Is Currently a Terrible Show
I don’t have television in my house, but I got to watch some recently. If you’re unaware, there is a show called Extreme Cheapskates on TLC, and it is currently terrible. The simple premise is to follow around self-proclaimed cheapskates, in order to watch the interesting ways they save money. That’s a fine premise for a show, particularly one featured on “The Learning Channel.” (I use those quotation marks with full sarcasm.)
In execution, the show follows a person or family as they engage in typically ineffective strategies for saving money. One episode I saw featured a guy I’ll call Captain Pointless. The Captain showed off his strategy of taking (stealing) all the complimentary half-and-half creamers from a restaurant when he eats out. He pours them all into a bottle, and gives the bottle to his young daughter to shake until it becomes butter. Sadly, the show never reveals if this churning works, but the daughter claims it does.
Since the show fails to even estimate the usefulness of these savings, I’ll do it for them. Let’s generously grant that Captain Pointless stole sufficient creamers to fill a liter bottle, which will churn forth an incredible half-pound of butter. At a decent price for real butter, Captain Pointless saves himself at most $1.25 on butter per restaurant visit.
Except, to fill his bottle, he had to steal/gather 100 creamers, which costs the restaurant $4.69, forcing them to raise their prices the next time he comes to eat dinner there.
The show has every opportunity to sit down and show the expected savings from his actions—they do it on Storage Wars—but Captain Pointless is too busy to pay attention to things like math or actually trying to save money.
Another episode featured a woman who ate one meal per day, at an all you can eat buffet. The health of this matter notwithstanding, she’s not saving herself much money in my estimation. Faithful readers already know they can cook a hearty, healthy meal for under $2 per person. Granting that Buffet Lady uses a coupon every day, she’s probably sneaking her multi-meal for around $8, or $2.67 per meal if she ate them separately. Not a bad price for meals at a restaurant, but you can certainly eat cheaper at home. Oh, and you don’t have to convince your boss to let you take off 10:45-11:45 every day so you can hit that 11:00AM lunch buffet power hour.
Unfortunately, frugality isn’t typically that exciting to watch. Automating $20 per paycheck into a retirement account doesn’t take any time beyond a few minutes to fill out the initial paperwork. Ordering water instead of a beer just once will save you enough money to buy a whole pound of butter.
Your assignment, dear reader, is to think about one thing you already regularly do that saves you money, and then feel good about it. The normalcy of it may not be exciting, but it is satisfying to be at least one step toward your goals.