Hanging Out on the Boardwalk

Five Frugal Tips That Go Too Far

I am all about saving money. I like to focus on the big wins like cancelling monthly recurring expenses (like cable) or paying a student loan off 8 years early to save thousands of dollars in interest. I usually don’t care about saving seven cents on soap by not showering. Here are some other crazy frugal tips that I would never, ever do.

Use the Bathroom at Work

I am all about using the bathroom at work, but I have read about people who avoid going #2 at home to save on toilet paper. That is just obnoxious. In a reasonable looking analysis, a guy used 49 rolls of toilet paper per year and spent about $52 on it. That is 14 cents per day. Suck it up and poo at home. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

While I am at it, I also buy soft, two ply toilet paper. There is no sandpaper in my bathroom, it is not worth a few bucks to sacrifice that kind of comfort.

Charge Your Gadgets at Work

I charge my phone at work because it would die if I didn’t, but I have read about people who skip the overnight charge at home to lower their power bill. At 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, the average overnight phone charge will cost you 52 cents for the entire year.

Probably not. Even at ten times that, or twenty times that, I can afford $10 per year to charge my cell phone. Is it really worth the hassle to make your employer foot the bill?


I will admit that I got on the hypermiling bandwagon when it was hot a couple of years back. For the uninitiated, hypermiling is the use of specific driving techniques to maximize your gas mileage while driving.

While it is cool that a guy figured out how to time red lights and stop signs to get 213 miles per gallon, it is a hassle and unsustainable practice. Doing a little light timing and keeping your car at a certain speed to save gas is not a big deal, but turning your car off to go down a hill in neutral and turning your car off at red lights can be unsafe. I put this in the frugal crazy bin.

Making Your Own Shampoo/Soap/Deodorant/Toothpaste

I like my chemicals, thank you very much. Maybe someone really, really likes the feeling of natural, organic, homemade toiletries. I, however, like the feeling of clean and disinfected living.

It might sound ethnocentric of me, but I really enjoy the comforts of Western living, including starting my day with a nice, hot shower with mass-produced, name brand soap and shampoo. And don’t even get me started on deodorant…


I am not talking about the people on the TV shows that don’t ever throw anything away, I am talking about the people who buy 753 gallons of ketchup on sale because they can get it for $1 off per gallon.

If it makes sense for you to stockpile a year supply of toothbrushes at Sam’s Club that you keep under the sink to avoid a trip to the store, more power to you. If you hoard enough cans of food to survive the rest of your life in a bomb shelter in the event on a nuclear attack, you belong in the frugal asylum.

What Do You Think?

Have you seen any frugal tips taken to the extreme? Where do you draw the line of frugality gone too far? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by Sustainable sanitation/flickr

18 thoughts on “Five Frugal Tips That Go Too Far”

  1. I love the hoarding comment and it’s so true.  Some people will do anything to save a little money yet they don’t realize how much all the ketchup just cost them 🙂  Have a good weekend Eric.

  2. The photo of the t.p. instantly reminded me of a practice my college apartment roommates and I used: pilfering rolls of t.p. from university bathrooms to use at home. We were the proverbial poor students, but still, I’m so ashamed! 🙂

    1. Once we ran out of TP in college so I told my roommate to go use a toilet on campus. That wasn’t about being cheap though, it was being too lazy to go to the store to buy toilet paper.

  3. I’m with you on the toilet paper. It’s gotta be comfortable. I hate when I use the bathroom at someone’s place and discover they have the super cheap, 1000 sheet, 1-ply toilet paper. Not only does it make the bathroom experience less pleasant, but you don’t save any money. You have to use twice as much of the cheap stuff. 

    Although not an unpopular way to save money, I can’t jump on the go-vegetarian-once-a-week bandwagon. Gimme my meat.

    1. Interesting to use that as a way to save money. I eat vegetarian about 80% of the time anyway, but it is more tied to beliefs than money.

  4. You definitely nailed these on the head! I don’t buy the sandpaper tp, but I have toned down from the extra cushy stuff I loved because it was too thick for the toilet in our old apartment. 

    The hoarding can be beneficial, but people definitely go overboard, especially to not save very much.

    1. Using thinner TP for pluming reasons makes sense. Every home has different challenges. You also have to remember the cost of the space to store everything. I have a 1,200 square foot condo, so keeping a 6 month supply of toilet paper on hand (or anything else) would clutter my home and make me unhappy.

  5. I saw the picture and immediately thought rationing toilet paper or ridding fiber from our diets is the new frugal craze.  If someone’s stressing over spending an extra buck or two, there’s probably bigger problems that need fixing.

    1. That’s just what I’m saying. If you can’t afford TP, you need to work on the income side of the equation, not the bathroom side.

  6. I’ll be the first to admit that we do have a stockpile.  But, it’s usually an extra or two of this or that just because it was on a good deal.  Wouldn’t last us more than a month if we bought nothing else…  😉

    1. Just don’t tell me you are a crazy North Dakota guy with a bomb shelter with a 24 month supply of canned vegetables and belong to a militia

  7. Dannielle @ Odd Cents

    It seems that people take such drastic measures because they think they are saving hundreds of dollars as opposed to cents. I’ve never done any of these things to save money. I’ve tried to make soap, but that was just my inner crafter trying to get out. P.S I hate to use the bathroom at work – I don’t care if I lose out on saving 52 cents….

    1. The only time I ever thought of making soap was after watching the movie Fight Club. Sometimes projects like that can be fun, but I never tried one for financial gain.

  8. Haha, I wrote a post with almost the same title a while ago (in my link)!  I guess we both like alliteration.  Hypermiling is on my list, too.  My father almost never showers at home, since he works out every morning and showers at the gym, so that is similar to the TP and electricity arguments.  His stance is that he’s paying for a membership so he should get the most out of it – I guess that’s slightly different than taking from your workplace.

    1. I like your list too. I like biking to work, but it is an exercise thing, not a money thing. I work too far from home to do it now, but I love getting on my bike.

      Totally agree with the electricity vampires. There are actually special surge protectors that turn off power to devices when you are not using them automatically, but I think they cost more than they save.

    1. I don’t know either, which is why I think it is absurd. Just go when you gotta go. No reason to get sick over it.

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