14 downright stingy things Dutch people do

Are they wrong though? 👀

Lovable as the Dutch are, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that they have a bit of a reputation for being stingy.

We’ve all received a Tikkie for 80 cents at some point — after all, the expression “going Dutch” had to come from somewhere.

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!?

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 minuscule amounts of money

Ever heard of a little thing called Tikkie? Of course you have, this is the Netherlands, and we’re sure you’ve received one for a tiny amount of money.

@dutchreview Sending a Tikkie after a date, yay or nay? 🤔 #dutchreview #fyp #capcut #netherlands #lifeinthenetherlands #expatlife #MemeCut #voorjou ♬ original sound – DutchReview

In fact, this whole article could be about absurd Tikkie tales. There are that many. But that’s for another day.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #7: Send a Tikkie for virtually nothing

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? 😉

2. Be masters of DIY

You know what they say: “Any accountant can be an electrician or a plumber!” What, you’ve never heard that before? Well, they say it in the Netherlands.

Need to lay some laminate flooring? Does your house need to be rewired? Decided you want a new bathroom? That’s a DIY job.

It seems like every Dutchie has these skills in their arsenal because the other option is *GASP* to 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?!) and a kaasschaaf

That thing 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, used to scrape the hell out of empty bottles and jars. 

If you’re anything like us, you’ve never heard of a flessenlicker before. But our extensive research found that the humble tool is a fan favourite in Dutch kitchens. 

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

Another Dutch kitchen staple is the classical Norwegian kaasschaaf (cheese slicer).

How else would you get the thinnest, finest slices off, and save your cheese for as long as possible? Thick slices are for the wasteful!

4. Remove the lightbulbs and laminate flooring before moving houses

We can’t understand why so many Dutch people take laminate flooring with them when they move houses. It sounds exhausting, unnecessary, and frankly a little rude.

READ MORE | Dutch swear words: the guide to insults and cursing in the Netherlands

Also, 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.  Plan a surprise or romantic getaway for their significant other — and expect them to pay 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.

READ MORE | Lover’s paradise? Amsterdam ranks 5th in the best cities for dating in the world

And that’s not even the worst of it. 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?

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

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.

Turns out, it’s actually a sneaky way to save money!

@dutchreview Wake me up when February ends. #Meme #MemeCut #fyp #fypシ #fypシ゚viral #dutch #dutchreview #netherlands #nederland #winter #expat #expatlife ♬ original sound – DutchReview

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?

7. Refuse to spend money on public transport or taxis

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 this matters to Dutchies, who believe their biking skills are far superior to any weather phenomenon or health event. They’re biking, or they’re not going anywhere.

READ MORE | Biking the Dutch dream: The Dutch and their bikes

While we’ve gotta admire their determination, there’s no denying that it’s usually far more comfortable to spend €10 on a taxi, or even take public transport.

But the Dutch would rather cycle five kilometres through a thunderstorm in a figure-hugging floor-length dress and heels. But, as the Dutch say, “Je bent niet van suiker!” (“You’re not made of sugar!”).

8. 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 the next day.

While in other places, this would be considered blasphemy, it isn’t 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.

Act broke to stay rich. right? 

9. Prepare a single piece of meat per guest 

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #30: Send people away when they’re about to have dinner

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.

@dutchreview Okay, we can take a hint. #fyp #dutchreview #expat #dutch #nl #dinner ♬ original sound – DutchReview

10. Not provide food at weddings

We all know the best part of a wedding isn’t the ceremony — it’s the food. 😋

But consider yourself 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.

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

Of course, some people do go all out, 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?

Ever been to a friend’s house for dinner but gone home feeling kinda hungry? Yeah, it’s a Dutch thing. Dutchies are notorious for cooking for the exact number of people they’re expecting, and only preparing a single piece of meat each.

11.  Take food to places that have catering

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 (cheese sandwich) in a 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 could be, but Dutchies are notorious for bringing all their food with them from home — pindakaas, jam, and macaroni.

With all the culinary wonders that France prides itself on, we’ve just got to ask ourselves, “waarom?” (why?). 

12. Pick a travel destination based on a €3 price difference in the flight tickets

Ahh, Athens would’ve 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 one in the morning.

