It’s been over one year since I published Frugality And Ethics – Are You Being Cheap, Frugal, or Stealing?
This was a post I thoroughly enjoyed writing.
Since last year, I have thought of several more situations that some may categorize as frugal living, whereas others may think it’s flat out stealing. Due to this, I thought right now would be a great time for Part 3 of this series.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with saving money (this is a personal finance blog after all), but I do wonder how far people will go to save money – whether it be $1, $2 or $100.
No one is perfect and I definitely am not.
However, when does frugal living or cheapness cross the line and turn into stealing? I would love to hear your opinion on each of the situations below.
Dumpster diving for goods.
I’ve never gone dumpster diving but I do know of a few people who have tried it.
Some believe that dumpster diving is stealing because the goods were meant for the trash. Others believe it’s just frugal living.
While I don’t think I could ever dumpster dive, I don’t think this is stealing. Someone actually making use of the item instead of it sitting in a landfill sounds like a much better use to me.
Related article: How To Live On One Income
Taking the coupons out of someone’s newspaper.
For a few months when I was trying out couponing (I was not very good at it), I received one newspaper each week so that I could get the coupons. However, the coupons were rarely ever in there. I did some research and apparently it is somewhat common for thieves to go around and steal the coupons out of newspapers.
Many of these thieves claim they do it because most people don’t use their coupons. However, how do you know if someone does or doesn’t?
To me, taking the coupons out of someone’s newspaper is clearly stealing and not frugal living at all. You should ask for permission before you go around taking coupons.
Not telling wedding vendors that you’re having a wedding.
I didn’t do this with my wedding, but whenever I read wedding budget posts almost every article would say not to tell wedding vendors that you were having a wedding.
Instead, some of these writers would recommend to tell the vendors that you were just having a party. Once you mention the word “wedding,” prices can significantly increase so saying that you are having a “party” might save you some money.
I think this is a difficult one. I’m not sure if this is stealing, as saying that it’s just a “party” is technically not a lie. However, you are purposely leaving information out.
I do think that if you leave out that your party is actually a wedding that you may miss out on some important aspects of your wedding. Usually a higher price is charged for a wedding because extra work needs to be put in, such as with a photographer, DJ, event planner, etc.
What do you think when it comes to this situation?
Related article: DIY Wedding Ideas – Worth It Or A Waste Of Money?
Reading books and magazines but not paying for them.
I still remember one occasion where I had to get a book for research and went to a bookstore near my home. The book was obviously read by someone previously as there were big fold marks on the outside as well as on the inside (it looked like someone folded the book in half), and there were even stains on and in the book. That is just sad!
I see nothing wrong with quickly glancing at a book or magazine to determine if it’s for you. However, if you are reading a majority of the book while not paying for it, I do think that this crosses the line into stealing.
If you enjoyed a book so much to read almost the whole thing (or even the whole thing), then you should either buy the book from the bookstore or just go to your local library and borrow it from there.
Credit card churning to earn sign-up bonuses.
In Part 2 of my Frugal and Ethics series, I was asked by a few readers to include this in Part 3. Some believe that signing up for credit cards purely to earn high sign-up bonuses is stealing, whereas others do not.
To me, I do not see this as stealing.
I’m fairly positive that credit card companies know that many people sign up just for their bonuses. They are probably hoping to find some life-long credit card holders by offering these bonuses. I see credit card churning as a frugal living win!
Have you ever done any of the above? Are the above situations just frugal living or are some actually theft? What other examples can you think of?