14 downright stingy things Dutch people do

As lovable as the Dutch are, it’s no secret that they’re stingy as heck. Offering to carpool to work and then sending you a bill, not only for fuel (fair) but also asking you to chip in on yearly maintenance costs — say what! 

Dutchies really push the boundaries on what is considered socially acceptable in other cultures. But hey, they get away with it, and manage to save a euro here and there while they’re at it. 

We know, we know, there are some generous Dutchies out there — but we’re sure you know at least a few of the below types too. 😉 Here are 14 of the stingiest things that Dutch people do!

1. Send a Tikkie for really minuscule amounts of money

Ever heard of a little thing called Tikkie? Of course you have, this is the Netherlands — and I’m sure you’ve all received one for 60 cents, or an equally tiny amount of money. In fact, this whole article could be about tales of absurd Tikkie’s — there are that many — but that’s for another day.

All jokes aside, Dutch Tikkie-ing is an extreme sport. Ever been to someone’s house for dinner and had them slap you with a Tikkie the next day? That’s how you know you’re in the Netherlands! Going Dutch, eh. 😉

Every cent counts! Image: BrianAJackson/Depositphotos

2. Be masters of DIY

You know what they say: any accountant can be an electrician or a plumber! Wait, that’s not a thing? Well, it is in the Netherlands! Need to lay some laminate flooring? Your house needs to be rewired? Decided you want a new staircase? That’s a DIY job!

It seems like every Dutchie has these skills in their arsenal, because the other option is — GASP — pay someone qualified to do it. It’s this practical side of the Dutch that gets them through mind-blowing home renovations on the cheap.

3. Own a flessenlikker — a what?!

That thing over there that looks a bit like a spatula, what did you say it was again? Oh yes, that’s a flessenlicker — a uniquely Dutch tool loved by many across the lowlands which is used to scrape the hell out of empty bottles and jars. 

If you’re anything like me, you may have never heard of a flessenlicker before. But our extensive research (a snap Instagram poll) found that the humble flessenlicker is a fan favourite in Dutch kitchens. 

You might wonder why Dutchies would invest time and energy in scraping the hell out of say, a clearly empty ketchup bottle — but we’ve decided the only conclusion is that they get a thrill out of it. Scraper Olympics, anyone? 🥇 

4. Remove the lightbulbs and laminate flooring before they move house 

We can’t understand why so many Dutch people take the laminate flooring with them when they move house. What are the chances of finding a new house that will fit your old laminate flooring? Or is that a criterion when people are house-hunting?

And don’t even get us started on lightbulbs. While Dutchies save their precious euro unscrewing each and every half-used lightbulb, the new residents will probably spend their first night huddled around the light of a smartphone — welcome home!

5. Eat bread with minimal condiments for breakfast and lunch every single day with glee

We always thought the reason the Dutch breakfast and lunch menu consists solely of bread with hagelslag and cheese respectively was that the Dutch have a bland taste palate. 

Turns out, it’s actually a sneaky way to save money! Why spend €7 on lunch for a day, when you could spend that much and have breakfast and lunch for a week? Smart with money — or downright stingy? 

6. Refuse to spend money on public transport or a taxi 

It could be four in the morning, there could be a blizzard, they could be wearing a ball gown, or their wife could be giving birth. None of these things matter to Dutchies, who believe their biking skills are far superior to any weather phenomenon or health event. 

While we’ve gotta admire their determination, there’s no denying that often it would be far more comfortable to spend €10 on a taxi rather than cycle five kilometres through a thunderstorm in a figure-hugging floor-length dress and heels. But, as the Dutch say “You’re not made out of sugar!” (Je bent niet van suiker!)

7. Retrieve half-eaten food and bottles of wine after dinner parties 

Have you ever had someone over for dinner and asked them to bring an ingredient? A cucumber, for example. It might come as a shock to you to realise that they’ve left, and taken that half-eaten cucumber with them. Goodbye to your hopes of making tzatziki.

While in other places this would be considered blasphemy, it isn’t too unusual in the Netherlands. Perhaps the Dutch standard of living is so high because of all that money they’ve saved by retrieving half-eaten leftovers after dinner parties? 

8. Not providing food at weddings

We all know the best part of a wedding isn’t the ceremony — it’s the food. But be warned, if you receive an invite to a Dutch wedding, make sure to read it carefully. Often, guests are only invited to the ceremony — and not the reception.

