Penny Pinchers: Is It Okay To Be Cheap?

Extreme Couponing and Extreme Cheapskates are two cable programs which highlight those people who attempt to squeeze every ounce out of their collected pennies – people who are cheap. In Couponing, viewers can look on with both shock and amazement as shoppers purchase $1,000 worth of products for only one dollar. In Cheapskates, viewers can watch as someone decides to start a date by eating free chips and salsa and running out on the actual meal.

In the end, both shows attempt to show viewers how they can save the maximum amount of money on everything from groceries to toiletries to vacations. However, is this what they’re really doing, or are they showing us extremes which we should never do in our own lives? Getting into specifics when it comes to a young family, are these shows providing a good example on responsible finances?

It’s certainly true that being somewhat cheap and saving money is an important trait to provide for your children. It, along with the concept of responsible and credit-free spending, are the stepping stones to financial success for your kids. This is particularly the case when you’ve struggled for years to make changes to your own monetary practices. However, following the practices shown in Couponing and Cheapskates, could do more harm than good. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Harm to businesses.

In one episode of Cheapskates, a husband and wife try to bargain for the lowest possible price for a room at a dude ranch. When the smoke clears, they end up in a small room with a bunk bed, with two people on each level. There are two harmful elements to this. First, the business loses money, and since this instance took place in the off-season, the lodging location lost funds they normally don’t see. Second, two per mattress in a bunk bed could potentially violate rules when it comes to fire. Should these people get injured or die, the liability to the business could be even greater than normal.

There’s also harm when it comes to returning to this or any type of business. This actually took place after the airing of several episodes of Extreme Couponing. Seeing the potential loss of merchandise and money from waves of future extreme couponers, supermarket chains locked down their policies, with many limiting the use of duplicate coupons to three or less. In the case of those on Cheapskates, the group of businesses they can work with dwindles as owners or managers decide they will no longer service these cheap people.

2. Harm to others.

As the overused quote asks, “What about the children?” Getting to the cheap point where you’re asking others for their lactating milk because you don’t want to bottle yours anymore sets a stigma not only for the person asking but for the child. Life in school and with friends is tough enough. Having a parent who is extremely cheap can potentially lead to verbal and physical harm to the child.


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