Poll: Who's the cheapest among us?

I’ll nominate myself for these reasons:

  1. I’ve been nursing the same bad starter motor on a 1990’s Toyota for 8 years! It works for a year or two, then it becomes intermittant. I can usually get it to work when it becomes intermittant if I let it click a few times. Sometimes as many as 20 times! But it eventually starts. When I get tired of this, then I jack up the car, remove the starter, and clean the selonoid contacts with some sanding paper. Back on the car, and away I go. Works for a year or two. I’m thinking I may be able to keep this starter motor going forever with a few sheets of sanding paper!

  2. Years ago I was in college and had no money. None at all. My alternator on a 1962 Ford Galaxy was going bad, I could tell by the idiot light flickering. I was able to find a rebuilt one for $25, which I had to stop eating for a few days to afford, but I still didn’t change it out right away. Instead, to get all the use out of the old one possible, I put the rebuilt alternator in the trunk, along with some old clothes, and some tools. In a few hundred miles the alternator stopped altogether, the idiot light came on full-time, and out in the middle of nowhere. I pulled the car to the side of the road, put on the old clothes, and changed the alternator!

Ok, let’s see some other nominations!

At some point the line is crossed from frugal to masochist. Do you enjoy running your tongue along plug wires to test them?

You mean you’re not supposed to test plug wires with your tongue?

To the OP,

I will not be personally and directly abrasive but will give you an example of smart cheap and stupid cheap. My neighbor and his wife each have their own Toyota Camry. He is a pennypincher and so he delayed oil changes to save money and now he has a noisy engine. That was stupid cheap. He would be smart cheap if he would only learn how to do oil changes himself so that he could do it on time for less money than a quickie lube oil change place would charge. She can’t do oil changes either but got hers done on time and so her engine is quiet. She was not cheap, by the way; just smart.

Well, I can’t say that your methods are my cup of tea because I’m adverse to sweating bullets while wondering if the car is going to get to where it’s suppoed to be going.

However, I do enjoy doing workarounds. Money is one reason of course, but I’ve always gotten somewhat of a kick out of doing things in an economical manner. (Not using the word cheap.) :slight_smile:

I spent about 15 hours on the lathe cutting out and fitting a set of 8 cam bushings for one of my antique motorcycles. A new reproduction set could be had mail order for 96 dollars but it’s just not the same feeling as DIY.

On a 61 Dodge Dart the dealer wanted $43 for a heater control valve (in 1968) so I ran some old heater hose up through the dash into an old water spigot and down thru the heater.
When the horn stopped working on my 71 VW Bus and the dealer wanted $50 for a new one I got a horn off an old American car for a dollar at the junkyard. When I put it on the horn blew immediately. Apparantly the Germans ran the juice the other way through the horn, so I made an insulated mount with old nylon licence plate nuts and bolts, tapped a machine screw into the case of the horn and it worked.
On a 70 dart work car, my clutch pedal fell to the floor, but would work if I pulled it up with my feet, so I used a blown out bicycle inner tube wrapped around the pedal arm and the steering column,
On the same 70 dart, I had just had the car inspected when the right torsion bar spun in the subframe because of rust, dropping the car on the rubber bump start on top of the A frame. I decided to keep driving it for the rest of the year and not take the expressway to work. About 6 months later the left side gave way droppin the front of the car close to the ground and pinching the exhaust pipe shut. I cut it off with a hack saw and kept driving. A few months later I drove over the railroad tracks near my house and heard a bang and a loud scraping noise. I got out and looked ant the street was the only thing holding the transmission in the car. I was going to walk home but it started to rain hard and I figured that with the rain I wouldn’t scrape up the street too bad so I drove home and parked in front of my house, The next day I took everything useable off the car and called the junkyard. We agreed on $5 and when the wrecker came I gave him the paperwork and he gave me the $5. When he picked up the front bumper, the windshield shattered and the car broke in half at the firewall. The wrecker driver and I looked at each other and I told him " you had better get YOUR car off the street."
When I called the same junkyard a few years later, the owner recognized my address and said he didn’t want any more of my cars.
My children told me thry had heard of running a car into the ground but never saw anybody actually do it before.
The last unorthodox repair I did was on my Son-in-law’s 1975 Oldsmobile. The transmission cooler had let go inside the radiator and we were both between jobs and didn’t want to spend any unnecessary money.
I asked him if the A/C worked and he said it didn’t and he wasn’t going to fix it.
I replaced the lines into the radiator with bolts and routed the lines up to the A/C condenser and used it as a transmission oil cooler, We made adapters wit heater hose and water pipes.

Definitely not me at this stage of our lives…Only in college, and only with my first car that usd so much transmission oil, I would park it over night with a pan under the leaking seal and refill in the morning. For the most part, I was weaned on cheap small cars with 5 VWs in our immediate family growing up. Our family needs (wants really) have forced us into the SUV and truck mode the last 35 years of exhistance. Though we have a couple of motor boats, one for fishing and one for tubing and skiing for the grandchildren, they are used the least.

Otherwise, if I could afford it, I would be the least frugal person on the planet, jetting or taking a motor home from one major golf course to another, just to plant my fat butt in a powered cart and chase a ball around. Being frugal is way over rated…it’s mainly for those of us who can’t afford to do differently.

I agree with Wha Who that there is “smart cheap” and “stupid cheap”. When in college, my younger brother had an old 1952 Dodge which had starting problems on wet mornings. He could not afford new ignition wires, so on such mornings he burned the sports section of the paper (jut the right size) under the hood, which was just enough to dry out the wires without setting the car on fire. Not sure if this was smart or stupid, but it was risky!.

