When Extreme Frugal Living goes too Far

There are so many positive things that come out of being frugal.  It can help you pay down debt, save for a trip, or just live within your means.  It can help you reach your dreams, and put you further ahead in the long run.  But when have you crossed the line?  Do you practice extreme frugal living no matter the cost to those around you?

extreme frugal living

If you are cheating organizations and stores, stealing, or taking advantage of those around you, bottom line is you are being too cheap and are crossing a line.  Frugality isn’t about hurting those around you so you get ahead.  It isn’t about constantly seeing what you can get out of other people to benefit yourself.

Today I am sharing a list of things that are on the “Do NOT do” list when it comes to extreme frugal living.  We want to live a thrifty life we are proud of, not one that is full of unethical choices.


Eating at a restaurant but not leaving a tip.  Look, if you don’t have enough money to leave a tip,you don’t have enough money to eat out.  Also, leaving a 10 cent tip is also in poor taste.  Just don’t do it.  You should leave a tip of 15% of your bill.  If you had great service and want to be generous, feel free to leave more.  But if you can’t tip 15%, then you need to eat at home.  Also, if you have a coupon you need to tip on the price of the actual meal before the coupon is applied.

Stuffing your pockets with things like ketchup packets when you go to a restaurant.  Don’t take more than you need for your meal, simple as that.

Getting your child to lie about their age.  Many places offer deals or children get free to some places if they are a certain age.  Don’t lie to save a buck.  First of all, what are we teaching our children by doing that?  And secondly, do you know how honest kids are? They are bound to break your cover by declaring their actual age!

Never giving money away.  Part of being frugal is so that you can give to causes (or people) that you believe in.  Granted, there may be times in your life that just isn’t possible.  If you are having trouble feeding yourself or your children, obviously you need to focus on that before you can look at sharing with others.

But if that isn’t the case, I encourage you to look at ways you can share with others. And be honest with yourself on whether you truly can’t afford it or not. It can be as little as paying for the person behind you in the drive thru, or as big as donating monthly to a local organization.

We sponsored a child from another country for 7 years (even through some of our toughest financial times) and just got word that her family is not in need of our assistance anymore because the program helped them get on their feet.  There is no better feeling than knowing you can be a part of helping in something like that, and the blessings we received in return when she would write us has changed us for the better.

Not correcting a cashier when she doesn’t charge you accidentally.  We all make mistakes, and sometimes cashiers forget to ring something in.  If you notice but say nothing it is wrong.  Often in those situations the cashier will have to pay out of their own pocket to correct the mistake.  Like I said, we all make mistakes so give the cashier some grace and be honest.

Constantly asking for free stuff from those around you.  I have a very simple rule:  If I put the word out on Facebook or through word of mouth that I am looking for something secondhand, which could be winter boots for my child, a bookshelf, or a small kitchen appliance, I always, ALWAYS offer payment as if it was expected.  I don’t care if it’s your best friend, or your mom, or your brother.  Until they say the words “I’d like to give this to you for free” the right thing to do is ask them how much they want for it and then PAY them.

Returning an item you used because you are done with it.  If you buy something you only needed for a few uses, it is wrong to return it.  Buying a dress to go to a special event, or a book that you read from front to back are not items that should be returned.  Do the right thing and keep it.

If you need to return an item because it didn’t work for you the way you thought it would, or is defective, that is different.  That is what the return policy is for.  Just don’t take advantage of it.

Stuffing your pockets with freebies.  If a store offers freebies, usually it means one per person.  Don’t be that person who takes advantage of that.  It ruins it for everyone else.  We learned how to share in kindergarten – the same concept applies to us as adults.

Be proud of your frugal life, but make sure you practice frugality without stepping on those around you.  You may need to re-think your extreme frugal living if it causes you to make unethical choices.  When it comes to a thrifty life, you want to make sure it doesn’t take over to the point that nothing else matters and you put saving money above people.  Don’t take advantage of people, or businesses, or programs.  The goal is not to cheat the system.  The goal is to take control of your finances in a way that shows your morals and values are important too.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my post of 80 of the best frugal living tips for a list of frugal living ideas that do not affect those around you negatively.  There are so many ways you can live a happy and frugal life without resorting to doing things that are unethical.

What do you think?  Do you agree with the above items I’ve listed as crossing the line? Did I miss anything?

Related: Must-Haves for a Frugal Home








4 thoughts on “When Extreme Frugal Living goes too Far”

  1. Hi! Thanks for the great and very useful information. I completely agree with everything that I just read. Have a great day!

  2. There is definitely a fine line between frugal living and taking it too far. Interestingly though, in UK tipping is less of thing so people don’t mind so much if you can’t afford it. Although, you still should if you can.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *