Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Traits of a Tightwad- Adventurousness

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I try to think of the people I know that fit the title of "True Tightwads", one of their unifying traits is their spirit of adventure, their willingness to try out things that are just a little bit... or sometimes very much... outside the realm of "normalcy" and what is "commonly done". This spirit of adventerousness allows them to capture every last drop of possible frugality and use it to the max, and end up having fun in the process.

What exactly does this spirit of adventurousness actually mean?

Some people have a hard time breaking out of their rut. They do things a certain way, and even if it doesn't end up being very beneficial for them, its hard for them to get out of that mode, to break their routine, and try something different than the norm. The foreign scares them. The strange freaks them out.

The "True Tightwad" is the polar opposite of this person. The frugalist extraordinaire not only doesn't mind doing things out of the ordinary; she relishes the opportunity to try something new out. No need to hike the Himalayas, explore the Amazon, or sail the Arctic circle, the true tightwad satisfies her thirst for adventure from the comfort of her very own home, exploring options that other people would never in their wildest dreams even consider doing, and getting the rush when she sees what amazing things she accomplished that before she didn't even know were possibilities. When some experiment she does works out beyond her expectations, she feels the thrill for accomplishing the seemingly impossible; when something doesn't work out as planned, she just takes it in stride and views it as another lesson learned, much like a true adventurer would consider getting lost not as something terrible, but an opportunity to see things that she would otherwise miss.

How does this trait of adventurousness actually play out in real life, and how does it help people save money?

Lets assume your family loves brand X of ketchup, and its what you've always purchased. It is name brand, and therefore isn't the cheapest.
One day you go to the grocery store and see that brand Y of ketchup is on sale. Not only a regular sale, but a knock your socks off sale, with prices so amazing that you're practically getting it for free.
Do you stick to buying that same brand X of ketchup that you know your family likes, or do you buy the cheaper sale brand?
The adventurous frugalist will buy the cheaper brand Y and say "You know what? This may not taste exactly like brand X, but who cares? I don't need brand X, I'm just looking for something yummy. Something can be different than what I'm used to and still taste delicious."

I was at the butcher the other day and saw something on sale that I'd never even heard of before. Turkey tails. For 45 cents a pound.
Cooked turkey tails
With that great of a price, I took a closer look. Turkey tails. Hrmmm. Turkey butt, more like it. Like that little triangle people usually cut off from their chicken thighs because there's no way on earth they'd eat the chicken's rear end, only because a turkey is a much larger bird, these turkey tails were much larger.

My gut instinct? No way, no how. I am NOT buying turkey butts to serve to my family. Too gross.
But then that little voice at the back of my head started talking to me. "Come on Penny, where's that sense of adventure you always talk about. Who cares if you never ate a turkey tail before? If you think too hard, all meat is gross, but you eat it anyhow. What's the real difference between a tail of a turkey and a wing? What's the difference between the stomach of an animal, its kidneys, its intestines, or tail? Its all animal flesh, after all... Just buy it. Its cheap. How can you pass up such a good deal? Maybe you'll like it. You won't know if you don't try it! JUST BUY IT!!!"

You know what? I'm glad I listened to that little voice. Because those turkey tails were seriously some of the best meat I ever had. So delicious, so moist, so insanely flavorful. And they were dirt cheap.
Ok, so it took me a little bit of time to get over my squeamishness, but once I did, I discovered a new, amazing type of meat that is a terrific alternative to more expensive types, for a fraction of the cost. Being adventurous, despite my original hesitation, certainly paid off.

Calf's feet slices ready to boil into broth
Yesterday I was in the grocery store and saw calf's feet being sold for the first time in my life. I'd heard of them before, heard of how nutritious they were, and how many medicinal benefits there were to foods made with calf's feet.
Not only did I see them being sold for the first time, they also were such a phenomenal price that I put them in my shopping cart, despite having no clue how on earth to prepare them or what to do with them, or even what they'd look like once they were defrosted and out of the package.

Once I got home and defrosted the meat, I was in for a bit of a surprise. Those calf feet? Uhh... they're not like chicken legs, all neatly cleaned with their feathers removed, and not resembling a live chicken's leg at all...
Nope, not one bit.
These calf feet... I could tell what color the cow was, as the skin was on the foot, and it pretty much looked like a whole cow's foot, sliced, and with all the parts remaining there. Including some protrusion that looked strangely like toenails, only cows have hooves, not nails, right?
Either way, it was just the tiniest bit gross to look at those cow parts, but I'm glad I got over my squeamishness. Because that broth? Oh my gosh! Absolutely delicious! And the meat from the calf feet? Soft and tasty and superb!
And to think that some people would pass on buying those, because its "weird" and "odd" and different from what they're used to making.
Those people miss out on a taste of heaven, on a chance to get something terrific at very low cost.
Part of the way I am able to have such a fulfilling life on such a minimal budget is because I'm willing to step outside my comfort zone, consider it an adventure, and relish in the newness of it.

A sense of adventure helps in so many ways, not just in the kitchen. A sense of adventure is what gave me the guts to do what other people don't- to move from a 900 square foot apartment into a 454 square foot apartment with my 2 kids. I mean hey, people live in tree houses in the middle of nowhere, in wigwams, in other natural, traditional, small dwelling places with their families, and people pay good money to come as tourists and try to live like that for a little bit; they view it as an adventure and they have a great time. Knowing that if it doesn't work out, if they aren't enjoying themselves, they can hop on a plane and go back to their old life.

So that's what I try to do. When I do something that may seem quirky or odd in order to save money, I try to find the adventure in what I'm doing, try to look at it as something fun and different and new and exciting, not something "tragic that I have to resort to".
I never look at it as an absolute. That this is how it is, this is all I can afford, and that's that. Nope, I say "We're trying this out, seeing how we manage. And if we aren't liking it, just like those backpackers return from India and South America and Sub Saharan Africa when they're finished with their adventure, we'll go back to how we were doing things before, and look for a different way to save money if money still needs to be saved."
I never doom myself and my family to "That's it, this is what we're going to do forever and ever until the end of time". We only do things so long as they work for us, and because we know we're not being forced to do exactly that specific money saving method, we're more emotionally free to find the enjoyment and pleasure in what we do, in a way that we wouldn't be able to if we felt that we had no choice but to do exactly that.

Frugality, especially extreme frugality, is an adventure unlike any other. By trying to remember that its an adventure, a way to explore different types of living styles without needing to leave your own home, its easier to find the fun in daily living and the extreme frugal measures that you do, instead of looking at it as a drudgery that you're forced to resort to.

Are you adventurous, or are you the type of person that needs to have routine and stick to your comfort zone? What's the most adventurous thing you do on a regular basis? Which adventurous things did you try out, but didn't enjoy?
Do you consider extremely frugal living as an adventure and enjoyable, or as drudgery that you're forced to resort to, for lack of a better option?

This is part of my True Traits of a Tightwad series.
For the first post in the series, see:
True Traits of a Tightwad- Tenacity

Linking up to Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Monday MangiaMonday ManiaFat TuesdayTraditional TuesdaysPennywise Platter ThursdayFight Back FridayFresh Bites FridayFreaky FridayFoodie FridayFrugal Friday

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