I’m not cheap, I’m thrifty. Very thrifty.

nickels

“You’re cheap!”

The words hurt me, especially coming from a friend I’ve known for years. She wanted to go out one Friday evening, but I was trying to save money and wanted to stay in with a pizza and a movie instead. So she called me cheap. And it hurt, and we fought, and we didn’t talk to each other for a couple of weeks. She certainly didn’t come round to watch the movie with me (The Fault In Our Stars, I think. I can’t honestly remember. I watch A LOT of Friday night movies.)

But her comments got me to thinking. Maybe I AM cheap? I thought I was just being thrifty, careful with my money. It’s not like I’ve got loads of it to throw around. I work hard to earn it, so I don’t want to waste it when I have it.

But maybe my thriftiness had gone too far. Refusing to go out with a friend to save a few bucks instead isn’t a good deal. Life is for living, not for sitting in your apartment and gazing at a screen for the rest of yuour life. It made me reevaluate my priorities, though, like most times when I have to admit I’ve been wrong, it took me a while to get my head round it. It’s like I’m fighting myself when I know I’m wrong – it sometimes takes me a week or two to admit the truth.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been careful with my money. We had to be – there simply wasn’t any money to waste when I was a kid. You know the cliche about the kid with the lemonade stand outside their house? Well, that was me. I’d love to say it was a roaring success, but I don’t think I even made back the cost of the lemons.

Since then, I’ve never wanted to spend more money than I need to. It just goes against my upbringing. So yeah, I guess I am cheap after all. My girlfriend was right.

But I’m right too. There’s no sense in spending money when you have perfectly good alternatives that are free or less expensive. For example, I’m a cord cutter. Well, not exactly, as I’ve NEVER had cable, but I think I’m still technically a cord cutter. I survive with Amazon Prime Video (Prime is one of those money-well-spent things that just makes perfect sense – even if it didn’t have the video service thrown in for free), Netflix, and YouTube. I don’t watch much sports, so don’t miss that. And for stuff like Game of Thrones, I go round a friend’s place to watch (oh god! I AM SO CHEAP – I realise it now!).

I brown bag my lunch. Partly this is an economy choice, and partly because the options around where I work are so bad. I really don’t want to pay good money to eat McDonald’s or Taco Bell. And Chipotle is for treats only – I couldn’t eat it every day because a) I can’t afford it and b) I’d be the size of a small planet in a month.

One area where I save big time over my friends is on cosmetics. They spend a fortune on face creams and moisturizers and make-up. I tend to use very little, and even have my own skin-care regime using a load of cheap homemade mud-mask recipes  I found online. I don’t know how much this saves me each month, but it’s got to be a lot.

I could go on about my tips for the most efficient use of a washing machine, or the time I volunteered at a music festival so I didn’t have to pay in but still got to watch all the bands. But I won’t. I think you get the point. Instead, I’m going to use the money I’ve saved to go out with my girlfriend. I might even splash out and get an Uber home.

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