stories en-US When Being Frugal Went Wrong – Tales From The Cheap & Nasty <p><img src="" alt="boo hoo" title="boo hoo" width="243" height="183" /> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I love a bargain. We all do here at Wise Bread. But after a few personal disasters from being cheap, I opened up the topic to some of my fellow Wise Bread bloggers. What did they do to save a buck and how much did it cost them? If you have a story too, it could win you a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. So on with the madness, starting with my own clash with frugal fate.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>CONGRATULATIONS TO HANNAH, OUR WINNER FOR THE $25 AMAZON GIFT CERTIFICATE DRAWING. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR PARTICIPATING.</strong> </p> <!--break--><!--break--><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Ugh" title="Ugh" width="251" height="188" /> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>PAUL&#39;S CURIOUS CURRY.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Paul Michael" title="Paul Michael" width="85" height="85" align="right" />When I was a college student I was always looking for ways to save money. As you know tuition and housing isn’t cheap, so after the bills, books and supplies I wasn’t left with that much extra cash for food and nights out.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">However, my friends and I always managed to save 5 pounds (around $10) for a Tuesday night curry-fest at the local Indian restaurant (I’ll refrain from using their name as it’s now under new management). For the silly sum of $10 we each got:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">3 different servings of curry – Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Bhuna and Beef Vindaloo</p> <p class="MsoNormal">2 servings of rice – White and Pilaf </p> <p class="MsoNormal">2 naan breads – plain and Kulcha (a naan filled with spicy meat)</p> <p class="MsoNormal">2 onion Bhajis with dipping sauce</p> <p class="MsoNormal">1 plate of poppadoms with mango chutney</p> <p class="MsoNormal">1 pint of ice-cold Carling Black Label lager</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It was a mountain of food. We’d starve ourselves all day and pig out on Tuesday night, not needing to eat again until Wednesday evening. It was terrific, we’d take over 2 hours at the restaurant eating and drinking and taking time to let the food go down. We loved it.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course, we always got what we called “The Japanese Flag” the next morning, which is a completely non-PC way of saying we got diarrhea. But we figured it was all the spices. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Then, one Thursday morning we were reading the local newspaper and the story on page 5 turned us all white. Our favorite curry house, which we had been going to for 1 year, had been shut down because they had been serving dog and cat in the curry. Not all the time, but enough that we knew we’d eaten our fair share. They also had some serious sanitation issues, including cross-contamination, out-of-date food and some personal hygiene issues (I can&#39;t mention them here, but we all felt sick for days). I assure you this is no urban legend, my folks still have the paper-clipping to prove it. I can eat curry again, I still love it, but the flashbacks come and go. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Moral of the story: A cheap meal may contain a nasty surprise.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Tired" title="Tired" width="226" height="169" /> </p> <p><strong>WILL&#39;S HOTEL HORROR</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Will Chen" title="Will Chen" width="85" height="85" align="right" />The California bar exam is the most grueling test I have ever taken. It is a three day test of your endurance as well your legal knowledge. I knew it was going to be rough ride. That&#39;s why when I found out the exam was being held at a Sheraton hotel, I promised myself I would get the best room possible.</p> <p> The Sheraton, of course, was counting on this. They knew most law students would pay almost any price to get a room there so they jacked up their prices accordingly. When I called for a reservation, they only had two rooms left: one ridiculously priced suite on the top floor and another room on the second floor that was $150 cheaper. Although I had promised myself to get the best room possible, I just couldn&#39;t pass up the $150 discount. It&#39;s only a room right? What could possibly go wrong?