Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pinching Pennies

It's official. I've become too cheap for Target.

It was a startling revelation that I came face-to-face with today, and it's devastating because I *heart* Target. I really really do. And I refuse (absolutely REFUSE) to sell my soul to the soulless unethical devil that is Wal-Mart.* So what does that leave me? Dollar Store? Is this what my life has become?

It happened so gradually that I didn't even notice. While I've always had a debilitating fear of debt, I've not always been miserly. It began when IUPUI made their monthly tuition payment plan into four monthly payments instead of five. I realize that it all evens out in the end, but during?? Ugh. It's like two and a half car payments a month. (Four if you own a Kia.) December can't come soon enough. Maybe I'll eat something other than Ramen Noodles to celebrate.

How bad is it? For your consideration:

Exhibit A: When we were facing weeks with high temperatures in the 40's and 50's, I refused to turn on the heat in my house. I rationalized that I was only there approximately 9 hours per day - 7 of which are spent sleeping in flannel pjs with flannel sheets with the other 2 spent on the couch underneath two or three furry mammals. (I will point out that during that time, the dogs had a space heater that the cat would sleep next to. I guess we all know who's more important in this story.)

Exhibit B: I was ecstatic to find $1 hand soap at CVS the other day. That ecstacy has subsided since I found out that $1 hand soap is more like a 70/30 water to soap ratio. Apparently that's why it comes in such a big bottle. Still, I can't say I wouldn't buy it again.

Exhibit C: The boy told me that he ran out of shampoo two weeks ago, and has been too lazy to go to the store. So he's been using regular soap to wash his hair, "which actually works pretty well." I briefly considered it. I wish I were kidding.**

Exhibit D: I always said that the two things that I would not penny-pinch on were paper towels and toilet paper (none of this 1-ply tissue paper, thankyouverymuch.) I've since given in on the paper towels, and after seeing the dramatic price difference between "my" toilet paper and the sandpaper that I would normally never consider, my resolve is wavering.

Exhibit E: I currently have two AAA batteries that work in my house. They are being rotated between whatever remote controls I need to work the electronic equipment I feel necessary to complete my life at the time. The batteries also travel from room to room if I decide I want to watch a DVD in bed. If a remote requires AA batteries, I just don't use it. I throw stuffed animals at the buttons on the electronic equipment instead.

Exhibit F: Three weeks ago when cleaning my toilet, I was suddenly appalled by the state of my toilet scrub brush and threw it away. (Translation, the wire part rusted through and broke off in the toilet.) The following week when I went to clean, I was, of course, surprised by my lack of toilet scrub brush. Since then, my toilet has been disinfected three times but not scrubbed... and I'm starting to think that's okay.

CLEARLY something has to be done.

Now, I won't lie. This miserliness is a combination of not having money and being too lazy to use my free time to go places where I would spend the money that the nice people at Visa lend me. I think it was the unscrubbed toilet that pushed me over the edge, but last week I decided that the next free time I had would be spent being un-miserly. I had a huge b*tch of an organic chem test yesterday, but I promised myself that once that test passed, I would run to Target and purchase everything that I was missing in my life, including good paper towels.***

Last Thursday, my cousin sent me a delightful surprise that deserves its own blog post. As soon as I can get the boy to snap my picture with the delightful surprise, you'll hear all about it. As a result, I began searching Indianapolis for more of this delightful surprise that I had previously not known existed. I wanted some more so that I could share with the boy and not get into fist fights when he tried to take some without asking. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found in all my usual haunts.****

Today? Today I fulfilled my promise to myself and purchased batteries, good paper towels, a toilet scrub brush and various other necessities at Target. (I kept myself away from the dog Halloween costumes - I'm not a complete idiot.) While wandering the aisles of my beloved Target, I FOUND MY DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE!!! Which made me wonder when the last time was that I was in Target....and I couldn't remember. This was immediately followed by the thought, "Well of course I haven't been to a Target in a while. Target is a NICE store."

And I was horrified because while I heart Target, the term "nice store" is generally reserved for a store that I can't afford. Which made me decide that penny pinching on this level is ridiculous, because I can afford Target.

And then I looked at my bank account again.

Damn tuition.

Sniff. It's not you, Target. It's me. It's just that I can't leave your premises without spending under $100.00 - it's physically not possible. It's just that CVS is closer and has Extra Care bucks that make things that I purchase cheaper. (Not to mention the money they gave me to transfer my prescription...and $1 hand soap.) It's just that crappy paper towels are also available at the grocery store with the cheaper dog food, and that saves me a trip, which saves gas. We've all got to make sacrifices. It's a tough economy. I just need a break. I promise I'll be back in December and then again in the summer when tuition payments aren't making my house as cold as a refrigerator.*****

But... I'm easy, you know. If you lower your costs on Purina One (Chicken and Rice flavor - this part is VERY important) we can probably work something out. Call me!

