Recession Mama











{April 25, 2009}   “My Cheap Dad”

By Katy

I was inspired by Carla’s post on where we get our financial sense. I have common sense, I have hopefully some sense of reality, but financial sense? I’m not sure that’s part of the recessive gene pool. If so, I am definitely swimming in the shallow end. But let me first go wayyy back…back when I was a very, very little girl and everyone said I looked like my dad…

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Well, unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my dad to show you. But trust me…this is sort of a cuter little girl version of him. Now, when I got older, everyone said I looked just like my mom, which made me happier (since I am a girl…I really didn’t want to resemble my father, who is a man). As for learning from my parents’ financial acumen, well…you tell me how much you’ll learn.

First, my mother. My brother has always said, quite seriously, that the two of us were born in a mall. My dad says he’d be a much richer man today, if it wasn’t for her and her old LOVE of shopping. She would take us to the mall, even when we were sick and home from school! (Cool, right? Well, not if you’re running a fever and could care less about looking at ladies’ shoes.) Nowadays, she’s not such a bigger shopper. Instead, I think her retail therapy has turned into a fitness fanaticism. I admire the way she’s turned it around for herself though, and boy, do I wish I had her amazingly toned arms!

Now back to my dad. I was always joking, that someday, I wanted to produce a TV sitcom, called “My Cheap Dad.” When I told him this idea, he was actually super thrilled! He bragged to his co-workers that his daughter wanted to write a TV show all about his CHEAPNESS! Obviously, the man revels in the 100 ways he likes to hold onto a buck. Let me just give you a few examples…when I was still living at home (and that really wasn’t that long ago), he would follow me around the house. As soon as I left a room, he would turn off the lights. OK you’re saying to yourself, what’s wrong with that? We should be conserving energy. Should we also turn off the lights when I just left the bedroom for two seconds to grab a towel or hairbrush from the bathroom? And should he turn off ALL of the lights when I was still sitting in the living room?!? Um, hello? I’m still in here…sitting in the dark now. And what’s ironic is, today, he would be considered a forward-thinking “environmentalist.”

Next, forget about going to restaurants with my dad! He believes that a $5/person meal is an average priced meal, and that anything that costs $10/person or more is a super fancy, highly expensive restaurant. Um, I truly believe the man is still living in the 1970’s. And when I say $10 or more…I really just mean $10. He doesn’t really do “more.” And the tipping scenario…oh I think I’m going to get in trouble for this one. Remember how, on “Friends,” Rachel’s dad was a tight tipper? And how, when Ross tried to leave more money, her dad got super angry and accused Ross of thinking he was cheap? Well, that’s exactly my dad. His idea of a good tip is 10% for lunch and maybe 15% for dinner. At Chinese restaurants, it’s worse. I think it may be a couple of a bucks for lunch (no matter what our check comes out to be), and maybe 10% for dinner. His favorite dinner-time restaurants are mostly buffets, especially the ones where he gets the senior discount (not sure if he always qualifies) and also he has a fistful of…coupons. He loves buffets mainly because you get to eat as much as you want, and he only has to tip a couple of bucks, even at dinner. But let’s just get something clear. If you’re not a big eater, like my mother or even myself, he does not like to take you to his favorite restaurants because well frankly, my dear, we did not eat our damned worth!

I could go on, but I’ll spare you all of the details and hope that someday, I will have a TV sitcom called, “My Cheap Dad,” so you could really see how cheap he truly is. I think he got his “cheapness” from his mother. But to really think about it, I don’t think I could call her “cheap.” She has money. After all, my father grew up with a chauffeur and a nanny. But my Nana is actually someone who values money over people. She is someone that this recession is shaking its fists at (with full force)! She has actually said, out loud, that she wants to be buried with all of her money! Well, good luck with that dream!

