Frugal Ethics – When Frugal Becomes Just Plain Cheap
There are times when it’s tempting to lie, steal or break one of the other 10 Commandments to get a good deal but, in living frugally, we all need to stick to being honest. This is not always easy to do, but I want to give some examples that may help you stay honest. Here are some common tactics that some people use that are unethical and sometimes illegal:
Stealing “Free” Merchandise – This one really irked me! We needed some labels for the business. UPS gives their customers free unlimited labels as needed for packing when shipping with UPS. We purchased labels from a lady on Ebay. When we received them, they arrived from the UPS shipping center. The lady told us that was her “other office”! What she did is take our money and then call UPS as if she were me and have them send me “free” labels. The gaul! I confronted her and reported it to UPS. I should have known it was a “too good to be true” deal! Incidentally, this particular lady had made tens of thousands of dollars on Ebay sales of UPS “free” labels. This is not only dishonorable, but illegal.
You need some pens because you are running short so you take a handful from a store that is giving them out. This is stealing. If you take one, that’s fine. Unless they tell you to take them all, it is tacky to take a large number of them. They’re offering them simply as a courtesy.
Limit One Per Customer specials. This is one of those gray areas. The store’s intention when offering “one per customer” is generally for each customer to get the deal only once. This really means you can buy one item one time, not go back three or four times to get more. Sometimes, they say limit one per purchase. If you make more than one purchase, it may be appropriate to go back more than once. If you’re not sure, ask the store manager. If your conscience is bothering you, pass it up. Sometimes stores offer special deals where they actually lose money. If they post a limit it is because they need a certain amount of sales to make up for the loss. If there’s no limit, buy everything if you wish. If there’s a limit, use your judgment.
You buy an item and you use it a few times and then return it because you’re done with it. Stealing and lying. You probably won’t tell the sales clerk you just needed to use it for a few times and even if you do, that’s only OK if it is a rental store. If an item breaks, doesn’t work or is not the right color, it is fine to return it. If you just needed it “for a few times” (like a dress for a special occasion) and know you won’t use it again, you’re stealing if you return it.
If you eat a food item with a guarantee on the box and it tastes nasty, return it. That’s why they offer a guarantee. If you eat the entire contents of the box first and return the mostly-empty box, it probably wasn’t actually nasty.
If you try to pass off your 14 year old child as a 12 year old so that you only have to pay for a child’s meal, you are lying and teaching your child that lying is good when it benefits you.
If you go to a restaurant where it is customary to tip, tip the customary amount (usually 15%) if the service is reasonably good. If you get good service and fail to tip, you are stealing from the server. If you can’t afford the tip, go to a restaurant where it is not customary to tip (like a fast-food restaurant). If your whole family shares one entree and your kids leave a mess of ground up crackers reaching out eight feet from the table in every direction, don’t just tip on the one entree. Tip on the work you create for the server.
If you find a “great deal” that you can’t live without but you don’t have the money in your checking account, don’t write a check. Let it be the “one that got away” If you knowingly write a bad check, you are stealing and lying.
If you find a “great deal”, buy it and then hide it from your husband, you’re lying (unless it’s his birthday present ;-). If you have to hide it, you know you’re doing something wrong.
If you charge up your credit cards with frivolous things like shopping and eating out and then declare bankruptcy, you are stealing from the credit card company and from everyone who does business with that company. Bankruptcy is intended to help people who end up financially strapped because of reasons beyond their control, like catastrophic medical expenses or the death of a spouse. It is unethical to declare bankruptcy because you went on a shopping spree, because you bought something you couldn’t afford when you bought it or because you decided to change careers and no longer want to pay the student loans for your old career. (With students loans, it’s not only unethical, it’s impossible. Student loans cannot be erased through bankruptcy and the government is getting very very very aggressive about collecting on them.) You signed that piece of paper when you purchased the item saying you would pay them back and you didn’t. It’s up to you to pay them back any (legal :-) way you can, even if it does mean feeling “deprived” for a time.
One more thing about bankruptcy: It is unethical to incur lots of debt “keeping up with the Joneses” and then go bankrupt because the debt is so large. Many people look at others and say to themselves, “Those people are the same age as me. I work hard. I deserve that too.” or “our house is too small” or “our car is a real clunker so we need to buy a brand need one to “save” on repair costs ( a huge myth, by the way!). If you can afford these things, by all means, buy them. If you can’t afford those things, find a way to make more money or learn to be happy with what you have.