</p> <p> Big mistake. It turns out no one took that room because it was right next to the elevator. Every five minutes I was treated to either the screeching sounds of elevator gears or the drunken tirades of hotel guests who got off on the wrong floor. I did pass the bar despite not getting any sleep for 72 hours. But till this day I still kick myself for risking so much over a relatively trivial amount of money. That was the worst $150 I have ever saved.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Moral of the story: A cheap room could cost you a good night’s sleep.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="sad kid" title="sad kid" width="252" height="189" /> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>JULIE&#39;S BIRTHDAY BUNGLE</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Julie Rains" title="Julie Rains" width="64" height="85" align="right" />The birthday-party goody bag for my children and their friends has been my nemesis. The concept is not so bad: give partygoers a bag of small treats. But if you have 10 kids and each trinket costs 50 cents to $1.00, it adds up and is an unreasonable amount to spend on a bunch of junk. </p> <p> When my youngest turned three, he invited three friends to his birthday party. I decided I’d get one big item for the goody bag (these kids had limited experience with parties so I figured I could get away with giving one large item), which was a toy fishing pole with magnetic fish (the fishing line caught the fish with its magnet) available at a very inexpensive price at the grocery store. So I saved on the goody-bag items and avoided a drive to Toys R Us or Party City. </p> <p> I bought four fishing sets so I’d have a back-up if one broke. Only one child could come to the party, so I had three back-ups. Just as the party ended and in the presence of the friend’s mom who had arrived to retrieve her son, I presented the token gift to the innocent three-year-old. He played with it briefly but the fishing pole broke immediately; the magnet on the line came loose upon contact with the magnetic fish. So I retrieved another set, and then another, and, then, the last one. All broke. </p> <p> My frugality with goody bags and gifts ended that day, almost. </p> <p> This year, many birthdays after the fishing-pole incident, I spied Matt Christopher (sports series for kids) books for $1.00 at the outlet store of an early-education catalog company, whose main office just happens to be a couple of miles from my house. The prospect of filling a goody bag with something inexpensive and somewhat valuable was just too much to resist. So, I collected several copies, added a few pieces of chocolate to each bag, and reached goody-bag, frugal-mom nirvana. </p> <p> Still, I have learned my lesson not to be ultra-frugal when the consequences of frugality impact someone besides me.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Moral of the story: Saving money on gifts may not help you save face.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Boat repair" title="Boat repair" width="270" height="184" /> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>ANDREA&#39;S DIY DAD</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Andrea Dickson" title="Andrea Dickson" align="right" />My dad is a great guy. He&#39;s a very smart man, a hard worker, and completely dedicated to his family. He really is the essence of frugal, a guy who is pretty much content with the same wardrobe for 20 years at a time, the guy who relishes leftover food and cheap wine.</p> <p> He is not, however, a mechanic.</p> <p> Dad&#39;s always been fond of buying used, and slightly obsolete. Cars, computers, whatever - if Dad can buy something that&#39;s cheap and out of style (but still useful), he will.</p> <p> Now, we&#39;re not a big boating family, but we had a house near a lake and we all agreed that buying a boat was a great idea. So Dad went out and found the ugliest mustard-yellow boat available. There is no describing how hideous that boat was. Fugly from top to bottom. But it ran fairly well.</p> <p> Until it didn&#39;t.</p> <p> Dad, being Dad, decided that he would crack open the inboard/outboard and give it ago. Several days and a few more broken parts later, Dad asked a neighbor for some repair advice. Upon hearing that Dad was attempting to fix the motor by himself, our neighbor Gus, probably wiping away tears of laughter, said, &quot;You get to break three parts during the repair, and then you have to take it to a mechanic.&quot;</p> <p> Classic boat-owner&#39;s mistake, apparently.</p> <p> Now, I have faith in Dad&#39;s abilities, to a point. We once fixed the bumper on my Honda Civic, which had been lowered considerably in a rearend collision on the 101 outside San Mateo. The mechanic guesstimated that the repairs (lifting the bumper back up into place) would run about $700. Dad wasn&#39;t having that. </p> <p> For $4 worth of screws, that car looked as good as new. </p> <p> But boats are a different beast, and a motor is more complex than a bumper.