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 8:40 AM


Blogger Lorraine_Bartlett said...

I heard you on the radio the other day (from Rochester, NY). I love your website and will keep checking in on your blog. Now I've got to get your book.

Who knew being a cheapskate could be fun?

February 3, 2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger dlbtw said...

To add thrift to your sandwich, a trick from my mother-in-law would usefully apply here: when wrapping sandwiches, save the waxy bags that breakfast cereal, cookies and crackers are packed in and wrap sandwiches in these. To further seal them, place wrapped sandwiches in bags used to purchase produce in the grocery store, or in a leftover bag the loaf of bread came in.

February 4, 2008 11:32 AM  
Blogger BG43214 said...

Well, a sugar bag lunch bag's OK, but why not just buy a $6 insulated bag? I"ve used the same one for over 6 years now....and who wants to give the refiner of a totally dead 'food' any more publicity than they need?

February 11, 2008 6:30 AM  
Blogger lynette said...

I buy the insulted bags at the end of the season when they are 75% discounted. We have 8 year old twins, who use them over and over again for school lunches and camp. The can be tossed in the washing machine.No dryer though.

February 16, 2008 5:51 AM  
Blogger Gene said...

Egads! Domino sugar! We don't buy brand name sugar. The store brand sugar is just as sweet.

February 25, 2008 4:53 AM  
Blogger carol said...

Hi Lorraine - Where did you hear Jeff on the radio? I live in Fairport.


March 1, 2008 5:26 AM  
Blogger Lorraine_Bartlett said...

Hi, Carol,

I heard it on The Morning Show on WCMF. They interviewed Jeff. It was neat! (I live in Greece.)

March 1, 2008 5:43 AM  
Blogger bugbear said...

bag of sugar (this one was store brand, not Domino--8 cents less per pound) and i was admiring it so much that i saved it to use as a lunch bag sometime.

It's interesting that if you really look at the everyday things that you have, you often can find real uses for them.

Thanks for the fun story!


March 14, 2008 1:26 AM  
Blogger bugbear said...

I really enjoyed this story, mostly because i laughed when i read it because just last week i finished a 5 pound bag of sugar (this one was Stop N Shop brand, not Domino--4 cents less per pound) and i was admiring its strength so much that i saved it to use as a lunch bag sometime.

It's interesting how if you really look at the everyday things that you have, you often can find unexpected uses for them.

Thanks for the fun story!

March 14, 2008 1:29 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

WHAT? There's a cheapskate who will buy Domino sugar when the store brand is .26cheaper? And why advertise for Domino?

Just playing with you. But, seriously, a reusable lunch bag is better.

March 17, 2008 12:22 PM  
Blogger Hugo said...

A few years back we received a Smithfield ham as Christmas gift from a relative. Although the ham is long gone, the decorative cloth bag it came in continues to serve as my lunch bag. When it gets dirty, I just cycle it through the wash with the clothing.

March 24, 2008 9:43 AM  
Blogger Jeff Yeager said...

Hey All -

Thanks for the informative and nice comments.

Yes, it's true that when you look at the stuff we throw away - each day and every day - a few generations ago those same things would have been family heirlomes (sp? - gosh, you'd never know that I'm trying to write for a living, would you?).

At any rate, thanks for visiting my website and sharing some ideas about sugar bags. I really appreciate it.

-Jeff Yeager
The Ultimate Cheapskate

March 26, 2008 3:35 PM  
Blogger The Garden Faerie said...

Jeff, I just found this site as I'm reading your book. Thanks for creating the site! I've always been frugal, first by nature and later by necessity. I'm also cheap and love finding creative ways to create what I need that are low-cost and reuse items (not only in gardening, my life's passion, but in many things). People think being cheap is depriving yourself, but for me it's always been about knowing what my priorities are and meeting those, while foresaking the unimportant. I value time and experiences more than money. I'll spend money to save time, and I'll pay for things associated with doing something fun, but I cut way back on expenses so as not to have to give up unnecessary time and experiences in the pursuit of generating money. And, yes, there's a certain pride in being cheap. Somehow, I can remember the price of almost anything I buy at a yard sales, and have no recall for retail items.
~ Monica

April 27, 2008 5:35 AM  
Blogger The Garden Faerie said...

Jeff, I love the idea of your bicycle tour through Ohio. You're welcome to stay on my couch, only I'm in SE Michigan. Have you checked out It's a great way to find free overnight space. I hope to attend your event in either Bowling Green or Toledo (the latter is closer but the former fits my schedule better).
~ Monica

April 27, 2008 5:39 AM  
Blogger AEdrich said...

Tried to get ahold of you via your email, but it's bouncing.

I thought I would share with you what I got out of your book, which by the way, was read in a day.

The review is live here:

May 2, 2008 8:17 AM  

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