Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Last night, I was flipping channels and stopped on TLC's Extreme Cheapskates. I have seen the show before and have heard lots of people who are shocked by people featured. I have seen some things on there that disgust me but, honestly, there are a lot of things I currently do or would consider doing. I was contemplating this as I watched last night. Additionally, I couldn't help but think that we really are a wasteful society. And it is fine if you want to be wasteful and can afford it, but most of us can't afford it. According to CNN Money, the average family has nearly $16,000 in credit card debt. Yikes! Think about it, this is consumer debt with nothing to show for it. Now THAT seems crazy to me - living or going further into debt while living wastefully. I will be the first to admit that I, too, am guilty of not being as resourceful as I probably should. But I recognize that and am always striving to find new ways to save where I can. Even if you aren't in debt, could you not put more money into savings or retirement or give a bit more to your church or favorite charity? We can all strive to save more, right?

Here are some perfectly sane (in my opinion) ways to save money that have been featured on the show:
  • Buy food from discount grocery outlets. This includes scratch and dent items and items which are just outside of sell-by dates. I have done this. If I had a large family to feed, I would likely do this more often.
  • Sell your car and ride a bike. Exercise, frugality and saving the earth? Many urban dwellers discovered the benefits of bikes long ago. 
  • Make household products or cleaners. This includes cleaning your home with staples like vinegar and baking soda or making homemade toiletries. I clean most of my house with vinegar and baking soda, so I obviously see nothing wrong with this one.
  • Recycle cooking water or bath water for watering plants. I don't see how anyone saves a lot of money doing this, but it is efficient, I suppose.
  • Eat alternative cuts of meat. I probably won't be buying goat heads or eating cow brain but I don't see it as flame worthy, either. Kudos to these people for eating parts that often go to waste in our country. They are often very nutritious but the stigma of eating them prevents most Americans from ever trying them.
  • Scavenging for wild food. If one is savvy (I'm not), then they can pick edible grasses and berries from the wild and eat them.
  • Upcycling items. Basically, finding other uses for items that would traditionally be seen as trash. There are a lot of items that can be reused. You generate less trash and don't have to buy additional items for household needs. It can be a win-win! Just a note, here, though - there was one individual featured who was making gifts out of upcycled items. Sorry, but I view this as tacky. Be frugal on your own but don't give your trash as "gifts" unless e recipient is a fellow cheapskate or has requested a specific item.
  • Washing and reusing Ziplocs. I frequently do this, especially if the bag has just held bread or a similarly non-threatening food. I will not reuse bags that have held raw meat or pungent items like onions, though. But bags can get expensive and they'd go right into the trash, so it is basically throwing money away each time I use one, so why not reuse thr ones I can?
There have been some other practices featured that are a bit further than I think I would ever go, though. Among those are the following cheapskate practices:
  • Dumpster diving for food. Yuck. Sorry, but just yuck.
  • Washing clothes in the shower while you shower. No...
  • Not flushing the toilet. Honestly, how much are you really saving with this?
  • "Family cloth" aka cloth toilet paper. Um, I'm all for reusables but I can't imagine giving up toilet paper.
  • Asking strangers for their leftovers. I'm sure they are probably fine but this one is way too much for me.
All in all, though, I have to laugh a bit. What do people think their ancestors did or used? Even the things that I'm not willing to do (like family cloth) were likely normal practices in our country as recently as 100 years ago.  And I obviously still drive a car and don't do many of the things that I find acceptable. But I guess I'm not seeing where the controversy is with many of them either. To me, some of them seem worthy of consideration if times get tough. But maybe I'm an extreme cheapskate too.