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Where is your inner cheapskate?

October 25, 2010

While I was going to school  I worked at a grocery store at night and on the weekends. One of my fondest memories was having lunch in the break room with one of the managers as he proudly told us (those that were on lunch break with him) the cost of his lunch. His goal was to eat a huge meal for less than $5.00, every single day. Now this was in the early 80s and anything was possible back then. Top Ramin, when on sale, went for 10 for $1.00. Across the street was a Wendy’s, a McDonald’sMcdnoalds cherry pie and a 7-11; our own grocery store had a deli. The first 20 minutes of his lunch was spent shopping at the various venues, then the quick preparation (if anything was needed to microwaved), then the reveal and final total of the day (always, always and always under the $5.00). The rest of us either brought from home or ran across for fast food. But we anxiously awaited for the reveal, and on some level wondered why we didn’t do the same.

The excitement all changed the day we found out that our dear manager was rich. He owned vast amounts of  land on both sides of several highways and interstates up and down California. Why was he worrying about the cost of his lunch? Why did he struggle so? Was it be cause he was a CHEAPSKATE? YES!

Jeff Yeager wrote a book: The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means ; he learned that “Cheapskates” fly in the face of the stereo-type. They’re not penny pinchers, and they don’t spend every waking hour trying to figure out how to save a nickel. Being a cheapskate sometimes isn’t about money at all. Many cheapskates have strong religious beliefs, and some embrace environmentalism as the underpinning for a decision to live frugally.

If I was short on funds and didn’t bring anything for lunch that day I would ask “that manager” what’s good for $2.00 (or whatever funds I had in my pocket) and he would easily steer me in the right direction. I was always happy and eventually full on the lunch item he suggested. What else can we learn from a cheapskate? Jeff Yeager tells us Cheapskates don’t shop at yard sales because you often buy things you didn’t set out to. They do like thrift stores, which they see as department stores of used merchandise. They barter and negotiate for goods and services. They might use an old-fashioned food dehydrator yet they’re tuned in to the latest cyber tips for saving money, including checking for giveaways and for wine that’s discounted when the label is damaged. 

As subway fares, cab fares, food, rent EVERYTHING continue to go up maybe we all need to find that inner cheapskate in all of us in order to survive. At GAI ( we can help you with all of your financial needs, and hope to find ways to celebrate your inner cheapskate. Give us a call at 212-979-6830 so we can share our tax tips with you; or come by and visit. See you soon!


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