To the couple who recognised me in Coles this week, I'm sorry you chose to make snide comments behind my back rather than introducing yourself and chatting. I don't bite, I love to meet new people and I would have been very happy to chat to you for a few minutes and perhaps show you that my family hasn't missed out on a thing through living the Cheapskates way.
So please don't feel sorry for my family, there's absolutely no need.
Instead, turn your "sympathy" to the families living with the stress of debt, who are struggling to make ends meet; to the mothers who work because they have to and not because they want to; to the children who spend more time at day care than they do at home because their family can't survive on a single income and to the people who've never learnt to control their spending and therefore spend their lives a slave to debt.
I can assure you that yes, I am a Cheapskate, but my family has never suffered for it.
Our children were educated in private schools.
They all played sports.
They had music lessons.
Hannah had art lessons.
They were always well dressed, often in brand name clothes and shoes.
Our children always had Christmas gifts and birthday presents. They always received an Easter egg (or two).
They didn't miss out on school photos or excursions or camps.
They all went to youth group at our Church and participated in the activities.
They had birthday parties every year until they were 18.
So far both boys have had 21st birthday parties (Hannah turns 21 this year and is already planning her party).
Both boys have completed university without any debt at all. They own their degrees clear. Hannah is still training and finishes in July this year and will be debt free.
They had their mother at home when they were home. I was able to drop them at school and pick them up in the afternoon. I was able to help out in the classroom and tuckshop and go on excursions.
We always managed to have family holidays.
We live in a home we like, in a suburb we chose because we like it.
We are now a two car family - my daily drive and Wayne's 4WD.
We eat very well - better than a lot of far less frugal families.
My family hasn't suffered because I'm a Cheapskate.
Instead, they have had things and experienced things that they never would have if I had a different attitude towards our money.
We made a deliberate decision to change our attitude to money. We took a long, hard look at our lifestyle and realised that there were lots of things we didn't really enjoy or want that we were spending money on. Then we made the decision to ditch the things that weren't important to us so we'd have the money to enjoy the things that are.
It was important to us that one of us, as parents, would always be available to care for our children.
It was important to us that we spend time together as a family, doing things that would make lasting, happy memories.
It was important to us that our children have the education we wanted them to have.
It was important to us that we create a family home we wouldn't want to leave.
Have we made sacrifices? I suppose so, if you call not eating out or having takeaway every week a sacrifice. Or perhaps not having pay tv (we don't miss it at all). Maybe you think owning our cars and driving them for years instead of updating every two years is a sacrifice. We don't. Perhaps shopping for quality pre-loved clothing is a sacrifice - it's not. AJ had Billabong jeans he picked up for $12 from the op shop - the same style was still selling at Ozmosis for $110!
Maybe you feel it's a sacrifice to eat home cooked meals, prepared from scratch with fresh food. My family loves my cooking, they can tell when something isn't homemade and they let me know they don't like it.
But perhaps you believe is the biggest sacrifice is to live on a budget; you haven't yet realised that you should control your money, it shouldn't control you.
So please don't feel sorry for my family because I'm certain that they're feeling sorry for you.