Frugality makes the poor man rich as some might say, but not after they hear the extremes people went through just to save a buck. These Redditors share the stories of people (or themselves) and their frugal ways. See how gross or unreasonable some might get when comes to saving every last penny possible! Content has been edited for clarity.
"My dad has several moments of intense frugality. Probably one of his most infamous is when he needed to get a dental crown, and instead of paying the 'obscene amount' that they wanted him to (he had amazing insurance) he decided to forego the procedure.
When he got home we asked him what his plan was.
'I’ll make my own.'
So the next day I go out into the garage, as I heard him working. I ask what he’s up to, and he says, 'I’m making my tooth,' as he proceeds to shape a piece of hard rubber with a belt sander.
Once everything was all said and done, the tooth lay upon our table.
When we asked how he was going to actually keep this thing in his mouth, he lifted a finger as if to say 'watch child, as I reveal the mysteries of the universe to you.' He then pulled out epoxy, and began mixing it with a toothpick.
We didn’t have the heart to point out the skull and crossbones on the tube of epoxy.
That tooth is still in his mouth to this day."
"There's a place in our town that does all you can eat seafood buffet. My granddad loves it and around once a month, he invites everyone in the family to go. We all do because it's nice to catch up and see everyone.
My granddad has a sister who is incredibly tight with money. So tight it's cringe-worthy. Because she refuses to pay for a seafood buffet, and because he wants everyone to be together, my granddad pays for his sister to come.
A little while ago we all noticed that for a little old lady, whenever she comes to the seafood buffet, she carries a comically large handbag. Turns out that she was filling her handbag with plastic food containers (think Chinese takeaway) stacking her plate full of seafood, then transferring it into the plastic containers and essentially bringing home a week's worth of seafood every time she went out."
"I used to work at a place that required me to travel a lot with a bunch of other guys from work. We'd get given like 50 EUR a day to buy food and drink while we were out there, we'd usually spend around 20 on food and then go and party for the rest of the night. If we had anything left over at the end, it was a bonus. We got it, some nights, some people just didn't feel like going out and drinking, it was all good, nothing was absolutely required, some people liked to save a little cash too, but in reality, nobody viewed that cash as theirs, if there was anything left at the end, it was just a bonus. The overtime we got paid while we were overseas was enough incentive, not to mention fully subbed meals.
We had this new guy join, one night, while everyone's settling up, we're all chucking 20 EUR into the middle of the table. This guy, just drops a 10 in and acts like it's all good. We asked him why he only paid 10 when everyone else was paying 20, and he said he only spent 10. (He had a steak and like 3 drinks, definitely didn't only cost him 10). We asked for a menu and showed him that the steak alone cost 16 EUR, and the drinks were 3 EUR each, and that he was actually paying less than he should.
He finally said OK and went to grab his 10 back and replaced it with a 20, I was watching closely and saw him drop a 20 in and grab TWO 20s.
I was like, show me what you picked up, and he opened his hand to reveal two twenties, he actually tried to STEAL the cash.
Yeah, he got fired as soon as that trip was done."
"When I was in the third grade, our teacher challenged us all turn it homework in for a month straight in return for a pizza party. Anyway for weeks she pumped us up with this pizza party mostly because I think she thought she wouldn't have to go through with it. Day arrives she orders like 3 pizzas for a class of like 35 kids and cuts all the pieces in half and thirds. We had all skipped lunch for that."
"My dad got holes in his sweatpants over both knees after wearing them for years. Instead of getting new ones he just flipped them around. Wore his sweatpants backwards with the holes behind his knees for a long time. After they wore out that way, he used the remaining fabric to patch rips in his car seats. It looked terrible."
"My wife's grandmother was an insanely cheap woman—she did a lot of crazy things to save money, but this one takes the cake:
Context: For whatever reason, the only things she would spend money on were travel and jewelry.
In 2010, her and her husband (my wife's grandpa) were heading out on a European cruise. The cruise departed from southern Spain, so, to save money, she and grandpa had bought separate tickets, with entirely different itineraries, to get to Spain. Grandpa had the beginning stages of Alzheimers.
