10% Practicality in a Bucket of Crazy
I’m a bingewatcher. If something is really good or just really hard to believe I’ll easily find myself watching between three and a dozen episodes in one sitting. You are just drawn in by the good, the bad, or the ugly and just can’t stop yourself. So I figured if I’m going to spend my hours on the couch with the remote, I might as well share the experience with you.
My first bingewatch for the year is Extreme Cheapskates that airs on TLC. The Learning Channel seems to be just teaching us all about the crazy. I don’t have cable or satellite so I had to be content with the seven episodes (pilot plus six regular episodes) of season one available on Netflix streaming.
(Very minor spoilers ahead, there is still much crazy to be seen)
Now I didn’t go into this expecting a sane discussion of practical ways of saving money. I expected a freak show and I wasn’t disappointed. However, it still did piss me off, a lot, and I found myself screaming at the TV more than once. I have no problem with frugality even in extreme cases, but I don’t feel it gives you the right to be a jerk or steal and that is what I had a problem with. Often the extreme cheapskate’s spouse and family were victims to their ways. In one case, Roy and Lisa are celebrating their 25th anniversary and as a present he gets her flowers out of a dumpster. Not even decent looking flowers. He also takes a greeting card she had received from someone else, scratches out some of the information and writes in new. Seriously? I’m not saying he needed to spend hundreds of dollars in some extravagant display of affection. But for less than $10, Roy could’ve purchased Lisa fresh flowers and a nice card. After twenty-five years of putting up with his ass that was the least she deserved.
Granted, I know some of this stuff is played up for cameras but still you know in every lie/fake there is truth. Like Terence who couldn’t spare any money to fix the front doorbell of his house or having anything but a card table and broken chairs in his living room. But on the other hand had ten different bank accounts he was hiding from his wife and children, one he claimed contained over 100,000 dollars. That isn’t being a cheapskate that’s being a liar, a cheat, and a jerk. He also took his family to a “special dinner” at a Chinese food buffet, paying with a bag of change he’d been saving all year. That was unnecessary since I’m pretty sure that any of the banks that hold his secret accounts would’ve converted that into paper bills for free. I’m just going to assume that was for the cameras, if he’s like that in real life that would’ve been the last time I would’ve done anything with him.
I did mention practical didn’t I? So let’s get off the crazy train and talk about that. There is some practical things shown and even some of the impractical can easily be made practical with some minor adjustments. Another couple featured, Jeff and Denise, take a fiscal fast once a year. For one week they don’t spend any money and make do on what they already have for meals and entertainment. I think that is an excellent way to stop, look, and appreciate what you already have. Not to mention a good way of clearing the cupboards before food expires. Jeff is also into using as much of the animal as possible when cooking and utilizes parts people usually discard. He makes this great dinner with the heads and carcasses from several salmon. The soup looked good and I really wasn’t freaked out by the salmon heads. But then I’ve watched a lot of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain so I’m used to it I suppose. But the cost of the meal was a fraction compared to if he had used salmon fillets.
Extreme Cheapskates does have some redeeming qualities but I’m not sure I would readily watch some more episodes if they became available. The crazy, mean, and the just plain stupid got to me several times and really I watch TV mostly to relax. But then you now like with a bad car wreck, sometimes you just can’t look away.