</p> <p> In any case, Dad learned at that point that there are some DIY projects that really shouldn&#39;t be DIY. Oil change? Sure. Transmission rebuild? Not so much. His little repair project cost him an extra few hundred bucks. </p> <p> We still have that God-awful boat, though. It still runs, except when it doesn&#39;t.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Moral of the story: Do-It-Yourself can easily turn into Do-It-Twice.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Hair" title="Hair" width="271" height="203" /></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>JESSICA&#39;S HAIRCUT HELL</strong> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="Jess" title="Jess" hspace="2" vspace="2" width="85" height="84" align="right" />One frugality tip I often see repeated is to take advantage of cheap haircuts at hair dressing academies. Every time I read said tip, I cringe. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">See, I was your classic broke college student, living on ramen noodles and cheap beer, when my friend decided she was going to have a lavish Christmas party. This party was to be a dress up affair which was not the norm in the rock&#39;n&#39;roll circles in which I hung out. A date, I needed a date! </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I worked up the courage to ask a gorgeous guy I was crushing on, and he said yes. The week prior to the party, I was in full-on girlie grooming mode, slathering my face with Clearasil to avoid any pesky zits. I also decided that I should get my hair trimmed, but my wallet said otherwise. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I decided to walk up to the local hair school to get my Louise Brooks bob neatened up. Everything looked fine and dandy when I walked out the door, but when I got home that was not the case. I had sideways and crooked bangs! Upset, I trudged my way back to the school. The instructor, who was a 90s version of Maynard G. Krebs , told me I was full of it &quot;We cut with the shape of the head.&quot; Well I knew my head was not crooked! </p> <p class="MsoNormal">His turtlenecked and goateed highness summoned all the nearby students to watch his corrective actions to my bangs. So now I did not have crooked bangs, I had no bangs. Mind you this was before &quot;baby bangs&quot; were a common sight. With no solution in on the horizon, I decided just to deal with it. The next morning I woke up to not only bang-less hair, but a face that was peeling like a lizard from the large amount of acne products I had put on my face that week. No amount of exfoliation would correct it. There was no way I was going to miss this bash, hair and face be damned! </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I ended up having to put Vaseline on my face in order to even do my make up and managed to work some magic with a bottle of Aqua Net to my poor hair. Luckily, the drinks were flowing, the lights were dim, and my crooked haired, scaly faced self still got a kiss under the mistletoe. After that experience, I will never put my hair on the line just to save a buck. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Moral of the story: Cutting costs with your hair can leave you red-faced. </strong> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Got any stories even more disastrous than these? We’d love to hear them. Remember, it could win you a cool $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. One commenter will be randomly chosen and contacted through email. Deadline to enter is 7/20.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>THE DRAWING HAS ENDED. CONGRATULATIONS TO </strong><strong>HANNAH</strong><strong>, OUR WINNER OF THE DRAWING!</strong> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em>All photos courtesy of <a href="">The Stock Exchange. </a>Many thanks. </em> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Wisdom from My Favorite Frugal TV Character - Julius Rock</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">One Pot Roast, A Week of Cheap and Delicious Lunches</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Cheap and Romantic Ideas for Valentine&#039;s Day (And Any Other Day of the Year)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Wasteful Things That Frugal People Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Things That Make You Look Cheap Without Actually Saving Much Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living bad bargain cheap decision frugal mistake stories wrong Mon, 16 Jul 2007 04:21:53 +0000 Paul Michael 842 at And the winners are...