Cheap Pride Sack of Courage

Sunday, February 3, 2008

In the overall scheme of personal finances, the amount spent on disposable brown paper bags or reusable lunch boxes to transport your daily noontime fare is not a terribly large sum.

In fact, I would estimate that it costs about $126.19 to buy a lifetime supply of brown paper lunch sacks, assuming that you carry your lunch every day throughout a 30-year career and throw away the sack each day (NOTE: This is based on generic store-brand bags, and allows for sick days, vacations, sacks that need to be replaced prematurely due to overripe bananas, and occasional lunches out with the boss). Unlike non-cheapskates who mindlessly shell out each and every day for a fast food lunch or something even more frivolous, the cheapskate is still far ahead of everyone else by packing his own lunch, even if he treats himself to a new bag everyday.

No, this story is more about pride - pride in being cheap - than it is about generating huge economic savings (even though there's hardly anything the Ultimate Cheapskate wouldn't do for $126.19). When Miser Advisrr J.P. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, shared with me this story about a dollar stretching friend of hers, I realized that this story is really about the Red Badge of Cheapskate Courage, a symbol that all of us who are tight with a buck can use to declare our miserliness to the rest of the world.

According to J.P., her friend has managed to get SIX YEARS (and counting) of lunch bag service out of something you probably have in your cupboard at this very moment. His Domino Sugar bag, with its multiple layers of industrial strength, indestructible paper, has served him faithfully, day in and day out, for six long years.

Now, if this same idea had been conceived by the Madison Avenue marketing firm that probably represents Domino Sugar, you can bet that by tomorrow Paris Hilton would be sporting the trendy new lunch sack (and little else), every child and many adults across America would be scrambling to get theirs, the price of Domino Sugar would soar, supplies would run short, trade embargos against Cuba would be lifted, Fidel would be offered a position managing the Yankees, and so on. But it is, once again, the cheapskate who must blaze this trail.

I can think of no more fitting symbol of Cheap Pride than the one offered by J.P.'s friend. For years frugal people have been "brown bagging it," but now true cheapskates can proudly "sugar bag it." And nothing bothers a cheapskate more than paying for something with the express intention of throwing it away. The Cheap Pride Movement could have no more poignant symbol; one that makes a statement and saves money, but involves no actual sacrifice or decrease in standard of living. In essences, it symbolizes all that we stand for and believe in.

And so, I call on my tightwad brethren to throw down your brown bags and store-bought lunch boxes and proudly fly the yellow and blue colors of the Domino Sugar bags. When we see a fellow cheapskate with the distinctive Sack of Courage, we will lift our heads high and proudly declare: "We will not pay for what we do not need and already own!"

posted by Jeff Yeager at 7:54 AM

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