5 Embarrassing Money-Related Facts About Me

As you might already know, I am a very frugal person.

Sometimes it can be a good thing because I’m able to save a lot of money and don’t make huge financial mistakes on a regular basis.

However, in some cases, what seems normal to me might be a total shock to other people.

They either look puzzled when I tell them about my spending habits or insist I need to change what I do.

In this post, I will document the five money-related facts about me that usually leave people speechless, confused, or amused.

1. I didn’t have a smart-phone until 26. 

I got my first cell phone when I was a freshman in college.

It was a free basic Nokia that came with a $25 prepaid data plan. The main purpose of the phone at the time was to wake me up in the morning (aka an alarming clock).

It would cost me 10 cents a minute for a call or a text message, so I tried my very best not to use the phone.

I was also hesitant to give my phone number to too many people since I was afraid they would give me some random calls which I would have to pick up and waste my minutes.

When I did give my phone number to someone, I told them to call me only if it was really important.

They could email me or message me on AOL (yes, it was ages ago) if they had something to talk to me about.

It came as no surprise that I would get maybe one phone call I month. I remember spending at most $100 on data a year. And I was happy with that arrangement.

I later discovered Google Voice and set up a free number. Whenever someone called me on my phone, I would hang up and call them back using Google Voice. My phone bill was cut by half. I spent less than $50 a year on data.

My Nokia looked almost like this one.

I have to admit it was a bit of a nuisance to me and to other people not being able to get connected on the phone right away.

But I was willing to put up with it and got used to it since it saved me at least $300/year ($30/month) by not joining any monthly plan.

An unintended consequence of being loyal to a Nokia was that I didn’t know how to use a smartphone until I was 26 (2013). It was a running joke in my family.

I also thought it was kind of funny, but it didn’t bother me enough for me to drop $200 on a smart phone until years later.

2. I got my first expensive monthly phone plan because of a boy. 

Yes, you read that right. I still feel embarrassed typing this, but it’s true. I have never told Mr. FAF about this. Even if Mr. FAF knew about it, I don’t think he would care. He’s not the jealous type.

And this is even more mortifying. I paid $80/month for that monthly plan for three reasons.

First, I used my prepaid data plan to talk to him, but it was getting expensive. I thought to myself that if we already talked so much, maybe I should just get a monthly plan that might be expensive but will save me money in the long run (I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking that too).

Second, the monthly plan was an investment in romance (with absolutely no monetary return, which I later realized).

Third, I didn’t want to hang up on him and use Google Voice to call him back. It just wasn’t romantic.

To make a long story short, we parted ways about two months after I got the $80 monthly data plan. I was a poor grad student at the time, so $80 was roughly half of my monthly food expenses.

The painful thing is that I waited for another 6 months to cancel the plan because I thought I needed to use it to call my friends and vented to them about what had happened.

In total, I paid $480 for 6 months of data that I barely used and $250 for early cancellation of the two-year contract.

The phone company rep was in shock when I saw how many minutes I hadn’t used. $730 for a monthly plan, a failed dating experience, and a big money lesson. Romance (or the lack thereof) does cost money sometimes.

3. I wear Mr. FAF’s boxers at home. 

Mr. FAF has some extremely comfortable and colorful Hanes boxers that look like shorts. They are made from cotton, comfortable, and light. I didn’t realize that until two years ago when it was hot outside, and I ran out of clean shorts to wear at home (laundry day).

I could have gone out to buy more shorts, but I didn’t want to spend the money. A light bulb went off in my head. I rushed to Mr. FAF’s drawer and tried on his boxer.

It was a huge discovery for me. From that point one, I took some of Mr. FAF’s comfy boxers and put them in my wardrobe. I walk around happily in those boxers at home in the summer until I have to take out the trash and feel too lazy to change.

Mr. FAF’s Hanes boxer

Every time that happens, I have to make sure my neighbors are not hanging outside. I don’t want them to find out that I wear my husband’s underwear as shorts.

