When it comes to saving money, just how far will you go to save that extra dollar?
Some can’t be bothered, forgoing a couple of bucks here and there for the sake of convenience. Others will go to the extreme, similar to who you might find on an episode of Extreme Cheapskates, from making their own soap, to re-using towels in place of toilet paper.
And then there’s some who are uber chintzy, but borderline criminal in the way they ‘save’ money, working in the grey areas of what’s socially acceptable.
So, do you consider yourself cheap, chintzy, or just plain criminal? We’ll look at common scenarios of frugality, and whether they cross the line to fugitive.
Using someone else’s WIFI.
This is a classic cheap/chintzy/criminal case many people are guilty of. We know a fair amount of people that get giddy when they find an unprotected WIFI network to pilfer bandwidth from.
While it’s not physically reaching into the network owner’s pocket and taking their cash, you’re still taking something that he or she paid for, which doesn’t include you and your streaming episodes of Marvel’s Inhumans.
Savings Scale: Chintzy
We don’t condone piggybacking off a poor, tech-confused person’s WIFI – but not having a password protected network in this day and age is just asking for people to hop onto the Web.
If you can help it, always pay for your own internet. You’ll slow down the network for that poor, aforementioned fellow, who may blame their service provider, or upgrade to a more expensive package because of you.
For free WIFI, many fast food joints, transit stations, malls, and other public venues have a network anyone can link up to.
Taking restaurant condiments home.
You’ve seen that person before. The guy or girl that orders a small fries, takes their bag to the condiment and napkins area, and proceeds to clean the place out. Extra ketchup, mustard, mayo, and even napkins and plastic utensils are all welcome in their takeout bag.
Fast food restaurants typically dish out extra condiments, but for some, a week’s worth just isn’t enough.
Savings Scale: Cheap
As long as you’re not eradicating their entire supply, this is being cheap. You’re technically paying for the condiments with your meal, so feel free to take a few extra for the fridge or pantry.
Don’t rely on them as your sole source of condiments, though!
Using an item for a bit, then returning it.
With the ease of online shopping, buying – and then returning – products, especially clothes, is very common. It’s hard to argue with an online shopper who says, ‘it doesn’t fit’, since they didn’t have the opportunity to try it on in person.
Exploitative shoppers can now buy high-end, designer clothing for a special event, look like a million bucks for a night, and then return it the next day at no cost to them.
We even know some shoppers that will go so far to buy an item (electronics are a good example), use it until the warranty approaches, and then break the thing for a brand-new replacement.
‘I paid for the warranty, so it isn’t stealing,’ they say.
Savings Scale: Chintzy / Criminal
For the former example of buying then selling, since you aren’t actually keeping anything, we won’t say it’s criminal. But it’s very chintzy, seeing as you’re getting value out of a product you had no intention to pay for. Rather than going through the hassle to game the system though, you could always pick up a side job for extra cash during the time you’d be scouring the Web.
The warranty hoax is straight criminal. Warranties are to protect the original product, not an extension of the product’s value to you. Shame, shame!
Bringing plastic containers to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The final frugal situation we’ll examine is a bold, veteran move that’s been around since…well, the beginnings of buffets.
Heavily frowned upon by restaurant owners, and applauded by restaurant onlookers, some people swear by bringing extra takeout containers to the buffet. Rather than paying for one large, pants-stretching meal, they’ll covertly bring full plates of food back to the table – not for consumption, but for safe keeping.
This is certainly a grey area, though some buffets explicitly state you can’t take leftovers. But that doesn’t stop people from trying anyway.
Savings Scale: Criminal
Yes, it’s kind of an unwritten loophole here, but it works both ways: the restaurant owner assumes you’re paying for one giant meal here, not a keep-what-you-can-carry arrangement.
Rather than toeing the grey line, to get the most bite for your buck, we suggest stretchy eating pants, or a little 12-hour fast pre-buffet to prepare for mealtime.
If a tight money situation is pushing you from cheap to criminal, a short-term, bad credit loan from Magical Credit can help you afford the finer things in life, like ketchup and fast internet.