Madly Frugal or A Personal Tale of Frugality

My mom says I can ‘pinch a penny ’til it squeals,’ and I think she’s right. In reality, I’m probably considered by most to be a cheap person. I almost always buy things on sale, I’ll go without rather than paying full price and the only place I really splurge is to buy healthful foods, and I justify this by assuming that, in the long run, we will all have fewer health problems and save money on the flip side.

That being said, I thought it was time to create my own post to share with you the most frugal, the most money saving moment of my life! Can most folks even claim that they have a “moment” documented in their history as being the most frugal? Here’s the tale…

It was 15 years ago, we were poor. I mean poor. Health insurance was a luxury, so we didn’t have any, and the only reason we had car insurance was because they just passed a law that said we had to carry liability. We drove an old junker Datsun that leaked oil into the passenger side foot area so the seat was unusable and my husband and I took turns chauffeuring each other around in the back seat. And don’t think for a moment that our friends let this go unnoticed, it was quite the point of hilarity to most of them. We lived on dry beans, potatoes and lettuce and turning the heater on meant sitting closer to each other on the couch.

We had 2 cats. I know, poor folks really can’t afford 2 cats, which is why we were perfectly content letting them outside to do their, eh hem, business and barely feeding them so that they would go and find critters to eat. The downside of this is that they bring critters home to eat under the dining table or on the foot of your bed while your slumbering but we all take chances. Another downside of course, is the risk of injury to the cat. Anything could happen right? They could be hit by a car, attacked by a dog, taken home by a stranger who rightly assumes they are neglected and thinks they can provide a better home. . . OR they could drag their wounded butts back into the tiny apartment with a broken tail that’s just dangling there like limp spaghetti. Guess which one happened to us? Now guess whose job it was to figure out what to do? You are a good guesser.

I did toy with the idea of taking the cat out into the parking lot and killing it with a shovel, but I liked the cat and I would have had to borrow a shovel. So I had to move to plan B. Plan B was to call my neighbor who worked as an assistant in a vet’s office and ask her what they do for a broken tail and how much it costs to do it. She said, and I quote, “we charge $600 minimum. If I were you I would just let it fall off. It should happen in the next few days.”  Well, I certainly wasn’t going to pay more than our rent to fix the cat, and if it was going to work out by itself, I was willing to wait. The poor cat may have felt differently, but I was the one with thumbs. So we waited. . . and waited. . . and I kept nursing the cat’s tail, keeping the cut clean and petting and comforting this poor creature for three days, then 4, then I realized that there was just enough bone still attached that this tail was not going to just fall off. Time for a Plan C.

Plan C: Go to kitchen, retrieve bone cutting scissors received as wedding gift, find cat. Pin cat down to floor by laying on top of said cat. Gently clamp scissors to tail above break, pray, apologize to cat and swiftly hammer fist on open scissors ensuring complete amputation of tail. Watch cat run around apartment screaming for 3 minutes, retrieve partially severed tail (as it will have flown across the apartment in the opposite direction of the cat).

$600, saved.

The cat survived, he actually thanked me with purrs and rubs all day because the injury was now treatable and clean. He walked around with a bandaid and neosporin on the end of his tail for a week or so, and had a little jellybean looking scarred tip to his new stubby tail but he was happy, I saved money and I heard 60,000 pennies squealing with delight. Best frugal day ever!

I wouldn't trust me either cat.

22 comment on “Madly Frugal or A Personal Tale of Frugality”

  1. cecilia,

    Hi i am cecilia and have a tiny farm out here in the midwest, we grow almost all the food we eat, we do frugal and simple as part of our farmyard lifestyle, we have quite a few animals so actually operating on our own animals is not as unusual as you may think. Loved your story, great to meet you.. c

    1. Comment author madme,

      Thank you for stopping by Cecilia. I figured it was only a couple of generations ago my ancestors were running their own farms in Minnesota, so it was in my blood to be able to do this. I’m off to check out your blog now…

  2. Pingback: Weekend Highlights – Noteworthy Articles by Fellow Bloggers – Mar 17, 2012 « Granny's Parlour

  3. Granny's Parlour,

    Just met you today on Facebook and immediately looked for a Blog. I prepare a blog review for our readers each weekend and immediately thought I would add yours to our list. Then I began reading this post and decided it would be the one I feature tomorrow. Then I read further and was speechless for a moment. Then I remembered decisions I have made when I lived on nearly nothing, years ago. Decisions others with greater means and a different perspective might have scolded me for (if they ever spoke to me again that is), and realized that what I did was the kindest thing to do. It takes courage to trust nature. True intentions (absolutely kind ones in this case) and the outcome are the bigger picture. on a similar note, here is a twist on an injured cat story you might appreciate: Man brings cat to a vet I knew years ago. X-ray reveals multiple fractures consistent with purposely inflicted injury and 100% inconsistent with the story given by the owner. The vet gambled that the owner did not really care whether he got the cat back or not, so he informed him that there was nothing he could do, he had to put the cat down. In reality, he healed the cat at his own cost and took it home where he received a lot of love and respect.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Great story! And thank you for considering my blog for a feature spot on yours! I come from farmers, and there is an understanding of stewardship too. And it doesn’t always mean paying someone to do something unpleasant, or risky. This post has been by far my most “mixed” bag as far as reviews and comments go, but I’m really enjoying them all.

  4. The Lovey,

    Oh.My.Stars! Carrie and Christa told me I needed to go read this blog…..I was aghast and laughing hysterically! You, my crazy friend, are a rock star! Love you!

  5. Christina,

    What you didn’t want to stich it up to? LOL I worked at a the best vet in sw MO for 4 years. I too have done quite a few things at home that “should have” been taken to the vet. I love that your followers and friends don’t judge you for not being rich every time you do something for yourself. I grew up on a farm and that in my mind is what should be done. What a great post! Wish there were more people like you in the world.

  6. Michelle,

    Can I just say that this post gave me a good laugh!! I have 4 cats and can just imagine someone cutting off a tail. I even had to read it to my kids! I love saving money too, and it sometimes does take a bit of fortitude to do some of the things we have to do. Glad the cat survived too.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Good deal Michelle, it was written to be humorous but I’m afraid so many folks sympathize with the poor cat that the humor is lost. I was hoping folks would sympathize with me! But I wasn’t the one getting anything chopped off, so, it’s a toss up I guess.

  7. Marcie Stratton,

    Hi Charissa! I just found your blog and this post cracked me up AND freaked me out. When we were little, we had a cat and were quite poor also. Our cat was run over by a car, and both his back legs were crushed. My mom called the vet and asked how much it would be to put him down. Imagine her shock when they told her the amount! She went out back, dug a hole, put the cat in the hole….and shot it. Yay, for frugal moms!!!

    1. Comment author madme,

      Your Mom did that?! Wow, I always new she was a rock star, now there’s just more proof. Sometimes your circumstances leave so few options, you just have to be bold enough to accept what them. Glad you found the blog Marcie, nice to hear from you.

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