Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Life As a Cheapskate

I picked up Jeff Yeager's "The Cheapskate Next Door" at a library book sale a couple of months ago. I finally got around to reading it this week. The author would have been proud of me even if I did him out of his royalties on the $12.99 original price. While I am far from the kind of person he describes fondly as a cheapskate, I do have my miserly tendencies. Not paying full price for a book is just one of them.

Yeager's book was published in 2010, and the material is clearly informed by our ongoing recession. The book is modeled on "The Millionaire Next Door" though without the rigorous research to back it up. What this means for the reader is that the book is less about savings tips and more about the lifestyle and personal biases of the "average" cheapskate. I found this fascinating, even if it proves to me yet again that I may be broke and trying to recover but I don't qualify as a genuine cheapskate.

Yeager's cheapskates have a lot in common with the true millionaires Thomas J.Danko and William D. Stanley studied (meaning, people who really have a million, not just stuff and debts). To some extent, being a cheapskate appears to be a trait that begins in childhood. It has more to do with one's inner sense of self, one's self-reliance, and one's immunity to desiring what their neighbor has. At base, it comes down to getting the job done rather than worrying about what one looks like doing the job.

Most of the cheapskates Yeager interviewed are not adverse to comfort nor do they forgo quality when they make a purchase. But neither do they see the point in upgrading if what they already have works fine. They don't all drive junkers, but they do drive their vehicles until the cars are no longer safe. The millionaires tended to do the same. Both the cheapskates and the millionaires live in homes that are smaller than what they can afford and both are usually still with their first spouses.

It appears to me that both Yeager's cheapskates and the millionaires in the Danko/Stanley book have a degree of ingenuity and self-confidence that many of us lack. I know I don't have these particular traits. While I like the idea of making do, of saving, of always searching for the best value, there are times (way too many times!) when I am tired, cranky, impatient or envious, all of which lead me spend money NOW rather than waiting.

Ultimately, that's the average cheapskate's point: delayed gratification and the ability to adopt that as a mantra leads to cheaper products, more money and a better all-round life.


Rita said...

If you are miserly then what am I? I get all my books at the library. :) I sometimes get a book for my birthday never pay full price.

Janette said...

My brother in law used to always call my father a cheapskate. There was some call for it---but---it was my father's money that got my brother in law's business off the ground.
Dad may have been "cheap"---but mom lives in a BEAUTIFUL retirement/care center and will not ever have to worry about her next meal--- no matter what the economy does!

Bob Lowry said...

Cheapskate is one of those words that implies a negative connotation, regardless of the actual lifestyle or behavior of the person.

I much prefer "frugal." That word is seen as a positive, though often means much the same thing as cheapskate.

Like Rita, 90% of my books come from the library. The rest are from a used book store and an occasional Kindle e-book. That isn't being a cheapskate, just smart.

Anonymous said...

What are the differences between cheapskates and millionaires next door (according to the book)?

Gary Foreman said...

As someone who's spoken with Jeff I can assure you that he'd be PROUD of you for not shelling out the $12.99 list price! No need to apologize to him.

Gary Foreman
The Dollar Stretcher.com

Grace. said...

Gary--good to know!

NicoleandMaggie--well, ALL the millionaires had at least a million dollars. Not all of the cheapskates did (but most were quite comfortably well off). The millionaires were heavily invested in their work while many of the cheapskates were more invested in their lives outside of work. The saddest difference was that millionaires were not particularly charitable outside of their own family (and sometimes, their church) while cheapskates tended to give a fairly high percentage of their income to various charities. This might be a false comparison since the Dank0/Stanley book was based on research while the Yeager book was more empirical.

Tessie said...

I saw him on "Extreme Cheapskates" on TLC. He was great-he ate a goat's head. The eyeballs and everything, and then he picked his teeth with the fangs (hee hee, okay, just kidding about the fangs. But that thing did look like the chupacabra!). Apparently, goat heads are extremely cheap.

I also read that book (I got it at the library). He is a very entertaining writer. I hope he writes more library books.

I like the term "Cheapskate"! It has flair! I'm cheap. I own it.

Retired Syd said...

I wouldn't say I'm a cheapskate or frugal. I'm a value shopper. I spend money on what I value and don't spend money on what I don't value, even if the Joneses think I should value it.

Grace. said...

Anon (different anon!)--I deleted your extraneous material; I'm sure you know why.

But your information is worth repeating: Morrison is blogging again, this time at http://mylifeinfocusblog.wordpress.com/

Sharon said...

I love his books...he's a very funny guy. I enjoy his concept of a fiscal fast. It's good for the soul as well as the pocketbook!

Barb said...

I agree that sometimes cheapskate has a negative connotation, although I love it and find it interchangeable than frugal. Over all, I am a cheapskate most of the time. when I do spend money, its not because Im tired or in a hurry, its because I made a decision to spend money on that item for a specif reason. I love jeff yeager.

Jeff Yeager said...

Hi -

Thanks for your kind words about my book, "The Cheapskate Next Door". I'm glad you liked it.

BTW, my fourth book, "How to Retire the Cheapskate Way", is coming out this December, and may be of interest to anyone who's interested in a graceful - and cheap! - retirement.

Congrats, too, for getting my book on-the-cheap.

Stay Cheap!
-Jeff Yeager, author "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches", "The Cheapskate Next Door", and "Don't Throw That Away!"

Anonymous said...

I don't mind being a cheapskate at all!!! my hope is that it will lead me to being a millionaire someday

Grace. said...

What? Me interested in retirement? I may actually have to--you should pardon the expression--buy it at full price when it comes out. Thanks for dropping by, Jeff.

Susie Q said...

We are the millionaires next door. My husband just retired at 58, I am 48. We have saved diligently and I've always had a knack for earning extra money. We have no debt. Zero. I love to thrift shop - so I'm not dropping loads of money at the mall on clothing - although I have a jaw-dropping wardrobe. We buy our cars new, and drive them for 12-15 years. Not high-end cars, but cars with good ratings in Consumers Report - dependable transportation is all we are after. We are NOT impressed with people who drive flashy cars - does nothing for us. We aren't flashy people at all - just your average folks living well below our means. We don't get attached or caught up in what other people are buying or have. We are truly happy. I find that being a saver isn't painful, it's empowering. We are like you in that we use the library all the time. We don't have cable (because we really don't like to watch TV). We just pick and chose what we want to spend money on. Carri bean vacations. Treating family & friends to dinner. We'd rather spend our money on experiences/events than things. We just joined a new Wellness Center in our area and it's well worth the money to keep us healthy as we age. We aren't cheap - I guess I would say we are frugal and careful - and we just don't have a lot of wants. If you learn to be happy with what you have and not get caught up in that vicious cycle of keeping up with the Joneses, you should be able to save a lot more money. We do volunteer work and give regularly to our church and local organizations - we feel that the saying "to whom much is given, much is expected" so we aren't money hoarders by any means. We just want our money to last us through the end of our lives - living simply.

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