Kat’s Money Corner

I may be frugal, but I’m no cheapskate

Updated: 2014-03-05T22:36:08Z


Have you seen the show Extreme Cheapskates ? It’s a showcase of radical penny pinching like using one light bulb for the entire house or hand-washing your clothes in the bathtub while you are showering.

I may be a Savin’ Maven, but I’m no cheapskate – at least not to those extremes!

There’s a big difference. Being frugal simply means getting the most out of whatever money you have. Being cheap is more the fear of spending, which can actually cost you in the long run. In the case of the Extreme Cheapskates, it can be downright gross.

I offer you some reasonable alternatives to these more extreme lengths.

Avoid restaurant scraps. Although the practice of Freeganism is a real thing, eating food from a restaurant dumpster is not recommended if other means are available. Besides the obvious health and safety hazards, it isn’t the most socially acceptable practice. Try a Groupon or find a kids-eat-free night somewhere. Better yet, cook a highly affordable meal at home such as a pasta dish! Which brings me to my next point…

Buy affordable edibles.Rather than culling every last bit of uneaten dressing or sauce from your family plates, which can pose a health hazard, there are many other methods for saving on groceries. Right away you can save big by utilizing coupons and buying generic or store brands vs. name brands. Also, purchase fruits and vegetables in season. Plan your meals around the edibles that are more affordable by season. These methods will spare you the germs while saving you dollars.

Bathe solo. I have friends who grew up sharing bathwater in a metal tub, with the goal of being the first to bathe. They did this out of necessity and scarcity of water, but I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense today. There are ways to be frugal, without sacrificing privacy or comfort. For instance, I do insulate my hot-water heater and piping, use water-saving nozzles, and limit water use elsewhere. Shorter baths and showers are also easy ways to save. Don’t leave the tap running while you shave or brush your teeth. Good for the environment and your budget!

Wash separately. If washing your clothes in the shower works for you, fine. I’d rather invest in an EnergyStar washer and dryer and load it with homemade detergent.

You get the point. There are plenty of ways to save without the extremes. We talk about them every week. Frugality is a mindset and a lifestyle. Stretching and saving every dollar you can. Even when not practiced to extremes, cheapskating often doesn’t do any good.

If you choose the cheapest product and have to replace it soon after because it’s junk, how much did you really save? Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t buy quality. In fact, you should. If the sewer main needs to be cleared, maybe it makes sense to go with the cheapest service. If you need a new sewer main installed, probably not.

There’s a difference between not paying more than you should and refusing to part with your money. Eventually we all get what we pay for.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.

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