Squirreling Gone Wild #24: Cheap Hosts and Cheap Guests

When someone comes over to your home for dinner, don’t you want to treat them with hospitality? Conversely, when you visit someone else’s home – don’t you want to treat them with generosity by bringing something along with you?

For most of us, I’m guessing the answer is yes on both counts.

For some, the idea of social graces is simply a foreign concept. Perhaps we can write such people off as not having life experiences that provided them with good examples. Personally, I know very few people close to me that fit this description, which is fine by me. Maybe I’m fortunate that way.

For a select, small group of others, graciousness is not a foreign concept – yet they deliberately try to take the cheap, sneaky approach in pretending to be gracious. This 24th edition of Squirreling Gone Wild dives further into the depths of The Extractor and her family, who were introduced in the Squirreling Gone Wild #18 story.

As a brief review, recall that The Extractor was good at trying to get free stuff from companies, and her husband was skilled at avoiding sharing the bill at restaurants. I eventually concluded that crafting these tactics was practically like a form of art to them.  They are true outliers, unlike anyone else I have known when it comes to squeezing free stuff out of people. On the one hand it’s comical, yet ultimately it’s distasteful when they pull stunts on you!

Now, there are some times in life when you have to offer up some food or gifts to people, and that’s where the cheapness came out in a different way for them. Despite the otherwise innocuous behaviors they had, their cheapness would shine through in situations where people visited their home, or when they visited yours.

Cheap Hosts

One example of their cheapness was when we visited their house once. After sitting down, they politely asked if we wanted anything to drink. In this regard, they followed norms of behavior. It’s when food was involved, they apparently get freaky.  This visit was the classic case, as after getting my drink (I just asked for water), The Extractor asked me if I wanted something to eat. I politely refused (I was hungry though), at which point she played the game by responding with an offer of a snack.

Now, the snack you might expect at someone’s house might be mixed nuts, chips, pretzels, or something of the like. You get the idea. Instead, she offered me an ice cream cone.  Wow, I thought, that sounds pretty good!

Excited like a kid, I responded: “Sure, whatever flavor you have sounds great!”

She paused and said, “Oh, I don’t have ice cream – I have cones”

You mean actual cones without the ice cream?” I said.

“Yes” she responded.

Now, these people weren’t hurting for money. Not wealthy, but middle class. I try not to be overly picky, but this seemed odd. I was beginning to question why I interacted with them in the first place. In statistical terms, they would be several standard deviations from the norm.

It was made clear soon after, by her husband, why they offered plain ice cream cones. The guy told me that they got the cones from a friend of theirs who owned an ice cream shop, and was getting rid of excess cones.  I took that as meaning old, stale cones, but it doesn’t really matter. They were hoping to serve me, a guest, sugar cones without the ice cream – because they got them free. They were basically trash to the original business owner.

I guess the mixed nuts or chips were too highbrow for me in their eyes :)

What was interesting was the way The Extractor’s face froze a bit, as she briefly shut her eyes, when her husband freely shared the source of the cones. It was one of those looks that screamed “I can’t believe he said that!” This, of course, confirmed to me that she knew she was super cheap.

You know, I do try to be thankful for whatever food I have. Many parts of the world would love to have any food that provides sustenance.  Additionally, part of being a polite guest is not being a burden on the host. I don’t want people to do anything special for me, there’s no need to at all. I’m just plain ole me. But in the context of the abundance these people (and many others) have, this was an uber-cheapo maneuver.

Cheap Guests

These people also proved to be cheap guests when the opportunity presented itself. The one example I have here is when they and their youngest daughter visited our place. The daughter is an adult, so I view her as an independent person, but she’s still in the same family. Thus, she’s influenced by Mr. and Mrs. Extractor, and has probably received graduate-level instruction in extracting pennies.

So, there was a gathering at my home, and was asked if the daughter could come over too. Keep in mind, this was before I figured out what these characters were like. Naturally, not thinking anything unusual about it, I said sure she’s welcome. Why not, right?

