Saving money and being frugal are admirable qualities, but there comes a point where frugality can cross the line into cheapness. Being a cheapskate can harm your relationships, reputation, and even your own well-being. When does frugality cross the line?
Cross the Line
Frugal living is excellent, but when does frugal cross the line to cheapskate?
Here are ten examples of when being frugal goes too far and crosses over to cheapskate territory.
After polling the internet, here are the top-voted responses.
Avoiding the Bill
“When you avoid your share of the Bill,” replied one. “When you inconvenience others to save money or go to moderate lengths to justify either one of these behaviors. Frugal folks make PERSONAL consumer decisions that have Long term money-saving benefits. Cheapskates pass their bills on to others.”
Using a Friend’s Costco Membership
“My wife refused to buy a Costco membership for years while forbidding me from buying things like bread and milk from anywhere but Costco. She insisted I ask a friend with a membership whenever we needed minor things,” replied one.
“Finally, her mom started gifting her a membership every year for Christmas so she’d stop demanding she take her to Costco twice a week.” Another shared, “My mother-in-law won’t shop at Costco because she thinks it’s outrageous that they charge a fee.”
“But if they have something on sale that she wants, she will stand outside of Costco asking people if she can go in with them and give them cash so they can check out with it. She has done this a handful of times and thinks she’s clever, bragging about it constantly. No shame.”
When Your Frugality Negatively Affects Others
“When your attempts to be frugal end up negatively affecting others,” answered one. “I have many frugal friends, but one friend I see as cheap.
Here’s the difference: if I suggest to one of my frugal friends that we go to a bar and they don’t feel like spending money, they’ll offer another activity instead. “Why don’t we drink at my house/hang out and watch a movie/go for a walk?”
“If I suggested the same thing to my cheap friend, his response would always be “I’ll go if you buy my drinks.” Frugal people don’t save money by burdening the people around them with their expenses. Cheap people have no problem doing that.”
If Your Frugality Habits Are Embarrassing
“If your frugal actions are making the people in your life embarrassed or uncomfortable, you’ve gone too far,” one suggested. “My stepdad is a cheapskate. Here are some embarrassing examples: asking patrons at a restaurant if they’re finished with their food mid-meal so he can take home their leftovers.”
“Also, he reuses paper towels by hanging them out to dry in my mom’s front yard, uses wash clothes as toilet paper and only flushes for number two, and -tries to sneak home food from buffets after paying for his meal with a coupon.”
When Frugality Becomes Theft
Someone shared, “I knew a guy once who’d buy a package of lightbulbs or batteries, take the fresh ones out, replace them with the dead ones, then return them to the store claiming they didn’t work and get his money back. That guy hadn’t legitimately bought lightbulbs or batteries in years.”
Bringing Enough Only for Yourself
Another asked, “So you know how when you have a get-together where people will be drinking, most people bring a few drinks to share, right? Or contribute in one way or another? So get some beers, a bottle of booze, or mixers, whatever?”
“I buy a massive bottle of vodka, my friend brings ice, and we ask our notoriously cheap friend to get some orange juice so we can all enjoy some screwdrivers. Upon arrival, this jerk pulled out an 8 oz recycled Poland Spring plastic bottle that he filled halfway with orange juice. He is the wealthiest friend among us by FAR. Yeah, cheapskate.”
Cutting Paper Towels Into Napkins
“My grandpa will buy a roll of paper towels (like the cheapest single roll you can get) and then have my grandma rip off each sheet and cut that into fourths for napkins.”
“Napkins that are already napkins cost five cents more than a roll of paper towels. It takes her about two hours because she’s developing arthritis. Nobody else sees why this is stupid,” another stated.
When Time’s More Important Than Money
Someone added, “When the time you waste or the quality of life you lose is worth more than you save in money.” Another suggested, “It’s unfortunate talking to couponing people. They can’t fathom the months or years of their life they’re swapping to buy the brand they don’t want.”
“In quantity, they didn’t need and will never use. At the store, they wouldn’t usually shop, and they do it over and over and over and over. They have so many insane rationalizations for it.”
“I knew a guy that, while ordering in line at Chipotle, would ask for extra chicken but just enough where it’s not considered a serving of double chicken. Come on, man,” replied one. Another added, “‘Yeah, can I just have more food for no extra cost, please?”
A third user stated, “When a customer orders a single espresso in a large cup and then uses an entire milk carafe at the condiment bar. Bonus points if they bring that beverage back to the register and want it microwaved.”
Finally, a fourth shared, “One of our customers wanted a medium iced latte but didn’t like the cost. Unfortunately, we didn’t have small iced drinks. So he would order a small latte and a medium cup of ice.”
“He would then pour the small piping hot latte into the ice proudly to prove to us he could save money and still get his medium iced latte. So we started charging this guy extra for a cup of ice.”
One Ply Toilet Paper
While many people argued for their Scott-1000 1-ply toilet paper because it doesn’t clog pipes, the majority agreed that 1-ply is a cheapskate. Someone said, “Yeah, no thanks. I’ll use sandpaper instead.”
Finally, another shared, “Even at my poorest, I always ensured I had decent TP. The simple things, like not ripping your bum open, make life bearable.”
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.