Cheap, not cheerful
16 April 2010 5 Comments
There has been a very energetic discussion on Neptune and boundaries recently on Donna Cunningham’s blog. It has reminded me again of the importance of establishing my boundaries against emotional or energy vampires. As Mercury readies for its retrograde in Taurus, I find myself rethinking my availability to cheapskates.
In the past year, I became friends with a couple who are intelligent, insightful and entertaining to talk to. They had seen so much and done so much, my Gemini Sun-Mercury was just lapping up the stories. I soon found out what they were trading their stories for — treats, favours, affection. I used to think it was okay to treat them now and again — the cash amount I spent wasn’t very much — but I now realise that the energy expenditure cost much more. I have a Cap Moon in the 2nd house — I’m not extravagant by any means — but I believe in paying for value, and valuing what you pay for. These include:
- Tipping fairly. They never do. Which wouldn’t be half as objectionable if the wife didn’t make it a point to harass the service staff for every little thing over the course of the meal, including asking to doggy bag every morsel leftover on everyone’s plate and announcing loudly that it would cover her breakfast and lunch the next day …
- Paying your fair share, when the arrangement is to go dutch. The meal we had together was priced at 12.95 per person. I paid for the group on my credit card, and the others gave me their share in cash. The husband gave me 25.00 for two. It’s been a long time since I’ve done elementary school math, even so I can tell 12.95 + 12.95 does not add up to 25.00. As for the tip, see above.
- Buying your own sundries, at least some of it. They don’t buy tissues or napkins ever. A peek into their kitchen drawer will reveal napkins from Starbucks, MacDonalds, the local greasy spoon, you get the idea. (And before you ask, no, they’re not poor by any means.) I know not everyone objects to this practice — I sometimes take a couple more than I need — but it’s the sheer extent of it on top of everything else on this list. I didn’t ask about the loo rolls.
- Limiting the number of times you ask for a hot water refill for your tea bag to one (unless in an establishment that offers unlimited refills, like a Chinese restaurant). Especially when someone else pays for the cup of tea.
- Renting your own DVDs from time to time. Instead of borrowing someone else’s rentals every time.
- Paying the bus fare. I won’t elaborate on this one.
Lately, they have taken to coming to look for me in my office (I work at a university – they’re close by) to ‘hang around’ and I sense a certain anticipation in the air. I worked out they’re waiting for me to offer something — a suggestion to go for lunch, tea, the movies, perhaps a lift home (they’re a couple of streets away from me). I’ve done this in the past until I noticed the utter lack of reciprocation, and also that I was starting to feel drained.
Once I’d invited them to a dinner party at my place (with other friends), and the wife had seen a kitchen appliance I’d bought from my country of origin. The appliance can’t be found where we are. She pestered me for weeks to ask my mother to buy one for her and send it: ‘Askyourmumaskyourmumaskyourmumpleease’. I resisted and eventually relented (I’m weak!). I made sure though that she agreed to the price and the shipping before my mum sent it. My mum does as I ask and sends it. I tell the wife to expect the item soon and she says: ‘Now I have to work another job to pay you.’ (The sum wasn’t that much; about USD100). @&$*#!
Two days ago, I decided enough was enough. I made a conscious decision to stop being a source for them to feed on; voiced a cord-cutting intention, if you like. Almost as if they sensed the vibrational shift, the husband rang me today while I was out of the office. I found out later that apparently they had made lunch and wanted to offer to bring me a share. As they say in a lot of metaphysical fields, there are no coincidences. If my instincts are correct, it is not that they’ve suddenly become generous. I believe they’ve sensed on a subliminal level the source about to dry up and were attempting to re-establish a connection. I’m getting better at trusting my instincts.
These times of financial hardship underscore the value of frugality, but as this blog reminds us, there is a difference between ‘cheap’ and ‘frugal’. The point on the list that stood out for me was:
Cheap people’s cheapness affects those around them. Frugal people’s frugality affects themselves.
Money, as Elsa P has frequently argued, ‘is just one form of energy’. Likewise, cheap people are not just cheap with their money. They are correspondingly cheap with their time, their affection, their compassion, their empathy.
If all they did was withhold, they wouldn’t be cheap. Cheapness nearly always takes, even steals, from others.
Image: From Mickey’s A Christmas Carol (1983). Source: CEDmagic.