Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Frugal is One Thing - Cheap is Something Else

Frugal is wise, but cheap is stingy. I’m somewhat of an expert on cheap. I'm not cheap, but I witnessed extreme cheapness when I was growing up.

Grandpa, my father's dad, was the epitome of cheapness. He grew more tight fisted as he aged. Grandpa was always a second hand junkie. In fact, he and his second wife owned a second hand store at one time. When she died, grandpa began living the life he'd always dreamed of.

He moved to the seedy side of central Vancouver. He lived in a hotel room with bed bugs, lice and rodents. He cooked on a hot plate. His neighbors injected themselves with needles, not because they were diabetic, but because they needed a regular dose of heroin. To call grandpa eccentric would be kind. Calling him nuttier than a fruitcake would be honest.

This was the 1960's, and he was able to purchase second hand shirts for a nickel a piece. He didn't want to waste money on laundry, and so he wore each shirt for a few weeks then threw it away. He reeked of body odor and cigarette smoke. He stunk to high heaven.

From my father, I inherited a healthy respect for money. Dad was always cautious, never spent more than he earned, bought used when it made sense, fixed broken things rather than replacing them, and his idea of eating out was McDonalds.

I'm from a different generation; I've used credit wisely; preferred new to used, and still like to eat out in nice restaurants. However, thanks to a healthy respect for money, like my father before me, I was able to take an early retirement and live a modest but good life.

I'm not cheap. I'm frugal.

The photo, of dad and me, was taken August 2011.

No comments: