A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Extreme Cheapskates pokes gentle fun at folks who use unusual or extreme methods to save money on products and services. The show's content is pretty mild, but it sends some mixed messages about the difference between saving money and engaging in some unhealthy (and a few unethical) tactics to save a buck. Product logos aren't featured, but the names of local businesses can sometimes be seen. Drinking (wine, beer) is visible during meals and social gatherings.
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What's the story?
EXTREME CHEAPSKATES is a reality series that features people from around the country who have found non-traditional or extreme ways to not spend money. From asking strangers for their half-eaten food when eating in restaurants to picking up rice thrown at weddings to cook for dinner and going around town shaking pay phones for coins, the people featured on the series are proud of their cost-saving efforts, even if it means embarrassing themselves and others in the process. Some folks have even perfected the art of bartering and have found ways to exchange goods and services for things like wedding venues and haircuts. Their behavior may seem a little odd or over-the-top, but for these folks, it's all about pinching pennies any way they can.
Is it any good?
Most of these folks characterize their efforts as "saving money," but what they are really doing is finding ways not to pay for things with their own cash in order to afford hobbies or save for retirement. Others are fearful of going into debt. Their reasons are understandable, but the fact that they often rely on other people's donations, garbage, and sometimes resort to pushing the envelope of what is legal to maintain their personal level of frugality is a little problematic.
Viewers may find a few creative ideas here, especially when it comes to finding different ways to barter a few hours of work or unique services in exchange for things that they want. But many will also be disturbed by the folks who would rather give loved ones dead flowers from a dumpster and feed guests expired food rather than spend any extra money on them. These types of behaviors seem more selfish and/or compulsive than penny-wise, and send confusing messages about what saving and smart money management is all about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between being frugal and being "cheap." Why is being cheap often characterized as a bad thing? What are some healthy and/or creative ways to cut costs? Does your family have any money-saving habits that seem to work?
What is the purpose behind producing reality shows featuring people engaged in extreme and/or excessive behaviors? To teach audiences something? To get viewers to react to different people and their habits? Or is it just voyeuristic entertainment?
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