The Most Cheapskate Things I’ve Ever Done

| April 23, 2014 | 46 Comments

When I started my first full-time job after graduating university, I had hardly any money to my name. I desperately wanted to start saving up as much as I could to start a nest egg, and looking back some of the things I did to save money may have been a bit extreme. Although I’ve always considered myself to be frugal not cheap, I can’t deny that I’ve done a lot of cheapskate things that are just downright ridiculous to save a buck or two. Here are just a few of the most cringe-worthy cheapskate things I’ve been hiding in my personal finance closet.

The glass milk bottle

There was this cute mom and pop grocery store near my first place, and not only did they have some great prices, they also sold a lot of organic products too. Since the area I lived in was pretty much hippy-central, I wanted to fit in and buy as many organic goods as I could afford. One of those things was organic milk. It cost $2 for a 1 litre glass bottle of organic milk, but the best part was if you cleaned and returned the bottle, you would get a dollar back. I did this back and forth for well over a year. In retrospect, I probably only saved $26 and wasted more hours than I’d like to mention cleaning and returning those milk bottles. At least I was being green right?

The black flats

I had a pair of black flats that I got for $20 at Payless Shoes. They weren’t anything special except for the fact that I had broken them in so good that they fit my feet like perfect little clouds. I would wear these shoes walking around town, when I went out dancing, and even to work they were just so darn comfortable. They definitely started to show signs of wear after about 6 months or so, but I just kept fixing any rips or marks with a black Sharpie. Those shoes lasted me a good 2 years before they really started to disintegrate. Now that’s how you make $20 stretch to the max!

The taxi dilemma

My HB can attest to this, up until about a year ago I refused to take a taxi home after a long night out. Unfortunately, public transit pretty much shuts down after midnight in Vancouver, so instead of getting a cab home, I would walk. To be fair, Vancouver is a totally walkable city. But when it’s 2am and my HB just wants to be in bed, making him walk 30 minutes with me home just to save ourselves $20 seems kind of ridiculous now that I think about it. And to top it all off, and this is by far the most cheapskate thing I’ve probably done, after our wedding night, I made my HB take public transit with me back to our apartment. We’d just spent over $16,000 on our wedding, I guess I just couldn’t bear to spend another $15 on a cab home. Welcome to married life with Jessica indeed.

What are the most ridiculously cheapskate things you’ve ever done?

Category: Mo' Money, Saving Money & Budgeting

Comments (46)

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  1. I remember during my high school days, I only had one sandal that I used aside from my school shoes. There was an instance, I noticed that the heel of my left sandal was gone, so what I did, I also removed the heel of my right sandal! I even used it for almost a year, thankfully no one noticed about that shameful incident.
    Marie @724 Credit recently posted…How To Choose The Right Credit CardMy Profile

  2. Er.. you cleaned each milk bottle? I just rinse it really well…

    As for the black flats — I’ve done that to my cheap plastic heels before during college :) Comfy shoes are COMFY SHOES.

    As for taxicabs, I can’t take them either without good reason.

    I feel so guilty when I know it only costs $2.70 for a trip back by transit….

  3. Michelle says:

    Ah the infamous black Sharpie on shoes! I did that with a pair of black pumps I just didn’t want to part with. I colored the scratches on the toes and heels but finally had to throw them out a month ago when the strap snapped off. So sad :(
    Most of the other things I do are more frugal than cheap…
    Michelle recently posted…Happy Earth Day! Saving the Earth While Staying FrugalMy Profile

  4. Bridget says:

    “after our wedding night, I made my HB take public transit with me back to our apartment. We’d just spent over $16,000 on our wedding, I guess I just couldn’t bear to spend another $15 on a cab home.”

    hahahahah oh Jess, you are my frugal hero.
    Bridget recently posted…Excel Is My HomeboyMy Profile

  5. I collect cans/bottles I use to get the deposit back. Seems silly but sometimes it’s nice to get that 60 cents back for my 12 pack of seltzer water.

    I would have done the same thing with the black flats, by the way. If the shoes are still comfortable, do what you can to make it work!
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted…I’ve been everywhere man–how to see North America on the Cheap:My Profile

    • We do that with liquor bottles, but so far we just have a whole bunch on our balcony and have yet to return them. I’m hoping we’ll at least get $15 for them (we’ve got seriously a ton!)

