Reality — I Am Neither Extreme Nor Am I a Cheapskate

by Katy on December 27, 2011 · 48 comments

Regular readers know that I was filmed a few months back for a national reality TV show. I was supposed to keep the details on the down low, so I was vague about any details. Then, last week, a British reader spied a newspaper article about the show, which included  a still shot of me dumpster diving a rug. So yeah . . . I figured the secretive part was over, and I announced that I was going to be part of TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates.  I did notice that none of the press releases mentioned me, but I figured it was because I was neither weird nor extreme enough to dazzle the media. I was A-OK with that.

The filming experience was certainly interesting, and the actual crew, (many of them local to Portland) were all very nice, especially the director. I enjoyed seeing my kids get comfortable being on camera, and thought it was funny when the director complimented me, saying I was a “good actor,”  to which I replied, “don’t you mean sociopath?” Because seriously, pretending to be yourself is as weird and surreal as can be. A socially acceptable personality disorder in modern day society.

But I got a phone call yesterday from someone at the production company telling me that my entire segment had been cut from the show. I had her repeat the news, because I couldn’t believe that I had turned over my entire home and family for two 14-hour days for nothing.


I am not looking for fame, and frankly, was less than pleased when I heard the title of the show, as I am neither “Extreme” nor am I a “Cheapskate.” In fact, the production company refused to even tell me the title of the show until I was well into the process of participating. The only way I was able to glean this information was to trick a lowly production assistant into spilling the beans.

The person on the phone, (who I had never dealt with before) told me that my segment might be included in a future episode if the show is picked up as a series, but at this point I really don’t care either way.

I had hoped national TV exposure would bring new readers to the blog, and even help to get that elusive book contract. I was not looking for a spot on The Real Housewives of Portland. (Can you imagine it? It would hilarious!)

So I’m back to actual reality again. Picking up change, (I found $3.14 yesterday) finagling great free stuff, reselling Goodwill finds and  chilling out with my terrific teenagers.

Frankly, a much better reality.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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Update: After watching the show I am *really happy* to have not been included in the show. I think I totally dodged a bullet!


{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie K. December 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I love the idea of Real Housewives of Portland. There could be catfights over who has the swankiest chicken coop. And a segment on how to knit a cozy for the beige composting bin from the city. Out of local alpaca hair.


dustimc December 28, 2011 at 11:29 am

I love it. Who has the most organic raised garden beds in the strip between the sidewalk and the street? Whose dog is the nicest dog at the dog park?


Amber August 6, 2023 at 8:02 am

It’s my chicken coop, mine is the swankiest. Did I mention that I made zucchini brownies, marinara sauce, and peach crisp all from my garden and before 10 AM? I have a clothesline too. #BestRealHousewifeOfPortland 😉


Katy August 6, 2023 at 9:33 am

Before 10 A.M.? That’s is genuinely impressive!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl December 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I can’t believe they spent all that time filming you, only to cut your segment from the show.

So odd.


Van December 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm

No fun, my friend! But at least you have this space to broadcast the message. Let’s make our own damn show, with a title that portrays how you can live a beautiful life on a shoestring budget without the words “cheapskate” in it. We’re penny pinchers so we can SPEND lots on the important things, like awesome trips to Japan- no sit on the money like vicious dragons.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land December 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm

@Kristen: I dare to guess they do stuff like this all the time. I sold $1000 worth of items for a movie, and here are the results:

They like to have extra just in case, and I guess they like to film extra, too. At least it was a bloggable experience.


Melissaink December 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm

That’s a bummer about your segment. With the popularity of Extreme Couponers, though, I would not be surprised if it’s picked up for more episodes. All that said, your blog IS reaching people just as is 🙂


Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life December 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

🙁 Sorry to hear you gave up so much time, as well as energy keeping it secret, only to be cut! Perhaps you will find it is for the best when you see the final result of the others they filmed; reality shows always edit things down so much that they probably would have found a way to make you look bad. We’re glad we get the benefit of your tips in your own words on this blog 🙂


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time December 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I would rather read the blogs than watch the reality shows and as someone pointed out, their aim is usually to make someone look bad that is not a socially accepted as norm. They did it to unschoolers and I am sure lots of others!

That is a lot of time to put in just to be told they “may” use it in the future!


Jinger December 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

It may really be for the best…since you are not extreme or a cheapskate. Frugality is something else altogether. Living large on little is a good way to live. And you portray that very well.


Linda in Indiana December 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Sorry to hear that you were left off the show. That is a real bummer! No, you are extreme or a cheapskate–You are The Real Deal! Had it aired, like the others commented, they probably would have left out the stuff that really matters to you. When one door closes, another one opens!!!


Annie Jones December 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I’d be relieved. You never know how you’d be portrayed in a show like that. There’d also be the “celebrity” in your own community to deal with. If you were recognized making one move that someone else didn’t think was thrifty enough, no doubt you’d be called out on it publicly.


