#95 Finally Figured Out I'm Not Cheap

This weekend we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving by making a turkey dinner with our friends in Waterloo. We spent almost every waking moment together, we ate six consecutive meals together and slept two nights in their guest room.

It as a fun-filled weekend preparing meals, walking around town and so many great conversations. I find it rare in this information age to have in-depth talks with friends, however, when you spend this much time with the same people, you run out of small talk after the first meal. This pushes you to share a little more with every passing hour. These are the funniest talks, where you really get to know your friends and really get to know yourself.


I Learned That I'm Not Cheap

Over the past few years, since I moved to Toronto I have been misunderstood by my friends and my family. Often I would be characterized as "Cheap" or "Frugal", I've even been told that "I've lost my sense of family". This last one hurts the most.

Among the many memorable talks with our friends on the weekend, we were discussing me. Who am I, and how do people see me. And that's when my wife was able to express in words why it is people see me as "Cheap". I have never been able to put into words why I am characterized this way. But now I know.

My wife said that I often like to talk about "how much things cost". I take this topic to an extreme that others do not. For example, my friends may be talking about going on a trip and all the fun things they are planning and my first question will be "how much was your plane ticket", and my second question is "how much is your hotel". It's the first thing that often comes out of my mouth. When others would wonder about all the fun things, my first wonder is the price. It's not that I don't care about the fun, excitement, and adventure, it's just my nature and curiosity for information and data.

It is this perception that I only care about the cost of things that drives people to characterize me as "Cheap". 

The Truth About Spending

I am "Intentional". I am a "Conscious Spender". A dollar saved is two dollars earned is a quote I remember growing up with. While I don't live by this quote every day, the core value of it is engrained in my habits.  

Know exactly what you are willing to spend on. For me, this is the occasional restaurant, tennis, vacations, and my friends and family. For the most part, I will not spend substantially on other things. When I go grocery shopping I will not spend on meat if it's not on sale. When I shop for clothes it's only if I need something for a special event, or my current wardrobe is no longer "presentable". I can go months, even years, without buying new clothes.  

But when it comes to tennis, I will make sure I have the best racquet, the best strings, the best balls, and even pay for court time in the winter. When I plan vacations, I will not sacrifice a fun adventure. And when I'm hosting my friends for dinner, I will go all out and cook Gordon Ramsay's famous beef wellington.

This doesn't mean I don't look for the best deal and try to pay the lowest price. I always try to pay the least possible for the same service. With my "intentional" spending list, I am more willing to pay full price if I cannot get a deal. 

This is the TRUE difference between being cheap and being "Intentional". 


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something Chartered Financial Analyst. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

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