Follow Me to the Senior Center – Cheap, Cheaper, and Cheapest

By Carl and Jo Ann Hauser
Last December my wife and I went on a Caribbean Cruise, along with some of her old high school buddies and our good friends from Cloudcroft. Now the last cruise I went on was over twenty years ago, and on that cruise I got sicker than a dog about the fourth day out to sea. So I spent the better part of the day in a two-by-two bathroom with the dry heaves. My wife did come down to the cabin to check on me once to see if I was still breathing, but, after all, it was steak and lobster night (too good to miss!). You can understand why I was a little reluctant to go on another cruise.

Two of the guys going on the cruise, David and James, are known for their ability to stretch a buck (cheapskates). I have also been known to save a dollar or two. So I thought we’d have a competition to see which one of us was the thriftiest (biggest cheapskate). Just so you know what I was up against, David was the one who found the seven-day cruise for three hundred dollars, and whenever James has a project he goes to the post office first, picks up a change of address card, and clips out the ten percent off coupon for Lowe’s Home Improvement.

Before we even got to Miami, I was about five hundred dollars behind both of these guys. David drove to Miami and James had frequent flier miles, so his plane fare to Florida was free. Meanwhile Jo Ann and I were flying to Miami on another airline. Our first flight to Houston went okay, but our connecting flight to Miami had a two-hour delay. Apparently the light in the dashboard of the cockpit went out. Only an airline would take two hours to change a light bulb. I was going to send Jo Ann up to knock on the cockpit door and offer them a flashlight, but she probably would end up face down on the tarmac in handcuffs. We did, however, get free TV for the flight. We arrived in Miami at 1:00 AM. We had called our hotel three times to explain we were running late, and asked them to please hold our room. So, of course, when we finally got there, they had us marked down as no-shows! However, they did have one room left in a section under renovation. As we walked to our room we noticed a few minor problems. The security door was propped open due to the paint fumes, the heater did not work, and the smoke alarm was malfunctioning outside our room- going off every forty-five minutes. But the last straw was when I pushed the button on the TV remote: nothing happened!

After a restful night’s sleep at the ‘hotel from hell,’ we woke up the next morning to the sound of workers pulling up carpet in the hallway. A few hours later we got our act together and met up with our friends from Michigan. We were all still twitching a bit from the smoke alarm, but other than that we were excited and ready to go. The ‘hotel from hell’ did offer free parking for David’s car while on the cruise, and a free shuttle to the pier. David then passed out bottles of wine to put in our luggage to take on board for him. (Score two for David) Meanwhile James and Sharon’s free flight had landed them in Ft. Lauderdale the night before (on time). So that evening they hiked two miles down the road to a grocery store to buy Cokes and snacks for the cruise. (Score two for James) The next day they found a cheap shuttle to the cruise ship, and were actually onboard before the rest of us. Those of you who know me have probably never seen me without a can of Coca Cola, so the first thing I had to do once onboard was to buy one of those fifty-dollar-all-you-can-drink pass cards. By the end of the cruise I had the cost down to about fifty cents a glass, but as you can clearly see, I was out of the competition before the ship ever left the port.

My wife, remembering how sick I had gotten twenty years ago, insisted I get those little patches you put behind your ear, and actually, they really work! I could have tap-danced across the entire ship and not felt queasy. However, after a few hours on the ship Jo Ann started turning green and feeling nauseous (too bad it wasn’t steak and lobster night!). She did manage to recover quickly. Being as I was already eliminated from the contest I decided to look for a piece of jewelry for my lovely wife. We walked into a Diamonds International- my wife turned one way, and I went the other. Apparently I have good taste in diamonds; when I asked the price of the first ring I asked to see, he quietly said, “Twenty-five thousand.” My wife had started walking toward me, so I quietly responded, “Put it back.” My next question was, “Do you have a clearance section?” We both thought a ring should not cost more than our last car!

As the week progressed David and James seemed to be working from the same cheapskate manual. They only did the free stuff, like the shows, swimming, and when they went ashore they would not eat out, because all the free food was back on the ship. So, I couldn’t figure out who won until the last day of the cruise. After the cruise David and his wife Donna were supposed to go hang out with her parents who live in Florida. With quick forward thinking David managed to book another week on the same cruise ship for three hundred dollars. Now, that may have been smart (avoiding the in-laws), but not necessarily cheap. The rest of us needed one more night in a hotel before catching a plane the next day. James (always looking for the best deal) managed to book the only hotel in Miami without a pool, but it did have a free shuttle to the airport and was only sixty-five dollars. (And it was not ‘the hotel from hell.’) So, the crown goes to James- Hail, King James!! Long live the King!! The undisputed champion and cheapest guy around. Also, one of the finest Christian men you would ever want to know.
I was going to see if David and James would host a How to Save a Buck Seminar at the Senior Center, but David lives in Michigan. He’s too cheap to fly here, and I’m too cheap to buy his ticket. James is available, and he will be turning sixty by the end of the year. So if you wish to attend the seminar all you have to do is go to your local post office, pick up a change of address card, clip out the Lowe’s coupon, and present it at the door. (James works cheap, too.)

News Flash! We now have Wi-Fi for our Seniors. Bring your computer and share a meal with your friends Monday through Friday from 11:30 ‘til 12:15, calling 682-3022 by 9:30 AM for reservations. Take a ride down to Alamo for shopping and lunch out. Play Farkle, Mexican Train, or Bridge with friends after lunch. Exercise with Gail on Wednesday mornings. We also have a small exercise room with a variety of equipment. Check out our web site at, created by our friend Marty. As Easter is upon us in this month of April, we remember the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God bless you all.

Leave a Reply