Of course, some people do go all out, and there are plenty of perfectly valid different ways to mark a wedding — but in general, the unions of Dutchies aren’t the big white wonderlands that you have in other countries. Wednesday morning, 8 AM at the courtroom is more their style. Obviously, you can’t have a thrasher that early in the morning. So you see, there’s a method to their madness — or maybe it’s just a ruse to save some cash?

READ MORE | Odd Dutch Wedding Traditions When Getting Married in the Netherlands 

9.  Take food to places that serve their own

Yeah, going to the zoo can be a bit pricey, so why would you pay €5 for a snack at the on-site cafe when you could bring your own perfectly good broodje kaas in a little zip lock bag from home? 

If that wasn’t bad enough, we’ve all heard the infamous myth about Dutchies flocking en masse to the campsites of France each summer. Great for French restaurants, you say? Wrong. See it would be, but Dutchies are notorious for bringing all of their own food — pindakaas, jam, and macaroni. With all the culinary wonders that France prides itself on, we’ve just got to ask ourselves “Why?” 

Dutchies camping in France. Image: joyfull/Depositphotos

10.  Plan a surprise or romantic getaway for their significant other — and then expect them to pay for their half

Let’s just throw the social rule book out the window, why don’t we? While the Dutch are super pragmatic, romantic getaways are much less dreamy when you know you’ll be receiving your half of the bill for it in a couple of days’ time.

You haven’t even heard the worst of it yet. One of our readers told us about a time when her boyfriend bought her a gift….and then sent her a Tikkie for it later. Can it even be called a present if you have to pay for it yourself?

11. Pick one travel destination over another because of a €3 price difference in the flight tickets

Ahh, Athens would have been so nice and you’ve always wanted to go there — but Krakow is €3 cheaper. What an obvious choice! After all, are you even Dutch if you aren’t financially prudent? 

P.S. Hey Dutchies, your flight departs at 6 AM from Eindhoven — have fun leaving home at 3 in the morning.

Dutchies love cheap holidays. Image: Marty Sakin/Unsplash

12. Prepare a single piece of meat per guest 

Ever been to a friend’s house for dinner but gone home feeling kinda hungry? Yeah, it’s a Dutch thing. These damn Dutchies are notorious for cooking for the exact number of people and only preparing a single piece of meat each. Even though refrigerators were invented a century ago, there’s no place for leftovers (or people with a bigger appetite) in this society, because the broodje kaas is king.

13. Happy birthday! We hope you brought your OWN birthday cake, because that’s the only one you’ll get

It’s your birthday, gefeliciteerd! 🎉 But we’re in the Netherlands now, so there’ll be no fanfare. Don’t forget to bring your birthday cake — yes that’s right, you have to bring it yourself. Your friends and colleagues will be expecting it (because they have it written down in their birthday calendar in the toilet). But remember, everyone only gets one piece each.

While we’re on the topic, you can be certain no one will be buying you a convertible for your birthday, but maybe your friends might chip in and buy you something super useful, like a new pedal bin for your kitchen. Ahh yes, they knew how much you wanted one of those… haha nah, they just wanted to make sure the gift they got you wouldn’t go to waste.

Don’t forget to bring your own cake! Image: Anna Vander Stel /Unsplash

14.  Buy random things (in bulk) from the supermarket just because they’re on sale 

We are convinced that many Dutch pantry staples make it onto the grocery list, not because Dutchies even like them, but because they’re always in the ‘bonus’ — or, in non-Dutch speak, on sale at Albert Heijn. Why else would people eat so many dubious-looking kipschnitzels? We can’t even prove that there’s actual chicken in there. 

Dutchies will stop at nothing to get a discount and to really maximise on that saving. While most aren’t that extreme, one group of friends, after hearing that their local supermarket was selling three crates of beer for €25, brought a tractor and loaded up on €6,000 worth of beer. Now do you believe us?

If, in reading this you had a shiver-inducing flashback to a time when you encountered a stingy Dutch person, don’t take it personally. Their parents and grandparents were like that, and their kids probably will be too. It’s just the Dutch way!

What’s the stingiest thing you’ve ever seen a Dutchie do? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Khosrok/Depositphotos

Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.

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  1. The first night of darkness in a newly rented apartment was a really rude shock…something i couldnt even imagine.

  2. As an ex-pat Brit living in NL this made me laugh. You Dutches have a lot of misconceptions about yourselves – you think your language is difficult (it isn’t) – you think you are ‘direct’ (you’re extraordinarily polite) but stingy? – that’s spot on. Love you’ll anyway.

