Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I make Scrooge look frivolous

My inner cheapskate is suffering through an intolerable existence right now.

I'm sure a lot of people would kill to blow through money like I have in the past month. A few hundred here, a grand there -- all with the goal of earning money in the long run. Seems so backwards.

I felt nauseous after my first major purchase. I'm tracking every dollar, making sure it stretches as far as it possibly can. I even spent 20 minutes Googling coupon codes and signed up for e-mail promotions just to save 2 bucks on a photo prop I wanted.

I guess I need to mentally balance out the massive expenditures. Those 2 bucks, although insignificant, help me rationalize the big purchases. And, when I start to hyperventilate, Jerry reminds me it's all tax deductible.


"You act like I'm going to get most of it back," I snap. "They're not like lottery tickets."

Jerry is the yin to my yang. He would toss money into the wind just to watch it float down the street. And he'd be able to rationalize it, too.

"Don't worry, it was fun to watch," he'd say. "We had fun looking at it, right? So it was money well spent."

If I wasn't around to keep our teeter-totter balanced, he'd walk around with our checkbook like a magic wand, tapping everything around the house -- new kitchen floor * BING! * cutting down both trees out back * BING! * a computer * BING! * two new cars * BING! * replace the carpet * BING! * buy the houses next door and level them for a pool and hot tub area * BING! * BING! * BING! *

I think trying to keep him in check has turned me into a penny pincher.

So it hasn't been easy making the necessary purchases to get my business off the ground. My cheapskate disease flares up at the strangest times. Like when I purchased a new laptop. After settling on one in the $600 range, I couldn't BARE to part with another hundred bucks to get a carrying case and a wireless router.

"I think I have an old router at home in the attic," I told the sales guy. Truthfully, I'd rather spend four days digging through boxes than part with another 50 bucks.

Sometimes it pays off. I did find the router in its original packaging, but it didn't have the software. Then we decided to switch Internet providers, and our new service miraculously comes with a free router for first-time customers. The relief I felt upon hearing that information was like making it to the toilet right before your bladder is about to give way.

Other times it doesn't pay off. How stupid was I not to get a laptop bag? Granted, I'll be using it at home almost exclusively, but eventually I'll have to part with the money. Might as well be now and keep my new machine protected.

But when I went to the electronics store the next day, I couldn't pull the plug. Eighty-nine bucks for a decent laptop bag? Seriously?

When the sales rep found me mid-internal struggle, he asked if I needed help with anything.

"Not really," I said. "Unless there's more bags somewhere else or you have a free one I can walk out of here with."

"What size are you looking for?"

"Seventeen-inch. Cheap."

"This is the most inexpensive one we have," he said, pointing to something that wouldn't protect it from sunlight. A condom would be better. I might as well stretch a Trojan around my laptop when I want to travel. I was NOT buying that thing.

"I want something a little more sturdy. Something that isn't just fabric all the way around and will protect the edges better."

"Well, this is your best option then," he said. "But they're more."

Nope. I couldn't do it. Not after just spending a few hundred. My wallet sphincter was clenched tight and he saw it. He probably wondered why he was even bothering.

"Well, can I help you with anything else then?" he asked, more out of habit than interest.

I sighed. Here goes.

"Yeah, I need a Nikon D-90."

I replay his subsequent expression in my head over and over in slow motion. His eyes bulged out of his head, his jaw dropped open and, after his commission sensors regained some composure, he extended his hand.

"I'm John, by the way."

Right. Douchebag. Just get me the camera.

After rebuffing John's advances in the accessories department, I took a deep breath and unclenched my fist long enough to part with my credit card. Then he handed me my drool-inducing camera.

The funny thing is, I purchased my D-40 at that exact same register less than two years ago, and I was ecstatic. I had wanted nothing more in the entire world than that camera.

Now I had something more than twice as good in my hands with video capability and I couldn't even enjoy it. As I walked out of the store, the reality of my purchase set in.

What the hell am I doing?

It felt like a very weighty and profound moment.

When I got home after work later that night, I couldn't even bring myself to open the box. The store's 15 percent restocking fee reminder sticker was stopping me. Then I remembered all those price match signs all over the store.

So I got online and started scouring. And it paid off. Big time.

I found the same camera and lens kit for $300 less.

And the next day I walked back into the store and got it credited back to my account.

It's tough being such a cheapskate because it's preventing me from enjoying my new purchases, but it definitely does have its advantages.


Jennifer Suarez said...

My dream camera right now is a Nikon D700. But without the aspiration to set up my own professional studio, or a winning Mega Millions ticket, I don't think that'll be happening anytime soon.

So instead I'll settle for reading about your awesome D50... for now. (I'm kinda like Jerry when it comes to money so I HAVE to behave) :-D

cnjweber said...