Frugal living is about making good financial decisions. There are so many things you can do to spend your money more wisely, so when you think you can get a “good deal”, but it requires doing something that hurts someone else, pass it up.
Whenever you’re in doubt about whether something is ethical, ask yourself if it would be OK with you if the situation were reversed and you were the person potentially coming up short. Be honest. We’ve all heard “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you would object to others doing it to you, you better look for a better way to save.
For more easy and practical ways to save money and get out of debt, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.
Very well said. Phyllis
This article is absolutely right! Thank you for a noble and spiritual lesson.
A lot of the merchants I do business with are kind and generous people. They don’t deserve to be cheated. It would be wrong, regardless; but the fact remains that most people in business are working their hardest.
Ann S in Texas
Wow! VERY eloquent! What we call a “Dutch uncle talk”. These are things we ALL need to think about as we go about our lives. Just because we can get away with something without getting caught doesn’t make it right. And yes, the Golden Rule is as important today as it was when it was first written down.
As a former server and the mother of a son currently employed as a server I truely appreciate the tip section! The rest is pretty great too.
Very well said and how true. I agree 100%
If you go to a restaurant where it is customary to tip, tip the customary amount (usually 15%) if the service is reasonably good. If you get good service and fail to tip, you are stealing from the server. If you can’t afford the tip, go to a restaurant where it is not customary to tip (like a fast-food restaurant).
This one throws me !! We tip 15- 20%, but to call it stealing if you don’t tip!!
Some people choose not to tip because of principals of mandatory tipping.We’ve noticed that servers “exspect” a tip for just bring the food/drinks to the table and then you never see them again until the bill comes. Owners should pay the servers more money or the server could get a job that pays more.
I would say stealing is a harsh word but hubby used to be a waiter. If you don’t agree with tipping then you shouldn’t go out to eat. I totally agree that if they don’t do a good job then they get a small tip but if the service is good then they should get a good tip.
A lot of waiters are taxed on 15% of what they sell, regardless of if they received it or not. They make WAY less than minimum wage and count on the tips. If you get bad service, ask for the manager. They will usually comp something for you. I always go out of my way to let managers know if my waiter did an excellent job. They always hear the negatives but people rarely hear the positives!
This is so true for many different kinds of businesses – they here about the bad service but very rarely the good service. I try very hard to let managers know and thank the people themselves when I have received exceptional service.
If you are unsure if it is ethical. Ask a 5 year old.
they are sure to tell you in no uncertain terms and usually in a voice everyone hears for 3 aisles away.
When a grocery store has a limit on a sale I usually end up being in the store 3 times over the sale period and I get the item. But I do not make special trips just to get it.
One time when I was a waitress I got a note instead of a tip. I read the note and it was from an elderly couple and she wrote that they were celebrating and he had taken her out to eat which they rarely could afford. They told me the service was wonderful but they just couldn’t afford the tip as the restaurant was more expensive than they were told. They were still in the restaurant paying the bill so I cut 2 pieces of cake and gave it to them in a take out box saying celebrate a little more. Made me feel good to do that for them.
I know the do unto others is kind of not followed as much as it should be but I try to live by it all the time. If I get something that was not on my receipt by accident next time I am in the store I will tell the check out person and pay for it then.
If you don’t set an example for young people and others you end up with another generation of the me generation.
How sweet!!! That was so kind of you!
So true grandma. We often wonder where in the world our children get their bad habits or unthoughtful ways forgetting we as adults and parents are their main example.
There will always be selfish people. Nothing you can do about that. If someone goes out to eat, and a server works hard, and the customer doesn’t tip, that shows THEIR character. Not a good one. Also, in the Catholic Church we have a concept that is called, “a sin of omission.” It means that you didn’t do something you should have, and God doesn’t look favorably on that. If you can’t afford something, don’t make someone else suffer because of it.
Yes when you don’t tip in a restaurant you are stealing from the server. You may have a personal problem with restaurants paying servers practically nothing based on expections of how many tips they will receive, but that is not the problem of a poor working mother who is being paid $2.50 per hour based on the amount of tips she will receive. She is even being taxed by the IRS based on the assumption that she is going to receive a minimum of 8% tips on every transaction. She must report any tips she makes and is taxed accordingly but if you tip nothing then she is still going to have to pay taxes on your transaction for which she got nothing. That fits my defination of stealing. You are not punishing the corp. for their policy, you are punishing the waitress who has no control over corporate policy.
