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What’s The Most Cheapskate Thing You’ve Ever Done?

Have You Tried Being A Cheapskate?

A lot about life is figuring out where your personal boundaries lie. It is no different in the realm of personal finance. How far are you willing to go to save a buck?

Well, I asked the personal finance community about the ‘cheapest’ thing they have done. Cheap as in being a cheapskate, going beyond frugality and into the land where few people venture.

(This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission – at no additional cost to yourself – if you end up buying the product or service offered.)

What Are Some of the Cheapskate Things I’ve Done?

 

Now it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t share a few of my own cheapskate escapades.

Last year I moved into a new office. In one of the drawers was a Valentine’s day card from the wife of the person who used to work in that office. The card was really nice, it played music when you opened it. So when Valentine’s day came around this year, I glued construction paper on the inside and wrote my own message to my wife on it. She didn’t particularly mention anything about it, but…

The second thing is that I make my own lemonade whenever we go out. I order just tap water and a bowl of lemon wedges. Using the lemons and the sugar packets from the table I make my own. This is one I am not ashamed of.

Rockstar Finance forum member edgarpickle’s response reminded me that I once found a nearly identical version of my office chair on the neighborhood sidewalk. Mine didn’t actuate up and down and the one off the street had a mad gangster lean due to a cracked base. I cannibalized the seats and created one that worked decently enough. After that, I made sure to remove all the bolts and screws to add to my hardware for future uses.

Not cheapskate enough for you? Well, read some of these and see how I measure up.



General Cheapskate Life

 

MyDollarPlan – I called about a 50 cent fee on a bill. The call took over 20 minutes. I was so pleased when I hung up that I got my money back…. until I realized how much time I invested in it.

Well, that might be their game plan. A measly 50 cents over a few hundred thousand people can really add up. How many would take the time to question or complain about it? Not many would be my guess.

 

ReverseTheCrush The cheapest thing I could think of was when I first moved out on my own after school. I got my first job and place with 2 roommates. I had a mattress and planned to buy a frame for it, but I ended up leaving the mattress on the floor without a frame for about a year and a half. This was while I was earning 32,000 to 40,000 per year – I got a promotion while I was living there. But I still didn’t fork over the money to buy a frame. Eventually, after moving to my second place in the city, I bought a frame for my bed. Even though it was not a lot of money for a frame, I was able to save a lot of money during that year and a half.

Hey, Graham, how did the mattress on the floor work out with your dates? I guess it wasn’t an issue?

 

TheDollarBuild – Last summer, my girlfriend and I decided to take a vacation together for our one-year anniversary. We had gone on plenty of smaller excursions but this was going to be our first big trip together! So it was supposed to be special. We decided we’d fly to Boston to catch a Red Sox game and then take a bus to New York to explore Manhattan for a couple days.

Once we pinned down the dates, we started looking for flights. My girlfriend likes to plan things further in advance than anyone I’ve ever known, so she booked her tickets the instant we agreed on the destination and dates. I’m more of a let’s see if a better deal comes along kind of guy.

So that’s what I did. I ended up purchasing roundtrip tickets for $40 less than the price my girlfriend paid. Just one problem: we weren’t on the same return flight. Probably not the thing to do when you’re taking your first major trip as a couple. But I figured, “Hey, 40 bucks is a decent amount of money!”

Well, she wasn’t happy but we managed to get past it and enjoy the trip. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the best job managing our time on our last day and I ended up missing my flight. The rest of that day’s flights were full too, so I had to spend the night.

Because I couldn’t even get a boarding pass, I wasn’t able to clear security and find a lounge to where I could relax. I ended up sitting on the floor with my back up against the check-in counter waiting for the airport to re-open. Not a fun way to spend your vacation!

Although my cheapness isn’t what caused me to miss my flight, it was probably the appropriate punishment for picking a different flight than my girlfriend just to save some cash. Lesson learned – sometimes it’s okay to spend a little more for special occasions!

Hey, $40 bucks is $40 bucks, but I would spend that to travel with my girl, you cheapskate!

 

Defined Sight – Back at our former residence probably about 5 years ago, the lawn was in desperate need of aeration. Well, I didn’t feel like spending the money to rent a machine so I used a pitchfork that I had in the garage. I spent basically all afternoon (large yard) stabbing holes every foot or so across the whole lawn. Not only was it not effective but it was a huge waste of time!

This reminds me of my own lawn cheapness. About a decade ago I lived in a townhouse and it had a little patch of grass about 10’X10′ in the front. The HOA would send out nastygrams if the grass went too high. One day I got a letter, and telling me of the fine they would impose if I didn’t keep the grass below 2” high.