Nice score on the price matching! I do the same sort of stuff and Jeff is always like "that took way too much time and effort. Just go get" whatever it is Im eyeing "for fullprice" questions asked. And he would TOTALLY throw the money just to watch it blow!

april said...

I'm having a camera envy right now. D90. Wow. I have D70 and I got it about 2 years ago, back when it was "really awesome". I'm still happy with it. But man, D90. that rocks! Plus $300 off the price match!

I would hav done the same thing, look for the lowest price without compromising the quality. But the BF would rather spend the money than take time to find good deals.

Good luck, Kelly. I've always loved your photos of Alli. :)

Jessica said...

Finding coupons and price matching are the best. Way to go!! I'm so with you on the inner cheapskate.

aj said...

DAMN - WAY. TO. GO. $300 is ....three-HUNDRED dollars. You, my friend, are a genius.

Yen said...

You can also look for cheap laptop cases online, as well. Many places don't charge tax and some even have free shipping.

Anonymous said...

Check your local thrift stores for furniture and props..often you can find inexpensive things there that work great in photography.

aahcoffee said...

Awesome laptop bags at TJ Maxx. :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the photography, Kelly! Very exciting -- have always admired your photos. (I loved your image of Jerry tapping everything with the checkbook. That would make a great photo, too, but your words are so wonderful, I totally conjured the picture in my mind.) Teme

Ray said...

The cheapest laptop bag is $89.00 dollars?! What store did you go to? Pssh, you're better off shopping online at or something. Good thing that you didn't buy it because that is a ridiculous price.

And good for you for looking online and finding the camera for $300 dollars cheaper. I know you must have been ecstatic when you found that out.

Take care.

P.S. I love that you added your soon-to-be-new-profession in your, "About Me" section. ;o)

Amanda said...

Love the comparisons of you and Jerry. Hilarious!

Nina's Mama said...

I am the same way when looking for coupon codes. I drive my husband crazy. I wish I was better with money though. Right now I am regretting a few purchases I made without doing enough research after my hubby talked me into it.

LeslieAnn said...

Look for a laptop case at Target!!! Not even kidding. I have a super cute one from there that I love and it was like $25 and is pretty sturdy. Seriously! Look!

You may have to copy and paste that into a full link elsewhere.

Kristin said...

Holyy shittt.
That's a whole lot less.
I totally wouldn't have been that patient xD

Lori :-) said...

Kelly, here's a suggestions... don't get a laptop bag. Get a camera backpack instead. I have a medium sized Lowepro backpack, but if I weren't a cheapskate, I'd get a bigger camera backpack with room for the laptop. I don't need to haul both around often so I went with the cheaper one. Chances are you will be hauling both around, may as well have one bag instead of two! Unfortunately Ritz Camera is gone, or you could play with some different styles and brands before deciding which one to buy online. Definitely an online buy, they are pricey, but you can save a lot buying one online. Check out if you want to see mine, let me know. It's sturdy, and I would have trusted the bigger one not to squash my laptop.

Candi said...

I felt so guilty when I purchased my Nikon D-80. But it was one of the best investments I've made. Profit-wise I haven't made all the money back yet, but if you were to add up all of the portraits I've done of my son and others, I've saved that much at LEAST. And tonight my Mom called and said she wanted to buy me the 50mm lense I've been lusting after as a return payment for all the photos I've done for the fam.

Yes, thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Investing in yourself and your dreams is always money well spent and good for your soul. I am so happy for you that you have this new direction to go in and wish you all the best. Everyone always wants pics of their growing children and will usually find the money to preserve those memories no matter what the economy. You go girl and don't look back.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I was worried that maybe I got up in the middle of the night, hacked into your webpage,and wrote this post. My significant other and I are a mirror image of you and Jerry. I'm cheap and he roll in money on the floor and then drop it behind him as he walked down the street without even thinking about it.
We just bought a home so the wallet has been open and bleeding for months now. Ugh. I just close my eyes and hand over the card.

Enjoy the new purchase though!

I've been trying to tell myself that as soon as the card swipes it's done, just enjoy the whatever it is that I just spent so much money on :)

the_plainsman said...

Great camera you can now feel more comfortable about using since you saved a substantial amount. Although I get your "inner cheapskate," pros in any endeavor can't afford to skimp on their tools, and you purchased quality. A great step up from your (now) D40back-up. Sometimes it is fun to spend, too, though, on something that you really need or want, so enjoy both it and your money saved.

Ps. I love the idea of buying out at least one of the neighbors and knocking that house down. LOL!

plainbananas said...

I'm exactly the same! I have to justify for everything, to the point where I lose the essential joy of things. I justify when I buy new books, new beads, even flowers that I know will die in a week's time.

I think your investment was totally worth it and you should feel no guilt whatsoever! It's an investment - that's what I tell myself and that's really how it is, no?