What I don’t understand why in the world did they ever start doing things this way. Why don’t they pay waitress proper wages like anyone else in the first place? I would think a restaurant would be like any other business and should pay their employees proper. I had a small business and had to pay my employees and I worked as a receptionist, with the public, but never got tipped if I helped them extra. I wonder why in years past we started it that way? Just curious but not wanting to open a can of worms.
If you are shopping at a major chain that states an item has a limit of 2 per visit or 2 per purchase these are loss leaders designed to entice you into the store knowing that the chances are good that you will make additional purchases while you are there. I do not feel I am doing anything wrong to retun to the store 3 times that week as that gives them 3 chances to entice me to make additional purchases. However if the store says 2 per family or two per person then they are trying to attract more or new customers and I do not feel like it is right for me to go back for additional visits of send my family members in to purchase additional items. Many high value coupons will say limit 1 per household and I feel that is their right to limit how much of a product they give at a loss or even free. It is not right to collect these coupons and go buy one, give one to your husband to purchase, and one to you teenager,etc..
If you want to tip a waitress or waiter or someone for cleaning your room at a motel. Do not add it to the credit card bill. Leave it for her or hand it to her, in cash. There is no record of it on any books and she does not have to declare it as income.
We use the credit card for trips and we never add the tip to pay with the bill. We always tip even when the service is lousy. It just seems right.
If the food is not good but the service is great she gets a bigger tip since we figure she has put up with a lot from all the customers complaining about the food.
sort of a funny story.
we had been camping and canoeing and traveling for 5 days. No decent place for a shower so we were tired and stinky. Went into a red lobster for dinner. The server asked us where we would like to sit. We said in the smoking section, in a corner not too near anyone. She took our order and we told her what the boys wanted and what we wanted and as she was leaving we said to come back with the drinks and the food and then stay away.
We sat and read books while waiting and talking while we ate.
We left her a $30. tip. As we were leaving we heard her telling another waitress that it was the best tip of the night and she didn’t do anything extra.
We had a good laugh and she had a good shift.
The one rule that I hate is when the staff gets tips and they have to split them between themselves. It just not sit right with me that someone does the work and has share the payment for it.
That would be like a brother mowing the neighbours yard for $20. then he comes home and has to give some of the money to the sister because she didn’t do a job for someone who paid.
That is just not fair. In my books anyway.
May I add a couple of thoughts on tipping? My daughter and I enjoy traveling on a budget. Last year we spent Christmas in New York City-not exactly a “budget” kind of trip generally speaking. I had packed a number of healthy and light weight foods in my bags and we would often eat these in our room. In order to get the extra soap, towels, drink glasses, etc. that we needed, I wrote our housekeeper a note with a $5.00 bill. I asked her to please leave extra over the days we would be there. Boy, did she come through for us!! Each day we had more than enough of the items we needed. I continued to leave small amounts of cash for her each day. I also bought her a small, wrapped Christmas gift to show our appreciation. I think my daughter learned some valuable lessons on kindness and and giving to others.
My husband and I always leave a 15% tip MINIMUM. Even with very bad service we tip but with a twist. My husband is a writer with an ascerbic wit. He put that talent on display in Dodge City, KS last year when we received HORRIBLE service at Montana Mikes. The chef cooked my steak next to salmon and the flavors mingled. I hate fish and I couldn’t eat the steak. The waitress argued with me for afew minutes, took my plate away, and never came back to offer me anything else except the check. We were shocked. I sat there with no food while my family struggled to eat in front of me. After the meal, my husband proceeded to fill that check with the most caustic and damning indictment of her behavior. In his tiny, immaculate, legible font, every square millimeter of that scrap was filled with his complaints.
After that we headed over to Applebee’s for some blondie walnut sundae to salve my wounds. It was delicious!
I hate to disagree with you but waitress’ are supposed to report their total tips at the end of the day whether in cash or credit cards. The company then withholds taxes based on the amount reported. I know many of them do not report any or all of their cash tips but if they are ever audited the IRS will get records from the employer comparing the total tips reported to the credit card receipts. If they are only reporting credit card tips then they are going to be slapped with a big fine and interest for under reporting their wages.
