penny pincher - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
My inner penny pincher grabs at my guts when the need to spend money arises. I know what they call me, "cheapskate," "tightwad" and "miser." But they don't get it, they don't understand the anxieties that go with watching my money get spent. Money is security, spending it is insecurity. Taking out my purse is enough to send my heart into overdrive, the palpitations begin and cold sweat sits on my brow. Frugal is the only term that sounds half way decent, makes it sound like a wise choice instead of a compulsion that robs the joy from every purchase. I envy those with nice stuff, they buy it and enjoy it. For me every item I own is a red mark in a ledger with a negative sign next to it. Now where's the fun in that? If I could stop being a penny pincher I would. I'd stop it right now, but I can't. Saving money is in my DNA, hard coded, non-negotiable.
Jacob was a penny pincher. He would describe cats with all the love he always reserved for anything with the potential to cost him money. If it ate and could cost him medical fees, he didn't want it. "The only thing you need to know about cats," he would say, "is that if they were big enough they'd eat you." Then he would keep his gaze just as steady as his voice was sure and raise his eyebrows, lips slightly pursed.
"Pennies, pennies in a well. Pennies, pennies in the dell. Pennies, pennies on the ground. Pennies, pennies and their clinking sound." I guess I learnt that too well. Maybe that's why I grew up more frugal than Mr Scrooge. I used to deny that I was cheap, but I can't avoid it any longer. It's time to embrace being a penny pincher and be honest about who I am. I'll never have a Vidal Sassoon haircut or a Gucci bag. I'll never strut in Prada or even sip on gourmet coffee. I don't see products at all, I see money. To be exact, I see my money leaving my account and going to someone else. "Free" is my favourite colour, cheap is my "motto" and "skinflint" is my creed.
Mr Kilney was a skinflint. On our street you'd know his by the burlap sack curtains and the white paint - colour costs more. All year round he wore the same brown suit, and I mean, the exact same brown suit. He'd walk to work in that tweed come rain or shine. His garage sat empty, his cupboard full of own brand noodles and hot dog wieners. Once I asked him why he lived that way, he didn't even reply, as if the words themselves cost him something. That penny pincher died a very rich man, the richest bones in the cemetery they say. I don't know what God made of his ways, but wherever he is, he's still in brown tweed. That I can guarantee.
Cheapskate, that's what he was. He told us how much toilet paper we were allowed and our food was counted. Should we waste something, spill some milk or drop a sandwich, double was subtracted from our "rations." Mr Cheap himself ate large meals and drank beer, he ate lean meats and gulped down protein shakes that did nothing for his growing belly. Sometimes he bought steak and sent us to be hungry while he cooked it for himself and his latest girlfriend. I recall some family friend offering us some second hand clothes and us feeling like santa was real after all. To have something different, not to be eking out with the minimum and the worst of everything was something of a mental vacation. I think that's why none of us kids save a penny now, we went the opposite way. I rent and buy designer everything, so does my sister. Mr Penny Pincher says he'll disinherit us if we don't change our ways. We sent him a gold rolex. I wonder what he'll do next.
Mavis made her own penny pinching fashion. For her everything she wore was either free or close to it. She'd take what her friends threw out; five minutes with her sewing machine and you'd never recognize it. She added sequins pulled from other old garments and reshaped the dresses to fit her precisely. "Penny pinching" wasn't a bad word with us. It meant fashion on the cheap that no-one else had, something unique just for us. If we wanted Mavis to make something for us we just bribed her with coffee or wrote an assignment for her. So long as she got an A all was good. We were the best dressed girls around; fashion the frugal way. We got the most attention from the boys, the most compliments in the clubs. Who says you can't be glam on a budget? We've grown up since, we even go to regular stores, but our Facebook group will be forever called the "The Penny Pincher Fashion Dolls," that's us - good lookin' and smart.
Some people say they're a miser with a wry smile, that half grin and a twinkle. You know those folks spoil their grandkids. Some folks say they're "frugal," which could mean anything from eating out less to taking cold showers and making their own laundry detergent. I've never heard someone call themselves a "scrooge," and it's rare for someone to refer to themselves as a "penny pincher." For me, I want to live comfortable, spend some and save some. Tomorrow is important, but so is today.
