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Dark Side of Frugality – Losing Your Integrity

With frugality, we must be careful, not to take the practice so far that we start to lose our integrity!

What do I mean by this?  Well a year ago I went to Wal-Mart to replace my kid’s electric ride-on car battery.  I paid my $50, and brought it home, opened the package, and low and behold… someone’s old used battery in the box.  I was very upset!

Of course, I returned it… and Wal-Mart took it back, but I was still very upset!  Being the frugal guy that I am I thought what happened to would be so easy to do!  Buy the new battery with cash, and return it!  But I won’t stoop to that level.

So what else would be considered dark practices of frugality?  How about buying clothes wearing them for a month then returning them?  I know of people that do this.

Most of the people I know justify their actions by trying to put a false face on the businesses that they end up taking advantage of.  It’s almost like they brainwashing themselves into believing the stories that they make up, or just don’t care.  The funny thing is I never see a hint of remorse or doubt about their actions.

Then you also have the people that steal from the goodwill dropoff points.  They’ll go to drop off their junk, but then take something else that’s worth value.

The exchange of the battery is criminal since it’s stealing, but the exchange of the clothes is a gray area.  As for the exchange of items at goodwill dropoffs… hmmm, I would think it would be stealing, but very hard to prove?

– MR

15 Responses to Dark Side of Frugality – Losing Your Integrity

  1. It’s sad to know that even frugality has its own “dark side” .. It depends on people on how they carry it

  2. I would imagine nowadays they have video cameras set up to watch the donation bins. I am pretty sure I remember seeing signs that say you can be prosecuted for stealing from them. That said, I haven’t seen any open area donations in Arizona for many years. They all seem to be sealed bins.
    .-= Mrs. Accountability´s last blog ..Blast from the Past – March 2008 =-.

  3. @moneyhoneysf
    That’s scary! What’s the benefit of buying and returning underwear… There isn’t a big cost savings, is there? I guess if it’s victoria secrets, they it can get pricey…

    Wow, that’s just wrong!

  4. @Mrs. Accountability
    Ahhh, that’s a smart policy (unless someone steals the camera)…

    Where I live, we still have an open trailer that people just put stuff in. But perhaps even that has changed, I’ll have to drop something off again shortly. We usually go with AMVets anymore (they’ll come thru a neighborhood, and pick up stuff on the porch).

  5. I’ve seen people looking through the donation bins sometimes and I never thought they were “stealing”. I always felt sorry that they needed clothes so bad they needed to salvage through drop boxes. Are they taking the old clothes to sell for profit? If so, yeah that’s bad, that’s stealing. But what if they need clothes for their family? Aren’t these the type of people the clothes are being donated FOR? BIG gray area for me.

  6. @Stay at Home MOM CFO
    The problem is that it wasn’t just people that needed it that were taking stuff. And often times, it was regular folks like you or me. But the difference is that they are basically stealing from the charity and gaining from getting a nice free toy for their kids, or selling the stuff on ebay. Leaving only the garbage for goodwill…
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..What I Have Learned To Date From Blogging! =-.

  7. My wife and I sell quite a bit of stuff on eBay and get most of our products from a liquidator who sells store returns. It’s not a huge amount, but I would say that about 25% of the items are things that have been exchanged like your battery. Or things that originally came with a battery, but mysteriously do not have one in the box.

    Yes, it would be easy to do. And obviously, it happens often enough. But I can’t see ever doing it as I find it wrong, morally.
    .-= Beating Broke´s last blog ..Beating Broke Guide to Your Credit Score =-.

  8. @Beating Broke
    I just find it amazing that people do thing like this out there… I was kind of surprised that Wal-Mart didn’t check the returned merchandise a little more closely either.

    It’s a good thinking to be aware of!

  9. It all sounds to me like stealing. By wearing clothes for a month the person is stealing through your use. No one will be able to enjoy that item brand new.
    .-= SeeJaneGetRich´s last blog ..Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire =-.

  10. @Jane
    Yeah, it does doesn’t it… ;)

    But in the minds of people like, it’s not.
    They think they are being clever.
    They think they are finding a loophole in the system.
    They think they are smarter than everybody else.

    What they don’t realize is that we choose to have integrity, and respect others.

    While they are not committing a heinous crime, it still doesn’t make it right…

  11. I don’t think most of the examples you cite are really frugality (or at least, any form of frugality that I’m aware of), but rather outright fraud and theft. Now, it’s something of a slippery slope, I suppose; where I see taking an extra napkin or two from McDonald’s as thrift or preparedness, someone else could see that as theft. Where do we stop? Interesting, thoughts, interesting thoughts.
    .-= Roger, the Amateur Financier´s last blog ..What Classic Sci Fi Can Teach Us About The Future =-.

  12. @Roger, the Amateur Financier
    Very slippery indeed…

    While most of us don’t view this as a form of frugality, the people that use these negative techniques do. I’ve know that many in this group are actually proud of their supposedly clever maneuvers.

    I guess this is a form of a money hack, but one that I will never practice.

  13. I have to laugh. I took the dog to the grocery store with me today. When I got to the truck he wanted out so we took a little walk. He headed right for the trash. While he was doing his job I read the dumpster. It said “Do not open dumpster! You are on camera. You will be prosecuted.” The dumpster stank so bad I don’t know how anyone would want to go near it!
    .-= Daddy Paul´s last blog ..The best large cap funds =-.

  14. @Daddy Paul
    Ahhh, I forgot about that dark frugal technique… Using a businesses trash bin for trash instead of paying for the service for our home! Thanks for the great addition!

    I also know of employees that would through away good merchandise, then later come back to the trash bin and take the stuff out… But this technique is flat out stealing…