How Much Frugality Is Too Much Frugality?

I talk about frugality a lot on The Simple Dollar, both directly and through allusions in other posts. To me, frugality – in the form of living within your means as best you can – is one of the biggest keys to personal finance, and it’s particularly vital because anyone can do it, so I find it quite interesting and I practice many, many frugal ideas myself.

That being said, there are often times when I mention specific frugal tips that readers say “cross the line.” For instance, my recent mention of going to a coffee shop with a group but just ordering water struck some people as unethical. Similarly, I’ve been criticized for wearing socks with holes in them, rewashing Ziploc bags, making my own laundry detergent, and countless other frugal tactics, all from readers who stated I’d gone “too far” with this frugality thing.

On the other hand, I hear about people who dig through dumpsters for outdated food items to eat immediately and I just shake my head, wondering what these people are thinking. I do appreciate that they’re saving money, but it’s just too much for me. They cross the line into the world of what I define as being a cheapskate.

So, how much frugality is too much frugality? There’s no strict line here, actually, because it seems to vary quite a bit from person to person based on a number of factors: tolerance for “out of the mainstream” behavior, willingness to invest time to reduce expenses, and so on. In fact, I would go even further and argue that there is never too much frugality, as long as respect for others exists – what actually creates that line between frugal (good) and cheapskate (bad) is our other values.

That’s why I value things like The Complete Tightwad Gazette, even when they cross that cheapskate line. I realize that the line between frugal and cheapskate is different for different people, and even when I hear about things that just simply cross that line for me, I try to think of ways to apply that knowledge to the values that I have.

Let me throw out a couple of examples. Some people shouted that it was too cheap for their tastes when I would order water at a coffee shop, but instead perhaps they would find it ethical to order the cheapest drink on the menu and a water to go with it (I personally don’t like coffee that much, so I’d far prefer the water). Also, some stated that it was too cheap for them to actually take notes out of a book at the book store, so why not just do the same thing at the library instead? Same end effect, just a different location.

In the end, it’s all about finding that point where you’re comfortable with things but you’re also maximizing the value of each of your dollars. Finding that fine line – and always trying to live by it – is the real key to frugality.

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87 thoughts on “How Much Frugality Is Too Much Frugality?

  1. guinness416 says:

    Respect for others is the key, ordering a big meal but being cheap with tips etc is repellent to me. Personally, beyond idle curiosity, I don’t care if you dig in dumpsters – more power to you – as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else. (Also, no-one “shouted”).

  2. The Chef says:

    I agree with you that there is a line between being cheap and being frugal. I would want to ask you here about the opportunity cost!

    I am at the same coffee shop for a business meet, at that point of time my client is important to me and its the no. one priority.

    Now I may not know what he is thinking when I order a glass of water. If he assumes that I am cheap, then the I may lose the client.

    This is an extreme scenario wherein the client forms a perception and refuses to do business. You may encounter such meets 3-4 times a week. so its high probability that some day the perception does a foul play.

    This would be huge cost to the business for saving some money over a drink.

  3. Wendy says:

    How is it unethical that your friends wanted to go to a coffee shop, you don’t like coffee that much and shouldn’t have to pay for something you don’t like, so you ordered water?

    So now when we HAVE to buy something or not go in a place at all?

  4. Randy Hunt says:

    There’s another facet to consider, as well. When you’re making your own detergent or reusing Ziploc bags, you are reducing the effects of consumerism — even if you’re only one person, or one family. If more people did that, there would be less dependence on foreign oil (yes, plastic is made from oil), less trash, less pollution, and probably many other benefits as well. Now THAT’s what I call frugal!

  5. This is one of those things that we have to keep telling ourselves as bloggers: there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Everyone has to find their own way, one way or another.

    This is probably the hardest part of being frugal.

  6. Betty Ann says:

    I agree with The Chef. I was thinking the same thing when I read that post too.
    I would think it was a ‘cheap’ think to do and not used you. I felt it was bad business for that coffee shop that you did not order anything but water.
    I would feel you would be too stingy with me too. You took up a seat and did not pay anything.
    You could have gotten a Juice or hot cocoa or anything. At least the coffee shops here have a large selection; just to make the right impressions at times like this.
    I personally miss the advertisement you had here. I liked that you were making $$$ with this great blog. I’m living month to month now as I rebuild up my freelance business; and my NYC mortgage is very high … and I can’t contribute in your donate … you have the BEST Blog that I have seen on this topic. But understand about Principals. I have not done things because of PRINCIPALS too.
    Hugs to you and your wife and babies.. Best to you in 2008.

  7. I always get a kick out of the comments that you have “gone too far” because I have done pretty much all of the things you have mentioned as part of your regular frugality. It really is about what you are comfortable with. I haven’t tried dumpster diving yet but I think it might be fun if the right people go with you.

  8. Jim Wang says:

    Hey Trent.

    Crossing the line means doing something unethical.

    Now, that’s a huge grey area. But, it’s sort of like what somebody says: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”

    Not professing to be blameless at all, but going to a coffeeshop and ordering water with friends is fine, because it seems like you’re there for the company, and you would have been fine just inviting them over to your place.

    However, writing down information in your notebook in a bookstore is different somehow. In that case, you’re trying to save money on a book that you would have otherwise bought, and you wouldn’t have any other excuse in doing so.

    Anyways, just some food for thought. Cheers.

  9. Jeremy says:

    For me anyway, the line gets crossed when being frugal overshadows the simple pleasures and conveniences in life that the money you work hard for can provide. I work to make money, which in turn is used to enjoy life and prepare for the future. Part of that comes from being able to afford some of the things that you otherwise wouldn’t.

    For example, I’d never make my own laundry detergent. Sure, I could save a few bucks, but for me, a big tub of tide for 29 bucks will last us about a whole year. So 29 bucks for a year’s worth of laundry is not worth the additional savings in my situation.

    As long as what I’m buying doesn’t break the budget or put our finances in harm, I don’t go overboard with being frugal. I save as much money as possible finding the best deals. If I can do something to be even more frugal without much time or effort, I will, but it isn’t a priority at that point.

  10. Ms. Clear says:

    Ordering water in a coffee shop is going too far? In what parallel universe?

  11. Credit says:

    Digging in dumpsters and reusing Ziploc bags can increase your probability of exposure to food borne illness particularly for the 12 second cleaning you described in the previous post. I do not have the numbers to perform a risk analysis, but I would predict a net benefit to using new Ziploc bags and not getting food out of the dumpster due to the high cost of hospitalization/medical care associated with the risk. It helps to look at the broader picture for economic decisions as you have done well in other discussions including the washing machine, etc. Often, the lowest short-term cost option can have a high cost risk or elevated operating cost associated with it.

