Extreme Cheapskates: How Cheap Is Too Cheap?


How far would you go to add to your savings? Via Shutterstock.

How far would you go to add to your savings? Via Shutterstock.

The TLC reality show Extreme Cheapskates gives you an inside look at the most outrageously frugal people around. Recently, my twin sister told me I was a money hoarder, but my saving habits would be laughable to these extreme cheapskates. Many extreme cheapskates embarrass family members with their crazy saving techniques. They do everything from eating out of the trash to reusing tissues!

Here are 10 crazy ways Extreme Cheapskates save money.

1. Eating Roadkill – A mother and daughter drove around their town looking for roadkill. For the price of the gas, they might have been able to make a nice meal instead. Is this really frugal? Would hunting, in the long run, be a cheaper more sanitary option?

2. Buying Expired Groceries – A woman bought expired groceries at a thrift store and then served it to her children and their friends. She bought cheese that had expired two years prior!

3. Dumpster Diving – Many of the episodes show the extreme cheapskates dumpster diving, looking for food. At times, they have even served the food they’ve recovered to guests without disclosing where the food came from.

4. Cooking Lasagna in the Dishwasher  – In Cheapskate Stephanie’s episode, she cooks lasagna by putting it in the dishwasher with her dirty dishes. The lasagna is cooked, and the dishes are clean, but guests complained about the “watery” lasagna. How much money did this really save?

5. Rationing Children’s Food – A mother rationed the food she gave to her young children. She went as far as counting cheerios and waffle segments.

6. Reusing Odd Items – On the show, people have reused everything from leftover food to paper towels, tissues, and dental floss. According to extreme cheapskates, nothing should be used once.

7. Asked Strangers at a Restaurant for Their Leftovers – A man took his wife to dinner and asked other diners if he could have their leftovers instead of buying his own meal!

 8. Foraged For Salad Greens at a Local Park – Wouldn’t a personal garden be a better idea?

9. Donated shirt to Goodwill to Save on Dry Cleaning – A man donated his favorite shirt to Goodwill so they would dry clean it and bought it back for $1.

10. Free Samples and Free Condiments – The cheapskates take advantage of any free items they can get their hands on. This includes free samples and fast food condiments. Instead of buying condiments, they refill old containers by taking hundreds of the free condiment packets at fast food chains.

What I found most unfathomable about the show, was surprisingly, not the saving techniques.  I was more shocked that many of the extreme cheapskates had no reason to be so frugal. In fact, many of the cheapskates are very well-off. Some were even millionaires! Does it make sense to continue being so frugal when you have no need to be?

As a writer for BargainBabe.com, I appreciate the importance of being frugal, but I won’t be becoming an extreme cheapskate anytime soon. In my opinion, living this way would greatly reduce my quality of life and would not be worth the savings. What do you think?

What’s your most extreme saving technique?


6 Responses

  1. Linda Gertig

    February 22, 2014 10:04 am

    I don’t think it ever makes sense to be cheap just for the sake of being cheap. On the other hand being thrifty, that is making the best use of what you have allows you to share more when you have more than you need. It always makes sense to use your personal resources of time and treasure to do what you consider most important.

    • Bargain Babe

      February 24, 2014 2:01 pm

      @Linda Gertig Well said! I agree that if you can spend a little of your own time doing something instead of spending your hard-earned money, go for it! Of course, there are always exceptions. I hate that people think all of the time they spend away from their paid job should be leisure. Why not take enjoyment and satisfaction in making things and saving money?

  2. Christina Ellis

    February 22, 2014 10:34 am

    My most extreme saving technique is getting my crafting supplies off Freecycle.org. I will only pick up from someone if I am already going in that direction for some other reason. Then I get creative about how to use the craft supplies so that I don’t have to buy any additional supplies. If I do need an additional supply, I use both coupons and a gift card at the local craft store or wait until it goes on sale.

    I watched all the episodes of Extreme Cheapskates that were available on Hulu. One thing that I noticed that quite a few of the Extreme Cheapskates had in common had to do with bathroom habits. Many of them tried to save money in their restroom. I don’t ever see myself going to the extremes to save in the bathroom. I agree that doing some of the things those on the show did to save in the bathroom (peeing in a jar, cleaning with soap instead of toilet paper, etc.) would reduce my quality of life and not be worth the savings.

    • Bargain Babe

      February 24, 2014 2:02 pm

      @Christina Ellis We have to keep in mind that these cheapskate shows are made to be entertaining. There is definitely a shock factor involved in how these people save money. My question is, do they really do this all the time? Or just for the cameras?

  3. di

    February 27, 2014 7:55 am

    I remember the one episode-the female dumpster dives for food and then serves it to her guests. Uggh. They could have gotten sick, or a disease from that! If you want to dumpster dive for yourself, that’s one thing, but to serve it up to others?? Please let them have the option of knowing, they may pass on that idea.
    Being cheap, frugal, cheapskate is okay, if that’s how you want to be, everyone has their own preferences.

    • Dacia Daly

      March 5, 2014 1:11 pm

      Hi Di! I remember that episode too. I thought it was crazy how the woman didn’t disclose where the food came from. If I were those friends, I would’ve wanted to be informed beforehand that the food was from the trash. I would never be comfortable withholding such information when serving guests dinner. I agree that we all should be able to live our lives as frugally or as comfortably as we prefer, but that we should never deceive others.


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