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Your Take: When Frugality Becomes Stealing?

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I loved this post by Clark Palmer on Bankrate about when people take frugality too far (it even features Liz Pulliam Weston, one of my favorite personal finance writers). In it he talked about a guy who would take advantage of hotels when traveling on business – swapping out burned out light bulbs from his home with the ones in the hotel, taking towels from hotel pools, and getting free breakfast at local (to his home) hotels. That’s pretty ridiculous.

One thing I was interested to read was that “There are certain things that hotels expect you to take, like shampoo. So, the hotel basically builds the loss into the cost of the room, says Weston. But taking toilet paper and towels crosses the line.” I thought they threw out anything we used but didn’t finish, so I always took the half used shampoo because they come in nice TSA-friendly containers. I still think they toss them but I never thought a hotel would build that loss into the cost of the room.

There are a few other crazy things in that post about how frugality can go a little too far… I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this!

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49 Responses to “Your Take: When Frugality Becomes Stealing?”

  1. That can be a thin line sometimes. A while back, I wrote an article about free samples at wholesale clubs. Is it wrong to make a meal of them?

    The guy from that article is definitely taking things too far. As another poster mentioned, if you wouldn’t take something if the owner/manager was standing in front of you, then it should probably stay. Napkins and condiments in the food court or toiletries in hotels are totally OK for customers to take. As with anything, too much is a good thing though. Taking a couple extra napkins or sweetener packets for home is fine, but walking out with fistfuls of them… c’mon, that’s going a little too far. If you are a paying customer, I highly doubt that the establishment would mind if you take an extra 3-4 sugar packs to use at home for your afternoon coffee. Taking 30-40… now that’s another story.

  2. fetu says:

    Those half used bottles of shampoo you left at the hotel……the house keepers get to take them home. Every job has its perks!

    My husband goes metal detecting on our local beaches and comes home with piles of white hotel towels that hotel guests took to the beach and left there because they did not want to take wet and sandy towels back in the car. I have not bought towels for over 15 years.

  3. Waste says:

    Bring what you need with you. Use only what you need. As a skinflint with future consideration, bring your own utensil with you. I abhor one use plastic utensils, same goes for the bottled water c rapola everywhere. Repugnant as it may seem, I just wipe the same old plastic soup spoon, it won’t kill me, didn’t use chemicals and trace residue. On the rare occasion with fast food, when I choose to indulge, I don’t need 5 packets of ketchup, though it will ultimately just be trashed, if left on a tray. Sadly, it felt awkward, to bring my own container for hot soup, a thermos. For that matter, rarely , to buy coffee to be filled in my anti-spill mug.

    On my first journey abroad, I found out paper was a luxury. We are indeed fortunate to have well stocked restrooms. No, I did not resort to newsprint…having been briefed to bring your own.

  4. Waste says:

    Oops, wrong term “skinflint”. I meant practical


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