Go ahead, call me cheap: Advice for budget-conscious students

Tyren Rushing

People don’t believe me when I say that I am cheap, until they get to know me on a personal level. That’s when they can see firsthand how I have turned being cheap into an art form.

I make my own liquid soap from the bigger bars of soap once they get small enough. I still play Madden 10 religiously despite the fact that it came out in 2009 and there have been three new Maddens since then. I either unplug or use power strips on every electronic device in my apartment. I love Dollar Tree, I plan my meals around the weekly grocery ads and UMKC is the only place where I pay to park.

In winter, I have to literally see my own breath in my apartment before I think about turning on the heat. This past summer, my apartment hit 98 degrees, and the only reason my air initially came on was because I was having people over.

Some people would classify some of my actions as “going green” or “being environmentally friendly” but really, I’m just into trying to stretch every dollar I can. A few people think I’m a bit weird or crazy for embracing the cheap lifestyle, but others have taken up the cause and are helping to convert others to the team.

Former UMKC student Ericka Chatman started a website, www.erickasaves.com, dedicated to helping people save money and catch deals. She also taught a couponing class via Communiversity.

“It’s a recession, and people are broke,” Chatman said. “Like we haven’t really recovered yet as a country and people still want things they can’t afford. I think some people want to try and preserve the lifestyle that they had and I also think the popularity of the show Extreme Couponing has helped.”

Chatman isn’t alone in spreading the crusade of the cheap lifestyle. Bradsdeals.com, retailmenot.com, savings.com and ebates.com are a few different sites that alert people about great deals that are going on. Some of these sites also offer cash back and give exclusive promo codes to help lower the costs at checkout.

But you don’t have to shop online exclusively to be on team cheap. Hit up Marshall’s and Burlington Coat Factory for name-brand clothes at a good price. Hit up Cargo Largo and thrift stores to find random treasures. Get groceries at Save-A-Lot or Aldi’s or clip coupons and buy store brands. Check out the wanted ads in the paper for good stuff – I found my car through a wanted ad and saved about $3,000.

I always get crap about being so cheap, yet I manage to live a very comfortable lifestyle even though my earnings would classify me as part of the lower class. I went to Vegas for my 25th birthday, I dress fairly well and keep my sneaker addiction in check with the occasional new pair, and I have a pretty good social life. So hey, if being cheap saves me a few bucks and gives me a better quality of life than I can afford, then why hate?

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