Everything I have learned about being thrift I learned from my dad. If there is bargain to be had, my dad is on it.
So much so, that his Canadian friends have nicknamed him ‘Buck or Two’.
When my parents were newly married they, like so many young married couples these days, ended up in the clutches of some credit card debt. My dad had to get an evening job to pay it off and from then on they have been really cautious about cards, debt, paying things off and subsequently drilled these values into us as kids.
We weren’t hard done by, but my brother and I had to earn most of our pocket money and both worked from a really young age. I had a paper round (admittedly my dad used to help me out significantly with this. WHAT?! My route had some seriously long up-hill driveways…!). Anyway, the value of money, working hard and generosity were and are strong themes in our family and I’m really grateful for that.
One of my dads thrifty pleasures includes a good sit down on a Saturday morning with all the local shop fliers (you know, the crap that comes through your post box that you immediately put in the recycling bin? Yeah. Those.). I have really vivid memories of him sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by junk mail; a cup of tea in one hand and a pen and a pad of paper in the other. He would dissect them all, write down the best offers and then map out his plan of attack on all the local shops to do the groceries. And the truth of the matter is that he finds it all very therapeutic! I have to hand it to him, he knows a bargain sometimes doesn’t come without a bit of effort!
Another thing I’ve learned from my dad is the power of ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’. Gordo (as he is known to most of my friends) has been known to get all kinds of discounts, refunds and free stuff just by being the gutsy one to say something about a product or a service or by taking something up on its word.
I remember one family trip we took to the States. Dad booked us into a really nice hotel room for next to nothing on priceline (a kind of ebay style website for hotel rooms and tickets etc), and when we arrived at the hotel we went up to the room to find a lovely little bag of warm cookies for us and a little note on the pillow stating that if we were not 100% satisfied with our stay, we would be fully refunded. Most people don’t take any notice of such things but not Gordo…
We headed to bed and in the middle of the night awoke to the sound of an alarm clock going off in the adjoining room. Dad called the desk and they came up and opened the room and turned it off. The room was vacant but the cleaning staff must have forgotten to turn the alarm clock off.
The next morning, (after a large helping of the complimentary continental breakfast might I add) dad approached the desk with the little guarantee note and came back to our table looking pretty smug with himself. He bagged us a free stay!
My mum has actually made a bit of a shopper out of him. They regularly go to the States for shopping trips with friends and it’s become a bit of a competition with them to see who can get the best deal. Gordo has no shame in strutting up to the counter with several coupons, a voucher and an online deal to get things for just the lowest price.
I’ve definitely taken his lead on this, much to the dismay of my easily embarrassed husband and have no quams about complaining about service, cold food, poorly stitched garments or busting out a coupon or offer. I’ve managed to get a lot out of being vocal about these things including a free fruit and veg delivery, facewash, money off clothes, full meals and vouchers for nothing.
If I had to sum it up, I’d say my dad’s advice for us thrifters would be: work hard, do your research and have some guts.
So here’s a shout out to my dad – the godfather of the bargain.