Anyway, the cheapskates didn’t bring anything with them, which I noticed but didn’t really care about. The daughter arrived late, and brought a bottle of wine in a wine gift bag. The thing is, the bag looked like it had been used before. No big deal, right? I wouldn’t give a shoddy looking bag, but as you probably know, I can appreciate some frugal choices so that was no big deal to me.

Ultimately, after the gathering was over, the daughter took a very large amount of food home with her.  She really cleaned up. Later, when they were all gone, I took a look at the bottle she brought:  it was a Charles Shaw varietal, of Trader Joe’s fame. “Three Buck Chuck”.  

Then, it occurred to me that she came over, pigged out, AND took home a staggering amount of leftover food – all the while bringing a very cheap bottle of wine.

The best part was what I noticed upon an even closer look:

  1. The bottle had a short personal note on it addressed to her. Apparently, she had been given this ‘exquisite’ bottle as a gift by someone else. She didn’t bother to care that the bottle she gave us had that note still on it. It was a blatantly regifted bottle of cheap wine.
  2. The used wine bottle bag I mentioned earlier had a gift tag hanging from it, where she (Extractor’s daughter) had written on it words to the effect of:  “Uncle XYZ, Congratulations on…..”  Thus, from what I can tell, she gave some wine to an “Uncle”, and then got the bag back from him – only to reuse it in a ‘gift’ to me.

Maybe I’m a little off base on my interpretation of these two situations. I’m open to that concept. However, it was all very odd. I chuckled about it, not quite knowing who I was dealing with just yet. I found out later, as detailed in SGW#18, with the tricks they later revealed. This was just a precursor :)

My Question for You:

Have you ever dealt with anybody that has been a super cheap host, or ultra penny pinching guest?


  1. says

    Ice cream cones? I hope you are not kidding Squirrelers! Just reading about folks like this makes me uncomfortable! (Why are you still friends with them?)

    • Squirrelers says

      Moneycone –

      I’m not kidding! I was offered an ice cream cone without the ice cream. As much as I try not to be judgemental, and have respect for everybody’s financial situation, this one just left me scratching my head. It’s strange. As was the daughter’s regifting. The more I think about it, there were a few other things too, but no need for me to go on and on about these people.

      As for being friends with them….well, perhaps I didn’t do a good job of conveying this in my 2 posts on them, but I NO LONGER socialize with them. It’s quite the long story, but I don’t socialize w/them because I just can’t respect their behavior. It hit home when they took advantage of me. All the good things about them go out the window when this kind of thing takes place, especially the stuff I shared in The Extractor (SGW#18) post.

  2. says

    Wow that goes beyond cheap to down right rude behaviour. Like it or not there are “social graces” that people can choose to ignore but they best well accept people will ignore THEM as well for breaking such norms.

    • Squirrelers says

      Sustainable PF – I would agree, and I’m glad to see that you (and others, apparently) see things the way I do with such people. With this family, they’re just freaky when it comes to saving money. I say that because it’s to the point of taking advantage of others, or at the very least shifting the burden to others or trying to ignore social graces in a way that conveys a lack of respect. Maybe I’m too picky or sensitive, but I just don’t want to regularly deal with such people.

  3. Squirrelers says

    Jeff – I agree, though the daughter was involved with the wine. Not that it makes it better, it just spreads the ‘wealth’ of craziness a bit, throughout the family. It seems like they’re somewhat oblivious to the reality that people can make sweeping character judgements based on such actions. It’s pennywise and pound foolish to be so cheap with others while having no problem let others spend on you in different situations.

  4. says

    Social graces? I wonder if they are cheap or lack any social graces. Why don’t they just make something or pick flowers (from their garden). It doesn’t take much money to be appropriate. I think I would over time resent them and would not want them around my house.

    • Squirrelers says

      krantcents – I think it’s mainly that they’re cheap (that’s for sure), and also that they lack social graces. The thing is, they fool you when you don’t know them well – you’d think they’re actually nice people. That makes me wonder at what level are they aware of what they’re doing, since it’s somewhat hidden and doesn’t come out until you see them in certain situations.