*Absolutely no judgement if you shop there. Promise.

**I ended up enabling his laziness buy buying shampoo FOR him because although his hair smelled really clean, I couldn't bear the thought of someone not using shampoo.

***This gave me something to look forward to while studying. Again, I wish I were kidding.

****Remember the use of the word "haunts" there. It's cracking me up. It will make much more sense to you when you find out what the delightful surprise was.

*****Of course, tuition payments are also responsible for the new game, "How many stuffed animals until the TV turns on" so it's not ALL bad. Blue LOVED this game, and sometimes his tail would turn the TV on for me.


zlionsfan said...

After reading this, I'm more convinced that you're fighting a losing battle. (And on a side note, purchasing cheaper, lower-quality products will hurt the economy in the long run. If you want to contribute to the turnaround, go all out and buy actual hand soap.)

If you need AA batteries, I will bring you some. I actually make enough money to buy such things.

Candace said...

I second the battery thing. I ALWAYS have several packages of extra AA and AAA batteries on hand. I cannot imagine how I would feel if my remote no longer worked. When is your birthday, I will wrap some up for you.

I understand frugality. I try to be frugal in so many areas of my life so I can be extravagant in the areas of my choice. You will have to look at this as school being your extravagance.

What part of Wal-Mart do you hate and why? Is it the principal of what Wal-Mart does or is it the clientèle?

Jaclyn said...

I feel like I need to send you a care package for Christmas. It will look just like the hurricane readiness kit - batteries, toilet paper, chlorox wipes, toiletries, etc.

Anonymous said...

I've been told Family Dollar is the place for paper towels, toliet paper and hand soap. I believe they also carry some brand name shampoos. If you can ignore the appearance of most of their stores, you can truly appreciate the deals. Although I am not speaking from personal experience or anything, I must remain anonymous just the same.

alisa said...

Oh my gosh, where do I start? I suppose the beginning ...

Exhibit A: I use the same theory. The dog keeps me warm and I will not turn on the heat until at least November.

Exhibit B: I can usually find Dial or Softsoap for a buck at Target. Or I hunker down and buy the Dial refill bottle for $4 and it fills up my regular size bottles at least 6 times. Proper hand soap is a necessity during cold/flu season.

Exhibit C: When I first met the ex, he only used regular soap to wash his hair. I immediately made it clear that this was not acceptable. He started using real shampoo & conditioner the next day :) If I did one good thing for that man, it was introducing him to shampoo & conditioner.

Exhibit D: I will send you money for appropriate toilet paper. Please do not settle on TP.

Exhibit E: Once again, Target to the rescue. Do you ever check out their $1 area when you first enter the store? They usually have no-name brand batteries for $1. Perfect for things like remotes, etc. (I've also found those horseshoe like travel pillows in that area for $2.50 and Miss F's bunny ears for $1. You must stay on task in that area or it could easily get out of hand.)

Exhibit F: You actually scrub your toilet weekly? I'm kind of impressed ... But, um, that doesn't mean I don't scrub my toilet weekly ... is toilet scrubbing an appropriate discussion for the internet?

P.S. I love Target. Seriously, LOVE Target.

P.S.2. Is this too long of a comment? Did I break some sort of comment rule?

The Carrels said...

You can get by without paper towels...use old towels/rags to clean whatever you use paper towels for...use the money you are saving on not buying paper towels to buy real toilet paper.

Jenny G said...

Aldi's, Aldi's, Aldi's. Seriously. I spend half of what we used to spend on groceries now that we shop at Aldi's. They've come a long way baby and boy is their stuff inexpensive! (notice I didn't say 'cheap' because that might cause you to think the food was no good!) You and I will go to Aldi's sometime and I'll show you the ropes...they sell batteries too...and good TP... :)

Candace said...

I agree with Jenny G about Aldi. I have recently begun shopping there and I have been super impressed with the quality of product. I started going there at first to purchase water softener salt. They are the cheapest place to purchase that product and then I began to look around and purchase a small amount of products. Now I can purchase 80% of my weekly groceries there. The down side is they do not carry Cherry Coke Zero. But, they have a nice selection of basic fresh fruits and vegetables as well as several healthy items. Whole wheat bread and pasta as well as low fat yogurt. I find when I am eating basic healthy food it is easy to shop there.