Stealing and Lying in the Name of Frugality – Thirteen Horrible Tips

Quit Stealing Our Letters

Quit Stealing!

There are plenty of honest ways to save money! Just look at how you can get all of your household products for free at CVS or Walgreens. You do not need to be dishonest to get great deals!

The following suggestions have all been made by blogs, websites, or forums in the past couple of months. Doing dishonest things in the name of saving money just gives a bad rep to the rest of honest frugalites out there. Please do not follow these awful tips.

Buy Water, Take Soda. If you buy water, take water. If you want soda, pay for it!

Buy a $2 Espresso and use the free milk in the condiments section to turn it into a $5 latte (Starbucks). Seriously, please tell me this tip was a joke. One responder even said that it isn’t a big deal because you are only “screwing Starbucks”. That simply isn’t true! You are hurting the small business owner who purchased that store and the employees when they no longer have a job.

Get all your ketchup, mustard, sugar, salt, etc from the condiment section of a restaurant. This is similar to the tip above. Those items are for your use while you are at the restaurant. Filling your pockets with them for the future is not what they are for.

Knowingly use a coupon that is not for the product you because “it works”. The response to this one was “if the machine takes it and the kid (cashier) takes it then it is my gain”. The stores are not reimbursed for this and the “kid” can lose their job when the drawer comes up short. It also makes it harder on other couponers because cashiers become leery of anybody who walks up with them. Mistakes happen, but if you know then don’t do it.

Purchase an item on sale or at one store only to return it to another for a higher price. If you need to return an item then go to the store that you purchased it at. Return policies are getting stricter and stricter because of things like these.

Trick people obsessed with brand names. Okay, so everybody needs to draw their own line, but I didn’t really like this one. It was written by a husband who said that his wife has to have Tide, but he buys Purex and pours it in the Tide bottle instead. Not awful, but is it really worth the fight if she ever found out? If my husband was lying to me it wouldn’t matter what it was about, but I guess I’m stubborn like that.

Sell your wireless password/connection to neighbors. Really? I’m pretty sure the wireless company wouldn’t be too thrilled to figure that one out.

“Jack” all the free stuff in hotel rooms. Again, this one might not be that bad – it depends on how far you take it. The way I figure it, the toiletry items are there if I need them while I am staying. Personally, I will only take them home if I have opened them and I know they will be thrown away if I leave them, but if you want them then you can take them. However, taking towels or other items is just stealing.

“Scam” a Costco membership from your friends. The suggestion was to ask your friends with a Costco membership to buy you a Costco giftcard (you pay them for it), which then can be used as a membership (until the giftcard is up). We have friends who come to Costco with us and I would be happy to purchase a giftcard as a gift, but my eyebrows would go up if they asked me to buy them a giftcard simply so they could get out of the membership fee. If you like them that much then support the store and employees.

Fill a flask with alcohol before you go out so you don’t have to buy drinks. Hmm. That might be a sign of a deeper problem.

And just for kicks…. here are just some plain old BAD tips!!

Stop drinking – okay, so that is a good tip, LOL – but this man said he saved $300-$350 a MONTH because he stopped drinking.

Microwave your pens – the site that posted this said that this would make them work again. I’m not sure it would be worth the chance that they break your microwave by melting or causing a spark with the metal in the pen.

Have only 4 periods. I’m not sure that the cost of the birth control would actually be a cost savings vs. losing 8 periods a year. Try Natural Family Planning, and cloth pads or a Diva Cup.

If you want some real ways to save money then try my 97 Ways to Save Money article!

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah April 17, 2009 at 8:40 am

Hey vrey nice tips and a nice blog! These are really funny especially Selling your wireless password/connection to neighbors! is an interesting tip:)


2 Michelle April 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Those aren’t frugal…they’re just wrong! I’m sure those people, while saving money, aren’t really getting ahead. Karma will just keep them behind.


