July’s (Financial) Retard of the Month

He claims to have a wife. The hundreds of board games on the shelves would indicate otherwise.

He claims to have a wife. The hundreds of board games on the shelves indicate otherwise.


Yes, him again. If you’re tired of our repeated honoring of Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar as Retard of the Month, and want us to broaden our scope, we remind you that we don’t obsess on him anywhere near as much as he obsesses on his sole topic of interest, frugality.

But wait! Things have changed. Trent recently showed us his other side. His profligate side. In a post entitled “Five Frugal Things I Don’t Do.” They’re perfect, every last one of them. We’re going to break them down in increasing order of ludicrousness, and we can’t get wait to get started. Here, this is only his 5th-dumbest non-frugal tip:

I don’t save condiment packages from restaurants.

As we’ve said before, it’s not Trent’s cheapness that gets us. We’re not above crumpling up a piece of paper and using it as a cat toy instead of buying a $12 Martha Stewart®-branded feather attached to a stick. It’s Trent’s endless inconsistency that makes us want to vomit. This is a man who:

  • Advocates taking buses everywhere, yet owns a vehicle.
  • Says you should buy cheap shampoo and use it sparingly, but says you should make your own shampoo instead.
  • Gives workout advice, yet appears to be closing in on 300 pounds.
  • Calculates his homemade meal prices to the penny, yet eats in restaurants.
  • Saves money by collecting ordinary rocks for his kids to play with on their summer vacations (not a joke), yet appears to have dropped at least $10,000 on board games.

And dozens of other examples. But what burns our grass the most is his use of the lazy literary device known as the imaginary friend. Conveniently, Trent has a friend who…well, we’ll let Trent explain:

One of my friends always asks for extra condiment packets at restaurants and always grabs a fistful whenever they’re available. He then takes them home and, when he’s doing something like watching television, he opens them and puts them into the respective bottles.

Were this person to exist, and of course he doesn’t, it’d at least be understandable why he and Trent would pal around. But as bizarre as it is to hoard ketchup packages, even assuming someone was going to do that, why on Earth would he then open them up and squeeze them into an awaiting bottle?

Trent and his circle live at the intersection of cheapness and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But as we stated, Trent’s condiment-rearranging friend is 100% mythical. As long as you’re pilfering the mustard and Sriracha sauce to begin with (does Sriracha come in single-serving packets? Oh that’d be awesome), why wouldn’t you keep them in their sealed containers? The short answer is because then Trent wouldn’t have a fictional anecdote to expand upon:

Food cross-contamination issues sincerely worry me and when you do this, you’re doing lots of potential cross-contamination.

Also, we’re willing to bet that there are several dozen condiment packages taking up space in Chez Trent as we speak. Cake icing, full-fat tartar sauce, all the usual suspects.

Somewhat related to the phenomenon of hoarding condiments,

I don’t use public restrooms unless I have to.

It’s Trent’s iconoclasm that makes him a winner. While the rest of society can’t wait to rush out of their houses just so they can sit on unfamiliar toilets with unknown histories, Trent turns conventional wisdom on its head and – get this – urinates and defecates at home whenever possible. Weird, isn’t it?

That being said, before today we were certain that Trent’s home contained functioning toilets only because building codes require it to. All that unnecessary porcelain, just adding to the price of Trent’s house. Anyhow, back to his radical idea of not using traditionally filthy public toilets, something none of us had ever thought of before:

An old coworker of mine use (sic) to go to the bathroom like clockwork just before leaving for the day, theoretically to save on toilet paper, water, and soap at home.

Like the guy who empties ketchup packets into a Heinz bottle, this old coworker is a figment of Trent’s dull imagination. At the absolute least, and giving Trent way too much benefit of the doubt, a coworker might use the work bathroom only because he’s facing a 50-mile commute home or something. But no human outside of the Hamm household is going to take toilet paper, water and soap savings into consideration when excreting.

Again, while this can certainly save a bit of money on water, soap, and paper products,

No it can’t, unless you’re measuring bits in hundredths of cents.

I tend to avoid public restrooms for sanitary reasons.

Sanctimony punctuated by earnestness. Trent seems to legitimately believe that his readers could stand to learn from his real-world observations, including the one that your bathrooms at home are going to be under greater personal scrutiny than public ones.

(If you’re following along with Trent’s public bowel movement of a post, we’re not going through his list in order. Instead we’re building to a crescendo.)

I don’t reuse aluminum foil.

Earlier in the post Trent mentioned that he will, however, wash Ziploc bags. If there’s a significant difference between the one and the other, we’re too dumb to see it.

I know at least one person who will flatten it out and save it for use the next time.

Oh, you liar with the aroma of a public toilet. So now Trent has casually mentioned, within the space of single blog post:

  • a friend who reuses aluminum foil
  • a (different) friend (alright, an ex-co-worker) who makes it a point of going to the bathroom at the end of the workday, to save money on soap and toilet paper. Oh, and water.
  • a (3rd) friend who not only saves extra ketchup packages, but then transfers the packages to a bottle while he’s watching TV.  

How amazingly fitting. If those people really existed, then Trent would be only the 4th-cheapest person in East Rectum, Iowa.

I don’t buy the low end version of something I know I’ll use.

Why the hell not? As for our own frugality (CYC confessional time), our local WinCo sells 2 brands of milk – one from the local dairy whose name we can’t remember, which goes for $3 a gallon or so, and the store brand which is usually around $2. We’re not sure why anyone would buy the former, or even why buying the latter counts as an activity worth mentioning, but then we’re not Trent. Here’s his rationale for not buying the low-end version of something he knows he’ll use. We give that rationale to you in its entirety:

I am quite willing to spend more on an item that I know is going to receive regular use around my home.

If I know something is going to be used a lot, I’m more interested in purchasing a reliable version of that product than I am buying the absolute least expensive version. I will buy the “cheap” one if I’m not sure how much I’ll use an item, but when I’m replacing something and I know I’ll use it, I will always look for the best “bang for the buck” version of the item with a strong eye toward reliability. That often means a pricier version than I might have otherwise purchased.

Trent hates detail almost as much as he hates throwing out Ziploc bags, which is a quirk (of his myriad) that we can’t begin to understand. He doesn’t cite a single example of an “item” or a “product” that he does this with? You know, so his readers might have a clearer illustration of what he’s talking about? Towels. Silverware. Thumb drives. Garden tools. ANYTHING. But no, he gives us nothing more specific than items and products. It’s like his bogus mailbag submitters who write, “My husband and I live in a major city in the Southeast region,” because identifying such as Atlanta or Charlotte might mean too much disclosure.

Finally – we were saving this – his grandest indulgence of all:

I don’t constantly negotiate.

Here is a man who expresses concern that opening an oven to check on food will “waste” 2¢ (and who only later discovered that technological marvel, the oven light), yet who will presumably leave hundreds of dollars on the table because negotiation is either déclassé or overly stingy.

“So, Mr. Hamm – and is it OK if I call you Trent? A special discount just for you.  I don’t do this with most customers, but you look like an honest man who appreciates the value of a dollar. That’s why I can get you into this Prius today for just $48,000.”

“Sounds good. Where do I sign?”

Trent Hamm never had anything interesting to say to begin with, and after 6 or so years of sharing his microthoughts with the world it’s only gotten worse. Yet there are 100,000 Feedburner subscribers who go out of their way to let him tell them that he prefers his home bathroom to public ones – and not only that, but that his reason for doing so has an economic basis. Mohamed Morsi got deposed this month, yet Trent Hamm’s confounding reign continues. There is no explanation.

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