Frugally Awesome…or Awkward

Frugally Awesome...Since we’re all friends here and I’m really good at confessing secrets now, I’ll let you in on another one: I’m a supremely awkward human being. Just last week, I was sitting in a work meeting with my boss and my coworker best friend former best friend. Midway through the meeting, I swatted stray hairs from my forehead. Or I thought that’s what I did.

In fact, I managed to drag my nails across my temple and scratch myself. Then, unbeknownst to me, I proceeded to bleed for the remainder of the meeting. As we left, said coworker handed me a tissue and said, “You’ve been bleeding.” Just another glorious day in the life of Penny.

Since laughing at myself brings me great joy, I thought I’d share some fun little moments of awkwardness that have cropped up as of late. Whether it’s the food we eat, the way we live, or the clothes I keep, it seems everyone has an opinion on our frugality. And it makes for some delightfully awkward personal finance moments. 

“The good food is over there.”

One of my favorite ways to cut back on our grocery bill is to shop the “cast offs.” Dented cans of diced tomato, granola bars that are knocking on the door of their expiration date, and fresh fruit and vegetables that are not long for this world. I really value fresh produce in my diet. But I also have no delusions about needing the most pristine vegetables to make a killer stir fry. I mean, they get all soft and steamed up anyway, right?

Last week, I scooted my cart over to the imperfect bell peppers. As I sorted through the pile, a fellow shopper approached, paused, pointed, and said, “The good food is over there.” Normally, awkward silence is my home-run swing in these situations. On a bad day, I fumble for words, turn tomato red, and stand mouth agape as the person shuffles away. Silence really is golden for me.

I’m not sure what came over me, but I held up a bell pepper and actually spoke: “This will do fine for tonight’s dinner. And they’re only 29 cents a pound.” The good food? Yeah, those bell peppers were priced at almost $2 a pound. That shopper scurried away, but I was all smiles when another person approached, nodded, and scooped up a handful.

“You know, you don’t have to be cold.”

We keep our house at 66 degrees in the winter. In the personal finance world, I live in a veritable furnace. However, according to most real-life company I keep, our house is exactly six degrees too cold. I try to be fairly cognizant of this when company comes over and will kick it up a degree or two if it’s really blustery out.

When discussing home temperatures, a friend once remarked, “You know, you don’t have to be cold.” He was right. I don’t. I choose to live at this temperature not only as a cost-saving measure, but as a planet-saving measure as well. Our carbon footprint still looms quite large, but if I can take small measures to reduce it, I will. And our heating bill can hit triple digits at this setting. I have no desire to see what happens with an added six degrees.

In the wintertime–let’s be serious, in the Midwest that’s October through May–when we have guests, I make it a point to serve tea, coffee, and cocoa. I also entertain in our family room. It’s one of my favorite rooms to begin with, but it’s especially cozy in the winter since it is directly above our furnace and Mr. P and my dad built doors for our fireplace last winter. I can’t say that we’ve ever had a complaint.

“Oh my gawd? Did something happen?” 

Since last summer, I’ve been on a mission to declutter. Some of that has gone documented on the blog, at least as far as the first floor goes. But much of my closet is still a work in progress, so nothing has been posted just yet. If you follow me on Twitter, though, you’ve probably seen my virtual happy dance when I land a sale on Poshmark or Tradesy.

In fact, in a few short months, I’ve sold over fifty pairs of shoes, several handbags, and other clothing items and accessories. My virtual personal finance buddies have been incredibly supportive. My real-life friends? Not so much.

After our recent trip to Vegas, a friend commented that we sure do travel a lot and noted that has to be quite expensive. After explaining how we used My Vegas Rewards to keep our lunches down to $20 for the whole trip, I also explained that I paid for my portion of the trip by selling stuff. Panic-stricken, she asked, “Oh my gawd? Did something happen?” Something did happen. I told her I realized I value experiences–seeing one of the gaudiest cities all decked out in her holiday party clothes and ice skating on top of the Cosmopolitan overlooking the Strip–over things. That concept makes perfect sense to me. It netted a polite nod from my friend.

So Tell Me…Any awkward moments as of late? How do people react to your frugality?


