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Do you ever feel like no matter how hard you try to save money, the bank account balance still falls short?
You’re not alone; many people struggle with saving and balancing everyday expenses.
But if your penny-pinching ways have gone too far, there are signs that can hint at an unhealthy obsession with being frugal.
From cutting back on social activities to hoarding old newspapers, these 27 awkward signs of extreme penny-pinching will help you evaluate if it’s time to start spending more sensibly!
Join us as we explore the dangers of going overboard when it comes to saving, and learn why striking a balance between thriftiness and stability is so important.
#1. You Reuse Paper Products
Paper plates, napkins, tissues, and paper towels are for single use. But some people have decided to wash and reuse these items.
They claim that they are not only saving money but also helping the environment by not wasting paper products. It’s a win-win situation.
Besides, who doesn’t love a good napkin with character? That ketchup stain adds a little charm, don’t you think?
#2. You Use Self Checkout at Grocery Store
The self-checkout at the grocery store is a great way to save time. But some people take advantage of it. The most common way is with produce. Since you pay by the weight for most produce, some people will hold on to the item so that all the weight is not on the scale.
The register then charges a smaller amount because it thinks you are buying less food. Other times, people buying five of an item, say yogurt, will only scan four.
#3. You Wash And Reuse Ziploc Bags
Ziploc bags are another one-time-use item. But that doesn’t stop some people from washing and reusing them.
Seeing that you can buy these bags in bulk and get the price per bag down to a few pennies, you really need to be short on cash to make this one worth your time.
#4. You Plagiarize Greeting Cards
Cards are expensive. So much so that I now buy cards at the dollar store because I usually get two for $1. This is a frugal way to save money.
Another more questionable option is to look at cards and find one with the saying you want. Instead of buying it, you buy a blank card and write the saying in it.
#5. You Create Multiple Email Accounts
Most loyalty programs require that you use an email address to sign up. And many offer referral bonuses when you get your friends to join.
What some cheap people do is refer themselves by using different email addresses. Not only do they get the referral bonus, but in some cases, they get to use a discount code that is only valid for one-time use.
#6. Indulge in Grocery Store Samples
You’re crossing a line when constantly scouring the aisles for freebies and trying to fill your belly with samples instead of buying something.
Sure, you’re technically not breaking any rules, but it’s just cheap, you know?
#7. You Do Not Tip
While we can all agree that tipping has gotten out of hand lately with every place having a tip jar, tipping is how some people afford to live.
This is especially true for servers, who earn less than minimum wage. When you refuse to tip to save money no matter what, you are rude.
#8. You Religiously Water Down Liquid Soap
Do you add water to liquid soap? I’m not talking about adding some water at the end to get a few last drops out.
I’m talking about pouring half out into an empty soap dispenser and adding water to both, so now you have two full dispensers.
Some people won’t stop at two but divide it amongst five or six to make the soap last as long as possible.
#9. You Dumpster Dive
Some people dumpster dive for free stuff and resell it for cash. Others dumpster dive to get free stuff so they can save money.
Because of the different levels of dumpster diving, it is hard to draw the line between frugal, cheapskate, and entrepreneurial.
I know some people who check out college dumpsters at the end of the school year because students want to avoid taking large items home or paying for storage.
#10. You Buy And Return Amazon Items At Kohl’s
When you return Amazon items at Kohl’s, you usually get a coupon to use in-store. The coupon could be worth anywhere from $5 to 15% off.
Some people take advantage of the system and purchase a handful of inexpensive items from Amazon with the intent of returning them all.
Then they get a handful of Kohl’s coupons to save money on what they plan to buy at Kohl’s.
#11. You Don’t Pay For Subscriptions
Many of us share out Netflix password with friends, but some people go above and beyond and get as many streaming services as possible for free.
One person mentioned how his neighbor runs an Airbnb. He rented it once to get the wifi password, and since he receives the signal in his house, he uses it for free.
#12. You Use Magazine Samples For Perfume or Cologne
I’ll admit that perfume can be pricey. But you can usually find even higher-end brands at discount stores. Still, some people want to avoid spending the money and will instead head to the grocery store.
They will find a free perfume sample they like and rub it on their wrists or neck.
#13. You Are Guilty of Unplugging Things When Not In Use
Some electronics draw what is known as phantom power, even when turned off. This means it still costs money as it uses a small amount of electricity even though the power is not on.
Some cheapskates, to save money, will unplug everything in the house to ensure nothing is costing them money when not in use.
