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December 08, 2009


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I'm with you on that FMF...

There is a difference between frugal and cheap! A cheap person does stuff like camp out overnight for a laptop. A frugal person understand whether or not he needs a laptop, does research, takes time, and finds the best deal on the laptop that he needs.


Yes your boss was being frugal so now you've got good ammo to fire back with next time he kids you about you being frugal. :)

Since your boss is probably very highly compensated this was not really worth it for him purely for the monetary savings. But for most people spending 7 hours to save $100 or $200 is very well worth it. Your talking $14-28/hr after tax. Hows well worth it for most folks. Course its something some people won't like at all but other folks find it fun so it really depends if they like it or not too. But he should have brought a book.

Diddo to FMF and Pete.

I'm considered "cheap" by most of my friends and "frugal" by my husband...I consider both titles a badge of honor. I save money all year by not buying everything we crave and researching the best deals on what we have decided to buy. Mostly, I find the best deals online.

From what I saw just by browsing, FMF's boss could have gotten an awesome $250-$350 laptop online from Walmart, Target, Best Buy, or Amazon. All of those sites had online Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials. Walmart and Amazon were having online Pre-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday sales as well as a whole Cyber Sale Week (not just Monday). That sounds much better than waiting in line and risking riots or other injuries.

I believe people call me those same things...Cheap, Frugal, Tight, ...It really doesn't bother me. I prefer the term "Thrifty".

Anyway... I would not do the overnight wait for a bargain at wally world. I really believe that most of those deals will soon become available to everyone without the hassel of fighting the crowds and wasting a good night of sleep. Either the price will come down on those items soon. Or if you search online you might find the same deal. Wal-mart still makes money off those sale items. So there is no reason to think that a little later down the road that same bargain can't be had by the normal everyday bargain hunter shopper. Black Friday is almost becoming a holiday in itself. Its like we celebrate Valentines and Christmas and...Black Friday ...The day that we must go out and spend...mmmmmm.. who's idea was that.

Jim --

I don't think the persons normal compensation (wage) matters at all unless they had the opportunity to work during the hours in which they were waiting in line. Obviously, for a salaried person it doesn't matter regardless because their pay isn't dictated based on hours. Just not a fan of that line of reasoning because it seems like a hacked up version of opportunity cost.

I'm with you and FMF, though... to do that without a book or music is torture.


Other than my sweater collection - everyone needs to collect something. I only buy what I need. No impulse buying ever!
Then I have to make sure that I get the best possible VALUE for my money.
I research the item thoroughly and compare it with the competition, feature by feature.
Then I'm ready to comparison shop on the Internet, this can take a lot of time before I find the best deal available from a reliable source. I also check the dealer's customer feedback.
Then I buy it using a credit card that gives me another 2% cash back.

I don't believe that qualifies me as a "Cheap buyer", how about a "Frugal, intelligent buyer", that sounds a lot better to me, though I also like the word "Tight", that fits me also.

One thing that really discourages me from buying cars is having to deal with the characters that sell them - they are the absolute dregs when it comes to salesman and sales techniques.

Old Limey-

I figured a guy like you would enjoy buying cars- especially used cars. Its just a game.

Another good story!
BUT a lump of coal in your stocking for the comment about Walmart employees not having even an eighth grade education! Not true and even if it were, a needlessly disparaging comment. ten lashes with a wet noodle as Ann Landers used to say. I was embarassed for you.

BillV --

Actually, that was my bosses' take on them (he noted it in re-telling the story), but after the past few experiences I've had there, I can't really disagree.

As for who deserves the wet noodle, I'll let you decide that one. ;-)

"Great, just what you want -- to be under the thumb of a power-hungry Walmart employee who probably didn't graduate 8th grade!"

I read your blog every day and generally enjoy it, but really...was that necessary?

Wet noodles for him too! ;->

I didn't say I like the store or the surly employees (maybe the $8.50 per hour-I'm probably wrong on the amount. I know someone will enlighten me--has something to do with the surliness).

I just don't think it is necessary to go to the "They must be dumb and uneducated because they are rude". It is not a politically correct thing I'm getting at here. I have friends will college degrees (regretably they did not manage their careers well) who work there or comparable stores.

Doctors and lawyers and other professionals can be rude and power mad too.

I'll let you have the last word. Btw, I would have never spent 7 hours doing nothing, in a place I don't like, to save $100. You may be frugal/tight; your boss is cheap.

