Q: It’s nice to sit down with cheapskates — er, I mean, abstemious people – from other parts of the country. Randy, welcome to the interview.
A: You can call me a cheapskate. You can call me a tightfisted, penny-pinching, miserly S.O.B., but don’t call me late for dinner!
Q: Somebody’s been reading their thesaurus! Tell us, how are the current events affecting your finances out there in the Wild West?
A: You know… practicing frugality is more or less getting us through it. I like to say that 18 years ago my wife went vegan for her health, and 17 years ago I went vegan when I saw it was cheaper. Our pantry was stocked with brown rice and dried beans long before the first cases of the coronavirus showed up on the news, and my wife and I supplement those dried goods with produce from a large vegetable garden. We even have our own little hot house for when the Pacific Northwest coolness is too much for some things. I brew my own beer and make my own wine, and I trade some of that with a guy down the way who makes his own tofu. We eat and drink like a king and queen every day of our lives.
Q: So you were just having to wait in lines for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, then.
A: This might be TMI, but my wife comes from a country where they use something called a bidet. When I found out how much money you can save on toilet paper by installing a bidet on your toilet, I switched – years before there was ever such a thing as a toilet paper shortage. And for soap, well, we just had a few jugs of Dr. Bronners in the garage already. We’re fine washing our hands the old-fashioned way.
Q: So you’re hardly noticing a financial crunch then.
A: Not so much. I’m thankful for the decision I made years ago when I opened a free checking account and a savings account with a credit union, and I’m thankful for living a little bit like a West Coast hippie.
Q: Your way of life must sound very interesting to our readers. What are some of the other ways you pinch pennies, as it were, that they could learn from?
A: Honestly, I think a lot of the way that I live is very similar to what I know as northern frugality. I might not buy much, but when I do buy something, I look for quality. I used to know someone who grew up in New England, and she talked about how all the men in her family wore Brooks Brothers clothes. They were expensive but they’d last forever, so there was less shopping to do over time. One of the biggest ways to get ahead in this world is to break free from the typical consumer mindset, to get out the habit of shopping when you don’t have much of a budget to shop. When you go shopping and you don’t have the money to do it right, you end up buying less than high-quality goods, and it does you more harm in the long run.
Q: In closing, you mentioned before this interview that you’d like to read one of your favorite quotes onto the record, so to speak. Would you like to do so now?
A: Yes, and thank you. This is from a writer named Edward Abbey. I might not agree with everything he ever said, but he wrote something once about redefining what it means to be wealthy. He said that to be wealthy is to learn to do without. “Reduce your needs,” he wrote, “to the minimum required for a healthy life. Get by on part-time work. Enjoy the leisure of the leisure class.” That quote spoke to me, because I was young and trying to become rich. When I realized that all I needed to do was to get my expenses down and I’d already be rich, it changed my life.