WEST JEFFERSON-Frugal, penny pincher, cheap – Jeff Yeager has been called it all over the years.
The man dubbed “The Ultimate Cheapskate,” however, takes it all in stride. Yeager’s message to the free-spending masses? You don’t have to rack up debt and spend money like it’s going out of style to have a good life. In fact, he believes the opposite can sometimes be the case.
“It’s not about depriving yourself or going without, its about deciding what you want in life,” Yeager said.
Yeager shared hard won wisdom with Ashe County during a special presentation on Oct. 13. Here’s what you need to know.
He’s surveyed more than 300 “cheapskates over the years.
Yeager joked with the audience that he rode his bike between interviews and crashed on couches, but the research taught him that sustained habits separate frugal types from the average American. He learned some interesting facts along the way.
Cheapskates splurge, but focus on things that matter.
Yeager said his research indicates cheapskates still splurge, but not at the same rate as the average American. They also abide by age old rules of fiscal discipline: you don’t spend money you don’t have. That means if your car breaks down and you need a new ride, you should limit your purchase to the money you have on hand.
Do, don’t just buy
Yeager said research indicates that people value experiences more over the long term, while likely valuing money spent on goods and products less. If you’re going to splurge, use that money to create memories you’ll get more enjoyment from over the long term, Yeager said.
Embrace your crock pot
The average number of crock pots owned by the cheapskate families Yeager surveyed? Three. The ultimate cheapskate kitchen tool, crock pots use just a fraction of the power of an oven – costing some 2-5 cents per hour to operate – and can turn cheaper, tougher cuts of meat into scrumptious meals.
You’re paying big for packaged goods
Yeager said consumers pay dearly for prepackaged goods, and used a package of baby carrots to illustrate his point. He counseled the audience to buy their own products in their rawest form – a head of broccoli versus the pre-cut prepackaged variety – and process it yourself. You’ll save big bucks over the long-term.
Embrace a fast
Or at least a fast of the fiscal variety. Yeager said consumers should set aside one or two weeks each year and focus on being as frugal as possible, preferably spending no money. Eat only what you have in your pantry, and focus on activities that won’t cost you a thing. It’s an opportunity to realize quality of life isn’t necessarily tied to spending, Yeager said. It’s also meant to be help you understand exactly how much more you’re spending than you need to.
What the heck was I thinking?
That’s the question Yeager said consumers should ask themselves as they routinely audit their spending and purchases. Self-reflection should help you understand, over the long term, what purchases you regret – hence where you shouldn’t spend your money in the future – and what you actually value.
Perform a trash can “autopsy”
Yeager said cheapskates can learn a lot by inventorying exactly what they’re throwing away. Food waste has become a major drain on household budgets, and you’re likely spending too much for the convenience of prepackaged goods, but an “autopsy” becomes a way to figure out what you’re throwing away that you might be able to re-use. The inflatable bladders that come with boxed wine make decent inflatable pillows, Yeager said, or can be used to create a garden watering tool.
And sometimes it’s not about the bottom line
Yeager said ideas like re-using plastic bags won’t save much money over the long term, but can help consumers learn the discipline needed to recognize the big purchases that represent the bigger drains on their wallet.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.