I hate all Extreme Cheapskates.

Apparently there is a show on TLC called Extreme Cheapskates.

I hate it.

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually watched an episode since Girl Ninja and I didn’t sign up for cable until a week before I left for Europe. But what I have done is watched a few clips from the show on the TLC website. It’s disturbing.

The show focuses on people who go to great lengths to save a few bucks. The clip above features a couple who takes all of their showers together. They give themselves two minutes TOTAL to get clean. They not only share the same bottle of shampoo, but the guy actually takes the soapy suds out of his wife’s shampooed hair, to clean his.

It gets worse.

They then proceed to use the same razor. Right as the woman finishes shaving her armpits, homeboy takes the razor and starts shaving his face with it. Yuck.

IT GETS EVEN WORSE. 

They then pop out of the shower and share a toothbrush to brush their teeth. I had enough as I watched them share the same piece of dental floss to clean their teeth. #VOMIT

I’m sorry to inform you, but these actions don’t make you appear as though you are a budget conscious saver. Heck I wouldn’t even use the term “Extreme Cheapskate” to label your actions. The only word I can think of that adequately describes your behavior is WEIRD.¬†Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sharing a shower with Girl Ninja on occasion, but when we do, I can assure you it’s not to save money ūüėČ

But hey, at least you aren’t peeing in a bottle to save some money on your water bill…

Don’t even get me started on bottle pee-er lady. She admits to having a gym membership, but wont flush her freakin’ toilet? Oh, or the lady that doesn’t believe in buying toilet paper so she wipes her butt with her hand.

Faith in humanity is gone forever.

We now own a crib…you know what that means ;)

It’s no secret I’m quite frugal. I rarely pass up a good deal. Take for example the time my grandma passed away and I paid off the $1,700 loan she had on her van. I took possession of the vehicle and rocked a minivan my entire junior year of college. Best part is, I sold it the next summer for $5,500.

Or how about the fact that Girl Ninja grew up taking piano lessons and wants our future baby ninjas to play as well. I don’t know if you are aware, but pianos aren’t cheap. So when my other grandma passed away I asked if we could have her baby grand piano. We didn’t have a place for it in our 600sqft apartment at the time so we paid to have it stored in a climate controlled unit. Finally, three years later we will now have a place big enough to display this beautiful instrument. Has it been cheap paying 36 months of storage fees and moving the thing 1,200 miles to Seattle? Heck no, but I promise you it’s cheaper than buying a brand new one. Not to mention it’s pretty cool to keep this piano as a family heirloom.

Oh, and did you know Girl Ninja and I own a stroller, a crib, a¬†bassinet, a changing table, and an infant mattress. Last time I checked we didn’t have any kids, at least not any that Girl Ninja has told me about. When we moved out of our rental last week, our landlord asked if we wanted his $4,000 baby furniture¬†set. Even though we have absolutely zero need for this¬†stuff now, how could I pass up something we will need within the next year or two? Oh that’s right… I CAN’T! It’s in storage waiting for the day Girl Ninja pees on a stick and a little + sign appears. Which, by the way, I think is a really weird way to find out you have a fetus inside of you.

So yes, I will gladly be a minivan driving, piano storing, baby-furniture-owning dude if it means I  some benjamins along the way. Goodbye pride, hello savings. 

Have you taken advantage of a deal you knew you wouldn’t actually get a return on for a few years? In what ways would you say you demonstrate frugality?

p.s. we take possession of our house today. weird.

p.p.s. I’m leaving Thursday morning to take 50 high school kids to summer camp for a week. I will have no internet access which means you will be subjected to random YouTube videos or pictures of unicorns for a week if some of you don’t send me over a guest post. Any readers want to be featured here?

Am I kind of terrible?

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Girl Ninja was recently eligible for an upgrade from her iPhone 4. We made a deal that if we could sell her phone on Craigslist she could upgrade to the iPhone 5. I posted it last week and got zero bites. I was a little discouraged since I had a friend tell me he posted his five days earlier, and sold it for $180 within four hours of listing it.

I re-posted the ad, this time with pictures of the iPhone box and cords, on Tuesday and less than 24 hours later it sold for $200. Note to self: original boxes and cords get potential buyers super excited.

Immediately after the sale, we headed to Verizon and bought GN an iPhone 5 for $199 (before taxes/fees). After politely declining the customer service representatives “once in a lifetime offer” to buy phone insurance and some other crap fluff we don’t need, we peaced out.

We then drove across the street to Best Buy, where we argued for a good 20 minutes about the purpose of a phone case. Girl Ninja seems to think they are for aesthetics. I however believe they need to be waterproof, bulletproof, and Girl Ninja proof. She once punted her cell phone from a fourth story balcony to the ground below. We compromised on a cute, but protective, Otter Box case…

Otterbox_Apple_iPhone_5_Commuter_Series_Case_Reflection_77-23330_M

Now comes the part where I’m probably terrible….

