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Don’t be a Diva

by Shawanda Greene

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It’s interesting how moneyless people think so many things are beneath them. They have such high standards. Standards that are in no way representative of their actual financial condition.

When we think of divas, we envision an over the top woman decked out in high-end clothing and gaudy jewelry. We think of a haughty shrew who walks with her nose in the air, dates men who are twice her age, and recoils in terror when sticky fingered children go near her.

But do we ever think of ourselves as the true divas? Men you’re not exempt. Just because you don’t spit on the homeless doesn’t mean you haven’t embraced a bloated sense of self that rivals that of Ocho Cinco or Manny Ramirez.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed people pass on products and services that could’ve saved them money, that should’ve saved them money, if only they would’ve stopped being divas.

I used to take a 15 hour train ride from Washington, D.C. down to Jacksonville, FL to visit my family.  My willingness to use an alternative to air travel over a long distance drew a lot of puzzling stares. I’m still criticized when I opt to take a bus to New York instead of a plane. It can be so much cheaper, and at times, faster, than flying.

The most common reason for snubbing public ground transportation is that “time is money.” That’s not a compelling argument for someone who’s long on time and short on money. Besides, you don’t have to stare into space with your mouth agape when you’re stuck on a train or bus. You can, uh, I dunno, read.

The problem many people have with more economical modes of transportation is they feel entitled to better. Convenience is wonderful, and there’s nothing wrong with paying a premium for it when you can afford to do so. But when you can’t, I have to ask: Are you truly getting good value for your money or are you being a diva?

Instead of justifying your irrational decision to overspend, look for reasons to spend as little as possible while still achieving the desired result.

Before the weather changed, I would park close enough to the office to walk, but far enough from it so I didn’t have to pay for street parking. A friend of mine couldn’t understand why I’d waste my time walking a half a mile to the office instead of parking in the garage. It’s quite simple really: 1) It saved me money and 2) It was about all the exercise I’d get each day. The objective was to get to work safely and on time. To the extent I can reach that goal without spending money, I’m doing it.

When I suggested a friend scour Freecycle for a no cost baby bed for her pregnant sister, I was cut short with a smug “Oh, we’re not doing that used stuff.” Wha?! I held my tongue, but my thoughts were, “your sister doesn’t have any money, and you don’t either!” I reckon my friend could’ve found some really nice stuff for her niece on Freecycle if she’d abandoned her divaesque ways. I mean how much damage could a baby do to a piece of furniture?

I hope this still isn’t the case, but I have a family member who refuses to eat leftovers. She won’t even let her children eat them. Personally, I quite enjoy leftovers. The flavors have the opportunity to marinate overnight, and you don’t have to cook them. They’re delicious. If you’re financially well off, then I guess it’s okay to be wasteful. If you aren’t, the only thing more egregious than turning your nose up at leftovers is turning your nose up at leftovers that were purchased with food stamps.

One of my favorite sayings is “I ain’t too good.”

I ain’t too good to catch the bus.

I ain’t too good to accept free, yet used, stuff from perfect strangers.

I ain’t too good to eat leftovers.

But high pulp orange juice is where I draw the line.

What habits have you adopted that you were once too good for? Now that you know better, what can you give up that no longer offers good value for your money?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

jessica November 19, 2009 at 8:16 AM

One thing I'm guilty of is there are plenty of ways to earn money and grow my business but I'm too scared or worried what people will think. I need to quit worrying about what others (usually people I don't even like!) are thinking of me and just do what I need or want to! Thanks for the small kick in the butt! :)

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ctreit November 19, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Maybe I am losing my memory but I cannot recall any habit that I have adopted for which I was once too good. No matter my income, I always hated wasteful spending – and throwing leftovers out. I even do things like keeping stale bread. I make breadcrumbs out of stale bread.

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FABULOUSLYBROKE.COM November 19, 2009 at 3:58 PM

I am definitely not too proud to do any of the above!

Public transportation, picking up pennies, second hand stuff..

BF feels icky about second hand clothing but I grew up wearing it. So I'm all right with buying something and washing it before wearing.

*shrug* It's really no different from buying new clothes — many people tried on that top before you!

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Ashley November 19, 2009 at 8:36 PM

I hate using coupons at the grocery store. I think I was tortured by trips to the grocery store as a child with my mom who would go through her box as we shopped and then turn in a stack of about 50 once we got to the cashier. Yet, I have no problem buying food on clearance.

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Carla November 20, 2009 at 9:01 PM

I used to be afraid to ask for discounts at the farmers market. Though the prices are usually set in stone, vendor usually loosen up towards the end of the day – especially if the weather is not so great. You have nothing to lose by asking and its nothing to be ashamed about.

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Shawanda November 21, 2009 at 3:51 PM

@Jessica – Thank you for commenting. Your jewelry is lovely. Although I've been told I have no problem looking out for myself, there are things that I want to do that I'm a little apprehensive about. I'm sure people will look at me strange and think I'm crazy when I announce them. But that's okay. They need to mind their own business. Glad you're taking the time to mind yours.

@FabulouslyBroke – Second hand clothes don't bother me either. I just hate having to dig for them. Being tall makes it really difficult to find clothing that fits me at all, let alone well. I'm not really into picking up pennies, but I won't walk over a nickel. The thing about pennies is that I never get around to doing anything with them. Seems like I just keep them for eternity.

@Ashley – I used grocery coupons for a while, but have almost given up on them entirely. I think they're kind of hard to manage and it seems like I'm in the supermarket much longer when using coupons than when I'm not.

Coupon codes when shopping on-line are fairly easy to find and use with sites like RetailMeNot and Google. Those gigantic Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons are really handy too. On the rare occasion when I paid someone to wash my car, I'd use a coupon from those Valupaks you get in the mail. The same would go for oil changes. I just went to Valupak.com and learned you can print out the same coupons you receive in the mail. Glad I know that because some months I recycle them without even opening the envelope.

When it comes to coupons, I'm all for using them for products or services you don't buy on a regular basis. Any more than that and I start getting confused.

Carla – Thanks for the reminder. I know some restaurants will discount food if it's been sitting too long. There's a grocery store I used to shop at that'd discount their rotisserie chickens around the 3 hour after cooking mark.

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Shannon November 23, 2009 at 3:17 AM

I've have also noticed a lot of diva contradicting ways in the most diva individuals.

For example I knew a girl who would swear up and down wearing second hand clothes was so beneath her, BUT would buy (and usually cost more than the price of new clothes) "vintage clothing".

Now correct me if I'm wrong but isn't vintage clothing not only second, third or fourth hand but usually very old. And when I brought this to the woman's attention she said "that's different it's vintage".

Oh well I tried….:)

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TheyCallMeCheap November 23, 2009 at 3:27 AM

Heeey, stranger! That's the problem with vintage clothing. They're too expensive. I can't get into spending $60 – $100 on a used dress. It's just not right.

Perhaps the diva felt, like antique furniture, her vintage clothing would increase in value. I dunno. She might be on to something. That's highly unlikely, but I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

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Carla November 23, 2009 at 3:39 AM

I have spent $75 on a vintage ('50s) dress several years ago and its probably the most sturdy item in my closet! I think it was worth it.

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