Actor Terry Crews is one of the funniest guys around. He’s hilarious as the Old Spice man, stole the show as a boot camp instructor in Bridesmaids and makes audiences laugh every week on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But huge fans of Terry's (like me) remember him in one of his earliest roles -- the movie-father of the-then young Chris Rock on the show Everybody Hates Chris.
On that show Crews played Julius, a struggling dad tasked with the difficult task of raising a family in 1970s Bedford-Stuyvesant on the salary of a delivery man -- among his various occupations. Julius ruled his family with a steady hand and a level head. He was a good dad: reliable, caring and responsible.
And one thing was for sure: The guy knew how to save a buck. To many, "Julius" was the ultimate cheapskate.
So much so that a young man struggling with his own finances in California recently turned to Julius' long-retired character for inspiration. As reported earlier this month in BuzzFeed, Daniel, a student and stand-up comic, said he had been relying on Julius/Crews to help him curve his spendthrift ways. How? By carrying around a picture of the cheapskate dad in his wallet.
“I was thinking, ‘What I should put there?’” Daniel told Buzzfeed. “And I thought I should start saving money since I don’t have a job, and who’s a better financial advisor than Terry Crews?” Many other people seemed to like the idea. His tweet has been re-tweeted more than 200,000 times. And why not? Getting penny-pinching advice from the king of penny pinchers seems like a good idea for everyone.
“Unplug that clock, boy,” Julius famously told Chris on one episode. “You can't tell time while you sleep! It's two cents an hour!”
Yup, that was Julius the ultimate cheapskate. He hated waste ("That's 49 cents of milk spilt over the table! Somebody's gonna drink that!"). He strived for efficiency ("We get one combo meal. Drew gets the burger, Tonya gets the fries. Chris, you can have the drink."). And he always had perspective (“Twenty dollars to get into a club? We can dance at home for free!”).
What's more, he was a hawk with his finances (“Who left my nickel layin' out here on the sidewalk?”).
He earned his money and never asked for a handout. In fact, he resented when people asked him for money -- particularly his kids. “An allowance?” he said when Chris asked for one. “I allow you to sleep here at night. I allow you to eat them potatoes. I allow you to use my lights. I allow you to drink my Kool-Aid. I allow you to nibble on them green beans. I allow you to look at that TV. I allow you to run up my gas bill. I allow you to walk up my stairs. I allow you to ask me these ridiculous-ass questions. Why should I give you an allowance when I already paid for everything you do?”
Years later, finally, Julius is getting the accolades he justly deserves. He’s inspiring hundreds of thousands to save money. Maybe small business owners should consider hanging a picture of the man on a wall, too. “A picture of a chronic cheapskate hanging on my wall?” You say. “I don’t run my business like a cheapskate.”
Well, let’s be fair: Julius wasn’t really a cheapskate. He was just very . . . frugal. And there’s a difference. A cheapskate buys the least expensive thing just to save money. A frugal person expects to get the most value from the money he spends.
Smart business owners know this. They know that buying something -- equipment, furniture, materials, insurance -- isn’t about getting the lowest price today. It’s about getting the best price over a long period of time. Cheap isn’t always the best option. Return on investment is.
And that’s something every business owner should remember, particularly when it comes to keeping costs under control. In these times of slow revenues and rising expenses, hanging a picture of Crews on your wall might be the inspiration you need. Would Terry Crews agree? Most certainly so. In fact, he says he keeps his own picture of Julius in his wallet just to remind himself when he’s about to spend too much money!