Too Frugal for my Own Good

by Katy on March 13, 2011 · 19 comments

Some might consider my frugality as too frugal. I choose to not buy (most) anything new, I have no qualms about bringing uneaten food home from my mother’s rental cottages, (even if the packaging has been opened) and I drink the swill masquearading as coffee at work, simply because it’s free. (It truly is awful.) I revel in my cheap-ness.

But there are times when my frugality backfires.

Example #1 is my new TV. My friend Susan was putting a home theater into her spare bedroom, and she offered to give me her ginormous 32″ Sony Trinitron television, if we could just come and pick it up. And pick it up we did, all 178 pounds of it, (my husband Googled the weight) all the way from the far suburbs to our urban oasis. Not that the old TV was so shabby, but the new TV had superior picture, sound and fit into our cabinet like it was custom made. My family was in heaven.

I try and keep a handle on all the vampire energy usage by keeping all my TV related appliances plugged into a single surge protector. This way, I’m not paying to light up a dozen different tiny lights for the 23 hours a day when they’re not in use. I am vigilant about switching the surge protector off, apparently too vigilant. Because I switched off the surge protector when the TV was still on and overloaded the circuit board, which fried the TV.

So now, I no longer have a nice new free TV. I have a 178 pound paperweight. That, and a pissed off husband.

Oops . . . too frugal.

Have you found yourself crossing the line from money smart to foolishly frugal? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy March 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I just have to laugh because I killed my parents’ VCR when I was younger in the exact same fashion. Nickelodeon was doing a “save the planet” campaign and saving energy was my cause of choice. Sure, this hunk of fine electronics was no 178 pounder, but back in the ’90s, VCRs were expensive. I had to work that puppy off via newspaper route.

I’m still skittish around surge protectors. 😉


Jen March 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that could happen! I was just thinking about putting my TV, DVD player and Wii on a surge protector because I was feeling bad about all the energy those appliances use when they are off. I am glad I heard about this, my husband would have killed me if I broke our TV!


Katy March 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Plugging everything into a single surge protector is a good idea. Turning it off when the TV is still on is an epic fail.




Heather March 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Good knowledge to have. I have been frugal to a fault before. I can’t think of a good example, but I feel your pain. Hopefully a new to you set comes soon.


Elinor March 14, 2011 at 7:39 am

Ugh, that’s awful! As an aside, we have that TV, too. Got it from craigslist. 🙂


Diane March 14, 2011 at 9:49 am

I do the same thing. Fortunately (through no planning on my part), I have to reach way behind the tv to the on/off switch on the surge protector, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever turn it off when the tv is still on. I suspect that a lot of folks are doing what your friend Susan did and another one will be on its way to you. Have you tried posting your tale on freecycle? That might help speed up the process.


Lindsey March 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Too frugal for my own good: spicing up food that was about to go bad so that my husband would not notice. And he didn’t. Until he got food poisoning. And we had to go to the ER. It cost more than throwing away the food would have.


Tracy Balazy March 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm

THAT’S a good one, Lindsey. And sounds like something I would do!


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary March 15, 2011 at 5:35 am

Oh, Lindsey, that’s awful! Food spoilage is something I rarely mess around with, having had food poisoning myself and hoping never ever to repeat it. I’m glad he’s alright!


elinor March 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I feel your pain. I was given a wine fridge and had my dad make a custom cabinet out of an existing cabinet. I only plugged it in for the weekends, but what happened. It stopped working because I was always unplugging and replugging it in to save pennies.


Elaine March 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Wow! I had no idea that could even happen! I unplug things all the time. I’ll be doubly sure that nothing is still “on” when I do that.

Thanks for warning. Hey, don’t feel too bad. We all have a lot to learn, and we all make mistakes.


sandy March 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I shivered when reading this because I can see myself doing the exact same thing and killing the new TV our kids bought us because they were tired of watching our very tiny and old tv when they were home to visit. Thanks for saving me from myself.


The Saved Quarter March 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Oh, bummer! And now you have to dispose of a 178 lb. paperweight. Does anyone in your area recycle e-waste?


Katy March 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Yes, but it’s a pain in the tuchus to get it over there.




hippierunner March 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Oh my gosh! So sorry you did that. 🙁 Sounds exactly like something I’d do and then get in a ton of trouble for! Then I’d just tell myself, everything happens for a reason.


iris March 15, 2011 at 5:20 am

I think you’re fine putting half of the blame on the poor design – if the manufacturer were interested in longevity, he’d use UPS & surge protectors to safeguard any electric equipment against “frying”, be it power outages, kids tripping over the cable or just someone pulling the plug too early – all quite predictable events.

but then – there’s the thing called “planned obsolescence” 😉


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary March 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I’m still thinking about this one, Katy. Poor you, with a 178 lb. boat anchor and a very annoyed husband. Oy vey.


Katy March 16, 2011 at 5:54 am

Oy vey, indeed!



Kate March 11, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Oh Katy, As a Murphy, and the clear champion of Murphy’s Law, I feel for you!!! You always have a good story to tell, though, and I enjoy reading each one. I appreciate learning from your frugal ways!


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