy a new car.  Any colour I wanted.  Ha!

But they offered me a deal.  They had a demo on sale.  It was brand new except for the few hundred kilometres that had been put on by the dealership’s test drives.  And they’d knock $6,000 off the price and give me an extra year’s warranty.

Yeah, you guessed it.  I’m still driving it.  It’s been a great car.

But it’s white.

Because I’m a cheapskate, my motorcycle helmet has a fiery red skull on the back, and there’s cabbage-rose-patterned furniture in my living room.  Many would consider those patterns to be mutually exclusive.  I mean, really, most people are either flaming-skull or cabbage-rose, right?

But the helmet had all these great features, and it was cheaper than the plain black one.

And really, the furniture wasn’t my fault.  My mother chose the pattern.  Back around 1973.  That furniture has survived exposure to decades of children, cats, three different households in two provinces, and nearly 40 years of direct sun, all without fading or sagging or showing any visible signs of wear and tear.  I’m pretty sure it would survive a nuclear holocaust.

It is, however, violently unfashionable.  When I said “cabbage-rose”, you thought muted pinks, didn’t you?  Wrong-o.  The background is navy blue with poison-green leaves, and the cabbage roses are blue and orange.  Big suckers, about 5” across.  That furniture is so obnoxious, it even makes my fiery skull shudder.

I don’t want to spend the money right now, but some day, I’ll buy new furniture.  Any colour I want.  Ha!

…Is there an echo in here?

Please tell me there’s somebody else out there who makes do with not-so-perfect colours for the sake of frugality (which is a much nicer way to say ‘cheapness’).

37 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

37 responses to “Cheapskate!

  1. Pingback: I’m Probably A Sociopath: Exhibit B | Diane Henders

  2. shreejacob

    To answer your question: My dad. He got these blue covers that had dark blue flowers for the sofa set because….it was cheap(er). hehe.
    However the fact that your sofa set could survive a holocaust trumps its obnoxious look…I mean if I could survive what your sofa has AND still look fresh and sturdy I’d be obnoxious too…does that make sense? LOL

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  3. Cheapskate, indeed.
    One of my first cars was a 1969 Plymouth Valiant, a relative of your Dodge Dart. It had a slant six engine; six moving parts – four tires, a steering wheel and a transmission; could not be stopped by a nuclear bomb and would never, ever be considered an antique. It lasted for 11 years until I was forced to give it up because, as a salesman at the time, I had to have a car that was “aesthetically pleasing.”

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  4. My first car was white, too. I figure you can’t tell what color it is when you’re in it, looking at the road. I have the same attitude toward the current version of my face and body.

    On the other hand, I have a bright red car, and you don’t.

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  5. I still have a 1998 white Dodge Stratus, because it still runs. Oddly, it has a cabbage-rose interior.

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  6. In high school, when I wanted a new pair of jeans, but didn’t have money to buy them (which was pretty much all the time), I’d take one of my pairs with orange stitching and magic-marker the stitching navy. I was quite proud of myself fooling everybody like that. lol

    I’ve always been told I have “expensive taste” (which is not necessarily exclusive of “poor taste”). Odd how my budget doesn’t match up, and that I’m still working on ways to fund the purchase of my own island paradise with a full staff of well-paid cooks, maids, etc.

    I guess I’m not a cheapskate by choice. Money burns a hole in my pocket. Lucky for me, I usually don’t have any money. :)

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  7. Good laugh, Diane.

    I can’t let my daughter see this post. We, too, have a white Saturn for similar reasons, and a white van (and it it Texas). My girl hates white cars. Before it we had a purple van which she reminds us of constantly. I’m trying to put off the idea of another car for as long as possible, but when that day comes it will not be WHITE.

    Cheers!

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  8. Diane, I tend to buy things when I need them, but never throw the old things away in case they will ‘come in’. I even save used batteries… in case there is some unused energy in there somewhere.
    …I’d like to join your Cheapskate Club, if I may!

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    • You’re in! Some day, the dregs of energy from used batteries will power the world.

      And even if it turns out there’s no unused energy in those batteries after all, you could put them all in a bag and have a wonderful boat anchor. Win!