The IRS assumes that they receive a minimum of 8% tips on every transaction. If a waitress has tickets ( all of which are coded by who the server was) for 100 transactions then she better have reported all the credit card tips and at least 8% on all of the others or she is going to find herself in big trouble at some point. People who work for tips are some of the most frequently targeted people for IRS audits as they know they do not report accurately most of the time.
It doesn’t work the same in Canada as in the states.
Lots of things considered wrong in the States is not in Canada.
But things may have changed here as well. But we tip and it is up to the server to follow the rules.
Tips are not something to put on credit.
I just wanted to comment on ethics — I just read some frugal tips and a lady said she had been into crafting and would go to the cemetery and take discarded plastic flowers and decorations out of the dumpster. I have no problem with this, whatsoever. However, in the cemetery my family is in, I have seen women literally taking memorial plants from grave sites and packing their car trunks with them. This is just so wrong to me; I put plants and flowers, and grave blankets at Christmas on my parents graves out of respect and love, and I would just like to ask that everyone keep in mind they were purchased for a particular memorial, not to bulk up someone’s garden. I know that no one who posts here would do it, but it’s happened to me quite often, and it’s painful for me to come back the day after putting something out to see it or my dad’s flag missing.
Again, taking things thrown away is fine, this is just an ethical thing for me.
Thanks, this is one thing I hadn’t seen addressed before, and I just felt the need to say it —
Wow! I’ve taken them from dumpsters before but never off of someones grave. I just can’t believe some people are so tacky! Honestly I never thought that people would be so rude!
At the cemetery where my husband is buried, the workers remove the fake flower arrangements when they mow and they are given to a convent. They are remade into new arrangements and resold. I know this from two mowers who work there. I only buy headstone arrangements for the spring and summer. They usually leave them on the headstone for a month or so. In the winter I have the grave blanket put on and they leave it alone for a few weeks. It is very disturbing to me to know that people are so dishonest.
Stealing from a grave? Unbelievably disrespectful and rude. I thought I heard it all when a salesclerk at a Christian book store, told me people shoplift from their store, but stealing from graves even beats that!!!
The immemorial saying “do not do unto others what you don’t want them to do unto you” is at work in the ethics of frugality. I, for one thing had done some of the unethical things when it comes to frugality and this post had reminded me to mind other people’s businesses too. Thanks a lot.
Hmmmm…I really have to disagree with many of the comments on tipping. I once read a newspaper article on this subject that I completely agree with. The author was of the opinion that we are morally obliged to tip those who provide services who make less money than we ourselves do. Otherwise, not.
I think it is ethically the obligation of the employer to pay servers enough to live on. If I am paying $50 for a rare treat for my husband and I to eat out at a decent restaurant, and we are presently in approximately the same financial straits as the server, I think it is wrong — yes, morally wrong! — to say that we should have to pay an additional $7.50 for basic service that is part and parcel of eating out in a restaurant. Or maybe I should tell the server not to worry about it and that I will collect the plates of food from the kitchen myself? Let’s not be silly!
Tipping is an outdated convention and the practice of it makes no sense in this day and age. Historically, tipping began because the rich & privileged upper class felt that it would be kind to give the lowly service staff a small break. Well, our family income is very low income such that we would qualify for government assistance if we chose to benefit from it — how does it make any sense that we tip?
The “rules” of it don’t even make sense. Why do we tip waiting staff and not clerks at grocery stores? Why do we tip the bellboy and not the gas station attendant? Most service staff in restaurants are young people and they seek out those jobs because they know they make pretty darn good money on the tips.
If my husband and I receive particularly good service, we do leave an appropriate tip. Otherwise, we simply cannot afford it on top of babysitting at $15 an hour and a $50 meal (fairly cheap in Canada). I think it is absolutely wrong to suggest this is stealing.
Karen, I agree that tipping is just crazy and should be done away with but waiters and waitress here in the US make basically nothing if they don’t receive tips. ( Yes, I know they should just find another job if they don’t like it.) It’s a known fact that’s how they earn their income and if you don’t choose to tip then you should skip eating out if you can’t afford it.
I agree. That is a part of the expense of eating out. If you can not afford to tip then you should not be eating in that restaurant.
