Last week, I dragged Chris over to the couch. “You have to see this,” I said and pressed play.
For the past few months, both of us have decided to focus on what we want to do. Away from the man. That unfortunately results in little income with the same level of expenses. And we were unwilling to let go out of our lifestyle. And so, our deep-seated frugality surfaced. But how far were we willing to go?
A friend’s husband shamelessly admitted to me, “I would dumpster dive. Then I would share my food with her. Sometimes she’ll even eat it!”
I raised my eyebrows then. But then I came across Extreme Cheapskates on Netflix. Now, you see, I have always subscribed to the model that if you put more money in, the more money that will get out. Although some peers may disagree with me, I am not a penny pincher (even if that roommate from graduate school still claims that I always split the bills down to the penny! I personally thought that was fairness and not stinginess.) In the past few months, I moved a lot of my savings into investment accounts. At the very least, to make sure my assets were creating their own “income” without my input.
But then, what else could I do? Although I already had a habit of eating half of my meal when I ate out…what else? What did these self-proclaimed cheapskates do? Sure, there was the garbage picking. Shameless confession: if the furniture on the street is in good condition, I’ll take it (note: this rarely ever happens). But then I watched a woman in New York City open a dumpster and pull out tomatoes, packages of prepared meals, and a carrot cake. She combined the prepared meals in a single pot. Then I watched a mother cut up old clothing into cloths to be used as toilet paper (saves over $10 per month, she claims!). That I won’t do. And the guy picking rice off the ground after a wedding. And the guy giving gifts from scavenging to his wife for their 25th anniversary. Then his run to tables where the diners have left so that he can collect the leftovers.
We watched in awe. We watched in horror. And yet, like much mainstream television, we couldn’t pull our eyes away. On one hand, the TV series was designed in a way to hook and surprise us. Yet on the other, we were curious. Would we do this? Would we be ok with doing…something…that was considered abnormal?
For now, I cannot. We found that most dumpsters behind grocery stores were locked. And we would never go through a neighbors’ trash (there is just things that I don’t want to use). But I did learn to cut open a toothpaste tube when it’s nearly done. And I learned…hey, I would eat anyone’s leftovers. I just wouldn’t ask for it.