  5. says

    This is great. I think you should keep these people in your lives just for the blog content potential.

    I usually bring stuff to people’s homes, but not always to someone who I see all the time.

    So, here’s my story. My cousin and his wife stayed over my house one weekend and our guest room at the time I tried to make it very B+B like. I live in a touristy area, so I had a little basket of fliers for the local hot spots, the local magazine with calendar of events. I set out a couple of towels and made a little toiletries pack for them to use (soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc). At the end of the stay, I noticed all the travel sized things I set out for them were gone. They took them all home with them just like they would if they were cleaning out a hotel room. I thought it was a little odd.

    • Squirrelers says

      First Gen –

      Ha! Well, it’s not so great when they extract a free dinner from you with the “bill comes, I’m off the the bathroom” trick! I don’t like being taken advantageof…who does?

      As for the story about your cousin, I first have to say that you seem like a very nice host. That’s quite a reception they got! I agree that it does seem a bit odd that they took the stuff like that. Not super-extracting, but odd. Who do you think sparked that, your cousin or his wife?

      • says

        He’s the same guy who emptied his dad’s bank accounts on his death bed while his mom had dementia and a stroke and needed full time nursing care..In all honesty he’s just a piece of work. He once insisted on paying for a restaurant bill and majorly stiffed the waitress, so I threw an extra $5 on the table. As we were all leaving, he claimed he forgot something at the table and then went over and took her tip and pocketed it. He’ll never admit he did it, but I suspected that’s what he went back to do and I spied him taking it. Poor gal. She was a good waitress too.

        • Squirrelers says

          First Gen –

          Oh, he’s THAT guy? I totally remember that story from your blog. Honestly it was disturbing to read, and I just can’t imagine anybody having the gall to do that to his father…and mother indirectly. That’s really, really poor behavior.

          Well, then it fits a pattern. I now view his taking of the stuff you provided in a different light :) The taking of a tip story is awful! Relative or not, I would NOT want to deal with such a person at all.

          Hope this isn’t offensive, but there’s a saying from Confucius that I like: It’s hard to smell like a rose when you’re rolling in a dunghill. Really, it’s tough to better ourselves when dealing with such people. If we’re supposedly the average of the 5 (or whatever the number is) closest people around us, we don’t want that average being brought down!

          Good for you, by the way, for at least trying to help that waitress out.

        • says

          No…I’m not offended. I haven’t spoken to the guy since the dad incident despite. He is utterly confused why I don’t want to associate with him anymore since he didn’t actually steal from me personally and has tried to make amends. Why on earth would I want to expose my kids to that kind of person, no thanks. These other incidents happened way before he betrayed his parent’s trust.

        • Squirrelers says

          First Gen – I totally think I’d take the same approach as you with that guy. No reason to willingly expose kids to someone so vile.

  6. Jenny says

    Not finance related, but my sister used to be a pretty uncool host.

    When she and my brother were in university, they shared an apartment. My brother is a fairly neat person, but my sister is a slob. They had an agreement that they would alternate doing dishes. He would do his in a couple of days. Then when it was her turn she would wait weeks to do them until every dish was dirty, the whole sink and counter were full, and the whole pile smelled terrible.

    Then she had two tricks. First she would cook a really simple meal like kd or hamburger helper, share it with my brother, then say since she cooked dinner it was his turn to do the dishes. The other was to wait until someone needed a place to stay (she was in university and hung out with a hippie kinda crowd, so there was usually someone looking to couch surf). She would invite them to stay, then wait until the morning and tell them that since they stayed the night, they should do her dishes for her (rather than making that the deal ahead of time, which wouldn’t have been so bad).

    • Squirrelers says

      Jenny – those are some pretty uncool tricks. Not doing dishes for weeks? Yuck. Tricking guests by offering a place to stay, then guilting them into doing all her dirty dishes? I hope she doesn’t do stuff like that anymore!

