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Everyday Cheapskate: I’d just rather have the money, Bob

Did you see us? My husband Harold and I were on TV with Bob Barker. Before you run to check your TiVo, I’d better tell you this was a while ago. Try 1971.

We were plucked from the live audience of that old favorite, Truth or Consequences, along with two other couples. Ours was a kind of “newlywed game” stunt. They put the guys in a soundproof booth and we ladies had to predict how our husbands would answer questions.

Of course the hubs and I won. And a mighty fine prize it was: $50 and a blender!

We already had a blender, so I remember thinking I’d rather have the money. We could have walked away with $85.

Catching Bob on reruns of “The Price is Right” brings back fond memories. And whenever some lucky contestant wins that Showcase — a mishmash of all kinds of stuff to clutter their lives — I can almost hear what the winner is thinking: I’d rather have the money, Bob! But instead, the winner gets all the stuff and has to pay taxes on the full retail value to boot. (We got off easy, not much tax due on $50 and a blender.)

Every day you should be telling yourself the same thing: I’d rather have the money! Let’s say you see a great new pair of shoes you simply cannot resist. They’re on sale ... this won’t last and it’s such a great deal. No matter how you pay for them (cash, credit, check), it’s a done deal. You’ve got the shoes, they’ve got your money.

Here’s where your thinking gets all messed up. Your choices, you believe, are to either: 1) have the shoes or 2) not have the shoes. One is a happy outcome, the other negative, or so you believe.

How would your decision change if the salesman had the shoes in one hand and the $50 cash in the other? Would you take the shoes, or the money?

That is exactly the choice you have with every purchase. Either you get the — fill in the blank — or you get the money. Either you buy the shoes or leave $50 in your bank account.

If you could see your lifetime earnings in one big pile of money and how each spending decision diminishes the amount you get to keep, I have a feeling you would take your decision much more seriously. You’d opt to take the money more often than the stuff to clutter your life.

The next time you think of spending money —any amount — ask yourself: Do I really want this, or would I rather have the money?

Mary Hunt is founder of


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