Must-See Consumerism TV: New Shows for Obsessions About Saving and Spending

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Two new TV shows debut the week of October 15. While both are focused on extreme consumer lifestyles, the groups of people featured couldn’t be more different.

Cheapskates and shopping addicts are the newest reality TV characters we’re being asked to watch—and who we’ll inevitably judge and feel superior to by comparison. That’s the way things go with most reality TV programming, isn’t it?

Here’s a rundown of the two new shows, and what, besides a bit of voyeuristic pleasure, we can take away from them:

My Shopping Addiction

If you think that dollar stores are the domain of frugal shoppers, wait until you meet Roshanda. She’s one of the “stars” of the new show “My Shopping Addiction,” debuting Monday, October 15, on the Oxygen network. “I’d rather spend $100 on a hundred things,” Roshanda explains while the cameras show her filling up a shopping cart at a 99¢ Store—and then hitting her friend up for $20 because doesn’t have enough money.

Among the other lessons from this show:

Dollar store purchases add up. Roshanda spends about $300 per week with her 99¢ Store habit.

Shopping is a drug. “I do feel like on a high, like when I put my debit card through,” another consumer featured on the show says. “It says the bank has authorized me to purchase all of these goods.”

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Shopping is more important than rent, friendships, family, sex. “I would rather have a new Louis Vuitton than have sex,” says a woman from Las Vegas named Heather. Others featured on “My Shopping Addiction” risk eviction and alienating friends and family due to their shopping habits.


Extreme Cheapskates

Premiering on October 16 on TLC (yes, the same network that brings you “Extreme Couponing”), “Extreme Cheapskates” ran as a pilot in late 2011 and featured proud penny-pinchers explaining cheapskate strategies such as dumpster diving for your wife’s anniversary gift and splitting double-ply toilet paper in half to get more usage out of it.

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Now that “Extreme Cheapskates” is a series, we’ll meet more self-proclaimed cheapskates, who’ll educate the wasteful, spendthrift masses with insights such as:

Toilet paper is unnecessary. “I don’t believe in spending money on something you’re just going to throw away such as toilet paper or paper towels,” says Kay, a woman from New York City. After relieving herself on the toilet, she uses water and soap to clean up—and no toilet paper.

Ditto for doing laundry. Kay says she hasn’t done laundry in three years. To wash her clothes, she mixes them with a sprinkling of laundry detergent—from a free sample, of course—and places them in the tub while taking a shower. She doesn’t bother with a dryer either, explaining, “Not only does the dryer waste money, but it shrinks clothes and wears clothes out faster.” By cleaning and drying her clothes this way, she estimates she saves around $6 per month. Another extreme cheapskate named Ben does his laundry by placing clothes in the dishwasher.

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Road kill is just like hunting, only quicker and cheaper. Vickie, a mother of five from Idaho, regularly “hunts for road kill.”


Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.