Well, I didn’t own a lawnmower or even a push mower so what did I do? Scissors. I used a pair of scissors to please the HOA overlords. I do NOT recommend doing this. It took what seemed like forever and the scissors wore into my hand something fierce. 

Real Estate Investing Platform

Mrs. Kiwi – On my first date with my now husband, I suggested we split a whole rack of ribs instead of each getting our own dinner. It came with garlic bread and two sides, one of the sides was spaghetti! Maybe that’s not recommended for the first date? Well, I guess I found my FIRE partner quickly.

What are you talking about, this sounds great and not cheap at all! Maybe that’s just me though.


College is Ground Zero for Cheapness

 

FTF and PoF have two similar stories to share. How many of us have slept in less than ideal places to save a buck? Let me know in a comment.

FullTimeFinance – I use to wrestle, including at the club level in college. The organization was low on money so one time during a meet at the University of Miami Ohio we crashed on the floor at a frat there, in the middle of their Friday night frat party. The next day was a bit rough.

Also slept a few times on the beach, probably illegally, in front of million dollar houses.

Finally, I can remember sleeping in my car at some car shows in college because I was too cheap to pay for a room. Just fold down the seat and sleep while everyone else goes to their hotel room.

 

PhysicianOnFire When I was a freshman in college, the NCAA Wrestling Championships were being held in Iowa City over my spring break. I happened to be a huge fan as a former wrestler, and I was also a huge cheapskate.

A friend from a couple years prior – we met at math camp (yes, math camp) – was a freshman at the University of Iowa. We exchanged e-mails and he left a key somewhere that we could find it. Colin, Tony, and I made the trip with our camp mats and sleeping bags, sleeping in his vacant dorm room so we could take in the NCAAs.

Friends of ours were living it up in South Padre Island and Cancun, but we snuck our way into Carver-Hawkeye to see Lincoln McIlravy be upset in his quest for a third national championship.

It would be seven years before my Golden Gophers would win the first of three national championships.

 

99to1percent.com Back in the days when I was in college, I had like $40/month food budget. So I had to be a little bit resourceful, I did surveys at the mall to get free snacks. I roamed around in Costco or the local farmer’s market to get as many food samples I can get (still do that now, can’t shake the habit). I also bought food at the Dollar store.

Currently, we don’t wanna get rid of our 13-year-old car, even though EVERY TIME we have to use it, we have to put air in the tires and boost the battery.

Jeez, how long between uses does it sit?

 

AnotherSecondOpinion In medical school, I bought a car in the summertime(hot/humid) which turned out to have a broken heater come winter (very cold/snowy). Rather than get it fixed, I would put on like 4 layers of clothes for the drive and try my best to park in a sunny spot.

My dad told me a story about a truck like this – in Maine with no heat. Just make sure you have gloves so you don’t freeze your fingers off holding onto the wheel.

@FinMillennials – The cheapest thing I’ve ever done is probably request 2 dollars on Venmo that someone owed me in college for a pack of gum. Not my brightest moment but hey I was really broke back then! I remember because I felt like a jerk.

Bitches better have FinMillennials money!

 

GRuga We had a front stoop on our college rental house. One day, much to the disappointment of our neighbors, we decided we needed a bench.

Being without dollars we kept our eyes open for something good. One day near a set of large dumpsters in restaurant row someone had left bench seating from the front of an old car. We carried it back and proudly displayed our new found bench.

A few weeks later a truck kept driving by our place (and our neighborhood that was a scary event). Eventually, he came up and asked about the bench. Apparently, it was a mint condition front bench from a Chevy Nova super Sport of a year of interest to this gentleman.

He offered us money on the spot for our fine bench. We gladly made the exchange and went out to dinner with the proceeds. Worry not! Although we no longer had the bench we still had the spare tire Christmas tree stand so we were not deprived.

Trash to cash, I like it!


Re-Gifting Like A Cheapskate

 

MarchTowards1Mil I re-gift like it’s my job. I’ll even give my younger kids one of their brother’s long lost toys he doesn’t even remember he had. I don’t re-gift with my wife, but everyone else is fair game. Re-gifting is great because it saves money and recycles in a sense.

Fair enough. 

 

@TheSlowDad – Many years ago my brother gave me a really bad paperback book for my birthday. I couldn’t finish it, it was that bad. So for his birthday I wrapped it up and gave it back to him. He returned the favor that Christmas. This has been going on, backward and forwards, for nearly 20 years now. I found out recently that he didn’t even buy the book to begin with, he found it left behind on the bus.

