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Robbins: A guide to skimping with caution
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I love to skimp. I get giddy with delight when I save some coin.

Like when I drink out of the neighbor’s garden hose rather than buying a $1.49 bottled water. Or when I drink out of the neighbor’s garden house rather than drink out of my own garden hose, which is riddled with holes and inoperable – probably because it cost $1.49.

Therein lies the rub.

Some items you can skimp on, others you can’t. Most of us learn about the unskimpable the hard way: through embarrassing failure.

That’s where I come in. As is my custom, I am using this space to help my fellow man, or woman or reading dog, by recounting what is not safe to skimp on when searching for a bargain, based on my own experiences or what I’ve personally witnessed on “Sanford and Son.”

Pay attention, please. This column could save your life, if you sky-dive often, or have been charged with a felony, which basically covers everyone I know.

That said, don’t skimp on:

• Trash bags.

Just last week, I bought a box of no-name bargain brand tall kitchen trash bags rather than the reliable brand-name variety. I figured I could use the 10 cents I saved on something else, like a single Tic Tac. This judgment came into question Sunday morn, when my wife asked me to take out the garbage from the kitchen, complaining that “it smells.”

Indeed it did, as I learned when the thin veil of a bag burst into smithereens as I was carrying it out the door.

My Sunday clothes became immersed in all its funky glory, an odd olfactory mix of coffee grounds, onions, sour milk, and apparently, a skunk’s small intestine.

• Tires.

If you don’t understand the importance of having quality tires on your vehicle, try driving on the interstate in Atlanta when it’s pouring down rain on some bald ones.

• Parachutes.

Like a trash bag, there’s little room for value shopping when it comes to parachutes. Buy a discount parachute, and the results could be just as bad as spilling a stinky trash bag on yourself, or even worse.

• Diapers.

Having three children, I know the folly of purchasing cheap diapers too well. Thankfully, none of our children are still in diapers, and I haven’t worn one in months. Trust me, when one of those cut-rate ones falls apart at 3 a.m., you’ll be cursing your penny pinching ways.

• Flashlights.

I own about 14 flashlights. None of them work. None cost over $3. That’s $42 I have spent on flashlights, and when the lights go out, I have to stumble in the darkness out to the grill to find some matches. If I would just spend $25 on a high-grade flashlight, I would have saved ... well, uh, $7, $8, a bunch of dollars by now.

• Criminal defense attorneys.

When you’re facing life in prison, it’s probably not wise to hire an attorney whose law office also doubles as a TV repair shop, and a van.

By the way, they won’t – despite my pleas – sell single Tic Tacs. You have to buy the whole dang box.

Another area where you can’t skimp.

Len Robbins is editor and publisher of the Clinch County News in Homerville. His column appears weekly.

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