budget

10 Ways Your Thriftiness May Border on Theft

5 Minute Read

In an effort to save a buck or two, some folks “borrow” as much as possible—think unprotected Wi-Fi from a neighbor, three handfuls of honey mustard packets from the Burger Factory, or buy-one-get-two viewings at the movie theater.

Extreme penny-pinching is an art, but it can also go too far. Where’s the line between frugal and flat-out stealing?

We’ll let you be the judge. Are the following 10 scenarios justified or just excuses?

1. Taking Extra Toiletries or Condiments

You’ve paid for your hotel room, so that means you’ve also paid for all the tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner you can grab off the maid’s cart. Same goes for fast food napkins and condiments. They want you to enjoy a month of free lather and tiny ketchups. Customer appreciation, anyone?

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2. Using Wi-Fi or Cable Channels You Don’t Pay For

The rude neighbor who always hints that your grass needs mowing doesn’t password protect his Wi-Fi. Aw shucks. And your cable company forgot to turn off those extra channels when you unbundled last month. You’re just giving those stray signals a good home—you’re like the Humane Society for lost wavelengths.

Related: 9 Cost-Effective Alternatives to Cable

3. Taking Advantage of the Return Policy

You’ve landed a job interview, and you need a new dress to impress. But you’d rather not pay to impress. After all, you might not even get the job. So why not use the department store’s return policy as your own personal lending library? You’ll wear lots of deodorant and even lint roll when you’re done. Good as new-ish.

4. Supplying Yourself with Work Supplies

The supply closet at work is a little like the wardrobe to Narnia: The yellow pads, sticky notes and stapler refills seemingly never end. So who’s going to notice if you stock your home office with an extra box of paper clips? Besides, Herb from accounting does it—and he goes to church.

5. Skipping the “Suggested Donation” Box

Free charity concert! Oh wait, there’s a suggested donation of $20? Are you obligated to pay, and if so, does it have to be the full amount? If musicians want to volunteer their time, surely that’s up to them. After all, the invite says “suggested” for a reason—they know not everyone will pay.

6. Using a Friend’s Paid Subscription

Everything from Consumer Reports to Angie’s List requires paid subscriptions to access their full websites. But your friend or family member already pays, so why not use their password to read or watch only what you need? After all, someone is paying for it. You’re just getting their money’s worth.

7. Sneaking Food From a Buffet

What if your all-you-can-eat outing doesn’t have to end? With the help of a few gallon-sized zipper bags and a massive handbag, you can get a few more meals out of your $17.99 tab. Why else would you buy a purse the size of a Buick?

8. Downloading Music/Movies/TV Shows Without Paying

If it was free on basic cable, why shouldn’t your favorite TV show be free forever? All those Hollywood directors, actors and studios have too many beach houses anyway. They don’t need your hard-earned money to survive. Besides, you wouldn’t buy it if you didn’t get it for free, so they’re not losing your money to begin with.

9. Overdoing Freebie Days

Free Ice Cream Day. Free Doughnut Day. Free Pancake Day. To capitalize on all the freebies out there, you’ve launched Google Maps and made a plan to hit up every location multiple times. If they want to offer you a free lunch, you’ll gladly take seconds . . . and thirds . . . and fourths.

10. Sitting Through Two or Three Movies

For the cost of a couple movie tickets, you could stream movies for two or three months! So you don’t mind “reusing” your movie pass and venturing into another theater once the credits roll. It’s not like you’re stealing. The seats would’ve just sat there, cold and bottom-less, if you hadn’t warmed them up.

We hope our humor isn’t lost on you. There’s a big difference between scoring a deal and being a tightwad. If you’re getting out of debt, go ahead and make some budget cuts, but don’t cut into the bottom line of someone else’s business (someone is paying for that ketchup you’re using!).

When you’re out of debt and living like no one else, you won’t even bat an eyelash at paying for extra shampoos or subscriptions. You may even decide to pay 10 times the suggested donation at that charity event or buy a whole pack of movie tickets for your family and friends! Forget about taking extras. Think about a future of giving extras. That’s when the real fun begins.

Forget about taking extras. Think about a future of giving extras. That’s when the real fun begins.

Don’t want to be cheap, but still looking to save money? Here is how people just like you are saving money on everyday expenses.

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