TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates Is Scarier Than Most Horror Movies

Extreme Cheapskates Kate Hashimoto underwear toilet paper pee dumpster diving Terence Candell Greg food sad scary wtf

I guess it’s fitting that TLC chose to debut its new reality series Extreme Cheapskates so close to Halloween, because it’s horrifying. I know that a lot of the network’s shows are “let’s profile these weird people” — and, some might argue, poke fun at them simply by highlighting their quirks — but wow. From the first few minutes in, I was gasping and yelling back at the screen.

An experience not that different from seeing a horror movie in the theater, I realized.

TLC smartly devoted the entire first episode to Kate Hashimoto, a CPA living in New York City. Despite making bank at her job and owning a condo, Kate decorates her place with furniture found on the street, dumpster dives for food, and hasn’t bought new underwear since 1999. And she’s proud of all this! Over the course of the episode, we follow her through the streets of Manhattan as she excitedly prepares to host her old friend Matt and his girlfriend Rose for dinner.

We learn that Kate spends only about $200/month on living expenses. She never flushes the toilet and doesn’t use gas, so her utilities are barely nonexistent. She combines showers with laundry by washing clothes while naked. The whole time she took us through her apartment, I kept thinking, New Yorkers must hate this woman. She calls her dishwasher “a waste of water and energy” and instead stores electronics in it, yet I know people who would kill to have that stainless steel appliance in their kitchen (myself included). She also spouts such gems as, when defending her tendency to keep and reuse paper towels, ”I dont believe in spending money on something you’re just going to throw away.”

When Matt and Rose come over, we learn that he hasn’t seen Kate in over a year. (My immediate, snide remark: “What, was it more frugal that way?”) Obviously TLC brought him and his poor girlfriend over just to have a foil for Kate. Immediately they’re uneasy when they see that Kate sleeps on a stack of yoga mats and that she picked up her guest futon off the street without worry over bedbugs. Poor Rose has to excuse herself twice—first to cool off in the hallway because Kate doesn’t pay for A/C, and then later when Kate serves them dinner.

Like I said, Kate dumpster dives for food. I’m all for picking up the packaged goods that eateries throw out; I once followed a bunch of freegans around NYC doing exactly this, and it’s appalling how much good food gets thrown out on principle. But Kate doesn’t seem to connect the dots as to freshness; she claims to frequent only the high-scale places, but the turkey meatloaf and cake she picks up are definitely stale. I don’t blame Matt and Rose for almost throwing up, especially after Kate cooks all the food in the same pot.

Here’s where the horror-movie aspect comes in. After watching this episode, I truly believe that Kate is mentally challenged. More than once I wrote in my notes, Is she high-functioning? In the beginning she explains that she lost her job when the dotcom bubble burst; my roommate and I theorized that it must have affected her psychologically, because it’s almost compulsive how much she needs to save money.

She also lacks the social intelligence to realize just how much her behavior bothers Matt and Rose. Not that she needs to cater exclusively to their needs, but she says she would go to a restaurant only if they would pay. (I loved Matt’s last line to the cameras: “It was good seeing Kate, she’s a good person, but my girlfriend and I were excited to leave.”) All of Kate’s behavior sounds like something out of the brain of Ryan Murphy.

Similarly, it’s chilling to watch Terence Candell force this cheapskate lifestyle not only on himself but on his whole family. At first it’s small things, like his wife Dyra complaining that she finds it difficult to entertain without furniture. Terence just laughs. This is a recurring theme; someone tries to fight back against his frugal ways, and he laughs it off like it doesn’t matter one bit.

The most horrifying part of Terence’s episode was when he revealed just how much money he’s hiding from his wife and children. ”I have 16 accounts,” he tells the cameras, “but the minute my family finds out where they are, they’re gonna be asking me for money.” One account alone has $113,978, and others have at least $21,000. It’s appalling how selfish he is, giving his wife and kids an allowance even though his wife brings in a paycheck as well.

And the way he laughs at everyone’s discomfort! At least poor Rose was clear in her disgust. Again, things come to a head over dinner. Terence has to take out his family plus other relatives, but he tries to get away with getting only three plates from the buffet for six people. Dyra is mortified and says, ”What about one time eating something really nice we want to have?” When she says she’s upset, he responds, “You’re not upset.” YES SHE IS, TERENCE.

I’m not even gonna go into Greg, who seems normal enough but also reveals the depths of his compulsion on a dinner date where he orders one rib and makes his date share her pulled pork sandwich and mac’n'cheese with him to save money.

The weirdest part of this is how unnecessary this all is. None of the three subjects needs to be this thrifty; it’s not as if they’re trying to stretch a dollar because that’s all they make, like so many of our nation’s economically disadvantaged people. Being an extreme cheapskate is more like a hobby for them, which almost makes it more insulting.

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    • scallywag

      Personally I’m not sure these and other individuals can help being this cheap, I suspect it’s something to be proud of, something that they can at least control in their lives and something that gives them a sense of power and control. But then again one has to wonder if going to extremes to save a pretty penny has its advantages what are these and similarly like minded individual’s really saving for? A bigger house that they wouldn’t ever dream of owning cause a canvas tent in the woods is a cheaper and more sustainable option…?

      http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2012/10/meet-the-human-ken-doll-has-had-90-plastic-surgeries-to-look-perfect-but-is-he/

      • nataliecrush

        Good point there–it’s not like they’re enjoying amenities like their houses. I mean, Kate owns her condo and doesn’t seem to get any pleasure out of it. I definitely agree that it’s some sort of compulsion, which makes me sad that TLC sort of preys on it.

