There is a fine line between saving money and simply being a cheapskate. It's even worse to suffer through the embarrassment of having a friend or family member going to insane lengths just to save a buck or two. These are the craziest stories people have of their cheapskate loved ones trying to save a few bucks. All stories have been edited for clarity.
Only One Bath A Week
“As a teenager, I was not allowed to not bathe more than once per week (my classmates made sure to let me know that this was a bad move on my part). When I did, I was not allowed to use more than 2 inches of water in the bottom of the tub.
I was also told I used too much toilet paper and was shown how to never use more than 6-8 squares per ‘session’. Unfortunately my stepfather also bought single ply, so I’ve had my own fingers in my butt more often than any adult star.
Our shoes had to quite literally have the bottoms fall off before they’d be replaced (and usually that was finally done by my father who we didn’t see very often, but was always flabbergasted things got to that point).
To this day, I can’t eat fish sticks since we were forced to multiple times a week along with boiled peas. Always those two in tandem. No idea why.
Our hair was cut by a family friend if at all.
Years later, my mother and stepfather let our family dog (who was my only friend for years) die in the garage alone for months on end instead of putting it down once it was in pain constantly and incontinent due to age. It was cheaper. I was living with my father in another country by then or I would have done something.
These weren’t trailer-folk, these people owned a 2-story house in a good area of town. Middle class Canada all the way.”
It Still Works!
“My parents weren’t really cheap, they were just frugal. They’d spend money on nice things; but couldn’t stand the idea of wasting any.
We had a pool, plenty of electronics, and typical middle-class luxuries–but cut our own hair and made our own toothpaste. That sort of situation. My dad would spend 2 hours fixing a $5 pizza cutter, but we had a boat.
Anyway, when I was in middle school, a few friends and I built a fort in my backyard. We mostly used cardboard but also tarps and whatever we could find. We held it all together with duct tape.
My dad thought it was great, but when we were done, my friends went home, and it was time to take down the fort, my dad says, ‘make sure you save all the tape that’s still sticky.’
He seriously had me make a ‘role’ of used duct tape that he would suggest I ‘use first’ before using any new duct tape. Not too long after that, the battery cover to my electronic football game broke and I made it stay on using used duct tape.”
It’s Only 50 Cents!
“My mother needed to make an important phone call and wanted me to drive her to where there was a payphone. BUT she wanted to use a payphone that charged 25 cents for a call. This was around the time that many pay phones had increased their prices from 25 cents to 50 cents.
I warned my mother that while I knew the locations of many pay phones in town, I didn’t know which phones charged 50 cents and which ones still charged at the old cheaper price of 25 cents. Mother had me drive her all over town looking for that elusive payphone that charged only 25 cents for a call. I took her to several gas stations, the mall, the library, the train station, a couple of mini malls, etc, etc.
Each and every time I took her to a phone, she’d get out of the car, go to the phone, see that it charged 50 cents, and come back to the car full of anger, yelling at me how the phone charged 50 cents. I would remind her that I already told her that I didn’t know which pay phones in town still charged only 25 cents. Halfway through this nonsense, I offered to give her the additional quarter out of my own pocket so that she could make her call. Heck, I even offered to give her the full 50 cents. Instead she just barked at me, ‘I’M NOT PAYING 50 CENTS FOR A PHONE CALL!!!’
Anyways, we were still driving around when mother spotted a payphone in the parking lot of a fast food joint. She pointed to it and told me to pull in so that she could see what the payphone charged. It charged only 25 cents for a call. Hallelujah, our search was over. Mother made her call and returned to the car triumphantly telling me, ‘See? I told you there was a phone that charged only 25 cents!’
I didn’t tell her this, but in her quest to find that 25 cents a call payphone, we burned up several dollars worth of gas. And this was when gas was around 1.50 a gallon. And the drive back home from that fast food place was going to cost about an additional 50 cents worth of gas, easy. All to save a lousy twenty five cents on a payphone.”
“My grandmother may be the sweetest woman on earth; she also may be the cheapest. If there is a way to get something for free (or cheap) she will do absolutely anything to take advantage of it. Eating at Burger King? Fill up a bag with free condiment packets. Ordering a drink? Separate cups for beverage and ice, to maximize value. She’s gotten cosmetic surgery, not because she wanted or needed it, but because she found out a way to get it for free. One time she even haggled with a Starbucks manager about the price of a scone because it had broken in half in the bag. But the one experience I will always remember is the fruitcake.
