Have you ever watched the TLC show “Extreme Cheapskates?” If you haven’t, let me introduce you to the reality show craziness… it’s a show about people who are obsessively cheap in their lives. They will go to crazy levels to save a dollar, even if it means disturbing family or guests, or living a low quality of life.
I was entertained watching the show, but it was painfully obvious to me that it was made up of lies and deceit. Most of the people in the show are not nearly as exaggeratedly cheap as they tried to let on.
It makes sense – after all, it’s a reality show and they had to make a watchable show… no one is going to watch people balancing checkbooks or calling cell phone companies to reduce the monthly recurring fee. That’s dull.
However, it does place frugal people like myself in a horrible light and it equates our frugal way of life with one of extreme cheapness. So even though I’m a bit late in the game regarding this show, I still want to share the five reasons why I know this show – and its super cheap participants – are fake and overly exaggerated.
Spending on the expensive, saving on the cheap
What’s the point of saving a few cents on cotton balls if you’re spending hundreds of additional dollars on land tax, mortgage and car payments? A true frugal lady or gentleman understands that there is little point to focusing on the small savings if you are ignoring huge expenses.
These ‘extreme cheapskates’ all seem to follow a pattern: they are excessively frugal on tiny, cheap bits & pieces, but buy/rent HUGE homes (some with pools) that likely eat up electricity, heating, bills and require higher mortgage payments. They also have nice cars, go to salons, etc.
Here’s an example of the fakeness: a family reusing bath water and using newspapers as toilet paper. But then, in the background, you can clearly see an entire wall of blu ray discs.
Give me a break.
Producers tell them what to do
Yes. It’s true. TLC producers invent situations and ideas to prove the cheapskates’ cheapness in the craziest ways possible.
BrokeRichGirl, a fellow frugality blogger, was one of the people contacted by TLC to be on the show. Her frugality was apparently not ‘crazy’ enough to make an impact. So the staff asked her to join numerous dating sites to prove, obviously, that she’s such a cheapskate that she goes out on dates only for the free food. She refused to comply and was not selected for the show.
Some of the habits are unrealistic
Using hair as dental floss? Is that even physically possible? Does a strand of hair have the necessary strength to be used that way? I highly, highly doubt it. It sounds like one of those invented situations by producers.
Some of the habits are more expensive than the alternative
In one episode, one ‘schmuck’ (sorry but as a true frugal lady, I’m upset by fakers) drives all over the city to pick up ketchup packets from restaurants so he doesn’t have to buy a new ketchup bottle.
You know what’s more expensive than a freaking ketchup bottle? The amount of money used to drive around for hours picking up ketchup packets. He burned more gas and added wear & tear to the car then what he saved on a ketchup bottle.
They did it for FREE
Heck, if I’m going to ruin my reputation on a reality show (let’s face it – they do their best to make people come off as crazy), then I better be getting something out of it. I’m smart about money and that’s what makes me frugal. My time isn’t free and my entertainment value should be valued monetarily. At the very least I would demand that All the Frugal Ladies be mentioned in the show for the sake of exposure.
But here’s the thing – participants in Extreme Cheapskates are in the show for zero pay at all. They don’t get paid so TLC is really the only one making big bucks off of advertisement. According to one participant, they don’t even have the decency to send them a free copy of the show.
What was in it for most of the participants, then? I have no idea. 5 minutes of minor fame?
Anyway.. :/ Watch the show. It’s reality ‘trash’ and that’s what makes it fun. Here’s a playlist of shorts if you want to take a peek:
Let me know if you watched the show below – and your thoughts on it, of course! Do you find the show to be ‘real’?