13. Expect people to provide their own birthday cake

It’s your birthday, gefeliciteerd! 🎉 But we’re in the Netherlands now, so there’ll be no fanfare. Don’t forget to bring your own birthday cake — yes, that’s right, it’s the only cake anyone will get.

Got the cake? Ok, now sing yourself happy birthday — just kidding. Image: Freepik

Your friends and colleagues will be expecting it (because they’ve got your special day written down in their birthday calendar in the toilet). But remember, everyone only gets one piece each.

READ MORE | 9 Dutch birthday traditions that’ll confuse the heck out of internationals

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 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… Well, not really, they just wanted to make sure the gift they got you wouldn’t go to waste.

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

We are convinced that many Dutch pantry staples make it onto the grocery list, not because Dutchies really like them, but because they’re always in the ‘bonus’ (or, in non-Dutch, on sale) at Albert Heijn.

@dutchreview Never get between Dutchies and their supermarket deals. #dutchreview #international #expatsinthenetherlands #thenetherlands #supermarket ♬ original sound – DutchReview

Why else would people eat so many dubious-looking kipschnitzels (chicken schnitzels)? We can’t even prove that there’s actual chicken in there. 

READ MORE | What your favourite Dutch supermarket says about you

Dutchies will stop at nothing to get a discount, and really maximise on that saving. Even if it means changing their whole diet in the process.

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, try not to 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:Depositphotos
Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
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

    • Well, I never seen generous and polite dutch as well, working in a huge dutch company. Was going out (wouldn’t date him for his disgusting character) with a dutch guy just comfirm absurd level of stinginess and arrogance and add some stories about dutch men to share with gfs here 😀 evey single expat woman my age has exqctly same stories to share! I mean, I lived in 6 countries before and I worked in tourism for years so stayed for long periods in even more countries but never whitnessesd such brutal cheapness – with money and with closed minds as here in NL!

      • I agree with the stingy but closed minds no not true. No one beats the Americans when it comes to closed minds. Yes a Dutch man (or woman) will 9 out of 10 be very careful of spending their hard earned money on you, but we also on average have received proper financial educations, don’t have thousands in credit card debts and therefore don’t have to work our self to death. When it comes to giving money to charity the Dutch are very generous! So no you pay for your own dinner but when you lose your house in a fire (which you should have an insurance for) your Dutch neighbours will be there to help as much as they can even if it is with a krentenbol met kaas.

  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.

  11. My grandfather came to the United States from Gelderland. To me, he knew how to do everything. It was a great honor when my father told me that out of all the grandchildren, I am most like my grandfather. When I am looking for bargains, my wife will remind others that I am Dutch. Her doctor told me that copper wire was invented by two Dutchmen fighting over a penny. I will admit that a lot of this is in Dutch-American DNA.

  12. I was born in Rotterdam in 1953.
    I am very thrifty I buy specials from all shops I hate waste because my family struggled terribly in world war 2.
    Sometimes I use strong tea bags twice etc however I give to church,salvos Red Cross etc.
    My family actually call me generous .
    We just need to be thoughtful and caring.

  13. Some of what you wrote about the Dutch is is true but not all. In general, many more Dutch are thrifty than not, and some are stingy. I lived in NL and have awesome Dutch friends. (You can choose your friends.)
    Here’s a weird thing that Dutch family did. They found it meaningless to exchange gifts during SinterKlaas or Christmas. Goodness! They couldn’t see the point of gifts and wanted to save money. Stingy? There was no spirit of the season at all. Their Christmas is gloom – so if you’re going to visit Holland, avoid Christmas. The cold Christmas is easily bearable than this dumbfounding shameless behavior.

    • Well, i’m Dutch and i’ve NEVER seen or heard of a family that doesn;t do presents at X-mas. So you encountered an anomaly really.

      • I’m not sure her encounter was that anomalous but I’m not convinced it had anything to do with money either. I am marrying into a Dutch family in Zeeland. The general population of this area are heavily Protestant. They also don’t do gift giving at Christmas, but they don’t even celebrate Christmas outside of going to church. That’s a pretty common stance by the people in the area. However, it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with their particular religious views.