I was visiting her a few years back and we had just finished dinner. She offered me dessert, and asked if I liked fruitcake. I don’t, but I didn’t want to be rude, so agreed to have a slice. I was curious as to why she had a fruitcake around, as those are generally a Christmas time dessert, and it was the middle of the summer. ‘Oh, this is from Christmas,’ she said. At that moment she walks over to the freezer and pulls out what I can only describe as a block of plastic wrapped freezer burn. ‘So that cake is six months old?’ I ask, growing increasingly more nervous. ‘Oh, no, this one is from two Christmases ago.’ My heart sinks even further. I joke that she must really like fruitcake. ‘Not really,’ she replies, ‘But they go on sale after the holidays so I decided to stock up. I usually give them away to the neighbors but no one seemed to want any this year.’
At this point she has carved off a slice of cake and placed it on a plate in front of me. It looks sad. I stare at it for a moment, coming to terms with the two-year-old block of fruitcake-adjacent ice I’m going to have to consume, when grandma pipes up: ‘Wait! Do you want some Grand Marnier?’ I nod, and figure that some of that could only make this experience easier. She grabs the bottle and, rather than pouring it into a glass or something, tips it onto the plate. I’m no fine-dining expert, but I assume a small drizzle is not uncommon. But, my grandma having the fine motor skills of an octogenarian, free pours several shots worth of the stuff. The frozen cake is now swimming in a sea of sweet, pungent liquid. She looks at me and smiles. I hesitantly begin to take a bite, and it is just as vile as I expected it to be. I get three or four bites in before telling her that I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to lie down. She lovingly obliges and tells me that she’ll clean up dinner and I should go rest. I retire to my room, confident that the ordeal was over.
The next night after dinner, she told me she had dessert ready for me already. I pondered this for a moment as she went to the fridge and pulled out… the half-eaten slice of cake, slowly liquifying and mixing with the puddle of Grand Marnier surrounding it.
And that is why I can’t eat fruitcake anymore. I love you, Grandma.”
A True Piece Of Scum
“My 13 year old daughter was invited to a small birthday party at a mediocre chain restaurant (Ruby Tuesdays) for her best friend. The girlfriend is over here quite often, and regularly eats dinner, breakfast, lunch etc. if she is here, and sleeps over about twice a week during the summertime. She’s been included to trips to the amusement park and water park nearby (we have season tickets, but there is always something to eat, funnel cakes, etc.), movies, and the occasional trip to Dairy Queen and I’ve never asked to be paid or have her pay her own way. We treat her as one of our own.
Imagine my disgust when my daughter calls me from the restaurant bathroom, nearly in tears, telling me that they just told her she will have to pick up her own check – after dinner and dessert have been served. (Check was like $13.00) The guy actually said separate checks to the waitress, but my daughter didn’t know what that meant. She had a few bucks on her but she was short about five bucks. The other girl’s father told my daughter that she would ‘have to stay and was dishes or something’ and got real ugly with her, like she mislead them or something. I have the parent’s cell phone numbers, called him and asked him real nice like if he could spot her ten bucks until he brought her home, and I would pay him back. He refused, and made it like somehow my daughter and I were scamming him. He suggested that I call the front desk and square it away, because they were leaving, and were going to leave my daughter there if she couldn’t pay.
I did call the front desk, gave them my credit card, included a healthy tip, and told my daughter I would be there to pick her up in ten minutes, don’t go anywhere.
As I pulled up to the restaurant, I saw my daughter inside the front door with the fool pointing out in the general direction of the parking lot, as if telling her to get in the car. I opened the door and strode up behind him, and it took every fiber of my being not to slap him on the back of the head. My daughter was looking down at the floor shamefully, embarrassed, not knowing what to do. She had been crying. I just said ‘Get. In. The. Car.’ She looked up, then got that huge relieved/happy/DADDY! face on. She literally ran to my car.
I stood there for a moment, looking at the man. I didn’t want to move. He started to say something, but it came out as more of a dry squeak, like he had just sucked the contents of a vacuum cleaner bag dry. I was patiently waiting for him to say something. He just sort of croaked…and moved as if he was going to try and squeeze past me. All I did was take a sudden deep breath, and that froze him shaking in place.
‘You made my daughter cry.’ I said, very, very, quietly. ‘For no reason. I would have paid you back…as I have paid for your daughter many times without reservation or expecting to be paid, even when she did have a few dollars on her.’
Then his wife burst in behind me, and summed it all up nicely in a shrill, almost screeching voice. ‘You idiot, you are lucky he isn’t beating you right now. Take us home. We aren’t going anywhere with you anymore.’ She turns to me and said, ‘I am SO sorry. I don’t know what to say. This is why we are getting a divorce.’
I just turned and walked away, got in my car and left.
The very next day, my daughter’s friend came over. She tried to apologize. I told her that it wasn’t necessary. I took them out to lunch. My treat.”
“Why Are You Barefoot?”
“When I was a kid, my parents were super cheap when it came to my clothes. My mother had a walk in closet full of work suits and such, and would regularly buy herself new department store clothes; meanwhile, I would get hand me downs, yard sale specials, and Walmart generics, which was fine, I was a growing kid, I get it. But the worse was my shoes.
