“The coupon posts are embarrassing. You’re reinforcing negative stereotypes and make yourself look like a cheap Jew. Keep driving your Bentley to McDonald’s and eating off the Dollar Menu when there’s nothing you can’t afford. Pretending to be poor is pathetic.”
An anonymous reader left that comment, evidently enraged by my Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. I deleted the comment, but it’s been needling me like a toothache. After much thought, I do want to respond.
First off, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being frugal, getting the most for your money, and shopping smart. I buy on sale, use coupons and rebates, stockpile, and wait to make purchases because it’s the smart thing to do. Wasting money, piling up huge debts, and buying things you don’t need (and can’t afford) is just plain dumb.
If someone were to call me “cheap” without including “Jew” in the accusation, I wouldn’t be mad. To be honest, a lot of folks do think I’m cheap—including extended family members. The word “cheap” has a bad connotation to most folks, but I don’t personally find it offensive. I often use the term “Freebies and Cheapies” when sharing my deals on Super Savings Saturday.
From a financial perspective, do I have to save every single penny? No, I don’t. I have never claimed to be in poverty; I won’t deny that I come from a privileged background and that I’m fortunate to have a comfortable lifestyle now. That doesn’t mean, however, that I live in the lap of luxury, nor do I drive a Bentley. (Obvious sarcasm from the reader, but wanted to clarify anyway.)
McDonald’s isn’t my favorite restaurant, but I’ve certainly eaten my fair share of fast food. Some of these items, like ice cream cones and French fries, are value buys, but I would—and have—always ordered based on taste, not cost. Ordering the least expensive item on a menu, if you don’t like it, is pointless. Do I prefer to use Apps and coupons to find restaurant deals? Of course! But I don’t take 50 ketchup packets to refill a bottle at home because that would be ridiculous and yes, cheap in a bad way.
When someone uses the term “Cheap Jew” it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with anti-Semitism. Statistically, Jews are more likely to have a high income. That bothers a lot of people, particularly those who have a low income. What they don’t understand is that financial success is usually related to education. Jews are likely to have parents and grandparents who teach them about finance, leave them an inheritance, and help them get a career/degree/profession. If my family had been illiterate and indigent, odds are that I wouldn’t be successful now either.
So when someone tries to slur the Jewish community by claiming “You’d run into moving traffic to pick up a penny” or some similar nonsense, they’re displaying envy, jealousy, and confusion. They say “Jews own all the banks” or “Jews own the media” when that’s clearly not true. They think we live in mansions and drive Bentleys and other kinds of crazy stuff because it’s a rumor they heard somewhere, someplace, from someone who was equally ignorant.
By living on a budget and being careful with money, I am reducing stress in my life. I am doing everything I can to have a secure future. I am also honoring God by making good use of His resources (everything we own belongs to Him anyway, whether we admit it or not).
I have no idea what kind of financial situation that reader is in, but I bet they’re struggling, broke, and unhappy. Instead of accepting responsibility for their position, and trying to change it, they want to criticize someone else who—in their eyes—has everything and wants even more.
I am not embarrassed to use coupons. I am not embarrassed to talk about money. These are not offensive topics. I post about them because I want to share my life and interests, and also because I enjoy learning from my readers and hearing about their lives.
Money should never be anyone’s main focus. It’s certainly not mine. If someone lives differently than I do, that’s fine. We don’t always have to agree, but there needs to be common courtesy. If you call me “cheap,” I’ll laugh. If you call me a “Cheap Jew,” I’ll know you’re a sick person with a serious problem.