I don’t agree with this statement “If you cannot afford to tip then you should not be eating in that restaurant” I think if people stop going to restaurants because they can’t afford to Tip, it would be worse because some people would not have a job because sales would be down. We have to remember that the restaurant owner needs to make money to keep people employed. Having the job is most important and the owners pay descent amount.
On the subject of tipping, my home state (and I am sure we are not alone in this) has a bit of an employment crisis right now. People with degrees waiting tables, thankful for every quarter left for them, trying desperately to make ends meet. We all know what that’s like I’m sure, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We’d be on a website called high_on_the_hog.com or something. Very few people actively pursue serving food as a career path by choice. You take whatever paycheck you can, even when it’s demeaning, laborious, and unremunerative.
Whether an individual approves or not, American society has declared tipping accepted and expected. Tips are part of the expense of going out. If you can’t afford to tip, if that extra $7 on top of the $50, is going to make your break you, then you can’t afford to eat out. Save the poor wait staff the extra work with no extra pay.
That being said, there are plenty of countries out there that don’t accept tips, and indeed consider the very idea rude and offensive (as if the employee is only doing a good job because they want a handout). I have recommended on more than one occasion that an anti-tipper save their pennies and relocate to one of these areas. Also, thank God or whatever deity you believe in that you’ve never had to rely on tips yourself. What’s that phrase? There but for the grace of God go I.
Sorry, I’m going to get off my high horse atop a soapbox. It’s getting precarious up here, anyway!
@ Mary all your “shoulds” don’t work in the real world. The owners aren’t going to pay servers more money. That is ridiculous to expect that. They are going to pay them the minimum that the state requires, which here in Ohio is $3.10 an hour. And the server chose to be a server BECAUSE of the tips, so to act like a server is greedy because they expect a tip is like saying the boy who knocked on your door and mowed your lawn and did a great job is greedy because he expects you to actually give him the $20 he asked for! The servers don’t EVER “Just” bring your food and drinks to the table. Obviously you’ve never been a server. They have sidework. They have to do things like get down on their hands and knees and scrub around the toilets in the men’s rooms, and empty out and wash huge tubs of soup, and go into the freezer and carry out slabs of meat. It is ignorant to say “Well all they do is carry the food and drinks to the table”. If you did that enough times a day, that alone would wear you out, and just think, for only $3.10 an hour. So in my opinion, cough up a decent tip, or go get your food and drinks yourself. Customers like you were the ones I couldn’t stand waiting on. And by the way, most servers aren’t qualified to “just go out and get a job that pays more”, especially in THIS economy.
~ a former Steak N Shake Waitress
RE limit one per customer; what a joke! I’ve seen people send their kids in to take advantage of “one per customer” after the parents have already bought or they come in three or four times a week during the one per customer sale. If there’s limits on a item, what they do is buy the limit, come back the next day and buy more.Try to enforce that and it’s a call to corporate or a temper tantrum at the check out stand waiting to happen.I’ve never seen such greedy people!
On the subject of tipping,
I’ve had people attempt to tip me for good customer service, however, most corporations don’t allow their employees to be tipped. If we accepted a tip and management found out about it, we would be terminated. What I’ve done when I’ve been offered a tip is to politely decline it and say why, and then suggest they donate that tip to a community charity. It a win win, because the community will benefit from that donation(every little bit helps) and the person never would have thought to donate to a charity. It’s a win win all the way around.
Thank you for drawing the lines between Frugal, Cheap and Unethical! You did a good job and made very good points!
grizzly bear mom
If the restaurant paid the server more that expense would be added to your bill. Whether the waitstaff’s compensation comes from salary or salary and tips; your expense is the same. They increases the cost of food and beverages in Europe to cover gratities so you don’t have to tip.
Additionally the server is not necessarily responsible for bad service. The cook could mess your order up like the salmoned steak mentioned above. The waitness could have asked the manager for a replacement item and he said no. Yes she should have explained the outcome to you so you could have asked the manager for another steak, but maybe she didn’t know any better or went on break.
Just a few weeks ago I was in line on Black Friday (I usually stay home then, but this was a big want). It was a long wait and another person in line went and got a large shopping bag for me to corral all the pillows I was getting. I also had a package of sheets, and it of course fell to the bottom. When I got to the register, the checker charged me for the pillows, but obviously didn’t see the sheets at the bottom of the bag. I stopped him and told him the sheets were there also. He looked surprised and grateful, and I just told him that in my experience cheating (or even just not speaking up) just didn’t turn out well. The store may not have known about it, but I would, and things like that eat at our integrity.
