Unleash Your Inner Tightarse

Just wanted to share a couple of links on the hot topic of frugality.

From the lovely Trace in the comments – Love Food, HateWaste – an official campaign that aims to "raise awareness of the need to reduce the amount of food that we throw away, and how doing this will benefit us as consumers and the environment". There’s money saving and storage tips, recipes for pesky leftovers and a guide to stocking a store cupboard. Looks like a goodun, but where’s the Honey Jar Ring? The stray peppercorns and couscous grains rolling round the bottom?

Via SJ comes an article by Alanna Kellogg at BlogHer – How To Save Money On Groceries. Personally I’ve found shacking up with a vegetarian really slashes the food bills. Animal parts can be expensive. Lentils and beans are cheap, if you can tolerate the changes in the atmosphere while your digestive system learns to cope. Bwahaha.

STOP PRESS!

Spooky Mulder. I was typing the above on Friday evening when suddenly! A wee lady appeared at the door from a market research company. "I just need one more survey then I can go home for the weekend," she pleaded with her clipboard and puppy-dog eyes.

These people always come to our door. I think the word got out last year when I was home writing. I’d let anyone in – religious callers, charities, electricity companies, the radio ratings people – anything to get away from That Stinking Book for ten minutes.

Anyway, I caved again. After asking my opinions on stamps from Northern Ireland, nanotechnology, lifeboats and Scottish football sponsors… the next topic was FOOD WASTE!

Did I waste food?
Did food waste upset me?
Had I heard of Love Food Hate Waste?
Where did you hear about Love Food Hate Waste?

Would you believe they didn’t have an option for "Heard About It In My Blog Comments".

How freaky cool was that? I was so blown away by this strange coincidence that I watched Saturday Night Fever on DVD instead of finishing this entry.

Where were we?

Ahh, links. This one illustrates the fine line between thrift/ingenuity and outright tightwaddery. It’s the remnants of Merrick and Rosso’s TightArse Tuesday Guestbook from 2000. Back then Merrick & Rosso were on Australia’s Triple J network and one of their segments was Tightarse Tuesday, in which listeners submitted hilarious tales of penny pinching. It helps if you can read the entries in your best Aussie accent.

Ben from Launceston:
I have a mate, named Brad, who went to buy his girlfriend a ring for her birthday, all well and good, then he decided he might get it engraved. He went to the ‘engravers’ and was told it was $3.00 to start and then twenty cents per letter. He thought this was a little steep, so instead of writing "I will love you forever" he thought he would save a bob and got "I’ll luv u 4eva", so he only paid for twelve letters instead of 19. Thus saving a hole $1.40.

Gillian from Gladstone:
Dad, who is now 96, bought a pair of slippers on special, as you do, but unfortunately they were 2 sizes too big. No drama, just cut the ends off them and staple them together. They now match the other pair of Specials in his shoe closet which were too small and he cut out the toes on them. Can’t beat a bargain can you!!!

Brownyn from Launceston:
Have i got a rippa tight arse story for u.
My mum is the ultimate tight arse. She collects barcodes from packets of biscuits, canned food etc, in case one day they have a competition. She wont have to go out and buy the products to collect the barcodes ‘hey presto’ she’s already got them.

Taryn from Drysdale:
The people down the road from us had their letterbox broken by some (extremely intoxicated) locals. Instead of bying a new one, they’ve just gone, "oh no, hang on, we’ve got an old microwave out here we’re not using, let’s use that instead." So they’ve got their big old box-of-a-microwave out on the roadside as the letterbox. And the posty uses it.

Briony from New Lambton Heights:
Two "elderly" people were in the ‘egg isle’ of a supermarket and these two people were taking the free-range eggs out of the free-range carton and putting them in the battery egg carton so they could have free-range eggs at the price of battery eggs.

Anyone got a tightarse tale to share?

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32 thoughts on “Unleash Your Inner Tightarse

  1. These I heard on the radio so I can’t vouch for their veracity:

    An old man who would collect rubber from blown out tyres on the freeway to reuse as soles for his shoes.

    A granny who would give her grandkids bags of sand as Christmas gifts.

    Another granny who would water down her Coca Cola when guests came to visit.

    An aunt who, when her terry-toweled robe had gone past its best, would cut up the robe into square sheets and use them as face washers.

