Wednesday, 13 November 2013

I'm Not Poor. I'm Cheap.

It has recently come to my attention that I seem to portray myself as poor (although from all those dinners I went to in the summer, it seems hard to believe).

I'll be honest; when I was growing up, I was, by definition, poor.

I lived in a rough neighbourhood, in a crappy building and didn't always have food on my plate. The clothes on my back were either ten sizes too big for me or five sizes too small, simply because it was cheaper to buy clothes that I would grow into (or keep the clothes that I grew out of) than to buy me a whole new wardrobe every year.

My dad (who I saw on weekends) did his absolute best to financially support me. Unfortunately, my mom wasn't always honest with him with what she was spending the money that he gave her on. When the money should have been going towards new clothes for me, it was going to other things.

Things weren't always easy.

But, that's my past.

When I was 15, I got my first job. Since then, I've never been unemployed.

Working gave me a sense of responsibility. Purchasing something with money that I earned gave me a whole new appreciation on life. The first time I paid a bill, I was giddy. Simply because I was proud of myself for being able to pay for a cellphone bill, by myself, at the age of 15. With that sense of pride, I realised it was more important for me to save my money than to spend it on frivolous purchases. While my friends were spending their part-time job money on designer clothes, I was wearing no-name brands and saving up for school.

At 20, I moved out and started paying rent and other bills on my own.

At 23, I graduated from a four-year program and paid off my student loans a month later.

I'm now 26, debt-free and well on my way to being able to afford a home.

I would not be where I am now if I didn't believe in the importance of saving my money. Even though I have a full-time job now, I still don't wear designer labels. I almost never make a purchase if the item isn't on sale. I use coupons as much as possible. I never order the most expensive item on the menu and try to limit how much I drink; not only for the health benefits but because alcohol is the most overpriced thing you could purchase at a pub/restaurant.

If I'm saving up for a vacation/big purchase, I'm not afraid to say no when being invited out.

The bad habit I have is that I tell people, "I can't afford to."

I'm wrong. I can afford to. Just, at the moment, I do not think it would be financially wise for me to go out - when I'm not saving up for something, I would be happy to join you.

As such, I apologise to anyone who I've given the wrong impression to by saying, "I can't afford to."

What I'm not going to apologise for is using coupons and looking for deals.

Groupon has saved me a ton of money. As have coupons. It doesn't make sense to me to pay full-price for something when I don't have to. So, if to you, that means I'm poor, so be it. But, I'm not poor. I'm cheap. I'm so cheap that I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

Are you afraid of using coupons because people can be judgmental?
How do you save your money?


  1. Love this! It's so great to have financial independence :) you go girl!

  2. Groupons are amazing! no shame in a good deal. Im one of those people who if someone says they like my dress I'll yell "IT WAS ONLY A DOLLAR!!!" hahaha. I think that if you dont want to say no to someone, offer another plan. Like, if you friend calls and asks you to go out for drinks after work, say "no thanks, Im trying to save up for something. How about you come over for dinner on Friday and we catch up?" saves a lot of money without losing your social life!

    Good for you for being so good with your finances. so many people our age arent (or at least thats what the newspapers say)

  3. You are a VERY wise and mature 26 year old. Not many adults (young and old) can say that they are debt free. Congrats! My favorite site to use for coupons and for free stuff is I usually check them out daily... and have received so much free stuff.

  4. I'm cheap too. I just don't see a point in wasting money on little things when I have responsibilities and could be saving up for something important!

  5. I can definitely be cheap too, though i'll allow myself some splurges when I feel like they are justified. I often will say/think that I can't afford something when I technically can, but i'm just choosing to save my money too.
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

  6. I grew up very similar to how you did and ive def learned the value of a dollar..I try to hide money from myself so if i dont see it in my account i wont be tempted to spend it..its just a mind thing but it works

  7. I think we had very similar backgrounds in regards to how we grew up with little money. And personally (though I could be biased) I think this is a great attitude to have towards money. Because my thinking is that you should try to always have savings....just in case! x

  8. It's fine to be cheap, I'm cheap too. I'm not rich at all. I have troubles paying new things but if i want something i work for it!

  9. debt free at 26. you rock! seriously, clapping my hands over here. saving money and knowing when and what to *not* spend it on is so important. my husband has such a hard time turning down an invite for a night out drinking. tsk tsk.

