A miser in the family

Posted October 20th, 2005 by Penny Wise

I find it quite ironic how some people think frugal behaviour is a bit quirky, or even amusing and I'm sure I'm not alone in this. On the contrary, as well as being proud that I'm striving to do the best for my family, I actually feel quite smug, like I have one over on those who are frittering their money away on things that really have no consequence in the big scheme of things. When I first began reading the Vault, I couldn't believe that there were several hints along the lines of 'if you don't want everyone to see that you have cupboards full of cheap 'no-name' products, simply empty the generic products into empty, more expensive brand name bottles and nobody will no the difference!' Who on earth would want to go to the trouble of doing that, I thought to myself? A few months down the track, I know why!

Take my Mum for example, bless her. Until I began my blog, both our homes were full of the same brand names. Gradually I started changing mine to the cheaper generic brands. Now when she comes round to our house, and is sweet enough to do kind things like helping with the dishes or wiping down benches, I get little comments like 'What on earth have you got in that Spray and Wipe bottle? I didn't think it was cleaning very well', or 'Hmph! Don't think much of your budget dishwashing liquid' when she uses my Basics brand to fill the sink. I find them perfectly adequate to do the job and nobody has been struck down by any horrible illnesses yet, but it did make me think about those hints I read. What if I did fill my top-brand product empties with the 'no-name' ones, would she be able to tell the difference in the future, or would she not notice a thing, believing that she was using a superior brand? I'm quite tempted to give it a go! I'm not saying that all no-name products are of equal quality - my children don't know and don't care if they are eating expensive muesli bars or cheap ones, but when I bought them Basics Orange and Mango mini juice cartons for taking in the car the other day (saving us buying drinks when we go to sports or after school activities) Liam did ask me please not to buy it again!

Anyway, even though Mum does roll her eyes at my frugal habits or groan 'you and your Simple Savings', she has found lately that having a miserly daughter in the right place at the right time has actually saved her a fair bit. First was with her vacuum cleaner. I was telling her how I would love a Dyson brand and she said that hers had been stuck in a cupboard, not working for about three years. She had brought it over with her from England and when it stopped working, she figured it would cost a fortune to fix in another country and didn't know how to go about it. So instead she had bought an el cheapo brand but it wasn't a patch on her Dyson and she was thinking about getting a new one, retailing for over $700. I phoned the Dyson Head Office and spoke to a very helpful woman. To repair Mum's poor neglected Dyson, including couriers, labour and parts, cost a total of $117. It was picked up on Monday and returned to her home on the Wednesday! Mum couldn't believe how easy it had been - mind you, all intentions I had of buying it from her went out the window, there's no way she was going to part with it once it was fixed!

She was also glad to have me around last weekend, when in a sports shop she spied a great deal on a pair of Nike trainers. I agreed it was a great price and they did look really nice - however, when the assistant came over she informed Mum that these were actually children's trainers and the biggest size was a size 6 - Mum was a size 7. No wonder they were such a great price! Mum was just about to wander off with the assistant over to the women's trainers, which were double the price, when I remembered a hint I had recently read in the Vault, called 'If the shoe fits - wear it!' It had said that many children's shoes were actually larger than us adults are led to believe - for example a child's size 6 was actually identical to a women's size 7. 'You try that shoe on Mum, I bet you it fits!' I urged and told her of the hint (while the shop assistant stood looking rather unimpressed). Mum did and was delighted to find that the shoe was indeed a perfect fit. She got a top brand pair of trainers for an absolute bargain and had to admit that she was quite glad to have my Simple Savings knowledge on that occasion!

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