My parents would spend a lot of money on nice shoes for themselves, but I would get lowgrade Walmart versions, which would wear out, the soles would come off, etc.
I remember when I was in middle school, the soles were coming off of my shoes (super typical). My dad gave me some ‘shoe goo’ and told me to fix them – also typical. Didn’t work too well, and looked like trash.
I was already quite socially awkward, but I loved me some recess and the casual sports we would play. If we were going to be indoors, I go to the point that I would just take my shoes off as opposed to deal with floppy soles trying to come off.
One day, the principal spotted me and asked why I was barefoot. I showed him my shoes, shrugged, went back to what I was doing.
Apparently, he called my parents with the offer of some charity dollars to get me a new pair. They sat me down after school, and were clearly super embarrassed that I had made us look poor or whatever. They did take me shoe shopping the next day and my mother made me promise to never go barefoot again at school aka to never let my shoes get that bad. I said that was up to her.”
He Has A Problem
“When we demolished our brick garage, my dad made us clean every one of those bricks with a pickaxe and line them up around our house for future use. They are still there 8 years later. All $500 and one-year time and back breaking effort worth.
Our cars are worth $2000. He buys identical cars and dismantles them for parts. Just when you think he’s done scrapping, he lifts the engines out of them and stacks them underneath the carport. They have 300,000KM on them.
We sit on milk crates around the dinner table.
Our TVs are 20″ in size to save on power.
Dad saves candy wrappers because they may be useful.
Most of our furniture is stuff people threw out on the street.
We use soap for shaving cream and shampoo.
Our garage has stuff stacked on top of each other to the ceiling, you have to shimmy through everything. The weight is so heavy that the ground has settled and cracks have started to appear everywhere. I tried reasoning that the space could be better utilized by renting it out, but apparently it’s more important to keep faulty treadmills, lawnmowers, fridges, ovens and washing machines for spare parts…
Many more examples of stupid stuff because he doesn’t understand the value of time and space.”
I’m Not Paying That
“My fiancée’s father always has some ‘trick’ to save money. For example:
Her parents were visiting us and staying in the big city, we live in the burbs. We decided to meet them in the city and stayed the night at the same hotel. While there the bathroom door handle somehow broke in my fiancèe’s parents room. They were moved to another room and I didn’t think anything of it. Then the bathroom door handle in that room also ‘broke. Instead of moving them, they sent out the repair guy and wouldn’t you know it, they comped him the room.
While we were staying there we decided to valet our car. When the valet asks us our room number my fiancèe’s dad pipes up, ‘1761.’ I almost corrected him because our room is in fact 1671, but he shushed me and gave me a wink. The next day we needed clothes from the car and asked the valet for the keys. Went down, got our clothes, kept the key. Later that day we just walked down to the garage and drove it out ourselves. Saved probably $50 on the parking alone.
There are way more things that he’s done to force a deal – kind of a prick move if you ask me.”
Maybe This Is Is Why Sears Sales Have Gone Down
“When my Grandmother and Grandfather got married they did their gift registry with Sears. This was back in the day (late 1940’s) when they had a ‘lifetime guarantee’ on almost everything they sold. My Grandmother has moved houses almost 10 times since then, but she has kept every single flattened box and warranty for every appliance she got when she was married.
About two years ago I drove her to Sears to get her iron replaced, she brought all of the boxing, and paperwork from all the way back in the 1940’s to get a new one. They actually did fulfill the guarantee and gave her a new iron!
I think it’s hilarious, but she literally hasn’t had to pay for a new appliance in over 60 years because she’s so cheap! She always insists ‘Lifetime guarantee means lifetime guarantee.’ I kind of feel bad for Sears because our family are notoriously long lived (her father lived until 104). I sometimes think that maybe this is the reason why Sears is doing so poorly, a ton of cheap old women cashing in on their lifetime guarantees.”
Let’s Not Reuse Those Things
“My dad would buy a significant quantity of our food from black-market traders who dumpster-dived out-of-date products. He would scratch off the best-before stickers so we didn’t know how old it was. Occasionally a can or two would explode in the pantry. When he started renting out bedrooms, he would sell the food to guests at a hugely-inflated rate.
My mother would save the little blue bags that came with her packets of sanitary pads and divide ground beef into palm-sized balls, drop them into the bags and store them in the freezer. Before cooking a meal, she’d pull a round blue bag from the freezer and defrost it in the sink where it would sweat and slowly soften over the hours.
Whenever we’d receive a wrapped present from someone (usually someone outside the family), we’d carefully unwrap the paper, cut or pull off the sticky tape and then fold it neatly into a big box. We recycled wrapping paper throughout all my childhood and my sister and I were still passing the wrapping paper from an 1981 present in the late 2000s. I think I still have remnant in a box somewhere.
