The King of Cheap

Story time!

My father was the King of Frugality. I like to call it being the King of Cheap because there were some pretty questionable things he did when I was a kid that appalls people (especially BF) when he hears of what my dad used to do.

One of his crowning moments was refusing to buy me glasses because he thought I didn’t need them.

Let everyone be forewarned, it wasn’t as though my parents didn’t have the money to buy my glasses for me, it was that my father figured that the prices of glasses would drop SOME TIME, he would get them on a sale or SOMETHING.

His best solution was that we’d be going to the States when I was in grade 2, so we’d be able to buy them for cheaper there (Note: I live in Canada).

I complained a bit, but not very much because I trusted my parents knew best.

My father said that I didn’t need glasses, I was just growing and my eyes were changing, and I would be just fine. How could I not be? Everyone else in the family had perfect vision. I could only trust what an older adult who helped procreate me, tells me!

He also said that glasses were expensive, and that wearing glasses meant I was weak in spirit and body in some way. Doomed to be the runt of the litter and I’d be able to strengthen my eyes and see clearly without a problem, if I just willed it to happen and wanted it enough.

And besides, wearing glasses was “ugly for a young girl”.

Just hearing it now, makes me scoff.

Note: In case you don’t know, bad eyesight is caused by your eyeballs being positioned too far forward or too far back, and it throws off the angle of the light hitting your retina and registering in your brain. Read more about it here: How do glasses work)

See kids? STAY IN SCHOOL AND READ BOOKS or you will believe stupid myths like that too!

So for the first 8 years of my life, I sat in front, I squinted, I frowned, I did all these strange things to my faces that I am sure will show up as wrinkles in my forties, and I got massive headaches.

I honestly had no idea that my blurry vision was NOT normal. No one told me otherwise. I figured everyone had to squint and all lights looked like pretty but blurry bokeh filters, kind of like this:

I was always bumping into things, getting tired, having headaches and squinting.

It wasn’t until my mother got a call and a note from my teacher that she understood that I had a vision problem and when she discovered that my father knew all this time but was trying to hide it from her to save a buck, she was livid!

But then he talked her down after telling her that in 5 months we’d be in the States and the prices would be cheaper there, she calmed down.

(Hey, she didn’t know any better about any of this. She wasn’t super educated about things like this, and she didn’t wear glasses either.)

So fast forward 5 months later.

We are in the States, I am finally getting my glasses and for the first 5 days my head hurt from finally seeing clearly for the first time.

(Note: I do believe I remember my mom saying to my dad: These glasses aren’t any damn cheaper than in Canada!, and my dad sheepishly agreeing, but secretly loving that he saved having to buy different sized glasses and prescriptions as I grew older from a toddler to a 7-year old).

When the headaches cleared and I got used to my glasses, I realized that trees were not fuzzy shapes, lights were not bokeh filters and people had faces.

Actual, distinguishable faces!!

They actually didn’t know how bad my eyesight was, until the doctor gave me the prescription and said: She has VERY bad eyesight, and needs -9.00 in both eyes.

My parents didn’t know what it meant, so he explained that I would need to wear glasses the size of coke bottles. That’s when I think my parents felt guilty about not getting my glasses for me sooner as a kid, and trying to save money by waiting for my head to grow to its normal size and my eyes to “finish growing”, so they wouldn’t have to buy a new pair of glasses each year.

I think the eye doctor shamed them enough that it was probably the reason why I got chocolate ice cream that day.

I look back and laugh about it now, but I do remember being really frustrated in class because I couldn’t see clearly, and kids thinking I was stupid rather than that I couldn’t see what they were talking about.

Do you have any other similar cheap-disguised-as-frugal stories?

[Added] P.S. — I am not mad at my parents or angry. What’s done is done and it’s actually kind of funny in hindsight… they were clueless, not purposefully cruel.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.