  7. says

    I always bring something but that something has been items that you might have been horrified at:
    1. two buck chuck (actually here in Santa Fe it’s three buck chuck)- it’s what I drink at home. I am on a quest to see if I can find good wine for under $4. FYI-there’s some real stinkers out there!
    2. A basil plant
    3. A dozen eggs
    4. flowers from my garden
    5. homemade cheese
    6. Yes, last week I brought a whole (dead) chicken to my friends party- it was for her consumption only!

    I like to think my friends appreciate my quirky frugal habits but I understand some may feel I’m just cheap…..they would be correct!

    • Squirrelers says

      Molly – actually, I’m not horrified by any of those things! Nothing wrong with quirky frugal habits, as long as they’re not involving taking advantage of others and being inconsiderate. Your gifts seem neat, actually. As for the cheap wine…well, if you like 2 (3?) Bubk Chuck, it’s all good as a gift!

  8. says

    Ice cream cones without the ice cream, how very odd of them. We have had guests that have brought over some peach pie, and taken back the uneaten balance home with them. Which is a shame, since I was really looking over to having some the next morning with coffee.
    Two buck chuck is now three buck chuck? Inflation rearing its ugly head…

    • Squirrelers says

      101 Centavos – peach pie leftovers being taken back home is child’s play compared to what I’ve dealt with! :)

  9. says

    Wow, that’s pretty cheap.
    I think Sandy is right and you should keep these people around for materials. :)
    We haven’t interact with extreme squirrelers lately.
    When I was in college, one of my roomate steal TP from the school bathrooms. That’s pretty cheap. 😀

    • Squirrelers says

      retirebyforty – you know, there’s more I could write about them…..I’m debating whether or not I want to do it. As for the college friend of yours – yeah, that’s really cheap!

  10. says

    These people crack me up (only because I don’t have to deal with them though)! My mom was once visiting someone and was told she could have exactly one teaspoon of sugar in her tea, no more. As if another teaspoon of sugar would cost that much!

    We had a buffet at our wedding, and there was a lot of leftovers. My cousin’s future husband took a ton of food and when someone asked if he could eat it all, he said whatever he didn’t eat he would feed to his dog!!!

    • Squirrelers says

      Melissa –

      Wow, those are extreme examples you gave. Telling a guest that she could only have one teaspoon of sugar and no more, due to the cost? Taking tons of wedding food leftovers and saying you’ll feed the excess to a dog?

      I wonder if they know The Extractor family? Then again, the Extractors actually try to be somewhat slick about things at times…

  11. says

    ahahahah! oh man i actually laughed out loud reading this.

    Ice cream cones!? hahah I would have burst out laughing if I was you. That is super super cheap. They need to start a PF blog!

    And regifting cheap wine and the cheap gift bag without taking the tag off the gift bag? lol!

    I do regift gift bags but I make sure I take off the tag on the bag. I think it’s nice to recycle and reuse gift bags, but I wouldn’t be blatant about it.

    • Squirrelers says

      youngandthrifty – you know, they could probably fill a blog of their own with their tactics. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Squirrelers says

      Kay Lynn – actually, now that I think about it, I believe she might have brought a dessert too. So maybe I was a bit harsh to comment on the large amount of food she took. It was much more than she brought though, that’s for sure! Anyway, we might have had her take food in another container and might have foil-wrapped some things as well.

  12. says

    I had to come check to see if a SGW post was written while I was on vacation, and I am so glad to not be disappointed.

    I laughed out loud literally about the ice cream cone. That is so hilarious. I can’t imagine being just offered a cone, I love it!!!! Maybe they could have put some peanuts inside the cone? I am surprised the cone was not used to serve water in. (cone of water?)

    Thank you for sharing this!

  13. says

    This is completely ridiculous, Squirrelers! That goes beyond cheap… I’ve known cheap people but an ice cream cone, stale, just by itself?

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