My husband, Ed, is thrifty to put it nicely. I’m sure if Dr. Phil were doing a show on “America’s Tightest Tightwads”, we’d be invited on the show. Once, years ago, when I heard a talk show on tightwads, I remember how one wife shared how her tightwad husband made her count the toilet paper squares. I immediately muted the TV, so my own tightwad husband didn’t get any new ideas.
Ed is frugal enough as it is. However, even though I poke fun of him, I’d much rather live with a tightwad and not worry about my phone or electricity being cut off. His penny-pinching ways have allowed him to retire early, just shy of his 60th birthday. Although he didn’t make a ton of money in his 37-year career, he probably has more saved than many three-digit income professionals.
His frugality has also allowed him to soon fulfill his lifetime dream—traveling abroad. At 60, he’s jealous of all the young people who’ve already been overseas at least once. “Now it’s my turn,” he’s quick to tell you, adding he’s counting down the days ’til we join our church friends on a trip to the Holy Lands.
Now that he is retired, he’s even tighter. Here are just a few of his Tightwad Tips I’ve learned, passing them on to anyone else who dreams of retiring early and traveling.
Tightwad Tip: Brown bag it/Cook more. It’s not that we never eat out. However, we’ve learned to limit our trips to restaurants to vacations, special occasions, and holidays.
Tightwad Tip: Keep records. Thanks to his Quicken software, my husband has everything recorded as far back as 1999. Just ask him how much he spent on dog food in 2001, and he’ll tell you. Keeping tabs on where and how we’ve spent our money (since 1999) prompts us to cut back when it appears we’re overspending.
Tightwad Tip:Hold out as long as possible before turning on the air conditioner or heater. Just because it’s June doesn’t mean we have to have air conditioning everyday. Take today, June 13th. We do live in Georgia, so that tells you it’s usually hot this time of year. However, this morning when we woke up, we glanced at our thermometer, realizing it was cooler outside than inside. My husband immediately turns off the air, opens all the windows to collect the cool morning breezes, knowing it’s gonna quickly heat up—even here in the mountains. Also, we always close the blinds in the living room (as our house faces east) in the morning, then reverse the procedure, closing the blinds in the back of the house in the afternoon. This simple task has saved us from turning on our air conditioning until June when most of our neighbors probably had theirs on for most of the spring months.
In the winter, we wear sweatshirts in our house for as long as possible. But when our teeth start chattering, we turn on the heater. We try not to go higher than 60-65 degrees. And, we stock up on coffee and hot chocolate.
Tightwad Tip: Be your own garbage man (or woman). Here in Lumpkin County, Georgia, we save $34 a month x 12 (for a total of $408 annually) just by hauling our garbage to the city dump. There we only pay $1 per bag. (We go about every 6 days.) What’s more, we cut back on how much is in ours bags by separating bottles, cans, and paper products in bags that we can dump off for free recycling.
Tightwad Tip: Shop at your local Thrift store. I not only volunteer at our local thrift store, but it has become my store of choice. Here I’ve found items, barely used, for almost nothing. I also feel good that I’m helping a good cause as proceeds from the thrift store benefit a crisis pregnancy center.
These are just a few my husband’s Tidwad Tips. I’m sure you can add your own. Again, I confess there are times when I wished he were more of a spender. Then, again, I’m thankful. At least I’ll always have a roof over my head.