  14. If I’m forced to buy my own cake then only I will eat it. I’m like the Little Red Hen. You pitch in, I’m happy to share. If not, too bad.

  15. I remember seeing my Dutch father put the dental floss he just used back into the bathroom cabinet for a second time! He wouldn’t do it to the grossest but did feel it important to save some!

  16. I will explain: the stinginess comes from our parents who grew up during the war or right after the war (a lot of times in big families with 12 kids). There was of course nothing. If my mom will need an eggyolk for a recipe she will never throw away the eggwhite. But will find something else where she can use it for like baking cookies. My father would split the big colored paper napkins with a scissor. That became a joke, we would laugh at him. I would never ever throw left overs away. I see young student throwing lots of food away.

  17. I really don’t know who you’ve been hanging out with but I feel sad for you. While I agree that the Dutch take a lot of pride in being frugal, in the three years I’ve lived here I’ve encountered very few of the items you’ve listed. I’ve had numerous people go out of their way to help me celebrate my birthday when they can’t even communicate with me because they don’t speak English. I’ve definitely never heard of someone providing their own cake. Having dinner or coffee at a friend’s house has never been met with a bill for my food costs. Regarding weddings, I’ve only heard of the opposite: minimizing the number of guests who are invited to the ceremony, and inviting more guests to the party after dinner (so they still aren’t feeding you, but they’re providing snacks and drinks). And frankly, buying things in bulk if they’re on sale is just smart. If you’re going to use it anyway, and you have the space to store it, why wouldn’t you? Also, flessenlikker are a genius invention. In fact, that might be what I give out as favors to my equally frugal, American family members at my wedding. They’d love them!

    • Did you even set a foot in the Netherlands? Or have u ever met any Dutch person? Bc the article is accurate AF. I can tell almost every Dutch person I met (I lived in areas where there are not even expats, and I’ve been working 7 years in only Dutch companies, even in weddings) is like that, very little few are the exception (never saw the 1 piece meat x person on bbq though). The cake thing is absolute tradition, I’m surprised a coworker never invited u to cake bc it was his/her bday.
      With all this I don’t mean that they are bad or anything at all, each culture has its things, and that’s the beauty of meeting others, learning from them 😊

  18. I’m Dutch and part of an online community for people with autism. While I do struggle in daily life with stuff like sarcasm and reading between the lines, I feel like I have it so much easier than my autistic brethren abroad. Being direct with us saves us so much guesswork and mental drainage.

  19. I think the Dutch people have every right to be careful with the money they earn . I see how difficult life must have been in the beginning living on a windy cost line with a lot of water ! I believe the Dutch are such intelligent people so much work has gone in Innovation for the Netherlands from daming water to environmental safety with the bicycle and it couldn’t get any better than that. I think they have every right to be who they are they what they want to be just like us . I am American in California and I hate spending money also I don’t have credit cards 🙌🏼My bike is my best friend . Also my son loves traveling to Halland to see Armin Van Buuren @asot1111.

  20. THE STORY IS MEANT NOT TO BE TAKEN 100% SERIOUSLY! People, do not get upset about it.
    I am Dutch and am amused by the outlook of an expat.. ..
    Surely there are some exaggerations and extremes and misinterpretation of , for instance, the birthday cake thing..
    We Dutch think it normal to OFFER A TREAT : “trakteren” , on the occasion of our birthday.”Verjaardagstaart”
    (birthday cake). In primary school children also like hand out a treat to their classmates, when it is their birthday:”trakteren”.
    Gift giving at Christmas is a relatively new, imported, phenomenon. We used to give gifts on occasion of Sinterklaar, 5 December. Christmas was , in my catholic home, reserved for ‘family togetherness and for focus on sharing and looking after less fortunate people and for religion and spirituality.
    I enjoyed reading the story written by the expat about how one can perceive some of the Dutch ways.
    By the way , cheese tastes VERY different if sliced with a kaasschaaf, instead of with a knife. And a quality volkorenboterham , ( wholewheat slice of bread) with butter or spread and with thin slices of quality Gouda or Edam
    cheese, is far from BLAND. It has a unique rich deep flavour, which develops in the mouth during chewing carefully.
    My mouth waters as I think about this delight. ( I am in South Africa and have no access to his type of bread and cheese)


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