Last night I submitted an essay to a cheap contest. It went as follows:
I am known for my cheapness. It’s more than a mindset, it’s an obsession. I am a firm believer in saving on the little things so that I can afford the bigger things. I do all the typical savings routines: cut out coupons to save money on groceries, avoid the car AC to get more mileage per gallon, and eat my cereal at work to get the free milk. But when I read your plea for a testimony of the cheapest of cheap I knew exactly what you were referring to: The Laundry of 2000.
In the spring of 2000 I was finishing up my first year at college. I was a typical college student who was in a constant battle with my wallet. I did everything I could to save cash but even with all my attempts the laundry machines in the basement of my dorm still cost 1.25 per load.
I came up with a plan. I went home during spring break and washed everything I owned. I had 7 weeks left at school, and I was determined to make it all 7 weeks without needing to do laundry. I figured pants and shirts could be worn multiple times as long as I had clean undergarments. I would run out of boxers after about 4 weeks, but I had nearly seven weeks worth when I included swimming trunks,
running shorts, and the like. In the worst case I could always go commando. The first 5 weeks went pretty well. Socks were the first to go. I had gone sockless as often as possible, but my sandals had taken on the smell of something very unholy. One night during week 6, I was making a quick ride home for a theater production at the North Shore Music Theater. Unfortunately the trip home would be too quick to do a load of laundry so I needed to find a fix for my very angry feet. I walked to the communal bathroom and grabbed some brown paper towels. I carefully wrapped each foot twice and slipped them into my sneakers. If this didn’t absorb the stench I didn’t know what would.
My feet were miserable. Paper towels, it turns out, do not provide nearly the same amount of comfort as a cotton sock. My feet were sticky with sweat and the paper towels were crumpled masses of creases and folds. My family got quite a laugh as I kept making small adjustments to my footwear to try and make it more comfortable.
Despite the failed attempt at paper towel socks, I’m proud to report that I did make it the 7 weeks. And I did save that $1.25. Another victory for cheap folks everywhere.