Years ago when my employer went under and we all lost our jobs, I did all my own oil changes and grease jobs. I bough department store oil that met the API specs and did oil changes for very little, and grease jobs for next to nothing.

When our old Dodge Dart started getting excessive blowby which the PCV valve could not handle, I attached a large flexible metal hose to the oil filler cap opening and directed it downward to function as an old style draft tube, which I’m sure many of you will remember. It got another 2 years of life out of the car before corrosion killed it.

When in college, when the driver’s seat fell through the floor due to corrosion on my 1957 Plymouth I got a sheet of sturdy galvanized metal and some metal screw, along with a tar sealer and rebuilt the floor for about $20. It made the driver’s seat higher as well. The hat shelf on this car was cardboard and disintegrating. Thank heavens for “Mac Tac” ($10 per roll), a nice patterned stick-on covering for cupboard shelves. It really spruced up the interior and even matched the red color.

Agree that not changing oil and filter is the stupidest way to try to save money.

Years ago in high school my 61 Ford got rear ended (hit & run). Knocked out the tailight. I replaced it with one slavaged from an old farm tractor. Later the heater fan switch burned out & I replaced it with a pull chain lamp switch. Was one speed only after that (high) but it worked well!

@GeorgeSanJose - if you’re going to all the trouble to pull the starter and sand the solenoid contacts, just go buy a set of contacts! They’re cheap, and will save you lots of work. Make sure you get the round center piece, too, and it’ll be (literally) as good as new. That’s ‘smart cheap’ in my book.

I nursed my 1999 Chevy Malibu along for 4 years after it was paid off and I thought I was being cheap but when I tallied up my repair bills on that darn car, all the money I spent keeping it running I could’ve put about 5,000 towards a down payment for a new car. I just liked having a car title in my file cabinet I guess and not owing a bank money. But when my car broke down the last time and I had to walk the remaining 12 miles to work on a hot day (98 degrees with 100% humidity) in South Carolina, I decided enough was enough. Not suggesting you go car shopping right now especially finishing with school and all but you can only nurse something for so long before its time to bury it so to speak!

I’m so cheap I make my own furniture and cut my own hair. Does that count?

I’m so cheap I make my own furniture and cut my own hair.

The Flowbee???

Haircutting’s easy for some of us, this you TSMB?

mountainbike; you are identifying “frugal” rather than cheap. A frugal person abhors waste and is a caring person as well. The modern meaning of Cheap has a nasty connotation meaning uncaring, and having a zero summentality; I win-you lose. In movies Danny Devitto plays this role reallly well. When riding the subway and reading the paper, I will offer the paper to another rider when finished; it saves money and the environment.

Frugal folks will rinse containers before putting them into their recycle bins; cheap folks may just toss those jars in the garbage.

The parents of a famous hockey player here run a charity organization over the internet. It has over 200 volunteers. Every time someone has an item they don`t need and is too troublesome to sell they post it with a picture of the item. Within a few days some person is found who can use it. They move a lot of things that way at virtually zero cost. A cheap person would not bother taking the time to help out.

I realize that on this post the term cheap is to mean economical fixes to a problem.

Within that scope, my first car accident resulted in me, as a second year college student, having to pay for a persons 1953 Dodge sedan, 6 years old at that time. Luckily I found a local shop that happened to have the intact front section of a 1954 Plymouth, which fit neatly and replaced the Dodges front end. The owner was quite happy with the work and the local garage guaranteed that a Plymouth-Dodge combination was OK and very UNIQUE! The whole thing cost me $298 in 1959.


Another name is “Smart”. When I was 20 something…my brother-in-law who was then a plant manager for Chyrco told me…“It’s NOT how much you make, but how much you spend.” I try to adhere to that philosophy. I’ve seen many people who make more then I do…and they live pay-check to pay-check. Any little hiccup in their income and they’re screwed.

“It’s NOT how much you make, but how much you spend.”

The Golden Rule to a secure financial life! (pun intended)

texases; I keep getting calls from credit card and financing companies on how I can “consolidate my credit cards debts”. as well as “refinance my mortgage”. When I say “What credit card debts?” or "What mortgae?’, they usually hang up.

My daughter did some credit counselling an discovered that credit card companies call those that pay off their monthly balance all the time “deadbeats”, since they don’t make any money on them other than the 1-2% that the merchant has to pay them.

There was a lower income couple recently who had their washer fail. They went to Sears since they did not have the cash and the washer was not worth fixing. The salesman there sold the a top of the line washer/dryer set on credit (29% anuual rate), and by the time they pay it off they will paid Sears $14,000 in total. The financial counsellor suggested that they should have looked at the classified ads and bought a good used machine for $200 or so and buy a really good set later when they had more cash.

It’s amazing that Sears with their 29% interest rate is still in financial trouble and may eventually go under.

Here in Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, the crooks at pay-day loan offices are charging nearly 600% interest to the poorest of the poor. And our leaders can’t understand why the poor can’t pick themselves up by their boot straps. But I was pleased that federal law caps the interest rate at 36% for members of the military.

Well, I’ve been broke a few times but my cars were always well maintained, repaired, washed, waxed, dents and rust fixed, and so on. I’ve used junk yard parts, repaired parts supposed to be sealed, and done the work myself instead of hiring it done, but I never compromised repairs or maintenance. Didn’t matter what I drove or whether I was working or in school.