After reading Jeff Yeager's "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches," I've been trying to live the frugal life.  One of his tips is to never spend more than a buck-a-pound on anything.  With rising grocery prices, I've been hard-pressed enough to succeed with people food, but what have we become when it is impossible to accomplish with pet food?

What Would Cheapskate Do?

The boys and I ventured out to Petsmart to pick up timothy hay and crickets.  Before we went in I was adamant that we were there for two items.  TWO ITEMS.  But, you know, I'm the kind of consumer for whom infomercials were created.  I have to sit on my hands to resist being one of the first 50 customers to call toll-free and it's nigh impossible for me to pass a colorfully adorned kiosk without fondling the merchandise.  When I saw that neatly constructed pyramid of 2.5 lb. bags of All Natural Tender Chicken Strips I plucked one off the shelf, telling the boys, "We can't buy for Midge and Toad and not get a treat for Pumpkin, right?"  Of course they agreed, they are my children.

At the checkout, "Did you find everything you need?"

"Yes, yes, thank you."

"Mom!  Can we get this laser-pointer-key-ring?  It says it's great exercise for your dog or cat as they chase the light!"

"No, we have a laser-key-ring."

"How about this carabiner?  Don't we need one for...something?"

"No, Daddy bought you guys carabiners not long ago."

"Oh, what about..."

"No, guys, just these three things," I said, scanning the point-of-purchase display for anything we might really need.

I swiped my card, donated the $1 to help homeless pets (how can you press "NO" to that?), and didn't even raise an eyebrow at the $36 total.

Until I was 4 miles away.


"What, mom?  What's $36?" asked my startled boys from their back seats.

"I just spent $36 in Petsmart for a bag of hay and two dozen crickets!  Was that hay imported from France, or what?"

"You got those All Natural Chicken Tenders, too."

"Yeah, but those can't be more than five or six bucks."  However, on examination of the receipt, I saw that the chicken tenders were, indeed, $19 and the hay I thought I bought was really alfalfa.  It even sounds French.

"$19!!!!!  TWO-AND-A-HALF POUNDS of Chicken Tenders for twenty bucks?  There is no way any self-respecting cheapskate would shell out more than $10 per pound to feed a dog!  We have to go back."

Alex is old enough to be chagrined at the thought of tromping into Petsmart to return a bag of dog treats, but I'm old enough not to be.  I made my apologies to the clerk for not confirming the price ahead of time and judging by the sideways glance (developed after hanging around dogs a lot) as she handed me my refund, I could tell she was mentally questioning my worthiness as a pet owner.

With the $21.64 (with sales tax) in hand, I felt somewhat redeemed but in my heart I know I failed the WWCD? test.  A true cheapskate would have also returned the alfalfa and pulled a couple handfuls of grass off the median on the way back to his bicycle.