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Three Days In The Life of a Cheapskate

By Jack Kean

I'm one gray hair and two wrinkles short of people assuming my status to be retired. That being the case, they often ask, "What do you do?"

My snappy response is, "Nothing, but I do it very well." While there is truth to both parts of my answer, it means that I'm in that large group of folks who are on a "fixed income."

Have you ever known anybody who isn't on a "fixed income?" Whether working or retired, most of us are on a fixed income. I'm pretty sure "fixed income" really means fixed way below what we would like it to be. So join this "fixed income" retiree for a few days when there's more month than money. Here's the picture: three days, $10, and the need to get out of the house.

First, I collect the change lost in the couch, check in all previously worn pants' pockets and do a dumpster dive in my wife's purse, but seldom find more than $10. I could stay home and watch 24/7 coverage of the presidential election. I could call my brother-in-law to see if he'll pay back the fifty bucks I loaned him like that's going to happen. Spending another day at home in my shorts is neither a good option nor a pleasant mental picture. What to do?

Before leaving the house, I take a shower and put on something nice. As my Mother said, "You may be poor, but you don't have to look poor." Even with only the aforementioned $10 in my pocket, I try and look like I've recently returned from a ski vacation in Vail and am just killing a few days before heading off to Florida for the rest of the winter.

We start day one late so my wife and I head to the local bookstore. We grab two comfortable chairs in the corner, buy two cups of coffee, find a leftover newspaper and hang out. Besides people watching, a great and inexpensive hobby, my wife brings over an armful of books. Eventually, I'll check out the magazines and any books on my latest interest. Yes, we often read their books without buying them. When money is not tight, we buy their books, so it is a good deal for all. A great way to spend a lazy afternoon, and the cost is about $3.

On day two, after donning appropriate attire, we head for the library. I spend a little quality time on the Internet while my wife searches the latest DVDs and reads a few magazines. When we eventually leave, it is with a couple DVDs and maybe even a book. We then travel to the dollar store for microwave popcorn. A quick stop by the sub shop on the way home to redeem my saver card for a free sub, and we are all set for dinner and a movie. Total cost $1.

Day three begins early and includes breakfast at the fast food establishment known for the "Eat mor chikin" slogan. By ordering senior coffees (they are free), we both can eat for about $4. I usually find a newspaper lying about, and we spend a relaxing hour.

We then set off on a shopping center walk of about half a mile in front of dozens of stores. The walk provides us a little exercise while checking out store windows. This sometimes results in my wife doing a little future shopping; i.e., locating an item for future purchase. But at least we are on our feet and out of the house.

To conclude day three, we take our remaining $2 over to Taco Bell where we enjoy two bean burritos and two soft drinks. Make certain they provide free senior drinks before ordering. So there it is, three days, $10, and we are out of the house.

You don't need to have lots of money to do something; so get up, get out, and enjoy.

Jack Kean is the author of three novels: Being From The South Doesn't Make Me Stupid, Deadly Sacrifice, and What If The Winner Dies? Prior to retirement, he was employed in law enforcement on the federal level. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford. Jack is a native Mississippian, but he currently lives in Alabama, having moved there from Woodstock, Ga.


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