In the middle of all this, that volcano in Iceland erupts, causing hundreds of flights to get delayed and thousands to get canceled. Somehow, grandma got out on one of the last flights—delayed, of course, but she got out.
Grandpa, not so much.
So Grandpa is stuck in Atlanta and Grandma gets to Europe late, missing the start of her cruise. Because grandma was a very large woman and grandpa was strong still, they had switched luggage when traveling. So grandma arrives in Spain with zero clothes...and without any of her insulin. Grandpa, with early onset Alzheimers, is stuck, trying to figure out how to get home and not knowing where he was or why he was there. It took a lot of phone calls, but eventually they got him home alright.
Meanwhile, in Spain, grandma is determined to catch her cruise, so she buys a bus ticket to meet the boat at the next harbor. Since she had no clothing, she splurged on two pairs of $2 tights and one t-shirt. So here is this very large woman, wearing white tights and a matching shirt, on a bus, heading to catch her cruise.
Grandma refuses to spend money because the cruise is all-inclusive, so she buys absolutely zero food or even water for this 18 hour bus trip to get her to the next harbor. Some poor girl took pity on her and gave her water and snacks and was able to find out my Aunt's phone number from grandma and called her and told her: 'I seriously think she could die, she looks horrible and hasn't eaten anything and drank all my water.' My aunt found a way to wire this girl some money and asked her to take care of grandma and to help her find a doctor to get some insulin and to manage her diabetes. The girl was a champ and kept grandma alive long enough to get her to the boat.
Grandma then had the time of her life on that cruise, rocking her white tights and one shirt."
"I was set up to on a date with this girl, she asked me to meet her at Starbucks. I arrive early and wait for her. As soon as she shows up she goes and asks for two hot waters before I could get up to ask her what she wanted.
The staff give her two hot waters, she goes to the self serve area and gets a bunch of honey packets. And then takes the honey packets and water over to me. She's like 'this is even better than coffee, it's free, and we can chill here for free Wi-Fi.' I brushed it off as ok you're a bit quirky, I can deal with that. I didn't think much of it even though deep down I felt like I was ripping off the store by proxy.
Later we go out to dinner at a nice sit down place, my treat. Service was nice, food was great. Time for the bill, I pay and tip the 20%. She freaks out and yells, 'Don't be a sucker, you don't need to tip.'
I'm like, 'Don't worry about it, it's on me.'
She screams 'NO, I DIDN'T GET TIPS WHEN I WORKED AT MCDONALD'S, DON'T TIP. IF YOU DO, I WON'T GO OUT WITH YOU AGAIN.'
I'm glad that a 20% tip brought out the worst of her, at least I didn't waste another date with this person."
"A guy I know once publicly berated me for texting him for directions, saying 'don't text me, that costs me money!' This is back when SMS's were like $.10 apiece. I mean, I didn't text people for trivial reasons back in those days, but I was in a bad reception area and couldn't get a voice connection, and needed clarification on where I was supposed to meet everyone.
I showed up and the first thing out of his mouth was whining about me messaging him costing him money, so I fished a handful of change out of my pocket and threw it at his feet.
He picked up every cent of it."
"I used to work as a bartender. Had a guy who would come in every Friday night to sing karaoke. He'd occupy a table for hours, and the most he'd buy is a soda, but only because we offered free refills. And he'd rudely demand refills all night - would slam his glass on the bar and interrupt me if I was talking to another customer, and just say, 'Hey, give me another one.' I caught him multiple times sticking his fingers into the garnish fruit bin, stealing orange slices and cherries and eating them like it was a free buffet. The worst part was, it wasn't like this guy didn't have money to spend. He was a legend in his own mind and was an amateur Elvis impersonator. Used to 'brag' to me all the time how much money he'd spent on having replica Elvis clothing made by hand. If you were lucky, he'd toss you a quarter as a tip."