Thank you for a great article. This ethicial behavior is so basic to being part of ourworld! It’s too bad that what seems so obvious to some of us, is not even on some people’s radar. I was at a grocery store and accidentally forgot to put an item on the belt and left it in my cart. When I got to my car and realized what I had done, I went back in to pay for it. Some young people in line looked at me as if I was crazy. I explained to them that is was stealing by not paying for it and it was the same sin as robbing a bank. Not sure if I made any impact at all but you never know. Thank you for being a voice of honesty.
I was at the grocery store last week, and I accidently dropped a jug of water and it spilled everywhere. I reported to the check-out clerk what happened and offered to pay for it. She argued with me about people breaking items all the time. I told her it is a loss to the store and we pay for it one way or another. I did pay for the damaged item and left the store. It’s amazing how modern society makes excuses for every situation, it’s not my fault or yours either. I so grateful my Mother taught me
about doing what’s right at all times in all situations.
A personal anecdote: My teenage daughter and I went out to lunch with my sister who, by the way, is fairly well to do. (I have to watch my spending carefully.) We ordered our food and my daughter didn’t care for one of the side dishes. (Nothing wrong with it, she just didn’t like it.) My sister told her to take it back and ask them to replace it with another selection. I said “no” and told her simply to set it aside; to which my sister replied that there was “nothing wrong with that, restaurants expect it”. I disagreed and told my daughter to put it aside. Don’t believe in cheating a restaurant because we don’t like our selection.
Thank you for writing an article on the basics of ethics. We should all live a life were there is no question on what is write or wrong, unfortunately many either don’t follow their conscience or they just don’t have one or were never taught the difference between right and wrong.
Character does count and we should try to set the example for other to see.
Thank you for writing a dead on article.
I enjoy your newsletters greatly!
My best “cheapie” example was when someone invited our family to stay with them, then asked if our boys could just use the lawn instead of the bathroom, to save water, actually, not money. I’m still laughing over that one, several years later. She also wanted us to bathe in her sons’ used bath water.
Excellent article. So many people, Christians included, have tarnished their reputations and testimonies in doing things that they have considered to be fair game in the name of frugality, that are actually unethical. One horrendous example was told to me by a friend, concerning a co-worker who bought a large flat screen T.V. from a big box store. In the confusion of having a clerk help them move the item to their vehicle, somehow they missed actually going through the till. When it was discovered that they hadn’t actually paid for the T.V. when they got home, the so called Christians smiled and shrugged it off. They made no effort to do the right thing. Not their mistake, was their thinking. As my friend said, it spoke volumes about that family, and put up a red flag to my friend about having any kind of dealings with them. The real test for whether something is right or not, is your motive, and your conscience. The Bible says that the eyes of the Lord are everywhere. Even if nobody else sees what you do or don’t do, He does. I am just as careful to pay for something that has been undercharged or over looked on my bills, as I am to complain if I have been overcharged or cheated. My honesty in these matters has built me a bit of a reputation as being trustworthy in this small town. Hard to put a price on that. My sister and my former daughter-in-law both worked as waitresses for years and had strong opinions about tipping…Tips are to be earned. Don’t like your tip? Work harder, move more quickly, be polite and attentive. We just started eating out more often, and always tip 10%. If the service is poor, tip less, and don’t come back if you don’t like what you got. Consider the extra 10% part of your eating out bill. I also tip the hairdresser, now that I can afford to go a few times a year. It is not about obligation. I just find that it is a nice way to say thank you, AND I always get good service next time. I do resent tips that are already added to the bill…I still consider tipping to be my choice. One other thing that people forget is that one of the reasons that a person should be frugal and a good steward of their finances isso that they do in fact have something to give to others who are genuinely in need. Don’t be afraid to give to any worthy charitable cause as you can, as much as you can, whenever you can. This is commanded in scripture, and is the true dividing line between frugal, and cheap.
