I was watching Extreme Cheapskates from TLC on Netflix this weekend and literally finished all of the episodes within two days!

I know, I should probably be some mega serious, literary snob, but I’m just NOT!

This is not to say that I love reality TV, but some in moderation can be good. I particularly love shows that give an introspective look into the way other people live, like hoarders. This show is no exception to this as I was able to glimpse the unbelievable extremes some people go through just to save a penny!

I have seen some blogs that really trash talk this show and the people on it, but I think that kind of talk is uncalled for. People are entitled to live their lives as they see fit and if they aren’t hurting anyone, then don’t worry about it.

Mostly, I found the show entertaining, useful in certain aspects, and sad in certain cases. Some of the cheapskates actually had some pretty good money-saving tips like using vinegar and baking soda to clean the toilet and buying less popular cuts of meat and fish.

There was also the bartering system of sweeping the barber’s floors for a haircut, which isn’t a bad idea either if you are striped for cash and have tons of time on your hands.

Then, of course, there were other extremes which just left me feeling blue that a person could be so obsessed with saving a penny that they’d make themselves and their family suffer. What was insane about these cheapskates was the fact that they had very good jobs and tons of money saved up in the bank!

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for financial independence and reducing waste, but when it eats into your happiness and a decent quality of living, I draw the line. The sole purpose of money is to enable you to do things that make you happy.

Now, the caveat is that within a consumer society, people simply consume to consume thinking that more is more: happiness can be bought. This isn’t true, but you have to at least cover your basic needs in a healthy manner. Is eating from the dumpster really covering your basic needs in a healthy manner?

I suppose it fills your stomach, but that wouldn’t make me happy. What is more is that you can easily eat well for less if you cook your own food and shop with coupons – so why the need to go to this extreme?

The real kicker was the father who forced his children to live with almost no furniture and only took them out once a year while he had over $100,000 in the bank! – really?! That was the saddest thing I had ever seen. What is the point? Are you planning on taking it with you when you die?

Overall, it seems like being an ‘extreme cheapskate’ is a pathological obsession with money. In the same way that some people are obsessed with consumerism/materialism, these cheapskates are obsessed with money – it was all they could talk about!

Do I think that every individuals’ relationship with money should change for the better? Absolutely! America is an example of consumerism gone mad! But you also have to value yourself, your time, and your pursuit of happiness.

Everything is a trade-off. You are either going to trade your money, or you are going to trade your time. Ultimately, your happiness is at stake, and I don’t think it takes that much to be happy. It all begins from within, not from without.

Happy Saving Everyone! Until next time,

Nina Limardo