Frugally Awesome…or Awkward

29 thoughts on “Frugally Awesome…or Awkward

  1. I totally walked around with a self-inflicted Harry Potter tribute scratch a couple of months ago, with no clue it was there until someone said something. Fortunately, I was able to come up with the HP joke to cover my embarrassment.

    I got some strange looks during my no spend month, and friends who said “I’d love to try that but the hubby won’t get on board.” And having a supportive hubby has been key in getting more frugal, but he’s been pushing me for years and is willing to go a lot further to save money than I am. Except for quitting cable, sigh. I still find my new-found reluctance to go out for paid entertainment leaves me a little awkward about invitations for a girls night, etc.

    1. It’s all about teamwork, no? That’s awesome that he’s been pushing you. You seem like a most excellent duo. Your HP joke is genius. I’m never quick thinking enough to come up with something like that. Actually talking back to the sassy-pepper person was a huge step for me.


    Ok see no one told me about that, and that is freaking cool. I take back *some* of the things I said about Vegas, haha.

    Also, YOU FOUND 29 CENT PEPPERS? I have to admit, I once did not know the error of my ways and was all about the “good food over there,” but since realizing that I’d rather not spend upwards of $800 to feed two people, the “value” rack of food has been my best friend.

    Although even with my best efforts, I recently paid $4 for a red pepper, because Canada. It’s too bad I don’t believe in opting out of vegetables entirely at this point, my budget would be so happy.

    Also, I got distracted, but I actually came down here to tell you this post is my favourite thing and I too am a deeply awkward human being and these all sound like things I would SO DO IN REAL LIFE. I am further convinced we will get along SO WELL in real life someday.

    1. Next year. Vegas meet up so we can awkwardly ice skate and tell other embarrassing stories. I’ll probably trip a few times, too! You have expensive vegetables. We have Donald Trump. I’ll let you decide who’s better off. 😉

  3. 66 is cold! Great for sleeping at night, but that’s chilly during the day when you’re home. Have you tested the savings yourself or read any good blog posts on it? I’d be curious to see what the true cost would be to go up to even 68 or 70 during times when you’re home. Regardless, let’s hope spring comes soon!!

    1. I haven’t tested this, truly. The closest I got was last winter. I turned it up in an effort to test it out, but then it coincided with that crazy span of -30* days that never ended. The bill was so high, I didn’t even want to actually crunch the numbers. I mostly just wanted to erase that bill from my mind! I’m fairly confident we’re saving some money, but you’re right. I should be more diligent about calculating this.

  4. It’s funny — I don’t feel like any of the stories you recounted are very awkward. You just made people a tad uncomfortable with your truth bombs. 🙂 But when has anyone ever seriously rethought their thinking or ways of doing things without first getting a bit uncomfortable? I think you’re doing your friends and even strangers a favor by sharing your reasoning in these situations! (Also — 66 degrees! I’m so jealous that that temp can still keep you mostly under 3 digits on your heating bill. We’re already at 3 digits to keep our house at…. 57. Which — I’m under no illusions here — is COLD. But not so cold that we’re willing to pay more!)

    1. I probably jinxed this. I’ll have to update when we get our next heating bill. This is the first winter in three years where we’ve been more above 0 than below. In terms of my truth bombs, I was so proud of myself for actually coming up with something coherent to say to the hoity-toity grocery shopper.

    1. I grew up in a house where my parents constantly fought over the thermostat. My mom preferred 62-65 (she paid the heating bills). My dad enjoyed 72-75 (for comfort and to aggravate my mom, I suspect). So while I do admit that 66 is a bit cool, I like the constant temperature.

  5. We keep the house as cool as my husband can manage. Apparently, fibromyalgia lets you be cold easier, and it’s harder to warm back up. Since he insists on sitting at the couch (long story) which is by the single pane window, the temperature is higher than I’d like. But we do the best we can. And I don’t mind being cold personally. I feel cozy wrapping up.

    Then again, we don’t socialize a lot, so maybe I’m insulated from such things. Or because we have expensive health problems, people just take it for granted that we’re more careful with money. Either way, it’s nice to avoid awkwardness. Except when I ask for discounts in person. Still uncomfortable, still worth it.

    1. I love piling on blankets and sitting down to grade in the evenings. It’s so comforting – plus I think it keeps me grading because I don’t want to get off the couch. I definitely understand having to make accommodations for health reasons, though. We all do what’s best for us, right? 🙂 Good for you for asking for discounts!

  6. Oh my gosh…I honestly LOL’d to all of these. I have moments like this, too (and seriously – I can be incredibly awkward as well so I wish I could give you a high five)! My awkward moments occur when I seriously have no clue what my friends are talking about (because it’s a new service that offers convenience and costs money). For example: there’s this app/service called Postmates which is on-demand food delivery from local places 24/7. The first time my friends told me they used Postmates – what came to mind was A) brightly colored sticky notes or B) people making deliveries from the post office? (Yes, I’m serious I was this clueless). They then explained they used it all the time. My fiancé & I just purchase food from the grocery store & make our meals, so the thought of using this service never crossed my mind! It seems there are more & more convenience services that I just choose not to use (like subscription boxes, yup I fell into that trap for a bit and canceled all of them).

    1. Oh, subscription boxes. Anything with subscription in the name gives me hives – I’m so commitment phobic (except in marriage!). I’m always afraid I could find a better price elsewhere. I, too, had no idea what Postmates was until recently. Grocery-shopping, home-cooking, awkward people unite!

  7. We keep the thermostat at 67 unless we actually feel cold (which can happen since we both have health issues). I don’t mind turning it up when needed as much as I mind keeping the default setting too high. And I think for many people, their default setting is too high, and I’m not just talking thermostats! Like the shopper who said the good food is over there…did they really think you didn’t know any better? Sounds like they’re the awkward one to me. At least they give you great stories to tell.

    1. Thanks, Gary! Obviously, I’m not awkward at all 😉 I think you’re right. We set these standards for ourselves because they’re widely held. But if we never test them, how can we know they’re the right fit for us?

  8. People have DEFINITELY had a hard time relating to my decluttering and getting rid of Netflix. “But it doesn’t really cost that much…” but really I want that distraction gone so I can read more! I don’t miss it at all.

    1. You are my decluttering idol! We don’t have Netflix, but I think I understand. I finally gave into a coworker and checked out Scandal DVDs from the library. And I’ve read a lot less this week. I try to watch when I walk/jog on the treadmill…but yeah. Back to reading after this!

  9. Hahaha, this post is awesome. 🙂

    I can’t believe someone would tell you “The good food is over there” — seems like a rather insensitive comment. Also, why doesn’t my grocery store have a pile of imperfect bell peppers for 29 cents a pound??

    Yeah, I’m with you on the cold issue. We actually often have the heat at 67-68 when we’re home, so 66 is by no means shocking to me. And in addition to that, you can often find me sitting on the couch under a blanket with a fleece-covered hot water bottle (which I cannot recommend highly enough — BEST PURCHASE EVER.).

  10. Oh my goodness, Penny! You crack me up and I think you’re awesome, but 66 degrees would make my teeth chatter. We had the highest heating bill when we lived in NY because of my need to have the heat on 74. South Florida can be a bit hot, but we sure have saved a bundle moving down here. I love your stories of awkwardness. I’m that gal with the scratched up forehead too! 😛

  11. Working at home alone has increased how awkward I feel tremendously. I don’t mind too much, but I do feel out of place most of the time. I once had amazing people skills. My old job required them.

  12. I’m AMAZINGLY awkward but it’s really a well rounded kind of awkward, not just finance related. I’ve got a post in drafts marinating on the subject. 🙂

  13. I’ve learned to accept my awkwardness. At least in regards to frugalness – aka one of the “awkward states” I’m actually rather proud of. There are other areas of life in which I will be eternally awkward against my will (aka sports, public speaking, walking in heels) so I just tend to avoid being in certain situations. It’s better for everyone that way.

    And as for your friend and the “cold house” comment, we keep our house between 66-68 degrees pretty much always. At least in the evenings. And at night, sometimes I sneak out of bed and turn it down to 65 (I’m a rebel. Also I get super warm at night and have been nicknamed “The Human Radiator” by Mr. FI). So you’re not alone in finding that temp perfectly comfortable. You keep on saving the planet, Penny. We got your back. 😉

    1. Thanks, Mrs. FI! My husband is definitely a human radiator. If he rolls too close to me when we’re sleeping, I swear it wakes me up because I can’t understand why I’m suddenly so warm!

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