Being frugal is a great way to save money and achieve your financial goals. Some would say it’s impossible to achieve financial independence without frugality. However, people can sometimes take it too far into unhealthy behavior.
Here are 15 times someone mistook cheapskate behavior for frugality and others paid.
Not Splitting a Bill
Going out to eat is a fun way to spend time with friends. Then comes the bill. The frugal thing to do is to split it. One person says, “When you avoid your share of the Bill. When you inconvenience others to save money. When you go to even 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 bill on to others.”
It’s hard to argue with that logic.
Returning Purchases With Old Replacement Products
Purchasing an item at a discount is a great way to save money. Then there’s illicitly taking advantage of a retailer.
“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,” says one Redditor.
The word you’re looking for is theft, not frugal.
Not Paying For Trash Service
Paying for trash service is a necessary evil for most people. It’s not expensive, but it must be paid. “I have a relative who is too cheap to pay for trash service or to buy a dryer so she takes all of her trash and wet clothes over to her father’s house. This is a woman with a family and a house, not a starving student or something,” says one person.
That crosses the line of a typically small bill and into being miserly.
Washing Your Clothes in the Shower
Laundry is another seemingly inexpensive monthly responsibility. Some people take it too far and try to squeeze out more savings.
“For example washing all of your clothes at once, maybe once or twice a week and using a dollar store detergent is frugal. Wearing your clothes into the shower to wash them and you at the same time is cheapskate.”
Just imagine the mess of dealing with wet clothes in the shower. Saving time and money is fantastic, being a cheapskate isn’t worth being foolish.
Refusing to Buy a Costco Membership
Costco is a great store to shop at to buy items in bulk. However, a membership is required to shop at the store. You can shop with a gift card, but not everyone knows that.
One commenter explains how his spouse didn’t even want to go that route to get products they need, saying “My wife refused for years to buy a Costco membership, while simultaneously forbidding me from buying things like bread and milk from anywhere but Costco. She’d insist that I ask a friend with a membership every time we needed the smallest things. Her mom started gifting her a membership every year for Christmas so she’d stop demanding her to take her to Costco twice a week.”
Sounds like it was a good thing Mom stepped in.
Abusing the Starbucks Milk
Starbucks can add up, and a frugal coffee-lover loves to find ways to reduce the cost. That’s terrific, but it is possible to go overboard.
“When a customer orders a single espresso in a large cup & then uses an entire carafe of milk at the condiment bar. Bonus points if they bring that beverage back to the register & want it ‘microwaved,'” notes one Redditor.
If you can’t afford the Starbucks, perhaps it’s best to wait until you can to avoid taking something from other customers.
Not Leaving a Tip
Most know it’s courtesy to leave a tip for service at a restaurant. Sure, some rare occasions may warrant for a lower tip. Not leaving one, may be a different story.
Not so for some cheapskates, says one person, “Eating out at a restaurant, but leaving $0 tip because ‘sorry I can’t afford to tip.'”
If you can’t afford to tip, perhaps it’s best to avoid going out altogether.
Not Taking Showers at Home
Yes, there’s a cost to using hot water. A frugal person seeks to limit usage. A cheapskate takes it another direction.
One person says “I know a wealthy lawyer who refuses to take showers at home because he doesn’t want to use hot water – he goes to his local YMCA instead.”
It’s possible the lawyer didn’t learn in law school that time is money.
Taking Someone Else’s Lunch
It’s one thing to forget taking your lunch to work. Purposely forgetting it to take co-worker’s lunches is different.
“A guy I work with only brings in lettuce on his lunch break and then eats peoples leftovers,” says one Redditor.
That takes cheapskate to a new level.
Arguing Over a Restaurant Bill
We’ve all been there. You go out with a group of friends for lunch. Everyone’s meal was in the same price range and you split everything equally. That’s relatively frugal.
Arguing about it to save a buck is something else. “It’s time to pay and the restaurant can’t split the bill. If everyone’s meal ranges no more than $2-$3 then it should be no big deal for everyone to throw in an even amount. Had a person turn what could have been an even split into a half hour adventure so that the pay was ‘fair,'” says one person.
Just imagine what everyone could have done with their extra time versus arguing over several dollars.
Asking For Change From the Collection Plate
Giving to your ability is the thing to do. However, some like to take it a step backwards.
“When the collection plate is passed at church, and a wealthy parishioner puts in a $5 bill and asks the usher for 4 dollar bills back ‘for change,'” notes one person.
Do you really want to be that guy? Cheapskate is putting it kindly.
Taking Items From the Restaurant
Taking an extra napkin or two from your local fast-food joint is understandable. Viewing them as your personal grocery store is something else.
“Grabbing five dozen ketchup packets from the condiments counter at a restaurant, and taking them home so that you won’t have to buy a bottle of ketchup for a few weeks,” adds one Redditor.
If you can’t afford ketchup, maybe it’s time to be a little more frugal so you can afford it at the store.
Getting a Refund For a Plastic Bag
Having to pay extra for a plastic bag at the store does take some getting used to. However, the cost is typically meaningless at best.
“This was when our city was transitioning out of plastic bags and so getting a plastic bag was $0.05. She bought something and asked for a plastic bag with it. Upon checking the receipt, she noticed the $0.05 charge. This was outrageous! So she lined up at customer service for 20 minutes to ‘refund’ the plastic bag,” says one person noting an exchange she witnessed.
That extra nickel was just a bridge too far I suppose.
Using Clothes For Toilet Paper
Using a coupon app to save money on toilet paper and other paper products is something many frugal people will do.
Not so a cheapskate. They will go another route. “I used to be in a frugal living group on facebook, there was a lady who was super proud of the fact she did not buy toilet paper or paper towels, she just used/reused wash clothes when she went to the bathroom. I like to save money but toilet paper is a must for me,” says one Redditor.
Sure, the washing machine will get it out, but should it have to?
Skimping on Coffee
Coffee is getting expensive. There’s no denying that. But if you’re going to commit to going to a cafe and making a purchase, commit. One person said, “When a customer orders a single espresso in a large cup and then uses an entire carafe of milk at the condiment bar. Bonus points if they bring that beverage back to the register and want it ‘microwaved.'”
If you want a latte, just order a latte.
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This thread inspired this post.