Actually it’s even worse than that. My mother shops at Goodwill for me. And only on 50% off days. And only when she can get her senior discount. I really hate clothes shopping. I think it’s a hold over from my days at Catholic school. I mean who really needs more than two plaid jumpers, five white Peter Pan blouses and a handful of navy blue knee socks? And besides I am a cheap skate. For real. I am an old school Yankee from Massachusetts. Cheap makes me happy. If I pay full price for anything I feel like someone else is winning. If it’s not on sale, from a flea market, or given to me by someone I pretty much have no interest in it. True confession: I went to the Inaugural Ball in a dress my cousin found for me in Filene’s basement (the original one in downtown Boston that consists of three basement floors with bins full of clothing)) for $34.
Before 2008 I didn’t embrace my inner cheap skate. I hid her away and tried to keep up with the Jones’s . I bought a new car from the dealer with chrome rims. I went to Saks monthly and bought Creme De La Mer at $150 a pop and so much Bobbi Brown makeup I could have opened my own boutique. I even sunk so low as to buy full priced items from Pottery Barn. The sad part is I never really enjoyed it. It felt like I was wearing a really fabulous outfit that everyone else loved but I felt incredibly uncomfortable in. Bottom line it just wasn’t me.
Then 2008 hit the nation – and the Corning house. My job had always been 100% commission based which meant in 2008 my income plummeted. This also happened to coincide with the birth of my second child which meant we now had two sets of child care to pay for. A few years later just as we thought the free fall had stopped, my husband lost his job. Even though Peter wasn’t out of work very long it was frightening to see how quickly our safety net dwindled to near nothing.
Having lived through a prolonged period of economic uncertainty with two small children depending on you puts things in perspective. I was forced to put aside all of the bad spending habits I had adopted during the years of economic stability and no children. And I began to remember how much I loved playing the cheap skate game. The thrill of the hunt for the ultimate bargain. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I refurbish a piece of furniture that I found at a flea market and breathe new life into it. The sense of satisfaction I feel when I find the identical shade of lipstick at Wal-Mart to the Lorac brand I used to wear.
Since I am coming clean about my inner cheap skate I thought I’d share a list of my proudest accomplishments – and please post your’s:
1. Drugstore makeup is just as good as the stuff in department stores. If you haven’t tried Elf go to Target right now.
2. Every other haircut from Super Cuts is a huge money saver and really they haven’t screwed anything up that my regular stylist can’t fix the next time. Hair color is still only handled by the best stylist in the world: Chad White of Zolton’s Salon. I didn’t say you can never splurge!
3. You don’t need a housekeeper. you think you do but you don’t. You do however, need a husband who participates in the cleaning process. So if he isn’t, spend the money on a couple’s therapist and skip paying the cleaner.
4. There is no decorating job that a can of black spray paint can’t handle.
5. Don’t be afraid to get your shoes re-soled. it’s not only cheaper than buying new shoes but it saves you from having to shop.
6. Cars are depreciating assets. Drive your car until it falls apart. Anyone who cares what you drive isn’t worth impressing anyway.
7. Think crock pot instead of restaurant.
8. Wal-Mart has $3-$5 frames the big ones – and some of them are even as cute as Pottery Barn frames.
9. Fructis shampoo and conditioner are just as good as any expensive brand I’ve ever tried.
10. Hand me down clothes for children are the best. Especially if you have boys like I do. Boys will trash a free shirt from your neighbor just as fast as the $50 version from Nordstrom. It’s a fact. Also little boys love getting clothes from older boys because they think older boys are super cool.