It's okay to want to save a few buck when shopping, but some people take it way too far. These Redditors expose the biggest penny-pinching cheapskates they know. Content has been edited for clarity.
There Are Just Some Things You Shouldn’t Reuse
“My horrible stepmother. I don’t live at home anymore thankfully but she drove me nuts. We would keep McDonald’s cups from when we went out to eat ‘because they’re our own germs we can drink from them at home so we don’t have to waste water washing clean cups’ and then she’d even reuse ziplock bags that had meat in them and other gross, not reusable things. I’d go to do dishes and start throwing away the ziplock bags and she’d get on to me and pull them out of the trash and wash them and reuse them. I ate at home a lot less after that.
This was especially true because what she would do to the food. She would make oatmeal whenever we bought ground beef and brown the beef with the oatmeal, and then freeze said oatmeal beef combination ‘because it stretches the beef further’. Pardon me for not liking spaghetti and oatmeal, Linda!”
She Had To Make Them
“My grandpa will buy a roll of paper towels (like the cheapest single roll you can get) and then have my grandma rip off each sheet and cut that into fourths for ‘napkins’.
Napkins that are already napkins cost like…. 5 cents more than the roll of paper towels.
It takes her like 2 hours because she’s becoming arthritic.
Nobody else sees why this is stupid.”
Not Pulling His Weight
“So you know how when you have a get-together where people will be drinking, most people bring a few drinks to share, right? Or contribute in one way or another? Bring a 6-pack, or a bottle of something, or mixers, whatever?
So once at a get-together, I buy a huge bottle of Smirnoff, my friend brings ice, and we ask our notoriously cheap friend to bring some orange juice so we can all enjoy some screwdrivers.
Upon arrival this dirtbag pulls out an 8 oz recycled Poland Spring plastic bottle that he filled like halfway with some orange juice.
And it should be noted that this friend of ours is by FAR the most wealthy of ALL of us.
Are You Finished With That?
“My stepdad is the biggest, most embarrassing cheapskate I know so here are a couple examples of the most extreme things he does:
- reuses paper towels by hanging them out to dry in my mom’s front yard
- uses free tires off of totaled cars whenever one of ours needs replacing (which, if you think this is a good idea, I’ve had two near death experiences to prove otherwise)
- rewashes my sibling’s disposable swim diapers, again hanging them out to dry in the front yard
- uses wash clothes as toilet paper and only flushes for #2
- puts bricks in the toilet tank so it uses less water, leaving the toilet constantly smelling like pee
- refuses to use A.C. at any time while living in South Florida and counts down from 3 when anyone opens the fridge
- refuses to purchase gifts for anyone unless they were procured at a garage sale (meaning he often leaves my mom and his kids high and dry for birthdays/holidays/anniversaries)
- constantly pulls over on the side of the road to dumpster dive: his favorite finds are a pair of Temperpedic slippers (ew!) and a wooden futon which I’m afraid to be in the same room with
- when a door hinge broke in one of my sibling’s rooms 5 years ago, he refused to pay for a replacement and instead hung up a shower curtain (still there to this day)
- tries to sneak home food from buffets, after paying for his meal with a coupon
And my personal favorite…
- asking patrons at a restaurant if they’re finished with their food mid-meal so he can take home the leftovers.”
The Plan Would Prevent Anyone From Being Cheap
“In a previous job, I organized cakes for people’s birthdays. Voluntary to have a cake on your birthday, some people did opt out, that’s cool. Also voluntary to donate for cake.
What wasn’t cool was everyone chipping in $2 for said cake and this one lady, who I shall call Big Baby Bertha – BBB for short – who would always refuse.
BBB had worked there for years, same role, same daily tasks, you know the type. BBB believed that her ‘seniority’ afforded her perks. She never paid for a single cake!!! BBB would be first in line for a slice though, a big slice, aka twice the size of everyone else.
So I monitored for 4 cakes, BBB didn’t give me a cent. I discreetly asked around if this was normal for her, was she experiencing hardship? Nope, BBB had always been like this.
So I waited, next cake I sent the usual email but also included ‘to ensure everyone who contributes receives a piece of cake I will be noting who donates. You are still welcome to sing happy birthday but if money isn’t received by x date you will be unable to have cake.’
Then the glorious day came! BBB made a beeline for me (swear that she could smell cake from the carpark).
We sang happy birthday, then I started cutting. I had my list and those people get the first pieces. Birthday person gets to decide what was done with the leftovers because there would be leftovers!!!
BBB pushed into the front of the line.
Me: ‘BBB, you didn’t donate so the cake is not for you sorry (sickly sweet smile on my face).’
BBB: ‘I need my cake now, I have important things to do. I’ll give you money later.’
Me: ‘That’s not going to work, I brought this cake with the budget of donated money (side note I would chip in my own cash if donations were low).’
BBB: ‘This is not appropriate, this is discrimination! I’m reporting you to my manager.’
Me: ‘Ok, do what you need to do. Please move aside or get back to your important work.’