It works out well most of the time. I take out the trash and dart back to our house. No one notices anything (or so I thought).

However, there were instances when some of my neighbors would come out of no where and strike a conversation. I had no choice but to talk to them, hoping they wouldn’t notice anything unusual about my outfit.

Sometimes I did notice some stares but quickly made an excuse to go home. Now I try to take out the trash when it’s dark outside, so no one can really see what I’m wearing.

4. The $1 freezer meal used to be my staple. 

You know those unhealthy $1 freezer meal boxes at the grocery stores? They used to be my stable for months when I was in graduate school. I wasn’t and still am not good at cooking.

I used to have one of those $1 freezer meals.

At that time, money was tight, and I didn’t want to eat out. Instant noodles weren’t really a healthy option for daily meals.

I thought to myself at least the freezer meal has some meat and veggies. The portion was small and didn’t fill me up, so I just ate it with white rice.

I later found out that the barbecue meat loaf was processed scrap meat, and the veggies were too little to be healthy. I haven’t had those meals in more than five years.

5. I said no to a lot of dinner and lunch invites with friends to save money. 

I used to say no to 90% of all the invites to dinner or lunch. I didn’t want to use the “to save money” reason all the time, so I just told them I was busy or suggested inexpensive or free activities instead. I think my friends figured this out eventually.

Most of my friends found joy in eating delicious food at restaurants, so the idea of going for a walk at the grocery store, chatting over a drink, or cooking at home didn’t appeal to them.

When I did have to eat out with friends, I would think about getting appetizers or the cheapest meal on the menu. My friends weren’t so thrilled about it and suggested I get the main course instead, so I did.

I would get water instead of an iced tea, a coke, a bubble tea, or a milkshake like they did. Sometimes it made me feel awkward because I was drinking something totally different from them: plain water.

After a meal, some of them would suggest getting pastry, which was an extra $3-4 on top of dinner. I just wanted to tell them I didn’t want the pastry but felt obligated to get it to avoid being a wet blanket.

Conclusion

During my frugal journey, I have made a lot of financial mistakes and done a lot of weird things to save money. The five facts mentioned above always make me feel embarrassed whenever I think about them.

I’m proud of some of them (i.e. using free Google Voice service), regret some (i.e. the $80 monthly data plan), and still feel conflicted about some (i.e. eating out and friendships).

However, I’m glad those days are over now that I have a stable job and don’t have to pinch pennies every day. I can also breathe more easily when I think about spending a couple of dollars on entertainment.

I also have a husband who can cook good food for me every day, so I don’t need to revert to those cheap and unhealthy freezer meals.

Over all, I can only learn from such embarrassing facts and make sure I’m proud of whatever financial decisions that I make for myself and my family.

Related:

3 Things We Fail To Do To Save Money 

Is My Husband Frugal Or Cheap? I Can’t Decide.

3 Weird Things We Do To Save Money

How Our Lives Have Changed With A 128% Increase In Income

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35 thoughts on “5 Embarrassing Money-Related Facts About Me”

  • 1) Nokia’s the bomb! Old reliable classic. I think you made the right frugal choice haha. I had a Nokia phone until I was 21.

    2) OUUUUU juicy. Who who who. I didn’t know about this!!!! That is an expensive lesson. Phone plans are ridiculous. Plus, early cancellation is such a scam. It doesn’t cost them $250 to cancel. Omg the things the phone company is allowed to get away with is insane. My next phone will be a Republic Wireless or Google FI phone.

    Was he at least cute? xD

    3) OMG LOL. That is embarrassing!!! Still love you tho!

    4) Me too! Banquet dinners!!! They’re really not bad for a $1. They’re smaller now than before though. Darn inflation.