  12. guinness416 says:

    I’ve no problem with ordering water in a coffee shop, Ms Clear, as long you’re not using seating paying customers want. But people were responding to the original post, which described a meeting with a business associate (suggestive of hogging the table, looking to make an impression one-on-one, etc) and the options as a six dollar coffee or a freebie water. Now it’s become a visit to the coffee shop with a group, which is a slightly different scenario, with the shop making money from a larger group.

  13. Too much frugality occurs when it becomes cheapness and deprives the fun and enjoyment out of simple pleasures unnecessarily.
    -Raymond

  14. Ms. Clear says:

    Was the other person, who ordered coffee, planning to share their table with another coffee buying customer, a stranger?

    Sorry, the logic doesn’t make any sense.

  15. Ms. Clear says:

    On another note, I would not wash out a baggie that had contact with meat or cheese. But something used for chips or a few cookies can easily be reused. Food borne illnesses? Not from a few Oreo crumbs.

  16. Penny Squeaker says:

    I call it information shopping, walking into a bookstore ( Barnes & Nobles ) store checking out their cooking books.

    One saturday every quarter, we take out the time to checkout some of their updated books/new releases – notations of best receipes…

    If the bk is worth adding it to our collection – take down ISBN #, later research where could it be purchased used – lowest price (half.com usually) or wishlist w/target desired pricing. Check your wishlist twice a year, if item is cheaper @ store new, purchase it.

    Our five kids checkout books in this manner, as well as sampling CD music section. We’ve lived the last 10 years in NYC, where the cost of living was out of this world.

    Managed to live – all of us (DH+DW+5kids) in a tiny 1 bedroom apt, dual income (saving my entire income + 1/4 of his).

    In order to purchase a house for cash (No Loans) accomplished in 2006, fund our retirement accounts (401k’s -$100K ea), IRA’s $60K ea, College Education 5 kids -(US Treasury Bonds) Interest earn is tax free in any state, fed, etc. bypassing potential congression changes to Roth & 529 plans + their restrictions.

    Emergency fund (3 yrs living expenses), new car – toyota model highest gpm (paid in cash). Staples Foodpile + Deep Freezer enough to last 2 yrs worth. No student loans at all, we worked 1st in order to pay college as we went along.

    It’s the value, our family comes 1st. Making sure everything is taking care of financially. Owe no one, in a time when subprime mortg. 90% of our nation are losing their homes + shirts of bks, cause they’ve choosen to live way beyond their means. It’s very sad.

    LIVE well below your means, try 50% of ones salary and they never have to worry!

  17. Laura G says:

    Hi, Trent. I’m a big fan, and I just wanted to let you know I cited you in my own blog as my “Awesome link of the week.” Thanks!

  18. Michelle says:

    I don’t know, when I lived in a college town, we would go out on move-out day and pull all kinds of things from the dumpsters. I got a new living room set, a new stereo and my husband once found a laptop. Is that going to far? I don’t think so.

    I also use cloth diapers, which many of my friends find disgusting and say that I’m going to far for frugality, but it doesn’t bother me. But I buy expensive laundry detergent and fabric softener because I like the way it smells when I take it out of the dryer. I think it comes down to what Trent talked about in a different post, about how frugality only works if it’s something that makes sense for you. A friend can’t stand to go to a coffee shop and not get a $6 drink, but I’ve got not problems ordering a 10 cent hot water and then adding Vanilla creamer (a trick I learned in college and still my favorite drink!). But she buys the cheapest detergent she can find. Is one of us more frugal than the other?? No, we just find that different things work for different people. She gets pleasure out of her coffee, and I get pleasure out of my detergent.

  19. Eric says:

    I took the comments like “I’ve no problem with ordering water in a coffee shop, Ms Clear, as long you’re not using seating paying customers want.”, “You took up a seat and did not pay anything.” to heart! I told my friends I wouldn’t get any coffee and felt uncomfortable just taking up a seat.

    We decided to go to a place that served drinks I liked.

    The coffee shop missed out on 5 sales because the 6th person (me) wouldn’t buy coffee.

    The coffee shop would like to talk to some of you about their lost revenue.

  20. Johanna says:

    I live in a college town, and many of the establishments around here have minimum-order policies. If a place doesn’t have one, I don’t see how there’s anything necessarily wrong with ordering as little as possible or nothing at all.

    But if what you’re really after from the coffee shop isn’t coffee or water, but a warm and comfortable place to sit down, I think you have to ask yourself why you’re not willing to pay a few dollars for that.

  21. I’d agree with most of the people on here. Washing ziploc bags? Not enough ROI for me. I’ve had to realize over the last few years that I COULD save lots of money were I to make more things. For example…when my daughter was born, I had the grand idea to make my own baby wipes to save money. I’d still like to do that, but wouldn’t my time be better spent playing with my daughter and spending an extra few dollars on manufactured wipes?

    Dumpster diving for food? No thank you as the risk of disease or illnes is too high. Dumpster diving for “treasures” could be fun though…people throw away the damndest things. Why not benefit from what someone else doesn’t want to deal with?

    For me, the most important thing is to balance time spent trying to save money, with time spent doing things I enjoy.

  22. klf says:

    I do not have a problem meeting someone (or a large group of friends) at a coffee shop and not ordering anything. I do not see where, if I do not like coffee, or I am not thirsty or hungry, that I should be obligated to purchase something, particularly if I was not the one to suggest the meeting place. If the other person requested the meeting, I’m assuming that they do want to purchase something; this does not automatically require me to purchase an item.

    I’ve gone with a friend to the grocery store while she did her shopping….does this require me to purchase groceries while there? I’ve gone with friends to the mall or other stores while they’ve gone shopping, and I didn’t purchase anything there either…that business owner is still paying rent and overhead and salaries…what makes going to a coffee shop different than walking into Macy’s? Should I be prohibited from leaving Macy’s until I buy some token item?

    OK, off my coffee shop soapbox now….

    As to frugality, each person has their own threshold. What’s too much or too far for one person (Dumpster diving for Trent) wouldn’t be for someone else (I got a great chair from my brother who trash picked it;he glued the broken arm perfectly and I still get compliments on what a nice chair it is).

    Even in the Tightwad Gazette, Amy states several times that whether you are just a little frugal or a lot frugal is a personal choice. Just because you choose not to wash out baggies doesn’t make the person who does cheap nor does the baggie nonwasher become wasteful.

    this blog is a great place for rethinking a lot of things, and obviously Trent is still learning new ways of frugality. Somewhere along the way he may decide that recording the recipe may not have been the best choice(Or he may not). He’ll discard some practices and embrace new ones. You may not agree with his choices, and possibly he’ll rethink some of his actions for the better (or he may not). But at least he’s getting his thoughts out there.

