Despite my best efforts to become a spendthrift, it makes me feel so much more comfortable to know that I have a little nest egg squirreled away somewhere that I can keep adding to.
Because of this, I’ve become a bit of a do-it-yourselfer. I have no problem looking up repair information on the internet in order to fix something myself. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Of course this approach to home repairs has had some very mixed results.
Sometimes I triumphantly complete whatever it was that needed to be done. But sometimes…well, let’s just say that more than one repairman has looked at me quizzically, wondering how on earth what should have been a simple repair managed to become so complicated. (Naturally, I blame the failed-fix on my poor clueless husband…the one who suggested that I call a professional in the first place.)
There are other ways to save money as well. For instance, I’d much rather eat a home-cooked meal (assuming I can get someone else to prepare it for me) than eat out in any restaurant. As for seeing a movie…well, we probably shouldn’t go there. And don’t even get me started on the outrageous cost of adding a snack. I’m much more content to stay home watching a DVD and nibbling on microwave popcorn.
There is no doubt in my mind as to where this frugal tendency came from. It’s genetic. I’m convinced that there is a much overlooked frugality gene tucked away in my DNA somewhere. For proof of this, all you have to do it look at my mother. For years, I watched as she squeezed every penny she came across until it bled. (Of course, money was a bit more scarce back then…but still.)
As the years passed and my parents became more comfortable financially, Mom still squeezed those pennies. Her biggest nemesis was the price of gas. I still laugh at her when she compares gas prices. It doesn’t faze her one bit to drive miles out of her way in the quest to get the cheapest gas in town. If Mom does manage to find a station selling gas for a mere two cents cheaper than anywhere else, she is elated for days.
It shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that her father was the exact same way. Now in all fairness, Grandpa did grow up during the Great Depression. It’s well known that times were really tough during that era and folks had no choice but to live frugally. Although Grandpa learned how to stretch a dime at his father’s knee, I’m fairly certain that he would have lived thriftily no matter what.
Grandpa’s obsession in the later years of his life was the cost of milk. I can still remember him studying the weekly grocery store flyers to find out where the best sales on milk could be found. He would do all of his normal shopping at his favourite store, then drive ten miles to purchase milk that was five cents cheaper. Then, of course, well pleased with his savings, he would brag about it for days.
I have no way of knowing how far back this frugality gene goes, but I’m confident that it goes way back. It amuses me to envision some distant ancestor grunting over the high cost of mammoth and trying to figure out some way to go out and catch one himself for a mere fraction of the current bartering rate.
Every once in a while I still make an attempt to break free from my frugal disposition. After all, the gene is only on my maternal side — or so I have always thought. Just the other day, I realized that I may have been overlooking a less obvious victim of the frugality gene.
I was chatting with my Dad when he casually mentioned that he was going to head up to the nearest Naval Base to get his hair cut. I had to stop and think about that for a moment as it seemed so out of character. After all, there had to be a zillion barbershops much closer to where they were staying. Hesitantly, I asked him if there was anything else he was going to do at the Base, which was nearly an hour drive away. Dad replied that all he needed was a haircut that didn’t cost over eight bucks.
Hmmm…apparently I never stood a chance.
“What’s in your piggy bank” Bei Shu Lan @ flickr. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
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