A TOUCH TOO THRIFTY
No one wants to end up short on funds in their golden years and forced to scrimp and save, but sometimes, practicality errs on the side of being … well, let's just say, a bit obsessive. You've likely seen these penny-saving, over-the-top frugal practices in action and perhaps have a few in your own repertoire. In reality, these are not save-a-fortune actions, so we gently suggest that sometimes the tiniest "splurge" is worth it.
YOU REUSE BAGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Do you reuse free plastic grocery bags as lunch sacks until they have holes (and your bought-on-sale banana slides right out)? So much for savings. Buy a lunch sack during back-to-school sales. It'll last you all year and you'll arrive to work with your food intact.
TURNING ON AIR CONDITIONING IS AGONIZING
So, you keep the A/C off — or don't have it — and instead stock up on dollar-store hand fans to survive the heat. Pretty and retro, right? This will only get more dangerous over time, and you'll realize life really should be a breeze.
YOU HOARD SIDE DISHES INTO FULL MEALS
Your bargain meal at that great local sandwich shop comes with a free coleslaw or cookie. You don't think "Ah, what a treat" but instead see those add-ons as your next meal — your entire next meal. Just enjoy the side dish or dessert for what it is.
YOU'LL WEAR OUT YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE
Big shoulder pads looked of the moment on Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl," but you're still holding onto — and wearing — your power suit. Sure, fashion trends come and go but the snickers behind your back never die. Sorry to say, but it's time to embrace the world of separates — and 21st century styles.
YOU'RE NEVER PAYING A DIME FOR THE NEWS
You won't pay what they want for the newspaper. You won't even pay to access the digital version. Nope, you head to the library — day in and day out, rain, snow or severe heat — to read that passed-about copy for free. Fine for once in awhile, but every day?
YOU WASH DISPOSABLE SILVERWARE
You have guests over for a backyard barbecue, stocking up on cheap plastic utensils in bulk. All's going well. People are enjoying. Then you tell them not to throw them out. No, you're not recycling … you're rewashing them. You can almost hear your guests' stomachs turning at the thought. Consider buying new party supplies on sale.
YOU TREAT PAPER TOWELS LIKE THEY'RE TOWELS
Paper towels can be expensive, but you've found a way to beat the racket. The only problem is your entire kitchen — dish rack, blender and fridge handle — has become filled with perches to dry the towels you rinse and use again.
YOU'LL ONLY DO LAUNDRY AS A LAST RESORT
Doing your laundry as infrequently as possible might cut down on the water bill — —or save some quarters at the Laundromat. But when you find out you don't have any clean skivvies and wash day's still not here, well, your thrifty ways have really put you in a pickle.
YOU DON'T KNOW WHEN TO DITCH A SWEATSHIRT
Everyone knows your go-to sweatshirt, especially since you boast about the money you save by not buying a fancy designer replacement. The problem? Yours is a virtual "Hall of Stains" tour, from the spilled nachos from Super Bowl XXX to the beers sloshed during your 25th high-school reunion picnic. It might be time to retire that legend.
YOU RATION LIGHT BULBS
You not only turn off the light every time you leave the room but refuse to "waste money" on light bulbs when one blows out. The result? You have a very dim life — literally — and may soon need not only new lights but eyeglasses to boot.
YOU CAN'T BE TRUSTED AT A BUFFET
The words "all you can eat" are music to your ears. You arrive at the buffet the moment the doors open and make not only a meal but a day of it, with plate after plate after plate. Enough! Indulge if you will, but set a time limit. The restaurant — and your stomach — will thank you.
YOU HAVE NO TOLERANCE FOR COUPON LIMITS
You've read the sale circular. You know the grocery store limits you to four of an item per visit. Well, you'll show them — you shop different branches, different days and different cashiers until you can't even store all that toilet tissue you've amassed. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to save at the grocery store without going overboard.
YOU GIVE TEA BAGS MULTIPLE LIVES
You squeeze every last drip of tea from your teabag, using it multiple times. Bad enough your family has to watch the madness, but lately you've taken to carrying the used teabag with you — asking counter people and servers to simply bring you a cup of boiling water.
YOU'RE NOT SPRINGING FOR WATER
You pride yourself on not buying throwaway bottles of water, or even a pricey reusable container. No, you bought a plastic bottle at the store — once — and have been "washing" it out and refilling it with tap ever since. Yes, it's a bit worn and cloudy but, um, you showed them?
YOUR SOCKS ARE BARELY THERE
Why buy a pair of socks when a few stitches can extend the life of what you already have? Sure, it's easy to repair a hole, but when one hole becomes two and then three, your feet suddenly look like Frankenstein's monster — and you suffer extreme embarrassment when asked to take off your shoes visiting someone's home.
YOU'RE A CHAMPION OF SELF-HAIRCUTS
Baby bangs, anyone? Most everyone has horrid memories of a money-saving mom who chopped their hair at home. Bowl haircuts and uneven edges were a given. But you still do that? And have to go to work? Fine for you, but for goodness sake, don't subject your partner or kids to those extreme measures.
YOU BELIEVE BIRTHDAYS ARE NO TIME TO SPLURGE
It's time to light the candles on the birthday cake and sing the festive song. But imagine the real surprise on people's faces as you pull out used candles of varying heights. A box of birthday candles is cheap, and try to remember: This is a special occasion.
YOU COLLECT CONDIMENTS
You never hit a fast-food restaurant that doesn't up your condiment quota, so you haven't bought salt, pepper, ketchup, or mustard for the family in years. But when it's needed for a recipe, even you will be cursing as you open a dozen packets to get a half-cup of something.
YOU ABUSE RESTAURANT FREEBIES
There's nothing like a basket of warm rolls to start a dinner on a night out. And that's when you pull out the plastic container. Waiters react with shock that your small party could go through so much so quickly. You just laugh as you pull them out for lunch the next day. But is a cold, stale roll really worth the stealth maneuver?
YOU GO TOO FAR WITH DIY CLEANING
It's an age-old household trick: cutting up old sheets or shirts to use as rags. But when your family suddenly realizes their favorite shirts are missing and see you wiping windows with them, does it still seem like such a good idea? There are plenty of other DIY tricks for cleaning the house that won't annoy your family.
YOU CAN'T SUCCUMB TO TAKING A PROPER VACATION
You sneer at those who brag about money-saving staycations filled with hometown restaurant deals, free-admission museums, and bargain movies. You do them one better: Your staycation is just staying home. Literally. DVDs, watching the birds fly by … yep, your family will sure have unforgettable "vacation memories."
YOU'LL NEVER LOOK AT A COCKTAIL LIST
You absolutely refuse to order a drink outside the house. "No, thanks, water's fine" is your mantra. We're not pushing cocktails necessarily — but every once in awhile, it's nice to join in the toast with something besides tap water on ice.
YOU STRETCH MENUS BEYOND THEIR LIMITS
You take sharing to new levels making your family of four dine on one appetizer, two entrees, and one dessert. Sure, you can boast about dining for less than $25, but did anyone actually enjoy the "meal" or go home satisfied?
YOU COULD NEVER PAY FOR A CARWASH
Car wash costs can add up — but you won't fall prey to those soapy thieves. Nope, you will wash your own. Who cares that you don't have a hose, right? But after about 10 trips in and out of the kitchen with buckets of water, don't you start having second thoughts? Thought so.