TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates: My Extremely Cheap Experience

TLC's Extreme Cheapskates: My Extremely Cheap Experience

TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates: My Extremely Cheap Experience | brokeGIRLrich

I’ve found being a blogger can be a little weird at this beginning stage I’m in. For months I sort of plodded along in my own little world here, with a couple dozen visitors who I started to consider friends. Then, nearly overnight it seemed, I switched over to a couple hundred visitors a day and my inbox started filling up with some really bizarre junk mail.

And the occasional intriguing offer.

A small offer of $10-20 to write a guest post for a blog. An offer of a free book (that actually looks interesting) to review. Legit smaller bloggers looking to guest post on my blog (which is a post in itself on how to vet that mess).

And then the most intriguing offer of all so far – an email from Extreme Cheapskates.

To begin with, I thought it was spam, or a joke. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So I shot them an email back saying I was pleased they though of me and my blog, but I really didn’t think I was an extreme cheapskate by any means.

And I immediately received a reply TLC and we started a conversation about how they were considering adding a role of someone who acts like the voice of reason and provides commentary on the craziness that’s happening in the episode and general advice about how to moderate the madness and still live a frugal lifestyle but not be an extreme cheapskate.

WineThat sounded pretty incredible to me. So they sent me a questionnaire to fill out and I spent a few hours on it. It was the standard questionnaire for the program and asked a lot of questions about my own thrifty ways.

My thrifty ways are really boring. Live below your means! Save part of your income for retirement! Eat leftovers! 

Seriously, my craziest thrifty trick is to water down the end of the liquid soap to get the last little bit out. It’s not extreme.

But none of this mattered much anyway, right? Because as I’ve recapped above, supposedly TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates were looking for someone a little less on the bat-shit crazy side.

I sent in my questionnaire and made it to some next level of interviewing/auditions and had a lengthy phone call with one of their casting agents.

This was my first big red flag. Our conversation focused entirely on my thrifty ways. While that was definitely a legit conversation we should’ve been having, she kept pushing and asking things like:

  • do you patch your own clothes?
  • do you steal toiletries from hotels and keep them?
  • do you ever take other people’s leftovers home from restaurants?

Hmmm… this is all going in a questionable direction. So at that point I double checked that they were looking for more of a spokesperson of reason. She gave me a “oh yeah, of course, just asking some standard questions.”

Alright then…

I made to the next round after that, which was to film a video. I was kind of excited about this one, because I felt like I could present myself in a clear voice of reason way. I started working out what I was going to say and was literally in the middle of filming it when I got another call from them.

It was the same casting director and she called me to pitch me the first idea she would want me to work on with them. She wanted me to sign up for a bunch of free online dating sites and start going out with guys so they would buy me dinner.



Besides the fact that that’s wrong on so many levels, this was not, in any way at all, what we had discussed.

Not only was I not remotely a spokesperson, I wasn’t even interesting enough to be an Extreme Cheapskate on my own… so they invented an Extreme Cheapskate “issue” for me.

Furthermore, not only was it cheap. It was downright wrong. It used other people. Even worse, it used other people for more than just money. I mean, you kind of get your hopes up going out on a date. What was I supposed to put in my profile? Only looking for dude’s willing to pay for dinner?

I don’t even think the guy should usually pay for the first date! I think you should go dutch! (But, gentlemen, I do absolutely expect you to offer to pay.)

So… there’s several hours of my life I will never get back. And one of the most awkward phone calls I’ve ever had while I tried to not yell at this crazy woman that she’d lost her ever-loving mind. And eaten up so much of my time under false guises.

Even better, when I told her that made me extremely uncomfortable and was not what we had discussed, she began to pressure to do it anyway. So I hung up on her.

There goes my chance to be a TV star. 

I can live with it. 

I still stand by nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Moral of the Story: To the personal finance bloggers out there – stay away from Extreme Cheapskates… unless you are an Extreme Cheapskate and want to be on the show, then, hey, have I got a contact number for you.

For another great story about someone who did go on TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates and then wrote about what a load of crap it is, check out Jordan’s story over on My Media Guy.

49 thoughts on “TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates: My Extremely Cheap Experience

  1. Yeah, I wrote a post about this because I got the same questionnaire. The show, like most reality shows, just seems like a way for people to get on tv and sometimes the only way they can do it is by showing just how crazy they are. I don’t like the show because it makes people think they have to do crazy sh&t to save money when it really isn’t that complicated or extreme.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Seasons of LoveMy Profile

  2. wow! I watch the show and have a good laugh. I enjoyed a few episodes but what troubled me was the number of times people (who are supposed to be extreme cheapskates) were doing things for the first time. If you are an EC then wouldn’t you be doing those things all the time? Also one person that was featured on the show, I saw on another reality dating program. Hmmm – the extreme cheap thing didn’t come up in the dating profile as far as I can see.
    May recently posted…Fun with Stock CertificatesMy Profile

  3. haha oh god.. I think this is probably for the best.

    I would never ever make it on to extreme cheapskates. I’ve never actually seen the show (only trailers/commercials or posts on other PF blogs) but I know enough that there’s nothing I do that can be interpreted as cheap by those standards.

    My biggest offense is getting my Marc Jacobs bag on sale. A rare thrifty moment I still treasure.

  4. Hey there, Jordan here from My Media Guy,

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s unfortunate they aren’t willing to show the truth about our frugality, because really, it’s way more entertaining than the stuff they make up for “reality” tv.

    Believe me, going on a reality show does NOT make you a TV star, quite the contrary actually. I’m convinced people may eventually learn to just not participate in these made up shows. The price is too high, especially for us ‘cheapskates’.