  • I never bought a smartphone – my parents had to gift it to me!! Hahaha. Thanks for sharing so openly. We’ve all done some things that looking back make us cringe a little. But we learn and move on! Thanks for sharing so openly:)

    • That sounds like a great present! Yes, I still cringe a little when I think about #2. But it’s a great lesson though. I’ll make sure to tell Baby FAF’s lil sister hehe 😀

  • Haha, I love that you wear Mr. FAF’s boxers… perfect comfy lounging wear!

    My first smartphone was my Blackberry provided by work. I called my brother and told him I was given a “Blueberry” for work. To this day, he has not let me live that one down 😉

    • Oh haha I like blueberries :p I didn’t know how to use a touchscreen on a smartphone until a couple of years ago. We’re in the same boat! 😉

  • What’s going on with women wearing their husband’s clothes? My wife sometimes time wear both my t-shirt and my shorts. She thought that it was cute, but for me, it was not very intimate when you try to kiss your look alike.

    Way way back, all my friends had a pager and I refused to have one because of the fad. When that turned into cellphones, I also resisted the urge. I am not really into following the trends unless it brings value and happiness to my life. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong or embarrassing about it.

    • Oh my I wear Mr. FAF’s T-shirts too haha. I don’t know if it’s cute, but it’s extremely comfortable. I need to ask him if what he’s thinking when he tries to kiss his wifey 😀

  • OMG I used to be addicted to 69 cent Chicken Pot Pies in college. Those things got me through many, many evenings haha.

    I feel like the phone for a boy is the one that makes me giggle the most though. 🙂 We’ve all got some weird things about us, way to own it!

  • Sometimes you have to make some tough decisions and miss out on things like hanging out with friends. It’s good though because you focused on your priority of saving. Life will continue but it’s important to be prepared and sleep comfortably at night. I’m glad those pinching penny days are over for you 🙂

  • Ms. FAF,
    Many of us have quirky habit. I call it: every one is unique. One of the cool things about this country is that, you can live anyway you want to, and most of the people just mind their own business. My old flip phone was phased out 2.5 years ago. My friends in China were laughing about my old phone. I simply don’t care what others think about me.

    • My family in Vietnam laughed at my Nokia too! At first, I wasn’t happy about it. But then I was like “It’s ok. I can spend money on something more important.” 😀

    • Honestly I bought my own boxer briefs and wear them around the house in summer. Nothing wrong with that!!! Also to take out the trash. If the neighbors see me, they aren’t seeing any more than if I was wearing women’s soffee shorts or bike shorts.

    • Oh wow I think we can join the Nokia lovers club! j/k 😀

      I’ve been trying to find comfy shorts for the summer. But it seems like Mr. FAF’s boxers have no female rivals. @_@

  • “At that time, money was tight, and I didn’t want to eat out. Instant noodles weren’t really a healthy option for daily meals.”

    You were FAR healthier than me in my college days – ten packets of noodles for $5 was an unmissable deal! Although I remember the day when my best friend and I looked at each other in disgust as we realised that we’d eaten instant noodles for all three meals that day. Because who needs vitamins, right…?

  • Number 4 really hits home for me. I lived off the instant noodles in college and then the freezer meals for 3 years during my first job out of college. I’m ruined now, can’t eat them anymore! From a nutritional standpoint, I don’t think I’m missing much! Nice post.

  • I have never felt awkward ordering water and I don’t know why this would disturb anyone. The ONLY thing I like to drink with dinner is water. If I want an alcoholic drink, I’ll order it before or after, but I usually do not. Same with the appetizer thing. Usually appetizers are big enough to feed me and sometimes they are the only vegetarian thing on the menu. Sometimes it does make me feel awkward to the server to only order an appetizer, but it’s not my fault if I was invited to a place that only has 1 option for me to eat.

  • Boxers are the best. If it makes you feel better I sleep in men’s Hanes briefs sometimes because they’re roomy and comfortable. Plus, Carrie Bradshaw did it and she’s my role model.
    I also once donated blood plasma to get money to buy Christmas gifts. That was a low point.