  10. Groupon rocks. I'm all about saving mula - who cares what others think?

  11. girrrrl; i scream it from the top of buildings that i'm a cheap chinawoman and i do not apologize for that. if that means i coupon the shit out of everything or scour sale racks like nobody's bidness to save a few bucks, THEN THAT'S WHAT I WILL DO. if people judge, they can suck it but it's my wallet that is thanking me, not theirs.

    so you do what you gotta do. like you, i grew up with very little. hand-me-downs were the norm and we didn't really have any toys unless you count cardboard boxes as toys. actually, those were pretty awesome for forts etc. but i learned the value of a dollar early and that you have to work and save to get places in life so i did just that - busted my ass, saved, put myself through school and by the time i was 24, i was debt-free, a home owner and successful in my career. it came with a lot of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice but it did it and now it's awesome. you are paving the way towards your future and being SMART about it. i pity those fools who spend way beyond their means and have nothing to show for it but fancy clothes and nice cars. you can't eat your clothes or car. they can't pay for your mortgage or support you when you're 65 and retired. if your lights go out because you can't afford to pay your bills, the utility company doesn't accept fancy cars or clothes as payment.

    do your thang, girl!!!!!

    Vodka and Soda

  12. We are 100000% meant to be. Congrats on all you have accomplished lady, debt free after your circumstances is HUGE. I am the exact same way, I refuse to purchase anything that isn't on sale. All of my tops are probably under $10, anymore then I think I don't need it. I have also mentioned groupon on my blog - I use it for hair appointments, dinners, extra things like a spray tan once in awhile etc! My friends also know me as the one who doesn't want to spend a lot of money when I go out, I order cheaply haha! Rock it girl and be proud :)

  13. I love this, I seriously do!
    I've always been a firm believe that just because you can actually pay for something, doesn't mean you can afford it!
    Great outlook, lady!

  14. I am with you. I'm not poor, just cheap.
    Good for you, for taking charge of your life and making the right decisions from a not so right situation. You have every right to feel proud of yourself. You work hard, you save your money and then you get to enjoy your efforts.. however you please. I always buy things on sale, especially at the grocery store. It PAINS me to have to spend when I don't have to.. I usually don't.
    I don't use coupons usually but that's because I don't look for them. But if I had them, I'd use them- for sure. There's nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to saving some money!

  15. I'm terrible at saving money. I'm also terrible at saying no when I need to be staying home. I'm so jealous of you, I'm going to be paying off my student loans until I die!

  16. I understand 100% financial hardship - there was a period for me in college when my parents were in no position to help support me, and I literally had to choose between buying gas to get to school or groceries. It is those experiences that I (and I'm sure, you) will never forget, and create the people we are today. I was just as giddy when I paid my first electric bill and when I bought my car! Good for you Alex :)

  17. That's awesome! I admire you for being so responsible! I have similar habits. Some things I cannot justify buying, even if i just got paid and can afford to. Since I want to buy a house soon, I don't want to be so careless! Sometimes it is irritating because my friends know I have a full time job and could probably afford more so I'm labeled as cheap. I don't care though :)

  18. This is an awesome post. I think I come across as being not financially stable either because I say that I can't do this or that quite often. At the end of the time, I don't want to buy it or go out to eat if I can get something equally as great for cheaper. It just doesn't make sense in my head.

    That said, I think splurging every now and then is also part of living. I don't do it often, but when I do, it feels nice.

  19. Dude, I am all about the groupons. You'd think that with an SO who is a physician I wouldn't be so cheap, but I sreiously get off on good bargains.

  20. Groupon is such a life saver! It seems like you have worked hard for what you have!

  21. this was such a beautiful and honest post, alex. you are beautiful and strong and i admire you!
    i use coupons a lot and don't care what people think. i actually get excited when the mail comes and i see coupon books! :)

  22. I feel like "cheap" has a rather negative connotation, and judging by the things you blog about I think you're more "frugal" :). I mean you/we may not buy STUFF--but we invest in EXPERIENCES instead, right? Who cares what anyone else thinks? I like that about being (young) adults--only crazy immature people care about stuff that doesn't matter at all. And fortunately we're over that!

    Though your circumstances weren't ideal, kudos on becoming the exemplary gal you now are! XO.


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