Confessions of Upper Class Cheapskates

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The upper class cheapskate isn’t just some fictitious creation of mine—it’s a real epidemic. Wake up, America. This country is full of private school attending, iPhone owning, country club frequenting, swimming pool having, trip to Europe taking, four car driving people who still go to Chili’s for the 2 for $20 meal deal. Now don’t get me wrong, saving money is great, but I consider there to be a fine line between thriftiness and stinginess. I think that sometimes people in my family flirt with that line—other times they back up, get a running start, and leap over it. Now we’re not what I’d consider “rich” or anything, but sometimes we stoop to pretty low levels all for the sake of saving a few bucks when it isn’t really necessary. To illustrate my point, I have included the following examples which I am both equally amused and ashamed by. Happy savings!

 

The Coupon Zealot

For most people, Christmas is on December 25th. For me, December 31st is a close second. And no, I’m not talking about any crazy New Year’s Eve parties. For my family, the introduction of the New Year means one thing and one thing only: all of our coupon books are going to expire. Yes sir, all of those ‘buy one entrée get one free for your guest’ bargains and ‘free small fries with the purchase of seven drinks and three buckets of chicken’ deals will be lost forever. You may be asking why I consider this a good thing. Well I don’t—I consider it a beautiful thing actually, and here’s why: The thought of all of those unused savings just going to waste positively makes my dad’s stomach churn. I think he takes it as a personal challenge to use as many coupons as possible in the last few hours of the year in order to maximize that $25 he paid that fundraising Boy Scout back in February. This means that the last day of the year is just a constant, glorious influx of food: Extra-large smoothies (buy one get one free), quesadillas (complimentary chips and queso), foot long subs ($5 off if you buy 3), chicken sandwich combos (free drink with two adult meals), etc. And that, my children, is the true meaning of New Year’s Eve.

 

Mr. Sticky Fingaz

So my uncle has what I like to call a “hotel shampoo” sense of entitlement, meaning that he assumes that everything set before him to use is complimentary and free for the taking. It’s like anytime he walks into an establishment of any kind he is suddenly seized with fits of kleptomania. To him, leaving somewhere empty-handed would be a travesty—like leaving Disney World without a set of Mickey Mouse ears; like leaving Vegas without a tattoo and a new spouse; like leaving the Vatican without a selfie with the Pope. He therefore has zero qualms about taking anything that’s within reach and he has no regard for social standards or common convention when he does it. One time at a restaurant he stashed an entire bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce in his pocket and smuggled it out like he was a member of the Ocean’s 11 team or something. He also has snatched salt and pepper shakers, silverware, and an entire glass shaker of Parmesan cheese. I was like, you know we have those things at home, right? But this didn’t seem to deter him. Worse even than the items he consistently lifted from the restaurants were the ones he stole from the hospital during his stay there for a liver transplant. He rationalized that he “was paying for everything so he deserved to take it home.” We did an inventory and discovered that he’d snagged blankets, towels, a box of rubber gloves, trash bags, a stethoscope, scissors, cleaning wipes, tape, gauze, scrubs, and toilet paper. He stole from a hospital, people. So what else would you like to take home and add to your collection, Uncle? Maybe a few pints of A-negative in case you’re running low? Perhaps a defibrillator since, after all, you’re paying for it. Or possibly a kidney in a cooler? I’m sure they won’t miss it.

 

The “Poor” College Kid

So my twin brother has turned into a little frat star who likes to wear all the big brand names like Vineyard Vines, Guy Harvey, Southern Tide, Ralph Lauren and yadda yadda all the rest. But is he willing to pay $80 for a shirt with a fish on it? Nope. My brother has found his so-called paradise of brand names at the Goodwill. That’s right. Where everything’s sticky, half the signs are in Spanish, and most of the clothes appear to have belonged to women from the early 1900s. My brother will take shopping trips to the Goodwill and buy all of his button downs and khakis and what have you at around $4 a pop. The issue is that he then brags about all the good deals he gets at Goodwill to his friends at his college whose tuition is equivalent to the GDP of a small country. I’m like, bro don’t tell people you shop at Goodwill—you’re probably wearing last fall’s clothes that they donated. On top of this, my uncle would go with my brother (a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old shopping together…how nice) and he would be up to his old tricks again. One time after my uncle came out of the changing room, my brother noticed that he was wearing a different pair of cargo pants. He had changed and left his old pair in the stall and wore the new pair right out the door because heaven forbid he pay a whole two dollars and fifty cents for them. And these are the people that I’m related to. Please leave your sympathetic remarks in the comment section below.

 

The Sale Addict

And then there’s my mom who thinks that the mere fact that something is on sale is grounds to buy it regardless of how unnecessary it is. This little philosophy of hers is why she has accumulated 15 different jean jackets in the past few years. That’s right, people—15 jean jackets. That’s enough to clothe 3 basketball squads or my college Spanish class or an entire Mormon family. And every time she brings home another jacket she always drops the same line about how it was on sale. We’ll be in a store and she’ll be trying a new one on and I’ll be like oh my gosh mom what about your one (1) with the black leather arms or the one (2) that’s knee length or the one (3) with big diamond buttons or the one (4) with the blue tie around the waist or the one (5) with the brown fringe or the one (6) with the Indian blanket patches or the one (7) that’s solid white or the one (8) that’s solid black or the one (9) that’s cheetah print or the one (10) that’s zebra print or the one (11) that’s brown corduroy or the one (12) that’s black corduroy or the one (13) that’s powder blue corduroy or the one (14) that’s solid blue or the other one (15) that’s solid blue that you have? Do you really need this one too? And the answer is always yes because she believes that she’s ultimately saving money by buying it since it’s on sale (kids, this is what we call a ‘logical fallacy’). But hey, where would the jean jacket industry be today if it weren’t for dedicated shoppers like my mom? So I salute you, all you bargain-hungry middle-aged moms of America who buy whatever the heck you want whenever you walk into Marshall’s. Without you, jean jackets, Skecher shape-ups, and turtlenecks would have gone extinct long ago.  

 

All of Us

So this next money-saving technique is one that I too have taken part in. But before you start getting all judgmental on me, I’d venture to say that this is something that 90% of the American population has done. If you’ve never eaten lunch solely by eating the free samples at Costco (or Sam’s Club—I don’t discriminate), then can you even really say that you’re truly living? You know what I’m talking about—when you charge into the place like you own it on a Sunday afternoon, stomach gurgling, head on the swivel. You scout out the little sample stands, each one looking like an oasis in the desert. You make your first round and score a piece of ravioli stuffed with spinach, a piece of shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce, a cracker with pimento cheese spread, a fruit roll up, and then you wash it down with a little white cup of mango fruit juice. But then—wait—you discover a stand tucked back in the corner serving meatballs. SCORE!!! Feeling confident and 1/27 of the way full, you then complete your second round with a seemingly innocent look in your eyes that says “Wow, I really liked that let me try it again I might purchase it but I want to make sure I absolutely love it first.” The third round gets a little trickier because the employees attending the sample kiosks start to look at you with suspicion. This is when you have to start recruiting people to go get samples for you—parents, siblings, cousins, strangers, other people’s children, etc. When you’ve run out of agents, that’s when it’s time to go incognito. Grab a new shirt from the clothing department, a pair of shades from the optics center, and shove your nose in a book from the book table and batta-boom-batta-bang you’re a new customer. Repeat steps 1-4 until satisfied.

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