  • I used to have that Nokia phone too, I believe it was my second ever mobile phone. It was very reliable and got signal almost everywhere I went.
    I was late bloomer on smart phones too, didn’t get one until five years ago when everyone around me was having one. All I had was a text friendly Motorola phone.

  • Thank you for sharing some of your most embarrassing money-related facts. Everyone has them and really I don’t think the five you listed are bad. I mean who hasn’t done something stupid over/for a guy?
    I will ignore a call from my friends when they call anytime before lunch because I don’t want to have to turn them down if they want to go out to eat. I will call them back after 12:30 to see what’s up.
    Also, I didn’t get a data plan until April/May of this year and that is because my cell phone provider upgraded its network and my phone wasn’t compatible anymore. I would have just survived off of Wifi forever!

  • What’s there to be embarrassed about? All these habits afforded everything you have now. ?

    As for friends, they should be understanding. I enjoy hanging with them, whether it’s at the park, snowboarding, or doing whatever. The company’s the best bit! Honestly, if one told me they’re trying to save, I’d be all for it. Sometimes, if I want them to really come along, I’ll treat; then forget it, I don’t care for the money, I’d rather share the experience with them.

    Anyway, we’re going to have friends who are further ahead or behind in the financial race, doesn’t mean they’re anything less. If I can lend a hand, I will (provided they’re being financially sensible).

    Remember, great friends are worth more than all the money in the world.

    Note: Nokia’s were bombproof! One of the best old phones to have, even now.

  • Frugality is a necessity in most stages of life. But a lot of us forget where to draw the line in going overboard on the frugality bandwagon (me included). Now I am constantly walking the tight rope between the necessary frugality and not going extreme over it.

  • Your phone story’s too funny. I have a similar one. In 2014, I still had a cellphone with buttons and an antenna. I don’t even remember what the phone was. It certainly wasn’t a Nokia. All I remember was that it was cheap, worked most of the time, and was a bitch to text with. But I was willing to stay the frugal course until I was on a business trip and had to call Mrs. Groovy. I was sitting in the DFW airport waiting for my plane to board, and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed these two old ladies snickering at my cellphone. Yes, two women in their 70s were mocking my cellphone. The shame! When I got home I immediately told Mrs. Groovy that it was time to ditch the dumb phones and enter the modern world. Happily, she readily agreed. Loved learning more about you, Mrs. FAF. It’s nice to see that even the great ones don’t have an unsullied past when it comes to money. Cheers.

  • These are fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. I think everyone has something they are embarrassed they did for a romantic partner in their youth. As for wearing your husband’s boxers – I do that too! I could spend money on pajamas and lounge clothes for the house, or I could just borrow t-shirts and things from his drawer. It is so comfy and he doesn’t seem to mind 🙂

  • Embarrassing money moment for me: going back to ask a homeless guy how much change I dumped in his hands because I forgot to count it for my spending spreadsheet. He didn’t know either, but we made an estimate.

  • i’ve never had a cell phone of any kind. being unreachable is priceless sometimes.

    romance costs money sometimes and the costs have value as education (don’t do that again) and some good stories to tell. imagine if i asked a girl out in the past and didn’t want to pony up for a decent outing now and again?

  • If it lessens your embarrassment, I thought my first text message on a new work phone, in a new work car, were my car’s airbags imploding. I heard the noise, saw the lighted airbag warning for the first time, and thought that I had both “made it” as an adult in life, and was rapidly ending it on a freeway. Also, there was a time in the early 90’s when women wearing men’s boxers was very common, and fashionable, particularly among the athletic. I can’t remember if the clothing line, Joe Boxer, was a men’s line, but, I, too, wore their brightly print boxers to volleyball practice, etc. Original boxers required some additional sewing, though. Thanks for your blogs. I miss the grocery and frugal failures/wins series.

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