Agree with BillV--unnecessarily cruel, especially with the state of the economy today. I'm reasonably sure there are plenty of overeducated and overqualified Wal-Martians out there among the zombies, doing what they need to do versus starving and/or going on the dole. Most of whom would rather be back where they were, behind a desk earning several times the pay making important decisions vs. manning a cash register or stocking shelves.

I, like many of us, know white-collars who have been forced to enter the blue-collar and service sectors over the last few years. Your respect and a little understanding as you encounter them this shopping season may go a long way to helping them maintain their own self-respect.

But addressing the topic of discussion--I think there is a distinction between being frugal and being cheap. Both the frugal and cheap are thrifty in their own way, looking to save a buck. But the frugal among us are the considerate ones who do the work for ourselves, and don't impose the consequences of our thriftiness on others by doing things like enlisting them to wait in line for us. Those would be the "cheapskates."

Mel --

I generally try to treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. My opinion of them (in this case Walmart employees) does not mean that I give them any less respect. It simply means that I don't think they are very qualified to do what I as a shopper would like them to do. As people they are still as valuable as anyone else. As employees...well?

BTW, my opinion of their performance is not based on anything other than my actual interactions with several Walmart employees (slow to help, generally not knowledgeable, etc.) Of course there are GREAT people that work at Walmart (anyone that employees that many people is bound to have some stars there), but in general my belief, based on my experience, is that Walmart employees are among the lowest-level at retail today.

Of course your mileage may vary. And if it does, feel free to send some of your stellar Walmart employees to my store -- they could use them.


I jumped the gun and apologize for being judgmental. I also judge based on the actual service received, and my Wal-Mart has more than a few stars who genuinely seem to enjoy the work and want to be helpful.

I would have thought that even at $8/hour, the quality of the available labor pool is far better than it would have been a few years back. Unfortunately it isn't, or they're making bad hiring decisions when so many out there are willing to take jobs and do the work in a friendly and competent manner.

This might be a good topic by itself for your readership--do they know a former white-collar who's been forced to enter the lower-paid service sector? Has the worker embraced the work or is he/she just going through the motions?

Mel --

Yes, that might be a good topic indeed! I'll put it in my idea file. Thanks!

MLR said: "I don't think the persons normal compensation (wage) matters at all unless they had the opportunity to work during the hours in which they were waiting in line."

I can definitely see your point. Most people can't choose to instantly or easily turn time into cash. But we all have limited time and if you have the ability to turn some or all of it into cash then that should be a factor. And we each have different pay rates and could turn our time into different amounts of cash either directly or indirectly. Sure FMF's boss probably can't just clock 7 hours and get paid $x for it. But he could put 7 hours into improving his career and thus improve his pay incrementally. FMF's boss is probably pretty well compensated and can probably find other ways to make good money with spare time. And I bet there are other places that FMF's boss spends money to save time like paying people to mow his lawn, shovel his snow, change his oil, etc.

Or just look at it another way: If you're poor than saving $100 is worth a lot more to you than if you're rich. And if you're a rich executive then your spare time is probably pretty scarce and worth preserving.

I don't know your boss, so it is kind of hard to tell, but I buy that he did it because it was fun and exciting. Plus he was with his son and son-in-law. Sounds like he just wanted to have fun to me.

i agree with Dee.

there is still no need to put that comment in there...

rather than being antagonistic, it would be beneficial to explain stories than making assumptions.

you're a good writer, and i prefer your site over TSD or GRS.

that comment just erked me, as it probably did for many other readers...

zyxuzpf --

What assumption did I make? That Walmart employees didn't graduate 8th grade? If that's it, I didn't mean that literally. It was a comment meant to convey their lack of professionalism, inability to serve, and (in some cases) absence of even displaying the most basic common sense. My source: personal experience.

That said, I do shop there because the prices are generally good. But you make a trade-off with good prices -- poorer than average service IMO.

Thanks for your thoughts. And don't fret using your real name -- I don't hold grudges. ;-)

Sorry about the almost double posting at 2:32 and 41. I thought I had deleted the first one in error so I re wrote it.

BillyV --

No problem. I'll delete one of them.

I'm a new reader, and have only seen a few articles here so far but your comment degrading Walmart Employees was really off-putting, and makes me wonder if the rest of your entries will be as abrasive as this one.

I've experienced a huge downturn in my career and have had to work retail in the past four years. Thanks for demeaning me and my fellow employees. I happen to be college-educated with a specialized five-year degree. In my course of working of retail, I've noticed that a lot of customers rudely assume I'm a high-school drop-out because I'm working a retail job that is "beneath them". A lot of people work retail for many different reasons, so please don't be assuming the worst of your fellow humans and turning your nose up. One day circumstances might force you to take retail job too, in order to make ends meet.