Best Buy was selling the case for $39.99, which I was actually pleasantly surprised by. I was thinking they’d charge $50+ for an iPhone case because everything at Best Buy always seems to be ridiculously marked up.

But was $39 a good deal?

I had no clue. I hopped on my phone and pulled up my Amazon app. Amazon was selling it for $26 with free two-day shipping.

Ugh, what kind of frugal personal finance blogger would I be if I didn’t buy the cheaper option? But I felt terrible. We only knew we liked this case because we went in to Best Buy’s big, warm, friendly store, where they graciously allowed us to try out a few cases. Without the hands on experience we got in the Big Box store, we would have never known this was the best case for her phone. What was I to do?

I bought the case in Best Buy.

Wait, let me re-phrase that, I bought the case from Amazon on my phone, while we were standing in Best Buy. That’s right, I used and abused Best Buy.

Handcuff me now and take me to jail.

While I think you will probably try to convince me I’m not terrible for making such a decision, you’re wrong. I mean Best Buy needs to sell products to stay in business. I’m pretty sure they don’t have iPhone cases on display for any other purpose than to sell them. Right?

So my question is this, How much would the iPhone case had to have been in Best Buy for you to have bought it there?

We probably would have bought it in store for up to $5 more than the Amazon price of $26. Or in other words, we would have been willing to pay a 20% markup to support Best Buy since they helped us make our decision. Unfortunately, they were marked up 50% and that’s just too much.

Update: apparently, as of two weeks ago, Best Buy will match Amazon pricing. So I am a terrible person. Pretend they didn’t though for the sake of my reader question above.

Life’s about to get more expensive.

We’re pregnant! Okay, that was mean. We aren’t pregnant at all. I really need to stop doing that, otherwise you probably won’t believe me when the time comes for a real baby announcement. While there aren’t any babies in our immediate future, our life is about to get a heck of a lot more expensive.

For the first time since I graduated high school, I am going to be in the Pacific Northwest for an entire ski season. I’m freaking pumped. I haven’t skied more than once or twice in a season in nine years. NINE YEARS!!!!

Obviously San Diego living isn’t the most ski-friendly environment. Sure, there is Big Bear, but who the heck wants to drive 4 hours to ski on man-made snow? Not I.

 

Last night, I hopped on the Stevens Pass website to see what a lift ticket is costing nowadays. The numbers aren’t pretty:

Ugh, sixty-five smackers to enjoy a day on the slopes? Is this a joke? I coulda swore in high school the tickets were like $35. And I think gas was $1.23/gallon too. My how the times have changed.

Frick it. 

I’m going skiing…a lot. Even if that means we’ll be $1,000 poorer this winter because of it. Sometimes ya just gotta spoil yourself, ya know? Now I just have to ask the other half if that’s cool with her.¬†The Nordstrom sale is coming up soon, so my guess is she’s gonna¬†negotiate¬†an epic shopping spree in to this deal. Darn you Girl Ninja and your Jedi-mind tricks!

What are some of your “expensive” hobbies? Do you partake in that activity as much as you’d like (rock climbing, yoga, photography, etc) or do you cut back in the name of frugality? How the heck do you people in the midwest survive a cold winter, but no mountain to ski on?!

Here’s a picture of me getting nasty on some skiboards a few years back:

Frugal is the new pink?

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One of the more common characteristics amongst fiscally responsible individuals is frugality, the innate desire to be thrifty. While some take this to an extreme (I’m talking to you, extreme couponers), I like to consider myself moderately frugal. There are some things I will always spend a little more money on; electronics, deodorant, and cereal to name a few. Likewise, there are a million things I will always cheap out on. Here are a few of those things.

Fancy Clothes. Nordstrom Rack and Ross are my best friends when it comes to any type of business apparel. I can’t believe people will pay $300+ for a pair of dress shoes. Do they really feel $250 better than my shoes? Me thinks not. I’ll never spend more than $20 for a tie, $40 for pants or a dress shirt. My outfit might not be as expensive as yours, but it looks just as good.

Beauty.¬†I totally cheap out on the shampoo I use. I’m rocking a $0.99 cent bottle of V05 that should last me about six months (love short hair). I understand for a girl you might need some high quality shampoo/condition, but when my hair is less than a quarter-inch long I’m not price, not perfection.

Movies. Girl Ninja and I have been together for six years. During that time, I’ve taken her to three movies (Shrek 3, Taken, and Tangled). She would probably like me to take her to the theater every couple of months, but I just can’t bring myself to spend $12 to watch a movie I probably won’t like that much. I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix. Admittedly, This kinda makes me a sucky husband.

Cable. We are spoiled now because our rent includes cable/internet in the bill. But you better believe if I had an option to have save $50/month by canceling cable I would do it in a heartbeat. In San Diego, Girl Ninja and I had an antenna that picked up about 12 channels and it worked like a gem. Cable is cool, but with the internetz, most things are online within just a few days of air time.

