Worried You May Be Too Cheap? Here Are the 27 Tell-Tale Signs

Man cutting coupons

Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Woman's Hands Cutting Coupons

A Touch Too Thrifty

No one wants to end up short on funds in their golden years and be forced to scrimp and save, but sometimes being frugal errs on the side of being ... well, let's just say, a bit obsessive. You've likely seen these over-the-top, penny-saving practices in action and perhaps have a few in your own repertoire. In reality, these practices don't save a fortune, so we gently suggest that sometimes the tiniest "splurge" is worth it.  

You Wear Out Your Entire Wardrobe
Moon Safari/istockphoto

1. You Wear Out Your Entire Wardrobe

Big shoulder pads looked of-the-moment on Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl," but you're still holding onto — and wearing — your power suit. Sure, fashion trends come and go, but the snickers behind your back never die. Sorry to say, but it's time to embrace the world of separates — and 21st-century styles.  

You Ration Light Bulbs
Kateryna Kukota/istockphoto

2. You Ration Light Bulbs

You not only turn off the light every time you leave the room but refuse to "waste money" on light bulbs when one blows out. The result: You have a very dim life — literally — and may soon need not only new lights but eyeglasses to boot. 

Related: 15 Smart Purchases That Pay for Themselves

You Give Tea Bags Multiple Lives
Linh Moran Photography/istockphoto

3. You Give Tea Bags Multiple Lives

You squeeze every last drip of tea from your teabag, using it multiple times. It's bad enough that your family has to watch the madness, but lately you've taken to carrying the used teabag with you — asking counter people and servers to simply bring you a cup of boiling water.

Turning on the Air Conditioning Is Agonizing

4. Turning on the Air Conditioning Is Agonizing

So, you keep the AC off — or don't have it — and instead stock up on dollar-store hand fans to survive the heat. Pretty and retro, right? This only gets more dangerous over time. Be smart about how you use your thermostat instead. 

You Reuse Bags Over and Over Again
Chris Ryan/istockphoto

5. You Reuse Bags Over and Over Again

Do you reuse free plastic grocery bags as lunch sacks until they have holes (and your bought-on-sale fruit slides right out)? So much for savings. Buy a lunch sack during back-to-school sales. It'll last all year and you'll arrive to work with your food intact.  

You Hoard Side Dishes Into Full Meals

6. You Hoard Side Dishes Into Full Meals

Your bargain meal at that great local sandwich shop comes with a free coleslaw or cookie. You don't think "Ah, what a treat," but instead see those add-ons as your next meal — your entire next meal. Just enjoy the side dish or dessert for what it is.  

Related: Cheap Choices That Can Cost You in the Long Run

You Always Read the News at the Library
Diego Cervo/shutterstock

7. You Never Pay a Dime for News

You won't pay what they want for the newspaper. You won't even pay to access the digital version. Nope, you head to the library (when they're open) — day in and day out, rain, snow or severe heat — to read that passed-about copy for free. Fine for once in a while, but every day? 

For more great lifestyle tips,
please sign up for our free newsletters.

You Wash Disposable Silverware
Kent Sievers/shutterstock

8. You Wash Disposable Silverware

You have guests over for a backyard barbecue, stocking up on cheap plastic utensils in bulk. All's going well. People are enjoying the food. Then you tell them not to throw out the plastic silverware. No, you're not recycling ... you're washing and reusing. You can almost hear your guests' stomachs turning at the thought. Consider buying new party supplies on sale.  

You Treat Paper Towels Like They're Towels
Thomas Shanahan/istockphoto

9. You Treat Paper Towels Like They're Towels

Paper towels can be expensive, but you've found a way to beat the racket. The only problem is your entire kitchen has become filled with perches — dish rack, blender, fridge handle — for drying the towels you rinse and use again.  

You Do Laundry Only as a Last Resort

10. You Do Laundry Only as a Last Resort

Doing your laundry as infrequently as possible might cut the water bill — or save some quarters at the laundromat. But when you find out you don't have any clean skivvies before wash day ... well, your thrifty ways have really put you in a pickle. 

Related: Are You Making These Laundry Mistakes?

Wearing a Worn Out Sweatshirt?

11. You Don't Know When to Ditch a Sweatshirt

Everyone knows your go-to sweatshirt, especially since you boast about the money you save by not buying a fancy designer replacement. The problem: Yours is a virtual "Hall of Stains" tour, from the spilled nachos from Super Bowl XXX to the beers sloshed during your 25th-high-school-reunion picnic. It might be time to retire that legend.  

You Can't Be Trusted at a Buffet

12. You Can't Be Trusted at a Buffet

The words "all you can eat" are music to your ears. You arrive at a buffet the moment the doors open and make not only a meal but a day of it, with plate after plate after plate. Set a time limit. Your stomach — and the restaurant — will thank you.

Large Pile of Numerous Sheets of Coupons From Newspapers

13. You Have No Tolerance for Coupon Limits

You've read the sale circular. You know the grocery store limits you to a certain number of items per visit. Well, you'll show them — you shop different branches, different days, and different cashiers until you can't even store all that toilet tissue you've amassed. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to save at the grocery store without going overboard. 