    And the best one (and it’s a true one because it’s my story)… a colleague of mine would buy me a coffee every morning when he went out to get breakfast. I would give him $3 and he would never give me change so I assumed that $3 was the price. I went with him one day to get my coffee, and I found out it was $2.50. He’d been pocketing the 50 cents every morning. I’m so glad I don’t have to work with him anymore. Imagine pocketing 50c from your colleague? He was a real tight arse.

  2. I used to live in a pretty big sharehouse and one housemate was the ultimate tightarse. (“Wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him!” was the most often used description)
    If there was a birthday cake to chip in for, he’d pay by the slice. Instead of buying kitty litter, he’d fill the litterbox with dirt from the backyard. One day we were walking home from the pub and we came across a bin full of packet foods (like 2 min noodles, biscuits, mashed potato etc.) and some things were out of date by at least a year. He loaded up on everything he could carry and lugged it home. Feral! He was eating a packet of noodles that went out of date 18 months prior and commented on how it tasted ‘extra spicy.’… and wondered why he was spending extended amounts of time on the loo!

  3. In true TightArse Tuesday spirit when I buy petrol I buy $20.02. Because the 2 cents is rounded down I get that 2cents for free.

    BTW: TightArse Tuesday is called that in Oz as it is supposedly the day of the week petrol is the cheapest and it is also half price ticket day when you go to the movies.

  4. I knew a guy once who had short arms and long pockets. When he went on holidays he sent a postcard and on the back he asked if he could have it back when he got home because he wanted the picture for his album. This is the same guy who would never order his own meal when we went out to eat. He would just eat everybody else’s leftovers. He was as tight as a fish’s ring.

  5. The microwave mailbox is PRICELESS (and perfect for Tightarse Tuesday, I suppose)!

    I am not a tightarse. I want to be one and need to figure out how to tighten up if I want to go to the UK next year.

    Trying to think of other people’s tightarse ventures…nothing comes to mind although washing out and line / air drying ziplock sandwich bags always boggles my mind.

  6. That microwave mailbox had me LOL! Here’s one. My mom was staying at my house while I was away. When I came home, there was a small amount of liquid in a tupperware in the fridge. When I asked her what it was, she said it was the water she drained from canned chicken (the kind used in chicken salad). “That chicken broth is expensive, ya know!” I personally thought it was wasteful that I had to wash a tupperware container after promptly dumping the liquid down the drain! Yuck, Mom!

  7. The fast food places (mcdonalds, etc) and panera which is god of soups salads and sandwiches (i dont know if they have them outside the states) give you cups that you can refill yourself for drinks… so lots of my guy friends will keep them and leave them in their cars till they go back!

  8. A co-worker’s mom used to take the tinsel (you know, the one that’s about 25 cents a package)off the tree and save for the next year.

    And, my mother-in-law is one of the wash-the-ziploc- bag thrifties.

  9. My fave tightarse story is a guy we knew years ago who was saving for a car. One night he picked up a chick and took her home. When she took off her jeans, the change in her pockets fell on the floor so he collected it up and kept it… before they even did it!!!

    The saddest bit is that he told us this story himself, and proudly.

  10. Kathryn you are KIDDING me!? That is GOLD!

    Ahh thanks everyone 🙂 Nothing like a good tightarse story.

  11. ooooh, I need to be FAR FAR more of a tightarse.

    Mine is limited to scrounging through purse when we head in somewhere yelling at my husband:

    I THINK I HAVE A COUPON. I THINK I HAVE A COUPON.

    and then not finding it—

    duly noted.

    M.

  12. It’s not particularly original but a former flatmate of mine used to dry out teabags and re-use them. You learned quickly never to accept his offer of a cuppa. He also washed out yogurt pots to re-use those. He stopped doing that the day he tried to heat up some baked beans in one of his pots in the microwave. The pot buckled, melted and welded itself to the bottom of the microwave. Every time we used the microwave for weeks after your food smelled vaguely of burning plastic. Yuck.

  13. My dear old grandpa, rest him, once got out two brown paper bags at Christmas — one labelled ‘girls’ in spidery black biro, the other ‘boys’. He instructed us to pass the bag around and take one each of what was inside. And inside each bag was an opened five-packet of hankies. It’s a Catholic family and the hankies ran out long before everybody got one. He just sat there wheezily laughing to himself.

  14. My mother not only washes and reuses ziploc bags, but tinfoil! She also rips dryer sheets into thirds!! I mean seriously, how much money are we saving here??

