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A cheapskate is born

Submitted by on Friday, 20 February 2009 No Comment

Need help reining in your grocery bill? Unable to stop that yummy-looking package of pastries from jumping into the cart?

I have a consultant who can whip you into shape: Big Guy.

I’ll warn you, though, he’s relentless to the point of trying to kill his own mother.

“These hot dogs are cheaper,” he said yesterday.

“They have pork. I can’t eat them. I’m allergic to pork.”

“But they’re cheaper.”

His great-grandfather, who was so cheap he once went through a bout of reusing coffee grounds, was smiling at that one.

It started last weekend in Target, as Big Guy learned to read prices. I told the guys I’d get them one small toy each as Valentine’s Day presents. I meant small as in “cost.” Big Guy took it to mean small as in “size.”

A half hour – or was it a half day? – later, we left the toy aisle with a “small” Batmobile with a “small”$10 price tag.

If I thought Target ate time, it was nothing compared to the grocery store. Lucky for me that Boots still is happy to ride in the cart most trips or I would have been buying a clearance-cart fleece to keep us warm during our overnight stay.

“Where did you get that?” Big Guy demanded, eyeing a package of roast beef lunch meat.

“Over there,” I gestured.

“Hmm … That’s $3.49 … This one is lower, though,” he said, pointing to bologna. Aw, sheesh, never mind that none of us likes bologna. Do I have to give the “I’m allergic to pork” speech again?

I expected him to falter when the cute little cartoon character cartons of yogurt beckoned. Emphasis on “little.” He was hanging tough, though.

“Let’s see,” I said. “We can have six of these tiny yogurts for $3.49, or we can have six of the bigger ones for $3. Which sounds like the better deal?”

“The big ones!” he affirmed. He probably knew I wasn’t going to buy the overpriced cartoon yogurt anyway.

Next came the bread aisle, where he had to find buns to go with his hot dogs. In his haste and hunger – never mind that just last week he hated hot dogs – he grabbed $3 Sara Lee. I steered him toward the store brand. “Oh! That’s only $1.49. We’ll get that one.”

He’d heard my speech about “not buying expensive store-bought cookies filled with garbage” often enough that he didn’t even ask for Oreos. Instead, he wanted to know if we had enough flour to make cookies. Yes, we do.

The produce aisle revealed some shortfalls in logic, such as the one that spurred him to decide to buy Boots cilantro instead of broccoli because the cilantro was cheaper.”Cilantro’s green, too,” he said. “Can’t he just eat that?”

He also balked at the caramel dip his brother loves – a pricey $3.99 that even I choke on because I could make it for less if only I could get an extension on the 24-hour day.

He had no problem, though, with shelling out the same $3.99 for a quart of strawberries that would be gone by nightfall. “We really like those. Let’s go ahead and get them.”

And we did, because economizing will fail if it makes life all deprivation.

Even Pawpaw gave up on recycling the coffee grounds after a few weeks.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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