My father grew up in poverty, but when times got good he couldn't adapt. My mother saw the bank account fatten and she wanted dresses, better food, to spend money on us kids. There was something in his nature that made him so brittle, so unable to adapt. To his dying day he was a penny pinching skinflint of the worst order. Contravening his cheap mantra, "wasting pennies" was a sin he could not forgive. Over the holidays he prided himself on not kowtowing to the advertising blitz that was the season. There was no turkey, no trimmings, no chocolate, no gifts. He would sit and crow about how he'd beaten the capitalist vultures, how much money we'd saved. The worst part was we sat there and agreed with him, swallowed our misery, stowed it as bitter resentment in our bellies.
"Penny Pincher! That's what you are!" Gloria yelled. Her face was one most folks reserved for far worse crimes. "Samantha's husband buys roses! Stella gets the best restaurant in town! Lisa got a romantic getaway to Venice!" Roy let the wooden figure fall to the ground, denting the carefully carved wood on the tile. The figure was her, Gloria, with her mane of hair flowing behind her. The real life Gloria's eyes hardened into a near squint. "You no good penny pinching miser. I hate you!"
Uncle Harry was a tightwad. My mom said his leather wallet, the one she bought him thirty years ago, was still in perfect condition from underuse. Part of me thinks she was kidding, she got a little twinkle in her eye when she was stretching the truth. It was one of my favourite things about her, that glee for a tall tale. It's true about Harry though. He never earned as much as father but in his will there was far more. I guess he was a penny pincher after all. No-one ever minded though, he was always generous with his spirit, free with his love. We just knew not to expect anything other than an extra guest at every celebration. "Just bring yourself," mother would say, "that's all we need!" And he did just that, once in a while bringing a homemade loaf to surprise us.
The house had been owned by a skinflint old lady. Rumour had it she was a millionaire many times over, you couldn't tell. A bit of money on repairs over the years might have made it a classic, a heritage home. All it could be sold for now was land value. The fixtures were the cheapest on the market decades ago and time hadn't been kind to them. From the thin carpet, balding in places to the single pane windows that grew mildew and bore rot, it had become uninhabitable.
Penny pinching was in Fred's nature. A simple trip to the supermarket lasted hours, calculating the price per gram of different nutrients. Often he'd give up, overcome by the approaching moment of parting with some of his salary. On those days he'd go to the dumpsters behind stores and restaurants and pick out what he needed for the week.
Money wasn't money to Steph. Each digit was her labour, some of her toil in numbers. Each penny was her time, a symbol of her slavery. She didn't choose to work a boring data input job, but she couldn't choose to starve. The world was full of entrepreneurs with some wonderful invention to separate her from her cash at huge mark-ups. They were the ones that fleeced the flock and she was sick of it. They could call her "penny pincher," "cheapskate" or "skinflint" all they wanted. They weren't getting dime she didn't have to hand over.
Penny pincher was the right tern for my ol' man. He wasn't poor mind you, but we sure lived like we were. He kept a little diary of every expenditure no matter how small. To him, all money was to be preserved no matter the sacrifice. It's true, ya know, you can be a blue collar millionaire, but at what price? Did Dad ever smile his way down a ski hill? Of course not, he'd have choked on the price of the lift ticket. Next to him Scrooge himself would have looked like Santa Claus. I'm telling you straight, if he had the choice of saving a dropped five dollar bill or me from an oncoming train, you'd be reading my one line obituary the next week. "Penny pincher," I'm putting it on his gravestone in ridiculously expensive gold lettering.
"Fashion" was a dirty word with mother. She brought "skinflint" to a whole new level, she was world class. She penny pinched like a pro, nothing too small to niggle and obsess over. She starved herself so as not to gain a few pounds like everyone does in middle age, not to be healthy or cute, but to still fit into her thrift store clothes. That woman was a thrift store junkie. Dad used to pull her leg so bad. He'd ask, failing to hide his smirk, "So my darling, what penny pincher fashion are you sporting today?"
Rosa said, years on, that all the warning signs were there. There was an obsession with money to a degree that didn't make any sense. Being frugal can be great, but being mean when it was important to show generosity was bad. A person who cannot enjoy anything for fear of what it cost financially is difficult to live with. They cause stress rather than remove it, thus take from the emotional bank of the household and never make deposits. They break the home and blame everyone else. So yeah, Rosa said shew as warned, that the signs were clear, but her self esteem had been low and she really thought she could turn him around, save him, teach him how to have fun and enjoy living. Instead he broke her. She recovered and moved on, older and wiser.