The art of saving money is an acquired skill. One’s ability to do so can be best characterized as a sliding scale of attitude that ranges from thrifty to penny-pinching, tight and cheap, the ultimate insult.
The first description is polite, responsible and implies sound financial management. Frugal isn't so bad. Saving here and there, going without extravagant expenditures. Penny-pinching describes the person who wants to go dutch, but you roll with it, although it's irritating. Cheap describes the individual who pulls out the calculator at the burger joint to tally the split for the tip. It’s also the person who figures out the cost of a square on the toilet paper.
Cheap describes my husband.
And by the way, he says “I proudly admit it!” (Prime minister/The Saint). He grew up eating what he and his father could catch from the stream or shoot in the woods, in a postage-size home, the child of two artists. When the family needed work done on the home, his father put a saw in his six-year old hands and told him to watch his fingers. It didn’t help he went on to acquire a degree in economics and finance, further cementing his philosophy abt getting the most for the least, even when money is available. In his mind, money is never available. Ever.
After I got over the 'I’m-going-to-kill-him' for continuous complaints about the cost of Charmin over Kirkland brand toilet paper, and me cataloging in an excel spreadsheet how many squares I use to wipe my arse, we compromised that I wouldn't "throw away money" as long as I always, always, asked for a trade.
“See what you can do to lower the cost,” he's say to me before I called up for a bid. "It's just horse-trading."
|Be the ball, |
I mean, horse Danny (Caddyshack)
Couldn’t I just pay the bill and be done with it? No. Rog would ask for a ‘report’ to which I’d have to respond honestly (I can't lie for beans, though I gave it my best shot early on).
Over the years, my acumen for wheedling down a price has gotten pretty good. But then, I’m always scouting something to give away as an enticement, even if it’s food. Certain circumstances call for what’s in my head (business advice), other times, it’s a old sink in my garage. All depends. What entices one individual doesn’t work for another.
For instance, two weekends ago my author site required an upgrade and new code work. The bill was to be a few hundred bucks, and I’d set aside my sheckles to pay for this (it took months, since Rog insisted I pay for it with the nickels and dimes from on-line book sales—another topic. Suffice it to say it’s in increments of .10cents). Even though I saved the money, I wanted it for free. Fortune smiled upon me, and the web development firm asked for my assistance on helping their proposal process (so they could win more business). Creating proposals is second nature for me, and I took the opportunity to offer a trade= their work for mine, assuming the numbers were approximately the same. No cash out. It was awesome.
This shouldn’t be suprising. When Methusala roamed the Earth in loin clothes and sandals, coinage wasn’t used. A farmer traded wheat for a goat in order to have milk. Now in my baby food stained sweats, I traded a week of vacation stay to the kid (25yr old man actually) getting married so he could tape, pressure wash and stain our home before the cedar shakes disintegrated.
Here are a few more examples of cheapness-delivers-good-outcomes:
1- Offered to host a wedding shower for a quasi neighbor/acquaintance in return for her husband helping us clear some trees. It may sound lame, but it saved both of us hundreds of dollars in cash. We (the collective 4 of us) did hard labor, and had no hard costs per se.
2-Two years ago, part of our roof was leaking. The material cost was minimal, but the labor expensive ($50+ an hour). Me, being my shameless self, made chit-chat with the two burley guys that showed up for the bid. (Well, 2 sets of burley guys showed up actually). My personal mission was to cut out $1200 dollars from the price, for no reason other than I wanted to impress Rog. We had two, barely used 2-stroke motorcycles sitting in our garage. I offered to provide the bikes and the trailer for a reduction in the labor cost. The first guys said no, the second set yes. Turns out one had a teenage son and this was a perfect gift. It was great!
Other examples of trading….
3- I provided PR services in the Seattle area for a CNN producer (who contacted me over the Internet--totally blind cold call on his part) and he in turn, gave me his contact database for a marketing program. He came out a little ahead, by a few hundred bucks, but I wasn’t going to quibble. His database was worth far more than an hour or two of my time.
4-Graphic design for my book, website and other projects. Good designers are expensive and hard to come by. I traded a part of revenue from each source in return for a low or, in some cases, no cost up front fee for my projects. By the end of the program, the designers received much more money than they would have in taking an upfront fee.
In this economic environment, I’m even more creative on what I’ll offer up, ask for and consider. Believe you me, people are always asking me off-the-wall questions, coming up with crazy propositions. The worst someone can say is no.
1-what do you have to offer?
2-what’s in your garage, home etc you can live without?
3-is labor interesting? Are you, or your husband w/work? Labor is expensive, and folks will eagerly pay or trade for honest, hard-working hands.