Published December 23, 2011
Today’s crappy economy has turned the derogatory term "cheapskate" into a badge of honor. In an all-new TLC special ,"Cheapskates,” several are profiled: folks who, in the pursuit of saving a penny or two, will eat out of the trash, reuse toilet paper, and recite poems in exchange for goods and services.
“I’m a full-time cheapskate, and I hope audiences see this isn’t a negative thing. Sure we are as weird as heck, but living this lifestyle isn’t about being greedy or selfish,” Jeff Yeager, who stars in the special and has turned his “Ultimate Cheapskate” approach into a business, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Leading a frugal life is so we can be generous to others. We’re quirky, but there is a serious message about the ethics of thrift.”
So what steps does Yeager take day-to-day so that he can be a resourceful and giving individual?
“My wife and I are big on creative re-purposing. One thing we do is take used pantyhose and put those used up slivers of soap in the soles because this allows you to use up every bit of the soap suds,” he boasted. "I also have an unusual diet. I eat the internal organs of animals. I’ll go and buy things like a goat’s head, here in America they cost next to nothing. And while I don’t drink a lot, if I do I only have boxed wine. But if we have guests who like something more indulgent over for dinner, over the years I have saved empty premium label bottles so I just fill it up with the boxed wine. Nobody has ever questioned the authenticity.”
However, one of Yeager’s favorite pastimes is (literally) fishing around the streets for loose change, and claimed that on average he annually accumulates around $70 from the carelessness of others.
“I have a lot of techniques for picking up coins – I use a tape measure to fish around underneath vending machines, and a real goldmine is the side of gas stations where people shake out their floor mats,” he said. “And when I’m out on my bicycle (Yeager and his wife only have one car to save money) I will usually do a couple of extra rounds. I always do well looking in the debris at stoplights, it seems change falls out when people open and close their car doors. People might think it is pitiful a 53-year-old man snooping around to pick up pennies, but being a cheapskate is a virtuous thing. It is shocking how wasteful most Americans are – 25 percent of food is thrown out, while others around the world are starving.”
And listen up Hollywood, Yeager also insisted that in a 300 person survey he recently conducted within his Cheapskate community (yes, there is such a thing) he found that fellow cheapskates divorced at half the national average.
“The number one thing most couples fight over is money,” he explained. “Take that out of the equation and people get along much better. I grew up in a lower to middle class, rural family in the Midwest. Back then, everyone had less, but everyone seemed much happier. Long before the recession we used to be considered outcasts, and now we’re role models.”
“Cheapskates” debuts on TLC December 28 at 9/8c.