27 August 2014

The Fine Line

There is a saying about a fine line between love and hate.

Living the Cheapskates way there is a fine line too: a fine line between Contented Cheapskate and Sad Skinflint.

Whether you choose to live the Cheapskates way out of necessity (sudden un-employment, huge debts etc) or to have the cash to do the things that are important to you, the line has to be drawn: just how far can you go without becoming a mean, sad skinflint?

For me not buying takeaway food on a regular basis frees up money for music lessons for Hannah. The boys can play their sports because we choose to recycle clothes and buy from garage sales and op shops before we resort to paying retail. This frees up the cash needed to pay for sports fees and other activities and we have a contented family.

I would feel like a Sad Skinflint if I didn't buy the brand of coffee I enjoy to just save a couple of dollars. Instead I wait for it to go on sale and then use the grocery slush fund to stock up, I never pay the regular supermarket price and I am a Contented Cheapskate.

By using generic sugar, flour, custard powder, bi-carb soda, coconut and icing sugar I have the cash to buy the coffee I like. We don't notice any difference in the end result of my baking, we are not missing out on any treats and I am able to enjoy good coffee.

In our quest to live the Cheapskates way sometimes we go to far. There is no purpose in going without something you need, enjoy or even want if you can afford it just to not spend money.

We cut back on things we don't particularly care about so that we can have the things that are important to us. There have been times when I've gone too far (a rissole recipe using just bread crusts, herbs and water springs to mind) and the exercise has ended up causing us to be unhappy.

Using the bread crusts and herbs along with some chopped tomato, a grated onion and an egg to make a Mock Chicken however saved us some money, used up leftover crusts and it was delicious with gravy and baked vegetables.

With things like electricity, gas, water, telephone and petrol trim them little by little until you find that you need more, then ease the trimming just a bit. You've found your fine line and by easing back a bit you are on the Contented Cheapskate side.

With clothing, shoes and so on you can work out exactly what you need to maintain a comfortable wardrobe. Add a couple of spare outfits (for those times the washing hasn't dried or you just plain ran out of time to do it) and you'll be on the Contented Cheapskate side.

Not giving yourself enough clothing will end up costing you money. You'll be washing more often, perhaps having to resort to using the dryer, and your clothes will be wearing out and looking old much faster. This is the Sad Skinflint side of the line.

In all things, trimming a little, gradually, lets you find exactly where you want to be in your Cheapskates lifestyle and when you are contented with where you are you'll find saving money, time and energy easy.

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