Dinner at the buffet

We have a one-week trial of a recruiting database at my work. “I’ll get more than a week’s use out of it,” I say, “you should see me at a buffet.”

But seriously – you should. I was raised by a very frugal father. He would take us to Old Country Buffet on occasion.  Whenever that happened, my sister and I would run laps around the cul-de-sac beforehand to make sure we were good and hungry to get dad’s money’s worth. “Have another plate,” dad would say jovially as we ate like hogs. “We paid for it.” And we would. I ate so much cheap cod and jello squares that my stomach would turn into a pond of it’s own.

In sixth grade, I won a scholarship to summer camp. And I loved it. The next year, when there wasn’t a scholarship available, dad assured me I could still go to summer camp. I would just need to pay for it myself. I saved my money from babysitting which I handed over to my dad to lock away in his safe. He would periodically pull my money back out for me so I could count it, even though I knew how much I had put in there. Mysterious extra $5 bills would appear and dad would smile and tell me that was the bank paying me interest.

As my adult years have gone on and we have become more financially stable, I haven’t stopped being frugal. I clip and sort coupons to use on weekly grocery trips. I will complete a 10 minute survey on a receipt just to save $2. I take pictures of RetailMeNot coupon codes at home for the stores I’m about to visit in case I don’t have an internet connection while I’m in there.

I’m not a freak that buys 200 cans of baked beans because they’re on sale, but I also don’t spend more than I have to. And I thank my dad for that lesson. If you want to have some money, don’t spend it all. Dad could have paid for my summer camp each year, I know. But he was teaching me something more important – that I could, myself. And in that, he began teaching me to be an independent woman.

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