The holly and the miser

By KARA BASKIN  |  December 9, 2008

Don't be ashamed to shop at embarrassing supermarkets
Yes, the cashiers are all named Rita and their hairdos should be on the national register of historic places. But the prices! Sure, the salad bar might offer nothing but old olives and wet feta cheese, and the "green" aisle consists of VO5 hot oil in a biodegradable container. Who do you think you are, Nigella Lawson? Get in line behind the rest of the hoi polloi sneakily leafing through the National Enquirer and deal with it. Your turkey and cranberry sauce will still taste the same.

Wear party clothes from warehouse outlets
I was at the Natick Mall (excuse me, the Natick Collection) the other day, and it was a ghost town. An acne-scarred midget with chicken samples paced back and forth like a character in a broken video game. The kid at the jewelry kiosk was trying to pierce the security guard's ear. Nowadays, you can't afford to dress like an extra on Gossip Girl. Yeah, I know, the discount warehouses aren't exactly glamorous. A shopping trip there rewards only those who enjoy picking through mounds of velour elasticized "activewear" to find a flattering pair of pants. The dressing rooms are stained with urine, and the mirrors make you look 10 feet wide. Your cashier will be of dubious gender and speak no recognizable multi-syllabic language. However, with a little persistence, you'll find the exact same kind of stuff offered at the mall, but for half the price. Hold your nose, close your eyes, and dive in. You'll look great at your next holiday soirûe!

Find creative ways to generate cash
I said creative, not illegal. How about selling stuff on eBay? There are people who spend their three waking hours coming up with Star Trek–derived screen names and paying for absolute crap. They could be buying your crap! Befriend them. Or tutor someone — isn't there something you're good at? Work at a bookstore. Nobody ever buys anything there anymore. Abandon the register and read People for seven bucks an hour.

The moral of this story is: get over yourself. Pretty soon we're all going to be eating ramen noodles in the gutter. The sooner you embrace the art of restraint, the less mental anguish you'll endure. Come January 1, you'll have to suffer for your stinginess. Why not practice first on those you love most?

Kara Baskin, a/k/a The Lady Scrooge, can pinch a penny until it screams and gives her change. She can be reached at

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