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A Penny Saved...or Just Cheap?

Updated on June 14, 2012

Hey! There's a Penny in There.

The old adage “A fool and his money are soon parted,” may be true in most cases, but not for those mentioned in this article. There was a show on TV some years ago featuring real people who were vying for the honor of being considered as the cheapest person in America. In fact, the name of the show might have been Real People. Two come to mind.

One was a man so cheap he took two-ply toilet paper and made it one-ply. The other took tubes of toothpaste nearing their final squirt and cut the tops off to make sure they were completely empty. He gave the tubes to an equally cheap friend who cut them open, spread them out and pounded them into metal sheets. Who knows for what purpose.

The world is full of cheapskates and chances are you know a few. But if told they’re cheap they immediately go on the defensive using alternate words such as frugal, thrifty or economically minded. No matter what flag they’re flying under, cheap is still cheap. It’s one thing to be broke it’s another to be cheap.

For example, have you ever borrowed a quarter for a vending machine and honestly forgot to pay it back? Many have. And if after a week you haven’t paid it back there’s the skinflint who will constantly be in your face until the debt is repaid. This is the guy, who after being invited to join a group for lunch, suddenly discovers he left his wallet at home.

But even if he didn’t, it’s likely he will leave the smallest tip…or none at all figuring everybody else already did. In the rare event he happens to be carrying a few bucks, expect this comment. “I’m not hungry.” Not surprisingly, when your order arrives, they’ll ask for a bite of yours. Now, you might also notice, although they never pay their fair share, their wardrobe is much nicer than yours.

We all know people like this. Ever been to a potluck dinner where there is always one who will take back any leftovers they brought? Or the hostess who takes the best entrees guests brought and puts them out of sight, hoping to keep it for themselves?

If one thinks about it, there are different categories of cheapness. There’s the common garden variety cheapo, the ones who swipe sugar packets, napkins and salt shakers when dining out. And at his house there’s not one single name brand product. During the winter, there will be ice cycles hanging from the ceiling. During the summer his house will be rented out as a sauna.

Next, there’s the slightly more bold who grab ash trays, towels and light bulbs before checking out of a motel. They’d get the TV too if it wasn’t bolted down. The next class would be those who saved every penny ever since they were tall enough to reach the gumball machine in their quest to become the world’s youngest millionaire.

Yes, there are truly some real tightwads around. Come on now…making your own one-ply toilet paper? Actually, it was later revealed the man who did this wasn’t really being cheap. All the money he saved by being frugal was given to charity.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      moonlake , a good swift kick has cured many an ailment.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      My husband tried to be cheap by not opening his wallet fast enough. I kick him under the table and he whips that wallet out.

      Very interesting hub. I enjoyed reading it.