You might remember this post where I mentioned America’s Biggest Cheapskate, B.J. Clute.
B.J. won a contest through Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and was awarded a gift card worth $2,500 at that store.
He commented on my post, and I was able to get in touch with him. He graciously agreed to do an e-mail interview. I hope he starts a frugal blog someday!
He sounds like an awfully nice guy, and I’m glad we can learn a little bit from him:
1. Tell us a little about yourself. Whatever you think is relevant, and whatever you’re comfortable with sharing:
Well, I am a 29 yrs old. I have been married to a wonderful wife for a little over 4.5 years. And I treat my frugal lifestyle as a hobby. Some people bike, some knit … I like to save money and tell others about how they can save money. I work two jobs, and also sell items on Ebay as another hobby.
2. When did you start being a “cheapskate”?
It all started when I moved from my hometown to a new town. The cost of living was higher, I was spending a lot in gas money, and I was just bored to death. At the time I was making decent money (money that I would love to have again), but I felt like I needed more. So as a hobby I started doing little things to save money so that I could pay for gas or rent and still be able to live off of every other paycheck. It was tough, but the payoff was good.
3. What will you do with your prize gift card?
Well, although we love to bargain hunt, the store where I have the card is a hit or miss place. Sometimes you go and you leave with nothing, other times they get a new shipment of food / books / toys where its almost like finding a treasure. So I am sure this will last me a while.
4. Why are you living a frugal lifestyle?
I still maintain a frugal lifestyle because mostly I have a fear of debt. Some people are afraid of spiders, well I am afraid of living paycheck to paycheck. Just the thought of having a mortgage is killing me.
5. What are your long-term financial goals? How will being frugal help you reach those goals?
I have taken care of my short-term goals because I was able to save. I paid off my school loans and my second mortgage in the last couple years. My long-term goals include a comfortable retirement, paying off my mortgage asap and maybe to be able to purchase some real estate. Keeping my frugal habits will make it less stressful on me. If I am able to put away every month into retirement and still have some to spend on vacation, I will be content.
6. Have you been criticized for your tightwad habits?
My family and friends would say stuff in jest, just to get a laugh or for conversation. But since I got this award, in an interview, I mentioned that I brought my electric razor to work to charge it for use. I got a lot of criticism for being a theif and stealing my employers resources. Which is all understandable. But I did it maybe 3-4 times and it was said more to get a laugh than to prove a point.
7. Can a person be too frugal?
Yes. Being too frugal is not knowing your limits. There is an opportunity cost associated with everything that you do. It’s one of the laws of economics. If you spend 3 hours doing something that saves you $5 in the short term … to me it’s not worth it. But if you can spend 3 hours doing something that will save you $5 every month for the next year … to me that is worth it. You just need to pick your battles.
8. What advice do you have for people who would like to live more frugally?
Some people think that living frugally is a major lifestyle change .. but it doesn’t always have to be. It was a lifestyle change for me because I was a bachelor, living in a new town without a network of friends. So I spent my time working a second job, saving money, investing, and treated it like a hobby.
If you are not in the position to make a lifestyle change, there are plenty of things you can do once that will save you money in the long term. Taping the switch in your refrigerator up so that the light won’t come on took me three seconds to do and I never had to worry about it again. Now that is an extreme example and I don’t expect anyone to do it.
9. Do you have any frugal tips you’d like to share?
Setting up your bills so they are all done through online payments. Setting up your car payments electronically so that the payment is made at the beginning of the month versus the end, will save you money in the long term. These are great tips that anyone can use.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I want people to know that just because I am declared “America’s Biggest Cheapskate” doesn’t mean I am not a generous man. My wife is the opposite of me as far as spending. So I am frugal in order to keep up with my wifes habits. She is slowly learning to become frugal as well, but it has taken some work. I also tip above average, donate my time, give money to the church, and I love to treat my parents well when it comes to Christmas.
I get offended when people ask why I save so much money and that I can’t enjoy it when I am dead. Most people don’t realize that I don’t earn that much per year, and that I feel that I need to be frugal in order to live the lifestyle that I am comfortable in.