Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Indians are Cheap and Stingy

I love stereotypes. They're so often fun to pick apart. I've been watching Russell Peters again lately and his skits on Indians being cheap crack me up - even though in my life they're not true at all. Here's the specific skit I'm referring to in case you haven't seen it.

In my relationship this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, my husband quite often asks me where I got the habit to be so cheap LOL. No, I'm not offended. I don't spend money on anything unless I have to, and if I can find something cheaper somewhere else I won't pay the higher price for it - not even for convenience.

So recently I took my husband out to a local street festival where they have tons of vendor's set up and they have all kinds of information on their services....and many of them give out freebies! So yep, I drug hubby along and promptly picked up and collected free pens, plastic cups, t-shirts, etc. I got one of those looks from him again and he asked me where I got this habit to be so cheap hahahaha.

Hubby on the other hand was never taught to look for a sale, discount or cheaper price. He simply walks into a store, picks up whatever he likes and pays for it. He always happily boasted he didn't care about the price. I can't handle it! OMG.

His mother giggles every time we have this discussion. I won't let him go out and waste money. I'm anything but careless when it comes to money. I know where to go to find things at lower prices and I just can't settle for over-priced merchandise. No, I don't spend all my time buying used merchandise or going to yard sales. I only buy brand new items and I get them at much lower prices - without there being anything wrong with them.

For things that can't be obtained cheaper, like fine dining, then I know where to go so that I can be satisfied with my purchase. I won't pay $15 for a meal if I know it's not going to be worth that much money. I will pay $16 for a meal I know is going to taste good and be of good quality. There are things out there other than meals that I feel the same way about but you get the point.

FIL and MIL are similar to me. They won't pay more for something than they think it is worth. However, if something is worth it, they don't think about the price. MIL wanted me to wear gold earrings and it was important to her so she went out of her way to have a pair custom made for me that she knew I would never take off. She was right too. I haven't taken them out of my ears since the day she gave them to me.

I've managed to teach hubby a few tricks since he's arrived on American soil. I didn't have this opportunity in India because I didn't know the stores as well. Even with bargaining, the shopping experience was not the same and I am far from being an expert on the Indian shopping scene. But in the U.S., I have shopping down to a science. I can go into a brand name store (like Tommy Hilfiger or Liz Claiborne) and walk out with an outfit for less than $30, most of the time less than $20.

Hubby took to this concept really well when he realized that he could buy more if he spent less on each piece. He's a huge quantity fan. He likes to have 30-40 of each piece of clothing if not more. He had 47 shirts in India and over 20 coats/jackets. Here he's managed to amass about 200 pieces of clothing, maybe more. I don't even count anymore, I just shove them off of my half of the closet when they start to creep over.

Anyway, I think I'm getting a bit side-tracked. My main point is this is yet another stereotype that I feel is a bit over-stated. I've yet to meet an Indian who is as cheap and stingy as I can be. No, I don't have any shame in saying that lol.


  1. I feel for you. I'm not Indian but my hubby and I are the same way. I'm always researching, comparing prices, checking the clearance section,etc. Hubby, he gets it in his mind that he wants something he just walks into a store and buys it. If I happen to know what he's getting and where he's getting it I'll try to find a coupon or something to give him. If I do that he'll use it but he won't take the initiate to do it himself

  2. Russel is super funny! I'm a savvy shopper also and do a lot of research and comparison shopping before I buy, it just makes sense!

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

  3. I find that men are far less complicated when it comes to shopping. Part of the problem is that there is not much to choose from. I mean how creative can you get with a pair of trousers and shirt or T shirt. Limited colours, limited cuts even at high end shops, there are only limited shades and designs for men's clothes. There are not more than five to seven shades in trousers most of them are different shades of grey. I have talking about Indian middle class men whose fashion is stuck in 1940s. There is definitely traditional India apparel for men but we wear it only on special occasions. I am always envious of the Indian women. They have so much to choose from. Clothes, accessories etc. Women also have the patience to search five shops for an exact print or jewelry design. Men often get bored by the shopping experience. They get into a shop, find something interesting, buy it and get out. I think it the same everywhere.

