Amongst other things, the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are for spending time with family watching TV shows you don’t care about. While channel surfing with my in-laws last night, we struck gold. We happened upon a show called Extreme Cheapskates. It’s unbelievable.
Basically, the show features people who go to great lengths to save a buck—or even a penny (no really, literally saving a penny). These thriftophiles employ such tactics as purchasing overdue food, asking other restaurant patrons for their leftovers, reusing old greeting cards, collecting dyer lint from the local laundromat to use as kindling, “paying” for haircuts and donuts by reciting poetry or emptying trashcans, and even using, washing, and reusing cloth “toiletpaper.”
The show alternates between the surprising, the comical, the disgusting, and the just plain pathetic. It’s brilliant.
But is this blogworthy? Obviously, I’m saying yes. I think that inherent in this type of intense penny pinching is an unbiblical attitude toward money. At the very least, this approach to spending opens one up to some dangerous tendencies.
Paul warned us: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10). The corrupt executives on Wall Street are an easy target in this regard—their love of money and the resulting destruction is flashy and well publicized. But frugality can also reveal the love of money.
Your grandmother or great-grandmother who scraped her way through the Great Depression is a great reminder that our standard of living has gotten way out of hand. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t need the things we think we need. But I think survivors of the Depression are different than your average cheapskate.
The typical cheapskate is so focused on money that he will go to great lengths to avoid parting with it. You might think that the cheapskate isn’t focused on the things of this world. But perhaps this person loves money so much that they are only willing to part with it when they are able to exchange it for something they value even more. I’m not saying that every frugal person falls into this category, but it’s easy to see how the term “cheapskate” is often a euphemism for “idolater.”
Of course there are people who avoid spending money for good reasons. But it is important to see that both the extravagant and the thrifty can be tempted to worship the same idol.