(drum roll please) <p><img src="" alt="nail bite" title="nail bite" width="300" height="225" /></p> <p>Hey folks. Sorry it&#39;s taken me a while to post the results of my two little competitions, I have been on a well-earned vacation. But, I am back and have spent the last hour going over all the entries from both the <a href="/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended">Speeding Ticket</a> post and the recent <a href="/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars#comment">Disney DVDs</a> post. </p> <p>I congratulate you all on some very clever and honest entries (although telling me you&#39;ll use a DVD as a coaster is never going to win I&#39;m afraid, even if it was sarcasm at it&#39;s finest). So, without further ado, the winners are posted below, complete with their entries. </p> <p><a href="/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended"><strong>The Speeding Excuse </strong></a> </p> <p><strong>KARI </strong>- I congratulate you. I&#39;m happy that PMS can at least come in handy. Your tiny remote-controlled car will ship soon. Enjoy.</p> <p><em>&quot;Whenever a male cop pulls me over, I tell him I just got my period and start gushing gory details. They usually let me off just to get me to shut up.&quot;</em></p> <p><a href="/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars#comment"><strong>Pirates and Cars and t-shirts, oh my. </strong></a> </p> <p>Lots of entries here, many worthy ones. In the end, it was a tough call but here are the results. If you didn&#39;t bag anything this time, keep popping back to Wisebread. I&#39;m sure I&#39;ll find more stuff to give away.</p> <p><strong>CARS DVD - KENCOMER</strong></p> <p>Ken, never has a comment been as long or emotional. I hope the DVD helps ease the pain. </p> <p><em>&quot;I have a deep emotional need for the Disney movie.</p> <p>When I was three and riding with my dad in his VW, he had to come to a sudden stop. I&#39;m not sure how it happened because, like, I was only three, but I have an inch-long scar on my nose. My parents told me that my nose was nearly ripped off, and that the small scar on the side of my nose once went almost all of the way around. The doctor who stitched me up did a terrific job and, until I tell you that it&#39;s there, you probably won&#39;t notice it. I&#39;m not making this up... It really happened and I have the scar to prove it.</p> <p>When I was about 5, I jumped over the rim in the above-ground 30&quot; deep pool my parents had bought us, and I kept my face from hitting the bottom by jamming my hand on a wind-up metal sea-plane. I came up and watched as my hand turned from wet with a red streak into nearly solid red from hand to elbow. Mother went a bit hysterical, then pulled herself together and took me to the hospital. Seven stitches on that one.</p> <p>When I was 7 and riding my bike on the sidewalk, a neighbor came zooming out of his garage and down his steeply inclined driveway, knocking me over and cutting a deep gash in the top part of my foot. I walked home leaving a trail of bloody prints of my right foot. I was pretty calm about it and asked my dad to get me something to stop my foot from bleeding. He asked me, &quot;Do want a band-aid?&quot; I said, &quot;No... I don&#39;t think we have any band-aids big enough.&quot; My grandparents were there at the time and I never saw such confusion as everybody tried to do everything at once. Fourteen stitches.</p> <p>When I was 11, I went through a glass shower door, getting slashed both going in and pulling myself out. I even got another one when I sat down to recover from having been sliced and diced. I screamed bloody murder. Mother, cooking in the kitchen, sent my youngest sister to see what was wrong. I was naked and I did not want my sister to see me naked, so I stuck my arm out the door. It was sopping wet with blood and there was a large shard of glass protruding from it. My little sister went ape-**** and ran through the house, shrieking like she&#39;d just been branded. My mother decided that she had best investigate in person. When she got there, she went white as a klansman&#39;s hood and looked like she was going to lose it. She didn&#39;t, though, and started wrapping towels around the wounds that did not have obvious pieces of glass sticking out of them. She sent the middle sister across the street to get the help of the retired Marine Colonel. He came at once--I had somehow splattered blood on her leg, so he caught the sense of urgency despite my sister&#39;s self-reported incoherence. They carried me out to the street naked. I was less mortified by the blood streaming from seven large wounds on my body than by having my nakedness paraded before the entire neighborhood and my naked butt put on the grass. He ran across the street to get his Lincoln with white leather seats. He put me in the back seat and told my mother to sit with me while he drove to the hospital. I tried to make light of the situation, saying, &quot;I guess I&#39;m gonna miss football practice tomorrow.