    I’m a long time tightwad and frugalite, by the way…

  23. Justin Reese says:

    Trent, I think you deliberately mischaracterize people’s responses to your original post. The primary sentiment of people’s responses wasn’t “that’s too much frugality”, it was “that’s frugality on someone else’s dime.” Not subscribing to cable? Frugal. Wiring up to my neighbor’s cable and calling it frugality? Clearly unethical.

    Frugality is about total personal discipline; you cross the “too much frugality” line when you sacrifice your ethical discipline to feed your financial one.

    The coffee shop scenario was a gray area with all the unknowns (was it busy? did the other guy order coffee?), but the book shop scenario (recording whole sections of a book in-store so you didn’t have to buy it) seems clearly unethical. Sure, that sort of activity is factored into the profit margins, but so is shoplifting. That doesn’t make it right.

    The library comparison is flawed. You pay for your use of the library every time you pay your taxes. When you treat that large, comfortable, local book store as a library, but don’t “pay your taxes” (buying a book, drinking a coffee while you read), you’re taking advantage of them. (In the bad way.)

    There’s an excellent article and subsequent conversation here (http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/89-consumer-reports-unfortunate-advice) concerning exactly this sort of thing, as well as the gray area of “try in person, buy online”.

    I have lots of respect for you and your enormous amounts of discipline, and precisely because of that I found your advice and your response disappointing. Please don’t forget the true discipline that frugality is supposed to encourage.

  24. plonkee says:

    I guess it’s just a slippery slope really – some people are more comfortable near the top and others near the bottom. Each to their own. I wouldn’t have done either of the things that Trent mentioned in his last post, but they aren’t absolutely unethical, since their is disagreement over their status. If you’re doing what you think is right, that’s probably a good start.

  25. Mary says:

    I think what you also run into is a “lesser of two evils” dilemma, especially when it comes to something like dumpster diving. The amount of waste in this country of usable items, especially unopened, prepackaged, sealed goods, is just perverse. Disgusting, really. That wasteful kind of legacy is not something I support, but in order to go against the grain and remove wealth from what many consider a waste stream, I have to go against social mores and codes of conduct. So what’s it going to be? Passively accepting something unethical or actively opposing it and being stigmatized by your peers? It’s a tricky question.

  26. Aryn says:

    The difference between writing down info in a bookstore or a library is not just a “different location.” The library paid for the book you’re using. The bookstore doesn’t pay the publisher for books until the books sell. The bookstore is a business, the library is a public service paid for by your tax dollars.

    When I worked at a bookstore, we had a customer who treated us like a library. He would come in to check something in a film book he had decided was a reference book. At one point, he had “browsed” the book so much, that it was ruined. We were forced to buy it and then sell it in the damaged section at a steep loss. The manager then asked this customer not to visit our store anymore, to go to the library instead.

    If everyone treats the bookstore as a library, we won’t have bookstores anymore.

  27. Ryan S. says:

    While I frequently peruse bookstores and don’t buy a whole lot, it’s not like I never buy anything. I do make frequent use of the library, but there are lots of things I can’t get at the library, such as very new releases (although my library here is remarkably up to date!) or popular books, where I may have to wait for a long period of time.

    That said, I do make an effort not to damage any items while I’m in either the bookstore or library and if I find a book that I think I’m liking a lot, I’ll buy it.
    -
    Ryan
    http://uncommon-cents.net/

  28. Justin Reese says:

    @klf: The reaction of others and myself to Trent’s lack of purchasing coffee is better compared to a hotel’s free wireless internet access. If you’re not staying in the hotel, using their free wifi is obviously in violation of the spirit of the transaction. If you’re visiting a friend who has a hotel room, though, it seems perfectly reasonable to piggy-back on his access. Unfortunately, it’s not clear from Trent’s post whether his friend ordered something or not; that’s a subtle but important distinction to some people.

    That said, in the end the only real voices that matter here would be the customer’s and the shop’s. Clearly, if Trent wasn’t thrown out, the shop didn’t think they were being taken advantage of, and thus there’s no reason to berate him.

    To me, the situation was more interesting as a conversation topic than as an ethical dilemma. (Unlike the book store, which I wrote about in a comment that’s apparently still awaiting moderation.)

  29. Jean says:

    Trent — there is no reason to run around in socks with holes…

    MEND YOUR SOCKS. Not only will you not have holes — the socks will last longer. Socks are knitted and a hole will just continue to unravel making the sock not useable at all.

    Just takes fine small stitches, and watch where you put the knots — they can rub.

  30. I have to agree with the others. What may be frugal to you may be considered being a cheapskate by others. I too will reuse zip lock bags, buy lots of generic and store brands,shop at goodwill, contribute and “shop” on freecycle but I’m a sucker for a specific name brand detergent and a couple other food items. Life is too short to have scratchy clothes that don’t smell nice and no Hellmans mayonnaise as far as I’m concerned. I just make sure I shop them on special or use a coupon if I have one.

    On more than one occassion I’ve “dumpster dived” for furniture and other items,(not food, that is too gross) people throw out perfectly good things, in small and large towns. Too many folks can’t be bothered with calling or taking items to goodwill and will leave things curbside for the taking.

    I also let it be know to folks (in a nice way) that I am looking for a specific item (currently a new small pie safe/jelly cupboard for my kitchen). You just never know who has what sitting around the house, garage or attic. I’ve gotten some great things for free or almost free this way from freinds and freinds of freinds.

  31. Anon says:

    My mother fed us out of dumpsters. It’s something I’m not proud of, but it is a fact. After a while she had an established relationship with the grocers. Sometimes they would give her stuff out of the back room before it went in the dumpster. We’d get things like frozen meat, day old bread, milk one day after the expiration date, fruits and veggies that didn’t look pretty, dented cans, open bags, etc. As kids we didn’t think twice about it. Especially the day when our regular dumpster stop threw out 100 half-gallons of ice cream. My mom had a knack for figuring out what was fit to eat or not. I do not remember EVER getting food poisoning from anything we ate out of there. I’ve never fed my children out of dumpsters, nor do I plan on doing so.

    That being said, from my experiences I have no hesitations about grabbing non-food items out of dumpsters. I have made alot of money selling junk I see in dumpsters on eBay. We wash ziplok bags (except for ones that have had raw chicken in them), buy stuff at second hand stores and out of the paper. I have no problem buying toys for our kids or infants second hand, thoroughly washing them and lysol-ing them clean. We are healthy, happy, and don’t waste as many resources as other Americans.