My sisters and I received lectures about using only three squares of toilet-paper. The pressure of frugality was so strong that I’d accept using sticky-tape to fix my broken glasses without recognizing I was embodying the ‘geek’ stereotype.”
You Do You
“When my dad moved into his house, he had a guy come over to do a free demonstration for a water filter that goes under a sink. The guy used a bar of soap for his demonstration and left it when he was done. My dad called at least 4 other companies for a free demonstration just to keep the free bar of soap, and never intended to have a water filter installed.
He does things like this, and it gets worse as he gets older. But I just let him do his thing.”
Please Just Flush The Toilet
“My father doesn’t flush his toilet. Instead, he collects water in a bin and pours it into the toilet once a day or so. The entire back of the house smells like pee.
Where does he get the bin water, you might ask? Excellent question. It’s bathwater. When he showers, he has buckets all around him to catch the water so he can flush his toilet.
He also collects the rest of the family’s bathwater in some way, shape, or form. Either he gets the ‘runoff’ from when the water is heating up (about a gallon per bathing person per day, which he has to stand there and collect while someone else stands there waiting for him to move so they can take a shower or bath) or if he doesn’t have enough, he will ask whoever is bathing to stopper the water so he can scoop it out for his bin.
As for non-bathroom related things, the walls of my room are plywood painted over because he didn’t want to buy new drywall after termites ate it up and we had to remove it. Apparently drywall was too expensive for the man who will buy a larger TV without hesitation when he thinks the picture is too small due to the framing some channels use.
And don’t get me started on the drains. We can’t use the dishwasher without backing up the sink – haven’t for years. And yet he won’t call an actual plumber. Instead he insists on some stupid new DIY method he found online that never actually works.
He also advocates me not taking my cat to the vet because she’s ‘just an animal’. But thankfully I have my own source of income and I can take my girl to the vet for her allergy shots and anything else when she needs it. He has also told me that I should just put her down and get a new cat that needs less vet care (my girl is 12-13 years old and still pretty spry, she just has bad allergies that need treatment once a month so that she’s not living in itchy misery).”
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
“I’ve been getting re-gifted present for Christmas since I was a kid. And not like presents from other people that were then given to me. No. We’re talking my favorite jacket goes missing for 6 months only to be found under the tree as one of my presents. Just had my 30th birthday- gifted a Swiss Army knife I had when I was a kid.”
Saving Money Every Way Possible
“My mother would re-use paper towels, napkins, hand wipes, disposable mop pads, etc. over and over. Flatten them, dry them out, and then put them back on the table for future use. Sometimes it’s OK, like wiping up spilled water. Other times, it’s the pad soaked in dog waste that should’ve been thrown away a few times ago.
Food that’s gone in the trash also mysteriously found its way back out. Suddenly there’s a loaf of bread with a bunch of holes in it, or fuzzy sour cream. Things that expired over two years prior still sit in the fridge, in hopes that it will be eventually eaten. I think there’s still a jar of jelly sitting in the back that’s seen a fridge replacement and is older than both of my nieces. Accidentally left a whole chicken from Costco out overnight? Nuke it black, that’ll kill the salmonella. For better or worse, I’ve developed an iron stomach, but only after getting food poisoning more times than I can count.
Showers once or twice a week. Baths are non-existent. Taking showers at school/gym were a blessing.
Using a single light bulb for each major area of the house. One light for the kitchen, one light for the dining room, one light per stretch of hallway, etc. I guess that was one way to hide the new/old/mold food status. After a while I could even run up and down the staircase blind.
Also not my mother but my aunts would line their purses with plastic bags (from grocery stores, not the ones intended for food use) and take them to fancy dinners/buffets. Usually worked out but sometimes finding a cookie in your soup isn’t the most appetizing.”
You’re Richer Than Me
“I have a ‘friend’ whose parents make at least 5000 times more than mine (seriously). We are both the same age and both students at the same college. Despite the huge difference in our available funds and lifestyles, he still expects me to pay the same as him for outings and such (more actually, I have figured out that between us I actually spend more on our friendship in terms of dollars). I learned on day one that when he invites me out that he picks things in his price range (which is limitless) AND expects me to pay for the gas to get there. Meanwhile I can’t even afford to drive.
Incredibly, he also frequently borrows money from me even though I know his dad has set up a bank account for him that is almost unlimited (I didn’t even know an ATM could display that many zeros). So he frequently borrows money from me, hundreds of dollars. I thought I didn’t have a problem with it because he can obviously afford to pay it back. But he won’t ever lend me cash, even though the only times I have asked is when I actually needed it, like three dollars so I can afford lunch while out with him, etc.
I have recently decided that he isn’t worth considering a friend and not good company, obviously.”