You read that right.
Last month, I was contacted by the casting director for TLC's show, Extreme Cheapskates. Remember what I thought of that show the first, and only, time I watched an episode? If not, you can read about my reaction here.
I received an email in May from the casting director. She had somehow been referred to my blog. She read it, loved it, and thought I'd be perfect for the show. She gave me all her contact info., and asked that I get back with her.
I thought it was one of those email scams and laughed at the idea. I did nothing about it for several days. I eventually read it to my husband so he could get a laugh in as well.
But he didn't laugh.
He told me it sounded like the real deal. Not a scam. He thought it could be a cool once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that I should at least respond.
I hemmed and hawed. I really did not want to respond if it was, in fact, a scam. I researched the casting director's name, and found someone by the same name who was a casting director for a different show. I checked out the area code of the cell phone number she left. I looked on TLC's webpage to see how they went about casting for the show.
I wasn't thoroughly convinced, but decide to email her back anyway. Here's my emailed response:
Wow! I must say, I am quite flattered that you would reach out to me in this way. Never in a million years would I have thought myself a candidate for your show.
I have seen an episode, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'd be the ideal candidate for an episode. I feel there is a definite difference between being a "cheapskate" and being "consciously frugal." (For example, I won't be dumpster-diving for anniversary gifts, or using washcloths in lieu of TP anytime soon.) I doubt I'd make for very entertaining television.
I do appreciate that you are hoping to teach viewers "how to save money in the easiest way." I choose to be frugal in part because of how I was raised, and also to combat our extremely high debt-load. My husband will complete his medical training the end of June, and it was an EXPENSIVE journey. However, we won't be splurging with his new income any time soon. Getting out of debt is priority #1, so our frugal lifestyle will continue.
Anyway, as I said, I'm not sure I'm your best candidate, and I'm really only responding because my husband loves the idea... but if you are still interested in pursuing this, I would be open to learning more about what would be involved.
Thank you again for reaching out to me,
After I sent her my response, she quickly emailed back, assured me they'd LOVE to have me on the show, that I was an ideal candidate, that it would increase my blog viewership, that my frugal ideas and lifestyle could help a lot of people, and that I should proceed to fill out the casting questionnaire she had attached.
Well, I hemmed and hawed for a couple more days, but in the end, it was her point that "my frugal ideas and lifestyle could help a lot of people" that got me to fill out the questionnaire and get the ball rolling. I truly believe in living fugally and well at the same time, and felt this could be an opportunity to share that belief on a larger platform.
After the questionnaire, a headshot (which was truly laughable, and taken by Photobooth on this very computer), several phone calls from New York, and more emails wherein I answered more questions about my every day life, I recieved directions for putting together a casting video that they would show on their website, and they began putting together "my story." Everything started coming together really fast, and the filming of my episode was a few short weeks away.
Since we are moving soon, (two weeks... I should probably start packing instead of blogging) they decided that on top of filming me doing frugal every day things, my "angle" should be how to move as cheaply as possible.
Great! I could get excited about this!
This will be my 8th move, and we really are getting pretty darn good at it.
I told them about the boxes we STILL have from our first move, and how we didn't buy those boxes, but collected them from grocery stores that didn't need them. Those poor boxes are nearly ready to bite the dust, and have
Kitchen Bathroom Living Room Baby Room and Bedroom written on various parts of them depending on what they were filled with for that particular move.
We pack, wrap, load, move, and unload everything ourselves.
When required, we clean the carpets before moving out rather than paying an expensive company to do so.
For our upcoming move that is only 30 miles away, the plan was to borrow a truck and trailer, and our only cost would be gas.
I was excited to share all this with people. I couldn't wait to show them how to grind their own wheat to make their own bread, how to re-use swim diapers, how to refill their own ink cartridges to save a boat-load, how to get free reams of paper for kids to color on, etc...
Then, things started to get a little iffy.
I got in touch with a couple other people who had done the show to ask about their personal experience. I was getting on board with just about everything, but I didn't want to get into something I would regret. I knew it would be important to reach out and learn more.
The previous "extreme cheapskates' " answers were similar:
You will be a "willing actor" and the things you show on TV will hardly be a true depiction of "reality." You have to be okay with seeing this as just another TV show... not reality at all. They are going for shock value.
One woman who has a frugal-living blog like me, mentioned that she was so excited to do the show, had so many awesome ideas she wanted to share, but when the camera crew showed up, they didn't want to film ANY of that. They came with a packet of things they wanted to film her doing, even though they were things she'd never done before and would never do again in real life.
That got me a little nervous, but I figured they couldn't possibly film me and my family moving and make it seem too far out there.
The very next phone call I got from the director was about planning the details for my episode. I told her about borrowing the trailer, and how moving and filming at the same time might be kinda crazy, but we'd make it work.
She laughed and said they wouldn't film me actually moving... that they would stage me moving.
Okay... I get that... sort of.
She was in love with the fact that my husband is a doctor and that we still live on the cheap. (He finishes training in two weeks, and we are literally up to our EYEBALLS in school loan debt... that's a big reason why we live on less.) She didn't want to mention that he's just getting out of training. Not nearly as interesting. Then she asked something like this:
"Since he's a doctor, do you think the hospital would like, let you borrow an ambulance, and we could stage you using that to move your stuff?"
HA!!.....HAHA!!!... You're joking right? Do you have any idea how many problems there are with that scenario?
Anyway, I told her no. That there was no way that would happen.
So then she asked something like this:
"Well, since you've got a daughter in school, do you think you could borrow a school bus? It would be perfect to film a staged move with a school bus."
Uhhh.... are you being serious? No way!
1.) Can you imagine getting furniture and boxes to fit in a bus full of seats?
2.) The gas to drive a bus is pricey. Not cheap. And you'd have to somehow return the bus instead of dropping it off in the new town, using even MORE gas in the process.
I firmly told her that I wasn't comfortable doing anything on TV that I wouldn't normally do in real life... even if it was for entertainment value.
The more little ideas she threw out (filming me taking empty ketchup bottles to restaurants, and filling them up with ketchup packets), the more I realized I just couldn't win. This show was not going to help people live frugally. It was strictly for shock/entertainment value, with maybe a very FEW valid frugal ideas thrown in.
I ended up emailing her to say I couldn't do it, very nicely explained why, and thanked them for the opportunity.
It really was too bad.
It made me wish there was a TV show that depicted REAL frugal living, and how helpful that would be to people. I know I'd watch it looking for valid new ideas. But the whole concept of the Extreme Cheapskates show goes against my grain.
I am extremely frugal.
I am not an extreme cheapskate.
There is a difference.
If any of you hear of any opportunities to film a show the celebrates real-life frugality, let me know!
In the mean time, I'll stick to sharing what I know with you lovely readers.
Have a great Saturday!