I so agree with you on the subject about being over/undercharged. This was an issue we were very transparent with our children. If we were not charged for an item, OR given too much change back during a transaction, we always made a point to correct the cashier and make it right. We would all tell a cashier when we were shorted in our change received back, but do we do the same if we receive too much? My integrity is worth much, much more than that 25 cents or few dollars I was given back which was too much. Our children really took this to heart. And the cashiers are usually blown away when you give them back the money and are honest.
The wreath I left on my mother’s grave was robbed the day after her funeral. I was distraught enough but this was just unbelievable….
I agree with all this even the tipping in a restaurant, if you can’t afford the complete meal including the tip don’t go . You see the prices before ordering budget with what you can afford or just explain the prices are higher than expected and leave. My husband got home one day from Lowes and found they failed to charge him for a item so he took the receipt and the item and. On his next visit stopped at customer service and told them he needed to pay for it. They only charged him their cost for it because he was honest , and they were surprised no one had ever done that before. It’s not hard to keep honest it just takes a little effort and sometimes telling your self no if you can’t afford it at the time. My motto also if it’s on sale once it probably will be again save a little back each week for things like this . You will feel as though you worked for it and earned it and will enjoy it more than impulse buying.
As a former waitress, I agree with the lady who said if you don’t like your tip, work harder.If I receive good service then I tip accordingly. If the service is horrible then so is my tip.Waiting on customers and their tables is in the job description. If the wait person doesn’t do their job then they did not earn the tip and again,I tip accordingly.That is not stealing. My son cut half of the yard and wanted me to pay him.He was told,do the job properly and finish it,then you will have earned your money and I will pay you.My Daddy always said any job worth doing is worth doing well,give it your best and it will be appreciated.
You are so right. Another thing to add to this is if you are given a job to do do it well and with the right attitude even if you aren’t getting a tip. My 2 grandsons have found that out in their new jobs. They both work where they don’t get tips but they both have gone the extra mile in helping their customers and have not only received tips working at jobs where you normally don’t get tips but the boss was watching and they found you can get many extra perks. They did it just because and not because they knew the boss was watching. That is part of the secret. Their whole attitude of going the extra mile not only for the customers but co workers too.
You can start early on this. When my kids got their report cards they have a section on grades and another on attitude and how hard they worked they got more praise and reward for that part then the grades. You can find many little ways to reinforce this good work ethic in kids.
What do you think of people who din ‘t subscribe to long-distance service and expect others to call them?
Great article and insightful comments! One issue that wasn’t addressed (and I am always bothered about) is how to handle all the address labels, greeting cards and other items that are mailed to my home by charities that I do not already support. I don’t initiate these mailings so I guess they buy my address from other sources. I’ve noticed that when I don’t send in a check, the organizations must go on to other people for awhile and then come back to me after a period of time.( A relative is constantly sending checks out as she feels guilty for using the items. As a result, she gets more and more things in the mail.) Tawra and Jill, what do you do with the “free items”?
Yes a person can get an over load of these types of things. I never send checks to any organization at all when they send me things in the mail or call on the phone. I don’t feel guilty about it either. I give to places I choose. As far as what to do with those things well, the labels I cut my address off and use them as little stickers when I send letters to my grand kids or friends. You can carry some in your purse and when you have to fill out your name and address on something use one of those instead. You can also put them on the inside cover of your books in case you loose them. My mom and I sometimes trade ours. That way when she sends me something she puts that on for my address instead of having to write it out.
Cards I use for a regular card if they are cute. If I don’t like them I learned how to make little gift boxes and use them for that or I punch holes around the objects on the card to make sewing cards for little kids. They can also be used for templates in sewing and for crafts. Cut them out to use on the outside of packages for decoration.
If I just can’t use them I try to find someone who can and if no one wants them I donate them to my favorite place like the Disable American Vets, Good Will etc. If all else fails I toss them in the trash guilt free.
While it was a nice act of kindness for your to give the couple anniversary cake, it was a selfish move on their part to order food (they obviously saw the prices before ordering) when they knew that they would not be able to afford the tip. Whether people like it or not, tipping on service is a social norm in the US; in Europe there is no tipping for food service. I agree with Brenda “if you can’t afford the complete meal including the tip don’t go.” People seem to feel very entitled these days, that they “deserve” certain things like meals out even when they can not afford them, or do so at the expense of others.
Ah, a chance to comment on people helping themselves to paint chips and coffee stirrers for craft projects. Someone had to purchase them, why not the end user?