  15. i come from a tight scots family and the whole reduce, reuse, recycle thing is pretty much a family motto. we’ve had the same tinsel since I was about 5, sandwich bags are washed, tin foil and paper are carefully folded and reused, christmas cards cut up to make present tags – thriftiness is a virtue…

  16. Jane, I had a similar situation, but even more extreme. I was a single parent raising 2 children entirely on my own and worked with a guy who would go out and get lunch every day. He always asked if anyone else wanted anything, which sounds like he was being very nice. Since money was EXTREMELY tight I always ordered the cheqpest thing on the menu & knew exactly how much my meal would be. The first time he didn’t give me my change I thought it was an oversight & let it go. The next time there should have been more change & it was the only money I had left for the week. I asked him for it & he said “that’s the delivery charge – I never give change”. I just couldn’t believe it – he was a single person who lived at home with his parents, had lots of money & low expenses, & knew I was on an very tight budget. Fortunatly he didn’t work there very long after that!

  17. Ooooh I need to be more of a tightarse too! I usually get the mick taken out of me though 🙁 stuff like when me and my boyfriend, went out for a group meal with his family, we went to the bar for our drinks and assumed that the others will do the same. When the bill came it was split evenly (by his rich brother in law by the way) between all couples. Not that we mind doing that in priciple but it sticks in your throat when your having to pay part of a large bar bill as well as towards other peoples kiddie meals – we dont have kids but when we do I am going to order the most expensive fishfinger and mash meal I can find Mwa ha ha ha!!!

  18. OK. You might have heard this one, but…

    When we were furnishing our house, we bought enough at IKEA that we got a money-off voucher for £30, to be redeemed within the next month. Only trouble was, we’d bought everything we needed by then.

    We had one Billy bookcase still in its packaging, unassembled. So my husband decided we would take it back to IKEA, return it, and buy it again using the voucher.

    Everyone tried to dissuade him from this, but he was adamant.

    So we loaded it – in its long thin heavy box – into Mum’s Punto and secured it as best we could. The first time we stopped at a junction, it slid forward and cracked the windscreen.

    The excess on the insurance was £60.

    I forget what we spent the voucher on in the end!

  19. My grandpa used to stop at intersections and scream at my sister to get out of the car and pick up tires, hubcaps, abandoned tools and other detritus left behind. She was always terrified she wouldn’t make it back before the light turned green.

  20. me and my dad were travelling to France, and while we were in the queue to load the car onto the ferry, my dad thought it would be a good idea to switch off the engine and have me push the car instead (I was about 10). anyway, two of the port staff saw me and came and pushed the car for me (obviously thinking we had broken down) – my dad had a fun time explaining to them that he was just trying to save petrol!

  21. I think the elderly do tight arse in a whole different fashion than anyone else!! And why not? They had to live through some extremely hard times and they had to make do with whatever they had. We are a terribly materialistic society that throws out everything (myself included) if it gets torn. Ever darned a sock?? No way, they are cheap as chips to buy. That is why there is so much waste now because people go for ease instead of practicality

  22. The grandpa handkerchief story reminds me of this one: My dad’s aunt is a Catholic nun, and always gave the weirdest Christmas presents. One year, it was a large box filled with men’s neckties! They were all fat and out of style. What’s a family going to do with 40 neckties?

    My dad is a notorious dumpster (trash bin) diver. Our bicycles routinely came from the dumpster, or the flea market. In fact, the flea market is Dad’s favorite place to shop, period. If you’re unfamiliar with flea markets, look it up on Wikipedia. 🙂

  23. 40 neckties… hehe.

    Jules, I darn socks! I’ve got the Brownie badge to prove my qualifications 😛

    I can’t believe your colleagues, Jane and Heather! That is tightwaddery of the highest (lowest?) order!

  24. The worst thing about my tight wad coworker was that he would also buy my boss’ bottle of coke on his breakfast run. And he always gave her the change (even though she had no clues what it cost). But then, she was the one authorising his bonus so it was in his best interests to not rip her off.

    Another thing he would do is look up the accounting system to see who had ordered a catered lunch that day in the office. He would then lurk around that team’s area to scavenge the remains.

    He also tells his kids to lie about their age so he doesn’t have to pay for them to travel on their train.

    Unfortunately, he’s married, ladies. Otherwise he’d be a real catch and you’d all have to form an orderly queue.

  25. Just wanted to say I am so excited i got my copy of your book today. I feel like one of my friends wrote it, I held it with such pride! Will enjoy reading it,K.