&quot; My mother did not understand and asked me to repeat it. When I did, she stuck her head out the window and barfed. Some people have no sense of humor. That was 117 stitches on the outside with a large number of things stitched up on the inside. In removing the stitches on my back, the doctor (who had not done the neat, careful stitching of the others) left part of one stitch in my back. I kept complaining about the itch until my mother took me back to see a doctor at the hospital. He probed around a little, finally found the small bit of stitching and pulled it free, coated with a yucky yellow-brown layer of necrotic tissue. For some reason, I still frequently have an itch there 38 years later.</p> <p>By the way, the Marine would not even let my parents pay to have his car cleaned. A real class act, he was. Pretty much every Marine I have met has been that way.</p> <p>Since then, I fell down a trail at Scout camp (7 stitches), caught one of those old metal fans as it toppled (5 stitches), and blew off getting stitches in a cut on my face, leaving me with a mildly roguish scar near my eyebrow. I also have burn scars on my legs and a large, deep-puckered scar from back surgery. The scars from my vasectomy are too small to worry about, and most people don&#39;t even notice them at all. The same for the scars from having my wisdom teeth removed, although I have never had anyone ask to see those, whereas some women do want to see the vasectomy scars. Given that some women are fascinated by my vasectomy scars, I have tried the pick-up line of, &quot;Hey... Wanna see my vasectomy scars?&quot; It worked once, even though she&#39;d already seen them. Some women are just fixated on testicle surgery, I guess.</p> <p>So. That&#39;s why I think you should give me the Scars movie. Hopefully, when I think of the klutzy things I have done and all of the little reminders that life has written on my flesh, it will help to give me a sense of humor about it all, and not blow it out of proportion.&quot; </em></p> <p><strong>PIRATES DVD - CHERYL</strong></p> <p>Not only did you make me laugh, but the chance to help any woman achieve orgasm without betraying my lovely wife is one I have to jump at. May Cap&#39;n Jack give you years of pleasure. </p> <p><em>&quot;I need you to give me Dead Man&#39;s Chest immediately. Do it. NOW. I have such a case of the hots for Captain Jack Sparrow, and have worn out my copy of Curse of The Black Pearl, by watching it and creating various fantasies in my mind&#39;s eye (Aye!) about the two of us in various states of pillaging and plundering our booty (booties!) together! I have worn out my fantasies with this version of the movie, and to not give me Dead Mans Chest would be depriving a 40-ish single woman, in her sexual prime, of new material and future orgasms! Perish the thought!&quot;</em></p> <p><strong>Pirates t-shirts for the &#39;close but no dvd&#39; category.</strong></p> <p><strong>DEAN IN DES MOINES</strong> - Who says honesty doesn&#39;t pay?</p> <p><em>&quot;Why would someone enter such a drawing? Because, for the first time, I&#39;d be happier with the runner&#39;s up prize. Heh.&quot;</em></p> <p><strong>CARO</strong> - Being fired sucks, I know the feeling. It&#39;s not a DVD but I hope the t-shirt gives you a smile. </p> <p><em>&quot;I just got &#39;terminated&#39; from my government job of 2.5 years without explanation by a letter. Yes, that&#39;s right, they sent me a letter. I did not get asked in for a meeting, nor did I get a phone call -- all I got was a lousy, certified letter.</p> <p>It&#39;s a sad story. I mean, c&#39;mon, I&#39;m a poor, underpaid, yet over-worked college student and I just got terminated. A free movie would definitely right all those wrongs, don&#39;tcha think?&quot;</em></p> <p>I will be in touch with all of the winners early next week to confirm addresses and so forth. Congrats again, and well done on some great entries. The Wisebread crowd are a funny, verbally-gifted bunch. </p> <p><em>Photo courtesy of <a href="">The Stock Exchange </a></em> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">FREE DVD - Pirates 2 or Cars.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Jar of Nothing: the perfect present for the picky prick in your life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to flush $299 down the toilet (and fish it out again)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Would imminent diarrhea beat a speeding ticket? Deadline extended.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Feeling patriotic? Grab a free National Guard t-shirt.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Commentary Cars DVD competition Disney/Pixar funny giveaway Pirates DVD prize stories t-shirt Sat, 05 May 2007 03:21:21 +0000 Paul Michael 598 at