If people were paid a decent wage they wouldn’t have to rely on tips.
I don’t always know whom I should tip. If staying in a hotel, I leave money for the chambermaid and the waitress in a restaurant. I tip the hairdresser but not the dental hygienist (who actually owns the practice I go to)
Bar maids and men, are not automatically tipped here though one might say,”Have one yourself”. I’ve learned more about tipping in America from reading about Sookie Stackhouse’s work.
We recently had a Christmas-themed garage sale, selling our surplus tree and other decorations. We had a few items in very good condition that could be used as gifts. From the outset we advertised our sale as a fundraiser for a local senior nutrition center. We did not price anything, but just accepted donations. What an eye opener! When presented with the idea of getting something for whatever amount they wanted to donate, some people gave us twice as much as what we expected. On the other hand some people gave us ridiculously nominal amounts for very nice things. What was generally true was tha people who could afford it gave us less than those we considered as less able to afford a large donation. One woman came in and saw a handbag she wanted, but didn’t have any cash with her. She returned a few minutes later and sent her child in with one dollar while she stayed in the car! An example of generosity that floored me was a waitress at a local diner who is a single mom with two kids donated $20 for just a couple of small items. When my husband asked, are you sure?, she said yes, it’s for a good cause! We raised over $200 but we certainly hoped for more. We came away from the experience with our faith in humanity’s fairness and altruism and basic generosity severely tested.
This post was fantastic. I wish everyone would not only read it, but take it to heart and act appropriately when it comes to being frugal.
Here are a few more I encounter on a daily basis: 1) All those FREE condiments at fast food restaurants are there for use inside the building or to go with your order, not to take home for later use. Buying a 4 count entree and taking home 10 sauces is over doing it! Likewise, little kids stuffing their pockets with peppermints is one thing; little old ladies who open up their handbags and stuff them from the condiment bar are quite another! (NOT joking – one in particular is always well-dressed and her husband drives a Mercedes!) 2) Taking an entire packet of baby bibs or place mats to restock your diaper bag is also a no-no. 3) Waiting until AFTER the order has been rung up and then stating that you meant to order a LARGE of something (and knowing we’ll just give it to you), is also cheating.
4) There’s a reason we need to have a key to open the toilet paper in the restrooms – SERIOUSLY?1?!
Folks may think they’re saving a buck, but it only increases costs, which means someone else is paying for what you’re getting. It’s also just plain tacky and CHEAP!
Confessions of a cheapskate:
I consider myself really cheap. And I am ok with that. It’s survival. So I kind of cringed when I saw this topic and thought, ok, I am going to read this, but I am sure all of my unethical practices are going to be highlighted here. There are things I do that I would admit to some people but definitely not to everyone know. So, I was actually quite happy to see that I do none of the things on Tawra’s list.
I don’t like tipping, and yes I have been a waitress, so I get it – but we never eat out. We had a gift card and went to Panera – no tipping. And yes, I am 100% certain that while there, I took splenda packets and straws home. Sorry. Feel free to call me a thief.
However, hugely maniacally cheap as I am, I do not do the other things. I have several close friends who have run up massive consumer debt and then declared bankruptcy, and I really judge that negatively. Yes, I am a thief, cheap, AND judgmental. But I always pay my bills. I would never expect the credit card company to assume my purchases as their loss. I also know people who just pretty much decided to stop paying their mortgage. I really don’t get this one at all. From past experience, they know that it takes a very long time for the bank to foreclose so they figure they just get to live in their home for free for a while, I guess. I really don’t get that one. Before I do anything, I pay my mortgage and then do a happy little dance inside my head that my family has a place to live for the next month.
So, I thought this was a great article and enjoyed reading through everyone’s comments and I commend all whose moral code is superior to mine. I will give this all some further thought.
Had to chuckle at your comment Amy. I love you are totally honest and that is so nice for a change. I think that somehow gives you brownie points and counter acts for all of the splenda packets and straws you have taken. Sounds like you are doing a really really good job with your spending. :) :)
You are so so right! I was in the grocery store the other day and heard a women tell her friend “why buy that expensive coffee creamer when you can go in Biscuitville and get all you want from the counter” Of all the nerve! and people wonder why prices go up! Maybe I’m from an older generation but that’s just wrong! I so enjoy your newsletter!