  26. My Nana was Scottish and lived through the Depression, so she was the epitome of “frugal”. To this day, the cardinal sin in my family is wasting food. Often growing up we would have a night where everyone “cleaned up the LOs” (leftovers). This made for some interesting combinations sometimes-a bit of shepherd’s pie, some pasta, some mashed potatoes-whatever there was in the fridge from the meals at the beginning of the week. Personally, I see nothing wrong with frugality (although that might be me being defensive) and now that I’ve read about the environmental impact of wasting food, I feel even better about it!!

  27. I have just had a flashback on account of Psychsarah’s comment: my uncle used to run hotels, and in the one he had a chef who used to be a navy chef. Navy chefs never waste a THING – they can’t. Anything, and I do mean anything that was left over or about to reach its use by date was used in his signature dish: minestrone soup. My uncle always made a point of not asking what went in it. Veg, meat, fish, CREAM CAKE, anything left over went into the soup.
    I think there should be more ‘high seas nothing to eat but the leftovers’ recipes on the web. The German (and Norwegian, and Danish and and and) dish called ‘Labskaus’ (check it out in Wikipedia if you are not fainthearted) is the same deal – anything left over was made into this mad dish with beetroot (colours everything so you can’t see what’s in it) and you cover it with an egg (taking your eye away from mad pink leftovers underneath). Don’t believe any recipe for it: just use anything about to grow mould or die. Labskaus is actually now found in the very posh restaurants and hailed as a fine Germany national dish. I would mock, but I suspect the notion of haggis is not far away from this…

  28. Some great stories here! A few more from me:

    -My great uncle had no central heating, no TV (he’d go round to my auntie’s to watch the rugby) and instead of tea he’d drink boiled water with a digestive biscuit.
    -One of my dad’s friends was riding his motorbike in the south of France one summer and was nearly out of petrol but the next station he passed was too expensive so when he inevitably ran out he pushed his bike (in the searing heat and wearing full leathers!) to the next station.
    -Another of my dad’s friends refused to pay the 50p credit card charge at Ikea on principle and left without buying anything, despite having driven half an hour to get there which sort of negates the 50p!
    -My mum’s friend is extremely frugal does the usual rinsing of teabags etc (y’know the amateur stuff? 😉 but she out-did herself on her daughter’s 21st birthday: She took her daughter and some friends to a restaurant but brought her own cheap wine and made it clear that everyone was only allowed mains yet was still appalled at the bill.

    Thing is, all of the above people are minted.. I suppose this is why!!

  29. Here’s my latest solution to love food/hate waste: La Tortilla Factory’s Whole Wheat/Low Carb/Low Fat Tortillas — 14 grams dietary fiber, 80 calories, 3 grams fat. No kidding! Everyday I turn leftover dinner into lunch. Any combination of leftovers and whatever else I have on hand in a wrap, microwaved between 30-60 seconds. Leftover grilled shrimp with tomatoes, spinach, kalamata olives and feta was my latest favorite, although leftover chicken, beans and rice with shredded cheese was delicious too. Get creative…my refrigerator is almost empty!

    Julie for WOW!

  30. My grandmother would scrape out the dead mouse and reuse her glue traps. Something that costs a dollar and has a dead, sticky mouse in it IS the definition of disposable!

    Still love the blog, DG!

  31. I don’t know about tight arse. But, I was rather frugal in college. When nearby neighbors moved out they usually left the door unlocked and left good usable stuff behind. I got lots of good things this way. Everything got well cleaned. I got kitchen ware, clothing, luggage once, blankets, telephones & so on. I was a very good scavenger. I’m still using some of that stuff.

    I can’t believe the mousetrap grandma. And I never use a teabag more than once.

    By the way, you can DARN? Wow, I’d like to know how. Wool socks are expensive and I could repair perfectly usable pairs.

  32. You know… I was thinking about this entry for a few days and today while cleaning, I realised I’m a tightarse… however, I thought perhaps I could use the term, “environmentally friendly”? I started to save up candlewax…. lots of unused, smelly, perfectly good candlewax! I’m going to go (one of those days) and find some wicks and remelt the nice smelly candles into smaller tealights, etc. Does that make me a tightarse? Lately I’ve just discovered we really waste a lot in my household and I’m just trying to reduce waste. So far we went from 3 garbage bags of waste to less than a shopping bag in about 2 months. Not shabby, eh?