I regularly read the AOL tightwadding boards. It's not all about how to crochet popcan rings into a heating pad or throwing every leftover crust of bread into a freezer bag to later grind up for crumbs (although the latter DOES work!). Right now, the discussion is about what mutual funds are best in today's roller-coaster market.
But one issue comes up often. Someone will ask for the "best tightwadding tips" and there will be a score of replies that are less about saving money and more about stealing it.
Most common will be the suggestion to buy one small drink at a fast food restaurant and have everyone share it via the free refills. Another is to ask for water cups but fill them with soda. Considering that one generally goes to fast food restaurants with children, how is this a good idea? Do we really want our children to see theft as an option?
My daughter is a manager at a mall multi-plex. One of her duties is chasing down the folks that pay for one movie, but attempt to stay in the theatre all day watching a number of movies. When they are caught, the culprits are seldom apologetic. They point to the high price of the tickets as though that excuses their theft of services.
Then again, I am not exactly blameless on the movie front--my daughter gets me in free, so I feel obligated to pay for my poporn. But in my younger years, I was often guilty of hiding candy and soda in my purse in order to avoid the theatre's high prices. I can't say exactly why, but this still feels less like theft to me than some of my prior examples.
There is a certain thrill to frugality--a sense of being smarter than those poor schmucks who paid more for the same product or service.
But the line between thrift and theft is thin and easily crossed. I stay precariously on the thrift side, trying not to fall over onto the theft side.