    • Allison

      I really think the Greg one was fake, there is no way he saves $40/year by removing the light bulb in his fridge. Also, he keeps saves all the tableware/cups from the BBQ place yet at home they drink out of yogurt cups? And a true cheapskate would’ve filled those BBQ sauce containers up. The others I believe to be true, this guy obviously just wanted on the show.

      • nataliecrush

        I love yogurt, but my stomach turned every time they showed us that clip. Think Greg was on the show to get women…?

      • nitpicky

        Women? No way he’s actually interested in women, or that anything about his habits are true.

      • nataliecrush

        Go on… what set off your gaydar? Or do you think he’s asexual?

      • Chris

        Same here. His acting was horrible.

    • Jessie

      so…..did terrance not think, that MAYBE if he wanted to keep those 16 bank accounts secret – he shouldn’t have told the camera?

      • nataliecrush

        SERIOUSLY.

        Also, I Googled him to get the correct spelling of his name–and he was running for mayor of Oakland in 2010. Maybe he doesn’t want all this info to be public??

    • Natalie

      The New York cheapskate lives by herself, so I guess she’s only hurting herself, but Terences’ behavior on the otherhand is downright abusive.
      Basic needs of his family, especially his children who did not chose him as a father, are being neglected. I felt so sorry for his kids after he “proudly” shows off their rooms with a smirk. This is not normal. I am a teacher and have been for many years. If one of his kids were in my class and I found out about this…. I would call Child Protective Services

      • nataliecrush

        Natalie, it’s like you’re in my head! Completely agreed. And yes, it was kinda devious the way he smirked at their rooms and seemed so… proud? pleased?

      • http://twitter.com/MyVintageSoul V.G. Grace

        Good points, Natalie. Kate didn’t bother me. If she’s cool with her lifestyle, then others should be cool. She’s not forcing a thing on anybody else. Terence sickened me. His behavior was despicable and appalling. I bet that his kids are never going to forget the way they were treated.

      • Delores Redman

        totally agree with you. His behavior is abusive. teaching kidsto be savvy and frugal is one thing. but he is denying his kids a basic comfortable lifestyle and it’s totally unnecessary. if he wanted to be that cheap, he should have thought twice about having kids at all. and shame on the wife for putting up with it. I found him discusting and didn’t like him at all

    • Soshiloveable

      these cheapskates can’t seem to see reality,u can’t reuse toilet paper,u can’t take spoiled food,u have to buy new underwear (does she reuse pads?),u can’t just can’t be like this,just buy the basic stuff and pay those damn fuckin bills,it does not kill you!

      • nataliecrush

        OH GOD I DIDN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT THE PADS

        gonna have nightmares now

      • Notagain

        She said she gets all her toiletries as freebies and samples. She even pointed out the pads and tampons.

      • Vanessa DeHart Williams

        What if everybody did that? That’s the way I look at the things they are doing!!

    • Marv50

      Did anyone start to think, after watching a few of these shows, hmmmm, how could I be more thrifty?? Scarily enough I did …. HOWEVER, I will continue to use toilet paper and flush it, I will not save urine in a bottle for my composter, I won’t be dumpster diving anytime soon, I won’t search for roadkill (curious, they want to save money, but they waste gas looking for dead animals to scrape off the road) and you won’t see me on this show. But I am giving thought as to how I can lower my expenses.

    • Theresa

      I put a laundry line in my basement so now I save about $30.00 “A MONTH” during the cold months rather than my dryer. I try.

      • midnitglory

        see well that’s actually a smart move not a cheapskate move (IMHO) growing up we had a coal stove down in the basement and it would dry our clothes in a matter of hours

    • Me

      These people suck an are gross as hell

    • Me

      If you can’t buy your wife a nice gift you don’t deserve her

    • xyvyx

      With TLC’s history, it’s safe to say this show is fake. Greg’s acting was very bad & obvious… how many online/free dating sites publish phone numbers of attractive women?
      TLC has really taken a nosedrive… fake shows, marathons of repeats and tons of infomercials. Only reason i found myself on Extreme Cheapskates was becaused i accidentaly hit the wrong button on my remote…

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    • http://twitter.com/MyVintageSoul V.G. Grace

      I don’t think Kate is “mentally challenged”. Come on now. Really? That’s unnecessary. But I DID get the impression that she is scared. Scared perhaps of having the economic rug pulled out from under her and this is her defense. And frankly, I agreed with one of the things she did. I once took a a retro-looking table that was in near-pristine condition that someone just left out, discarded. It wasn’t dirty, and it was entirely functional. But I would NEVER furnish an entire home with discarded furniture. A house has gotta feel like a home, and when looking at Kate’s condo, it looked totally sterile and utilitarian. Also, the toilet paper thing (God forbid!) and disgusting thrown-out food…YECH. But, that’s the way she likes it and that’s fine (for her). She’s hurting nobody with her frugality.

      TERENCE on the other hand…he made me mad as hell. Not only did he force his family to live two steps above poverty (seriously, I’ve seen homeless shelters nicer than his ‘house’), but he mocks their unhappiness while laughing all the way to the bank that’s stuffed with his huge amounts of hidden money. Publicly humiliating them, forcing his wife to relinquish her own cash and get 20 lousy bucks back…the man is an S.O.B. who it seems would rather let his money keep him warm.

      • Vanessa DeHart Williams

        True, if he is so cheap then maybe he shouldn’t have even have had kids!!!!

    • bunnychi75

      All of these people are TRIFLING! Ugh! Especially Kate!