Opinion | A penny for this cheapskate's thoughts

WISE INVESTMENT: Save yourself the heartache. Don't eat cheap chocolate.
WISE INVESTMENT: Save yourself the heartache. Don't eat cheap chocolate.

I’m a cheapskate.

At least that’s what my husband calls me.

While I prefer terms like frugal, thrifty or cost-conscious, there is no denying I like a bargain.

I recently bought a 12-piece dinner set using nothing but gift cards I found while cleaning out an old wallet.

It was one of the best days of my life.

The summer holidays have sucked our bank account dry, thanks to Christmas and a throng of activities to keep me sane (I mean, the kids busy).

So, I’m back to watching the family budget like a famished hawk.

After all, we have school fees, music lessons and that ridiculous electricity bill to pay.

While I’m proud of my penny-pinching ways, there are three things even this cheapskate won’t skimp on.

I spent 10 days over the summer holidays in our camper trailer, sleeping on a mattress no thicker than my cat’s tail.

My back, hips and neck are still screaming at me.

Coming home to my comfortable bed was like sliding into a warm bath.

Your bed is where you rest and recharge from the chaos of life. It’s also one of the few places you can get some peace, so make your bed the sanctuary you deserve.

Invest in a quality mattress, soft sheets and a good pillow. Your body will thank you for it.

There’s an old saying that you should invest in a good bed and a good pair of shoes, because if you aren’t in one, you’re in the other.

The trouble with the shoes part is I hate shoe shopping – and I especially hate shopping for school shoes.

My son has flat feet and my daughter was born with clubfoot – a condition that required surgery when she was six weeks old, followed by a new toe-to-thigh cast every week for two months as her physiotherapist gradually stretched and manipulated her foot into the correct position.

My little girl can now run, jump and skip with the best of them, but her right foot will always be one to two sizes smaller than her left – which adds a whole new dimension to school shoe shopping.

Had we lived in another time or a less fortunate country, my daughter wouldn’t be able to walk properly and would be shunned for her birth defect. So, we cherish our daughter’s special feet and want them to grow as strong as her will. If that means forking out a bit more for special insoles and shoes with great ankle support, so be it.

There are plenty of other things to save on.

Chocolate, however, is not one of them.

I once bought my husband one of those chocolate flower bouquets for Valentine’s Day. I waited until 4pm on February 14 to buy it (because that’s when they went on special).

My husband was left broken-hearted when he bit into stale, discoloured chocolates – and I was mortified.

Life is too short to eat cheap chocolate.

And, if you’re anything like me, you know that a little hit of silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate is as good for your mental health as eight hours of sleep (in that comfy bed we talked about earlier.)

Given its many health benefits, you could say that chocolate has magical powers.

I no longer think of chocolate as an occasional treat to be bought willy-nilly.

It’s an investment, and I now invest wisely (and often).

Carina Bates, East Maitland