"At the store I work at, a regular customer comes in every single day and asks for a refill of iced coffee, hot coffee, and a small cup of steamed soy. He brings in his old cups and has his membership card in order to get free refills. We always mark his cups (he doesn't know) so we know which day he brought it in, and call him out on it. my coworkers are sick of it lately, so they just let him have it, but two days ago I looked at him and just said, 'I'm sorry sir, but these cups are noticeably old and our policy for refills only work if you stay in the store, not bring them back a day later.' He was angry, but he paid. Probably the first time he's paid full price for his drinks in a week or two."
"Well, now that I think about it, I remember some people from my life guarding days. If you ever look through my post history, you can see some crazy stuff I've dealt with.
It was not uncommon for teenagers to sneak into the park in the early hour or minutes before opening, and they would hide in bathroom stalls until there were enough people in the park that nobody ever noticed. The stupid ones would jump in line for a ride that took five minutes to walk to from the entrance, and we would walk them out.
But there was one family that perplexed us. They were caught sneaking into the park with such frequency that we charged them with trespassing. They still came in. We discovered the family drove a Cadillac Escalade, last year's model. It baffled me that people that well off could not buy passes."
"I worked as a cashier. Our store has gift cards and people get their hands on them many ways. If the card has already been used, I have no way of telling how much is left on the card. One day a woman came in with 10+ used cards and made me go through each one trying to squeeze every last cent out of them. I had to go through each card making incrementally lower and lower charge amounts to get each card to go through.
In the end there was about 20 cents worth of money spread out between those ten cards and it took the better part of 20 minutes to go through them all. The woman seemed particularly proud of her savings."
"I used to work at a Mexican chain restaurant. It was the kind of place that would refill your flour tortillas and let you have a side of lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, onions etc. (basically whatever comes on a taco besides cheese, sour cream or guacamole) for free. A family of 6 came in- Dad, mom, and 4 school-aged kids. They ordered a side of beans and a side of rice, and one glass of pop. Then they asked for about 100 tortillas and cups of veggies on the side, and passed that one drink around all 6 people. I believe their entire bill came to about $8. No tip, of course. I believe they were told not to return."
"A girl I used to know hated buying concessions at the movies, but she did something I never saw before. Not only did she sneak 20 ounce sodas, boxes of candy and candy bars in her purse, but she would pop some popcorn at home and place it in a plastic bag, then put it in her purse and take it into the theatre with her. Once, I even saw her pull out a hot dog at a movie."
"When I was 16 and worked at Starbucks, I was working a closing shift, so I was alone on the floor (my super idiotic assistant manager was in the back doing something). This guy comes in and orders a double espresso, I ring him in and go over to the bar to make it. Super simple drink, 2 shots of espresso. I put it up on the bar and this guy starts FLIPPING OUT! 'What the heck is this?'
I explain to him, it's what he ordered, a double espresso is just two shots of espresso. He continues to flip out for a good 2 minutes, my assistant manager comes out at this point but doesn't intervene. So I offer to make the man another drink, and he goes, calmly and quickly, 'Okay, I'll take a venti latte.'
And that's how a middle aged man got a $6 drink for the price of $2 at the expense of a teenage girls' dignity."
"My parents have to be one of the most frugal people I've met.
There's probably a ton I'm glazing over, but my parents really are nice people. It's just that they're really thrifty, and they hoard a fair bit:
I'm pretty sure at least 70% of the silverware is from an airline.
They would routinely ransack the condiment bar at hotels and restaurants. At one point, the fridge door was lined with single serve packets of butter, PB, jam, and those utensil bags from planes.
They still use my elementary school notebooks as scrap paper and stashed away old crayons which I have not used for more than 2 decades.
They used plastic bread bags to store food instead of plastic wrap.
Mom put up cheap children's party masks as wall decorations which creeped me out whenever I was in the living room.
Every few months, there are things taken from off the street, things that may or may not work. The latest was a brass lamp that is crumbling and broken.
The bathroom at their place has restaurant napkins and the toilet paper roll is a mess of toilet paper and paper towel rolls from who knows where re-rolled back onto the tube."