Service at the retail level has reached such a low point, that I'm am always surprised to get someone who is helpful. One store that I used to dislike for those reasons but has made a 180 turn is Best Buy. (At least the one I shop at)

I will gladly pay more--a bit more anyway--for good service.

BD --

Well, it depends on your perspective, but I do try to tell it like I see it. Sometimes people agree, sometimes they don't. But my policy from day 1 has been to say what I think and let others decide if they think it's worthwhile or not.

As for my experience with Walmart employees, why I think what I do, etc., see my comments above.

As for you, there are always exceptions to the rule (as I comment above), and I hope you're one of them. I do have a couple people at my Walmart that I'd say were "above average". That said, the avreages are what they are IMO (see above again for more specifics.)

Again, if you read above, you'll note 1. that the drop-out comment wasn't meant to be taken literally (rather to reflect a level of service that's lacking) and 2. I treat people with respect no matter who they are (the heart of your issue), though what I think of their job performance may or may not be positive.

BTW, I've worked retail too and know what generally constitutes good customer service and what doesn't.

Although I am sure he would rather not have my support, FMF's post is perfectly acceptable. If you read the post carefully, FMF is clearly relaying a story told to him by someone else- specifically his boss. So from the very beginning your general disdain is misplaced.

In addition, being a Wal-Mart associate is a low status job, that pays very little, and can be associated with a labor force that is of below average skills. Here is a fact- associates at Wal-Mart, on average, have below average skills and the market has valued their labor accordingly. Let's not get into anecdotes here because on average its just a fact. Are there some that are above average? Yes. Are there some that are awesome? Yes. Are some associates great people? Sure. But to chastise FMF for merely regurgitating a single, potentially unique observation, is lacking validity at best. Furthermore, the continued focus on this single comment misses the entire purpose of the posting.

If you read FMF on a regular basis, you know he is anything but an elitist.


Don't get all worked up about the Walmart comment. FMF is never demeaning, so please try to see the fun side of it.

Back to topic: The fact that FMF's boss jokes about him being frugal signals to me he can relate. Likely, he has a frugal side too.
The difference between the two of them might be that the boss only goes out of his way for say $100+ at once, while pennies will do for FMF (Alright FMF, I'm teasing here, though with some of your posts I do wonder how the heck somone who makes what you make per hour bothers with $10 vouchers in restaurants where you wouldn't have eaten anyway, and stuff like that. I'll stop ranting now.)

I promise I am not going to be judgmental, about the one who was judgmental, about the one who was judgmental-why, oh why, can't we all just get along!:)

One person's cheap, is another person's frugal, and unless you can read hearts and minds.....

I do agree with the posts above that say FMF is a great writer, it's why we read his blog, and if I could get this kind of controversy going at my blog, I would be soooo excited-good job!

Fun post. No rant there. It was starting to "Go Rogue". LOL
I still think FMF, it was a good conversation for the most part.

I await tomorrow's topics.


Thank you for your clarification and comments. When I posted my thoughts, I hadn't read everyone's comments yet. I'm sorry you've experienced bad service there. I guess my experiences have been rather lucky then... I usually get great service, especially from the employees on the floor. In addition, when I do have to work retail, I focus on giving the same great service I'd like to receive.

But sometimes employees aren't going to be able to give 100%.. often you don't get very many (or no) benefits, and you have to come into work when you're sick and feeling miserable. Some people are so pressed for money they'd have to come in to their retail job even if a loved one had recently died, which is obviously going to affect their performance.

Anyway, all that aside, this was an interesting read. Personally, on Black Friday, I did much of my shopping on They had some amazing deals, and I never had to even leave the house. Even your boss friend could have shopped the same Deals on they were running many of their in-store deals online as well.

Hang in there friend. Keep reading the posts here. You won't go wrong. FMF, mabe this is a good time to re-list your 7 steps. Or is it 6, ;-)
Manage your career, spend less than you make, etc.

@BD FMF is very good. this is a first in many, many readings of FMF. Don't be put off by the comment, FMF has good advice!

@Tyler Yes FMF was relaying a story from his boss. however, from the context of the bullet, the first sentence was about the story while the unnecessary second line was more of a sidenote added by FMF. i may be wrong but that is my interpretation of the readings...

either way, it is true. this post got me commenting on his posts!! success!

like WaMu a year ago, I'm Out!

