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“Extreme Cheapskates” Gives Being Thrifty a New Meaning

Because I spend too much money, I thought that checking out TLC’s latest show, Extreme Cheapskates, might enlighten me on ways I can save next time I’m at the grocery store or the mall. Of course, I forgot this was a TLC show, so instead of learning anything I actually ended up shocked and in awe of the intense measures some of these people take to save a buck or two. 

After the debate last night, I forgot to watch the premiere episode, and it’s not yet up on the TLC website. Instead, I watched a few of the clips they had available online, and I’m still trying to decide if I’ll actually watch a full episode. It might just be too much for me to handle.

Kate was the epitome of extreme cheapskateness (if that’s not a word, it is now!). She owned her condo free and clear, but filled it with furniture she found on the street or in trash cans, or items that were handed down to her. She refused to spend money on a mattress, and instead slept on yoga mats a friend had given her. None of this seemed that bad, and I thought it was great she didn’t have to worry about a mortgage. Then, she brought up her hygiene. She takes quick showers with free soap samples, but does her laundry at the same time by putting her clothes in the bottom of the tub and letting the soap that she rinses off of herself and water hit them. She then hangs the clothes up and lets them dry. All of this trouble only saves her about $6 month. She refuses to spend money on “things that get thrown away,” so she doesn’t use toilet paper, instead rinsing herself after she uses the bathroom, and re-uses towels from public bathrooms after she uses them to dry her hands. She also goes searching for food outside of grocery stores, and doesn’t have an issue feeding that to guests at a dinner party, even when it makes them sick.

Another clip online showed Greg, who wasn’t as rigid in his cheapness; he actually did spend some money, like on a low rider that he purchased after participating in a clinical study. He lives rent free, taking up a friend at Zumba on their offer of living there as long as he mowed the lawn. The home used to belong to the friend’s grandfather, who recently died. It was filled with knick knacks and stuff that must have been purchased in the 1970s, and looked nothing like the house of a twentysomething. I had to laugh at the interviews with his two roommates; one lamented that it was embarrassing to bring back dates to the place, while the other claimed it “smelled like old people.” I have no clue if they live rent free as well, because if so, shut up. You’re not paying anything!

While both were cheap, the differences between Kate and Greg were stark. I do not want to diagnose anything, but Kate seemed as though she might be dealing with a mental health issue. Between the two, Greg definitely did feel like a cheapskate; he didn’t want to spend money, but he was willing to do so for things that he wanted. Kate hasn’t purchased anything for herself in a long time; she figures the last time she bought underwear was in 1998, and her socks are see-through because they are so worn.

I probably will wind up watching next week’s episode, or at least trying to catch a re-run of the premiere. From what I gather, each episode focuses on just one person, so unless we get someone who knows how to extreme coupon and is an extreme cheapskate, I don’t think there are any lessons to be learned from this show, which doesn’t help me or my bank account.

Did you watch the show? What did you think? Do you have any awesome tips on saving money that don’t involve forgoing proper hygiene?

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

3 replies on ““Extreme Cheapskates” Gives Being Thrifty a New Meaning”

I put a tension shower curtain rod over my tub, but high enough not to hit my head. I can hang quite a bit of clothes to dry, while forgoing the dryer and avoiding pollen/rain, etc. Running the dryer costs quite a bit and heats up the whole upstairs, which in turn ups the AC bill.
Oh, and baking soda, bleach and vinegar can clean the whole house and are pennies to the dollar compared to specialized cleaners.

That’s interesting about the dryer. I was just telling a friend of mine that I put off turning the heat on for a month or so every winter by doing laundry whenever it starts to feel cold in the apartment – or cooking myself a nice dinner in the oven. Warms the place right up and I don’t have to turn on the heat. I like it really cold at night so I can burrow into my blankets so generally turn the heat off at night and during the day. I’d have my windows cracked open a couple inches year round if I could manage it. Small apartment with two indoor cats? Not the best smell in January.

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