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Thursday, November 3

Frugal vs. Always Broke, Part 1

My partner’s sister moved in with us this week.  She and her boyfriend had been living together in his parent’s rental property for more than two years.  They didn't break up; it’s just that the power and water were cut off due to nonpayment.  He moved back in with his parents but she wasn't allowed to since they are not married.  Let’s call her “K” and we’ll call him “W”.  This is their story.

When K approached me about staying here for a while, and then admitted it would be more than a couple of weeks, I didn’t hesitate to say yes with the stipulation that she contribute a nominal amount to cover the increased costs (higher utility bills) of having her here.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t try to profit from other’s misery.  She’s stayed with us before for a few days, no charge, and we even invited her and W over to take a hot shower when their water was first turned off.

Why do some people struggle every month to make ends meet while the rest of us do not?  It’s especially interesting when one’s income isn’t a factor.  The young couple I am talking about both have jobs.  They don’t make a lot of money, but their hardship wasn’t a result of a job loss or medical emergency.  Their struggle is a result of their attitude.  Let me explain.

Last night K mentioned to my partner how excited she was that the new Twilight movie was being released November 18.  She added the suggestion they should go see it.  My partner, whom I’ve trained well, automatically responded, “Yeah, as soon as it hits the dollar theatre, let’s go.”

That momentary big smile quickly faded from my face when K replied, “That’s too long;  I can’t wait that long to see it.”  Then something happened that I can’t explain.  Let’s just say Frugal Miser spoke up.  It was a reaction, really; I wasn’t trying to piss her off or hurt her feelings.  As soon as she said that, I replied, “That’s why you and your boyfriend lost that house.”

Ouch.  As soon as I said it I felt bad.  But the thing is, I meant it.  Being frugal isn’t a sacrifice; it’s a lifestyle.  We will still see that movie.  In the theatre.  In digital surround sound.  It isn’t stadium seating, but the seats at the dollar theatre are new and they are quite comfortable.  The difference is, the two of us will pay $3, and we will skip the concessions line.  K and her boyfriend will spend $18 for the movie and there’s a good chance they’ll spend another $10 on concessions.  $28 versus $3 might not seem like a lot… if you aren’t of the frugal mindset.  To me, that $25 difference is almost a tank of gas.  It’s 2 1/2 weeks of electricity.  Two months of hot water.  It’s a lot of freaking money!


  1. Might be a good time to get K and W a copy of Your Money or Your Life or something like that for Xmas this year.

    You would think that losing a house & being homeless but for the generocity of family/friends would be rock bottom enough to change your ways.....maybe not.

  2. You are so right! What is it with some of the younger folks?

  3. @slugmama - if I thought buying them a guidebook would help, I'd be all over it. Truth is, I don't think either of them would read it. For now I'm just trying to set an example.

    @marilyn - I always feel old when I say something like that, but it's so true! Me and my friends weren't like that when we were just starting out on our own. I worked 2 full time jobs and bought my first house at 18.