Drinks. I buy one liquid and one liquid only, Milk. As much as I love me some Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Apple Juice, Lemonade, and Arnold Palmer I never buy the stuff. I can’t justify paying for a drink that a) costs me more than filtered tap water, and b) is pretty terrible for my health. I love you Dr. Pepper, but until you are free, I’m afraid we can’t be BFFs. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that I naturally hate the taste of alcohol and coffee. That’s a big cost cutter right there.

I shall end my list there, but believe me, I could go on for days. DAYS! What are some things you always cheap out on? Where are you most frugal? Anyone out there Uber-frugal and do things like reuse zip-lock bags and hang used paper towels to dry?

 

I got bumped

So I was in San Diego this weekend for Girl Ninja’s little sister’s college graduation ceremony. Yesterday, on our flight back to Seattle, the Alaska Airlines representative mentioned during check-in they oversold our flight by one seat. I LOVE OVERSOLD FLIGHTS! Without hesitation, I asked if I could be put on the “bump” list in case everyone checks in and they need someone to give up their seat.

Sure enough, everyone that bought a ticket showed up and I got the bump I so¬†desperately¬†wanted. I gave up my seat in exchange for a $300 voucher and was rebooked on the next flight out (which was two hours later). It’s too bad they didn’t have two bumps available otherwise Girl Ninja would have given up her seat too. And before you think I just put her on a plane to fend for herself, she was on the same flight as her parents so she just went home with them.

So I got home two hours later than originally planned, but came out $300 ahead. Not a bad deal for a relatively minor inconvenience. Being bumped is seriously one of my favorite things about traveling and I volunteer myself to do it every time they ask. In fact, one Christmas, I bumped myself three times in a row (they kept rebooking me on to oversold flights) and walked away with around $1,200 in airfare for a twelve-hour total delay.

I’m always surprised that more people aren’t willing to give up their seat in exchange for some free tickets. Unless someone is dying, being born, or getting married, you better believe I will be racing to the counter to give my seat up first.

You ever been bumped? 

DIY or PSTDIFY?

Girl Ninja and I like to think of ourselves as “down to earth” individuals. As our income has grown over the years we have tried really hard to remain grounded and not let lifestyle¬†inflation¬†consume us. While it would be nice to take all our laundry to the cleaners, pay someone to tidy up our house, or even whip us in to shape a la personal trainer, we know we are fully capable of doing all of those things ourselves. That said, we do enjoy eating out, taking our cars in for oil changes, and Girl Ninja likes getting her hair and nails did. Again, all things we could do ourselves, but in this case enjoy not having to do it.

And that my friend bring us to today’s million dollar question…

Are you a DIYer (Do it Yourself-er) or a PSTDIFYer (Pay Someone To Do It For You-er)? 

Here is a list of things that could go either way, followed by how we handle it in the Ninja household:

    • Meals: We probably eat out once a week at a restaurant, plus another 1 or 2 times for a quick bite (like Teriyaki or sandwiches). We definitely enjoy paying someone else to handle our meals for us.
    • Blog Stuff: Many bloggers have monthly expenses for things like staff writers, SEO software, upgraded traffic tools, etc. My only blogging expenses are the domain name and hosting ($100/year). Everything else, including the design and logos, are done by yours truly. That’s why things kind of suck around here ūüôā
    • Decor/Building Stuff: We probably could have made or created many of the things in our house. But I suck at building stuff, and GN does crafts all day with her Kindergartners, so instead we hit up Ross and TJ Maxx trying to find decor stuff on the cheap. We fail at HGTV projects.
    • Money Stuff: I imagine if we had millions of dollars we would pay someone to advise us financially.¬†Unfortunately, we do not. Therefore, we handle all aspects of our money. Investing, taxes, etc.
    • Moving: We’ve made a handful of moves and every time we have gone the way of the miser. I always regret it afterwards, because let’s face it, moving sucks. But at the end of the day, I’m too cheap to pay someone else to move my couch when I’m fully capable of doing it myself.
    • Cleaning: Currently, we do 100% of all household¬†cleaning. Down the road, I’d be open to the idea of having someone come through once every two weeks or so and do some touch-up deep cleaning, but I never (repeat NEVER) want to think I am too good to clean my own toilet or shower.
    • Broken Stuff: If something breaks, I almost always pay to replace it, or at least pay someone else to fix it. I have virtually no handy-man talent and am intimated at the process of fixing a leaky pipe or a defunct gadget.

And that’s about all I can think for this stage of life. Obviously as we grow older, the list of possible DIY or PSTDIFY tasks¬†increases¬†exponentially; dog walking, nannying, lawn care, tutoring kids, vacation planning, etc. With the internet, you can find just about anyone to do anything for you if you got the money.

So readers, what things do you DIY and what do you PSTDIFY?

Favorite nail from yesterday as voted by MANteresting community: Shark Five