  3. Stingy is when my father whom I worked for as an Apprentice Carpenter, made my brother and I remove nails from recycled timber. ( Recycling is a good thing I know) However, We were made to straighten all the bent nails that were pulled out from this timber ready to be used once again.
    It never made much sense, a new box of a thousand nails costs only (AUD) $ 25.00 ( Approx.)


  4. Haha, just returned after three weeks in Netherlands (Amsterdam and Leiden) and I think you missed a few more things:
    – having to pay for charging your phone in a restaurant where you are a client (those 1€ phone charging boxes); admittedly, the airport is a different story (plugs everywhere, but you do pay the airport fees in your ticket); also truth to be told Amsterdam’s Central Station has some benches with 220V sockets
    – having to pay for using the toilette at McDonalds even if you are eating something (and drinking!) there (well, happened to me once in Germany too); I think the person attending the toilette asked me to pay as a tip, I am not sure if the payment was really compulsory or voluntary; where I am from (Eastern Euroope) the toilettes in McDonals are either free (and clean! much cleaner than the ones in Amsterdam) or you need to type a code from your receipt to unlock the door
    – asking to pay 0.75 € for the toilette in Central Station (and you get a 0.5€ voucher) is plain stupid; only the maintenance for the payment system (including two contactless payment points – and this means bank fees) must be higher than what they get from the people using the toilette.
    – buying gifts and souvenirs (and some toys/figurines) for 200€ in a gift shop (a single shop) from the very owner (Dutch guy wanting to retire, closing shop in two weeks, was glad we helped him get rid of his wares :)) and not getting any free/bonus item or discount (as a gift from the owner), except for a few small paper bags; we weren’t expecting any and of course that was not the point – we didn’t know from the beginning how much we will spend there; but still, in other places, if you are a good customer, the owner almost always will have something for you as a sign of appreciation
    – do you know those Greek or Italian (or Romanian, for that matter) restaurants where you are greeted with some appetisers/starter even before ordering anything (ranging from garlic bread, bruschettas or even ouzo or tzuica/palinca)? must be some southern mentality 🙂 but this is not uncommon in other places too (Germany and UK come to mind); I’ve never seen this in Netherlands
    – last but not least, if there is a page in the Guiness Book of Records dedicated to the smallest toiletts and the smallest sinks, I bet Netherlands is there; can you imagine a sink almost as small as one hand?

  5. Just the lightbulbs? when we bought our apartment the previous owner removed the lights, leaving the wires exposed…

  6. find yourselve a nicer surrounding …. you live among the worst of the species, jusdging from your stories .. if these things happen to you it says a lot about you and the people that are willing to hang out with you …
    There are rotten apples everywhere, but when you find yourselve in the fruitbasket that’s only made up with such examples, you obviously have found yourself a spot in the ” groenbak’ …….. open your world. There are not so many habits or traditions in Nl as you trie to showcase here, you definitely stumbled on not very nice individuals

  7. A very true story of the Dutch thriftiness.My dad lived in Holland before coming to the U.S. I was born in the U.S. we were thrifty just like in this story. I mean very very thrifty.

  8. This article about stingy dutch culture is so true..
    Only Dutch people will tell you that it isn’t true because Dutch always think they are right. An other example of how arrogant they appear.

    Btw the Dutch directness is just rude. If you value polite, kind and professional customer service, the Netherlands is the wrong place.
    I feel Dutch people are exactly like their climate. Cold, grey, rough, and sharp (windy).

  9. Removing the flooring isn’t because Dutch are stingy. It’s because landlords charge you excessive amounts of money to remove your flooring because the next tenant doesn’t want laminate flooring. For the rest of the things mentioned I’d say that the author is living in North or South Holland and has never visited other parts of the Netherlands. In other provinces of the Netherlands we don’t take the bulbs out of the fittings or prepare a single piece of meat for our guests.

  10. I wouldn’t believe any of these before I moved to NL but now it’s so true. sometimes I can’t believe how cheap they are. removing lightbulbs happened to me in my first apartment in Germany as well. I had to spend the whole Sunday in the dark. (well, everywhere is closed on Sunday) and the next apartment I moved into had no lightbulbs again, there were only cabels coming from the wall. just WHY? I’ve seen many examples of “taking the floor/tiles with you” both in Germany and Netherlands. just when I started to get used to the fact that people take their kitchens with them after moving out, still, taking the floors/tiles is too much 😀 as someone who doesn’t come from EU, you don’t expect West Europeans to be this cheap, until you meet them.


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