When frugality becomes unethical- walking the fine line between frugal and just plain cheap! Where do You draw the line?

frugal,unethical,return,frugality,behaviors,honesty

  • When frugality becomes unethical

    Frugality is great. I live by frugal principles, and love being frugal. Sometimes though, people will use frugality as an excuse to become involved in unethical behaviors.


    Some behaviors are obviously unethical, and are used by people trying to hide behind the cloak of being frugal:

    • * Keeping an accidental overage from an overworked cashier.
    • * Instead of taking one free pen from a bank or store, you take a handful.
    • * Not telling a cashier if they forget to ring up some of your order.
    • * “You buy an item and you use it a few times and then return it because you’re done with it.”
    • * You lie about age — you say that your 13-year-old is younger so that you only have to pay the child rate, or you lie about your age to get the senior citizen discount.
    • *Utilizing a "no-questions-asked return policy" for items you have thoroughly used and enjoyed in order to receive a new model.
    • * Asking for a cup for water at a fast food place, but then filling it with soda instead.
    • * Claiming that a vending machine took your money when you didn’t even use it.
    • * Leeching a neighbor’s wireless connection without permission.



    Some areas are not so obvious. What about the gray areas? Is it okay to take your own treats to sporting events or to the movie theatre? Even though it is against the "rules", does it truly cross the line?

    What do you all think? When does something to save money become unethical? Where should the line be drawn?

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    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Janice Terrell's Avatar
      Janice Terrell -
      What goes around in this world comes around. Things you do CAN come back to haunt you. Anything you do will eventually come back to you (be it good or bad) - maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime.
    1. faxonfive's Avatar
      faxonfive -
      This is a great post..... These are not things that I condsider being in anyway frugal - I think these are also considered "stealing" and dishonest. This is not something I would ever consider teaching my kids either.
    1. mdowdy's Avatar
      mdowdy -
      When its dishonest like all the things you listed.
    1. JoAnn's Avatar
      JoAnn -
      Karma is something. I'd have to agree with Janice and Lynn.
      These are not things that I condsider being in anyway frugal
      I think that I've seen over half of your list done at one time or another done. But then again I've worked with the public.
    1. Tarrien's Avatar
      Tarrien -
      You'll end up losing more in the end. My belief system says karma hits you 3 fold. Of which I've noticed karma DOES hit pretty much right after I do anything. Maybe not 3 fold every time, but its pretty quick.

      -Friend of mine found an atm card in the machine still so out of curiosity she checked how much was on it. $500. She knocked on the door and tried to return it- the man inside was ticked since it was more work for him. But she did return it.

      -I've also found showering often is a must through people around me who don't believe the same value.
    1. naturalmommy's Avatar
      naturalmommy -
      Quote Originally Posted by faxonfive View Post
      These are not things that I condsider being in anyway frugal -
      Ditto.

      Dishonesty is Definitely not the way to go.
    1. jaime's Avatar
      jaime -
      This is a great post!

      Here's one that shocked me. A couple of years ago we had a bad ice storm and several people were without power for many days. The federal government came in and was giving vouchers to people to buy groceries to replace the ones they had lost. I had power and did not claim the voucher, but one of my coworkers got one and she had power as well. There was a limited number of vouchers and it made me mad to know that she claimed one that a family in need could have used. It also saddened me to find out what kind of person she really was.
    1. d_awalker's Avatar
      d_awalker -
      I am sure she did not even look at it like that. People will often rationalize their unethical behavior toward the government as thinking they are not hurting anyone by taking from a large, wasteful, rich government. She will never think about the family who did not receive a voucher because they gave her one.
    1. Janice Terrell's Avatar
      Janice Terrell -
      Jaime - you have hit on on of my pet peeves. I live in an apt. complex for seniors and the disabled. (and it would seem, greedy & lazy as well). There are some residents here who have made a career out of going to every food bank in the City even when they don't need it. They bring all this food home and then let it rot & throw it away. There are families out there who don't have enough to eat and then there are these greedy people who grab as much as they can just because it's free. GRRRRRR
    1. d_awalker's Avatar
      d_awalker -
      Janice- I did not know that it happened on such a widespread basis. That's terrible.
    1. Janice Terrell's Avatar
      Janice Terrell -
      It is widespread, here anyway. So many people really work on how to scam the system. If they can get something for nothing then they really, really want it. One lady that has lived here for several years (before Katrina happened) even went to one of the charities and said she lost everything during the hurricane. They were giving $2,000.00 to families who were homeless because of the hurricane. They caught on to her but she had the nreve to try anyway.
    1. starsinnight's Avatar
      starsinnight -
      I think I am starting to feel guilty. I am generally a good person (atleast I'd like to think) but find myself committing a few of these crimes. I do LOVE to bring snacks with me to the movies, and once I even popped a bag of popcorn beforehand and brought it with me.

      This weekend I was at a hotel cafeteria and took not just one jam packet but a handful since I am out of jam at home. I also tend to take a larger than needed stack of napkins to use at home too.

      Oh my gosh - and once or twice before I have gotten Sprite in the water cup instead but I havent done that for a long time and wont do that anymore.