  6. I’ve done many cheapskate things. My most recent has been using bic shavers to remove the bobbles off my leggings and trousers.

  7. I’ve totally used the sharpie tactic before. One that I’ve done which is morally questionable is snap the stalks off of my broccoli at the grocery store. The price is by weight and I didn’t want to pay for stuff I wasn’t going to eat!

  8. Bobby says:

    What a funny article. My mother-in-law who lives in one of the old eastern bloc countries wanted to return the pizza boxes to the pizza place when I ordered pizza for us. They put it as a surcharge of about 0.50 cents and said that next time we did not have to pay for the pizza boxes of we return the ones we had.

  9. The cheapest/most shameful thing I’ve done is taken books from the “free” section in our apartment and try to sell them. I also have walked home when I’m sick and tired, just to save on bus money.
    Melanie@Dear Debt recently posted…5 Things That Will Help You Recover From Debt BurnoutMy Profile

  10. Eddy says:

    All I can say is shame on the best man for not insuring you got home without fuss on your wedding night.

    As for the milk thing, I think it was perfectly fine, so long as you didn’t spend $1 in gas going to and from the store.

  11. Well it may have only been $26 savings for returning the milk bottles but surely, mother earth is thanking you way, way more than that amount.
    Jen @Sprout Wealth recently posted…How to Start a Side Hustle While in a Day JobMy Profile

  12. NZ Muse says:

    Hahaha I still think back on my fave ever pair of black flats with fondness. So soft and comfy … but so delicate. I tried to keep getting away with wearing them even after the first hole until my BFF told me I looked like a hobo.

    One of my black dresses has a faded spot on it and I just colour it in with a marker every so often.

    I have been spoiled at my last job and gotten to take a ton of taxis but I refuse to pay for them in my personal life. Not that I go out late much. For our wedding night I made sure we got a deal that included parking and we drove our crappy car.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Quintessentially NZ things I still haven’t doneMy Profile

  13. I wouldn’t say those things are cheapskate! Just frugal, although I get cranky when it’s late so I’d probably splurge on the cab. Some once wrote a post that they consider this stealing, but I bring food and drinks to the movie theater…even wine (although that’s rare). I just don’t see the big deal because the movie is already around $15!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…How To Tame Your Spending DragonMy Profile

  14. I still almost always wear my clothes, including work clothes, into tatters until my wife makes me throw them away. They are usually at least 10 years old by that time.
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted…Zero Income Tax in RetirementMy Profile

  15. OMG. I used to use a black sharpie on anything that needed repair. For instance, sometimes a cleaning product would put a little discolouration on a black shirt and I’d sharpie in the spot. Much cheaper than buying new clothes!
    Daisy @ Add Vodka recently posted…Why I’ve Changed My Mind About Self EmploymentMy Profile

  16. I think it’s OK to make your money go as far as you can – it’s just good money management. I don’t think I’m cheap, but I am careful with my money. I think being cheap is about the appearance. I have a co-worker who drinks out of his old glass jam jar because he is too cheap to pay $5 for a reusable water bottle or $10 for a Brita water bottle. I don’t get that because in my opinion both are really good investments – and they’re eco friendly. How can you hate on that?
    Tahnya Kristina recently posted…Should adults ask their parents for money?My Profile

  17. Annie says:

    I rip the stems off of peppers and tomatoes at the grocery store before buying them because you pay by the weight… never thought about doing it with broccoli stalks, though! I also re-gift as much as possible and have started making homemade cards rather than spending $1 at the Dollar Store for them.

  18. Kratos says:

    C’mon I don’t consider what you’ve done cheap at all.

    I’m the king of frugality. I make a lot of money, 1/2 a million bucks a year as a physician. But I am so cheap I won’t even take public transit to work, I have to bike, I don’t even have cable, I have netflix plus a VPN plus a digital HD antenna. I’m so frugal, I cringe at spending 3 bucks for a Starbucks coffee. My old bike, which got stolen, had a backlight the cover of which kind of broke and I put tape on it to fix it up.

    The flipside of all this is I am an investor. I won’t cringe at putting in 1 million bucks in the stock market but I cringe at wasting money.

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