Dear Mary: You are not only a cheapskate but also apparently have no taste or appreciation of quality. You answered a letter from a reader asking about ideas for affordable family portraits.
None of the photography "studios" you mentioned has ever turned out a portrait that would qualify to be shown in a professional photographic association competition. They engage in false advertising and take people off the street and train them for two weeks and call them "photographers." When you return, the order is made up, including enlargements by some idiot on a computer who accidentally pushed a button to print.
Some of them I have seen are atrocious. It makes me wonder why I attended a photography school for two years and studied under several masters of photography when anyone can become a "photographer" in two weeks.
-- Bill, Ill.
Dear Bill: I can see how you might have taken my advice as a personal insult, in that you are a professional photographer. I'm sure there are many people who can afford your higher-priced services, and you should build your business appealing to them. However, there's a much larger segment of the population that cannot. So how would you advise a family with $50 for a family portrait?
A. Don't bother, because no portrait is better than one that is not of the highest professional quality.
B. Save $50 each year until you have $500 to pay for a good-quality portrait. Of course that will take you 10 years, so
C. Pay for a $500 portrait with a credit card and then pay it off over the next 20 years or so to the tune of around $1,200, including interest.
D. Use the cash you have to pay for the best-quality portrait available.
I'll stick with my original suggestion, which -- surprise -- happens to be letter D.
Dear Mary: You really spoke to me the other day when you said, "When are you going to stop what you are doing and take action to get out of debt?" It is going to be a long haul, but worth it, I'm sure. I have had a lifestyle of spend, spend, spend, and now I will have to pay, pay and pay until everyone is paid off. I hope I will never do this again. It is a terrible way to live.
-- Miriam, email
Dear Miriam: As painful as it might have been, thank goodness you finally saw the light. The best time to get started turning your financial life around is today.
One step at a time, one day at a time, you'll make it. And quite possibly much sooner than you could imagine.
This is what my organization, Debt-Proof Living, is all about: Helping people on their journey to financial freedom. Please join us at DebtProof Living.com.
Send question to mary@everyday cheapskate.com or Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723.