Friday, December 3, 2010

The King of False Economies--Mr. Tightwad in Action

Every time I do a Google search for "tightwad" in an effort to bring you articles, I keep seeing the antics of this guy doing wacky things to save money, when he really isn't saving anything.

Here's Mr. Tightwad supposedly "saving money" by stacking gift cards: "When you buy $100 or more of Chili's gift cards, you'll get 10 percent off that gift card purchase. So if you buy $100 in cards, you'll pay only $90.

Use that gift card to pay for your Chili's To Go order and you'll end up saving more than 30 percent off the bill had you eaten in the restaurant (no tipping, no beverages with a ridiculous markup).

This is a great way to treat yourself without feeling like you violated all of your Tightwad principles."

Is it really? I beg to differ--when you factor in travel costs, health costs, and even the cost of what it took to get the lousy institutional junk food to the restaurant to even serve you, it's no bargain at all. What he thinks he saved in food costs will only come back to haunt him in money shelled out for doctor visits and prescription drugs in the future. Some treat!

What's the matter--can't cook? Married someone who only makes reservations?

Another adventure: "It's silly to heat an entire house while you're sleeping.

While the Tightwads long have been fans of turning down the heat at night, we've taken it a step further and dropped it down a few degrees while still staying toasty warm.

How's that, you ask?

An electric blanket.

Even with one in each bed, we're using way less energy than the furnace would and staying warmer, too. Just turn it on a half-hour before turning in, and you'll have a nice warm bed to snuggle up in."

So I'm supposed to risk freezing my pipes for the sake of the electric bill, which doesn't go down one jot because I plugged in an electric blanket all night, still using energy? I don't think so. Here's MY PLAN for a warm bed without plugging anything additional in: THINK WOOL.

WOOL between box spring and mattress. WOOL between mattress and bottom sheet, and WOOL between top sheet and bed spread. All three layers of wool used simultaneously will do the same or better job than plugging in an electric blanket would, and won't cost nearly as much (especially when you already own the blankets). If you need wool blankets, go to a thrift store for cheap ones. No luck? Try an army-navy surplus store--they won't be cheap, but they'll be there.

An oddball source: an antique store. I happened to find a handsome one from the 40's among old furniture. No guarantees you'll find one, but it doesn't hurt to look.

With wool, I won't have to resort to Mr. Tightwad's logic and build a bonfire in the bath tub (and risk burning my house down) just to save on the electric bill. He must own an open-concept house with no interior partitions, so he can't close off rooms.

Another adventure: "Do you need a new set of shoes on your car before winter sets in?

Then be sure to be a Tightwad and shop around, because you'll find price and selection varies greatly from store to store.

Thanks to Mr. T's trip to Firestone, the same tires there were $330 less than at Discount Tire and $180 less than at NTB. The price difference was a bit surprising, especially because the tires for Lady Tightwad's car were significantly cheaper at Discount Tire.

As an added bonus, Mr. T got a little extra twinkle in his eye when he found out that for a limited time, when you buy a set of four tires at Firestone, you'll get a card for three free oil changes.

With all this money saved, looks like the Tightwads can get a real turkey this Thanksgiving, instead of splitting a can of Spam four ways."

Well, I hope Mr. Tightwad happened to catch the TV special on expired tires from ABC News. He probably paid too much attention to the price and not enough on the expiration date, and ended up with expired tires. Expired tires are either well on their way toward degradation, or have other problems, such as weakened side walls, tread that could separate from the tire, etc. Generally, the cheaper the tire, the shorter the lifespan--used is cheapest, and recaps give you exactly what you paid for...delayed inevitable.

It isn't so much the TYPE of tires you buy as it is the conditions under which you put the tires with your driving practices. Drive less, rub the curb less, run over glass, nails, and rocks less, and park in places protected from sun and frost, and maintain factory air pressure levels, and your tires will live a long healthy life until they expire.

Let's see...what else can we punch a hole in from Mr.Tightwad's antics? Oh yeah--how about this one: "Looking to reduce how much you owe Uncle Sam for your 2010 income taxes? Or better, want a way to increase your refund?

Make your January 2011 mortgage payment by the end of this year.

As long as the January payment is posted in 2010, you'll be able to deduct that extra little bit of interest from your 2010 tax bill."

Is THAT all you got? Here, Mr. Tightwad--read this. Pre-paying January's mortgage payment doesn't do a thing if you've been pre-paying your mortgage from the start. If you really want to play that game, do it right--do it this way. And you call yourself a that case, I'm the All-Encompassing Goddess of Frugality (for all that's worth), outranking coupon queens by numerous pay grades!

Jeez--what some people will do and call it money-saving, or worse: try to sell YOU on the idea that it's money-saving. It seems that's Mr. Tightwad's job as a regular newspaper columnist--the paper he writes for needs subscribers, and he needs to earn his paycheck, so what better way to fill up column space than with fiction?

If I ever needed money, I'd just put up ads in this space. But I don't, because I live my life in such a way as to never need extra money. Income = taxes, and I hate taxes!


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