Wisdom from My Favorite Frugal TV Character - Julius Rock
Cheap people have often been portrayed in television as eccentric weirdoes or just plain laughingstocks. For example, in a infamous episode of Seinfeld , George Costanza purchased a stack of cheap wedding invitation envelopes with toxic glue that killed his fiancee Susan. For the past couple years I have been a fan of a TV character who is extremely cheap and yet very admirable. He is Julius Rock from Everybody Hate Chris (portrayed by Terry Crews). Julius is a character based on Chris Rock's father and in almost every episode of the show his frugality shines through and here are some highlights of his wisdom and lessons he has learned.
Know the price of everything - Julius has an uncanny ability to calculate the cost of everything. For example he would yell, "that's 49 cents of milk spilt over the table! Somebody's gonna drink that!" Julius always knows the price of everything and that helps him comparison shop because he knows instantly what is a rip off and what is a good deal.
Find discounts everywhere - Julius has coupons for literally everything he buys. He is a bonafied coupon king and when the family eats out he finds the places where the kids can eat free or discounted. It took more effort to find coupons before the internet, but these days there is little excuse to not search for an online coupon for any store.
Working hard at school saves money - Julius's wife Rochelle suggested that they hire a tutor for their son Drew when Drew brought home a D in math. Julius said, "No, tutors are expensive. He is just going to have to work harder. We can barely afford kids. We can't afford stupid kids!" Julius's advice for his son to work harder is frugal because for the most part kids who do well at school do not need tutors, and can even earn scholarships to help their parents save money.
Do not spend tax refunds instantly - One year the Rock family got a larger than usual tax refund and Julius was extremely cautious about spending it. He was afraid that the IRS made a mistake and that they would go after him if the money were spent. Hilarity ensued when he went on a quest to find out if it was a mistake at the IRS office. As a general rule, tax refunds, like any other windfall should be examined carefully before they are spent.
Do not forego a family tradition for the sake of being cheap - Actually this is a lesson Julius learned when he substituted Kwanzaa for Christmas. There is nothing wrong with Kwanzaa, but Julius broke the family tradition of celebrating Christmas for the sake of being cheap, and the entire family was quite unhappy. Sometimes being too cheap can be detrimental, and Julius learned his lesson and restored Christmas.
Do not be ashamed of public assistance - Linsey's article about public assistance actually reminded me of an episode titled "Everybody Hates Food Stamps". In the show Julius found $200 in foodstamps and asked his wife to purchase food with the money so he could save cash. Unfortunately Rochelle is what Chris calls a "ghetto snob" and could not bring herself to use food stamps in the store. This caused her to spend more money than Julius hoped to save. The lesson here is that sometimes we just have to let go of our pride a bit and be frugal.
Be careful of credit cards - Julius bought one thing with a department store credit card and it took him over fifteen years to pay it off. So he made sure that his family does not use credit cards because he knows his wife would go crazy with it and they may get into debt that they cannot dig themselves out of. You have to watch the show to see what that one thing he bought was. It was one of the most poignant and hilarious moments of the show.
Teach your kids the value of money - Julius is a very hardworking man who takes on multiple jobs to support his family, and his family is very proud and thankful to have him. Actually Chris Rock makes repeated jokes about how most kids in his neighborhood do not have a dad. There was an episode where Chris went to work with his dad and saw how much his dad worked, and that made Chris understand why Julius is so pennypinching. Teaching kids the value of money is very important because once they know how hard it is to earn money they may become more frugal themselves.
I think Everybody Hates Chris is possibly the best family sitcom on TV right now. I have never seen another show where money is dealt with in such a realistic manner and I can definitely relate to some of Julius' cheap behavior. Anyway, if you are not yet watching, catch Everybody Hates Chris on the CW and learn a few frugal living tips from Julius Rock.