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Tightwad Confessions

June 17, 2009

I have to make a confession. I am a tightwad.   Not in the obsessive rewash-the-Ziploc-bags sort of way, but in the coupon-clipping, never-pay-retail, water-down-the-lemonade style.  Unless you live with me, I try to keep this behavior below the radar as it embarrasses me.  Or I should say, it used to embarrass me, because the Recession has changed everything.

It’s actually chic to be cheap these days.  Instead of hiding my coupons in my purse while cruising the grocery aisles, I hold them in plain view as a badge of honor.  And, as reported previously, I’m becoming a regular fan of yard sales.  Just the thought of saving what otherwise would get spent gets me excited.

Is frugal fanaticism just a phase of this economic downturn?  For those newfound skinflints, maybe so, but my savings habits are rooted in childhood, the personal equivalent of steel-reinforced concrete.  My father was a child of the Depression, the youngest of four children from immigrant parents.  He grew up in a tenement in Lawrence, Massachusetts and was the first in his family to graduate from college, to the credit of his parents’ hard work and sacrifices.  Even when he and my mother put four of their own through college and life became more comfortable, he would spend the greater part of Thursdays combing through the sales flyers and his coupon inventory to plot out his weekly shopping.  I would not have been surprised to read about him in Family Circle: “Man Spends $32.24 on $351.50 Worth of Groceries.”

The Green Movement is adding more credibility to what I like to call, “tightwadery,” as saving money and conserving resources go hand in hand. “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” is as much as the credo for tightwadery as it is for environmentalism, giving closet tightwads cover as they substitute the Sunday funnies for children’s gift-wrap.  Yes, I have done that and many other close-to-over-the-top ways to save a buck and the planet at the same time.

Stay tuned for additional features of the new rungster topic: Tightwadery (under “Tips and Recipes”), where I will share my other tightwad secrets! Until then, VistaPrint offers free business cards for the price of shipping!

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