This sounds like a nice tradition! I will have to think about sending my brother a suitable paperback this year…

 

Penny_deSaver I have a bin where I store items to re-gift. Not all were gifts to begin with – some were just free with purchase or really good deals I couldn’t pass up as gifts for other people. But the ones that did come to me as gifts all have post-it notes on them with the gifter’s name. I started this after I re-gifted something that was re-gifted again, within our same circle. So now I try to make sure it goes to someone who has no connection to the original gifter.

Same here Sister, same here. We have plenty of items to choose from when a gift is needed. The Wife and I went to a wedding and had to decide what to give them. I picked a wireless Bluetooth speaker while she picked a SodaStream. We ended up going with the SodaStream as it was her friend getting married. Both items were purchased off the clearance shelf at like 50-75% off.


Old clothes on the street

Being Cheap With Clothes

 

MarriedWithMoney – Recently I had to be bribed with wedding money to replace my shoes that were literally falling apart, holes in the bottom, etc. My wife was bothering me about it for weeks, and I kept saying no because I didn’t want to spend the money. Pretty much every day I’d have to tell her no. After I had a meeting with the CFO of the company and the CFO noticed, my wife gave me an ultimatum. I just didn’t want to spend the money so she said we could use the cash we got from the wedding (which she was planning on using for something else). I begrudgingly accepted.

A cobbler can work magic with an old pair of quality shoes. 

 

ApathyEnds – One morning I was in a rush for work and threw on a pair of jeans and was out the door. About 3 hours later I was sitting in a meeting and looked down and realized there was a dime-sized hole in a risky local.

Hey now, my eyes are up here!

 

WorkingOptional My dad used to wear undershirts with holes all the time, and I’d hate it when he did that. Now my wife hates it when I do that.

I, too, have ugly/stained/slightly holed shirts to wear around the house and do chores in. If they get too bad they end up on the rag pile!

 

OthalaFehu My wife still brings it up. I used clothing, still on the hanger, the put over the blinds to keep out the winter air. So we were in a dark apartment with random clothing hung over the blinds. Probably didn’t help insulate at all and my wife demanded I cease and desist.

Try plastic wrap. That’s what my Dad did in the winter. Probably helped as we lived in an old house with ancient windows.


The Top Three Cheapest Responses (as chosen by me)

 

TheFrugalGene – I walked for over 1 hour today to go home because my bus transfer ran out and I didn’t want to pay $2 when I was only…5.8 miles from home.

Hey, being a cheapskate is a nice way to keep fit.

 

Mrs. FAF -At one point, we needed to save a lot of money to prepare for baby FAF’s birth. Mr. FAF and I weren’t living in the same city at the time. In order to save on rent and utilities (about $350-$450/month in total if he could find a place), Mr. FAF decided to (secretly) live in his office for a month.

Click the link to see how Mr. FAF hid his office occupation from his co-workers.

 

AtypicalLife When I rode my bike across the US, I stealth camped in many parks and various other areas. The sketchiest and most money saved was in San Francisco sleeping in Golden Gate State Park with the hobos and raccoons. I remember the coons climbing over my sleeping bag during the night. Creepy to say the least, but at least it was free. 2.5 months for <$1000 is a pretty good deal for a trip including airfare.

Mr. Atypical Life – You win the cheapskate trophy with this one! Display it with pride! 🙂

Cheapskate Trophy Winner

Atypical Life Wins!


Conclusion

 

An idea of how some of the personal finance community goes past frugality and touches the edge (or jumps right in) to cheapness. Often it is the financial aspect of not spending on new or purpose made items or services and, instead, making due with what we have in our possession. This has the side bonus of helping the environment as we reduce and reuse. It also helps our personal bottom line.

I think Emily (who puts poop, child or animal, in bread and newspaper bags) from MarriedAndHarried.com said it best:

The real thing that this helps with is the mindset. No one ever got rich picking up dog poop with bread bags instead of dog-poop bags from the store – but you’re crazy if you buy dog-poop bags from the store… We have learned to be more frugal, we have learned to reuse and re-purpose so that we are not being wasteful with our resources. That is half the battle when trying to be frugal is training yourself to be willing to re-purpose and reuse. To be willing to make do with what you have instead of going out and spending money on convenience.

 


Whose tale did you like the most? Oh and if you missed out on being included, leave your cheapskate story below in a comment and let’s talk about it!


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20 comments

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  1. Lily @ The Frugal Gene

    Holy crap, we’re all freaking hilarious. Mr Apathy’s hahaha. Eyes where I can see them Mister hahaha. And Mr. Othala Fehu’s isn’t that off from my dad’s current technique of hanging up clothes on the windows (so the neighbors can all see our underwear) because he doesn’t want to turn on the dryer.