Related: How to Save at the Grocery Store

You Never Spring for Water

14. You Never Spring for Water

You pride yourself on not buying throwaway bottles of water, or even a pricey reusable container. No, you bought a plastic bottle at the store — once — and have been "washing" it out and refilling it with tap ever since. Yes, it's a bit worn and cloudy but, um, you showed them?  

Your Socks Are Barely There

15. Your Socks Are Barely There

Why buy a pair of socks when a few stitches can extend the life of the ones you already have? Sure, it's easy to repair a hole, but when one hole becomes two and then three, your feet suddenly look like Frankenstein's monster — and you suffer embarrassment when asked to take off your shoes while visiting someone's home.  

You're a Champion of Self-Haircuts

16. You're a Champion of Self-Haircuts

Most everyone has horrid memories of a money-saving mom who chopped their hair at home. Bowl haircuts and uneven edges were a given. But you still do that? And have to go to work? Fine for you, but for goodness' sake, don't subject your partner or kids to those extreme measures.  

You Are Using Used Birthday Candles

17. You Don't Even Splurge on Birthdays

It's time to light the candles on the birthday cake and sing the festive song. But imagine the real surprise on people's faces as you pull out used candles of varying heights. A box of birthday candles is cheap, and try to remember: This is a special occasion.

Condiment Packets
Elena Elisseeva/shutterstock
Going for Too Many Dinner Rolls

19. You Abuse Restaurant Freebies

There's nothing like a basket of warm rolls to start a dinner on a night out. And that's when you pull out the plastic container. Waiters react with shock that your small party could go through so much so quickly. You just laugh as you pull them out for lunch the next day. But is a cold, stale roll really worth the stealth maneuver? 

Related: 15 Mistakes You're Making When Going Out to Eat

You Are Taking DIY Cleaning Too Far
Ahanov Michael/shutterstock

20. You Go Too Far With DIY Cleaning

It's an age-old household trick: cutting up old sheets or shirts to use as rags. But when your family members suddenly realize their favorite shirts are missing and see you wiping windows with them, does it still seem like such a good idea? There are plenty of other DIY tricks for cleaning the house that won't annoy your family.  

Man lying on a terrace using a smartphone with a book next to him
Gustavo Muñoz Soriano/istockphoto

21. You Can't Succumb To Taking a Proper Vacation

You sneer at people who brag about money-saving staycations filled with hometown restaurant deals, free-admission museums, and bargain movies. You do them one better: Your staycation is just staying home. Literally. DVDs, watching the birds fly by ... yep, your family will sure have unforgettable "vacation memories."  

You Never Look at a Cocktail List

22. You Never Look at a Cocktail List

You absolutely refuse to order a drink outside the house. "No, thanks, water's fine" is your mantra. We're not pushing cocktails necessarily — but every once in a while, it's nice to join in a toast with something besides tap water on ice.

You Stretch Menus Beyond Their Limits

23. You Stretch Menus Beyond Their Limits

You take sharing to new levels making your family of four dine on one appetizer, two entrees, and one dessert. Sure, you can boast about dining for less than $25, but did anyone actually enjoy the "meal" or go home satisfied?  

You Could Never Pay for a Carwash

24. You Could Never Pay for a Car Wash

Car wash costs can add up — but you won't fall prey to those soapy thieves. Nope, you will wash your own. Who cares that you don't have a hose, right? But after about 10 trips in and out of the kitchen with buckets of water, don't you start having second thoughts? Something else to consider: Many car washes have water reclamation technology that lets them recycle the water they use. 

Related: How To Wash Your Car at Home And Save Money

Fridge Labels

25. You Eat Expired Foods

We can understand using a jar of cinnamon past its expiration date. But drinking spoiled milk? When you start treading into the dangerous, food poisoning prone waters of say, a dairy product, you're completely overdoing it. The last thing you want to deal with is suffering through a terrible case of food poisoning that leaves you depleted on a physical and mental level. 

Twede’s Cafe
Arnel E./Yelp

26. You Stock Up On Gas Station Creamers and Sugar Packets

With the costs of seemingly everything at grocery stores continuing to climb, the temptation to lock in food and drink deals when you see them is very real. However, don't get carried away when you visit your nearby coffee shop or gas station and want to bring home all the creamers and sugar packets with you. Sure, take a few, but don't establish yourself as being the friendly neighborhood creamer thief. 

Related: The Best Costco Coffee, According to Superfans

Household various rubbish garbage items put on the street for council bulk waste collection
Daria Nipot/istockphoto

27. You Collect Other People’s Sidewalk Trash

There are varying degrees to how extreme one can get when it comes to scavenging sidewalks for precious secondhand treasures. We're not denying that every now and again you really can happen upon a great used TV or kitchen chair, but overall, it's rare. If you find yourself compulsively collecting as much of that sidewalk decor as you can, it's time to rein it in.