Frugality is an admirable ethic, but as with any pursuit, sometimes it can go too far. The name of the game isn't spending the least money possible; it's spending your time, energy and money in a sensible way.
Times may be tough, but these 10 Depression-era tactics are taking things a bit too far. (Note: you might think some of these examples are ridiculous, but trust me, some people take these steps.)
The Moral of These Silly Examples
We realize most of the things on this list probably made you laugh and think, "Who on earth would do that?" But chances are there are some things you're doing in your daily money-saving life that aren't really worth the return on your time.
We challenge you to look at some of your frugal ways and ask yourself if you have any habits that are beginning to creep into the "why on earth am I doing this?" territory. If your frugality habits mean that you're "working" for less than minimum wage, or if your frugal habits adversely impact your quality of life, it may be time to rethink your relationship with frugality.
Remember, the point of being frugal is to both save money and enjoy your life. Time is your most precious asset; protect it just as strongly as you'd protect your bank balance.
10 Signs You're a Cheapskate
10 Signs You're Taking Frugality Too Far and Are a Cheapskate
I understand that you don't want to contribute to landfills. But here's an example where spending more money, rather than less, is a good idea.
Instead of washing and re-using plastic baggies, a more reasonable idea is to spend a little extra money to purchase reusable containers to store your snacks and leftovers.
Plastic baggies are worth just a few cents apiece. The time and water you waste washing and drying them makes the "return on investment" negative.
Do you hoard tiny ketchup packets to bring home and squeeze into your bigger ketchup bottle? If so, you get points for creativity, but not many for frugality.
You're not only wasting time and effort, you're also (arguably) stealing from the restaurant owner. Bite the bullet and just buy a new bottle of ketchup.
Don't. Just don't. It's not worth it for so many reasons.
Each time you re-brew the same grounds, the resulting coffee is weaker, so you're likely to drink twice as much to get the same buzz. And the resulting pots taste kind of nasty. Focus instead on stocking up on whole-bean coffee when it's on sale, or better yet, slowly breaking yourself from your caffeine addiction.
If you don't know what this means, then you're not doing it -- and good for you, because this require loads of effort for a mediocre result. You'll save, at most, about $1 by deferring the purchase of your next bar of soap.
This happened once on the show "Extreme Cheapskates," and the recipient of these featured anniversary "gifts" was not pleased. Show your loved ones you really do love them, and don't do anything that can be described by the phrase: "As seen on 'Extreme Cheapskates.'"
Unless you're a starving college student (and even then, it's iffy), you'll be digging through a literal lot of trash to find a debatable amount of treasure. Stick to curb-browsing for big items on garbage pickup day -- such as wooden furniture or fake Christmas trees -- and stop literally foraging through trashcans for food.
Unless your dishwasher, washing machine and kitchen sink are simultaneously broken, there's no reason to be washing anything in the shower other than your actual self.
You may think you're saving money by washing your clothes in the shower, but in reality, you're actually just running the water twice as long (and repeating this for each outfit you wash). It may be more cost-effective –- and it's certainly more time-effective –- to clean an entire week's worth of clothes in one run through the washing machine.
We're not talking about stealing a bite from your spouse's entrée; we're talking about walking over to recently abandoned tables in restaurants and finishing the plates of total strangers. (This one is another gem from "Extreme Cheapskates.")
This behavior could potentially get you kicked out of a restaurant, which would humiliate your friends and family (and potentially embarrass you). Here's a tip: If money is so tight that you need to swipe food from other people's plates, avoid restaurants and cook at home, instead.
This item on this list might have the greatest chance of feeling familiar.
Hitting up a couple stores to snag sale is fine. But if you're wasting a tank of gas and the better part of an afternoon driving all around town for one item here, one item there, you're wasting both fuel and time that could be spent on more profitable endeavors.
Rather than buying bananas at one store, milk at another and cereal at a third store –- and then repeating this cycle with socks, makeup, cat food, cotton balls and everything else –- buy everything from one or two stores, and use the spare time to work extra hours, start a side business, organize your files, or otherwise achieve something that's a bit more productive.
Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 32 countries, runs a popular finance blog and is a successful real estate investor. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the groundswell of a rebellion against stodgy, uninspired financial advice. Afford Anything shows you how to crush limits, create wealth and maximize life.