A better option would be to purchase a Kill-A-Watt off Amazon and figure out that items draw phantom power and only unplug those items. This will save you a lot of money on your monthly bills.
#14. You Never Buy Office Supplies
Office supplies, like pens, paper, staples, and more, cost little, but some refuse to pay. So they take them from wherever they happen to be.
They might take supplies from work. Or they make it a point to take pens from wherever they are.
While it is customary to take a pen you use, these people take it a step further and ask for a pen with the plan of taking it all along.
#15. You Cheat at Parking Garages
This doesn’t work at all garages, but it saves people a lot of money when it does. The problem is that doing it is shady.
It works by having you take a ticket when you pull into the garage to park. When you go to leave, you grab another ticket and then scan that ticket when leaving.
So if you were parked for five hours, your ticket would show you were only there for a few minutes.
#16. You Save and Reuse Restaurant Cups
Here is a classic cheapskate move. When you eat out, you keep the cup for fountain drinks. Then when you visit that fast food restaurant in the future, you don’t order a drink, but you bring your cup and fill it up for free.
Other times people will ask for a cup of water and then fill up on fountain soda instead.
#17. You Reuse Mouth Floss
Here is the other grossest thing on the list. People who reuse dental floss. After using it, they will rinse, dry it, and save it for later.
At least they take the time to rinse it off and not let the chunks dry on the string.
#18. You Take Others Leftovers When Dining Out
Taking your leftovers after eating out is frugal. Taking leftovers from other tables crosses the line.
One person shared the story of a friend who did this regularly, which was mortifying, so much so that they ended up no longer hanging out with the person.
#19. You Take Handfuls of Extra Condiments
When eating out, cheap people will load up on extra packets of condiments, like ketchup, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and more.
They might even hoard napkins and plastic utensils so they don’t have to purchase them.
#20. You Always Split The Check at a Restaurant
When dining out with friends, it is common to split the check. You can split the bill in several ways.
One way is to divide the total by the number of people. Another option is to review the receipt and pay for what you purchased and the tip.
Some cheap people will push for an even split of the bill at the start and then order a lot of food. This way, it is cheaper for them since everyone else will be paying a portion of their order.
#21. You Visit Hotel Continental Breakfasts
Getting a complimentary breakfast is a great perk when staying at a hotel. But this crosses the line into being cheap when you eat a continental breakfast in a hotel without paying for a room.
These cheapskates walk into the hotel, acting like guests, and fill up for free before leaving again. Some are bold enough to walk in, eat, and then leave.
Others try to act as if they belong and go down a hallway first before enjoying the free meal.
#22. You’re Guilty of Returning Used Items
Returns are part of life. You cross the line when you use an item and then return it. For example, you buy an outfit for a party, don’t remove the tags, wear it to the party, then return it afterward.
It sounds like a victimless crime, but the store incurs a loss with the item.
And while you might think they can afford it with how much money they earn, realize that these add to the cost of doing business and make the items more expensive in the first place.
#23. You Buy Movie Tickets at The Self Serve Kiosk
To reduce costs, some movie theaters have self-serve kiosks where you buy tickets. After you buy your ticket, you walk up to the usher, who scans the ticket and lets you in.
Many cheapskates have learned they can buy senior citizen tickets for a fraction of the cost. The usher usually doesn’t ask to see the ticket to ensure you purchased the right one. They simply want the bar code to scan you in, so you get away with it most of the time.
#24. You Reuse Mouthwash
This one is tied for the grossest one on the list. Cheapskates will use mouthwash to rinse their mouth, but instead of spitting it into the sink, they will spit back into the bottle to reuse for next time.
Their logic? There is alcohol in the mouthwash, and that kills the germs.
#25. Guilty of Hoarding
It doesn’t matter what it is. Most cheap people are also hoarders. They refuse to throw anything away.
Junk mail? The envelopes can double as scrap paper. Did something break? Save it, as you might be able to use the parts for something else one day.
#26. Reuse Aluminum Foil
You never throw away aluminum foil because it’s so versatile!
Not only can you reuse it several times, but you also make sure to point out this money-saving trick to your roommates or family members.
It’s a small but impactful way to show how everyone can contribute to saving a few bucks and reducing waste.
Plus, it’s a great conversation starter during family dinners or roommate bonding sessions!
#27. DIY Cleaning Supplies
Store-bought cleaning products become too expensive over time, so you resort to creating homemade versions using baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils.
You proudly show off your concoctions to anyone who will listen, and you offer samples so they can try it for themselves.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.