    When people get grossed out that we wash second hand toys and things and let our kids play with them and put them in their mouths, I just ask them, “Oh, so let your kids only play with things that were touched by factory workers in China?” It’s kind of funny to watch their reaction because you know that they are thinking that once you leave, they are going to grab some lysol and wash all of their toys because it might have Asian bird flu on it from the factory.

  32. “The library paid for the book you’re using. The bookstore doesn’t pay the publisher for books until the books sell.”

    No, they buy the books at a significant discount then sell them to you for a markup, the difference is that a library is specifically designed and intended for temporary use of a book, and a bookstore is intended for sales. Your refusal to buy a book yet get the benefit of it from a bookstore is a deliberate attempt to steal content. Intent is key here.

    Copying off one recipe from a book, however, is fair use – that’s not copyright violation or theft, it’s reasonable use of information.

  33. Esther says:

    Many large bookstores have reading corners with comfortable sofas which expressly invite you to spend your time in the store and just about treat it as a library I used to spend many a Sunday in Barnes and Noble doing that, in fact. It never occurred to me that I was acting unethically if I read a book at the store, but chose not to buy it. (I can’t say that happened very often, though).

    Mind you, buying ebooks is both a frugal and a “green” thing to do. And if you live abroad like I do, you don;t have to wait for weeks until you get your Amazon.com order…

  34. laura k says:

    And when your socks get too holey to be mended, use them for dusting and cleaning up small messes (spills, cat barf, etc.). Shake off the chunks and throw them in the washing machine to use again instead of killing trees by using paper towels.

  35. Adam says:

    I agree with Aryn on the bookstore/library issue. A bookstore is a business, and you are using their merchanize for your own purposes without actually buying it. A library, on the other hand, is a public service that you have the right to use as a taxpaying citizen of your city/county/state. You wouldn’t walk into a barber shop, use their scissors to cut your own hair, and then walk out, would you?

    As for the coffee shop issue…I don’t like coffee either, so I know how you feel, but I also have a friend who used to own a coffee shop, so I can see it from his side too. He would have tons of people come in and use his facilities (TV, internet) and not actually buy anything. All they did was take up space that paying customers could have used. Just my 2 cents.

  36. Steve W says:

    If I were considering doing business with someone who drank water in a coffee shop, I would think that person was smart, disciplined and honest for not trying to deceive me about what kind of person they are.

  37. Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances says:

    At it’s simplest, it goes over the line if:
    1. it hurts others (like not tipping)
    2. it hurts yourself (like eating food from dumpsters)

    Granted, it’s not exactly that simple. I recently posted on getting money back on price drops and someone commented that it was “a vile practice”. I guess they were thinking that this hurts the company and the people that work for it. I’m fine with it, though, since the companies allow it.

  38. K12Linux says:

    I’m sure, if asked, the coffee shop owner was happy to trade the huge markup from the coffees your friends purchased in exchange for the $0.02 worth of water, cup and labor they “lost” with you. I’d only approve of just walking in by yourself and getting a cup of water if you were a regular paying customer much more often than a water “freeloader.” :-)

    I also agree with Justin that there is a big difference between “using” a book in a book store vs the library. The library expects, indeed wants, you to use their books for free. They are institutions designed and funded just for that purpose. Book stores need to get their funding from the books they sell. Stores that have a coffee shop and let you read books while buying over-priced coffee may be an exception here.

    Although I admit I’ve done it too once or twice, I have a problem with going into a specialty store to check out the merchandise or talk to the resident expert and then going out and making the purchase at the cheapest store (online or off) that you can find. As long as people keep doing this, this local shops will keep vanishing until all that is left is the ultra-mart type stores where selection and product knowledge are VERY low priorities. That higher price includes the cost of having product on display and/or the guy who knows all the answers on staff.

  39. mp says:

    all of the coffee shops in my neighborhood have a wide variety of drinks – italian sodas, hot cocoa, tea, etc. if you’re just stopping in so a friend can get a drink to go, clearly there is no obligation to buy anything. however, if you’re sitting down and using the “third place” aspect of the coffee shop, personally i feel like the right thing to do is to buy something – a drink, a cookie to split with a friend, etc. in order to pay for the use of the space.

  40. klf says:

    @Justin: I agree there is a fine line that can be crossed. I agree that I cannot tell whether Trent’s friends/associate ordered something or not. Again, if the other person ordered something, I wouldn’t feel obligated to purchase; however, if we are both sitting there taking up space and neither of us were intent on purchasing, then a more suitable meeting arrangement should be made. Perhaps in the future Trent can clarify further when he writes of these issues. I didn’t think I was berating him (I’m not).

    The bookstore ethical dilemma is a whole other ball of wax. I respectfully disagree with Trent’s actions here.

  41. kg says:

    In a way whether the information is from the bookstore or the library does have the same end effect: you have the info without paying specifically for it, but please do not confuse the ethics of it. As someone who has worked in both places there is a fundamental difference that you don’t seem to be grasping.

    Bookstores essentially have the books on spec. If the book doesn’t sell, it’s returned to the publisher for a full refund. The bookstore loses money on it from the staffing, shipping and storage costs of the book, the publisher loses a hell of a lot more from the cost of production and the author loses royalties and it affects their chances of writing in the future, since they’ve now lost money for the businesses supporting their work. The returned books either get sold to a remainder seller for a fraction of the production cost or pulped: recycled and used as raw material for future books. Does your one bit copied out of a cookbook do this all by itself? No, it’s at about the same ethical level as copying music, except for the analogy to work you’re walking into the music store and ripping the music from their discs without buying anything.

    Libraries on the other hand have bought the books on their shelves. They also pay copyright licensing fees (Access Copyright in Canada, I’m not sure what you have in the States) to allow for their members to copy portions of their materials. Members being the important word. As a taxpayer in your community (or as part of tuition fees for academic libraries) the books are purchased on your behalf so that you can have access to information you might need, legally and freely. Once again, you’re getting the information for free, but through a system set up specifically for you to do so. The publisher sells the book and gets increased exposure of it, the library is supported by increased circulation/membership and the author gets royalties from the original sale and the copyright agreement. The bookstore might even benefit if the library bought the book through them or a member decides they want their own copy. You’re helping the supporting system rather than harming it.

    Right, I’ve been way too wordy. I do agree with your main points in both posts it’s mentioned in, but this example doesn’t take into account the background situation.

  42. K12Linux says:

    I have to backtrack on the bookstore thing just a bit now that I read the original post that started this conversation. I guess it comes down to intent. If Trent copied down a very small part of the instructions to try them out with no intent of ever buying the book that would be one thing.