Linda in Indiana December 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Sorry, meant to say that you are NOT extreme or a cheapskate! OOOPS!


Teresa December 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Sorry to hear that Katy. Maybe I will just skip watching the show all together. What a bummer.


Crystal Plummer December 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I’m curious (okay, nosy!) – you said that they didn’t tell you the name of the show until you tricked them into doing so (good job, by the way!). What DID they tell you, to convince you that it was okay to have them there filming your family? Also, did you at least get paid for it, or something?! 14 hours is a LONG time for nothing…


marianne December 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm

You were just not extreme or cheapskaty (pun intended) enough. Cheers to being a normal non consumer!


Susan C December 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Might be for the best and I am sure it was a great adventure for the family. I will keep sending people your way.
I need to find more ways to be frugal in a country without thrift stores and coupons. Any ideas?


Liza December 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm

They are so the ones who missed out on your winning personality! Kinda sneaky on the whole not telling you the title…hmmm. I will be reading your blog, and have to tell you that I have told many a friend/acquaintance about the blog and the many great lessons I have learned! Thanks again Katy


Juli December 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Boo! And I had set it up to record when you mentioned it the other day…definitely their loss, though.


Christy December 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I am so bummed! I was looking forward to watching your segment.


Judy December 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Katy, I suspect as some of the others have said that you would have
been disappointed. The impression I got reading the article was that it
was going to be a show portraying frugality in a negative, weird or freaky way.
Highlighting the guy stealing ketchup to pour in his own container at home made me cringe, because that to me is unethical rather than frugal or even being a cheapskate.
Personally, I think you and your family are too classy for a show like that.


Linda December 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

two thoughts came to mind about the Ketchup man.
#1 going to the fast food restaurant wasn’t frugal
#2 why did he bother to squeeze the ketchup into a bottle.


Jo December 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm

If I were you I would be relieved. The producers massage the footage to get what they think appeals to the viewing public (and unfortunately it does appeal to a large segment). You just weren’t the weirdo they were looking for!


Christina December 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Seems like a blessing in disguise. I would totally watch Real Housewives of Portland. Well at least one episode anyway.


Cheeryshirley December 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Katy ~ That was hard! I am so sorry you were cut entirely!


Practical Parsimony December 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm

You may have gotten the best of both worlds. Your family had the tv experience with none of the exposure to ridicule you. I hate the way they treat hoarders, poor souls that don’t need drama and exposure. They make them look like losers. You just were too sane for them–no way to make you look extreme. Yes, those two 14-hour days were rough, but they may be rougher on the people chosen for their show.


Linda December 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm

You’re awesome. It took me all year to find $8.71.
Can you pass on any insights or tips for selling thrift store finds? I bought a mini tri-pod at SVdP for $3.99. But it doesn’t work with my camera. It’s too late to return it so I listed it on Craig’s List but didn’t even get a single inquiry.


Jo@simplybeingmum December 28, 2011 at 2:03 am

These things happen for a reason – it’ll be interesting to hear what you think after you watch the show!


Maarten December 28, 2011 at 4:08 am

Reselling Goodwill stuff?! Goodwill stores are called Kringloopwinkels (recycling-shops) in the Netherlands. The shops offer people who have no other chance of finding a job a steady income. Stuff is donated freely and the shop sells the stuff cheap. “The intended market” are people who have little or no means of income. Sadly, most of the good stuff that is donated to the shops gets creamed off at the door; meaning that some of the workforce sell stuff on Ebay for their own profit. Also a lot of yuppies/people who earn plenty discovered the shops and buy the remaining good stuff.
So nothing good will be left for the poor people. I am not poor, but do not earn much either. The only stuff I buy are some of the books that professional booksellers deemed not-profitable for resale in their own bookshops.

Is reselling of Goodwill stuff morally defendable? If done on an irragelar basis, probably ok. But done often and only for gaining a personal profit, NO. But if the profits are forewarded to the benefit of others, ok. Same with “Extreme Couponing”. Amazing and exciting to watch. But what does one do with 1.000 bottles of shampoo?! If the stuff is donated to poor people, OK. Otherwise it is a selfish and ego-centric hobby.


dustimc December 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks that. I’ve often wondered, “if you have all that shampoo stockpiled, why are you buying more?” And I have left a good deal at the thrift store because I felt it was unfair for me to snatch up the good stuff when i can afford new and someone else couldn’t.


Melissa December 29, 2011 at 8:45 am

Goodwill doesn’t care at all WHO buys the stuff they are selling. They are looking for the profit. THAT is what they use to fund their programs, which is the point of their organization.


ellen December 28, 2011 at 6:03 am

Well that stinks! Glad you are ok with it.
So far today I have found .05 cents….
goes into my aruba account…..


