Although there’s value in being frugal, sometimes you can take it too far — and for little savings. Whether you engage in five-finger discounts or take more than your share of mints from the communal bowl, at the end of the day you’re simply stealing from business owners and sullying your image.
Are your frugal habits too extreme? Click through to find out if you’re really a tightwad.
The Hotel Heist
Toiletries are among the many free luxuries frequent travelers enjoy. But thrifty folks sometimes cross the line by stealing extra soaps and shampoo bottles to take home.
If you have a habit of hitting up the housekeeper’s cart for extra bars of soap, you’re not only scamming the hotel, you’re also wasting your time. After all, the savings on a sliver of soap are hardly worth writing home about.
The Continental Cheap-Out
Speaking of hotels, there’s usually plenty of food to be found at the continental breakfast. With Feeding America estimating that 72 billion pounds of food go to landfills and incinerators each year, there’s no shame in clearing your plate or even going back for seconds at the hotel breakfast buffet.
Most hotels don’t mind if you grab some fruit or yogurt to go, either. But you don’t want to be the person who comes to breakfast carrying a Tupperware container to fill with food to stash in your hotel fridge. It’s not a good look.
The Supermarket Sweep
Everyone loves free samples. For some reason, food on a toothpick is just more appealing. But sweeping the supermarket five times to fill up on freebies isn’t an acceptable replacement for lunch. It’s just being cheap.
And if you’re really focused on frugal living, remember that the entire point of samples isn’t to save you money — it’s to entice you to spend more. The value of this cheap trick depends on how much you sample and where you shop. But the small portion sizes make savings minuscule.
Cream, Sugar and Thievery
Whether you’re visiting the local gas station or hanging out in a hip cafe, indulging in all the coffee fixings is one of life’s little pleasures. From creamers to sweet syrups, raw sugar to honey, the flavor options at a coffee bar are far more extensive than the ones found in your kitchen — and they’re a great way to save on coffee at Starbucks.
However, sticking a handful of creamer cups in your purse won’t help pad your wallet in the long run. Moreover, you’ll be selling your dignity for chump change.
The Glassware Grab
Most of the time, what happens at the bar stays at the bar. That truth applies to awkward dating fails, dancing on tables and even spilling your umbrella-adorned drink on your lap. But it doesn’t apply to stealing.
If you’re drinking at your local watering hole, taking home the glassware is a good way to ruin your reputation with your bartender. Alternatively, by treating your bartender well, you might be able to score free shots or drinks from time to time. Complimentary booze is worth more than a couple of cheap cocktail glasses.
If you’re frugal, get your glassware from discount stores such as Dollar Tree or 99 Cents Only stores. Whether you want tumblers, wine glasses or mugs, you can get drinkware without spending a lot — and without having to use something that’s been used by 10,000 barflies before you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were over 2.6 million jobs for waiters and waitresses in the U.S. in 2016. In many states, those same servers earn a minimum cash wage that is less than $5 per hour.
In light of those numbers, there’s a good chance the server who brings your meal is depending on the tip you give to pay the bills. Avoid being a bad tipper, and follow proper tipping etiquette when dining out. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip.
The Condiment Cadre
Most of us have some extra condiment packets floating in our junk drawers. And if you find an extra hot sauce or mustard packet in the bottom of your fast-food bag, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it for a rainy day.
But jamming two handfuls of sauce packets into your pocket every time you go out to eat is basically stealing. Similarly, if you have a whole drawer dedicated to condiment packets taken from restaurants, you likely have a cheapskate problem.
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A Handful of Mints
Avoid grabbing free mints and hard candies by the handful. Whether you’re at the bank or your favorite local eatery, it’s wise to abide by the rule of one mint per person. After all, the business is being kind by offering complimentary candy, and your mom probably taught you not to take advantage of kindness.
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Some pens are meant to be taken. In fact, companies use pens emblazoned with their logos to advertise their services. But you shouldn’t take a handful of these writing instruments or, worse, nab the one that your friendly neighborhood bank teller was using before your arrival.
Not only is it wrong to take things that don’t belong to you, but the savings on this five-finger discount are basically zilch.
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There’s nothing wrong with reading that Vogue fashion article at the dentist’s office or scanning the headlines over lunch at your local diner. But the fact that these businesses provide free periodicals doesn’t make it OK for you to stick them in your bag to read at home.
Moreover, lifting literature such as magazines, books and newspapers saves you less money than just about any other habit you might try to pass off as frugal living.
You can read news online for nothing and access hundreds of free e-books. If you don’t like reading on a screen, consider getting a library card. Your local book paradise can order almost any book or magazine you desire — for free.
Click through to keep reading about free things to do in every state.