BBB storms off hollering about cake and discrimination.
Cut to 4 hours later, I’m called into a meeting with BBBs boss, my boss and the boss for the entire site. To summarize, BBB accused me of discrimination based on her weight. I shamed her by not giving her cake. It was then I produced my email (which they were all on), the spreadsheet where I had noted who paid and when and the cake receipt. I’d love to say the bosses collectively tore BBB a new one and she was on thin ice. They didn’t and she wasn’t.
There was, however, an email sent to everyone advising that from now on when people gave me a donation for a cake they also needed to sign next to it. Then once the due date had passed I was to scan and email it to management. I did this for 3 glorious years, it was a pain for everyone concerned but BBB never ate free cake on my watch! No one gave her a piece from their leftovers, it became an unwritten part of induction.
I’ve been out of that company for over 10 years, BBB is still there, so are some of my friends. BBB still doesn’t get free cake!”
Beyond Frugal To Just Plain Abusive
“We weren’t a poor family by any means, we were maybe upper middle class at worst, but my dad didn’t do a good job at defying stereotypes (we’re Jewish), to say the least:
- He’d either grab a fork/spoon and ask if he could have ‘a taste’ but he wouldn’t wait for them to answer. He’d also put as much food as he could in a baggy if a table was abandoned for even a minute.
- None of our beds had bed frames except my father’s bed. We slept on bare mattresses on the floor, during winter there would be one blanket that we shared on one mattress.
- Electricity use was strictly budgeted and if I went over the budget, it was subtracted from my budget in the future. This included anything that uses electricity, even battery-powered stuff.
- No lights at all unless I was studying Hebrew.
- I had to find and roll a certain amount of coins every week or we’d be punished. So we were always looking outside and in buildings for loose change.
I could go on and on, I had two sisters and some of these rules didn’t apply to them for very sickening reasons. Of course, I endured much much worse abuse than this.”
Save The Tape For Later
“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 ‘roll’ 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.”
She’s Actually Proud Of This!
“My mother-in-law won’t shop at Costco (or any other membership club) because she thinks it’s outrageous that they charge a fee. Ok, fine, fair enough. But if they have something on sale that she wants, she will stand outside of Costco asking people if she can go in with them and give them cash so they can check out with it. She has done this a handful of times and thinks she’s so freaking clever and smart.
She is an inoffensive 60’s middle-upper middle-class white woman, so I guess she just finds people who probably take pity on her or something. She has no effing dignity about stuff like that (there are other hideous examples), and what disgusts me the most is how she brags about it. Like she’s smarter and better than all the ‘fools’ who pay for membership. God, I can’t stand that woman.”
Old Habits Die Hard
“When I was a child my grandparents had an apartment at the seaside and every summer we would go to spend a month there, meeting other families that were going on vacation from all around the country. My parents became friends with a couple, they had two children and the eldest girl was my age.
Probably due to the husband having gambling problems in his youth, the wife was the worst cheapskate I’ve ever met, even if they had a pretty generous income.
When we were out of the house, the husband was ‘in control’ of the finances, being the main bread-winner of the family. So we would go to the restaurant altogether, eat fish, spend about $50 per person and he’d have no problem putting out this amount of money.
In the house, though, the wife was the queen. So they’d have no hand soap in the bathroom because it was a waste of money. When I was visiting, she would get a jar of Nutella from the top drawer and spread the tiniest amount of it in an almost invisible film on the cheapest bread. Her children’s faces told me that when they had no guests, the Nutella would not even come out of that drawer.
The pinnacle was when one time they invited us to their place for dinner and they served the main course of… ONE PIGEON for 4 adults and 3 kids.
My parents’ response, as a good Italian family, was simply inviting them to dinner for the next week and preparing a massively huge and delicious dinner. They willingly exaggerated the size of the dinner, we ate leftovers for days.”
“Some of my guy friends, who I was forced to hang out with because my girlfriend was friends with their girlfriends’ type deal, threw a BBQ a few years back. One of my other friends, who we can call Fred, called on his way and asked if there was anything he could bring over. They asked him to get everything you need for a BBQ. Fred showed up and all they had was LUNCH MEAT at the BBQ, that was it. Luckily Fred is super nice and bought everything the party needed and even grilled it for the hosts. Never in my life have I been to a party where the hosts didn’t supply anything. Luckily Fred called everyone out at the end, started a commotion, and I never had to see those friends again.
Some other stories of the friends…
At the beach and the friends invite us over to their hotel room to pregame before hitting the bars. This was before the BBQ incident so we walked over figuring we would have a cold one and head out since we had already been drinking for a while. One of the guys I showed up with grabbed a Coors Lite out of the fridge only to be told by one of the ‘friends’ that those were theirs. They had plenty and we offered to buy them one at the bar. That’s a good deal considering you’re trading a store-bought Coors Lite for a more expensive one from a bar immediately after. But no, these ‘friends’ weren’t having it.”