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  9. My wife is going to kill me for posting this…but we go one better. We live near a small city with a huge university. So when the kids leave for the summer they leave everything…clothes, TVs, computers, books, furniture, bikes, you name it-they leave it. So we descend on the town every May looking for whatever. All of our furniture has come from these excursions. We have beautiful rocking chairs with caned bottoms, lovely lamps (all matching), candle holders, dining room set, beautiful, rich leather sofa, awesome coffee table, cool desks, and some really great books. We haven’t spent a single cent and all our friends love our decor…and we love it too.

    Be encouraged!

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    • Brilliant! I guess I just don’t live in the proper place to get good pickings. I’ll have to upgrade my neighbourhood… or start hanging around the university. Though it’s slightly depressing to realize university kids not only have better furniture than I do, they can also (apparently) afford to discard it after a single usage. What’s wrong with this picture?

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      • I’m telling we were completely floored when we discovered this little gold mine. A friend of ours told us about it and we assumed they were overstating the case…if anything they were understating…we actually know of an individual who makes his living scavenging what students leave each semester, then selling it on ebay.

        Wait a minute…isn’t this the capitalist way? :)

        Be encouraged!

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  10. I can’t relate. I waste money on stupid things – like mattresses that smell like mildew.

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    • LOL! But that wasn’t intentional. I’m positive you didn’t sniff each one in the store and choose the one with the special “eau de mildew” bouquet. Or, if you did, I want to know the name of the salesperson who upsold you. I’d hire anybody who was that persuasive.

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      • True. That was certainly not on purpose. My problem is that I keep spending inordinate amounts of money on things which don’t satisfy me. So, I think that being a cheapskate is a much better deal.

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  11. Ha! I drive a 10-year-old WHITE minivan. (I’m told white is longest-lasting paint color for cars, since the manufacturers have to put on a thicker coat of it to cover metal.) I keep telling myself it’s high time to trade it in for something sportier, but … well, it’s paid for, it runs, and I’m cheap. ;)

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  12. Yup, so totally relate…maybe it’s ’cause we’re from the same family. I have personally kept a microwave with a broken door in the basement for two years on the off chance that I could find another door to replace it and start using it again. After all there was nothing wrong with the microwave it just needed a new door!

    As for cars…after my divorce I bought the black demo car on the lot (not because I wanted black). It’s such a guy car, but it was the end of 2003, the ’04’s were in and they needed to get rid of it. I love that car, it’s hauled so much stuff and loves the mountain trips. I had to “girlie” it up with flowered floor mats just so there wasn’t so much testosterone oozing out of it!

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  13. I would love to see this motorcycle helmet, it sounds epic.

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  14. Thanks for some great laughs this morning. You always provide a smile. :)

    The white car thing is hilarious (though personally, I like white cars). When it comes to automobiles, I buy the color I want, even if I tick off the car dealers who tell me they’ll have to order it from so-and-so, and it will take 6 weeks, and blah, blah, blah. I figure I’m doling out money for a huge purchase–I’ll get what I want.

    On the other hand, I once took half a tomato with me in a cooler on a family road trip because I didn’t want it to go to waste. How sad is that? But I can’t stand throwing out food, even if my kids do tease me mercilessly about it.

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    • Thanks – glad I gave you a chuckle!

      I completely sympathize with the half-tomato situation. My Dad would eat things that should’ve been thrown away weeks ago, and I’ve inherited the “must-not-waste-food” gene. Unlike Dad, I draw the line at any food item that crawls out of the fridge and challenges me to hand-to-hand combat, but when I throw food away, the guilt crushes me.

      I’m leaving on a road trip tomorrow carrying 1/2 a pepper and 3/4 of a cucumber because I know Hubby won’t eat them while I’m gone…

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  15. Diane, no one should have to live with a cabbage rose pattern, let alone one in those colors. If you start a reupholstering fund, I promise to contribute.

    We always buy our cars “pre-owned” (nice euphemism, huh?) and now have one white, one silver, one gray. Boring, but I don’t really care.

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    • The world needs more selfless people like you. ‘Scuse me while I go and set up the “Eradicate Evil Ugly Wares” (EEUW) foundation. Donate today!

      And pre-owned makes sense. Let somebody else eat the depreciation, right? It’s frugal! :-)

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