Author Topic: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate  (Read 5698 times)


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 492
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Bellevue, WA
My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« on: May 14, 2014, 12:02:36 PM »
I've come to realize that I'm cheap (rather than frugal) in certain areas. To be clear, I'm not cheap everywhere - I tip generously (on the rare occasions we eat out) and I don't mooch, but I frequently buy cheap things and come to regret it.

A couple examples:

* A few weeks ago our bathtub drain backed up. I bought a cheap plumbing snake and tried to fix it. After several hours of fruitless labor, I went back to the store and bought the slightly better one. Cleared the blockage easily in a couple minutes.

* Last week I bought some cheap new tires for my bike, as the originals were worn down enough that the fabric had started showing through. Today I noticed a rhythmic "bump" as I was riding - a section of the one of the tires has a "hernia" of sorts and will certainly need to be replaced again right away.

This sort of thing has happened to me countless times. The extra monetary cost (compared with buying a better option to begin with) is typically low because the cheap things are by nature inexpensive, but the extra time and aggravation are really starting to get to me.

I think the biggest reason I usually buy the cheapest option first is that I don't trust price as an indicator of quality - while the cheap one is often a piece of crap, the mid-range or expensive options could also turn out poorly, and then I would regret it even more because of the higher cost.

Thoughts? Suggestions?


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
  • Location: San Francisco
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2014, 12:21:56 PM »
I wouldn't be to hard on myself if I were you.  As long as the downside of being cheap are small or inexpensive, like having to go to the store to return something or replacing a part, I would continue to choose the least expensive option.  Unless you actually know better and are still choosing the least expensive option then your just not optimizing.

Now if you were to say go cheap on something that could potentially have a significant downside such as cheap car breaks or smoke detectors that don't work, that's where being cheap is detrimental.

Somethings you just have to gain experience to learn, and most of the time the cheapest option is more than good enough.


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 335
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2014, 12:27:02 PM »
Sounds like maybe doing a little research before some of your purchases could save you money and frustration in the long run?

We had a similar situation recently. My husband rented a drain thing to unclog our main drain to the street. It didn't work. We had to hire a root rooter guy AND pay for the rental. Hindsight is 20/20!

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1572
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2014, 12:37:07 PM »
These events stand out because they're negative. You're forgetting all of the times you were cheap and it worked out fine.


  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 513
  • Age: 73
  • Location: Gulf Coast, TX
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2014, 04:41:32 PM »
There is also a forum called Buy it for Life that discusses the things to buy if you intend to never buy it or a similar product again.  Sorry, I don't have the URL, but a Google search should work.


  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5643
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2014, 05:02:13 PM »
I bought good cookware that was stainless steel 30 years ago & it still looks great but some times it pays to buy the cheaper or middle of the road.  It really depends on how much you plan to use it.


  • Guest
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2014, 05:06:54 PM »
This is why I research purchases and ask for recommendations (or anti-recommendations).

Sites like The Wirecutter and The Sweethome which do in-depth guides/meta-reviews are golden. Way more useful than Amazon reviews.


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 467
  • Age: 32
  • Location: NYC
    • Small Things Good
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2014, 05:47:17 PM »
Ok, I relate to this because I used to fall into this cycle of buying the cheapest possible option and then having to quickly replace it with something more expensive. Here's what I learned: The Internet is your friend. There are a million people out there who have nothing better to do than write product reviews on websites. Take advantage of this. If you need to buy something, go to a site that sells it, and read all the different reviews. It also helps if you can ask someone with a bit more experience.

For example, my Mom is pretty frugal, before I make a home purchase I ask her how much she would pay for something. In certain cases, like with curtains and towels, she has told me she doesn't think paying top dollar is worth it. But when I brought up purchasing some cheap $10 bedroom pillows, she told me they would flatten out within a week. Of course I didn't listen, and I am currently waiting on an order of some newer more expensive bed pillows. 


