Saturday, June 18, 2011

A tribute to a miser dad

When I told my father I was starting a blog on being cheap, he immediately said, "Give credit where it's due."  So here's the credit.

My dad is so cheap . . .

. . . he would pay only $1 for an evening of babysitting.  (He paid me 50 cents to watch my sisters, and because they hated how bossy I was, he paid them each 25 cents to be baby-sat by me.  Now that's insulting!)

. . . he bought generic food, back before generics were nearly the same as brand-name.  My sisters and I thought green edges on potato chips were normal.

 . . . he paid me 7 cents a week to clean the dog yard.  We had two Irish Wolfhounds -- that's a lot of poop for a little money!

But as you might imagine, his cheapness had other aspects to it.  It was my dad who helped all of my Girl Scout friends earn our plumbing badges, teaching us to fix leaky faucets and toilets.  Since there is no official plumbing patch, we had to design and sew our own.  Dad also is the reason I know how to do electric wiring and rudimentary carpentry.

My dad thinks he's a cheapskate, but this summer (as in every summer for the past many years), he's flying our vast family out to a location of his own choosing for a reunion.  It is from him that I learned that spending money on people and experiences trumps spending money on things.  I'd rather have time with my sisters than have perfect potato chips.

When I was writing up my parenting statement, getting ready to adopt my kids, this is what I said about my dad:
My father is a patient man.  He is soft-spoken and self sacrificing, frugal of himself, but generous with praise and gifts for others.  I could count on one hand the times I heard him raise his voice, even if I were wearing mittens.  He made me, for graduation, an oaken roll top desk.  It took him four years.  Whatever patience I have with people is patterned on him; I will never have his patience with wood.
Happy Father's Day, one and all.

Post-script:  My dad responds:
I would point that your salary numbers should be corrected by an inflation factor of about 2.5 since the time you write about.  Thus in real terms current terms it was costing me 18 cents a week to get the dog yard cleaned and an astronomical $2.50 to get the children sat.

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