    If, however, he had gone to the store owner and said, “I’d like to try these instructions at home and see how it turns out. If it makes my Lasagna turn out better I will probably eventually buy this book,” I bet the store owner would have even made a photocopy for him (fair use rocks.)

    So, I guess I would be ok with it if Trent’s intent was not just to get the info for free (if all you want is free info, hit up Google.) If he really is (honestly) considering the purchase then things are not so black and white. And honestly, if I was the store owner and knew Trent to be a regular customer I wouldn’t have a problem with his actions… even if he came right out and told me, “The only part of this book I need is page 212 so I can’t see buying it.”

    Either way I know I’m not selling him a copy of the book and since he buys stuff from me often enough I wouldn’t care about copying one page on that particular visit… and again I’d probably even offer to make a photocopy for him.

  43. turbogeek says:

    Out of all the posts on here today, as well as some debating cheap vs. frugal previously, I would boil the “crossing the line” down to two possible definitions; linked in ideals.

    1) You cross the line from frugal to cheap when you compromise quality below your personal acceptable level for the sake of the savings.

    2) The general corollary is that you cross the line from frugal to cheap when the declining line of immediate cost avoidance crosses the rising line of lost opportunity cost.

    Where ‘quality’ can be in product quality, quality of life, quality of relationships… etc. and where opportunity cost can be measured in loss of future revenue, incurring future cost, loss of relationships… etc…

  44. Jason says:

    I wrote a similar post just this morning, myself, but was thinking more along the lines of frugality actually being hazardous to your health. In my case, my tires are bald, but I’m too cheap to replace them if there is any tread left at all. It occurred to me this morning that frugality could actually be dangerous, if taken to such an extreme.

  45. turbogeek says:

    @Jason — I like it… now, if it was easier to quantiy, we could take the partial differential of each curve with respect to time, find where the diminishing rate of marginal return slope approaches zero, or where the lines cross…

    – —

  46. Rick says:

    Wow, I’m surprised at the number of people that feel a moral obligation to buy something when they go into a coffee shop.

    This post kind of hit close to home for me, since I am very “frugal” and many people criticize me for this. In my opinion, you can be as frugal or as cheap as you want, unless you’re infringing on the rights (property or otherwise) of others. Also, taking unfair advantage of others by doing something that costs them money is crossing the line.

    Therefore, denying your wife the permission to buy makeup (yes I know someone who does this) is crossing the line, since it’s denying her her rights.

    I know someone who goes into Red Robin and orders water and their unlimited fries. This crosses the line, since you’re consuming the restaurant’s food and costing them money.

    Going into a coffee shop and ordering water is perfect okay. The only cost to the shop is negligible (2 cents for the cup). I actually know someone who works every day from a coffee shop and its wireless internet. This is fine, since the shop is already paying for the space and the internet service. The marginal cost to the store is zero. Where it cross the line is when you start costing the store in marginal revenue by taking up space and preventing other paying customers from using the space. Therefore, if the coffee shop is busy, buy a drink. If the shop has plenty of room, don’t feel bad one bit about ordering water.

    The bookstore is actually the same thing. The bookstore has already padi for the book. You’re not costing the bookstore anything by going in and browsing books, or even taking notes in your notebook. Some commenters have stated this is stealing. It is not stealing. The bookstore still possesses the book, both before and after you took notes from the book. But if you act carelessly with the book and wear it out, or damage it, that’s costing the store money, and that crosses the line. I know people who buy ski jackets from Walmart, go skiing, and then return the jacket at the end of the weekend. They have worn out the jacket somewhat. That is crossing the line.

    I personally wouldn’t dig through dumpsters for food, but I no problem with those who do. For me, the time involved, the risk, and the “image” is not worth it, but it does not cross any ethical line.

    —————-

    For those who disagree with me about the bookstore, think about this. It is true that the author doesn’t get any money from the “lost sale.” But would you have purchased the book in the first place? I listen to the radio instead of buying CDs, thus depriving the musician of a lost sale. But, I would never buy the CD in the first place. I sometimes borrow CDs from friends. Is this wrong? This also deprives the creator of a lost sale. One commenter above browses bookstores for books and then stops online for the cheapest price. Is this unethical? I don’t believe so.

    I reiterate what I already stated: You only cross the line when you are doing something that costs someone time or money to support your activity. But when you are simply using something that already exists in a nondestructive manner (like free Wifi), it is perfectly okay.

  47. Justin Reese says:

    @klf: I’m terribly sorry, my “berate” comment wasn’t directed at you at all, it was directed at people who accused Trent of “stealing” from the coffee shop when not all the facts were known. I think you and are I basically in agreement, except I thought your comparison was slightly flawed and that the hotel metaphor was more apt.

    In the end, I don’t want to nit-pick someone’s behavior, which is why I never commented on the original post. But when Trent mischaracterized people’s sentiments in this post, I felt the need to chime in.

    Frugality on a personal level should be held to the same standards you would hold a corporation or a government (hah). For instance, I consider it hypocritical to decry a corporation for using sweat-shop labor, then taking advantage of people or companies around you in “little ways”. The policies of corporations and governments are determined by a multitude of individual decisions, so demanding rigorous ethics on an individual level is the first step to fixing larger societal problems.

  48. Eden says:

    The line should be drawn at illegal or unethical activities. Anything short of that is perfectly fine and you should do what you enjoy doing. Let the critics criticize, but it’s no one’s business really if you enjoy making your own detergent and they don’t happen to like it. :)

  49. Justin Reese says:

    @Rick: You seem to connect value only to physical goods. There certainly is a problem with using wifi improperly, or using a bookstore as a library. You are consuming resources that are intended for paying customers. If you are using the wifi, you are reducing the available bandwidth for paying customers. If you are sitting in a chair, reading a book in Barnes and Noble with no intent to buy, you are removing the ability for coffee-buying or book-sampling potential customers to use that chair or sample that book.

    These places provide free amenities under the assumption that the people using those amenities are either already customers, or legitimate shoppers making a buying decision. The amenities are an investment. There is nothing illegal about using them, it’s just rude.

    And you can certainly browse without buying, but walking out of the store with the store’s merchandise, without paying and without any intent to pay, is called shoplifting. Just because the merchandise changed mediums doesn’t make it right.

  50. jmacdaddio says:

    I look at rate of return on whether a frugal move will be worth it, balanced with some common sense. Regarding the coffee shop, I would plan on getting something if I was meeting my friends there – it’s kind of chintzy to use their shop as a free meeting hall. If trying to be frugal is interfering with your ability to enjoy life, friendships, and other relationships, then lighten up a bit and loosen the purse strings.