3 frugalisfab April 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Great article. It proves their is a difference between frugal and being cheap or even taking it one step farther to stealing. It isn’t worth it. There are plenty of deals to be had by couponing in an honest way.


4 LittlePeopleWealth April 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Thanks everybody, I am always shocked when I read people advocating some of these tips!


5 Webbielady April 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I am crazy about savings but it’s not inborn.. I mean, I have a CPA license and it’s all about money and counting money that I learned over the years from university till profession (now).

Why I say these tricks are stupid? Because the long term effect is much more damaging financially.. except of course the one who saved 300-350 for not drinking.. that one I like! ^^ That is unbeatable!

Got to stumble this. Great reactions to those prank tips!


6 SonyaAnn April 18, 2009 at 3:18 am

I had to laugh when I saw the picture with your post. I prefer the honest way, too. Keep up the good work, I really enjoyed reading your blog.


7 DV- Rebecca L. April 18, 2009 at 3:28 am

Honesty goodness attracts people treating you honest 🙂 great post!


8 LittlePeopleWealth April 19, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I enjoyed the picture too! I think they were very creative with what they had to work with, LOL!


9 Tris April 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm

I think that it is great that you have all of this information and are well aware of what goes on, but when you “educate” the ones who do not know….well… have just tought a lot of people some ideas of how to basically scam everyone. Great post, just food for thought!


10 LittlePeopleWealth May 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Since these were all taken from other blogs (who were serious about them) I think the info is out there already 🙁 If somebody wants to scam then there isn’t much I can do to stop it, but at least I was able to point out why they are such bad ideas!


11 SavingDiva May 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I have to admit that I take the items from a hotel room! I love the little soaps and shampoo. I use them in my gym locker!


12 BillyOceansEleven May 12, 2009 at 6:02 pm

OK, I’m going to play devil’s advocate on two of these.

1. Taking the hotel soaps and shampoos. I don’t see anything wrong with this. Normally these are individual use size containers, and I consider these part of what I pay for with my room rate. I can use these if I wish or if I choose not to use them then I should be able to take them home with me. Of course if it is a big multi-use dispenser (like what you’d find on a cruise ship for shampoo and body wash), you shouldn’t take the dispenser home or empty it out in your own containers, and taking anything other than toiletries (towels, bibles, etc.) is just stealing.

2. The Costco gift card scam. Ultimately someone had to pay a membership fee to buy the gift cards in the first place, and if you are using gift cards to avoid paying the membership fee you probably aren’t using Costco that often anyway (as much as I use Sams Club, I can’t imagine trying to have a paid member buy gift cards for me to cover all that I spend in there). Plus Costco gets to hold that cash on the gift card until you actually spend the money, so they have to make a return on that as well.

I’d agree the others are dirty. If you unintentionally end up with extra condiments from a to-go order or pull the brand switcharoo once to prove a point that’s fine, but to make a habit of it is another.

Also, great pic! I love it!


13 Morgan May 20, 2009 at 1:15 am

I love the one about putting pens in the microwave–hmm, risk the cost of a new microwave vs. the benefit of a 50 cent pen.
Morgan at


14 LittlePeopleWealth June 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm

There are definitely two sides to all of them 🙂 I do take the shampoos/soaps if I open them in the hotel, but not if I don't. I figure I have plenty at home anyway from the drugstore games, LOL!

The Costco "scam" just seems cheap to me. I've taken friends to Costco and purchased items for them and I really have no problem with that, but if one of them decided they loved Costco so much that they wanted to go on their own and asked me to buy them a gift card so they didn't have to pay the membership fee my eyebrow would definitely go up 🙂


15 APRIL June 20, 2009 at 1:47 am

Mamabear – $74 for a suite? SWEET!! I'd love to know the name of this hotel. I'm from Michigan and WI would be a not quite but kinda like a stacation, especially at that rate.