    Jordan M. recently posted…TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates: The True StoryMy Profile

    • Yeah. I think my biggest aggregation is that they tried to pass it off as something it blatantly wasn’t. Like – just tell me you’re looking for people who are cheap. Don’t lure me in by making me think you’re looking for someone to dispute their madness.

  5. I stopped watching TLC a long time ago, I think there programming has just continued to go down hill and this is yet another example of that.

    Good for you for hanging up on that craziness! I agree it is a horable thing to do to some poor random person and then to air the whole thing on TV. It may make them look dumb who would want to date the girl who did that to the last poor guy?
    Tennille F. recently posted…Three Bennifits Of Amazon Prime Membership & One Secret FeatureMy Profile

  6. Wow! I can’t believe they did that! It sounds like they wanted to take a normal ‘thrifty’ person and turn them into one of their extreme cheapskates. I would have turned it down, too. A lot of their shows have gotten crazy, but I still love to watch 19 kids and counting, it’s about the only good thing left on TLC.
    Becky recently posted…Philippians 4: Steady In GodMy Profile

  7. I remember reading and article from a former contestant on the show The Worlds Biggest Loser. The amount of crap they put the person through. I’m glad I stopped watching reality TV on a regular basis after the first episode of Survivor’s second season.

    The sneakiness of that casting agent reminds me of an MLM I was involved with a year and a half ago for six weeks. That was certainly an interesting experience. The best thing about it was being the trigger which lead me to the world of personal finance blogs. :)
    ThriftyHamster recently posted…Taking The Reigns Of My Life, Lets Get Farming.My Profile

  8. Wow, that’s weird. lol. This reminds me of a friend of mine who had the opportunity to go on Jerry Springer. Once he got there, they gave him a story. They said “you are going to be sexually obsessed with stuff animals”. He said “no I’m not, see you guys later”. I guess the moral here is that TV shows will do anything to get people to watch. Getting guys to take you on dates for free dinner…yeah, that is weird! I’m glad to know you’re not that…extreme. Or whatever that’s called. haha
    Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog recently posted…How to Set Up Your Own Home Inspection BusinessMy Profile

    • I think it’s called cheap. And rude.

      That’s crazy about Jerry Springer, but it sure does explain a lot about that show. It was so crazy. Good for your friend. I sure wouldn’t want to be known as the guy with the stuffed animal obsession ;o)

  9. Holy cow, that’s insane!!! It would be hilarious if not for it wasting your time like that, but wow, what a story to tell! It makes you wonder how much of those TLC Extreme Cheapskates shows are actually fake :-/ Thank you so much for sharing!

    Also, I’d love for you to do a post on how to vet out the legit small bloggers offer to guest post vs. non-legit people looking to guest post. I just turned down someone who seemed shady, and I’m hoping I did the right thing!
    Melissa @ Sunburnt Saver recently posted…Discounts for TeachersMy Profile

  10. Wow — my jaw is dropping. Like you I momentarily believed they wanted you for the contrast of a voice of reason. This just shows how unethical reality producers can be on multiple fronts — dishonest with you about the role they’d like you to play, and dishonest with viewers about the so-called ‘reality’ of the participants.

    On a happier note, CONGRATULATIONS on the uptick in your website hits. Nice job!
    Jean @ NearlyRetired recently posted…Can I Retire Today? Yes, but I Won’tMy Profile

  11. So, I had a very similar conversation with a casting director from Extreme Cheapskates. The whole “but I’m not that cheap!” to the online dating for dinner thing and all.

    I wanted to pull the plug, but my friends and family goaded me into pursuing it, so I did. We did not end up doing the online dating for dinner, but we did lots of other crazy things that I would never ever do. It was a unique experience and I’m definitely worried about what is going to end up in the final cut, but I don’t regret it (yet).

    Chic on the Cheap
    Lyddiegal recently posted…NYFW RewardStyle partyMy Profile

  12. That’s terrible. Makes me frustrated with what could be a show with a fun concept, if they showed only true events and not ridiculous versions of half-truths and, of course, some straight-up lies.

    I find the show entertaining (there’s a marathon on TLC as I write this that I’ve been watching all morning), and I definitely gasp and shudder at a lot of their crazy money-saving concepts.

    There was this one cheapskate, though, that absolutely horrified me; her show has stayed with me for months now. Really, I’m positive I’ll never forget this little gem of an episode… The lady was all about saving on medical care. Her husband is an electrician and I can only imagine that his job affords him and his family with health insurance…I guess the wife was just unwilling to pay for it monthly or something. Anyways, during the show she gets an abscessed tooth (if you guys have ever had an infection in a tooth, you know how horrendous this pain is!) and she waits 2 weeks before finally conceding that she needs a dentist. Oh, but wait! The root canal was going to cost 1,800, so she inquires about the cost of a tooth extraction, which the dentist tells her will be about $180…(my dentist charges $92, but ya know) … So she asks if it would be cheaper to pull the tooth sans Novicain…and of course he says she shouldn’t because the pain will be too great. So she looks up how to pull a tooth on YouTube and has her husband extract it for her! Oh, don’t worry, they used OTC benzocain to numb the gum, ice pack on her cheek, an old, rusty wrench from the early 1900’s they got at a fleamarket, and a dirty vacuum with a straw ductaped to the extension piece to suck out the blood….so you know, it was totally professionally done and absolutely sterile.

    Dear God. It looked horrible, but they did it and the husband looked like he was enjoying himself. Totally calm. Maybe he was getting her back for her years of penny-pinching?

    Anywho, there ya go. I had to share! Lol. Freaking Extreme Cheapskate’s!

  13. Pingback: 5 Reasons why "Extreme Cheapstakes" is Completely Fake

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