  51. Lauren says:

    I borrowed The Complete Tightwad Gazette from the library because of you, and subsequently bought it. It’s absolutely changed my life. I was close to the right mindset before I read it, but it pushed me over the edge and made me see that my fairly aggressive debt repayment and retirement savings goals (e.g., The 16k in student loans I had in August that will be paid off in March) were in fact conservative. This year’s budget will have us saving/applying-to-debt 49% of our net income, and putting a new roof on the house to boot. Thank you so much for reviewing that book, and setting me on the path.

  52. lorax says:

    No problem with dumpster diving for food here. I did it with the family as a kid in the 70s.

    I’d really like to see an article on exactly how you wash ziplock bags.

  53. db says:

    How you wash ziploc bags?

    Well, there are two methods….one is to turn on the hot water faucet in your sink, sqirt a little soap and fill the baggie with hot water, slosh it around for a minute or so, and then flush it out repeatedly with water. Then stick it somewhere to dry upsidedown and in a manner that holds the bag open.

    The other method would be (especially for a heavier freezer baggie — I’d be a little afraid a regular baggie might melt), to invert the open baggie over a couple of prongs (to hold it open) on the top shelf of your dishwasher and run it through the dishwasher when you run a load of dishes.

    Now that wasn’t so hard, eh?

    NOTE: My grandmother and mother have rewashed baggies for DECADES (even ones that held meat) using the first method, and nobody ever got food poisoning.

  54. Susan says:

    I don’t understand this logic. I remember reading your blog and seeing some guy who said that since you spent $600 on a mixer, you weren’t frugal. (Turns out you didn’t spend that much on it, but that’s not the point). Aside from the fact that you use that mixer to make -frugal- meals for your family, the whole concept of frugality is somewhat subjective. To each their own. I spend alot on travel, but practically nothing in terms of coffees, clothes, entertainment, etc.

    Would someone tell a millionaire “You’re not rich!” if they bought a pair of shoes at Payless? Why can’t someone be frugal and buy a mixer once in awhile?

  55. I don’t think there is anything as too frugal. If somebody is willing to do whatever to save money, more power to them, and mad props to them if they can stick it to the man while doing so. That being said, I do think a lot of frugality is misguided in a penny-wise, pound-foolish type of way, but who am I to judge.

    Also, I’m surprised so many commentors here are taking the side of business, and suggesting that it is unethical for a customer to make money from a poorly run business. If they have policies which allow their customers to take advantage of them (and I doubt any successful business actually does), then THEY are not doing THEIR job. It is not our responsibility to make sure businesses are profiting from us!

  56. I have a wife that balances me. She is as far the the frugal left as i am to the right. It makes for an interesting marriage! ;)

    Best Wishes,
    D4L

  57. lz says:

    On wearing socks with holes: I mend all types of clothing, socks, hems, torn seams, and recently, I’ve taken up sewing again to make my own clothes.

    Mending is super easy, and a task that’s been lost in our throw-away society. People used to mend clothing all the time.

    Too frugal? To each his or her own.

  58. sunny says:

    I would feel cheap (in my reality cheap is bad and frugal is good but its up to each of us to draw the line in the sand)if I had a business meeting at a coffee shop and only ordered water. I would not be comfortable taking up space a paying customer could use. I don’t feel this is ‘siding with business,’its just being courteous to the shop owner.

    Oh and I just finished bottling up my homemade laundry soap. Tomorrow is homemade dog food day.

  59. vh says:

    Being mighty picky about coffee, I can sympathize with preferring a glass of water to the vendor’s product at a meeting in a coffee house. If you go into a coffee house with several other people who do order the coffee, you’re under no obligation to join the herd.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t feel right to go into a coffee restaurant just to get in out of the weather, to read a host bookstore’s wares, or to use the wifi connection. When I go into one of those shops alone, I always buy a glass of iced tea or cup of hot chocolate. Tea is usually cheaper than coffee, when unsugared it’s low in calories, and it tastes a lot better than battery acid that’s meant to be diluted with lots of dairy and sugar. And if you’re going for a hot chocolate drink, you might as well get the real thing.

    I used to meet a freelance art director at a Starbucks midway between our two places — we called it our “office.” Invariably I arrived first, and I never could work up the chutzpah to sit there alone without ordering something.

    As for recording the recipe and putting the book back on the bookseller’s shelves…love ya, Trent, but I’m still given pause by that one!

  60. Macinac says:

    The coffee shop owner is trying to make a living, and table space time is part of his inventory. In a larger venue, such as a college cafeteria or student union, I might be willing to do it since they plan for it.

    Hotel wireless internet is a bit more complicated for me. In my town I can get the signal from across the street, so I can consume bandwidth without being in their lobby. Normally I’m not interested but I would do it.

    I will also stop at a gas station just to wash my windshield. My justification is that I often buy gas without doing the glass at the same time.

    I know where all the public access toilets are, and I do use them, but I also keep track of which ones are clean, and prefer those whether I’m spending money in that place or not. Fortunately these are abundant where I live. I even know of a couple of showers I could use free, but I haven’t been that brazen. It’s too clumsy to bug out if someone objects.

    I taste all the free samples in a supermarket but rarely buy the products. I view this as their advertising method and feel no obligation. We even have free wine tasting at the local liquor store.

    I’m looking for more ideas: y’all keep writing!

  61. James says:

    Despite what they say, I think it’s important that you need to ‘cross that line’ every so often. It let’s your readers think for themselves and open the subject for discussion.

    As for those who are actually upset about it, they’re probably visiting these blogs only to support their personal beliefs. They need to get over it and move on.

  62. Helen says:

    I try to be frugal , but there are some pleasures that I cannot resit. Coffee is one of them! Another is Pure Essentials laundry detergent – I just love the way it smells!

  63. M3 says:

    Trent, I’d say you missed the whole point of people’s posts regarding the copying of part of a book from a bookstore and using a coffee shop as an office without buying anything from the owner. The debate was not whether you were being “too cheap”; rather, it was whether you were, in fact, “stealing” and calling it “being frugal”. Simple as that…

    I am disappointed that you didn’t address the real concern. We’ve been waiting to read your thoughts. Hiding it in between holes in your socks and washing Ziploc bags shows you a) were unwilling to address the legitimate concern or b) missed the whole point. Oh well…

  64. I think there’s a big difference between frugality and cheap – as some of your comments have mentioned – frugality is when you save money and hurt no one in the process. When you save money at the price of someone else’s dime – when you are so frugal it begins to hurt others, that’s cheap!

