Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 26, 2007
Today we have another blogger interview. This time we are looking at half of the dynamic duo wrote write the Quest for Four Pillars blog. So with out further ado let’s talk with Mr. Cheap.
Tim: Ok, with a pen name of Mr. Cheap I have to ask since you have some of the lowest living expenses seen on any blog. How do you keep your expenses so low? And do you find it difficult to be so cheap?
Mr. Cheap: I think I’ve always just kept living like a student, even when my income went up. I’ve had a few periods in my life where I wasn’t working (and cash reserves came in handy) and that’s kept me motivated to save aggressively whenever I have cash coming in. I don’t find it hard at all (it comes to me pretty naturally), except when I occasionally try to cut too deep in my spending, and then I cut back on my cutting back. For example, a while back I was trying to cut back on my food expenses, and I was in the grocery store debating whether or not to get a few things and I felt really poor. After that I “loosened the purse strings” and didn’t try to save QUITE as aggressively.
I think I’m also lucky that the work I enjoy doing (computer work) has been quite lucrative in recent years. With a higher salary it is easier to save a higher portion of your salary.
Tim: So since you are used to living as a student going back to school for you should be easy since your current plan is to get your PHD. Do you feel this will be a good investment in your future on a personal level as well as a financial?
Mr. Cheap: It is more of a lifestyle change then anything (I expect to enjoy the day-to-day work). Any financial benefit is secondary. I was thinking about going back for a PhD after earning enough to “retire” and a friend challenged me saying that I didn’t need to wait for retirement to start on some of my retirement goals. I won’t be saving as much on a monthly basis, but I’ll be spending less than I earn (even ignoring my investment/passive income). So all-in-all, I’ll “retire” later, but I get to start on one of my “retirement projects” (getting a PhD) before retiring, so it seemed to make sense.
Tim: I agree that working on your list now seems like a great idea. So just out of curiosity what is the one thing you refuse to be cheap on and why?
Mr. Cheap: Hot showers. I backpacked across Europe one summer and went on the TOTAL CHEAP (4 months for $5K including airfare and everything, I visited twenty-some countries). I had a hot shower just about every day, I could have saved some cash camping out, but I didn’t, I stayed in hostels instead.
As much as I joke about being cheap, I definitely don’t view myself as stingy and I’m actually a reasonably generous guy (I refuse to be cheap on gifts). A friend once told my brother that I’m generous to other people, but not to myself (which I think is pretty accurate).
I can’t think of a third thing I refuse to be cheap on, so I’m probably pretty cheap on everything else :-).
Tim: So did you merge your blog with Mike’s to save on hosting fees too? Just kidding, but really why did decide to merge your blog with Mike’s blog? And how do you like having a co-writer blog so far?
Mr. Cheap: Mike suggested it (and I like to do what Mike tells me to). I really like Mike’s writing and he’d always left good comments on my blog (which often led to good ideas for posts). One time when we got together for dinner, he expressed concern about how hard it would be for both of us to keep posting 5 times a week, and how he thought it would be more sustainable if we split the load. In retrospect I think if it hadn’t been for the merger, I would have burned out trying to do 5-days-a-week posting, so it’s been a very good thing.
Tim: So since becoming a blogger what have you enjoyed the most and the least?
Mr. Cheap: I’ve loved the chance to have a group of smart, knowledgeable people review my plans and ideas and provide feedback or corrections. I was wrong about various things and Telly, Mike and other commenters have done a good job of pointing out my “blind spots”. It’s so easy in life to roll along in ignorance and never figure out what you’re doing wrong, so that alone has been MASSIVELY valuable. They say amateur actors are paid in applause, and I think bloggers are paid in comments.
Some days you realize at 11 pm you don’t have a post lined up for tomorrow and you have to pull something together that you aren’t so proud of when you re-read it a few days later. That’s probably the part I enjoy least.
Tim: Well Mr. Cheap, I don’t think there is a blogger alive who hasn’t put up at least one post we regret. Thanks for your time. Come back tomorrow folks as we talk with Mr.Cheap’s partner in crime: Mike.