A Win For Those Who Pay Their Fair Share
“There was this cheap guy at work I didn’t like one bit. You know the type, one of those idiots who does the big innocent eyes every time he gets called out. ‘Whoa, I didn’t mean it like that!’ or whatever.
I had invited a few work friends to come by and have some drinks and appetizers on me when I bought a new house. They had been listening to me talk about it for months, it was the least I could do.
So about ten minutes in, who shows up? The cheap guy shows up and actually plops down at the far end of the table. Not only that but he starts ordering everything. Top shelf drinks, about 4 appetizers (which he didn’t eat, they were left on the table), just living it up.
I’m watching out of the corner of my eye, my plan was fully formed.
I see him gathering up his stuff to slip away, so I call the waitress over. ‘Everything is on me, except that guy. He’s not my guest, I didn’t invite him.’
Everything just stops. He’s looking at me (mouth open) and everybody is looking at him.
The waitress brings the check, I pay and tip generously. The cheap guy is trying to get someone to help him pay for his $60 worth of uneaten stuff because he didn’t have any money. No one liked him, so the response was a bunch of ‘Are you kidding me?’ looks. When I left, he was calling people to try to get them to come up and pay for him. (Note that he had a brand new Charger in the parking lot.)
That guy hated me so much after that. He didn’t have the stones to say anything to me though. And the story became office lore.”
She’d Do This Right In The Middle Of The Store
“I had a babysitter who I think crossed the line from frugal to cheapskate.
She would only shop at Goodwill, and if her daughter wanted some shoes, she’d have her put the old shoes on the rack, put on the new shoes, and walk out the door.
Also, most of her daughter’s coloring books were picked up while dumpster diving. Like, half the pages were already colored, but we still used them.
I just thought she was a cheapskate for stealing from Goodwill of all places. This was the early ’90s, so their shoes were only $1. You can’t pay for $1 shoes?! It’s the only place I ever saw her do that. She was a little crazy though. Thankfully her daughter didn’t pick up on those habits.”
He Figured He Could Do It Himself
“My grandpa – after he served up ice cream he bought, would smooth it out the best he could and crave his initials into the top of it to make sure none of his kids took more than he thought necessary. He also would fill almost empty jam jars with water shake it up and drink the mixture just so he wasn’t throwing away any food.
One time when my mom as a kid got a nasty gash on her knee, my grandpa, after examining it, determined it needed stitches. Instead of doing what a normal person would do and take her to the hospital, he turned on the stove and heated up a sewing needle, and was going to stitch my mom’s knee back together with sewing equipment before his wife intervened and made him take my mom to the hospital.
He did a lot of stingy stuff, but these stories stand out the most to me.”
Roommates Don’t Always Get Along
“I had a roommate who was very practical. She picked up any change she found, even just pennies. She opted for cheaper options on anything where it didn’t significantly diminish the quality. She even built a tiny house because she didn’t believe that she really needed to spend much on a place to live. It worked well for her.
Then, there was my other roommate- conveniently, at the same time, all three of us were living together. Aside from thieving, getting actual furniture from the literal dumpster, and a whole bunch of other goodies, the story of how I came to live with him is probably the best story to showcase his nature.
It was him and two other guys living in the apartment before I moved in. There was another friend of theirs staying on the couch while he was looking for a job and a place to live. He was staying there for free, no biggie.
I was homeless at this point and had been sleeping in my car in the middle of winter (below freezing at night), so I jumped at the opportunity to sleep indoors, even if it meant having to sleep in an uninsulated garage. I could just toss on a few extra blankets.
My future roommate comes up to me after a week and he proceeds to tell me I owe him $200 for rent to stay in the garage. I ask him why I’m paying more than he does (per week) to sleep in a room without heating/air, a bathroom, and filled with smoke fairly often. He says that he and the other roommates talked about it and they decided I couldn’t freeload, and I needed to get that money to him ASAP.
Now, he wasn’t the one who paid the bills. I asked the ‘head roommate’ about it later that day, and he told me there was no discussion about ‘freeloading’ involving me and that I could basically pay him $50 for the month if I felt like it. I did pay him gladly, and that was that.”
His Father Hadn’t Realized How Dumb He Was Being
“My dad is the most frugal person I know, but the way he prioritizes his spendings has always confused me.
Like, he will drop thousands of dollars to buy new parts for his classic car and hundreds of dollars on tickets to festivals and concerts but will also water down the household milk and make me and my sibling wear the same shoes for years on end (lots of staples and duct tape).
The worst case I can remember is when I got my first car, a hand-me-down from my mom. This Subaru had like 250,000+ miles on it and the tires were TRASH. My poor mom (they’re divorced now) begged my dad to chip in for some new tires for me so I could drive to school without fear of dying on the twisty mountain roads. He claimed that since I was going away for college soon (like 2 years away yet) and couldn’t take my car with me, that it wasn’t economical to get me something that would SAVE MY LIFE (potentially).
It took badgering by our neighbors and our friends for him to finally shell out the cash but my lord did he throw a fit about it.”