    I remember shopping was an event of great contemplation when I was young to be indulged in only when it is absolutely necessary. Clothes were got stitched by tailors. My father used to buy one long piece of cloth for the children. The same cloth was then used to make a shirt and frock for me and my sister. People had little purchasing power and there was nothing to purchase. The stingy Indian died in 1990, with economic liberalization. Now, it is all about a bigger mobile and a bigger TV. Buying five shirts for Rs.5000/- in one go is increasingly becoming popular. There is also something else, now you cannot talk about inflation openly. It is assumed that you are still stuck in middle class of 1980s and have not moved up in life. So, keep on maintaining the paraphernalia of modern life even when you cannot afford it. Yes, there is more money in our pocket than our parents but we are facing the same problems that our parent faced thirty years ago. Roads have not improved but people have bought cars. This is called illusion of prosperity.

  4. How funny. My husband is happy every time I buy him new clothes, but he does not go crazy clothes shopping for himself often. That is a good thing because he does not know how to bargain shop!

  5. I enjoyed reading this. It made me laugh because my hubby is frugal and will price shop. Me on the other hand will not drive around looking for a bargain. I like a good sale but will not go out of my way to look for one. Drives hubby crazy sometimes. LOL

  6. haha.. I can so relate to this :D

  7. My hubby is the spendthrift too! I think it is a generational thing....my inlaws are quite stingy, they only like to purchase for investments. My hubby likes to enjoy life in the moment. I am more like him but lately I don't spend much, except on my daughter!

  8. I'm e frugal one in our relationship too, I tend to research and look around for the best price and deals, but not the haggling for 10 rupees type at all, like I have seen a lot of people around here do. DH has the tendency to buy things on impulse whether he needs them or not, and really appreciate my ability to walk into a few stores to look for a black t-shirt and compare prices and qualities and come home exactly with what I set out to buy, no more.

  9. Sting is a word with negative connotation. Substitute with "thrifty" and then you come across as one smart cookie.

  10. That's how I feel. Money isn't easy to get so I'm not going to waste it if I don't have to.

  11. You nailed it with "illusion of prosperity" and I think this may be one of the negative things Indians adopted from western culture. Here we called it "keeping up with the Jones'. People buy things they can't truly and comfortably afford without a thought about how the money could be better spent. Of course, unlike Americans Indian's aren't overloaded with debt yet but the system is creeping in. Here we are like slaves to our jobs because we can't afford to live otherwise. It doesn't seem to matter how much money you make, it's never enough. People aren't taught to live within their means like they should be.

  12. hmm...pragmatic....I like that term. It sounds more sophisticated.

  13. Possibly but thrifty and stingy also have somewhat different meanings. I got the title's wording from online when I searched stereotypes about Indians. I giggled when I ran across it and thus had to blog about it.

  14. On lighter note, on illusion of prosperity, last year the onion prices climbed up steeply. It was hovering between Rs.60/- to Rs.100/- per kg. Usually onion prices are the indication how happy Indians are in the material sense. If it up, they are not happy. If they are low, they are happy.

    I remember, in 1998, the Delhi Government was voted out of power, because they could not control the onion prices. Such is the political importance of onion. Anyway, last year, one dollar was worth Rs.60/-. The running joke was one kg of onion was equal to one dollar. That's prosperity and development. It also has a nice ring to it LOL. Our humble onion made us feel so proud. This was a way to console the common man who is already reeling under the effect of inflation. Earlier, we could buy a bagful of vegetables with a wallet full of money, now we can buy a wallet full of vegetables with a bagful of money. This definitely is prosperity.

    This year is was the turn of tomatoes. They went up to Rs.100/- and then came down. The Government perhaps want us to feel prosperous differently every year. When you can buy luxury goods easily but not grocery items, then there is something very wrong with you idea of economic prosperity.

  15. And indians never tip 15%. Explain how that is ok to do . Thats why noone likes it when an indian comes through the door

    1. I know what you mean! My husband isn't a typical Indian though, I have to stop him from tipping way too much. He once tipped a server $20 for a $13 meal. He has no sense of money sometimes lol.