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Is TLC's 'Extreme Cheapskates', a little too extreme?

By (view all posts by Susan.Yoo-Lee)
at 9:52AM Thursday October 25, 2012
under Loose Change

A few days ago, I had a little down time in the evening and came across Extreme Cheapskates on TLC.  At first, I was curious to find out why these individuals would identify themselves as a "cheapskate" but I was also interested in knowing their lifestyle.  I definitely have my cheap *ahem* frugal moments but I wouldn't consider myself a cheapskate.

The first episode I watched was a day in the life Kate Hashimoto, a CPA by day and a dumpster diving connoisseur by night. Here are some of the things she does to live a cheap lifestyle:

  • She has never bought furniture.  Everything in her tiny apartment was either a hand-me-down or found in a nearby dumpster.  The chair she found on the episode was actually pretty nice.
  • She is her own manual bidet.  She will not spend money on something that will be thrown away, hence you will not find a piece of toilet paper in her home.  You may find a water bottle filled with water next to the toilet, it's her handy-dandy self bidet.
  • She turned off her gas because it cost $17 to keep it on.  She uses a table-top burner instead and uses her stove and dishwasher for storage.
  • She tries to haggle prices.  She goes to a thrift store and finds a nice dress priced at $10.  She approaches the clerk with $5 worth of coins and asks if he would accept it.  He doesn't and she walks out empty handed.
  • She hasn't bought toiletries in ten years and she uses free samples to take care of the hygiene aspect in her life.
  • She takes a shower and does her laundry at the same time.  
  • She cuts her own hair.  She says that she used to go to a beauty school to cut her hair, but that was an additional $15.
  • She grocery shops at the dumpster. She said she gets to eat high-end gourmet food that she wouldn't pay for.  In the episode, she offers her guests turkey meatloaf, chicken fried rice, chocolate and carrot cake, courtesy of the dumpsters in front of an Upper West Side market.
There's plenty of things I haven't listed.  For Kate, this all came about after the crash where she was laid off.  She says she was always frugal, but the layoff took her to the extreme.  She seems like a nice gal, but I think this extreme lifestyle is more work and while she's able to save a little dough, she loses out on the day to day pleasures of life.

I personally think Kate should hook up with the couponing ladies of Extreme Couponing and start couponing for household items and food (she's in accounting, so calculating those match-ups will be a cinch).  No more dumpster diving and maybe she'll even use some toilet paper to wipe.

What do you think about the extreme measures these folks are taking to be extreme cheapskates?  The positives I do see are that they're extremely eco-friendly!