Extreme Cheapskates: Swapping Sanity for Savings

I can’t decide which is worse: eating goat heads including the eyeballs, dumpster diving for your 25th anniversary to give your wife a present, or using squares of cloth in lieu of toilet paper because it will save you $240 a year. I think I’ll vote for the TP.

Such is the life of three painfully cheap individuals featured on TLC’s special, Extreme Cheapskates. First aired on December 28, 2011, I have a feeling that like its cousin, “Extreme Couponing,” this show is going to become a regular series in the lineup. People can’t seem to get enough of creative and quite frankly, insane ways to save money.

Jeff Yeager, 53, a featured cheapskate, speaker and author of “The Cheapskate Next Door” and another book, also has a website, www.ultimatecheapskate.com, where he shares tips and ideas for living the frugal life. Yeager lives with his wife outside of Washington, D.C.

The cameras follow him as he bargains at his local butcher for some goat heads, happy to pay a measly $7.50 for dinner. We get to watch him consuming the “delicacy” including the eyeballs. His longsuffering wife passes on it. Clearly, with speaking engagements and books, the cheapskate life has brought him some extra income, so why continue living this way? I think it’s a form of mental illness.

Yeager hides cheap wine in a bottle he has saved for special occasions, and he also likes to find loose change at places such as public phones, Laundromat’s and the seat cushions of restaurants. This, he says, yields him about $70 a year. He has biked 40 miles round trip to get around $7. At least the biking is a health benefit.

Mom of six, Angela Coffman, of Kansas City, MO, claims her family was $89,000 in debt. By going the cheapskate route, the family was able to get out of debt in a year. If you’re able to pay off $89,000 of debt in a year, a phenomenal task in a very short time, you obviously have to have that in income and more. She concurs they have a good income, yet she shuns the purchase of toilet paper in favor of cutting up cloth, which she says saves the family $240 a year. But by having to wash and sanitize urine and feces contaminated cloths, you are clearly using extra detergent, extra bleach (well, we hope she is) and additional loads of laundry, so are you really saving $20 a month? Highly doubtful. Coffman also purchases expired food and serves it to her children and neighbors kids, claiming “the cheese has no mold on it, so it must be okay.” Hmm.

And then there’s Roy Haynes, 58, of Huntington, Vermont. The camera follows him dumpster diving as he goes on the hunt for presents for his 25th wedding anniversary. He comes up with some wilted roses and a teapot. Prior to their celebratory meal out, wife Lisa practically begs him not to do what he normally does when the couple goes out to eat: take the leftovers of fellow diners. Much to her relief, he agrees not to. Alas, when he sees food on a strangers plate, he cannot stop himself. After presenting his wife the “gifts” he found earlier, he gives in to his cheapskate ways and does indeed go up to strangers asking if he can have what’s left on their plates. The wife walks out, but later returns. I’d have driven away as far and as fast as possible.

Haynes also thinks its okay to go into restaurants, ask for ketchup packets, and perform the tedious, time consuming task of pouring said ketchup packets into a ketchup bottle. This, he says, saves him $70 a year. I have a big problem with this for a couple of reasons. He’s taking from someone else, in this case, a restaurant, who has to pay for their ketchup packets, and assuming he is entitled to that for free, just because he’s cheap. If I owned a restaurant, I’d ban the man from coming within 50 yards of my place. Why is he given free ketchup packets? Buy it, like everyone else has to. Otherwise, grow your own tomatoes and make it.

Secondly, Haynes and his wife live alone. One would have to spend $5.83 a month on ketchup to reach $70 a year. Even the popular name brand ketchups in a medium sized bottle sell for far less than that, so the $70 savings claim is quite unrealistic unless you’re drowning every meal, every day in the stuff.

Which brings me to my final comment. These people are delusional and probably could benefit from a few hours on a psychiatrist’s couch. Having said that, however, I can’t wait to see the next episode.

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