      And the biggest - we stole internet from a neighbor who had it unlocked for about 9 months until they moved... and now karma definitely bit us back because we've been internet-less for months.

      Sometimes I feel guilty too getting angelfood ministries since we do have two incomes and are able-bodied and not living in poverty...

      so am I really that bad of a person? i really hope not. i think it is a gray area because no one is getting hurt and while you can rationalize it to not be so bad, we are in need and don't have spare money around. I can't buy napkins or jelly because I am out of money already for the month with $30 for the next 2 weeks. So does that lessen it any bit? I don't know... and I haven't seen a movie in months since the admission ticket is so expensive ($10! what happened to $3.50?).

      Am I the only guilty one here? I believe in karma and I help others out whenever needed, and hey, when I get internet one day - I won't mind if someone steals mine for 3/4 of a year too.

      But I do know others who do far worse too - I shop at a department store outlet and all the items sold are half-used returns. I don't understand who would buy very expensive Jimmy Choo shoes and wear them 4 times to return them afterwards half worn out? I always wonder about that... however, plenty of us shoppers are willing to pay 75% off for those very used items.

      And this makes me think of a very bad frugal thing to do - my friend used to swap price tags on items to make things cheaper than they really are. . . i would definitely never do that!
    1. Janice Terrell's Avatar
      Janice Terrell -
      Don't feel guilty about Angelfood ministries. That is for everyone. I would find it hard to condemn anyone for the jelly & napkins. I'll have to think about the internet thing but changing price tags is definitely a no-no. I guess the internet thing would be the same as changing price tags - from $??.?? to $00.00. Temptations are everywhere and no one is entirely immune.
    1. d_awalker's Avatar
      d_awalker -
      I do not buy movie snacks. I always stop at the grocery store to buy some pork skins for me and nuts for my hubby. I am not taking anything from them. I am just not giving them my money for their outrageous concession stand.
    1. KawaiiGiggle's Avatar
      KawaiiGiggle -
      Some behaviors are obviously unethical, and are used by people trying to hide behind the cloak of being frugal:

      * Keeping an accidental overage from an overworked cashier.
      * Instead of taking one free pen from a bank or store, you take a handful.
      * Not telling a cashier if they forget to ring up some of your order.
      * “You buy an item and you use it a few times and then return it because you’re done with it.”
      * You lie about age — you say that your 13-year-old is younger so that you only have to pay the child rate, or you lie about your age to get the senior citizen discount.
      *Utilizing a "no-questions-asked return policy" for items you have thoroughly used and enjoyed in order to receive a new model.
      * Asking for a cup for water at a fast food place, but then filling it with soda instead.
      * Claiming that a vending machine took your money when you didn’t even use it.
      * Leeching a neighbor’s wireless connection without permission.
      goodness goodness goodness. i knew someone who used to do that kibble.. and they got caught. they ended up getting banned from 3 or 4 buffets around here.
    1. jaime's Avatar
      jaime -
      d_awalker I do the movie thing too. I think they are really ripping people off at the movies.
    1. kkiriazis's Avatar
      kkiriazis -
      I am a rule follower by nature. As for piggy backing on someone else's internet...just a word of caution when you do that your information is right out there for anyone else logging on to that same "free" connection which means they can, if IT savvy, get on to your system. There are actual hackers who try to see what open ports people have on their network and if you are one of them there goes your personal information without you ever knowing.
    1. Reesie271's Avatar
      Reesie271 -
      I know my neighbor is piggybacking off my connection; I don't consider it stealing, If I really wanted to make sure nobody could jump on I could password protect it. I don't because its a pain and I just dont care if she is using it. I give her a hard time about chipping in occasionally but its just joking. This past summer she gave me enough fresh garden produce to freeze that we are still using it, I figured that was enough payment LOL
    1. mcnerd's Avatar
      mcnerd -
      My neighbor's teenagers tried to connect in to my wireless system (for my laptop) when I first got it. I changed my system name to "FBI Remote" and for some reason I don't have a problem any more.
    1. kkiriazis's Avatar
      kkiriazis -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reesie271 View Post
      I know my neighbor is piggybacking off my connection; I don't consider it stealing, If I really wanted to make sure nobody could jump on I could password protect it. I don't because its a pain and I just dont care if she is using it. I give her a hard time about chipping in occasionally but its just joking. This past summer she gave me enough fresh garden produce to freeze that we are still using it, I figured that was enough payment LOL
      Just knowing that you have an open connection is enough to be fearful of. You may be perfectly alright with your neighbor doing that which is fine, you could actually set up your router to accept her computer onto your network (you could actually split the internet bill that way-save some money for you both). It is the others that may be connecting to your network that you should worry about. If they can connect your network (piggybacking on your internet), they can also get onto you computer without you every knowing it. Granted someone would need to be rather more than computet savvy for this but there are actual people who look for these open ports to steal information, etc.

      And I would not consider it "stealing" if you know about it and are alright with it. It is stealing when you are doing it without the other person's knowledge. Internet via broadband is expensive so why should anyone pay for someone else- it isn't right.


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