My focus on debt reduction has made me the office leper

At my office I appear to be a bit of an anomaly. Why? Because I am in super debt reduction mode and make decisions based on that. And that is why I am unofficially the office leper.

Just last week the women in my department were having a discussion on salons because one girl came in with a new haircut. Note that there was nothing particularly special about it. As soon as she revealed that she paid $150 for the cut it was suddenly all the rage. I sat in horror thinking about how many credit card minimum payments I could make with $150 (about 4-6 depending on the cards). Then another one piped up that she pays the same amount for her haircuts and they never look as good as the haircut girl. My assistant chimes in about how she hated her last hair cut but that she only paid $55 dollars for it so what do you expect. None of them were impressed that I get my hair cut for free by my girlfriend. She doesn’t work in a salon, but she can cut in a straight line and do layers pretty darn well for someone with no training. And hello, it is free. They kind of gave me a pity look. In reality I pity them for wasting so much money on hair cuts – they all say that they get hair cuts every six weeks. That’s like $1300 or so a year in haircuts!

My co-workers never bring their lunches. We have a cafeteria in the building with prices starting at $5.25 for a “mini” salad and small drink. If you want to get a decent amount of food you have to spend around $7 in the cafeteria. When they are not dining in the cafeteria they are going out to a restaurant. They used to ask me to go until the day they saw me making iced tea from hot tea for free.

See, my office provides hot chocolate mix, tea bags and water and ice for free. They also have sugar and creamer. While they do have a really nice pod coffee machine, they do not provide coffee. If you want coffee you have to buy a BOX of pods from them. What a pain. I drink coffee but I refuse to do that. So, at lunch time I get two cups. In one I make some hot tea with the Lipton tea bags provided. And I put ice in the other. After the tea steeps I pour it over the ice and voila, iced tea for free. I love doing that because it gives me something other than water to drink, it saves me $$ from bringing tea from home, and best of all, I get to feel like I am getting one over on “the man” every time I do it. I think my co-workers were rather appalled, and maybe you are too, but it’s free, it saves me money and it works for me. And when all of my credit card debt is paid off in 2008 because of living like this I will have the last laugh. And that is what I think about when I get their looks that tell me that I am the office leper.