    As long as you aren’t hurting others, I’d say there isn’t anything as “too” cheap – though I’m not at the point where I’d dumpster dive for food (of course, if I was standing next to a dumpster full of packaged food, I might say differently, lol)

  65. K12Linux says:

    Susan, you are right on when you say that buying a $600 mixer doesn’t *necessarily* mean someone isn’t frugal. (Although I can’t imagine spending that much unless it was going to be used a LOT for a LONG time.) It all depends on how much value you get out of the mixer compared to the money spent.

    Frugality doesn’t mean spending the absolute least amount of money possible. It really means getting the most out of the money you do spend. Buying a $1 burger at a fast food joint is not frugal. Buying a $20 ham for $10 with a coupon, cooking it, making a variety of ham meals/sandwiches, using some to make split-pea soup and using the bones to make another soup is definitely frugal even though it cost 10x more.

  66. Demeron says:

    I’m glad you put up this post. I admit I almost posted indignantly when I read about melting & reusing deodorant sticks (NEVER!!) I have trouble getting my DH to read The Simple Dollar because he thinks it’s about putting every spare dollar into a monster retirement account. I like the focus on putting money where it will ultimately yield the most true benefit, which I think is the true purpose of frugality.

  67. Susan says:

    I don’t think your frugal practices are compromising health, safety or morality so happy savings to you. I always thought it was smart to mend socks, wash out ziploc bags and drink water whenever possible. And although I love a cafe latte, the cost is so prohibitively expensive that I usually walk away quickly before I get the chance to even consider buying one. I don’t know about everybody else, but I get really tired of funding corporate America’s CEOs’ and execs’. fat salaries. The buck has got to stop somewhere.

  68. michelle says:

    I owned a coffee shop for four years. Groups made regular use of our shop for meetings because we had large tables. I never minded a member of the group consuming only water if other members were paying customers. The decision of the group to pick that spot as a meeting place should not obligate you to buy something. If the majority of the group were not paying that would have been a different story. The money brought in by the group far outweighed the cost of one customer not purchasing anything. There are obviously exceptions to this scenario. I have some friends with very poor coffee shop etiquette. One friend and his wife take their three young children to a very small neighborhood coffee shop, were they each buy one small coffee and nothing for the children. They stay for hours and let the children run around making noise and disturbing other customers. Another friend takes his own tea bag to a neighborhood coffee shop and uses their mug and hot water. He does this daily, is not there with another paying customer and never buys anything. This does cross the line. I guess the take home of the story is to use common sense. Its not so much of a moral discussion as it is a business one. If you are costing the business money with your behavior, Such as; consuming products, the time of employees or needed space then you should rethink your behavior.

  69. rstlne says:

    I too have been guilty of wearing socks with holes. I turned them around and wore them until there were holes on both sides!

    A better way would be to find a cheap source of inexpensive socks. I can get “irregular” socks at a discount clothing store for less than a dollar a pair.

  70. Dana says:

    If ordering water at a coffee shop is going too far, then I’m in serious trouble, because I think coffee is revolting. That said, none of my friends would ever want to even spend the extra dough for yuppie coffee anyway! We’re diner kind of people.

  71. Kate says:

    I’m a sometime dumpster diver. I’d love to work up the knowledge base and nerve to dumpster dive for food. But so far I only dive for building materials. I like in an area where housing is still booming; lots of new starter castles are being built nearby. Now, instead of just cursing the loss of farmland, I also check out the huge dumpsters for all kinds of salvageable materials. I found a flawless porcelain pedestal sink one day. I built a very sturdy pair of sawhorses for myself out of salvaged 2×4′s. My mother liked them so much, she wanted a pair for herself for Christmas. So yeah, I gave a Christmas gift that came out of the dumpster!

    And, yeah, you’d better believe my tetanus shot is up to date.

  72. Laura says:

    My father is an avid dumpster diver for food. We don’t really talk about it outside of the immediate family, as it makes most people severely uncomfortable, but I can safely say it’s saved my parents many thousands of dollars in grocery bills over the years, and no one in my family has ever become ill from eating anything bad in the more than 30 years he’s been doing it.

    When you really stop to think about what is thrown away on a daily basis by most grocery stores, the amount of waste is both shocking and disgusting. Most of it is packaged food that has only expired the day before. Often it will be dented cans of food, many times thrown out simply because the label has fallen off. But it’s surprising how often he’ll find things that are not expired or damaged in any way.

    And he loves to reminisce about the biggest finds. Like last winter when he brought home 15 half gallons of Edy’s ice cream which had likely been thrown out just because the containers were sticky. And the time he brought home nearly 30 pounds of green seedless grapes. After picking out the bad grapes, there were still over 20 pounds left. And one time when I was growing up he brought home a 5 gallon bucket full of packages of sliced pepperoni. He put it in the freezer, and we had pepperoni for years!

    And yes, my parents also wash and re-use their Ziploc bags. And bread bags. And take-out containers. I think of them as being unconscious environmentalists, but they just look at it as being efficient.

  73. K12Linux says:

    Laura, while I would have a very hard time dumpster diving myself (as in probably never short of near starvation,) I totally understand the appeal. Most dated items in stores are the “Sell By” date which can be a few days to several weeks before the item is considered unsafe. (After all you aren’t expected to buy a gallon of milk on the sell by date and drink it all that night.)

    Because of the risk of lawsuits if someone does get sick I imagine this date is often pretty conservative. Some less perishable items may well last several months without becoming a risk to your health.

    A newer trend is the “best by” dates on things that won’t spoil but MAY not taste as good after enough time. For *most* of these I challenge you to tell the difference during a blind taste test between one right at it’s “best by” date and one six-twelve months over.

    While it’s nice to know that beverage isn’t 5 years old the reason it’s so popular with manufacturers is because many people (and most stores) will throw out the “old” stuff shortly after the “best by” date.

    It’s a good idea to actually understand what the different types of dates and codes mean. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Food_Product_Dating/index.asp and http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/thriftyliving/tl-foodfreshness.html

    Many dates have no meaning at all except to the manufacturer. I strongly suspect some play games with them to encourage consumers to toss out perfectly good product and buy more. I bought a bulk pack of Tylenol and a week later noticed something that said “Ex: 8/8/07″.

    So what does that mean to me? Expires 8/8/2007? As a date it was about a week away. I called the company who made it and they said, “Oh, that’s just a packaging code. It doesn’t mean anything for you.” How many people do you suppose bought that brand and ended up tossing 1/2 the bottle?

  74. Amy of Ann Arbor says:

    Years ago, the late Jeff Smith, of Frugal Gourmet fame, taught me the meaning of frugality. He said it doesn’t mean not spending money, it means not wasting resources. dictionary.com agrees, giving the following as it’s first definition: “economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful.”