    I just thought of another one for myself after Ms FAF brought it up…I make my husband shower at work to save water hahaha….😆
    Lily @ The Frugal Gene recently posted…Will You Survive The Great Depression 2.0?My Profile

    1. MrDD

      I follow the motto – “Lower the water bill, poop at work!”

      I think my wife appreciates it at least, but not for the money savings. ;p

  2. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance

    This post is super fun and awesome! Thanks for putting it together and including me in the top 3 list. Congrats to Mr. Atypical Life for the epic experience and to Lily for tirelessly trying to save money (I can relate ^.^)!

    1. MrDD

      Thanks for the kind words and the contribution, Mrs. FAF! Your husband definitely earned his spot in the top three with that story! 😀

  3. Cato

    Quite an entertaining read. Plus some a helpful tips for anyone looking to take their cheapskate game to the next level 😉 I’m loving how organized Penny deSaver is with re-gifting. It must be quite an operation if it requires Post-It notes to keep everything straight!
    Cato recently posted…How to Start Living Your Dream LifestyleMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Up to your cheapskate game try my lemonade idea next time you are eating at a restaurant – it’s amazing!

  4. Graham @ Reverse the Crush

    Thanks for sharing this post and for including me, Mr Doubling Dollars! It’s awesome the you reused a valentines day card haha.

    In regards to my dating situation, I had a long term gf who was understanding so I didn’t have to try hard to impress anyone. Fortunately, my mattress on the floor situation didn’t have a negative impact on my dating life. Though, I don’t think it would go over so well now that I’m a little older haha.

    There are a ton of great stories here! I personally enjoyed Mrs. FAF’s story about Mr. FaF (secretly) sleeping in the office, and congrats to Mr. Atypical Life on receiving the cheapskate trophy!

    Thanks again for putting this post together! 🙂
    Graham @ Reverse the Crush recently posted…View Yourself as a Business to Save MoneyMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Hey Graham, glad to hear your cheapness didn’t affect your relationship. 😀

      I enjoyed putting this together, thanks for the submission.

  5. Mr Defined Sight

    I feel better about myself after reading some of these lol. I even told my wife, “see I’m not so bad!” Mr Atypical Life- Wow! You absolutely deserve the trophy!

    Graham’s story reminds me of myself. When I landed my first job out of college, I moved to a city and roomed with a friend of mine who already had a place. I slept on a sleeping bag on a bedroom floor for 6 months. The funny part is I got quite used to it and didn’t mind it at all. The things we do to save some cash.
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Find Your Balance In LifeMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Sometimes I sleep on the floor next to my daughter’s crib. I’ve actually come to find it quite nice too!

  6. Ms99to1percent

    Hi Justin, that used Valentines card story is hilarious 😂 😂😂😂. Your wife is a trouper 🤗.

    Thanks for featuring my story too. Hubby actually just found a cheap solution to our car tires problem. He used Slime Tire Sealant and we haven’t had a problem for a week now. Beats having to buy new rims & tires.

    1. MrDD

      Haha, when I was all done with the card I had a little voice question it in my head. Decided to just go with it in the end.

      Be sure to tell the car mechanic when you replace the tire in the future so they know it’s full of slime!

  7. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Ohhhh I looooove these. 🙂 It makes me feel a bit better about my own cheapskate tendencies!
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…My Favorite Money Bloggers, Part 4My Profile

    1. MrDD

      Hah! Enjoy the warm-fuzzy Mrs PickyP. 😛

  8. Darren @ Learn to Be Great

    Some of these folks took my Frugal Assessment and did well (2.0 to 3.0) which means that they’re frugal yet not cheap. Apparently, I asked the wrong questions on the cheap scale. They should be closer to “miser” levels. I’m gonna have to write a Frugal Assessment 2.0…

    I loved reading some of the stingiest funniest comments I’ve ever seen in one blog post.

    1. MrDD

      Just found your Frugal Assesment and scored a 3.4!

  9. Josh

    I enjoyed reading the ones from college. While I appreciate my college years, I’m glad to be where I am now. Of course, there are a lot of things I was more open-minded to doing as a 20-year-old than as a current person in their early 30s.
    Josh recently posted…Bad Credit? Essential Ways on How to Repair, Rebuild, and Improve Your CreditMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      It certainly appears that the college years are the hot zone of cheapskatedom. Good thing too, we are supposed to learn during this time and by doing these things we learn where our limits are. 😀

  10. Dividend Diplomats

    I’m still laughing here as I read through those. I love that everyone has their own version of a cheapness story. I’m sure I have plenty that I’ll have tho think about now. I may just have to ask my wife…I’m sure she can probably list off 100 of them haha

    Bert

    1. MrDD

      C’mon Bert! Ask the wife and share a story with us all. 😀

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