Grandparents raising grandchildren usually need to save money. If it's not something the kids need, it's court and attorney fees, car repairs, or something else. Most will do whatever they can to stretch those dollars for a good cause: Make bagged lunches, even sign up the grandkids for free or reduced lunches. Recycle for money. Sew clothes, sofa covers, pillows, quilts. Shop at the dollar store. Shop at the thrift store. Cook instead of going out. Find free leisure activities.
But when I recently watched Extreme Cheapskates, even I was a bit blown away at the lengths some people will go to save a penny! The tales of four people who are considered cheapskates for good reason and their activities surprised me.
The alleged cheapskate who surprised me the least was Jordan, the last individual presented in the hour broadcast. Jordan simply uses a method of exchange called barter. Barter has existed since the beginning of Time, and while Jordan barters to an extreme (hence the name of the reality show), he does no more in bartering than those of us who try to get a good deal for cash. I wish I could find more bartering opportunities, but being older, perhaps I'm not as good at seeking them as I used to be. I would have never thought to use my ability to recite poetry to get a doughnut, or vocal ability in exchange for bakery goods for an engagement party (not that it would be much of a bargain in my case), or cleaning up a salon for a free haircut. Jordan did. Personally, I feel Jordan deserves a hearty WELL DONE.
I also have no problem with Angela, her foraging for salad, and her going to the expired food close-out store. Angela and her husband wanted to eliminate credit card debt, an admirable goal.
When my older children were small, I belonged to a baby-sitting co-op. I recommend Big Lots and Dollar Tree, and if I lived near a store that sold expired food, I'd so be there! There was one in my husband's hometown, and my late mother-in-law made frequent use of it. Provided unknown pesticides aren't being used and one has a knowledge of plant life, which Angela does, I see no problem with foraging for salad. Little kids all over the world have re-used each other's bath water.
I do have a bit of a problem with rags cut to fit for toilet paper. It's a prejudice, I know. I used facecloths on the bum of my youngest as a baby, and cloth diapers. I don't know if I could handle washing adult feces off toilet rags. Call me prejudiced, but I would rather coupon and wait on sales for toilet paper, so I could combine the two, getting t.p. for almost nothing. I think I would revert to using newspapers and magazines as toilet paper before I would use cloth. But that's me.
That leaves us Roy (first individual) and Jeff. I didn't like either one of them. They lacked the character trait of generosity, despite Roy's work with abandoned large dogs. There was no real goal with either of them, and they seemed to be purposely conniving and well, cheap. In a bad way. They seemed to want something for nothing, and to be praised for it. Not good!
Jeff (third individual) is simply an old hippie. I have to wonder if he learned to scrounge being homeless at one point. He made it clear he hates to work, and his goal (small as it was) consisted of saving enough so as not to work. He had a goal. Good! He's achieved his goal and is happy enough, and his wife appears to work, so she is fine with it. Go Jeff. Rah. Go ahead and scrounge, spend your days riding your bike around the few phone booths left in the US. He makes a great househusband, and isn't hurting anybody. I did like his "soap on a rope" with pantyhose, though.
It's my opinion that Roy thinks he's cute and clever, and his wife does too, in spite of her protestations. The whole segment seemed phoney and rehearsed. If he'd come over to my table begging scraps, he might have gotten them- on his head.
If he wants to hang his used paper towels on a line, and beg ketchup packs to refill his ketchup bottle, fine. I often wonder what to do with the piles of Taco Bell sauce packets I get, most notably the too many I received recently for a $12 order. I just put them in a drawer and drag them out when I get low on ketchup or taco sauce. Dump them into a bottle? Why? Is somebody going to come to my house and be bothered with using a packet?
Roy could have done better in the gift department for his 25th wedding anniversary, but he didn't even try. There are many, many frugal people out there who are still generous. What Roy gave his wife wasn't generous. It was rude and mocked their marriage. He could have cooked an elegant supper at home, dressed it up, and not spent a penny beyond their budget. He could have made his wife a card, heartfelt and sincere. He didn't have to bring the teapot to her in a plastic bag, and there were other ways to recycle the roses. But no. For the camera, he had to play the jerk.
If Roy was not actually playing to the camera, he doesn't care what I think about him. This is probably the best thing about him, and the best money-saving tip to come from the whole show: The less one cares about what people think, the more one is going to be willing to try extreme ways to save money. That might be a good, self-reliant trait. That also might be pure nutso.
I recycle foil that hasn't been used for wrapping meat. I make everybody squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube, and I then cut it to get the last of it. I cook roasts, which I then use as lunch meat during the week. I gave up a long time ago on buying furniture brand new, and if I can find good quality at Big Lots or HOBO, I'll buy it there before going to a brand-name store. I keep my Android phone in a plastic sandwich bag, as covers don't work well with me and I am hard on cell phone faces. I buy books used when I can. I above-average coupon not just for my immediate family, but for my parish food pantry. I don't think I'll be watching if this is made into a series, but I got a few good ideas.
You will have your own idiosyncrasies when it comes to saving money. But please don't stop being generous in your giving when it comes to presents and special occasions. Please don't let saving money turn you to behave as Roy appeared on camera. Presents can still be wrapped, even if they've been scrounged or purchased from the thrift store. Don't beg for people's leftover at restaurants.
And if you use toilet paper, please, please leave the 2-ply alone.