"My boss decided to forgo laundry service for the employees' uniforms. Instead, he would take them home and wash them. The kicker was, that before the washing machine would drain and spin, he'd use a hand pump to pump the still soapy water out of the machine into a 5 gallon bucket. He'd bring that bucket to work for us to use as mop water for washing the floors. You'd have to be careful changing the mop water, so as not to disturb his horde of used paper towels that were left out to dry near the sink. He also saved toothpicks. They were kept in a shirt pocket, washed and re-used. Need to unwrap small bits of electrical tape from a wire? No worries! Just wind it back on the roll. There are others as well. It was so painfully inefficient."
"When I worked at Kroger as a teenager, one of the daily duties given to a bagger (me) was to go outside with a bag and kitty litter scoop and empty the smoke butts from the disposal. One day as I made it out there, I had to stop in my tracks. There was a lady picking through the buds, grabbing the longest used ones out, shaking off the ash and kitty litter, and placing them in a zip lock bag. I could only stand there and watch, trying not to let my mouth dangle open. When she finally finished picking through, she grabbed one back out of the bag, put it in her mouth and lit it. My mouth fell open for that one. When she finally walked away, there were barely any butts left to clean out. I would see her again every once in a while for the rest of the time I worked there. I never got better at not staring."
"I went to visit my parents back home. My Mom answered the door and walked me in. My Dad was at the kitchen table with two bottles of hand lotion. Bottle 1 was cut open so it was just the bottom, like... barely 1/8 of the bottle that the inside pump tube thing can no longer reach. He had removed the pump from Bottle 2 and was using it to pump the remaining lotion from Bottle 1 into Bottle 2.
He was just holding the pump in this tiny pool of lotion and pumping into the other bottle and just looked up like, 'Oh hey, how was traffic?' I give him props for patience but I couldn't help bursting out in laughter. He just looked so silly. Probably rescued about 30 cents worth of lotion though, so he'll probably be retiring early now."
"Dad gave me $50 one night when I was headed to town to hang with some friends. I refused it but he insisted. Fine, I took it. Used it. Then 2 days later on the way to take me to the airport, he stopped at the bank. I said, 'Why are we stopping here?'
He said, 'To get back the $50 I lent you.'"
"My father-in-law used to buy coffee from Circle K every time he got gas there. Apparently he used to always grab two cups and stack them together, that way the cup wasn't too hot to hold (why he never decided to use those coffee cup sleeves is beyond me). The gas station never charged him for the extra cup, until one day when someone noticed he was taking two cups every time he came in. They started charging him a nickel for the extra cup. He got very, very upset. So much so that he ended up writing to the CEO of Circle K and threatening to take his coffee-buying business elsewhere.
Spoiler alert, he never got a response. Ever since then, he gets gas (and gas station coffee) exclusively from 7/11. Take that, Circle K."
"My great aunt and her husband. They are annoyingly frugal. They would reuse plastic spoons and things that should be disposable. But that’s not even the worst. They have like 6 dogs that they breed to sell. Whenever we go out to eat with them, they’d take everyone’s leftovers, sometimes even leftovers from other people's tables, to feed to their dogs at home. When I say leftovers, I mean the bits and pieces that the people didn’t want to eat or take home. BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN THE WORST. They have a big bowl in their sink that collects water, and they use that to wash their dishes, because using running water is a 'waste.' Then when that water in the bowl gets dirty, they transfer that water into a bigger container full of dirty water and use that to water the plants and other things outside. It’s so disgusting."
"Used to go to the bowling alley with my buddies weekly. There was a juke box there. It was 50 cents a song or three for a dollar. My friend would put in a dollar and play Free Bird three times because it's a nine-minute song and he felt he could get the most bang for his buck that way. Seriously made the entire building listen to Free Bird for 27 minutes every week. It was unbelievable."
"My best friend's mom would not buy us pumpkins to carve for Halloween... keep in mind this is a woman who, when she found out about a building in town that was up for sale for $80,000 said, 'Oh wow. I could buy that.' But couldn't give us 10 bucks for pumpkins. She's the single richest person I've ever met. Just blew my mind. My mom, who maybe had a total of $50 to her name, bought us the pumpkins. I want to explain that I don't have anything against my best friend's mom, I love her dearly, and I understand rich people don't stay rich by spending their money, but like I said, it was just crazy to me."