Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Contest seeks tips from penny pinchers

May 16, 2006

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There is a Chinese proverb that says: "Diligence is the basis of wealth, and thrift the source of riches."

I was born to be thrifty. It's in my genetic code. I can't pass a penny without picking it up. I find it amusing that some people are so superstitious that they think it's bad luck to pick up a penny if it's showing tails.

Me, I pick it up if it's heads, tails or spinning into traffic. I rather like this little ditty: "Find a penny, pick it up; all day long you'll have good luck." It doesn't say anything about it having to be heads or tails.

I'm an ambassador for the penny pinchers of this world because I know that watching every penny is the surest path to prosperity.

That's why I started the Penny Pincher of the Year Contest. To enter the 2006 edition, all you have to do is nominate someone with an original penny-pinching strategy - a friend, a relative, co-worker, even yourself.

The rules of this contest are simple. Don't make anything up. Don't be gross. I don't want to hear that you bathe in someone else's bath water. That's just nasty.

I'm looking for cheapskates, not cheats. For example, taking enough packets of condiments from a restaurant or a fast-food establishment to fill a jar isn't penny pinching, it is stealing.

I'm interested in creative entries. I've heard before about mashing soap together to save the last tiny slither or turning two-ply toilet paper into one ply.

I want to profile penny pinchers, not misers. There is a difference between being miserly and being frugal. A miser is stingy.

Here's a note I got from a reader recently about penny pinchers: "My boyfriend definitely fits this category. When we eat out for dinner (a rare treat), we will order a single meal and ask for two plates so we can split the meal. This works especially well if you're traveling and don't have access to a fridge as there are no leftovers (and no overeating)."

I love it. They save money and calories.

So what's your penny-pinching story? Humor will score big, or enter and let others share in your frustration with a frugal friend. There will be cash prizes for winners.

Edited versions of entries may be published whether you win or not.

Since I began with a Chinese proverb, I thought I might end with one: "The spendthrift rich never have enough, but the thrifty poor always have a little put by."

How to enter

Send your entries by June 16 to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please put "2006 Penny Pincher of the Year Contest" in the subject line. Include your address and daytime and evening phone numbers. You also can mail entries in care of Michelle Singletary, Color of Money, 1150 15th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Please put on the front of the envelope "Penny Pincher of the Year Contest."

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