Molly December 28, 2011 at 6:21 am

I think that’s mean. Meanie heads.


pat December 28, 2011 at 11:09 am

Oh Coin Girl I just have to tell you – my dear husband is an avid coin finder and recently brought home his 2 year stash from work (they were moving and he wasn’t allowed to take it with him). Over $60 in coins! I was super excited and set about sorting and rolling all those coins to take to our Credit Union. This took me 1-1/2 hours total to accomplish and what did I discover at the credit union? They wanted me to unroll all those coins again so they could put them through a coin machine! I refused and they took them anyway since I was paying off my Visa with the proceeds. He is starting over for 2012.


Jana December 28, 2011 at 11:48 am

It makes me sad that someone even entertained the idea of dubbing you an extreme cheapskate. It makes no sense, although it is reflective of what we consider a cheapskate in this country. A show like this will only further the idea that frugality=cheap. Which is utterly untrue.

That said, I would have loved to see you and your family on TV. ‘Cause I’m nosy like that!


Geri December 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm

OK, the show’s on now and I could barely get through the first part with the person who scrapes other people’s food (at other tables) in with his take home box. The next segment is the woman who won’t buy TP and her son’s saying the washcloth looks pretty dirty while the Mom is saying “that’s ok, it’s clean”…..I don’t think you qualify for this show Katy and I don’t know if I could stomach watching it again. I’d love to see a show with your type of frugality featured instead of this one….yikes!


Katy December 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I watched most of it as well. Jeff Yeager is a great guy, although his whole plot line of finding enough change to buy goat heads did not intrigue me. Then again, TLC set up a not-realistic scenario for me, so I assume everyone else got the same treatment. He has a couple of books out which are worth a look-see.

I hope that woman is washing her cloth wipes in *HOT* water and bleach, but it sounded like she was just washing them with her family’s regular laundry.

I’ll watch the whole thing when I get back from my mini-vacation.



Jinger December 29, 2011 at 4:34 am

I, too, got through only the first part…I noticed so much non frugality amidst the quirks of these cheapskates. Most had homes filled with stuff. I just wish there could be a show that portrayed real frugality in a positive way…how you can have a warm and inviting home by repurposing free or low cost finds, cook nutritious meals from normal fresh foods, and have a trendy, up to date wardrobe for pennies on the dollar. But, then that wouldn’t be sensational enough for TLC.


Lisa December 29, 2011 at 5:32 am

Hi, Katy. I just started reading your blog the other day , and I really love it! I agree with the other posters who say that it is probably best that you did not appear on the show. TLC is known for their outrageous “reality”. (Although, I will say that I love 19 Kids and Counting.)
I watched the show last night, and while most of it did not even phase me (sharpening the razor, picking up spare change…stuff most “frugalistas” do…), I will say that the cloth “toilet paper” made me want to vomit. I am sorry, but there is no way I would trust my detergent or my hot water to kill that many germs. Not to mention, the bacteria in that trash can must be incredible! Why not skip the clothes dryer (I dry my clothes outside), and purchase toilet paper with the savings?
Just my two cents. Thanks for the wonderful blog. I have been perusing all your old posts and loving it!


ArdenLynn December 29, 2011 at 5:48 am

What a stupid show. We were flipping channels and found it last night. If they include you in a new one I will watch it but that would be about the only reason.
Honestly, stealing ketsup packets? And the shot of the white washcloth with poop stains was gross and I have diapered 8 babies so I am no stranger to poop.
Living within your means doesn’t have to include gross things like eating food left by stangers or having goat heads for dinner. I thought the whole program was foolish.


Melissa December 29, 2011 at 8:48 am

I have to agree that the show was barely watch-able (is that a word?). There was just way to much “ewwww”. Katy, I’m glad you weren’t on it. You are such a positive example of frugality.


Janet December 30, 2011 at 1:10 am

I felt bad when I read that your episode was cut from the show….maybe you were too sane?? I did watch the show, and though I am frugal as you can see by my site, I was grossed out several times…..of course that’s expected for tv sensationalism.


NMPatricia December 30, 2011 at 6:57 am
ellen December 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

I dvr’ed the show and watched it last night, Parts of if grossed me out!
the reusable toilet paper? totally gross. eating that head, totally gross. Looking for coins on the ground, i think we all do that!
It took alot to watch the whole thing.. Interesting, but gross at the same time!


Sabrina December 30, 2011 at 11:27 am

I watched it, in hopes I would get to see your segment. (I’m behind in my reader.) I’m sorry your family didn’t get profiled, but I echo the others in thinking you should be relieved. The food scraping was disgusting, and really set the tone for the rest of the show. I wish they’d taken a different approach.


Maureen December 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

What I thought was gross was the same family that used cloth TP went looking for “greens” for a salad in the town park where they clipped the “greens” off the ground. Then one of the kids stepped in dog poo. And she still served the “greens” for dinner.


April January 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Hi Katy,
I was wondering, now that you’ve seen the episode, where you feel you fall under with respect to the four (or was it three?) couples/families profiled? Any that you feel are close to your “style” or not even remotely close?
Love the blog, looking for to reading more of it this year as I am a new reader and fan.


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