LF on being cheap

It has been discussed time and time again, but recently it has been bugging me: being cheap.  Here in the PF community, I like to think we’re a frugal bunch – not a cheap bunch. This is why it bugs me when people can’t make the distinction and plague society with their flat-out cheapness. Wtf?

Just don’t.

…on going out to eat

At the restaurant where I waitress on weekends, there is a young family of four that comes in every Saturday. I always get stuck with this group and I hate them for a few reasons:

  • Our receipts have a survey link at the bottom that you can fill out for a free appetizer on your next visit. This is fine and a great way to enjoy a free app, but they do it EVERY SINGLE VISIT. The point of the survey is for us to assess the quality of our food, service, etc. Having the same people critique the same food and the same service every week does us no benefit beyond the first, I don’t know, 100 times? This is purely exploitative of the system, I think.
  • They order three waters and one pop. The pop is bottomless. Enough said?
  • They order one kid’s meal for TWO KIDS. The kid’s meal is tiny. Why are they making the poor kids share one?
  • The woman works for the same chain of restaurants so she uses her discount card, which gives her 20% off. Of course this is fine as that’s what it’s meant to be used for. But between exploiting the survey and using a discount card, a meal that would easily be $45 ends up being $25.

I don’t know about you, but when I use any sort of discount at a restaurant (coupon, group deal, etc.) I make sure to tip on the entire amount. I think it’s embarrassing to go into a restaurant, exploit every type of discount, and tip a whopping $4 for a table of 4. I understand that some people don’t have an abundance of disposable income, but if I don’t feel like I can afford to go out and enjoy a meal, then I don’t go out and enjoy a meal.

Of course after working in a restaurant for two years, I can write a whole blog post on cheapness in restaurants but I’ll leave it at that for now!

…on shopping

I love me a good sale!

I know a few people that do this, but to me buying a dress and wearing it to a party and returning it the next day is cheap.

A coworker of mine told me that her mother uses appliances from department stores until they’re completely worn down and then exchanges them for new ones. She gets away with it. This is cheap.

Bargain hunting (even if it takes you hours!) is frugal. It doesn’t involve wasting people’s time, scamming the system, or generally being a burden to the world in order to save a few bucks.

…on being social

Going to a potluck and bringing a bag of chips when everyone else has made extravagant salads, dips, pastas, etc. is cheap. There is nothing wrong with bringing snacks but I try to ensure that the price will roughly match what everyone else is bringing (i.e. a bag of chips with a homemade taco dip…yum!)

Going to a potluck and bringing nothing. Ummm! Cheap and awkward.

Allowing a friend to cover a meal and never reciprocating. Cheap.

I invited a friend of mine over for dinner and she insisted on contributing to groceries. I did not allow this because to me, inviting someone over for dinner means I’m treating him or her to dinner. Allowing her to bring groceries would have been cheap in my opinion!

Overall, I think the distinction between cheap and frugal is tact. I am all for going on a coffee date instead of a dinner date to be frugal. I am all for waiting for a dress to go on sale before buying it. I use group buy coupons. I walk instead of taking a bus or cab. None of these activities are exploitative or tactless. They don’t make a mockery of the system and they aren’t disrespectful to the people you care about. That’s where I draw the line.

Where do you draw the line between cheap and frugal? Do you have any cheapo stories? I’d love to know!


My pricy and awesome weekend

Ever since catching the case of the frugals about a year ago, I’ve really cut back on fun spending. I still try to see friends and do fun things but in moderation. This kind of bites but it has definitely paid off! Now that I’m almost out of debt (yay!) I’ve been trying to focus on making as much and saving as much until May when I am set to pay off my school loan. So you can all imagine how guilty I was feeling when I went out Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not only did I spend money each time but I had some super long days because I also worked each day. Tiring, bank-breaking, but glorious.

I know it may be ridiculous for someone that claims to blog about personal finance, but I am horrible at tracking all my purchases. I monitor everything I’ve spent via my credit card statement throughout the month and also how much cash on hand and adjust my spending accordingly but I don’t categorize each purchase and evaluate. There is a reason I don’t do weekly spending reports like so many other bloggers.

I’ve decided to make an exception for this weekend because I am curious to see how much it cost me and also want to tell you about my weekend!

Went to work (day job) and met a really good friend whom I haven’t seen in ages. We went for Thai food and then over to her place for tea. I actually suggested a Starbucks and she suggested her nearby condo for a frugal option. Sweet!


Thai food: $16

I had an opening shift at the restaurant, which would normally last until after the lunch rush at 2-3pm but it got incredibly busy and I wasn’t out until 4:30! This wasn’t fun as the bf and I were going to a birthday party and expected to be at laser tag (yup, you heard me) for 4. I rushed out of work, went home and changed and raced out the door. Laser tag was absolutely hilarious with a few of us grown ups battling it out with little kids. These kids meant business and I found myself being ganged up on by groups of kids that couldn’t have been more than 3 feet tall 🙂 I won’t count the cost of this as the bf paid but at $9 per person per 20 minute game, this could add up very fast! Luckily we were only there for one round so it didn’t get overly costly. Afterwards, we all went to an Indian restaurant to eat. They didn’t do separate checks so another girl and I worked through the bill and figured out each person’s total. It went very smoothly!


