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Lessons We Can Take from TLC’s show Extreme Cheapskates

Have you seen TLC’s new show Extreme Cheapskates? I was excited to catch the show thinking it would be right up my alley. I love shows about frugality, and cheap living. Instead I was disgusted and even turned my head away from the screen several times so I wouldn’t have to see things. In short, Extreme Cheapskates is extremely disturbing.


The show profiles people who take saving money to the extreme. Among those the show follows is Kate Hashimoto. Despite living in the most expensive city in the U.S., New York City, Kate manages to save half her salary, an admirable feat. What makes her stand out is the lengths in which she’ll go in order to save money.

Last week’s episode showcased Kate dumpster diving for food. She treks from her apartment in Harlem to the Upper West Side a few times a week to forage through dumpsters and the trash of expensive grocery stores. “Consumers in wealthy areas expect their products to be perfect,” she explained, “so upscale stores throw out a lot of items that are still good.”  She has no qualms about eating food that has passed its expiration date.  She also doesn’t see anything wrong with serving it to her guests. Kate had her colleague and his girlfriend over for dinner on the episode and after they had taken a few bites proudly proclaimed that the food they were eating was gotten out of the trash behind an upscale eatery. As you can imagine her dinner guests were horrified and quickly left.

Kate also doesn’t believe in wasting money on disposable items. “I don’t believe in spending money on something you’re just going to throw away such as toilet paper or paper towels,” Kate proclaims. Every time she uses a public restroom she puts her used paper towels in her purse to bring home, dry and reuse. And instead of buying toilet paper she uses water to clean herself off after going to the bathroom. Kate goes so far as to sit on the toilet and demonstrate her self-cleaning skills. Yes, this is one of those times that I had to look away from the TV. I just couldn’t watch it.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, last week’s episode also showcased Ohio millionaire Victoria Hunt. Victoria is so cheap she pees in a bottle instead of the toilet so she can shave a few dollars off her water bill each month. “I am also an avid gardener and I read that urine is a component [for compost],” says Hunt.  She even asks her boyfriend, who moved into Victoria’s house in the episode, to pee in a jar instead of the toilet.

Hunt’s cheapness doesn’t stop there though. She routinely dumpster dives for food and forages through the woods for wild edibles. Last week’s episode shows her walking through the forest and gathering flowers, weeds and such for a salad she was preparing to serve to her son and daughter-in-law who were coming over for dinner that night. As you can expect her dinner guests were less than enthused to learn they were eating leaves that had been plucked along the hiking trail Victoria walked earlier that afternoon.

Victoria also sets her freezer on a timer so it only runs 12 hours a day. She claims her food stays frozen and she doesn’t get sick from food contamination or spoilage. She also saves money by showering at her gym instead of her home, and unplugging everything in her home when not in use including her appliances.  Though most of her money saving ways are too extreme for me they did allow Victoria to retire before she turned 50 from an accounting job.  I at least was able to get through her who segment without turning my head away in total disgust.

While this show does showcase the extreme measures these people go to in order to save money, there are some less extreme lessons we can take from it. Now I’m not going to recommend that you dumpster dive to save money on your grocery bill or pee into a jar to conserve water. Or wash your clothes while you shower (another crazy thing Kate does to save money).

The good thing that this show does is make me more conscious of all the ways I spend money and that there is always a cheaper method out there. Victoria keeps a spreadsheet of all her expenses. She can tell you down to the last penny how she has spent her money over the past couple of decades. Tracking expenses is the first step to understanding how you are managing your money. If you don’t know where your money is going, you won’t know what habits you can change in order to save money.

To lower your expenses try some of the less extreme measures the people on the show do. Unplug appliances and gadgets while you are not using them. This will shave off a few bucks from your monthly electrical bill. Put a brick in your toilet so you use less water each time you flush. Take home the condiments you don’t use at restaurants. This should save you a few bucks on your grocery bill. And don’t be afraid to ask a vendor if that is the best price they can give you. You will be surprised at just how many businesses will take a few dollars off your bill if you ask them too. You have nothing to lose, the worst they can say is no.

If you have a money saving tip that doesn’t compromise personal hygiene tell me about it in the comment section at www.lopmatrix.com

Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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