So…to go back to the point at the beginning of my story, where I told you that I was definitely swimming in the shallow end, financially, I think you can finally see my point.



recessionmama says:

I LOVE it Katy. As a former waitress, I cringe when I hear stories about cheap tippers. But I completely understand your dad’s desire to get a good deal. I like a great bargain myself. I actually enjoy negotiating the price of a new car and haggling with the jewelry vendors on the beaches of Mexico. I’m always asking if that’s their best deal. I actually had Lowes Home Inprovement call their corporate “quote” office to see if I could get a bigger discount on the already marked down appliances (for the rental). I saved over $800.00.

My grandpa Joe was super cheap. He too made us turn off the lights when we left the room (the habit stuck w me). He also made us hang up our towels after using them. “It’s not dirty.”
Every week Grandpa would wade around in the ponds at the golf course and fish for balls. Nobody seemed to mind cause he would leave a bunch of them at the driving range. And everyone in my family drove their cars until wheels fell off. They actually bragged about how many miles were on the speedometer.

Katy, I’ve never actually known anyone who has said they want to be buried with their money. That’s hysterical! My grandma used to keep wads of money wrapped up in tin foil in the refrigerator. “Just in case,” she would say. I’m not sure what that was all about. Not sure I want to know.



recessionmama says:

Oh Heather, my Nana used to keep money actually underneath the mattress, like people joke about doing these days. The problems with that is…you really don’t have a good way of accounting for that money. I remember one summer, when we were really young, she came screaming out of the bedroom, asking if anyone stole some of her money!! Slightly kooky…



Carla says:

Isn’t this a great discussion to have? I was raised to never talk about money..and look where that got me.

The good thing about your Dad being cheap is that he and your Mom live in a super big, gorgeous home (which I have yet to see) and the money’s flowin’, right? I see how that works, but there should and can be a balance.

I think your sitcom would be a total hit! (Oh and can I star in it?)



recessionmama says:

I think this is absolutely a great discussion! I could probably write way more! When Heather says she loves to bargain, I have stories about my mom’s mad bargaining skillz. And I do think there needs to be a balance. My Nana’s love for money goes wayyy overboard…while spending like there’s no tomorrow really isn’t the way to go either. But I think we are all trying to figure it out. I would love to learn how to live very modestly. And I’m sure my dad would be happy to know that “My Cheap Dad” would be a hit!



Vanessa Bull says:

WOW. You know, Jason’s aunt and uncle take the cake on frugality, or at least get to have a very big slice. I thought they compost, keep the house at 60 degrees (60 degrees in Indiana in the winter is COLD), among other things to save the planet. It’s not. It’s solely to save money. They do enjoy that their cheapness also helps the planet, but come on–60 degrees??? Oh, and have you ever heard of it being too cold to have a fire? If the temperature drops too low, his uncle won’t start a fire–something about how the chimney would draw the heated (60 degrees) air from the house to the outside and waste money. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.



Carla says:

Cheap-o’s rules!



recessionmama says:

Oh my dad also kept the house pretty cold in the winter and pretty warm in the summer. He loved living in Seattle in the Summer. Most people don’t even have air-conditioning in their homes up there! And he likes the mild temps here in Southern California too.



Jean says:

Sooo cute, Katy — the picture and the column too. Reminds me of my ethnic parents! I see other comments I can related too here. For example I have relatives who keep their houses cold in the (snowy) wintertime too. And the cheap tipper thing among the older generations, definitely…with the exception of my father, because he was once a busboy.



recessionmama says:

My dad was a busboy too, but I guess he didn’t really learn from that experience.



YAY COUPONS! I use coupons and club cards whenever I can. Although, I usually tip 20%, unless they were HIDEOUS, then only 15%. Hmmm. Maybe I should have a meal with your dad. šŸ˜‰



recessionmama says:

I always tip 20% too, unless the service was detrimental to my health. šŸ™‚



[…] the 70’s when our parents had to wait in line for gas. And can you believe that when I asked my cheap dad if he took advantage of any of these free promotions, he said he had started going, but saw how […]



[…] been finishing up a show, and I’ve worked 12-15 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week.Ā  I missed my cheap dad’s Father’s Day dinner on Sunday because I had to go to work.Ā  Fortunately, my dad […]



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