@FMF hahaha i know you dont hold grudges ;)

if it wasnt literal, though, was it figurative?! you know words are powerful. and people besides myself 'misinterpreted'. part of writing is how it will be conveyed by the reader (myself) and that is all i have to say on this subject.

i hope to comment more on newer posts!

Your post wasn't exactly clear; did you mean something like:

It is not good enough to write well enough so that someone of good will understands what you mean. Rather, one must write with sufficient clarity, such that someone of ill will can't help but know what you mean.

Just asking.

no i am just saying that words/phrases/sentences can be interpreted in different ways. i was referencing FMFs comment to me earlier about it not being literal.

are you FMFs keeper? brother? dad?!

Dear Z:
Actually my last post agrees with yours, ie words/ phrases matter and are prone to misunderstanding. The writer has an obligation to the reader.

Take a deep breath. No need to get agitated. If you read all the posts, you'd have seen I was the first to quibble with FMF. Keep posting Z.

Note to FMF: I have a new found respect for people such as yourself who run/administer/monitor blogs like this. I apologize for mis reading the original post.

I don't expect FMF to tiptoe throught the tulips with political correctness. I doubt that he's writing with the intention to offend his readers; maybe we readers need to stick to the topic rather than nit-pick.

I would never wait overnight at a store for just a chance to save $50.00 or even $250.00! I would rather have molars extracted! I advised my relatives (the ones who were planning to shop those sales) that the sales would continue on after Black Friday since the retailers are hurting.

$250 was a joke, Holly. I should have been clearer. ;-)

Um I am a walmart employee. And I graduated high school and am putting myself through college(at 41). My husband and I support three children with the help of my salary.

Didnt realize that you were that ignorant. Will not be reading your site anymore.

Tyler --

I'll take the support. ;-)

Concojones --

You'll be happy to know that I actually give away pennies to my kids. ;-)

BillV --

It kinda goes with the territory of running a blog. I've been doing it for almost five years now and hit these bumps every once in awhile.

Patty --

You must have missed my past posts on the service I've experienced at Walmart. Like I said, I still shop there but the store is way behind the pack IMO when it comes to customer service. I was just in Target last night and several workers actually SMILED at me. Imagine that!

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! I'm sick of the Political Correctness BS! Nice post FMF!

Yes, your boss has no right to ever call you cheap/frugal again. I wonder how your net worth compares to your boss's? If it's more, you should put him in his place.

I can't do that either. 7 hours of no sleep for $100? Why do that when you can find an equivalent deal online, while wearing your PJs, scratch your butt, yawn, and go to sleep?

I'd say the savings was not a big deal but the value of getting this good story and ridiculous experience is worth the 7 hours waiting without sleep.

Just look how many comments this post got!


7 hours of sitting on your duff in the middle of Walmart for $100 just isn't worth it? Try telling that to the poor staff who had to babysit that line for those same 7 hours for LESS than $100 in wages!

(Then again, a case could be made that that particular model of laptop isn't worth using at ANY price, but that's entirely beside the point.)

ps. While I know you meant well by that throwaway line (or at least not malice), it kind of stung me a bit, mostly because my girlfriend just started working at Walmart again roughtly two weeks ago. I'd hate to think you'd think less of her just because of thanks for the clarifications in your comments, FMF/BillV.

As a former Wal-Mart employee, I resent your comment that those who were in charge of watching the line "probably didn't graduate 8th grade". I doubt that I'm alone in this. What a very rude and elitist thing to say.

A friend's mother worked at Walmart until she dropped dead in the traces. All those people that she worked with came to her memorial service, and her boss, a lovely man with the eloquence of a preacher, gave a beautiful, graceful eulogy.

I can tell you one thing for sure: Not one soul at Arizona State University, where I worked until last week when they laid off me and my entire staff, would even dream of coming to my funeral. Some of the folks who showed up, it's true, were either disadvantaged economically or not the sharpest knives in the drawer. But at least they acted like they cared.

Walmart is a grim and grungy place to have to shop (and "have to" is the operative term, I suspect, for most who do shop there), but the corporate style doesn't necessarily extend to its hapless employees. Just imagine having to work with a buying public who would do something this stupid: stand in line overnight to save an amount Boss probably earns in a couple of hours, when they could have ordered the same thing online at the same discount. Imagine dealing with people who'll riot in the store and trample people to get their hands on some piece of junk for a few bucks off. It's got to be quite the species of Hell.

I don't know whether "cheap" or "frugal" describes Boss. Maybe "moronic"? Frugal people are frugal with their time, too; this guy, IMHO, wasted a fair amount of his.

LOL! It sounds like your workplace could provide material for a whole situation comedy. :-D

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