Is TLC’s ‘Extreme Cheapskates’, a little too extreme?


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!


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  1. JustHazel

    2 years ago

    She’ll be on another show soon enough – Dr Phil or Dr Drew come to mind.

    I have my idiot-syncrasies but jeepers …

  2. Susan.Yoo-Lee

    2 years ago

    Right? From all jokes aside when there are any extremes in someone’s life it’s compensating for something that’s missing in their lives.

  3. JustHazel

    2 years ago

    Okay, I fell for it … you pulled off a perfect “Made You Look”

    I did make the choice to look so the tsk tsk is on me. I had no idea this show was out there until I read your blog. So last night I got in my comfy cozies and checked the On Demand stuff. There it was. In what you wrote, you were way too kind, lol!

    This woman really has issues, this was beyond disturbing. Some of the things weren’t that bad, halibut, I have a pair of shorts I’ve been wearing for 20 years.

    But, for this woman not to be able to see how wrong that “meal” she served was, I was mortified. Okay, beyond mortified. It’s one thing for her to feed herself that way, but to throw it all in a pot and serve it to others? That’s a severe problem.

    Then I thought about how certain extreme shows tend to manipulate. I hope this woman was goaded into doing that and that she would never do it on her own. I hope the show tested the food before they allowed it to be served. I hope her guests knew before they agreed to be on the show that it would happen.

    I’m also wondering about the bathroom trip one of the guests took. They didn’t go into that but I know how I would be if I went into the home of a friend and there was no TP or kleenex or something, anything.

    The whole thing just seemed wrong on too many levels.

    I then watched the 2nd episode and while the two people featured were a little kooky, it didn’t give me that feeling of total gloom for them.

    Gotta take this stuff with a grain of salt – and not a grain of salt licked out of the container of a dumpster diving run. (Allegra, please don’t go this far, lolololol)

    Will I watch more episodes? Probably. For all my foibles, watching things like this make me feel like a queen in the land of normalcy!

  4. JustHazel

    2 years ago

    Ohmygarsh I just had another thought, if it was so hot in her apt that one of the guests had to step outside, can you imagine the food in the plastic bags on the street?

    Okay, I’ll call Dr Phil and Dr Drew because I think I’m mentally scarred, lol!

  5. Susan.Yoo-Lee

    2 years ago

    You are so right. It’s very disturbing. I can’t imagine someone serving me dumpster food, especially if it’s the first time you’ve met them. I was actually gagging along with the girlfriend.

    Did you watch the episode with the guy who goes on the blind date, what a way to impress the gal? But after the fact, she still thought he was nice enough to warrant another date. Or the dad who took a bag of coins to the buffet? I watched during the marathon night and will probably watch the new episode this evening as well. Like you said, the show makes me feel extremely normal.

  6. JustHazel

    2 years ago

    LOL … ayup, shore did. Its like Honey Boo Boo, don’t want to watch but can’t stop myself!

    I’d swoon for the goon, too. Um, not. One male in a bathroom with a once a week rule is one thing … but 3 males? (shudder) He should hook up with Kate!

    The coin dude – I kept looking at the condition of the house. Did they mention if he had been this way his whole life?

    Ah, the fun!

  7. JayFleischman

    2 years ago

    It reminds me of the episode of Seinfeld when Elaine starts dating this guy who takes her dumpster diving for (if I recall correctly) donuts.

    Seems to me that if she’s neat, hygienic, healthy and professional looking then who am I to judge. Not for me, but all the power to her.

  8. Susan.Yoo-Lee

    2 years ago

    @JayFleischman that’s definitely the best way to look at it.

  9. Allegra.Ringo

    2 years ago

    @Hazel, haha, leave me out of this!

    I think her dumpster diving for food is just fine- from what I understand from dumpster divers, they are very diligent about checking expiration dates and being very careful to smell the food (to make sure it hasn’t gone bad) before taking it. After all, they don’t want to get sick, themselves!

    I think a lot of her other habits are a little too extreme, though. For example, not turning on the gas. I’d argue that she could save money in the long run by having access to an oven to cook her food in. Plus, $17 is just not a lot of money (for most people- of course I understand it’s a different story if you’re part of the working poor, but I get the sense that this woman is not). I think some of her tactics seem a little short-sighted.

  10. JustHazel

    2 years ago

    @dealtown … no, lol. You started it (neener)

    Yeah, I don’t have a problem with the DD for food herself, but, when she served it to her guests – that just didn’t sit well with me. With the level of hot in her apartment, if that food sat outside for any amount of time – it could have done some serious damage to the guests. She’s probably like me and has a cast iron stomach – okay, built up tolerance, but to the average tummy it could have caused a world of hurt.

    In watching the two episodes – there was a totally different feeling I got from watching her as opposed to the other two.

    You can bet I’ll be watching more episodes!

  11. Susan.Yoo-Lee

    2 years ago

    You all are too funny! I have a very sensitive stomach so I would have end up on the ER table with my stomach being pumped.

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