When does thrifty go too far?

>> 8.19.2009

I'll admit it, I'm one of those people that sneaks candy into the movie theater. I don't even watch movies that often, but when I do, I don't want to pay $4.50 for $.50 worth of candy. It saves me money, but I know that it is wrong.

After sneaking a Twix into "The Goods" this weekend (not worth seeing), I began thinking about some of the thrifty choices that I make. What is right and wrong when it comes to thrifty spending? When should doing the right thing override the savings?

A few questionable things I've seen people do...
*having a friend go through the checkout so that a coupon can be used twice
*avoiding claiming income to save on tax
*lying about age to get student or senior discount
*running in 5k/10k road race without paying
*using an employee discount to buy things for friends

Usually, when we do these things, we come up with some reason to justify them ($9 for a movie ticket!). I feel that some of the above do cross the line, but everyone has his or her own limit. So what do you think; where do you draw the line with your thrifty spending?


Sarah - La Jeune Marie August 19, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

I think it's fine to sneak candy, or have your friend buy you items at an employee discount (assuming they are fine with it and there is no peer pressure involved) but cheating on you taxes is just plain wrong. I like this post! Makes you think!

Struggler August 19, 2009 at 4:17 PM  

Mmm, I had to ponder on this one too!

I don't actually think bringing your own snacks to a movie is 'wrong'. Sure, they'd like us to spend money on their stuff, but until they sell healthy snacks at good prices, they can forget it. Coupons also seem like fair game to me - they're not infinitely scale-able after all.

But the others on your list, no, I wouldn't do. I've seen parents do the age-lying in front of their kids, and that seems a strange way to me to teach right and wrong.

thriftylittleblog August 19, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

Sarah- I was thinking of the waiters that fudge their earnings so that they pay less in taxes. From what I've heard, most of them do it. Still, could be over the line.

thereddeer August 19, 2009 at 7:03 PM  

Cheating on taxes = bad, in fact I think any forms of lying to save money is bad. You shouldn't need to break the law or lie to save money.

Robert August 19, 2009 at 8:28 PM  

I agree with you. Movies are already high enough, and the outrageous snack stands are just too much.

After all, it is a theater not a restaurant, so if you want to bring a snack, go for it.

The DIY Show Off August 19, 2009 at 11:13 PM  

Not reporting income = bad news to me. I also don't think lying about age for discounts is right but the rest...hmmm. Coupons, employee discounts, movie snacks...I don't think those are so bad.

I popped over to say "thanks" for your comment to YHL's post about my key tray and I'm enjoying your blog! Nice to "meet" you!


Holly West August 20, 2009 at 10:14 AM  

I think thrift becomes "wrong" when it essentially becomes stealing. Bringing candy into a theatre is fine. Sneaking into a second movie, not fine. Questionable write-offs on taxes? Maybe okay. Not claiming income? Definitely not okay.

You're right though--everyone has a different "line" they will or won't cross.

Karrie August 20, 2009 at 12:43 PM  

I agree with Holly West, if you're stealing then it is wrong. That goes for all those torrent sites in which people download music, TV shows or movies. Just because you can do it, doesn't make it right.

This is just my two cents worth about using employee discounts to buy things for friends. I have spent most of my career working in department stores. It is against company policy to use your employee discount to purchase items for someone else. I have seen people get fired over it. If a friend offers it to you, ask yourself if it's worth their job for you to save 20%. Also, one might think that it's hard to get caught, but most stores have an employee reward system in which one can report anonymously any suspicious activities and if the tip results in a firing due to policy violation, the employee who called in the tip receives reward money. It a HUGE motivator and is used all the time in department stores.

Sorry for the long-winded comment, but I hated seeing people get fired over this.

WhimsAndInconsistencies August 20, 2009 at 4:28 PM  

I still think it's totally fine to use your student ID for a couple years after graduation. Maybe until you pay off your student loans? ;)

And my favorite pair of jeans came from a friend's discount, but here's a line not to cross: A friend of mine would take the discarded free-refill popcorn containers off the top of the trash at the movies and get them refilled. IT'S IN THE TRASH! That's not classy and not sanitary.

thriftylittleblog August 20, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

Using a discarded popcorn bowl?! Wow, that's one I've never heard of before!

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