  • Guest
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2014, 01:03:52 PM »

Don't be so hard on yourself.  A cheapskate is a person who pushes frugality into craziness and usually at other people's expense.  If you go out to dinner, even if only once a year, and you tip a good server 15% plus, you can't call yourself a cheapskate. 

That said, you do seem to have a tendancy, like all do at one time or another, to be "penny wise and pound foolish" in your purchases.  The trick is to really think through how valuable a product or service to you is and how much or little you need to pay to get that value.  A good example is boots.  If you wear boots only occasionally a $50-60 pair that fits OK will last most of your life if cared for properly.  If you live and work hard in boots that same pair will wear out in a year even if cared for and probably strain your back over time.  But a $300 pair that fit perfectly will last a decade and cause no pain.  If you go on a short tropical vacation and forget your $100 sun glasses, it doesn't make any sense to buy another $100 pair if a $10 pair will do - or just squint a lot. 

It's tricky business because you have to understand yourself, how basic materials work, and what hidden costs might be incurred.  I would have bought the cheaper plumbing snake to fix the toilet too, since I rarely have the problem enough to justify paying more.  And it can be subjective.  Some people are so incompetent at a task they're totally justified paying somebody else to do it.  Especially when the task doesn't come along often enough to justify learning it.  But even then it pays to know when to spring for quality labor for, say fixing your car brakes, as opposed to cheap labor changing the washer fluid.


  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 611
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Beep Beep!
    • The CCD
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2014, 01:07:55 PM »
1. Relax. At least you didn't buy a house this way.

2. Make it a habit to do your research first.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 136
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2014, 10:19:49 PM »
Depending on the item/project, the higher the money involved, the more time you should spend doing a bit of research.  We use Consumers Report for a good guide for lots of things (appliances, etc.).  Also ask around to people you know (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers).  My dad use to get lots of input from the guys at the office. 


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 118
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2014, 04:32:26 AM »
"I'm not rich enough to buy cheap things" - - No idea of the source, but I've come to appreciate it's wisdom over the years. Whenever I compromise on what I know what I want and make a decision based on cost, I quickly regret it and end up getting the one I knew was the right one in the first place. Also, as I get older, my tolerance for cheap crap has been diminishing rapidly. Life's too short to deal with cheap garbage.

So, I'd rather go without something then deal with a crappy product. If I've gone through the (extensive) questioning phase and determined that yes, I would really need/like to have something, I research to find out what is the one that is the best value that meets my criteria, and wait until I can afford it.

This works as you'd expect for "lifetime" purchases, but it even works (if careful) for shorter-term needs, because you can usually resell the item in question, making the overall cost lower.

An example is Apple computers. Yep, they're more expensive up front, but they are (for me) much more enjoyable to use and actually have resale value after a few years.

Everybody likes to state that the hallmark of capitalism is that you can buy the best product at the cheapest price because of competition. My view is somewhat the opposite, that you end up buying the crappiest product they can convince you to purchase for the highest possible price, due to marketing, artificial monopolies, etc. :)


  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 522
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2014, 08:27:06 AM »
This is an area in which I like to think I am improving. I used to always go for the lowest cost solution to a problem and my husband would accuse me of being cheap. Frankly he wasn't wrong. Now I put a lot more thought into purchases and read more reviews and do more research and I haven't felt like face punching myself over a cheap purchase in a while.


  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11006
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: My name is TLV and I'm a cheapskate
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2014, 04:36:58 PM »
I went to a workshop once, on building outdoor benches.  The guy giving it really emphasized that you need to use outdoor waterproof glue in the construction.  He said he really pushes this because he had seen too many guys buy regular indoor wood glue and then have problems with their outdoor furniture construction.  He also added that women didn't seem to do this - he was not sure whether we realized the need for the proper glue, or just are better at following the materials list  ;-)

But it does seem that lots of people go for cheap/easy/on hand instead of appropriate  ;-)