16 flemishe June 20, 2009 at 4:43 am

I remember reading these when it came out in April–good stuff!
Thanks for reminding me by making this Scavenger clue #2


17 Kelly June 20, 2009 at 5:09 am

Scavenger number 2 🙂 I remember when you posted this. It was nice to hear someone say that some of the ideas weren't so great!


18 Brimful Curiosities June 20, 2009 at 5:24 am

Yes that is a great photo. Entering your scavenger hunt clue #2. Thanks.


19 Julie V June 20, 2009 at 5:48 am

Here for Scavenger #2 🙂

hydrangea1329 at hotmail dot com


20 Claire June 20, 2009 at 7:34 am

Scavenger Hunt #2 here, too! 🙂

opalelephant630 (at) aol (dot) com


21 Melanie Haight June 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Gret information, never even would think to do some of them. They are just wrong. Here is my #2 entry


22 Sweet Serendipity June 20, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Great post. Found it for scavenger hunt #2. thanks
melissa b rich at gmail dot com


23 Jill June 20, 2009 at 4:19 pm

hey, great article. I found it for Scavenger #2. Great giveaway, thanks!


24 Julie Bestry June 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Good to find this post again, especially for Scavenger Hunt #2. Thanks for running this giveaway!


25 McMullin's June 20, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I could never imagine doing most of these. I find it horrible someone would do these. Found for scavenger #2.


26 Anonymous June 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I must admit that when I was in college I'd go to Jack in the Box and pick up a few extra packets of mayo, mustard, and ketchup because I often would pack a lunch and would use the condiment packets when I packed a sandwich. I've seen another tip where people lie about their child's age to get them in for free or for cheaper (for example, at Disneyland kids under 3 get in free but there are a lot of 3 year olds that look like they are still 2). As a parent I think we need to teach our children right from wrong by being good examples. If they see us order a water and fill it up with soda, they will think it is okay. Kids also have big mouths so I know that if I were to pass my 4 year old off as a 2 year old he would pipe up and say that he is 4 not 2. Or if I asked for water and tried to put soda he would comment that I am not putting water in my cup. Sometimes he has asked for "juice" (I use the term loosely as Hi-C does not count as juice in my opinion) when I ordered water and I tell him that we didn't pay for anything but water so that is all we are getting. Also, regarding the microwaving the pen tip, I believe you could take the part with the ink in it (or at least the tip) and run it under hot water to get the ink to loosen up… I've done it before with a pen that I knew was new and full of ink and it wasn't working. So I put the tip under some hot water and then the pen started working.


27 kathy June 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm

scavenger hunt #2


28 Dina June 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Great post. Found it for scavenger hunt #2 – probably too late for the giveaway but I just like a challenge 😉


29 Anonymous July 25, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I usually will take the items from a hotel room. I've colleted soaps and shampoo up over time. I then take them to the local shelter for use. I don't think that is bad. I paid for them when I stayed there right.


30 SwapSavers August 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Great list. I would also add that it is not okay to make a copy of printable coupons from sites like


31 LittlePeopleWealth August 3, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Yeah, making copies of printable coupons isn't just a bad tip, it is illegal. I haven't seen anybody promote that, but I'm sure it happens 🙁

If you want to take the soap/shampoo samples at a hotel that is your choice. They are included in the stay. I tend to take them if they are opened, but I really do not have a use for them if they are not so I leave them for the next person. However, taking towels or other items is just wrong.


32 Elizabeth November 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

So glad you mentioned NFP! Not only is it inexpensive, but it has so many other benefits. If you use the Creighton Method, you can also more accurately pinpoint other underlying health problems. Great post!


33 LittlePeopleWealth November 12, 2010 at 2:47 am

That's interesting Elizabeth. There are benefits for knowing your body, that's for sure. I think people mix NFP up with other (nothing) methods. They really are different. My ob/gyn even says that NFP is the best way to go as long as you stick with it!


34 Christel Schade January 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I agree with BillyOceansEleven


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