When I was in Grade 5 — same age as Bronwyn is now — one of my lunchroom friends unabashedly told me that her mother washed and re-used plastic drinking straws. Not to be confused with the meant-to-be-reused glass Strawsome straws, but flimsy plastic disposable straws. This family also pinched spider-plant babies from public places, put them to water until they formed roots, and hence scored free houseplants. This mom managed, with her husband, to put three girls through university and pay off a house, so who am I to judge her money-saving habits?
Years later, I would date (but not marry) an environmentally-minded man who washed and re-used plastic wrap. Yes, I know what you're thinking: If he were truly environmentally-minded, he wouldn't have used plastic wrap at all. But my point is, you're not supposed to re-use plastic wrap, just like you're not supposed to microwave leftovers in re-purposed yogurt containers. In both cases, there's a health risk involved. I knew things wouldn't go on much longer with this beau when I spotted him saving a receipt from our dinner date. I have the antithesis of a poker face, so he must have spotted my skeptical visage when he offered, "It's for my tax return."
Dude, that's breaking the rules. And breaking the rules, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the signs you've morphed from frugalista to cheapskate. Plus, it's breaking the rules. (I'm a straight-and-narrow kind of girl, especially when it comes to dealings with the Canada Revenue Agency.) Not to mention, it was soooo not romantic.
The topic of what makes a cheapskate is alive and well on the Internet. Recently, The Globe and Mail posted an online survey to determine which qualities make someone "cheap" as opposed to "bargain-conscious", asking participants, "What are your most unusual methods of saving money?"
Here are a few behaviours that I consider to be responsible and frugal:
Here are a few behaviours I believe fall in the cheapskate category:
What's your take: Is there such a thing as "too frugal"? Sound off here.
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