    Although I don’t currently reuse “zipper reclosable bags” (e.g., Ziplocs), I have in the past and it’s a laudable practice. (They do have to be washed with soap to keep them sanitary.) Minimizing the plastic we use and discard is important for our environment and for our future quality of life. That type of bag is expensive, so reuse can also provide a real savings.

    I believe that “too frugal” is in the eye of the beholder. I am appalled when someone who has roasted a chicken doesn’t plan to use the bones to make stock, but I don’t imagine I can force everyone to do so.

    Also, Trent invited a client to the coffee shop–he is the one who initiated the visit, (and possibly paid for the joe). So long as a sale was made, the establishment was being respected.

    I think we need to practice tolerance around money and the strategies we use to make ends meet. I imagine that The Simple Dollar is read by both needy and well-off people, so there is room for a whole range of standards regarding frugality. Just examine your own ways to try to eliminate waste where you can. In my mind, it’s a moral issue, not just a financial one.

    best,
    Amy

  75. Lisa says:

    If one thinks the prices, anywhere, are a ripoff, or, you can’t afford it, don’t go there! Its not a shop owners job to take care of you. If you choose to be frugal, fine,but we need to stop trying to justify cheapness at the expense of business owners. It makes frugal person look like a mooch, not a clever , resourceful person.

  76. K12Linux says:

    I should have said “Acetaminophen” and not “Tylenol” in my last post.

  77. sehnsucht says:

    i understand that frugality has different meaning for different people but why on earth would you spend 6 bucks on a coffee? Black coffee, without all the BS trimmings, should cost anywhere near 2 bucks, 3 at the most!

    being a cheapskate at the expense of potential business parters is not a good show of personal character. period.

  78. Cynthia says:

    Personally, I feel the line gets crossed when the return on the investment of time isn’t met. If I spend 10 minutes (and a half gallon of gas) driving to a store that has canned soup on sale, am I really saving any money? If I use hot water and detergent washing out a milk jug (or zip-loc bag, etc.) so I can re-use it…is it worth the bother? Gas and electric cost money and impact the environment.

  79. Cindy says:

    I have read several replies where people think it is wrong for you to go to coffee shop and just order water when you are with a group because you don’t drink coffee. I have several food allergies and can not eat at most restuarants. However, when family and friends get together they like to go out to eat and I don’t want to be left out so I go also. I usually end up just ordering water. If I could not order water or if I felt I was unwelcome then my friends would choose not to go or to go to a friendlier restuarant so the restuarant looses not just the one meal I would not have bought but also the 15 or so people that are with me. I have worked in the resturant business and we are always happy to see customers as long as someone in the group orders.

  80. Jenny says:

    I agree that there is a definite line between frugal and cheap. I have no problem using a coupon at a restaurant using a BOGO coupon but I always tip like I paid for that extra meal because that’s what you should do. For me, being cheap is when your saving money hurts other people’s bottom line. I’ve made my own pancake syrup and laundry detergent. I frequently wash out baggies. I have dumpster dived. But, I also get annoyed by what I see as silly frugality. The holey sock/underwear thing is an example. If you’re saving enough money in other areas why would you ever wear thread bare clothes as you can find good socks etc. very cheaply? At the very least take five minutes and sew the holes closed if you don’t want to buy new ones. That’s just a peeve though.

  81. Tara says:

    One year later – I found this article by following hyperlinks from today’s article! :-)

    I am surprised that some people found making one’s own laundry detergent “too cheap”! For months I have felt terrible for *not* doing that….

  82. Vicki says:

    I find some of the comments hilarious. Why would anyone bother to worry about someone else’s socks? If I have a hole in my sock, why is that anyone’s business? So much of what we think of as okay or “too much” have to do with our consumer culture and current situation and comfort zone, which can change. When I was washing cloth diapers, I thought nothing of also sewing my own sanitary pads and washing them, too. Now that I am not regularly dealing with bodily fluids, that isn’t something I do. Not good or bad, just a fact. Let’s be tolerant, okay?

  83. mary says:

    you should be able to order whatever you please wherever you go-what diff does it make if you order water in a coffee shop??!!

  84. Lisa says:

    The main reason I do not buy my books in bookstores is that I resent shelling out hardearned cash for books that have become coffee-stained, ugly with page corners turned with licked fingers, etc., as someone lounges on the bookstore sofa or armchair with a stack of books and their iced mocha. UGH. This is one feature of modern bookstores that I do NOT feel benefits the serious bookbuyer, who pays a good price for their books, and deserves them to look and feel as new as possible.

    I go to the bookstore if I need to buy a specialty magazine, but I try to avoid bookstores altogether, because they are a real temptation for me to overspend. I go to Amazon, where I can read about the books, scan reader reviews, and – in many cases – view pages within the books as well. Add to that the fact that most books on Amazon are discounted and have NOT been “fingered to death” by so-called “browsers”, and Amazon is almost always my choice. Seriously, if you’re going to pay for a book, especially for a gift to someone, don’t you want it to LOOK New???

    As far as the recording of info out of a book at a bookstore, that’s one line I just would not cross. I recall somewhere Trent mentioning that he believes in supporting causes, business, organizations, etc. (NOT his exact wording; I can’t remember the phrase he used) that he receives “value” from. Clearly, he found the information in that cookbook valuable, yet he did not support the author who made that info available for him to learn. Maybe someone might buy him that book in the future from his Amazon Wishlist – maybe not. Either way, most likely that particular bookstore will not be the one to benefit.

    I also believe in adding financial support to people, businesses, and organizations I receive value from. That’s why I purchased Trent’s book, and each of the e-books he offers for sale on this site. Does buying an e-book about blogging when I never intend to write a blog mean that I’m not “frugal” or am “unwise” with my money? Or am I simply finding a way to support an entrepreneur whose work I receive daily enjoyment and value from? BTW, I’m looking forward to your next book Trent, but I’ll be ordering it from Amazon – LOL!

    Lisa

  85. Florida Judy says:

    Yesterday I sent comment with a link to Audubon article alerting about dangers of deteriorating plastic. Would you be so kind as to tell me why it was rejected for this forum?
    Thank you.

  86. Florida Judy says:

    Here is the comment which I can’t find: (since your wife is having a baby I thought she would want to know about the findings about washiig plastic in dishwashers. PROTECT yourself and developing babies! I suggest that anyone who washes and re-use freezer bags or washes any plastic material at all in the dishwasher please look at the emerging research on effects of plastic in our bodies and environment. This article explains how vinyl and plastic particles breaking down become endochrin disrupters. PLEASE READ AND SHARE . It may be a serious issue—particularly for developing fetuses
    http://www.audubonmagazine.org/currents/currents1003.html
    Article is titled “Pandora’s Water Bottle” which ran in Audubon Magazine.

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