Indian food – $20

Note: BF and I had a joint total of $40 and normally one of us would just pay but because we both had some cash, we each paid our portion. I have yet to write a post about how we handle finances but I will, I promise!

Other note: Figuring out tabs with large groups can be difficult but this time around, the girl helping me had a really good idea for simplifying just a tad. Instead of figuring out each person’s subtotal, tax and tip, we figured out the overall tip, then added the tip and the tax together and divided by the number of people. Then we took each person’s subtotal and added in that fixed amount. I know this isn’t completely accurate but because each person’s total didn’t vary by a huge amount, the difference would have been miniscule anyway.


I went to a bridal shower! This was fun and I got to see a bunch of my high school girlfriends. There was a great spread of food (hello, sushi!) and even though I find shower games super lame, they were actually fun. Afterwards, I went to work. It was super busy yet again!

Shower gift – $30 (A few of us chipped in for a teapot and grater off the registry. I completely forgot to give my friend this cash to pay her back but I’ve set it aside for her.)
Grand total: $66

I can breathe again. This is not nearly as horrible as I thought it would be! I normally spend next to nothing on the weekends because I try not to make plans due to work but this was a rare exception where I had plans each day. I’m learning to feel less guilty about spending money slowly but surely. I’m also grateful that I have a part-time job that not only supplements my income but is flexible enough that I can make plans around it. This is the main reason I’ve stuck around for as long as I have. My managers like me and are very flexible in terms of days off and almost always give me the shifts that I want!
How was your weekend?

The price of time

I’ve recently been grappling with a really awesome problem: to quit or not to quit my part time job?

I say this is an awesome problem because I love the fact that it’s finally an option. For the past year I’ve forced myself to stick with it, working almost every single weekend. It hasn’t been horrible and it has helped me a little lot in paying down my debt. As my debt deadline of May 1 quickly approaches, I’ve started thinking about what comes next. Do I continue to work weekends and increase my savings? Do I quit and just not save as quickly? The natural answer to me is the former. I have the potential to save a significant amount of money if I keep my serving job. This got me thinking about time. I could easily keep my job and work every weekend and save money, but so what? What do I sacrifice?

Time with the bf

It becomes very difficult to spend time together when we have to work around my very limited weekends. Sometimes it’s just downright miserable working all weekend and not being able to do anything together. This past weekend we took a short overnight trip to see a hockey game and even though it wasn’t to anywhere exciting, spending time together and not having to work was a fantastic feeling.

Time with friends

Last summer I had to miss a weekend away with friends because I forced myself to work. I knew I could have booked the weekend off if I wanted to but I also knew that the opportunity cost of not working/spending money on the trip was simply not justifiable.

Time outdoors

Speaking of summer, missing an entire summer of fun weekends was just excruciating! Every Saturday night I had to go into work, I just thought of how much I wanted to sit out on a patio – not serve on one!

Time with family

I just love hanging out with my 9 year old cousin and there have been several times where she has come over and I have to rush out to work. The poor thing is always so disappointed!

Saving money is great, but so is spending time doing the things you love with the people you love. Right now the plan is to work a crapload in May and then think about leaving. One thing is certain: when I finally get my weekends back, I will never take them for granted again.


Waitressing: The dollars and sense

There have been several instances where people have told me they feel bad that I have to waitress. Comments like this really bother me because I don’t feel bad about it in the least. Although I work in an office by day, I am not beneath waiting tables if it helps me get closer to my goals. And besides that fact, I really love serving.

Let me tell you why you shouldn’t feel bad for me. Working a typical Saturday night, I will work for about five hours and make about $60-$100+ in tips alone. Let’s do the math.

Tips: $60 (to be conservative)

Base pay, net of taxes: $42.50 ($8.50*5 hrs)

Total pay: $102.50

That’s right, even on a slow night, I’m making over $20 an hour. In terms of part time jobs, it doesn’t get much better than that. And best of all, it’s fun. I understand that it takes a certain personality to love it, but if you love money and talking to people then this might just be the job for you! I am incredibly thankful for this job because it has allowed me to make a huge dent in my loan with relatively little time commitment. Gail Vaz-Oxlade, one of my favourite financial gurus has always said that if you don’t make enough to pay down your debt, then make more money. I couldn’t agree more and wish I had taken on this job much, much earlier than I did. Like I’ve said previously, this has been a year of learning and this is just one of the great things I’ve learned this year. If you’re worried about your money situation, I highly recommend taking on another job. It allows you to gain transferrable skills, make some new friends and of course save some money.

Do you have a part time job?