Frugal Is SUCH An Ugly Word

Jun 05

FrugalPurse2I try to be fiscally responsible, really I do.

For one thing, I’m a conservative investor, and while the stock market often feels like gambling,  I don’t actually go to Vegas and bet everything on red. Or black.

In fact, I don’t go to LasVegas at all any more. Been there, done that.

But back in the day when I did, I once sat next to Murray The G (you don’t need to know his last name), who ran the casino at Caesar’s Palace. He thought I seemed like a nice girl (And compared to the other “girls” at the table I was, I was!) so he gave me some advice. “Look around, kid,” he said. “We didn’t build this place on winners.”

Not wanting to be included in the loser category, I listened, more or less, to these wise words and didn’t gamble much (preferred gamboling anyway), although once, when I was winning at roulette, something that rarely happens to anyone no matter what you see in the movies, I put a pile of chips on #14 and won $4200. I probably lost it all back, but prefer not to think about that. I was, after all, playing with their money, the Great Gambling Rationalization, so I wasn’t being extravagant. Besides, Murray wasn’t looking.

I also don’t have a drug addition, unless you count Snickers, a habit I’m trying, with the help of my cardiologist and my spiritual advisor, to break, so think of all the money I save on that.

I don’t eat much. I share meals at restaurants, and even then, I sometimes bring some home. I cook dinners and eat the leftovers for lunch. That’s thrifty, isn’t it? On the other hand, some of the restaurants do charge a hefty amount for a minuscule portion, and I do so love to make lamb chops. Easy, delicious, but not cheap.

Unlike some people who shall remain nameless, I feel no need to buy designer purses or luxury cars as status symbols, although I did once get a Louis Vuitton when I got paid in cash for a freelance job and the money was burning a hole in my (old) pocketbook. Still have the designer bag, which I use all the time. And the Mercedes I bought years ago was pre-owned (a nice way of saying “used”) and lasted 12 years. That’s fiscally responsible, is it not?

I use public transportation. Well, buses. Most of the time. I hate subways. Period. If you don’t understand this, I really can’t explain it. Being underground? Sitting next to smelly people? The danger of having one of these smelly people steal my iPhone? Or worse? Let’s not even go there.

But buses can be very, very s-l-o-w, and waiting for them is no fun, especially in bad weather. So I take taxis whenever it’s too far to walk (“In these shoes, I don’t think so”), I’m late (or pretend I’m late or make myself late on purpose) or if it’s an inconvenient commute. Going north/south plus east/west in this city, which necessitates the dreaded bus transfer, takes about an hour, sometimes more, I don’t care what you tell me.

And yet. Taking taxis some of the time does not a spendthrift make. So where does all the money go? I have a theory . . .

Budgeting is like dieting.

What’s the first thing you want to do when you decide to lose weight?
Eat, of course. And we’re not talking celery stalks and raw carrots here. The minute we start a diet, counting calories or cutting carbs we crave burgers & fries, pizza, cheesecake, Mallomars. You know, the basic food groups.

So whenever I try to put myself on a budget, which I actually do from time to time and have a folder labelled B-B-B-BUDGET that is gathering dust in my my overstuffed file cabinet, I immediately have this overwhelming urge to go out and buy something. Usually something I don’t need. And let’s face it, how many things do we really need? More jewelry? More T-shirts? Another gadget for the kitchen?

This doesn’t even count the occasional martini-induced shopping spree about which the less said the better.

Then I calm my rudely awakened conscience with the fact that I don’t gamble, take drugs, eat huge amounts of food, or flaunt status symbols. I don’t think about the taxis or the shoes.

dreamstime_2724762The shoes? What shoes?

Well, I’ve always loved shoes (how odd), and used to have a closetful of beautiful footwear. But now that my feet have rebelled against all the ill use of the past, I have to find comfortable ones that don’t offend my delicate aesthetic sensibilities to the point of nausea.

Which brings me to this: You know what happens when you eat a bad meal: you fill your stomach but don’t feel satisfied? (That’s why everyone gains the Freshman 15 when they’re first faced with institutional cooking). It’s the same with me and my shoes. I have a mass of mediocre to horrible pairs, plus a few nice ones I can no longer wear, so I am constantly tempted to buy more.

I have this fantasy of finding the perfect pair of cool looking, totally comfortable heels for evening, flats for day, sandals for summer, boots for winter. Then maybe I could walk more and avoid taking all those cabs.

Yeah right. I’ll own four pairs of perfect shoes. And I’ll never take another taxi. Or buy another thing I don’t need. Like cocktail napkins—and change purses—with cute sayings on them.

Oh really, why even try to be frugal? It never works. Besides, it IS such an ugly word, isn’t it.


For reasons to use cabs, see: Do You Believe In Karma?

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