Since I am now writing for a personal finance blog, I decided that I should actually try and get my finances in order. Usually I would call my sister and ask her for help in such a situation, but since I’m still pissed off at her for the entire Paris Hilton is more productive than I am episode, I decided to instead ask my next door neighbor, Frugal Guy.
Frugal Guy is the diplomatic name I give to him. Really, he should be named Cheap Ass Guy.
I should have known that this was going to be a bad idea before I asked for his help. Anyone that puts a bowl on their head and lets their wife go at the exposed hair with shears to save a buck doesn’t instill financial confidence. Knowing that they are proud that their house is 3 different shades of a similar gray because the slightly off paint was a bargain deal (never mind the hideous look) is probably not someone that I should have asked for financial advice, but I figured if there was a way to save money, Frugal Guy would know.
When I explained that I wanted to reduce my food bill, his eyes lit up like he had just hit the jackpot on a slot machine in Vegas. He went into a rapid spiel about the wonders of generic food. He explained how it all tasted the same as brand name food (“sometimes even better!!”)and how I would come to love how much I saved with it. I should have trusted my feelings and just headed back to my house, couch and beer, but an evil and masochistic part of me somehow convinced me to stay.
After listening to all the positive points of generic food, Frugal Guy wanted to know when we should go to the store together so he could show me the wide variety of generic food available. Since I despise going to the grocery store I said that I would just order it to be delivered.
Frugal Guy admonished me since sometimes brand name food can be cheaper than generic if you have the right coupons. Since there was no way in hell that I was going to go shopping, let alone shopping with coupons, Frugal Guy decided he would do the shopping for us for a backyard BBQ we had been planning to show off the fine qualities of generic food.
The evening of the BBQ started out fine. The weather was nice, the generic plates, cups, napkins, plastic forks, spoons and knives were all in place. Generic soda was available for the kids and they seemed to have no problem drinking it. The generic mustard, catchup and relish were all lined up on the table and looked similar to their brand name counterparts. I actually thought that the evening might be okay until I opened the cooler to get myself a beer.
There are some things in life I don’t want to know about and one of them was staring right at me. While I’m by no means a beer connoisseur, I do have some standards. It’s hard enough getting a girlfriend when you’re a beer guy, but if photos of me at a BBQ drinking generic beer ever make it to the Internet, I can pretty much be assured that no woman is ever going to date me.
“Go ahead, give it a try,” Frugal Guy said with a smile.
“Ummm, it’s generic beer,” I said, still not able to believe my eyes.
“It’s great,” Frugal Guy insisted. “Give it a try, You won’t be able to tell the difference from your regular beer.”
And so, instead of running back to my house, hunkering down on the couch to watch TV with my own beer in hand, I opened a can of generic beer and took a sip.
“See!” Frugal Guy exclaimed. “It tastes great, doesn’t it?”
I let the taste linger in my mouth a mere second before the full extent of the awfulness made itself readily apparent. The water coming out of the washing machine after doing a load of the dirtiest, greasiest and grimiest laundry would taste better than generic beer.
“This stuff tastes like &*%$#@@ ^&&^%$ #$$^&%*” I said spitting it out. Frugal Guy didn’t seem very impressed by my colorful description of his beer pick, especially with his children around, but seemed undeterred to convince me of the quality of generic food. He steered me toward the grill where hamburgers and hot dogs were cooking.
It’s not pretty what actually goes into normal hot dogs, but you can basically square that ugliness when it comes to what goes into generic hot dogs. You know all that gunk that clings to the side of your dirtiest drain pipes? That is probably 100 times healthier to eat than a generic hot dog. I took one look at the pinkish colored hot dogs that seemed to have an orangish tint with splotches of unidentifiable darker meat (??? — It’s never good when you can’t be sure) mixed in. I opted for the hamburger.
Frugal Guy asked if I’d like cheese (read generic processed cheese) on my burger. I said yes before realizing what was actually going on my meat. It surprises me that they are even allowed to call generic cheese “cheese” when the ingredients on the side of the package has milk listed as the 8th ingredient.
Frugal guy put the burger topped with the generic cheese (that had no cheese in it) on the generic bun. At this point I was simply glad it wasn’t a generic hot dog and I went to put the generic catchup and generic BBQ sauce onto it. I knew things were starting to get even worse when the catchup came out of the bottle more like a liquid than a paste. I debated whether or not to taste a bit of the generic BBQ sauce before placing it on the burger, but feared I wouldn’t be able to eat anything else if I did. The generic burger was ready. If I were a life insurance agent, this is exactly the scene that I would set up for my clients and I bet I would get them to sign 100% of the time.
The catchup had a sugary taste to it and when mixed with the indescribably awful taste of the generic BBQ sauce, it was enough to rule that this was the worst hamburger I had ever tasted. Simply eating the generic “not really cheese” cheese would have been a gourmet meal in comparison.
“What do you think?” Frugal Guy asked, puppy dog eye hopefulness in is eyes.
“I think it’s time I go home and get a real beer and meal,” I said as I threw the burger into the trash.
After that incident, Frugal Guy isn’t near as enthused to teach me about the great qualities of generic food. It’s just as well since I have lost all enthusiasm for the cost saving benefits of generic food now that I know that it’s crap. Saving money may be important, but not if it makes you miserable in the process. Financial lesson learned.